rockingsmugglers03.jpg (133843 bytes)The Smugglers "Don’t Mess Around With Beez" Ontario Tour 2002

Starring…

Your Smugglers (Beez, Dave, Graham, Grant, and Nick)

featuring the return of our roadie… the Canadian King Of Ska … DJ Ska-T

When a band has been kicking around as long as the Smugglers have, sometimes touring to familiar places to see familiar faces is more appealing than… trying to pop new ass-cherries in unknown territories, if you know what I mean. Not that we don’t still do that of course, but it was with the above thoughts in mind that we accepted the invitation by the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto to be a part of their "Canadian Music Week" showcases this year. And of course every time we go out to Ontario we always try to play other cities we really enjoy, too. Here’s what happened on our latest trek:

Wed Feb 27 02, The Dominion Tavern, Ottawa ON w/ the Glads

cold suit.jpg (29308 bytes)Stuffed in the familiar confines of a mini-van and roaring up the frozen 401 towards Ottawa, all of us were pretty happy and stoked to be in touring mode again, our first strip of asphalt since the prairies in November. Tim Hortons, Taco Bell, the Big Apple – we hit all the important stops on the way to Canada’s capital city. And a trip to play Ottawa was as timely as it could get for us – the Canadian Men and Women’s hockey teams had both just whipped the USA for two Olympic gold medals. The entire country of Canada was in a partying frenzy, especially in the capital. And here we were… to capitalize!

We arrived on time at the dusty ol’ Dominion Tavern in Ottawa’s Market district to be greeted by the owners, Ron and Al, who always cook up a big spread. Last time it was venison stew (like, deer), this time ham hocks! Not really sure what a hock is but it was pretty damn delicious as usual.

Beez missed the dinner for two reasons. One, he’s a militant bull-dyke vegetarian, and two, he’s recently been sucked hook line and sinker into this pop-up advertisement/web site thing called "classmates.com". Sure enough, Beez saw the flashing ad on his computer screen, immediately clicked on it, signed up and was suddenly in touch with all sorts of lonely fogies he went to high school with and hadn’t seen in at least twenty – I mean – ahem – TEN years or so. And since Beez grew up in Ontario and most of the losers he went to school with never left the barrens of central Canada, he arranged a series of Beez reunions at these shows.

Sure enough, off in the least-soiled corner of the Dominion sat Beez, holding court with several other middle-aged, nervous-looking people of all fashions, shapes, sizes and baldness. According to these people, Beez was once a very funny, charming, and handsome person! Huh.

Opening up this show was a new Ottawa rock ‘n’ roll band rockingsmugglers02.jpg (149351 bytes)called the Glads, featuring none other than our ol’ pal Pat "The Shanker" Shanks, whose many different bands have played with us in Kingston and Ottawa for years and years and years. The Glads look to be his best effort yet – they played a set of sizzling selections that made our hearts flutter to follow them.

Our worries were for naught however, as the full house at the Dominion welcomed us back very warmly and we had a good, solid, sweaty set. Before the show we grabbed a few Canadian flags and patches, adding them to our outfits, so during the performance we waved the Maple Leaf proud and true, milking Canada’s recent surge of patriotism for all it was worth. The crowd sucked it up.

While we were rocking away on stage, oblivious to us, a very unlikely celebrity occurrence went down at the merch booth. DJ Ska-T SWEARS upon all the countless ass-cherries he’s ever popped, that Moby, yes THEE Moby, wandered into the club, watched us for awhile, then came over and bought a Smugglers record!! Ska-T was admittedly slightly skeptical at first, thinking it could be just another ugly little bald British person, but kept his ska-vision on him and watched kids come up to him all night, shaking his hand, hugging him, and taking his picture!! It MUST have been Moby! Even deeper investigation the next day showed that Moby was indeed in Ontario for a promotional tour for his new record! It WAS Moby!!!

Squirrel Boy.jpg (181083 bytes)And so thank you! Thank you to Moby, the Dominion and all our friends in Ottawa for a great night! The trip was more than worthwhile to see friends like the guys from the Stand GT, Furnace Face, Rhume, the legendary Squirrel Boy and his new hockey jersey from India, Squirrel Boy’s obnoxious buddy, friends from Montreal, and a bunch of wild Moncton kids up in the front row.

And yes, the classmates.com crowd hung around, got drunk, stayed awake, assumed that Beez must be gay now, loved the show!

 

Thur Feb 28, Call The Office, London ON w/ Milemarker, New Town AnimalsLondon.jpg (58379 bytes)

London Ontario is one of those cities where we haven’t played since we did all the touring for Selling The Sizzle. So that means the last time we rocked this joint was back in August of 1996. Six looonnngg years ago. On the drive down to London our usually sharp memories proved a little foggy trying to remember the details of that show… and checking the tour diaries of old it seemed that the only thing worth mentioning was when some little stalker man followed Dave throughout the club and then right into the bathroom. While Dave had his "sausage roll" hanging out of his pants at the urinal, the stalker slid up beside Dave and went into an animated rant. He insisted that he HAD TO BE the subject of our song "Especially You", all the while blowing nauseous cigarette smoke directly onto Dave’s face and exposed crotch. "Get away from me, you little bitch!" Dave yelled.

Ok, so here’s the bottom line with our return to London: it stiffed harder than Dave’s sausage roll. Big time. Yup, we can play St. Catherines, just an hour east of London and pack the joint. Buffalo? Buff-tastic. Detroit? Deet-rific . London? Fuckin nothing! We returned to the club after eating dinner (and catching as much as we could of Episode 1, Survivor Marquesas - awesome) to find the club sitting at about 60 heads at about 10PM. Not so great, especially since half of them seemed to be from classmates.com. Our memories quickly started to recall why we hadn’t returned to this town. We had few London fans then and seemingly fewer now! Nonetheless, we were of course resigned to put on as good a show for the souls in attendance.

Jeffy Chucky.jpg (128758 bytes)Our Mint Records label-mates the New Town Animals were also supposed to be playing the show, but due to some fucked up flight plans (like us, they also flew out to Toronto to play Canadian Music Week) they called in totally late, saying they weren’t going to make it to the club til midnight and they were scheduled to play at 10:30PM!

So the club empty and the bill fucked up, the other opening band took the stage. Called Milemarker, from Chicago, I guess they were none too happy about the turn out either, so they totally berated the crowd with insults. Here’s the deal plain and simple: if some Americans ever wonder why other nations find them at times arrogant, this band’s stage banter was a PRIME example. Here they were, in Canada, as our country had metaphorically hard-cock aplenty, jizzing with pride and patriotism following the Olympics, and there they stood, calling Canadians "wussies", asking if we even have an army to defend ourselves, calling us stupid for not carrying guns… the cliché mountie and border crap… on and on, their whole set, all the usual ignorant bullshit, and this from a fucking indie-rock band!!! I took it upon myself to heckle them, something I have never done to a band we’re actually playing with. In a flash of patriotic rage, I came up with this gem: "Canadians are the best! Kiss my hairy fat one!"

Funny thing was that before their show the Milemarker people seemed kinda nice, modest and quiet… huh. A poorly misjudged use of schtick? Still not cool.

Our set was fine, and the kids that were there seemed to mildly enjoy it. Fuck, even Beez’ classmates.com didn’t stick around. Only one old, old friend of Beez’ hung tough, a very successful artist that claims it was Beez who inspired him to become a painter! So now this rich artist guy Steve is married to a hot chick with great tits, they have two kids, a cool dog, a mini van and a huge house, and here’s his inspirational mentor, Beez: mired in Vancouver’s uncircumcised phone sex industry, "living" in East Van, and STILL playing in his delusional band, tonight in some empty shit-hole club in Nowheresville, Ontario. Ouch.

A special hey-thanks to Tony, What Wave Dave, Mike from the New Grand, and PJ from Ruth’s Hat for making it to the show!

Fri Mar 1, the Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, w/ Robin Black, More Plastic, Three Minute Miracles

Horseshoe.jpg (167099 bytes)So we shook off the doldrums of London and make a beez-line for our home away from home, the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. Every venue in North America could get SCHOOLED by Jeff and Craig, the guys who run this place. They know how to treat the bands with CLASS! No fucking around, everything really organized and pro, great drinks, food, fun, you name it. Top that off with an always-packed house and there’s just about no better place to play.

Tonight was our official "Canadian Music Week" showcase and there were several acts on the bill that drew folks from various scenes, so the placed was jammed up tighter than Dave’s ass after one too many Immodium pills.

After the first few acts, one of the more ‘hyped’ performers of the festival played right before us, a Toronto band called "Robin Fucking Black And The Intergalactic Rock Stars", (IRS for short). Wow were they slick, and sweet holy mary mother of christ were they obnoxious! I mean, Your Smugglers like the odd fun curse word here and there as much as the next rock band, but, and we kid you not, this Robin Black guy swore violently at the crowd EVERY SECOND WORD. Sometimes every SINGLE word. Like "FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK, MOTHERFUCKER!" They were basically a big loud glam rock band, complete with pyrotechnics, and feather boas, and graffiti cannons, and fur coats, and fully exposed, snow white, hairless torsos. Spooky. Gimme some chest hair or go home! Their one admittedly cool "prop" was their very own cocktail waitress/bartender behind a little bar, ON STAGE, mixing the band members drinks. The not so cool aspect, besides the ‘tude-on-ten, was the constant blasting of a smoke machine (the worst prop in the history of rock’n’roll), causing the audience to choke on fumes and the fire alarm to go off constantly throughout their set. Is that fun in anyway or I am just sounding like someone from classmates.com?

An interesting warm-up act for us nonetheless. Once all the disgusting smoke and goth chicks had cleared out it left a room full of folks wanting to have fun and experience a band that didn’t verbally ass rape them between every song. So yeah-yeah, we had another hallmark Horseshoe show; it is always such a blast to play the club that really is the crossroads of Canada. We also pulled a rare move on this show: we did the ol’ full outfit change between the "main set" and the "encore", going from completely black to completely white, so if you haven’t seen us do this, the next time we do, please act shocked, surprised and delighted. Oh! And apparently, according to Nick this time, Moby was ONCE AGAIN at our show!! Moby at TWO Smugglers shows in one week! Other celebrity sighting: Judah Bauer from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

Classmates.jpg (214934 bytes)At one point in the show I asked "so who here is from classmates.com?", and, NO JOKE, the responsive roar almost knocked us on our asses. Sure enough, poorly dressed and dumpy hordes of Beez’ classmates.com collective converged on the show tonight, getting embarrassingly plastered, re-kindling old high school flings left and right. Spouses be damned on this night – the Beez-initiated reunion was officially an out-of-control infidelity-fest. The beer goggles were firmly in focus, viagra was the "popper" of choice, the condom machine was working overtime. There was no turning back for these over-the-hill glory seekers. And we’re not really sure just what it was in Beez’ stage show that was prompting the kind of reaction he was receiving from these Grandpa Simpson-like party animals, but once again several of his (very) old classmates gave him the "so you’re gay now" vibe after the show!!! But Beez didn’t have anything to prove… as usual about a dozen of his once-hot ex-girlfriends showed up (or as we call them, Beez’ personal collection of "ladies from the eighties") and he had PLENTY of good times with them, if you know what I mean. There was so much sloshed cougar pussy going around that Ska-T even pulled out his rare ace and did the "hey Cheryl/Cindy/Suzie/Midge/Tutti/Chrissy! Yeah, that’s right, it’s me, good ol’ Beez! Let’s make out! So listen honey, how’s your ass-cherry after all these years?"

Sat March 2, The Raven, Hamilton ON w/ the Candidates,

Hamilton is only 45 minutes away from Toronto, so we essentially had the day off driving-wise, but there was plenty to do. Since it was Canadian Music Week there were all sorts of day time events going on, and we were invited to compete in a musician’s street hockey game.Lofters.jpg (114090 bytes) The game was in the back parking lot of "The Lofters" TV show, a kinda Canadian equivalent to "The Real World"- essentially a bunch of eccentric, egotistic, good-looking, sex-craving, bi-sexual Canadians sharing a loft. (Should we sue?). Lofters "Donny" and "Heather" were selected to play in the game with us, where all sorts of bands faced off against each other. The Smugglers teamed up with our pals the New Town Animals and beat the living, breathing CRAP out of a team combining a Vancouver shock-rock group called SHOCORE, and an LA pop band called Love Like Rain. The final score was 10-6 for the Smugs/NTAs, and Nick was selected first star of the game, probably because he scored about nine of our ten goals. Then again, their goalie was "Heather The Lofter", who made more saves with her sloppy tits hanging out of her tank-top than with her goalie stick. None of us had ever seen a nipple save before. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll take the win, and we’ll also say that those Lofters, at least Donny and Heather, are real nice people.

Playing a show so close to Toronto is usually not the plan for us, but since Grant was doing a live broadcast of his CBC radio show between 7PM and 10PM from the Horseshoe in Toronto on Saturday, we didn’t want to miss a Saturday night gig, so we booked one close. The plan was for the Smugglers sans Grant to go down to the club early and set up, then Grant would do his show from 7PM to 10PM and hightail it to Hamilton for a midnight Smugglers set. Risky. The only question was how to get Grant from Toronto to Hamilton if the band van was already at the Raven. That quagmire was answered the night before at the Horseshoe, when owner Jeff Cohen posed a "contest" from the stage: "listen up everybody! The first person that goes over to the merch booth and talks to DJ Ska-T RIGHT NOW … WINS the RARE opportunity to personally chauffeur Smugglers lead singer GRANT LAWRENCE to their show tomorrow night in Hamilton!!" Amazingly enough there were people who actually wanted to do it.

Three Way.jpg (169245 bytes)Sure enough on the next night, the second I ended the radio show, I met with the "contest winners", two very good looking young adults who provided a plush ride down the 401 in a spotless, brand new Volkswagen Jetta. There was even a bottle of chilled Evian waiting for me in the back seat! Now that is UPTOWN!!! Thanks very much to the two very handsome and nice people who performed this service, Shannon and Garret. They love the Hives, the Donnas, and most importantly, the Smugglers! Had we a bit more time, I think the situation would have called for a three-way! gtwelve@aol.com.

We were a little worried to be playing so close to Toronto, but it was all for naught. None of us realized how huge Hamilton is… 450,000 people!! That’s bigger than Halifax, Saskatoon, and Regina!! Hamilton’s the Raven is great little rock ‘n’ roll bar run by fine people. The bar also proudly recalls Hamilton’s sordid rock’n’roll history, with lots of old posters plastered on the walls featuring hometowners like the Forgotten Rebels, Dik Van Dykes and Teenage Head.

And the show was great! Packed house, lots of yelling, sweat and energy. The opening bands were pretty fun too, although the bassist of one of the two groups had shall we say way too much to fucking drink, and was going on and on about his "trip to Van-city, eh". This classic Canadian hoser couldn’t believe the amount of "fags" we had in beautiful Vancouver, but then went on to detail how he was front and centre for the Pride Parade, frequented notorious Vancouver gay bars for kareoke and male stripping, and spent the rest of his time on Davie Street, Vancouver’s main gay drag. Well what the hell do you expect, fuckface? Sounds like this guy is silently SCREAMING for right good ass-fucking. Whattaya say folks?!?

rockingsmugglers01.jpg (188749 bytes)We did meet lots of great Hamilton people, including Brodie the promoter, Gord the Trucker, Bruce the Moleman, and lots of people from local bands. Thanks also to our friends Megan and Yvette for coming down from Toronto, and to the very good looking couple of Shannon and Garret for that great, great drive. You saved the show! Until next time?

And hey, much to Beez’ dismay, not a SINGLE classmates.com-er showed up tonight!! But then again, after their pathetic debaucheries from the night before, we’re not surprised than none of them had the shere gall or will power to show their ruddy mugs tonight.

Thanks again to all who came out to the shows, helped with the tour, and tipped a jar with us! Tonnes of fun as usual! Until next time…

See you in the front row,

 

Your Smugglers