November 1, 2017
“If you don’t read books, you won’t hear any horror stories.”
- Ken Ross during a discussion of my reluctance to eat cream sauces on airplanes.
“Hey, are you guys in a band?”
I’ll never get tired of that question. I’m still in Canadian air space – altitude 10,633 metres – and I’ve been asked twice already. I owe that mostly to the guitar cases carried by my bandmates, of course. I didn’t have to bring drums on this little excursion, which is a relief. Sarah took care of that on the continent for me. She’s such a pro. I do have drum sticks in my carry-on, though, so if I land in Amsterdam but my luggage, including my stick bag, ends up in Bogota, I’ll still be able to do my job.
So begins the Sarah Smith tour blog.
I’m aboard a KLM flight with flight attendants who look like sisters. Every one of them has a blonde ponytail, like they came off an assembly line. Take a look around and you’d swear we’re flying to Norway or Iceland or some place. Maybe KLM has a peculiar hiring policy, I don’t know. Either way, quarters are cramped. I’m reminded of a bit that Dennis Miller used to do: “Sir, your carry-on will have to fit all the way in the ass of the person in front of you.”
In six hours we’ll touch down in The Netherlands and then the adventure truly begins. Already I feel a profound sense of gratitude. I’m travelling with two of the greats: my friends Ken Ross (bass) and Deni Gauthier (guitar). I feel incredibly lucky to be on this tour. It’s an honour to be asked to play with Sarah and these two guys.
Before we go any further, you should know this isn’t easy for me. Long before I aspired seriously to music I aspired seriously to literature. That aspiration started with promise but turned into a decade-long fight with myself and with writing. It was painful and eventually I had to give it up for my own sanity. Music almost immediately filled that void (read the story here), but the desire to write never really went away. Lately I’ve been feeling like trying again, and that’s partly what this blog is about.
This is me breathing on a pile of ashes, hoping to spark an ember.
Deni’s excited because KLM has nuts. Ken’s excited because they have vodka. I’m excited because one of the Viking flight attendants just hit me in the back of the head with the corner of the headset box. It wasn’t pleasant, but it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t on a flight to Amsterdam, so there’s your silver lining, bub. I was about to write that touring isn’t as exotic as it might sound, but let’s be honest, here – I’m about to travel through Europe playing music, and that’s pretty exotic to me.
Even so, the schedule is demanding. We’ll arrive on November 1, have a day to gather gear and collect our wits, and then play 25 shows in 25 days in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic. It will be late nights and long miles and strange beds. It will also be some of the greatest experiences of our lives. I haven’t done a lot of touring, but I’ve done enough to know that the road lands you in some amazing situations. And it’s the unexpected stuff – the detours and the weird opportunities – that make touring so great.
I already said that this blog is about me trying to write again. That’s only part of it. I also want a personal record of the experience, and I hope to give Sarah’s many friends and fans a way to travel along with her. But the more I work on it, the more I want this blog to be proof. Not proof that I went on this tour, but proof that you can go on this tour, or whatever the equivalent of this tour is for you.
I’m nobody in the drumming world. Absolutely unknown. And yet here I am, creeping out over the Atlantic to live a dream that even five years ago would have seemed impossible. And guess what? So are thousands of other people at this very moment. You can too. Whatever the dream is, you can make it happen. I’m the proof. I know it’s a cliché, but if I can do it, anyone can.
Right, the Old World awaits. The recommendation is to sleep on the flight and ironman my way through the day tomorrow to beat the jet lag. We’re going to hit the ground running.