The Smugglers Maritimes Tour 1999

The Smugglers finally made it back to the Atlantic-Canadian stinky shore in the Fall of 99, after a five year hiatus from playing Canada's most musically rich region. Time and time again we tried to return, but schedules and soaring plane fares caused the neglect to continue. Finally, when the1999 Halifax On Music Festival gave a tinkle and invited The Smugglers to return, we dug in our heels and made a determination to do it.

The Smugglers on this trip were:

Grant Lawrence - voice

David Carswell - guitar, vocals

Nick Thomas - guitar, vocals

Graham Watson - drums

Jeffy McCloy - bass (Beez had to work! Fucker!)

Yvette Ray - merchy purchy girl

Thurs Sept 30, The Locus, Glace Bay, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

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Part of what keeps Rockin' With The Smugglers fun after all these bloody years is for us to be able to see and smell new places around the globe.  Some of those locales are still in our own country, and still half way around the world! Case in point with this first show, on the northern tip of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Cape Breton is an island famous in the region for the down home traditional east coast musicial talent it's shat out- most notably lesbian Anne Murray ("Snowbird"), queer Ashley MacIssac (the fiddlin' punk who admitted in Time Magazine that he's been into fucking, sucking and chucking his water polo teammates) and asexual Rita McNeil, this larger than life sweet ass mama who used to have her own CBC TV show and now runs a "tea house" that, for some fucked up reason, is actually a tourist attraction. I guess it's Canada's "Dollyworld"). Anyhow, Glace Bay is a tiny, industrial hamlet located five hours due north of anything resembling civilization. And while they don't embrace that friendly industry know as 'tourism' (their Atlantic beach front was filled with trash and scraggy pussy - felines that is), they do have their own college radio station and a pretty healthy punk rock scene!gbwinner.JPG (22773 bytes)

Our show tonight was at a blown out bunker of a venue, a youth centre that looked like something we'd play in Italy or Germany. In other words the place was a mess. Lots of fun though. A good, healthy crowd for a Thursday night in Glace Bay; the kids showed up, sang along, made requests and danced like culturally starved lunatics. (Now why does it take a tiny town like Glace Bay to be hip enough to get a youth centre while a metropolis like Vancouver has NOTHING for the kids?).

The other band on the bill was Flashlight, a cool young ska-punk band from Toronto that does NOT stop touring (this was their second show in Glace Bay in as many months) and it showed: tight, funny, rockin'. 

After the show the promoter kids were nice enough to feed us, although requesting a "vegetarian meal" in Glace Bay means you get all-white meat from the KFC. Geez, if we were gonna eat fried chicken, at least we could have ordered it from the outrageously named chicken shack we spotted on the way into town: "Lick A Chick". Stayed with a punk kid who has a black belt in karate and runs his own kick-your-ass academy! Thanks John!

Friday Oct 1, Au Dieuxeme, Moncton NB (w/ Pansy Division, Flashlight, Mario

Poupette)

Moncton is one of of those cities that, when we first started touring, we immediately clicked with. Kelowna, Spokane, Moncton. The first time we played here, to our shock, the crowd went unequivocally bananas- and that was in the era of our frilly pink shirts! The second time we played here the audience repeated their performance and then some. And then the self-imposed five year drought. In that time we received more mail and email from this area of the world than any other, and it still took us this long to get back! Sorry! In the time we've been gone, an amazing record store called Blast Off has started up and this show was in fact for its first anniversary. Matt, Markie andSmfl.jpg (30580 bytes) Luc, brothers and proprietors of the store, put on the show and even threw a BBQ beforehand where we all chowed down on street-side burgs in downtown Moncton. God forbid one should drink the water however! Yes, even in Canada, a bear takes a thunder-crunch upstream from Moncton and all of the sudden there's E-coli in the city's water supply! We weren't even able to use the tap to brush our teeth! WHAT IS GOING ON??

SAVE MONCTON'S WATER, SOMEBODY!!!

Oh, I should mention that our fantastically queer friends Pansy Division had butt fucked their way into town to join us on this one, and as always we were pleased and horny as could be to be cock-rocking behind our cornhole cousins.

The show was excitedly packed, and there was high anticipation in the boozy air. Flashlight kicked the show off with their usual verve and humour, quickly drawing each Smuggler and Monctonite in to becoming diehard fans. Then it was an odd admission to the bill: local stand up comedian Mario Poupette. In the tradition of the obscure and almost non-humour style of Neil Hamburger, most of this Mario guy's jokes were extremely dead pan and so bad that he had the place, most of whom knew him, yukking it up pretty hard in an ironic, mostly supportive type way. He did a whole string of jokes about his "huge cock", presenting a slide show of his huge cock on vacation (which WAS very funny) and closed with a tap dance / strip show, and some extremely strained improv with the audience. Uh... thanks Mario! Good luck at Moncton's Comedy Silo!

Pansy Division had a pretty good show - unfortunately for them, due to the club's lighting, they couldn't see the vast majority of kids dancing to them, but had a perfect view of the Brunswickian who had fallen asleep face down on his table in a puddle of his own puke. The band began to fixate on the oblivious slumbering menace, and didn't have as great a set as we're used to seeing from them.

lobster.JPG (22492 bytes)We did, however, have the anticipated blast of fun when we got on. It was a ninety minute sing a long and it truly felt like a home away from homecoming. The kids went nuts, and you know you've been around a long time when kids are saying "you were the first rock band I ever saw. I was thirteen and now I'm twenty". Ugh.

Anyway, I was feeling like a particular hot shot, as on the way to Moncton that day we had stopped in a Cape Breton thrift store and I picked up a new five piece velvet suit for $9.75! Yes, that's $9.75! (That and a book entitled "Leadership Secrets Of Atilla The Hun" which I have memorized. And the rest of the Smugglers thought I was an asshole before!)

Since Pansy Division were in the middle, they had the opportunity to party while we played, and they quickly got plastered on the strong Canadian hootch. Our merch girl Yvette and PD drummer Luis were shotgunnin' beer, shootin' tequila, smokin' doobies, chowin' hash, snortin' coke, you name it.  If they could have smoked crack they would have done it.

Finally, on their last couple shots of Jaegermeister, Luis was about to come to a party with us, but was so completely fucked he staggered into the PD van and collasped.

As Pansy Division were driving away down Moncton's Main Street in their California-plated van with the rainbow stickers all over it, Luis' body hung out of the passenger window as he spouted a solid stream of party-puke, coating Main Street, their van... and their dignity.

Apparently Luis was the embarrassment of the quiet suburban "American Beauty" neighbourhood they were staying in, as the next morning the rest of the band forced young Luis to clean the sticky splashes of barf off the side of the van with steel wool. Ouch! Anyway, as is another tradition here in Moncton, a house party was thrown after the show. We were laughin', boozin', flirtin', dancin', yellin'.

The Monctonites shared wild party tricks like lighting their cocks on fire and getting their cocks to smoke cigarettes (which is now tied in the "Cock Party Trick Hall Of Fame" with Chixdiggit getting their cocks to sing "Please Please Me", side by side, cock "slits"in unison), but just as we were getting really down to it, Nick managed to wantonly smash a full bottle of beer onto a beautiful vintage couch as if he were christening a ship, and the party sank like the Lusitania. Had a lot of fun partying with the members of the Mopeds, Monoxides and Elevator, though!

Thanks for the good times!

Sat Oct 2, Halifax On Music, The Marquee Club, Halifax NS (w/ Pansy Division and several other showcase bands)

The last time we played Halifax it was on a lonely Monday night in 1994, to about five people. Luckily, one of those five people is the current organizer of the Halifax On Music Festival, and here we were, finally. Our fingers were crossed that we would play to more folks this time. Sure enough, thanks to incredible publicity arranged by Yvette, and the organizational abilities of Halifax On Music, to our amazement the big-ass club was packed with a huge crowd.

We were up for the challenge, and put on what we felt was an UP show by Smugglers standards. Flashlight judged the dance contest, and the songs from the new album "Rosie" went over a-go-go.

Pansy Division were headlining tonight, and so we got to kick back and and enjoy Pansy Division's superb set performed to a rabid audience. They had an amazing show, bouncing back from the night before with extreme rock brilliance. The crowd loved them.

Like a surprise package from the God Of Booze, bars in Halifax don't close til like 4:00AM so the show was a drunken mess; a sexual mish mash of hot chicks, gay guys and horny Smugglers. Everybody got yanked in every which way but loose and let's just say some VERY controversial smut went down, some 'discoveries' were made and some 'lines' were crossed... and snorted!!

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When we finally stumbled out of there, The Halifax On Music had their shit together to arrange billeting for the bands, and we lucked out getting this hot couple: the guy, Dave, is a plastic surgeon and punk rock writer, the girl, Cameron, is an artist, a marathon runner, and she looks like Cameron Diaz! And they're both young! And they had a swank Haligonian pad with several private bedrooms, three floors, many a clean toilet, and dog and a cat that were well-balanced, well-groomed and cute; the polar opposite of the dreaded punk rock pet!

Everything was going splendidly. Once our sleeping places were staked out, Dave and Cameron retired for the night, though a few of still us running on adrenalin and other substances from the evenings festivities stayed up to chat. Booze was called for but none was to be had, and Luis was getting more and more ansy for a drink. Finally, in a drunken, coked up fit of rage, he tore open the liquor cabinet as if it was the entrance to the last Taco Bell on earth, bit the cap off the first beer he could find, and guzzled it in seconds. Only the next day did we find out it was a $45 bottle of rare, 1950 Irish Ale, which the perfect pair purchased at a remote ancient brewery on an island off the tip of Northern Ireland. At 5:30AM on this night, the only thing left of that beer was a long, loud, stinky belch from the gassy pit of Luis' fully partied-out gut.

Oblivious to the missing treasured beverage, once the sun was up Dave and Cameron made us a beautiful breakfast of french toast, fresh fruit and coffee.   We enjoyed the spread on their sun drenched porch, and stolen booze artifact aside, it was a rare and thought provoking look into real lives that thoroughly have their shit together!

Sun Oct 3, Halifax On Music, The Pavillion, Halifax NS (w/ Pansy Division, Thrush Hermit, Blurtonia, Flashlight and more) This was our all ages Halifax play, and maybe we shoulda just ended on the high note that was the night before. Oh well, with a bill like the one they put together you'd think the place would be "blocked" (as they say in Newfoundland) but only about 150 kids turned out for the spectacle. Coulda been the show times (starting at 1:00PM, ending at 8:00PM), coulda been the venue, a youth centre/concrete bunker situated in a park, near a playground and tennis courts and stuff. But once again, we were impressed that they at least HAVE a venue like this to put all ages shows on, unlike a hell of a lot of other places around North America.

Flashlight were up first and put on another great show, and they even got a little sentimental, as it was our last show with these guys for awhile, and I say awhile because we hit it off with em and we're going to try damn hard to hook up with them again soon!

We were hanging around the park, rolling in the sandbox, and having fun in the sun with Pansy Division and Flashlight for awhile so we missed the next couple of bands, but did have the utmost pleasure of taking in the Thrush Hermit wall of sound.

For those unaware, Thrush Hermit is four dudes from Halifax who literally put on a classic rock cliche clinic when they perform - and at the same time, crank out intense, long, sweet songs that send chills down the spine. Lead singer Joel Plaskett used a stand of very bright movie lights to astounding visual effect, and they're basically just about the only band that I enjoy that skirts the "we're just jamming in this very long middle part" territory. A great, great group. The sad thing is, they've decided to break up! We're just happy that we got to play with them.

Up next was our final Atlantic Canada set for the time being, and though we were a tired bunch, we played to the best of our ablility, hangovers and all, and had a fun time. Pansy Division once again closed the show, and once again triumphed with good spirits. They even made a comment about a famous fag in the audience wearing a really old leather jacket covered in buttons... but I never did find out who they were talking about.

That night, the organizers of the festival threw a triple-kegger BBQ for all the bands, planners and billeters. It was a great way to end the weekend, with tonnes of booze, veggie burgers, good music and even a little more cocaine from the PD boys.

Thanks, Atlantic Canada, until we rock again!

See you in the front row,

Your Smugglers