"Don’t Mess Around With Beez" Prairie Tour 2001

Starring: your Smugglers.Bigsky.jpg (41387 bytes)

When the Smugglers first started "leaving town" and touring outside of the city of Vancouver, before we headed to the United States, years ahead of when we jetted to Europe or Japan, the first place we played was the Canadian prairies. Places like Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. We played these cities during the summers when we were still in high school and when we basically shouldn’t have been touring. We had no records out yet, and no where near enough songs some of these bars required for multiple sets, let alone a draw of any kind. If it wasn’t for Grant’s early talent for hustling club owners into booking the band, these tours would have never happened (Grant would take the two most popular touring bands of the moment and tell the club owners the Smugglers were a cross between those two bands. Great plan until we had to play and sounded nothing like the Rainbow Butt Monkeys or Corky and the Juice Pigs. This is in direct contrast to Nardwuar’s current pitch to clubs when trying to book the Evaporators: "we’re a cross between Nashville Pussy and Hanson, with no draw"). These early tours to the prairies were pre-Mint, pre-Lookout, even pre-Nardwuar Records. We’re talking the 80’s. Nonetheless, they were good times. Lonely times, but good times. On this trip, twelve years later, the Smugglers were making the return to –ahem- some of the exact same clubs we played on those very first tours….

To find out if those twelve years have meant anything at all, read on, dear friends…

 

Wed. Oct 31, Ms. T’s Cabaret, Vancouver BC

This show wasn’t really part of the tour, but it did run right into the rest of the shows so we’re going to include it here, since we don’t play weddings that often. In fact most of the time when we’re invited to play a wedding we turn it down because that’s exactly what the bride’s parents will want us to do come wedding time: turn it down. The volume on our amps I mean. And if we can’t rock it up, then we’re not the Smugglers and it just doesn’t work. But this wedding was special.Jeff and Ingrid.jpg (63040 bytes) It was a pretty interesting night, as it was the wedding of our sometimes-fill-in bass player Jeffy McOi! and his bride Ingrid. Jeffy and Ingrid are heavily into everything rock ‘n’ roll, garage and punk rock, not to mention everything Halloween, therefore their wedding took place in a rather grimy transvestite bar called Ms T’s. The actual ceremony was delivered by a justice of the peace dressed as Medusa and delivered entirely in "Star Trek klingon language". Jeffy was dressed exactly like Pee Wee Herman, and Ingrid as a beautiful Addams Family daughter (can’t remember the character name… it’s on the tip of my tongue… Tuesday? Wednesday?) Most of the local rock ‘n’ roll community showed up, including an unrecognizable Billy Hopeless from the Black Halos in an excellent "Give Peace A Chance"-era John Lennon costume, Jay from the Black Halos as Beetlejuice, Smugglers superfan Punk Rock Stacey as a 1980’s-era Vancouver Canuck, DJ Ska-T as a panda with down syndrome, Mar Sellars from the Ewoks / Riff Randells in an Alice Cooper-as-a-midget outfit, and Chad from the skeletons.jpg (103355 bytes)Spitfires as a spot-on Magnum P.I. (he later won a Smugglers trophy for best costume of the night). Us Smugglers? We wore pretty cool matching rubber skeleton costumes with our white ties hanging out over top. Nick’s lovely (PREGNANT) wife Soraya did amazing make up jobs on us, which looked SUPERB before the show – scary and menacing (besides Beez, who looked like a sad dog). But unfortunately about three songs into our rag-tag set of mostly covers, the "guaranteed non-smear" make up streamed off our faces like jizz down the side of an over-flowing jizz jar from the Jizz Chamber (see "Top 11 Things To Avoid While Touring"), getting all over our costumes and leaving us looking QUITE pathetic. Nonetheless we had a pretty great time playing the event. Jeffy joined us on stage to sing "First Time" by the Boys (which his band the New Town Animals also do) and for the first time EVER in Smugglers history we did a Ramones song ("Oh Oh I Love Her So"). And so even though we were looser than Beez’ quivering shit-flaps two hours after a visit to "Thai One On", our first performance at a wedding since the Cryptic Al flop in 93 (a Seattle couple with no draw) was a success. Good luck Jeffy and Ingrid.

 

Thu Nov 1, Royal Albert, Winnipeg MB (w/ Duotang, the Telepathic Butterflies)

This lil’ return trip to the prairies was a bit of a first for us. After doing the math on van rentals, mileage, gas, distance, and time spent, we actually figured out that it would be cheaper to FLY in and out of each city than it would be to drive! Once we made that decision, things weren’t quite as easy as we thought. It was difficult to arrange all the little connections between the towns as it was, and then "9-11" happened (or "7-11" as my dad mistakenly calls it). The catastrophe in New York sent the Canadian airline business into a spiral, with cancelled flights and escalating prices suddenly happening all over Canada. We had to re-route and re-book three separate times, all while watching our savings slowly dwindle and our budget rapidly bloat.

Nonetheless, everything managed to hang together for the entire trip and soon we were off to Winnipeg. The venue tonight was the place we played the very first time we ever played Winnipeg, back in the summer of 1989. This trip marked our first time back to town since 96. The place was the Royal Albert, a grungy, infamous hotel that caters to career drunks in their 50s and 60s by day and career drunks in their 20s and 30s by night. A total dive, we weren’t exactly sure why we were playing here, but all the locals said it was definitely the venue to play.

Call us cocky, but our last couple of shows in this town were completely sold out and broke all sorts of bar records and such, so tonight we were hoping, nay, expecting a sell out crowd, especially with hometown heroes Duotang on the bill. But those glory days were 1996. This is 2001. Do we still have the chutzpah?

Um, no. Imagine our surprise when we showed up and found the place riding at about a quarter capacity! "What the fuck is this bullshit?! You better fill this place up before I hit the stage, asshole!" barked Beez at the ashamed promoter. Upon surveying the scant crowd, our faces were redder and more scrunched up than Dave’s ball sack on a Saturday night. We tried to fool ourselves with the ol’ "hey it’s early, c’mon guys" but sometimes you just KNOW. There’s just a feeling that for whatever reason the gig just ain’t gonna click. Now of course sometimes we’ve been wrong. There was the time in merchy girls.jpg (71069 bytes)Rome where there was literally not one single person in the venue five minutes before show time, but at the opening chord of our first song, out of nowhere, five hundred screaming people were in front of us. That once-in-a-lifetime Bible-like miracle did NOT reoccur tonight. Nope, it was a bit of stinker, a bit of a crow-eater, a bit of a shit-on-my-chest-er for all those involved. But on the bright side, the lovely girls who volunteered to sell our merchandise were individual rays of sunshine, and both the Telepathic Butterflies and Duotang were great (especially when Nick joined the latter for a rockin’ seat-of-the-pants cover of the Jam’s [cover] of "Slow Down"). And when we finally DID get on stage, the 100 or so rock lovers who were there crammed to the front to sing along and dance frantically, Winnepeg Gang.jpg (129424 bytes)which is always fantastic.

And hey, since when is Winnipeg such a coke and speed town? There was so much powdery white stuff flying around this club we thought we hit an early blizzard.The kids were so sky high on D-grade "Winnipeg Whiteout", "Red River Rock", "Manitoblow", "Sweet Wheat", "Oxcart Ecstasy", "L(ouis Reil)SD", and "Portage La Bubonic Chronic" there was puss oozing from their eye-sockets. They were running around the club like ants at a picnic, coke all over their faces and shirts, shrieking and slurring, rapidly pumping quarters into the club's slot machine, dancing in psychotic spurts, then disappearing into the bathroom again.   Wow.

Oh, and the lessons learned tonight? Don’t play a show the night after Halloween, and don’t mix cocaine and Quaaludes. Apparently it’s like navy blue and black. They just don’t match! Thanks Duotang and Winnipeg, we jest, but we do love you!

 

Fri Nov 2, The State, Regina SK (w/ Sylvie, the Negatives)

When we go away on these trips we usually look for an event to centre the tour around. A record release party, a music convention, a record label showcase, whatever. This Regina show was what we built this trip around, as the promoters of the show invited us "down" to help launch the first EVER community radio station here in Regina. Somehow this town has existed without any type of college or community radio station all these years! Now they finally have one and kindly brought us by to celebrate it. Of course we had our own reasons to celebrate as it was Smuggler Nick’s 25th birthday tonight! Whoo!!! I'm bi! (Note from editor: I turned 25 five years ago bi my watch. Apologies to Grant ‘Peter Pan’ Lawrence for tampering with his ‘art’)

We were met at the airport by two of the promoter’s team. One of them, Marlin looked a little like a cross between Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness and a Dutch Joey Ramone, and Danny a slighty more heavy set GG Allin with a dash of Nashville Pussy.

As soon as we were on the way to the gig, we immediately tuned in the new community station, and low and behold, what blasted out of the speakers? The Smugglers! Just us for like an hour straight! What a wicked welcome back to the Queen City!

Once again, this venue was another of the very first we ever played outside of Vancouver. Back then it was called the Venue (at the time the only other place to play Regina was called the Club), then it became Channel One for several years, and now the State for the last several. The whole show this night was very fun, the best we’ve ever done in Regina, with a solid crowd wanting to dance and shout and scream to rock ‘n’ roll music. Local bands the Negatives played first (raw garage pop - they did a White Stripes cover!), then Sylvie (emo), and then our turn. The ‘Gina-Town crowd was right into it, with Zach from the Negatives up on stage singing every word of the Dictators’ "Stay With Me", and this hilarious skinhead chappie getting up about every third song, grabbing Dave’s mic and attempting to sing along. And now if one were to judge a book by a cover, one would think "uh oh… skinhead… the trouble starts now… Nazis! Fascism! Shit-kicking!" Not so with this guy. While he wears the colours and walks the walk, he doesn’t talk the talk. He turned out to be an extremely nice fellow, and his best friend is apparently a local native street hobo! A new CBC sitcom scenario perhaps? "Jackboots and Moccasins"? Anyhow, thanks very much to promoter Rick Velour and friends for their hard work putting on this great show. Rick Velour and his pals even threw us a party after the show, back at Rick Velour’s place, which he shares with the aforementioned odd couple Marlin and Danny. And as it also turns out, Marlin is a bit of a collector-maniac, hence, the inside of this Regina rock’n’roll party shack was done up like the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, the Smithsonian and the Playboy museum all piled one thrift-store like mess. Actual KISS boots hung on one wall, another was lined with framed autographed posters of various metal bands like RATT, Warrant, Motley Crue and Heart Sensing our obvious interest in such bizarre relics, from behind the couch Marlin dragged out a massive green garbage bag stuffed with all of his latest purchases from Ebay… To Nick’s utter shock and horny delight, Marlin handed to him his ultimate birthday gift… a tiny top once worn by a pre-teen Christina Ricci. But then it got just that much better. Like a perverted Santa, a bug-eyed and sweaty Marlin reached into his sack and carefully handed Nick… the actual unwashed black lace underwear of… Winona Ryder. Nick wasted no time in popping a massive boner and immediately pulled on both dream garments, as these two girls rank two and three in Nick’s all-time masturbation subject material. Had Marlin pulled out of that sack Mary-Stuart Masterson’s bra? Nick would have whipped out his hard cock and sprayed down Ebay Sluts.jpg (114472 bytes)Marlin with a good ol’ fashioned Smuggler cum-soaking right then and there. "Add that to your collection, nerd!" Nick would have yelled. Had Marlin pulled out of that sack Phoebe Cates’ panties? Nick would have given Marlin a good ol’ fashioned Smuggler ass-fucking in front of the lot of us. "Happy fucking birthday to ME, motherfucker!" Nick would have yelled. The rest of us wanted in on this action, so Marlin handed each one of us a sexy artifact. Dave shoved Cher’s underwear in his mouth and gargled, and I pulled on Pamela Anderson’s crotchless panties and wriggled about the room. After much searching, Marlin eventually found something from Beez’ era, placing a rather massive pair of Farah Fawcett’s silky yet stained gaunch atop Beez’ head. Ben-Hur.jpg (24285 bytes)Graham came in a little late, emerging like a stoned David Copperfield from a cloud of pot smoke on the backporch, so he wound up with Joey Ramone’s t-shirt and Super Dave Osbourne’s hat. Of course we were only allowed to touch and not keep so we posed for some photos, then reluctantly handed back the garments and checked out the rest of the loot. Turns out this Marlin guy (an extremely nice fellow by the way) has just an endless stream of crap he’s collected from Hollywood. He even has shields and swords from BOTH "Ben Hur" movies (1920s and 1950s) and let Dave and I play with them!

The party kept rocking on as we slurped back the Bohemians (regional beer), sucked back more of that prairie chronic, and swapped swell stories deep into the Saskatchewan night. Thanks for the great time guys, Regina truly is the city that rhymes with fun.

 

Sat Nov 3, Amigo’s, Saskatoon SK (w/ the Heatscores)Amigos.jpg (57286 bytes)

OK, now THIS is thee classic venue of Western Canada, at least for us. We have played this place a tonne of times, starting way back when with zero draw and no songs. Over the years we slowly built ourselves up until we were selling it out, but like the other two cities, we hadn’t been here in five years. The other notable about this venue is the now shut-down but extremely infamous upstairs band room. The way things usually worked was, if the show was a hot one, the band would almost always drag the party upstairs to the band room for more. Hopefully a LOT more. Of course the Smugglers have partaken in these practices many times, hence the amount of infamous stories we’ve gathered from our trips to Saskatoon. Fave yarns such as "I Shit My Pants In Saskatoon", "She Puked On My Cock" and "I Think He Just Slapped Her!" have all come from antics in the upstairs band room. Stories like these and others gave the club its nickname: "Amigo’s… Where Every Band In Canada Has Been Fucked, Sucked, And Chucked". Not quite sure what the "chucked" part means, but it sounds good when you say it, and it always makes Nardwuar go into hysterics.

We arrived into town as early as we could to basically hang out at Amigo’s most of the night. And yeah, it’s actually a nice club that we don’t mind hanging out at. They have foosball, televisions with the hockey games on, a great Mexican food menu, and extremely sexy, friendly staff with INCREDIBLE breasts. That said, we did manage to split from Amigo’s for a little while to partake in what is apparently a Saturday night tradition here is Saskatchewan: BINGO. Yup, four out of five Smugglers (Graham preferred Hockey Night In Canada at Amigo’s) and a pal of ours from Toon-Town named "Bingo Stu" sat down at the "Lucky Buck" bingo hall and quickly got chewed up Bingo.jpg (74639 bytes)and spat out. This bingo was fucking INTENSE!! This wasn’t some simple gambling of pulling on a slot machine and letting it do the work for you. Like poker and blackjack, the key to bingo is you have to KNOW the game so you KNOW what you have. In the hour we all sat there and sweated it out, always a few paces behind the pack, none of us ever got to shout out the magic word. But who knows, at the speed the bitch-bastard on the mic was rattling off those numbers any of us could have had bingo but I guess that’s the whole trick, now ain’t it? At one point I yelled out "slow down, bitch-bastard!" but was roundly "SHHHHH’ed" by the chain-smoking clientel. The place was completely silent the entire game except for the bingo guy, Beez’ panicked wheezing, and the sweat dripping off our brow and onto the bingo cards. Ah, Saskatoon, ya fucked us again!

Back at Amigo’s that night, the show was really great. The opening band, the Heatscores, played a Huevos Rancheros-esque instrumental rock ‘n’ roll set, and then we got on to a full house and made up for the last five years, playing a long set filled with lots of requests. We often pride ourselves on being able to pretty much rip out any request someone yells out, but tonight this audience embarrassingly managed to "stump the band" repeatedly, with shout-outs for rare lumps of coal like "Invitation Only", "For My Lover", "Queasy", and "I Want/Need/Demand Action", all four of which we haven’t done in years and years. Like famed Elton John on his all-request network special, guess we gotta activate some of the oldies. The crowd was very fun tonight, and we truly enjoyed playing for them. And a bunch of folks from Regina drove up the Louis Riel trail for the show, including good ol’ Rick Velour!

Since there was no band room to party in, once the show was finally over every just simply stayed in the bar until well after closing time. The people were as nice in person as they were on the dance floor shaking it and we all had a superb time. The booze was flowing and the pot clouds were billowing as Beezprairie.jpg (12624 bytes) hung out with an array of old girlfriends and club staff, Graham and I got our asses kicked by the beef-cake bartenders at a few foosball games, while Nick flirted with the waitresses and Dave hotboxed the billiards room with a crazy old man who wandered in off the street. It was great to be back in the prairies. Thanks for more great times, Amigo’s!

See you in the front row,

Love,

Your Smugglers