Next stop on the East Coast Tour . . . . . Brooklyn?
It seems most on the East Coast don’t even know where Brooklyn is. I mentioned I was playing a house concert there to a few people in Moncton and received puzzled looks. It’s a very small town, far off the beaten path, about 40 minutes from Halifax. Problem is: Google Maps thinks it is in Enfield. That’s right, Google Maps is pulling an Apple Maps and trying to put people in the middle of the ocean. Well, kind of. I had to triple check directions, and they were more than a little confusing. I wasn’t sure if I was going to ever get there. I found by putting in the postal code that it gave more accurate directions that I could combine with the host’s directions and hopefully end up where I was supposed to. Google calculated the time as about 3 hours, 7 minutes to get there. I had plenty of time, right?
So, I stopped for breakfast and lunch in Moncton before heading out. While sitting in Starbucks for breakfast, I noticed what looked like a familiar face a few tables down. Paul Milner? Couldn’t be. Paul was a producer and engineer (and genuinely nice guy) that I worked with in the 90s for a few recordings. I hadn’t seen him in about 15 years, and the last I heard he was working at some studio in the U.S. So, I figured he was also living in the U.S. What the hell was he doing in Moncton?? I looked up info on him online, and couldn’t find any information on his location. He was busy talking to someone, so I thought I would approach him to ask just before I left. Next time I looked up, he was gone.
So I messaged Paul through Facebook and it turned out, it was him! He lives in PEI now and he offered to put me up and find me a gig there! Unfortunately it was for a night I couldn’t make it. And that was the second gig in PEI I had to turn down because of my schedule. Damn!
So I gradually found my way to the highway, and I left with plenty of time (3.5 hours) to get to the house concert about an hour early to setup. Right? NO.
It turned out, not only did Google Maps have the location initially wrong, the travel time was wrong too. 3.5 hours later, I STILL WASN’T THERE. I was looking for “Exit 4” for half an hour. It was a really long stretch of highway. I was basically flying all the way there, thinking I was going to be late for the show. I eventually got there 40 minutes before the performance, which really wasn’t ideal. But I was there.
My host was Gloria, a lovely lady who runs a “healing centre” called “Flap Your Wings Empowerment Oasis”. They offer services such as Reiki, Theta healing and “spine cleansing”, which sounds mildly horrifying (but I’m sure it’s wonderful). Gloria was a very welcoming host, as were the hundreds of mosquitoes in the area, who made a quick lunch of my knee (how do you end up with three bites in the same place??). I quickly doused myself with mosquito repellent and went to set up.
Gloria, Donny and me.
Flap Your Wings is a nice old house with a fairly big living room, which is where I set up. It turned out to be another small audience (6, if you include the host), but I knew that it would probably be small in advance. They were very friendly, and I made good friends with Donny, an elderly gentleman who had recently had a stroke and had difficulty walking and speaking (he had lost much of the use of the right side of his body). He shouted out “Good!” at the end of every song with a big smile on his face. That made my night.
Gloria put me up for the night at her house next door, and even offered to let me stay longer. That was extremely nice of her. But I had just booked a hotel in Dartmouth for the two nights I was off (I was panicking that I wouldn’t have a place to stay, and would have to pay last-minute prices on a hotel). So, after a nice breakfast and after Gloria and Winnie (her best friend and resident house concert cook) sent me with a nice care package of delicious home-made sandwiches and banana bread, I headed off.
Avondale Wharf, Avondale.
My plan was to do some sight-seeing on my way down to Dartmouth, but one wrong turn on the highway and I accidentally ended up in Halifax instead of where I had planned to go. I did see a beautiful little town called Avondale, which had a pretty little wharf with the reddest sand you have ever seen (except, perhaps, in PEI!).
It also had a really gorgeous church just down the road.
So, what do you do when you arrive in Halifax at 3 pm in the afternoon with nothing to do? Well, you go sight-seeing in Halifax! So, I drove around the city trying desperately not to get lost (but did, several times – DAMN YOU GOOGLE!!).
Halifax Public Gardens, Spring Garden St.
Found my way downtown to the Rockbottom Pub (which I am playing Saturday), found the all-important coffee shops (Second Cup! YES!). And eventually found my way to Dartmouth over the INCREDIBLY slow MacDonald toll bridge. It’s bad enough when it’s rush hour in Halifax . . . why do you have to stop for tolls too on your way across the two busiest bridges in Halifax???
There is also a toll portion of the highway between Moncton and Halifax. I understand that they need money to maintain them, but surely there could be a better way than slowing everyone down to a crawl. 407, people! Check it out! Yes, the fees are way too high, but the cameras work a lot better than toll booths.
It turned out that the Rockbottom Pub had an open mic night on Thursdays. So I decided to go down to promote my Saturday show. People were really friendly – I met another touring musician from B.C., Michael Averill, who I spent a good deal of time chatting with on the pros and cons of touring, and how to save money on accommodations (apparently, in 3 years, he has never had to pay for a hotel. And he’s done a LOT of touring around Canada).
The bar was pretty loud, so I didn’t get a lot of “listeners” for my set, but it was a good experience and I got some positive comments afterwards. The highlight for me was seeing a local Halifax reggae band. Yes, you read that right. REGGAE. Three older gentlemen, one of which had a cowbell, two cymbals and a tambourine permanently attached to his djembe. Very cool. And they were quite good!
I headed back to the hotel to prepare for a couple really intensive days of shows (two in one day!!) and to get some sleep. Next up, Wolfville! (awoooooooooooooo!) 🙂