Saturday, March 08, 2008

Play the Jukebox

I am snowed in, along with the rest of the city. We are getting some record snowfall here in Ottawa, and I've stopped fighting it. There is no going outside today.

So far I've just been drinking tea and eating pumpkin muffins, feeling thankful that I don't have anywhere to be. I'm also very glad the weather wasn't like this last night during the show, or we wouldn't have had much of an audience. A few snowmen and a pickled egg. Perhaps a bartender. But the place was packed, much to my surprise.

The show itself was... An experience. I think we played well, but it was hard to tell because the crowd was so, so loud. I understand. People go to the Elmdale to drink, not to hear music. That's a-ok with me. But maybe that makes it a less-than-stellar venue to record music. Just a thought. A few of the regulars didn't want to pay cover and seemed to resent having bands ruining their Friday night. Many of them had been drinking since noon, and were very drunk during the show. Normally, I would laugh this kind of stuff off. It's part of playing live music. But with the added pressure of being recorded for national radio, it had me a little freaked out. I couldn't really hear myself playing, and it was hard to tell if we were staying in tune. That's a bad feeling to have halfway through a set. Also, some dude kept yelling "fuck!" at the top of his lungs, probably guaranteeing that we can't air a few of the songs. My dad eventually went over and talked to him. Then the guy (and his entire table) left. I love my dad. He'll always be a biker at heart. I don't really want to know what he said to make that guy leave.

Generally though, people were very nice. Even the guy who was so drunk that he kept handing me a loonie, and insisting that I "keep playing the jukebox like you've been doing all night." And the guy who, when I asked him for cover, said, "how about I give you cover, and you give me beer." Nice one, jackass. I think he actually made me feel a little violent.

The venue itself was like something out of a movie. It's been around for almost 75 years, I think, and apparently it's trying to shed its seedy reputation. The new owners have done a great job so far, putting in new bathrooms, functional televisions and getting rid of the tenants that were living in the rooms above the bar. I had the (mis)fortune of wandering through those rooms before my set. There are about seven old apartments in the building, all semi-gutted and creepy as fuck. Peeling paint, flickering lights, ancient rotting furniture, and a smell of sewage that will never go away. You can just feel the desperation and depression leaking out of the walls. One of the musicians later told me that someone had been murdered there when he first moved to Ottawa. Nice...

I had hoped to get good and drunk after my set, but I kept getting distracted. Some of my favourite local musicians had come to the show, and I was busy being star struck and wishing I could think of something interesting to say. Nope. I was too stressed out to be witty. And I still had to perform a song with Andy Swan during his set, which ended up being wicked fun. He is a very sweet guy. I like it when someone as soft spoken as Andy comes out with a song where the main word is "starfucker." I also like that he seemed to be playing a 12-string guitar with only six strings on it. I mean, why not?

My banjo pickup worked like a dream. THANK GOD.

I had a few friends show up from far far away. Okay, Montreal isn't that far away, but these friends basically came just to see the show. That was so very nice. I wanted to hug them and hug them. I may also have been trying to escape from the "loonie" guy at that point. He actually wouldn't leave me alone, and I had to take his loonie and promise to play music on the jukebox.

It turns out that the concert will be used for Canada Live, but also for Bandwidth. I was sort of on overload when I found this out, so I haven't had a chance to get excited yet. I love Bandwidth. If you had told me last year that I would be performing on Bandwidth, I would have laughed you out the door. Haha. Just like that.

I hope that was an acceptable description of my night, because I'm feeling a little brain dead. I just finished a Scrabble game where my most complicated word was "Jew." I'm going to go bake some tofu and make a big salad. And if I need to open my side door to reach the recycling box, I'll have to wait, because the snow is blocking the door.

Fuckity fuck fuck.


Robin said...

Thanks for the great description of a night at the Elmdale. That place scares me. I wish I'd been there!

Andrea... said...

Robin, if you had been there, I would have been hiding behind you most of the night! Glad you liked the description... It would be quite a place to photograph, actually.

zoom said...

When they renovated did they get rid of the wall of photographs of dead regulars? I loved that wall. How about the giant jar of pickled eggs? Is that still there?

Milan said...

I really enjoyed your set, and have been enjoying your album almost continuously ever since. "Glory Box" is wonderfully melodic.

Now that it has been fed to my iPod, I think I might send the physical CD to a friend who is the president of a radio station in Vancouver.

Andrea... said...

Zoom: The wall is still there, I think... And so are the pickled eggs. But the toilets are real fancy pants. They have two different flushing options.

Milan: Ummmm. I believe you mean Glory Cup. If I had written a song called Glory Box, well, let's just not go there.... Glad you like it so much.

Milan said...

Ack. Apologies. I blame... spending the evening at the airport, learning about the particular ways in which flights have been delayed.

Also, I blame Portishead.