Well, before this year comes to an end (nothing like cutting it close, LOL) I thought I would take a a few minutes and jot down a few things about the year that was.
2018 was a year of new highs for us.
Early in February, we were reminded just how bad winter in the rest of Canada can be when flew to Alberta for a pair of shows at the Eagle River casino in Whitecourt. Normally, even in winter this would not have been such a big deal, but Westjet had other plans for us that weekend. Nothing like arriving to the gig after driving in the dark though a raging snowstorm after a cancelled flight, a missed flight, and a flight that landed after the sun went down, only to arrive 20 minutes before showtime. But I figured we got the worst out of the way at the top of the year, and by all accounts, we did.
In mid March, we played our first show on the east coast of Canada, Halifax NS. Making us officially, a national band….? Anyone living on the west coast knows just how long a trip across our vast country can be. But the excitement of going was enough of a distraction to keep us from caring. We played the brand new convention centre in the heart of the city. Everything about the gig was great…right up until the fire alarm went off, that is. Then, well, things got a little crazy. Nothing like being onstage wondering how the lighting team managed to hook up to the all the strobes in the ceiling of the venue and sync them to the beat of the song you’re playing, (and how cool it was) only to quickly realize that it was the 30 second warning before the complete alarm system kicked in. Well at least they know the HVAC smoke extraction system works…really well. LOL.
Being all the way out there, it seemed pointless to just get up the next day to board a plane for home. Of course who could predict the last nor’easter of the year would blow in that day! Didn’t matter, we came all this way, and we weren’t going home without going to see… something. Peggy’s cove turned out to be that something. I got up early, got a lift out to the airport to rent a vehicle, and headed back to the hotel to grab Matt and Dave and drive a harrowing 45 minutes down a windy, wintery, slippery road out to the famous landmark. I’m sure the locals thought we were crazy, but we were determined. We made it, even after driving past the Fedex van that slid off the road and was being assisted by the driver of the UPS truck that had stopped to help. How east coast is that? 🙂
After a fantastic Lobster lunch, we made our way (slowly) back the city. That evening was the grand opening of a new place called Sniggly Wiggly’s, owned by none other than the Trailer Park Boys. We ventured in after dinner on our way back to the hotel. We took a look around and were about to leave when Dave tapped me and pointed over my left shoulder. I turned around, and their was Ricky and Julian. Dave gave me that “what do we do” look. And I, being rather gregarious, walked right over and introduced myself. After a a few minutes of chatting, and a couple of pictures, Ricky invited us to join them, but it was late and we had an early flight, so we thanked them and left. But that was certainly a “how cool was that” moment for us.
After a show at a local pub in our area in April, it was off to play a new venue in Edmonton. Finally a place to play in the city. I guess we did good, because they had us back in October, but I’ll save that story for later….
Next up, Canada Day at Funtastic in Vernon. We were very pleased to be invited back to headline their annual softball tournament after only 2 years.
And knowing the size of the crowd, the level of production, and the overall positive vibe of the event, we took advantage of that, and hired a video company to come and shoot the show. Still working on the footage, but from what I’ve seen, we think you;re going to like it.
From there, came a run of 5 fantastic shows, including Aldergrove where we had the opportunity, and honour, to open for one of Canada’s most well known bands, 54 40!
Another 4 outdoor shows, West Vancouver, Bowen Island (which sold out in an hour), Kamloops, and Chilliwack, took us through to the end of August, which by the end of our summer run had put is in front of 20,000 people!!
After a couple of months off, we were back on a plane, this time, back to the Lido in Ft. St. John. This gig came about after being hung out to dry by a flaky promoter in Calgary, (sorry Calgary Hip fans, we keep trying).
We had not been to the Lido in 6 years, so we were a bit curious to see how it would go, and well, it sold out, and was one of the best audiences we played to all year. So much fun had by all.
Now it was time to go back to Edmonton, only Westjet had other plans, or should I say, no plan B. That is one thing about flying to the smaller towns, there are not a lot of options when things go sideways. But after putting on my big boy pants, and with the help of the owner of the Lido, we managed to secure a ride from FSJ to Edmonton. 7 HOURS! This was our second “making it by the skin of our teeth” show of the year. But as they say, the show must go on…and it did.
Circling back to Canada day, the plan for the video was to also record the audio, which we did, but, well, it was unusable. No fault of our brilliant engineer, just old technology at front of house that was not designed to do what we needed it to do. So we chose the Edmonton show to replay our Canada day set. Of course after the extra long travel day…let’s just say we wished it was Friday’s show.
Another few weeks off, and another flight, this time a return to Grande Prairie, and the Great Northern Casino. 2 nights, 2 full houses.
Now all we had to left to do before our last public shows of the year was plan, and execute, a private party for our closest friends and fans to celebrate our 10th anniversary. And what a party it was.
We invited 25 of our closest friends and biggest to Hip Show headquarters for a night of a few hits, a few deep tracks, food, fun, stories, and champagne!
It was nice to let our hair down and just play. I came away from that night having never realized just how much work it truly is to bring the “show” to the stage. And even more, how much I appreciate my fellow band mates for the effort it takes each of us to do this.
Which brings us to the last shows of the year. Our 10th anniversary show at Donegal’s in Surrey. From before the show went on sale, the owner came to us asking if we would do 2 nights. I had to put it back on him that we would, but he had to sell the first show out before we would agree to it. Well, that first show sold out in less than a week before the physical tickets were even available. So it was on. The second show sold out the night of, at the door.
It was a fantastic way to end our year, and celebrate our 10 years together.
So all in all, we had a fantastic year. The east coast, numerous sellout shows, even opening for a major Canadian band. We met a lot of new faces along the way. Made some great new friends and fans, and established some great new places to play.
One final note before I finish,,,, as most of you know, after the passing of Gord Downie in October of 2017, The Hip Show made a conscious financial decision to donate a portion of the net from each show we do, to the Downie Wenjack foundation for Truth and Reconciliation. We are proud to announce that, as of the end of 2018, we have donated $3000.00 to the fund! We encourage all the rest of the guys out there playing the music of Canada’s house band to consider making this a part of your program as well.
In conclusion, we’d like to thank all the people who helped us through this past year, Rob Graves, Fife Williamson, and Don Thorsness who turned the dials, and pushed the buttons that make us sound and look great. The numerous house techs across the country who did the same. Including Billy Hanson in Alberta who always has our back, and does it with a smile on her face, even when we arrive 20 minutes to showtime.
To all the venue managers, thanks for having us and here’s to a continued working relationship that we hope to grow in the coming years.
To our agents across the country, Bruce Bromley at Canadian Classic Rock, Murray McVay at Mur-Man Productions, and Roger Lapointe at the Booking House, thanks for your continued dogged pursuit of better gigs and better venues. We promise that new promo video will be done soon. 😉
To all the friends and fans, old and new, without you, and your love of the Tragically Hip, we wouldn’t be doing this.
And finally to my brothers in arms, thank you for all you do to keep my head from spinning off at times. I truly love you guys and I couldn’t imagine what these past 10 years would have been like without each and every one of you on that stage with me.
So to everyone out there reading this to the end, have a safe and prosperous 2019. We hope to see all of you again in the year to come.
Thanks for being you!