People and Places on the Way
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October 2009 to Present, We’ve been performing shows mainly in the Southern Ontario area and eventually I’ll update the blog. When we were on the road, it was a bit easier as we’d have 5 days in between weekends to write and generate pictures. Who knows what the future will bring, we are still busy doing shows for now.
October 24 at Hastings Legion, I did a three song spot as a special guest for Tony Cipro and Xtreme Entertainers who had some really great tributes in the lineup. I hope to be working with Darren Brown (Garth Brooks) sometime in the future. Pictures and video to follow as soon as they are processed.
October 16 at Arnprior Legion, had a small group that enjoyed the show but it seems some of the Legions are suffering these days. The Legions supply a great service to the local community and really need the support of the community to continue their mandate and programs. Cliff did a great job of setting up the event, the sound system was excellent and the lighting subdued but very nice. Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures as the trip up was in the evening and not great for taking photos.
September 21 - October 18, I have started setting up a home base for the winter months, so it’s been pretty busy moving everything from storage into the new place. I considered going to the US for the winter months, but with all the H1N1 hype in the media and the general unrest, financial and otherwise in the States, I thought it might be a good idea to hold off for a while and see how the dust settles.
September 19 at Parry Sound Legion had a good sized crowd. Some danced, some sang along. Towards the end of the evening we had one of their local singers come up and do a few songs. It was a pretty good night.
September 12 at Lucknow Legion, what a friendly bunch of people! Lucknow is located not far from Lake Huron on Highway 86. This was a very nice legion with a beautiful backyard deck and patio arrangement. We ended up getting there a little later than we had planned as we got turned around because we missed our exit at Waterloo and had to get off at the Innisklip exit near Woodstock. I also had a double tooth problem so I had to stop and get some antibiotics. We didn’t get started until just after 8 and my apologies again for making people wait, between the tooth and the painkiller, I was caught in a bad place, but the show must go on and it did. Everyone clapped, sang along and were very enthusiastic. We finished around 12:30 and had a couple of drinks with most of the people who stayed the entire night for the show. I really enjoyed the Lucknow Legion and it’s people, it was a great place to be!
August 22, Campbellford, Hank and Carole’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. What a spread! Hank and Carole put on one huge party, catered and not BYOB. The party was held in the backyard with tents and a stage (small flatbed borrowed from the legion). The entertainment line up included Len Carr and his friend Suzanne (what a nice voice!), Bob Hages (Bahamas) performing Bobby Darin, myself performing Shania Twain, Collette Bell performing Janis Joplin, Melissa Etheridge and her own song she wrote for Carole and Hank, Darren Brown performing Garth Brooks, Tony Cipro performing Frankie Valli and Roy Orbison,, Suzanne Treadaway performing Patsy Cline and our sound guy and Hank did a few Blues Brothers tunes (we had to, Carole). Unfortunately, the rain and wind started at about 8:30pm and we had to cut the outside entertainment a bit short, then the power went off at 9pm. The party was supposed to go to midnight or later so a few others who should have had a chance to get up and sing like Bob and Jim, didn’t. Many people stayed and went inside even though the power died, so Hank brought out his trusty generator to shed a little light. We supplied the sound systems and tried to organize the scheduling but nothing was set in stone, it was pretty casual. Thanks again to Chester Stockey for the lighting, it was much appreciated!
July 27 - August 21 - Taking a break up north. We headed back into Ontario since my sound guy had some contract work in North Bay, so we stayed at my cousins for a few weeks. On the way to North Bay we stopped at Crystal Lake in Vermillion Bay and again at Birchwood Park in Red Rock. It was great seeing Margie, Denis and Phil again (stop climbing rocks in that jeep Phil... LOL). We came across the top end this time on Highway 11 through Beardsmore and Longlac. If you are coming from west to east, get gas on the west side of town, the east side was 10% higher, talk about gouging! Highway 11 was too bad to about 20km’s west of Hearst, then it turned into a nightmare. The road became absolutely disgusting, things fell in the RV that have never fallen during the entire trip. As my sound guy says, if he had managed his military people the way McGinty manages Ontario, he would have been taken out and shot. Anyway, 90% of the roads from Hearst to North Bay were horrible. Pictures below :-)
July 26, Shoal Lake, Buffalo Plains Inn is located one street east and two streets south (Elm Street) in the town of Shoal Lake. It is run by a gentleman named Daryl and from what his employees tell me he is a great boss. The bar has a small stage but it has a really nice lighting system. Just as it sounds, the Buffalo Plains Inn has a number of air conditioned rooms for seasonal workers, road crews and people on road trips, or if you drink too much, don’t drive, rent one for the night, it’s better than creating a major problem or losing your license. His per night rate is $65 dollars right now and the rooms are very clean and the a/c very cold if you want it that way. He also has a beer vendor license that is open to 2:30 am and a nice dining area. His bartenders and waitresses, though they can be busy, are very friendly. We did a show here on Saturday night from 10 pm to 2 am (it went a bit longer, like 2:30 am). There were a couple of characters there, Marshall and Bill, they both wanted to sing with me, it was fun. Around 1:30 am, we started putting on music that the patrons could really sing to, they like rock. Stevie Nix went over quite well later in the night and the older people stayed for my Shania Twang which was earlier and went to about midnight. It was a fun evening! Good people generally work with other good people. Daryl, Glenn and John work together on projects and the sum of the three is greater than their total. If you need to contact Daryl for a room or for a party, he can be reached at 204-759-2401, he a very “straight-up” and helpful guy and if he doesn’t have what you need (which is unlikely) he can send you to the right place!
July 19 to 26 Shoal Lake, Marshall Chambers Campground is located on the south east end of Shoal Lake (the lake not the town). It is a beautiful location managed by John and the hosts, Glenn and Gwen Woods. The campground has lake and beach access through a nicely landscaped setting surrounded by trees. The RV sites are set into a circle on the lake side and John is expanding the park to the east side of the access road. This keeps them pretty busy with upgrades. The park has a very nice beach, docks, boat access, common washrooms, fire-pits, picnic tables, a roofed kitchen/entertainment area, 15 and 30 amp service, water and a dumping station around the corner. Your hosts, Glenn and Gwen live walking distance away (about a half mile) on the southwest side of the lake in their summer home. If you walk out the front door, you could actually fall into the lake, it’s that close. Gwen is quite the cook (loved those tarts!) and Glenn is actually famous, he was inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame (see picture). They are a couple of the nicest people you might ever meet and very hospitable. We did a show for the park Saturday afternoon. It was quite fun, just a little hot. We tried to get other people to sing as well, but I guess it works better at night. If you are south of Riding Mountain traveling the #16 highway and need a friendly place to camp for the night, their rates are $15 and $17 a night (right now), but because it is such a nice location you might want to stay a few days to a week or more. It’s hard to find a place with reasonable rates that has nice scenery, friendly people, fishing, boating and a beach. Glenn can be reached at 204-759-2801 for reservations.
July 8 to 12 - Gilbert Plains, the biggest little rodeo in Manitoba, maybe even in all of North America! What a place to be, the people are terrific! Hats off to Gayle Donald, Bob Galloway and everyone involved, they put on a fantastic rodeo for 3 days!
One thing I do have to say about the Family Foods Grocery in Gilbert Plains.... I don’t know who the butcher is there, but the beef was incredible. Two 5” diameter and 2” thick sirloin steaks cost less than seven dollars. Keep up the good work, it was the best beef we’ve had in Manitoba so far!
We also learned a few things here about the perils of weather and sound in an outdoor venue.
Day 1 - Shania Twang was performed on the first show date which was dry, however the wind was running about 30 to 40 kph. Between the dust getting into sensitive equipment and the wind noise in the “circle” and coming across the mics, you can have some serious problems, especially when the stands are 150 feet away across the “circle”, but the show must go on. We all have schedules to keep so that people won’t be disappointed. Everyone was very helpful and supportive and seemed to have a good time.
Day 2 - Karaoke in the afternoon started off slow, but we always had an audience with people coming into the beer tent or just stopping outside to listen, then it rained with a cold wind of what felt like about 10 degrees C and all the equipment had to moved and re-setup inside the beer tent. Once we moved the equipment inside the beer tent almost everyone wanted to sing. The balance of the karaoke went to about 6pm before we could get the equipment back to the RV. The second show on day 2 started at around 8pm and seeing as how it had just rained (and still was off and on), the ‘circle” was a bit muddy. This time we used preprogrammed computer equipment for the Shania song source instead of a CD player to reduce the number of problems we might encounter due to dust and rain, as well, we piped the powered mixer monitor outputs into the rodeo’s PA system. We got a lot better travel on the sound. The only real problem was there was zero time for a sound check as the show was delayed about 30 minutes by a missing spare rider in one of the rodeo paired-take-down events and a spooked horse in one of the enclosed gates. That put everything back a bit and the show had to be cut short so the rodeo events could continue before we lost daylight. After the rodeo restarted, the competitors went on until the sun touched the trees. Gayle’s foresight, timing abilities and expertise certainly paid off.
Day 3 - The rodeo started with chariots, chuck wagons and heavy horse pulls that topped out around 7200 pounds, quite amazing! We had a break and we were able to do a full sound check using our equipment in parallel with the rodeo PA system. Our sound guy, like the engineer standing under the bridge he designed while the train went overhead, stepped up and did two Johnny Cash songs. After he was finished (and had shown me the best area in which to perform) I did a number of Dolly Parton songs. This was followed by jumping directly into the rodeo with bronco busting, roping, barrel racing and the bull toss. We finished off the evening by helping clean up after the rodeo. It was an incredible 3 days! Our many thanks to Gayle Donald, Bob Galloway, their families, all the rodeo workers, the great food and people at the concession stands and of course, all of the riders and competitors. A special hello to Gary Hyde, who was always enthusiastic. They all did a fantastic job! If we are in this area again next year, I would give up a weekend of shows just go to the Gilbert Plains Rodeo.
June 26 - Kelwood Legion Branch 50 seems to be quite the spot for it’s size! Kelwood is a small town located between Lake Manito\ba and Riding Mountain Park, it didn’t even have town water until 1964 and the meetings to organize the water were held at the legion. The legion has an excellent Paschendale monument in the front of the building. The event was organized by Larry and we had what appeared to be about 120 people. The show was from 9 to 1 but, after the show ended there were still about 75 people staying so we continued until about 3am and Joy (bartender) didn’t get the legion closed until about 4am. Even though there was a wedding going on in one of the closer towns and a social in another, a good number of people came out for the show. It was a great crowd and the Legion did very well. Thanks again Larry and Joy, you both did a great job! I should have taken pictures and video of the show, but there just wasn’t time between the setup and all the costume changes.
June 25 - St Laurent Legion is located north on Hwy 6 on the east side of Lake Manitoba (west side of the highway). The legion sits on a very large and well kept piece of property about 2 km’s south of the town of Saint Laurent. Kathy organized the show placing posters as far away as neignbouring towns. Unfortunately it was for a smaller crowd as there were weddings going on at the time.
June 21 to 25 - King’s RV and Campground in Carman is a small but very well kept campground. It;s located close to the centre of Carman and is walking distance to pretty much everything, what a novel and excellent idea! The park has both drive-thru and back in lots with a mix of un-serviced and serviced sites. In serviced locations both water and 15 or 30 amp electrical is available. This is a very quiet park, not much happens here but nextdoor there is a community pool along with the town fair grounds and the Boyne River runs pretty much right behind the park. The nightly cost is very reasonable at $18 for a 30 amp serviced site with water. Payment is made at the local arena in the community recreation office (building with the blue front). Only drawback and it isn’t major unless you are staying more than 5 days is the sewage dump (free and off-site), which is only about 2 blocks away and on the same street as the Carman Motel. i would certainly stay here again!
June 20 - La Riviere, Wild Turkey Inn is in a beautiful valley location on Hwy 3 in Manitoba’s mid-southern region of the Pembina Valley at the Mary Jane River, about 20 kilometers from the US border. The owner, Rhonda, is very friendly and hospitable, and is running this hotel/motel and bar pretty much on her own with the help of great staff. The rooms are very clean and neat with a/c, satellite TV, microwave and bar fridge. The hot water is hot and works right away. So, there is excellent value for your money here. The restaurant/bar is split into 4 areas, casual dining in one room, bar in the next, pool tables with seating in the third and it has a very nice patio with about 8 benches. The food and prices were also very good. It’s an especially good location for large RV’s and trucks as there is parking for about 8 semi’s or RV”s across the road and two on the restaurant side. There is also a convenience store and laundromat next door. We began with music at 9pm and started the show at 10pm waiting for additional people to arrive and it went to about 2:15am. Sunday morning (father’s day) Rhonda and her staff prepared a fantastic brunch for about 50 people, it was an excellent spread worthy of any 4 star hotel. If you are ever passing through and need a meal or place to stay and regroup for the night, the Wild Turkey Inn is the right place as it resides in a beautiful location which is a real southern Manitoba gem.
June 16 to 19 - St Malo Provincial Park I found a little impersonal, the office staff were nice and very efficient but... I found the sites very closed in, you couldn’t really see anyone else (some people like that) but I like to be able to talk to people without having to knock on their doors or hunt them down. The park has a very nice lake with two beaches, a number of common water supply locates, sites with both 15 and 30 amp services and a common sewage dump location on the way out towards the front gate. Because of the amount of foliage, the mosquitos were brutal, bring OFF! The site we had was about $15.50 a night, had the 30 amp service and was large enough to take the 53 feet of RV and trailer in a drive through location, so it was a good price.
June 14/15/16 - Norris Lake Park on Hwy 17, 5km south of Innwood is a beautiful little park with camping. Unfortunately, there is no site electricity or running water (I suggested to the local Conservation Officer that they install electricity meters as it would probably pay for full time attendants and maintenance). The lake had a nasty fish kill-off over the 2008/2009 winter so it’s pretty dead for fishing this year and will probably take at least 3 years to recover. While there we met an extremely nice couple, John and Donna, who were taking a forced rest from their farm about 18 miles away. We spent part of the evening at their RV with their dogs in front of the fire until the mosquitos got the best of us. As you can see from the pictures, this is an excellent camping location.
June 13 - Hodgson, Sgt. Tommy Price Legion Branch 158 is located about midway between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba and is populated mainly by the indigenous North America Indians. The branch is named in the honour of Tommy Price who gave his life, along with so many of his peers in the second world war. Unfortunately this branch is closing, the last function was on June 13th. The house band, renamed Regal Smegal, played in between sets and opened the night. Many thanks to Phyllis and Hector who have been trying together to keep this branch open since 2007 (it’s a lot of hard work!) for all the people who support this legion. Thanks to the band, who should be booked all over, Eugene the lead guitar and singer (man what a nice gear setup!). Wayne on bass and singer (powerful voice bro) and of course Jimmy on the hammers (wicked beat on those original tunes!) Also thanks to Roxanne, Shirley, Vickie and Danny, the dancers and anyone I’ve missed. You’re a great bunch!
June 12 - Winnipeg Beach Legion Branch 61. What a beautiful location! The legion is the last building on the east end of Hamilton Avenue, so it looks right onto the park, Lake Winnipeg and the sunrise. It is a picturesque location and primarily a beach/retirement community with a local Department of Natural Resources site. I swear the mosquitoes here are the size of small birds! Apparently, after July 1st, this place is rocking, everyone comes out to their cottages. Walter is the gentleman that handles entertainment and Debbie manages the legion, both are great people and we even got Walter up to sing a little!
June 10 - Idle Wheels RV Park, Sandy Hook, MB is a nice little RV park with great rates. A bit wet while we were here, but not unpleasant. The park sits in a very flat area just west of Lake Winnipeg, so the water tends to pool, but the grass is very green, the sites are large and well kept (took 53 feet of RV and trailer), and the owners are very nice people. They have pay laundry, arcade, pay showers, water and electrical hookups, a well stocked convenience store and gated entry. RV dumping is in a single location for travelers and they do have a propane refill station! This was a short term 3 day stopover to arrange additional bookings, update web sites and try and get some youtube video up onto the internet using the nightmare known as the Bell Airstick. Very few TV channels here and unfortunately no WiFi, but it’s been quiet, a good rest and if I were in the area again I would certainly stop here.!
Going Into Manitoba
June 6 - Kenora Legion Branch 12 Kenora is a beautiful town of about 17,000 near the junction of Hwy’s 17 an 71. We had a small crowd at the Legion, too many things going on in town between the military events and harbourfront here in the Great White North. Still, the people that came (about 40) enjoyed themselves. Heather put on a steak, potato and salad spread and they looked so professional in their white and black Chef outfits, it was a really classy touch and the meal was great. After 4 sets of songs by Shania. Stevie with a little Johnny Cash thrown in, Heather’s husband got up and sang Sweet Home Chicago with my “Soundguy.” Then we got a real shocker, one of the people came up and sang Neil Diamond’s “Hello Again” and did a great job for someone coming in and just getting up to sing, he sounded a lot like Neil Diamond! Thanks to all the dancers and the lovely people in the front row who danced to almost everything and to the Native American artist, John Paul Lavand and his friend Janna (my soundguy says thanks, you made his night) for being so active and the etchings were fantastic (he sells the lithos). This guy can draw! I will put up scans of his work, John can be reached at 807-465-6759 if you would like to contact him to purchase his work. it really should be seen! Thanks again Heather and thanks for the use of the elevator and dolly, we’ll try to be back in September!
Fort Francis Area
June 5 - Atikokan Legion Branch 145. We had about 5% of the population! What a wild night!!! Again, we meet so many friendly and really good people on the road. Bea organized the event at the legion, she was so helpful and she did a great job getting people out for dinner and the show. We had a bit over 100 Shania and Stevie fans in total. The bar did great, the people had fun and we took a few videos which will be embedded soon in this page along with the pictures of the legion. Hi to the twins, Joanne and Gail, Lilly who did my hair, Rob for his help setting up, Bea of course, Jimmy (who should have sang, Will (who did sing) and all the others who participated in making it a great evening and night by doing all the actions and holding lighters !!. It was night to remember, what a place to be! If you are every running between Thunder Bay and Fort Francis or just want to take a long drive, stop into Atikokan and the Legion there, they again are some of the friendliest most hospitable people around.
Thunder Bay Area
June 2 - Birchwood RV Campground on Hwy 11/17, outside Red Rock. Denis and Margi are great hosts with a picturesque site across the street from a huge granite ejection (wall about 300 feet high). They have excellent overnight rates, their park is very clean with easy access to the highway. they have WiFi, laundry, showers, etc. and the best home cooked meals around. Everyone in the surrounding area right out to Terrace Bay and those passing through all agree and since we’ve tasted their cooking as well, we can concur, it’s great! You can reach Denis and Margi at 807-886-2440 for reservations, www.campthebirchwood.ca. We also met Phil McGuire who runs a farm but also operates as a wilderness tour guide. He took us by jeep to the local dam and falls as well as the scenic lookout locations he has created on top the local rather large granite landmark mentioned above, 200 feet plus is sheer rock face. Now there’s something for the rock climbers to play with while they stay at Birchwood since it is walking distance! It was a rough ride up to the cliff top and down to the dam but well worth it since the scenery was incredible. If you want to climb the rock face or take a wilderness tour, or maybe get some raw red slate for your floors or countertops, you can contact Phil at 807-886-1151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 30 - The Press Box Pub and Grill in Schreiber Ontario. We played Saturday night to a small group. Unfortunately, Chris didn’t have a lot of advance notice, but being the magnanimous and very friendly guy that he is, he went ahead and booked us. I have to say that even though the audience was small, they were a great bunch of people. When it comes to good people, Chris and his wife Judy are a great example. If you are ever in the Schreiber area, you should stop just to taste Chris and Judy’s cooking or you can stop at their little motel on the western edge of Schreiber, which they are in the process of opening. A note of interest on their present restaurant.. It’s haunted and the ghost does make appearances from time to time. Chris and Judy have explained that this particular entity shows itself as a young girl. Apparently a few years back, when the restaurant was an auto garage, there was a terrible accident very close on Hwy 17. The adults and child in one of the cars all died and the car was mangled to the point where the occupants couldn’t be removed, so the car was placed inside the garage overnight. Hence the reason for this rather pervasive presence, which I am told is quite the practical joker. Very memorable people, Chris and Judy Joubert, Loretta (pretty and she don’t take no crap) and Dave the singer who wouldn’t sing, maybe next time! If you’re in a band and you want a booking, you can phone Chris at 807-824-2424 but give him at least two weeks notice and give him a fair shake, if he books you don’t be playing in Terrace Bay as your next (or previous) gig as the towns are too close together. In the couple of days we had with Chris and Judy and their sons, we got to know them a little and it’s all good. Hi Alex from Shania Twang!
May 29 - Marathon Royal Canadian Legion. We played there Friday night. Bill (president) and Miriam (entertainment) run the legion. She’s a very bubbly lady, great attitude and both her and her husband are very active people. They support and run the local Air Cadets as well and they are doing a great job. While there, we learned a lot from the local people about the crazy corporopolitical madness in the mining and timber industries. The government has really let these people down and the real problem is, they are good people, hard working, honest and just trying to make ends meet. We all need political change, but in northern Ontario, they are on the front lines. Thanks again for having us Bob and Miriam!
May 23 - Richard’s Landing Royal Canadian Legion. Beautiful legion, very large and accommodating. You could put a full band on the stage and the hall looks like it could hold 300. Bill Fox was the “Jake” stand-in that night, great job! Jimmy Jackson (entertainment) was an excellent host, witty, and the boy can dance a jig!
May 22 - Thessalon Royal Canadian Legion. A good sized legion for a small town. The legion almost sits right next to the river a little south of the Bailey bridge. Sheila booked us and Marcel is the new president. Great guy and he is trying to implement plans to make the legion the place to be in the Thessalon area. It wasn’t a huge crowd when we played, maybe 60 people, but there were a lot of active patrons and good dancers, especially when we put on the dance music at the end. A lot of patrons especially enjoyed the Stevie Nix and Shania costumes and were singing along. Thanks again Marcel and Sheila! Thanks again for the drinks, Marcel and the patrons who invited us to the bar across the street later on. It was great getting to know you all better.
May 16 - North Bay Royal Canadian Legion. Even though a small crowd attended this show, they were very responsive and interactive. Cd’s were sold, a fellow played along with the spoons. Some great dancers here. Very nice legion with a great staff, especially the bartender who brought “Shania” a coffee. It was a blustery windy night but those in the crowd braved the elements and had a great time as we did. This is a very large and very new legion. Thanks to cousins Jill and Wayne, LIsa and second cousin Oliviia and Uncle Jim and Aunt Ann for coming out to this show. This weekend was Ann’s birthday party weekend!
May 15 - Sturgeon Falls Royal Canadian Legion A few die hard Shania fans here. Lots of dancing and singing along added to the fun. It was incredible as people danced to every song. The legion is in a beautiful location, right beside the dam on the Surgeon River. When you step outside the back, you can almost feel the spray! Thanks again Gloria for having us. Thanks to Rochelle for the makeup tips! We were glad to see that cousins, Leslie and Stephen could make it out to this show. Stephen is Sgt. at Arms at Callander Legion.
May 10 - Mattawa Royal Canadian Legion. This legion decided to have a tea and show for Mother’s Day and it worked out quite well for them. The tables were set beautifully and there were many young volunteer waitresses. It is nice to see young people get involved in the legions! It was very nice to talk to the couple whose daughter is in the entertainment industry. The “baker” at the legion was very gracious in giving us some of the delicious sandwiches and treats for the road. thanks so much!
May 8 - Powassan Royal Canadian Legion. This was one of “Just Dolly’s” first appearances. All seemed to enjoy the music and sang along and danced. Some even joined in the singing! Some great dancers here! We were greeted by Debbie when we pulled up and photos were taken of “Shania” and Debbie. An enjoyable evening was had by all!
May 2 - Kearney Royal Canadian Legion. Carla the bartender and Vic the president were very personable people. A very friendly crowd, who enjoyed the show and the dance music after the show, including “Just Dolly’s” first appearance. It all went on till 1:30 am.
May 1 - Bracebridge Royal Canadian Legion. Despite two deaths within the legion membership those who did attend had a great time and we continued to sing long after the show finished until 1am. Great meals served on Fridays. We enjoyed the chicken breast and salads courtesy of the legion. Check their Friday dinners out if you are in the area!