Forcing the dream has been good musically

I’m writing this post for my mom. It’s not my general way to write post-show and this is late even by post-show standards. I’m supposed to be the cheerleader that convinces you to go to the show. That said, after talking to my mom yesterday about my experience at the Dreamforce concert with Beck opening for Fleetwood Mac, she was fairly insistent that I write about it and I guess I’m humoring her (though auto-correct changed that to ‘honoring’ and maybe I should have left that correction).

So, let’s just start with Fleetwood Mac, specifically Stevie Nicks. I have a handful of albums that I remember as firsts. I don’t know which were really first but in my mind, there’s Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits, the soundtrack to Grease, Tom Petty’s first album (first album I purchased for myself from Downtown Records and also relevant for this post IMO) and Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumors’. I remember hanging out in my friend, Jen’s, bedroom. She lived up the road from my house and was one of the few kids in our semi-rural neighborhood. She had one of those stereos that had a microphone and an auxiliary jack. We would take turns singing along with Stevie Nicks. I’m sure we were terrible but we loved it and we loved Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac and Rumors. We also loved The Sugarhill Gang but that’s a different story.

Getting to see Stevie Nicks live was like a dream. It could have been better. If I had realized that there were going to be entry restrictions that had no basis in reality, I would have gotten there earlier and made sure my friends didn’t go capitalize on the free food after Beck finished his set. Lessons learned and all that… let’s see if I actually learn this one.

The beginning of my dream was where I finally got to see Beck. He lives in SF. Everyone I know has seen him and yet… not me. Well, no more! He opened with ‘Loser’ which was a little bit of a bummer cause I was still struggling to figure out how to get down to the field and herding my cats who wanted free beer and free food. Priorities people!

And to that end, some of my peeps weren’t up for the pit so I took off. I had people following me but when I turned around, they were all gone. So I found a place on the wrong side of the pit to watch Beck and was thoroughly enjoying when John walked up behind me and tapped me in the shoulder. I do not know how he found me; it’s a huge event and yet suddenly there he was. We were perfectly content til this Giant came and stood right in front of us, blocking our view of the stage. Nonetheless, we were being entertained by Beck. I actually had not realized how much Beck I know. I feel like he hit them all except his new single ‘Saw Lightning’ that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying. Im sure there were others that were missed but I didn’t notice, so happy was I with my show!

Waiting for Fleetwood Mac, we debated trying to get into the not Mac-capacity pit. Don’t believe the signs. We can clearly see the pit is not full! However we felt we had a good spot on the rail so we decided to stick with it. This may not have been the right choice but we were surrounded by people who actually were there to see Fleetwood Mac, not the DF-ers who just wanted to talk through the entire show and get drunk on the free beer. Even the drunks near us were there to see the show. We sang along to *every* song!

They opened with ‘The Chain’ and then they played every freaking hit that I knew with the exception of ‘Tusk’. Stevie commanded the stage and the crowd went wild with every single little spin she executed. She held us in the palm of her hand, being the witch she is. She was everything I had hoped for and more. While she no longer has the range that she once had, she knows her limits and has adapted and it is beautiful.

I feel strongly that Christine McVie made some pact with the devil. She sounds exactly the same as she did on the ‘Rumors’ album and she looks pretty much exactly the same too. Mick Fleetwood clearly has all the right drugs! He must be at least 20 years older than me and that man *never* stopped. Okay, he may have taken a short break but then he was dancing around the stage with a drum and I can’t figure out where he could have gotten that energy, other than drugs.

The fact that Lindsay Buckingham had to be replaced with two people (Niel Finn and Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers) was not lost on me. It was delightful to hear Niel Finn and Stevie Nicks sing Crowded House’s hit, but I’m thinking Niel Finn should give up on ‘Secondhand ‘News’. While we all still sang along, I was strongly feeling the lack of Lindsay on that one.

So Much Good Music This Week

My job is terrible right now and I can’t take the time to write all that I’d like to say so…

Tomorrow, Thursday, December 12th — KOLARS at the Independent.  You can search the blog to see what we’ve written about KOLARS in the past, but suffice it to say that they won our first Jammies! Go!

If you don’t go there, then you should go see Vintage Trouble. Another amazing band. I believe they are playing at the New Parish. You can consult my Bay Area listings to confirm.

Friday, December 13th — The Brothers Comatose at the UC Theatre. I’d have preferred a different venue, but I’m in! Me and at least 7 of my friends. I suspect more! See you there?

Saturday, December 14th — The T Sisters at the Freight. I am honestly not sure if I have ever seen a full show of the T Sisters since the first time I saw them open for The Brothers Comatose oh-so-many-years ago. I catch a song here and there and fundraisers or guesting with someone else, but not them and never them headlining. I’m excited!

If you have a car and you aren’t in for the T Sisters, you should head up to the North Bay and check out Willie Watson! He’s wonderful!

Okay, I gotta get back to work….

Utopia Fest 2019

Another Utopia Fest is behind us. Every year there is a question that rumbles under the surface… will this festival survive another year? The answer is yes, at least one more! Travis, the founder and proprietor is going to make it happen and the lease agreement has one more year on it. They just need $50,000. Do you have any cash to spare because this fest is awesome and it would be really sad to see it go the way of the Armadillo (music venue). Viva Utopia 2020!

I am so grateful this festival exists in our hill country backyard of Burnet, TX. I mean, who doesn’t love Utopia, TX but let’s face it, driving an hour vs. 3 hrs is much easier. Don’t get me wrong, I am already making plans to attend Sweet Party in early April at the old Three Sister’s Ranch in Utopia, TX with 500 of my closest friends BUT the new site at Reveille Peak Ranch is really growing on me. (Note: Utopia Fest 2020 dates are Sept 18-19)

They’ve done away with camping separate from your vehicle and gave some more options for those who prefer to glamp. Our friends opted for the Granny Camp option so we joined them, leaving our car in the free lot. It worked out perfectly. Our camp consisted of friends we had made at Sweet Party and friends we made at UtopiaFest last year, plus their friends, plus a couple of cool teachers who were nearby. We shared stories, drinks, food, and a campfire and well, it was Utopia!

The music was Utopia as well. A lot of local bands that bring both a festival, rocking vibe and an accessible sound that everyone can enjoy. Also, if you weren’t feeling the music, you could go back and hang at the GIGANTIC bonfire! There was a lot of recent clearing on the site so there was a lot of wood to burn and recent rain combined with cold nights made it a perfect time.

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Rhett Miller and Charley Crockett decided to perform on the same bill (at GAMH this Thursday 11/7) for my birthday!

Obvs!

So you should come and help them celebrate my birthday with me. I mean seriously, there are so many reasons to go.

  1. Rhett Miller — If you don’t know Rhett Miller, you should. He’s the lead singer for the Old 97’s. He also has his own solo career and writes poetry, etc, etc., a regular renaissance man.  If that’s not enough for you… He’s as cute as a button and has the prettiest eyes, the best butt wiggle and a fabulous windmill arm. You should really come see him!
  2. Charley Crockett — It’s more likely that you don’t know Charley Crockett. He’s a little newer to the scene, but he, too, is fabulous and pretty.  Charley is a little more country (and bluesy) than Rhett, but he and his band are fantastic. I mean who isn’t impressed with a piano player who can play the trumpet simultaneously and can also play the accordion. (One of my biggest regrets is not having my Uncle Joe or my Pop-Pop teach me to play the accordion.) Plus Charley has a couple dance steps that I suspect he’ll dust off for us. There’s also this great World Cafe Live interview with Charley.  Check it out!
  3. Texas Musicians — Both of these fellas have Texas roots and so Andee would support you attending this show as well!
  4. It’s my birthday (well, the day after my birthday).  *And* I don’t really drink anymore, so you won’t have to buy me a drink or anything. You can just come and see a fabulous show and that’s your gift to me (as long as you don’t talk during the music). If we are really lucky, some of the LOLMs will be there too and so we might get to hang out with those fabulous ‘ladies’ as well!

So maybe I’ll see you on Thursday night? If not, check out the other shows that are coming up in the Bay Area in the near future. Don’t forget to get out there and support live music!

 

HSB2019 Jammie Awards — And A Recap

Friday, October 4, 2019

Day 1 and what a day it was….

Sure there was increased security that forced me to buy a whole bunch of clear plastic bags and there were very specific places to enter the park, but my holiday began on the first Friday of October and in the end, it was the same old Hardly Strictly… maybe a tiny bit fewer people than usual. No complaints here!

We arrived earlier than we normally would on a Friday because gates opened at 9. We got ourselves set up at Banjo and ran into Jay right away. Reunions begin! We ran over to Rooster to get ourselves set up over there as well and started making friends.

We hung out and waited for Chastity Brown to start her set. I thoroughly enjoyed her set and thought she was a great way to start the weekend, especially with her comment that ‘Nature reminds us that life will never be easy, but it has the possibility of being beautiful.’ And I will argue that life is beautiful, especially during HSB surrounded by my Friends & Family!

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. [JM] I liked the last song they played; turns out it was a Wilco cover. This is definitely *not* my jam!

We caught the end of Bill Frisell’s set with Petra Haden , Hank Roberts and Luke Bergman when we headed back to the Rooster stage to see Shooter Jennings.

It had been a few years since I last saw him and it was good to see him again, even though we couldn’t stay for his whole set.

We had Will Kimbrough to visit at the Bandwagon stage. — Long recommended (thanks Brian); finally seen! And worth it! He and The Red Dirt Boys were awesome and I’ll be looking to see him again.

From Bandwagon to Banjo for Tanya Tucker — A True Legend! Totally exceeded my expectations. HSB19 Jammie award winner!!! Check out this video to see why!

St. Paul & The Broken Bones followed Tanya Tucker. They were so much freaking fun which was exactly what I expected but it was news to some in my group! Also, there were a lot of drunken shenanigans by this time in the evening. Good times!

A ride home and Chinese delivery brought Day 1 to a close!

Saturday, October 5th – Day Two

After getting set-up, we started the day at the Porch stage with Whiskerman. We were joined by Steve Mongon and Whiskerman was joined by The Rainbow Girls.

[ACO] (Whiskerman is the band with the sitar. LOL. I liked them and the sitar did give them a bit of a Beatles; Sgt. Peppers feel but when the Rainbow Girls came out I couldn’t help but feel like they didn’t really want to share their stage with the ladies. [JM] Totally agree on this point which may have added to the meh-ness in my opinion. Why invite them on stage if you don’t want to play nice together?)

[JM] I stayed for the beginning of Mary Gauthier who was wonderful as always, but I left early to catch Mercury Rev & Beth Orton. I probably should have stayed for Mary Gauthier. Beth Orton’s voice was lovely, but ho-hum! I did get to see Renee and find Lala and others so it wasn’t a total loss.

[ACO] (Agreed, Beth Orton was just ho hum. I really like her too but the performance was boring.)

Next up: Hayes Carll!!!! What can I say, I love this man! LOVE!!! It was Peter’s first time seeing Hayes and he couldn’t get past the lyric ‘wine bottles scattered like last night’s clothes’. Me, I always go for ‘you be the sinner and I’ll be the sin’ though there are so many good ones, it’s difficult to pick just one.

I listened to Tank & The Bangas from the Swan Stage. They played ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ which I thoroughly enjoyed when I saw them at the Fox Theatre in Oakland last year. I didn’t feel like I needed to go to the Swan stage since I saw them at Thing in August.

[ACO] (I opted to see the Flatlanders instead, who are always wonderful.)

[JM] I caught the beginning of Robert Earl Keen before I darted to Rooster to see Yola. She started with a god song which scared me, but then I enjoyed her and she did play ‘Walk Through the Fire’ which is the song that caught me for starters. I couldn’t stay though cause the sweet siren call of Margo Price was beckoning me to the Banjo Stage.

Miss Margo totally rocked it. She was really awesome!

The New Pornographers. Two Words — Neko Case

Robert Plant — [JM] Listened to the beginning from the Swan Stage; didn’t sound like anything I hadn’t heard the last time I saw Robert Plant (who is also a legend) so went in pursuit of my lost jacket (which it turns out was at Robert Plant) and John Craigie. I caught the smallest amount of Steve Earle & The Dukes in pursuit of aforementioned lost hoodie and then headed to John Craigie who was perfect. Great songwriting/singing mixed with some great patter. While I was enjoying the AOC song, ACO was enjoying Robert Plant and ran into my favorite local musicians, Ben and Alex Morrison and Erika Tietjen.

[ACO] (Yep, that happened. It was my first time seeing Patty Griffin’s Driver (Robert Plant) and it was really incredible. The crowd, while peaceful, was a raging mess and it was perfect. To move through, you just had to ride the wave, moving one small step at a time. Eventually we found our place and our friends Andy and Carla! Then we found the Morrison Brothers after the show! The day turned into dusk as he sang Ramble On and we all did, making our way home after a perfect second day.)

Sunday, October 6, 2019 — Day Three — Another Amazing Day

We started the day with the Emmylou soundcheck. It’s my favorite part of HSB and this year, she played a song for us even though she didn’t think they’d be performing it that evening.  It was so lovely! And I’m glad it happened since I didn’t make it to see her for closing; too many good options. I think there was a time during SXSW when Andee described this as ‘love the one you’re with’ and so we did!

[ACO] (Um, Jenn, didn’t you say that? I feel like that’s something you would say.)

[JM] Andee – I agree that it sounds more like me, but I swear you said it about Lukas Nelson when we were at the Rachel Ray party and you wanted to go inside to see someone else but there was Lukas and sunshine… it’s entirely possible I’ve created this version of our story. It’s probably not the first time, nor will it likely be the last!

 

From there, we headed over to the Rooster stage and a little Robert Ellis and some ‘Topo Chico and Lime’ and then tried to catch Moshe Volozny at the Porch stage, but left Rooster too late.  (We heard/saw one song and we liked it.) We caught Parsonsfield (and Renee) and am excited for them to return to SF. I’ll be checking for those tour dates. They reminded me a little of Darlingside, but for different reasons. Renee and I also got to compare notes about John Craigie and discussed seeing him at The Freight in November. He did *not* mind sharing his stage with The Rainbow Girls.

[ACO] (I was looking them up to see if this was the band with the sitar and saw a “you might also like Darlingside”, so I guess you must know what you are talking about Jenn. Who was the band with the sitar that I liked and you meh? [JM] That was Whiskerman. So ho-hum!)

Headed to the Banjo stage for Liz Cooper & The Stampede and had my suspicion that I don’t really dig Liz Cooper confirmed for me. Left Banjo to grab something from one of my clear plastic bags left the Rooster stage (Don’t tell! There were lots of announcements not to leave bags) on my way to Fantastic Negrito and caught the beginning (and later the end) of Rayland Baxter. He’s loud; that’s about as much as I can say.

[ACO] (I really like Rayland Baxter and was looking forward to seeing him live but I do have to admit that it’s not the most engaging live show.)

Fantastic Negrito was… well, fantastic! Yes, I really enjoyed him and his message and I would go see him again and again. He makes me feel things!

[ACO] (I went to see Judy Collins because I was raised on her. She was great and her voice still rings like a bell. Her stories, especially the one about creeping down from her room to listen to Bob Dylan write Mr. Tambourine Man were great.)

Joan Osborne gave it her all; in fact, she succumbed to heat stroke during her final song ‘One of Us’. We were on our way out when this happened, so we didn’t actually know til we ran into Dan and Eric back at the Banjo stage. I am super glad that I went to see her; I would definitely go see her again!

The reason for darting to the Banjo Stage was so that we could catch Mandolin Orange. They were great; they always are. [JM] I got to tell someone the story of how they saved my life (even though it was really the giant adirondack chairs and the shade that truly saved my life, but they were the soundtrack to that particular rough morning).

[ACO] (I love Mandolin Orange and if they hadn’t been so far away on such a big stage, they may be taking home the Jammie. Remember when we saw them on the tiny Bandwagon stage a few years ago? So good. [JM] So so good!!!)

Booked it from Mandolin Orange to Jackie Greene at the Swan Stage and so glad that I did. Shannon Saunders and band were with him, including all 4 of the McCrary sisters and the horn section. Sadly I left my boots at the Banjo stage and my jacket at the Rooster stage and I was wearing a sleeveless festy dress so things got a bit chilly with Jackie, but he kept me moving for the most part and so therefore warm enough til I was reunited with my things.

Austin guys were at Wood and Wire and said it was their nomination for the Jammie awards, but since neither Andee or I were there, they can’t really win.

[JM] From Jackie Greene, I went to pick up Pat (and warmer clothing) at the Rooster stage and scoot up front for The Punch Brothers who were such a good time. Plus, Pat! See how cute we are, dressed in our fall colors at Pat’s favorite stage (also known at GG Park’s disc golf course).

And Monika and Sarah! Thanks for the photo, Monika! I can’t believe The Punch Brothers photo-bombed us! Awkward!

[ACO] (Meanwhile, I went to see Kurt Ville for a bit before heading across the park to finish out my day at the small Porch Stage to see the Wild Reeds. They were incredible! Funny and well put together, all three females took lead during different parts of the show. They sounded, looked and performed like one unit but definitely showed their various personalities and the crowd loved it. I really enjoy the infectiousness of a great crowd and this one had it all. This was my Jammie for HSB 2019 but since Jenn wasn’t there, it’s only a partial Jammie… a Jam I guess?)

We all reconvened back at the Banjo Stage and packed up our stuff and walked over to Ton Kiang for dim sum (and a gorgeous view of the GG Bridge) and it was delicious and then we Lyfted home and another HSB was in the books! It went so fast but it was so much fun!

I can’t wait for next year!

 

 

 

 

THING

My co-worker sent me a link to the THING festival months ago and on an impulse (and because I was already going to be partway up the coast), I decided to go. This is my summary of Sunday. Lobster corn dog. Black Belt Eagle Scout. Puget Sound. Phosphorescent. Tank and the Bangas. Russian dumplings (they were so good on Saturday, I had to get them again on Sunday). Calexico and Iron and Wine (in the shade cause the sun tried to kill us during Phosphorescent). Some band that I can’t remember their name (it was unusual). Free ice cream. Jeff Tweedy (who is the reason I came here and it was his birthday and he was wonderful). Then ended it, musically, with The Violent Femmes who ended it with ‘Add It Up’. A lantern parade. A free sandwich for the shuttle ride home. Beautiful weather. Fantastic!

Maybe I’ll include a review for Saturday at a later time but suffice it to say, this was a good festival and I’m super glad I came. Thanks Damaris!!! Also thanks to Damaris’ family who put up with me and to my ‘wife’ and Crystelle and Lynn for enabling and contributing to this adventure

It’s another post about community

And gratitude attitude and a little bit about music too.

Awhile back, English Steve invited me to go see a band that he liked, El Radio Fantastique. Two bands were opening, one of which (Junk Parlor, pictured below) had previously been highly recommended to me by Pat and Teri.

I went to the show with English Steve and Lala and ended up being blown away by the second opener, Rikkha. This is not to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy all three bands, but Juliette from Rikkha totally had me from the minute she took the stage.

She is sexy and she tells a great story in her frenchified English which only makes her sexier. Mmmmh! I had decided that I was going to go to this show but figured I’d be going alone and had never been to the Ivy Room before so was not super jazzed about it. More like resigned… it’s a tough life I lead. 🤓

At Jill’s birthday party in Stern Grove, I must have mentioned Rikkha and the next thing I knew, Debbie was in. As a long shot, I mentioned the show to my friend, Catherine, who had also been at Stern Grove and had mentioned that she was sans kids for a bit. I didn’t expect her to say yes cause it was a school night, if you will, but she did! Then I mentioned it to Pat because he lives in the east bay and because Junk Parlor was opening and because Catherine was going so why shouldn’t he? He was not a definite but was definitely interested. Then I thought to text Lala who was already trying to get off work so she could go to the show (or at least that’s how I understood it).

Flash forward to the Sunday of the show. I’m exhausted, having spent the entire day before on a Tahoe/Truckee River float adventure (which was fabulous, but a long day in the sun). I really did *not* want to go to the show but I committed. So I go…

And shit am I glad! It was ah-mazing! I love the Ivy Room. Everyone shows! And… it turns out that my friend Karen’s niece, Rebecca (who I’ve met at random parties over the years) is friends with Juliette (and was in her cabaret in the past) and so was also at the show. And Lala brought Travlin! It was seriously awesome. Plus we had Junk Parlor in the audience with us. Good Times! And that’s why you should always go to the show!

And even though I have a buttload of work to do, I’m on my way to meet friends for another show in the East Bay. See you at Phosphorescent? At the New Parish if you aren’t sure.

Spoon, Cage the Elephant, Beck & Wild Belle @ COTA 360 Amphitheater 7.27.19

Wild Belle took the stage a 6pm. It was early and we were lucky to have been connected to tickets through our friend who is a venue regular. The lawn was filling up but many of the seats were still open.

Wild Belle was engaging. The female lead has a smoky voice with a flow that matched her outfit. Picture Melania Trump in the white suit and big black hat. Now try and clear your mind of that plastic model and picture a real human, with a microphone and a good groove. Wild Belle was fun to watch and sounded good… even in 90-something temps at 6pm.

Next, Spoon took the stage. Britt Daniel, the lead singer was donning a cowboy hat, fit for the Texas sun. They are Austin natives and while the more expensive seats up front were still filling in, the cheap seats on the lawn were packed for the 7pm show and the lawn crowd was loving them. Laurie Gallardo, the DJ “who rolls her rrrs” was also loving them. She was sitting near us and I enjoyed watching her jam to Spoon almost as much as I enjoyed jamming to them! They have a new album out called “Everything Hits at Once” and it is kind of a greatest hits album. That’s fine with me because I enjoy all their old stuff. My favorite, Underdog, was a fist-pumping jam that I loved every minute of.

Cage the Elephant was on stage next but didn’t spend a whole lot of time actually on the stage. The lead singer, Matt Schultz, came out dressed in a suit with a red cover over his face and a wide-brimmed hat. As the performance continued, he began to loose more and more of his clothing until he was in a flesh colored body suit, looking more like a rock climber or interpretive dancer than a rock star. He also continued to enter the further depths of the audience with each song and closed his set by climbing the sound booth and then an elevated platform, which was sandwiched between the seats and the lawn, while “We Are The Champions” by Queen played. It was fun to watch but felt a little too contrived and then uneventful. I suppose if you are going to play ginormous venues like these sandwiched between great bands like Spoon and Beck, you need to pull out out all the stops.

Beck didn’t need to do anything but play his hit songs. My God that guy has so many hit songs! I realized, watching him perform, that he has had a major hit song with the latest generation every 10 years  or so since he hit the music scene. What might be more incredible is that they don’t all suck and he is still a blast to see live. When he introduced his band, they each selected a cover and blew it up with their talent. At one point he was covering “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads and I was thinking, “I wonder if these kids know this is a cover or if they think this is just another Beck song?” Ha. Welp, I guess Beck is just timeless. On the big screen he also looks a little like Ed Sheeran, so that might help him mesh with the younger crowd too. Either way, this lady from Beck’s first generation of fans had a great time!

 

Bahamas – July 3rd in Huntsville, ON. Canada, eh!

It sometimes pays off to take a look at the local music bookings when you travel. I was lucky enough to recently travel to Northern Ontario, a few hours north of Toronto to spend some time at a lake cabin. It’s a place I visit annually and one of my favorite places in the world. We’ve had so many good times that there is a curated soundtrack for it. Bahamas are one of the special bands on that playlist. They’re from the Barrie area, just north of Toronto so this was a show in their own backyard! I happened to see the band post about the show on Instagram and snagged a single ticket, splitting off from the group for one night and staying at a perfect little AirBnB with the most fantastic hosts, who were also going to the show!

The Bahamas last album features video of some of the music being played while visiting a very similar lake house cabin and I can’t help but feel that there’s just something in the water up there. I love it.

Watch this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P0aKRipsb9U

With more harmonies to carry the rhythm than rhythmic guitar beats, this Canadian Jack Johnson is one of my favorites. After a few days of soaking up the cold Canadian waters and striking sunsets, I dropped into Huntsville, Ontario’s Algonquin Theater for their summer series with Bahamas.

The theater was tiny! 500 seats maybe.

The sound was a little loud and distorted as the show got started but by the third song or so they seemed to work it out. There was no opener, just the band. Alfie, the lead singer dude, played to the audience, talking about his kids sippy cup or gallon jug choice of water vessels and that reuse and recycling are important, eh. ( I told you Jack Johnson, right.)

It was an incredible night and I was lucky to share a drink with a crowd of wonderful new Canadian friends at the local pub after the show. It was great.

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