In Toronto we stayed at the Hyatt downtown on King St. Mike, Julia and I decided to go exploring and we found Queen Street a few blocks away that had a ton of great shops and great restaurants. The street seemed to extend for miles and we walked and walked, and the further we walked the cooler things got.
Eventually we made our way into a music store. It wasn’t a typical music store in that it didn’t have a lot of guitars or basses. But it had a ton of excellent effects pedals. Mike tried a few out using some fender bass in the store. Cool sounds! He didn’t buy anything for himself, but he did get a birthday present for Tom, an artsy looking tremolo pedal activated by a touch switch.
Interestingly, at sound check the day before we were working on On A Bad Day, a really sweet country flavored song by Kasey Chambers and I was pulling out all of my pedal steel imitations and Mike was commenting about how he loves that sound, and how I should throw it in elsewhere as well.
Those pedal steel sounds can be made even more authentic with a volume pedal, so I picked up the Boss stereo volume pedal while we were at the music store. I had mentioned earlier in this blog about wanting a volume pedal, and I had nearly abandoned the idea but the pedal steel imitation gave me yet another reason to get it. My POD setup has a volume control that I used extensively until it broke about a year ago and I’ve missed having it.
After that we walked further down Queen Street and had an amazing dinner at an Italian restaurant. We all got vegetarian dishes and had fun tasting each others food. We drank some great wine and even had tiara misu.
Then we went back to the hotel for some relaxation/nap time, and then back out to check out the night scene. We couldn’t get into a bunch of the clubs because some of us were wearing running shoes and there were dress codes in a lot of the clubs. We did manage to get into one basement dance club, but the music was so unbelievably loud that we left.
At that point we were contacted by a concert promoter who was hanging out on Queen Street a mile or so further down, so we took a cab and met him for a few drinks at a couple of different clubs.
The vibe of the clubs (and the city) definitely had a European flavor to it. There were dance floors, strobe lights and DJs and folks were decked out. DJs seem to be revered as much as musicians in Europe, if not more so, and it seemed the same here.
We finally ended up at a quiet, pub-like place for a couple drinks and some good conversation. It was after this that we went back to the hotel and I took my walk. (see Oh Canada part 1)
The next day, the rain that had been following us this whole tour once again invaded the skies and poured down on the city. Mike and Julia left the hotel early because Mike had some interviews to do, and the bus left for the venue around noon so I was on my own.
I packed up my stuff and headed down to the street to catch a cab to the venue. It was pouring but fortunately there was a cab right outside the hotel door. The driver and I loaded my luggage into the cab and I got in but as soon as I was in, another cab driver opened up my door and in a heavily accented voice told me that my cab driver was breaking the law; that he was stealing his fares; that he had a family to feed, and that I should think with my conscience and get out of the cab and go to his cab instead.
I thought about it for a minute and decided that my conscience wasn’t at issue (and it was pouring still) and I stayed in the cab. All the way to the venue my cab driver tried to explain the issue to me, but his voice was so accented that I couldn’t understand most of what he was saying. It was a very bizarre scene.
The Mod Club was very nice. It was rustic and had great sound. The audience was way into the music and had a lot of energy, which always helps.
We opened with Mike’s Traveled Too Far. It was fun because when we walked on, Mike got a big ovation, but then we started to play the intro to Traveled, which is a composed, classical sounding piece of music over a very slow percussion beat. It was fun to watch the faces of the listeners who I think weren’t expecting such a cerebral piece right out of the gate.
The beauty of it is that it goes right into the main body of the song, which has a steady driving groove and recognizable melody, and eventually makes its way to an extended, exploratory jam before coming back to a pounding final chorus. This is one of my favorites to play because it’s like an entire show in a single song, and because the jam at the end usually goes to some great places and usually concludes with raging guitarness.
Afterward we went to a club where a DJ was spinning Grateful Dead. We met a lot of the locals and had great fun dancing to the beat infused Dead.
After an hour or so, we made our way back to the bus for our trip back to the states.
Our customs officer came on the bus to wake us all up and ask us if we had anything to declare, if we had any fruits or vegetables, or if we had cash or goods in excess of $5000. This is when we did NOT declare a “Thumb-o-war”, nor did we say that we had $5001 worth of fruit in our trailor! 🙂