Kumi Masunaga, Tamara Norris and I did a three-gig tour of Ontario, Canada in December 2012. Kumi played the cajone and Tam was our all in one booking agent/tour manager/PR girl/roadie.Jasmine’s, Port Dover, Ontario -13 Dec 2012
I look at Tam with serious concern. “Do they know what kind of music I play? It’s not tinkle-tinkle little star stuff.” “Don’t worry, they heard your music on the site and they said you can play.” That didn’t make me feel any better.
My thoughts drifted back to the last time I played in front of a crowd of eaters. Reign and I were in a burrito bar in St Louis, Missouri playing to college students. You could see some of them attempting to look towards the stage, but panic was in their eyes. I could hear what they were thinking. “What if the insides of my burrito squish out all over my face and all over my friends’ face too?” I understood, of course. It’s a real challenge eating a burrito the size of daschund while watching musicians play.
I check out the menu at Jasmine’s. Baked brie, gnocchi, pan-fried salmon with seasonal vegetables. This was a fine dining establishment! What if my songs of lost hope, desperation and despair turn the diners off their dinners. Will they make it all the way to dessert? Kumi and I have to play three sets!
First set: people paying attention. Nobody retches or gags on asparagus. Second set: eaters manage to multi-task Food and Music. All fine. Nobody chokes on crab cakes or purges their main course. Third set: a quick look over at the tables near stage left. The plates have been licked clean!
Diners hang back for coffees and chat amongst each other. They look… relaxed!
The place got pretty rambunctious. Some guy yelled out “Hey, you play a good song there, girl!” And a lady came over to our table to say she liked our music. Turns out my songs didn’t ruin anyone’s appetite.Slainte’s, Hamilton, Ontario – 16 Dec 2012
Kumi and I play at Steve Strongman’s
gig. Steve’s a bluesman and I love the blues so it was a privilege to be able to play a few songs on his Sunday night slot at Slainte’s. The last time Tam and I saw Steve play was in 2007. Since then Steve got signed up, won the 2011 Maple Blues Award for Guitar Player of the Year and now tours the world. For the first time in a long while I’m feeling unnerved.
We order food and drinks: buffalo wings, fish and chips, hot chocolate, Rickard’s White and we settle down to listen to Steve. BB King says, “…that the blues means when a man has lost his woman. Which is all he had.” Well, Steve’s voice sounds just like that. It’s full of soul. Steve is a great lead guitarist too and he uses a loop box so that he can play those leads.
Kumi and I are on after Steve’s first set and we play a few songs. I play my alt-blues songs, Pocket
so I can fit in with the style of the night. My voice seems so loud – raucous. I’m not used to playing in quiet places where people sit and listen.
Steve plays his second set and he dedicates a song to Tam (because she’s getting married). He starts singing Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together
, which just happens to be Tam and James’ song! Steve calls Kumi up on stage to play a song with him and we dance. The Cat and the Fiddle, Hamilton, Ontario – 30 Dec 2012
Our last gig of our miniature tour! Tam’s friend, Jackie, helped get us this gig cuz she works here. Kumi and I have three sets to play again. We have some dinner first: shepherds pie, liver and onions, a salad and a plate of fried food (I don’t know what that is, but I thought they’d ordered fried fruit!).
Half way through the third set I feel the floor shift. Tam starts fading in and out. Something hot and furious is taking over my insides. First, my stomach, then my heart and then my brain. I start talking and talking. Talking fast, just saying anything. The words keep coming out of my mouth. Next I’m telling stories about earthquakes in India. Then I say “And look at the snow! Have you seen all the snow out there? It’s just lying around all over the place.”
So, that’s what happens when you do a shot before your last set. - Sue