[From the files of Doug Sheppard. (aka Sirilyan) Fiona has never been west of Ontario. Yet.]
Finally, I am in a place of refuge - a net cafe on 82nd Avenue in Edmonton, Alberta, where I can write up my notes from the past two days in Calgary. These are fragments of memory, dredged by my PalmPilot and my foggy mind.
I arrived in Calgary to an overcast sky and a reasonably cold day on WestJet. WestJet is a local prairie airline with regular service between most urban centres in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and B.C. They're ULTRA cheap and very good. Fly them if you are in the region. I am not a shill. The Fruvous references started on WestJet very early, when our stewardess, BJ, introduced herself to the passengers on the return from Winnipeg....
I met Doug Levy past the security checkpoint and we went off to the rental car shuttle. When we got a chance to pick up the car we got directions to pick up a rare and precious modem cable he required. It took, and I'm not making this up, one turn for us to become lost. Eventually we found a Computer City, which did not have the rare modem cable, and then dispatched our weary selves to the hostel.
Those who have never stayed in a hostel, this is what awaits you: you sleep six or eight to a room and meet people from *all* over the world. It is a great experience. After dropping off stuff at the hostel we went out to the venue - the Dalhousie Community Centre.
Let nobody confuse this with the Halifax university. Please, for the love of God, don't confuse the two.
On the way to the community centre we got caught in rain. Cold, icky rain that turned into hail. I was impressed, because Saskatchewan doesn't often get hail (it hasn't in all the time I have been there) and Doug had never seen the experience. He asked the difference between hail and sleet. "Sleet," said I, "sounds cooler."
Let no person say I do not have unplumbed depths within me.
We arrived at the venue and got a chance to talk to the boys for a bit while we waited outside the door. This show was sponsored by the Calgary Folk Club, and this meant two things: first, we would be seated after all the season ticket holders, and second, that the crowd would be, well, old.
We struck up a conversation with a visiting Canadian named Janet, who joined us as we found seating roughly stage Murray and many yards back. I purchased a cola which arrived in this rather ungodly glass *flagon*! I felt like a Viking, dining at his table in Valhalla. It felt like I should have a pointy hat and a duck named Kvaak.
My fears were kindled by the house band, the Wild Colonial Boys, who were all not really boys anymore (except Fiona, the fiddler, known as The Sponge because she picks up tunes quickly). It was an interesting traditional Irish set, with some spice by way of the Rock - I'se Da B'y. God, I haven't heard that in years.
While wandering around after the opening act, I noticed someone else in the audience was wearing the same hat (an Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale hat) that I was. Keith's is the best beer in Canada, as any self-righteously proud Maritimer can attest, so I went over to say hello. My newfound comrade-in-hops was from Moncton, New Brunswick and was attending his first Fruvous show ever! I also met someone at the merch table working alongside Tobey who told me that her roof had been destroyed by hail. Suddenly the weather wasn't quite so much a treat.
Fruvous hit the stage at about 9:20pm, and didn't even get into their first song before announcing that this would be a special all-mime set. There are only so many mime jokes you can do, and Mike and Dave instantly cut into number one (of two), the look-it's-a-glass-wall act. (Trivia fact: mime was invented because Napoleon outlawed theatre. We really CAN blame the French for everything.)
Eventually (and I do mean eventually :-) came the opener - Message. Not really surprising, considering this was a folk club show. They cut instantly into BJ and Jockey. At the end of the song, Jian asked for applause, then asked again, and when he got it chided the crowd for their insincerity. Such insincerity would surely offend Reginald Calgary, for whom the city was named, and we were treated to the Reginald Calgary Theme Song - a song, we learned, which was later exploited by Steven Spielberg for Close Encounters.
(I just report 'em, folks, I don't write 'em.)
Horseshoes followed and then a very, very nice intro. Jian mentioned the happiness of Calgary, and why wouldn't they be happy with the booming Alberta economy, caused by Ralph Klein? Or caused despite Ralph Klein, perhaps? Jian's attempt to talk about the hard-drinking premier met with swift correction from Mike. Ralph's a *cocaine hound*, not a booze hound. (I, being from Saskatchewan, found all this hilarious. Everyone in Saskatchewan knows that although individual Calgarians may be okay, and individual Albertans may be okay, Calgary and Alberta are both Evil. TexasLite, one might say.) But hey, if nothing else, Ralph does have one good point... (you know what's coming).... he's not Mike Harris.
(Great, now I've pissed off all the Texans. And the Ontario Tories. No, wait, they all left long ago.)
But the good thing about the booming economy is that everyone at the club has, or had, or will have... an employer. Who knows what pay equity will be bringing from dear old boss?
Post-Moon came an old fave I'd not heard in quite some time - Tureen. Then Sauce and King of Spain, complete with wiseass audience participation (Jian: "No, it's *not* Ralph f'ing Klein!") I was the *only* person to shout out "Don't mention Lisa!" (which Drea and I had done in Winnipeg and Saskatoon). Dave actually tilted an ear, waiting for it. I almost got self-conscious. :-) Almost.
A folk music society show must be one of the few places where the "leftover hippies" line is guaranteed to work. "Besides, this is Alberta. They all have guns."
And then came a special guest... my god, it's Lou Reed! I hadn't heard Dancing in AGES, so this was new for me.
After a short intermission, time to renew beer and cup'o'peanuts, came back onstage Our Heroes (no, not me and Doug Levy, Our Other Heroes, the ones who can sing). "We don't sound like that, do we?" asked Jian before cutting into Authors - a mundane, straight-ahead, brand-new-novels Authors. (Of course, they were playing for a crowd full of new folks.) Then came River and the much-beloved arachnid hero from 400 billion years ago, Spiderman! Mike was out in the crowd for it, jumping on tables and all. Cordless mics are a godsend. "Did you notice that people got that look?" Jian asked afterward. "Don't look at them. Let's pretend they're not there, I don't like this band anymore." (I've had that look myself. I know what he meant. So did everyone else.)
A plug for Tobey at the merch table came next, with the kind information that the folk club would give four free drinks to anyone who purchased a CD. In fact, they were giving twenty dollars to anyone who bought a disc. What could be a better bargain?
After this little foray into crass commercialism (well, not particularly, but I like saying "crass") we heard some new material. Well, new to *them* - Hold and Pisco. We were then treated to yet another special guest star. It's he of the grey hat and the crochety ways, Ed Broadbent! No, just kidding. It was, of course, Grandpa Fruvous, who received the best reaction of the night by leading the call-and-response of Minnie.
The second set closed with Kids (Murray's expression was priceless, until he started cracking up....) and Darlington. The boys rocked themselves off the stage in Potion, even managing to give it local flavour, talking about the Calgary Flames - maybe, Mike hoped, they'd win *twenty* games!
After going offstage for the few moments it took to get the crowd to their feet, the boys came back to compliment Calgary on their fine steak, and their fine salmon. The vegetables were crap, but, they came from Ontario....
It is so odd hearing Drinking without a verse for the audience. It is so odd hearing nobody *singing*. My God.
From Doug Levy:
OK, I'm not really good at taking notes and writing stuff up, so I hope y'all will forgive if my review of the two shows in Calgary is short and sweet.
Both shows were at local folk clubs in community centers. This is a new concept for me, and I was impressed. Both shows were part of a subscription series and I think each one (the entire subscription season) sold out. (Thank God for the guy on Friday whose girlfriend couldn't come, as I foolishly overlooked getting tickets ahead of time.) These folks enjoy coming out for music each weekend. But I'm not quite sure they were all ready for Moxy Fruvous! (This was generally an older crowd. The opener on Friday was a house band that did Irish folk music. The opener on Saturday did country music, which I gather is native to Calgary.)
The sets Friday and Saturday were similar, giving the unfamiliar a good flavor of what sets MF apart from any other musical group. The Gospel version of "Message" opened, followed by BJ and then a good mix of the old and new.
The special treat was that both nights were two-set shows, with a brief intermission, after which we got some new songs like Pisco Bandito, plus Authors, River Valley and the Drinking Song closed out both shows.
Saturday in particular the guys seemed to be having fun -- especially with a running poke-fun-at-Tobey theme. (I was sitting in a spot where I was able to watch Tobey laughing as hard as everyone else at the jokes, too, which was nice.)
And although the music was awesome and special, the shows were missing something for me: lots of Fruheads! It was pretty awkward when I realized that Doug Sheppard (Siriliyan) of Saskatoon and I were the only ones singing along to the Drinking Song!
Despite that, the performances were great, the people were friendly and the city was pretty nice, too. Another worthwhile Fru-trip for me.
Hope to see lots of you at future shows.
Some other tidbits from the performance include: