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Esso station near Sherwood Park, Alberta (just east of Edmonton) during our “Edmonton Breakdown”. Seen here are Leslie (Art’s ex), Art, Ben the Dog and our band truck.

Colin at the Riviera, Edmonton, Alberta. This was one of the stops on our 1980 Cross-Canada Tour.

Flat tire being repaired at 11PM, after spending the day at the Esso station!

As luck would have it, a 12 hour drive to Portage was still necessary, and although we had “come down”, we were now tired and not eagerly anticipating the ride. But ride we did, now driving through the Prairies in the dark. I recall stopping at a diner in Saskatoon and wearily asking the waitress for iced tea -- you’re right, I received lukewarm tea with no ice! We would swap drivers at each gas stop, and once where I was the driver, I stopped for a Coke at Lloydminster, Sask, intending to drink it while continuing on the journey. On finishing the drink, I was confronted with an empty bottle, and rather than just toss it behind the seat, I drove over into the oncoming lane and rolled down the window to throw the bottle into the ditch. Leslie was sleeping beside me, but as I veered into the opposing lane, she woke up and thought I’d fallen asleep at the wheel. At that point, she grabbed the steering wheel and yelled, “Colin, wake up!!”.  

At noon that day (now Monday), we eventually arrived at the Albion Hotel in Portage, where Buzz and Woody were frantic about where we’d got to. To their credit, they’d unloaded the band truck and half-heartedly set up our stage gear, expecting that we’d unfortunately been involved in a nasty highway accident. Instead, they were confronted by a ragtag crew of lethargic drones who just wanted to sleep the rest of the day! Art and I suggested that we cancel the Monday night show, as there was absolutely no way we would be in any condition to stand up, let alone sing cheerful songs for a rabid audience. The bar owner, though, would have none of it, and as a no-show was not an option, we forced ourselves to go through the motions and be an actual rock n roll band! I don’t remember any details of the evening’s performance, but I suspect that I played exactly the same as I always did, and total strangers would not be aware of any difference.

The longest night I’d ever endured -- but I certainly got a good night’s sleep after the show!

The Albion Hotel, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

Week One

Squamish, BC

Week Two

A full week in the Riviera Hotel in Edmonton, Alberta

Week Three

A full week in the Albion Hotel, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba (I do believe it burned down recently)

Week Four

A full week in the Norlander Hotel in Winnipeg (known in WPG as “The Zoo”)

Week Five

A full week at Bunny’s, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Week Six

Various gigs in Toronto, Ontario, including opening for Goddo at Yonge Station

Week Seven

Absolutely nothing on the way back to BC. Please head home and do not pass GO!

As the Beatles and the Grateful Dead had experienced before us, it wasn’t long before we eventually discovered the swirling roller coaster world of acid. We happily found that its endless varieties (purple microdots, windowpane, yellow sunshine, blotter in comic strip colors) was more like a welcome old friend, and used wisely & not abused, could enhance our perception of performing. As any Deadhead could tell you, though, your “trip” will entirely depend on your inner stability and personality. Like alcohol, if you are a stable person to begin with, you will have fun -- if, however, you are inwardly messed up, either acid or alcohol will reflect your inner disposition and you will be an evil force to be reckoned with!

This preamble is merely an introduction to set the scene. No, we weren’t drug addicts by any stretch of the imagination, but still enjoyed more of a buzz than beer could provide. With this in mind, join us on the first leg of our 1980 Cross-Canada Tour!

This tour involved some creative booking by our agent, who sent us on a merry jaunt across our Great Land:

Anyway, let’s concentrate on the Edmonton stint... After fulfilling our engagement at the Riviera Hotel, we were faced with a LONG drive to the next gig, in a location where, if the Earth was to receive an enema, this could be the place where the tube would be inserted. Oh, PLP is a FINE town with plenty of amenities, but not the sort of destination a travelling rock band (or anyone, for that matter) would put on their Bucket List. Don’t send me any nasty letters, OK?

For some reason, we decided to split up the touring members into two vehicles: Buzz Constantly and Woody (our sound man) would drive to Portage in Buzz’s Grand Torino station wagon (nicknamed “Jaws” due to the structural damage on the car’s grille), and Art and I would drive in the band truck, a 3-Ton Tilden rental. On this tour, we were joined by Art’s wife Leslie (as I write this, now his ex-wife), and the three of us crammed into the cab of the truck, heading eastward on the Yellowhead Highway. We were well aware that the journey would be a prolonged Sunday drive through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, so it was mutually agreed that we all would partake of the afore-mentioned acid to make the expedition a pleasant one. In other words, each drop a hit to make the day go by quicker. Which the three of us did, not anticipating any unforeseen circumstances...

Any non-psychic could have told us that after an hour on the road, something would happen to ensure this was to be a “bum voyage”. Sure enough, shortly after we’d been motoring along, the inevitable flat tire reared its ugly head. By the now the acid had kicked in,  guaranteeing a protracted feeling of helplessness, as in: “NOW what the hell do we do?” It was obvious that changing the tire would be beyond our capabilities in our altered state, although we did stop at the next gas station to arrange such an undertaking. We babbled something that sounded like “Can you fix a flat tire?”, but the gas station attendants were merely amused, and had a good laugh at our expense (30 years later, their grandchildren will most likely ask, “Hey Grandpa, tell us the story about the stoned rock musicians in your gas station!”).

We managed to limp across the highway to an Esso Voyager station, where we unintelligibly explained our plight to the staff. I think the term “metric lock nut” was brought up, but we thought it would make perfect sense to sit in the vehicle, awaiting further assistance. And that’s where we sat for the next 12 hours, admiring cloud formations and babbling nonsense to each other!

By about 11pm, we were regaining consciousness, so to speak, and returned to the Land of the Living. It was at this point that we became aware that, since we were renting a Tilden truck, then perhaps we should phone Tilden Road Assistance for any and all repairs. You think? After calling the Edmonton Tilden office and describing our breakdown, a tow truck arrived and replaced the flat tire within 15 minutes!

Buzz at the Albion Hotel, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

Made on a Mac

by Colin “Captain Maniac” Hartridge