THRESHOLD IN THE USA AND CANADA
By Johanne James
Good day to you and hope you’re all well?
Then let me begin.
As you may have heard Threshold recently took a trip to the Canadian and US shores and it all began at Heathrow Airport T2. “Better get some Canadian dollars”, says Karl. With a six and a half hour flight to Quebec on Air Canada to look forward to and knowing how much I dislike flying a certain member of the band named Glynn Morgan took great pleasure in telling of the disasters that were going to occur, which made the experience that much worse! Every bump and turn made my heart jump! There’s no escape at 40.000 ft and you are at the mercy of a pilot you don’t know and can’t see. It’s as though the plane is flying itself, Dag Nabbit! Anyway, have no fear as every dog has its day and I shall have my revenge on he who made those 6 hours and 30 minutes of my life a misery! Thank goodness for in flight movies, as they helped the time and agony pass! When we landed in Quebec, we may well have stayed in England as we were greeted by typical British weather. Yes, cold and very wet! “What on earth?”, I thought to myself, “have we gone full circle and landed back at Heathrow?”. In fact the CLIMATE was far better there than it was here. Anyway, enough about the weather. Fred, a very amenable French Canadian, met us at the airport with his accomplice and promoter Jean Louis, to take us to our hotel and on the motorway you get a sense of how big this country is, and it is vast! At our destination in the town centre, have you noticed that no matter where you go, town centres have a tendency to look alike? Anyway, we booked in and found our way to our rooms and after freeing ourselves of our luggage, to my delight, hang on, you know what, to this day I don’t know the name of the hotel we stayed in! Anyway! As I was saying, to my delight when I switched on the TV, yes, there was Ice Hockey, Canada’s national sport and my favourite, to which Steve my roommate and groove brother says “You’re in your element now, aren’t you?”. Oh yes! And just as well, as the view from our room was less then desirable. Telegraph poles and lots of exposed wiring! Hmmm? After some minutes we all gathered in the reception area and decided where to go and then settled down to our evening meal at the local Vietnamese eatery, located some 80 meters away, which made walking in the rain a little easier. After a few hours spent reflecting we made our way back to our hotel and by now the rain had subsided. No not Subsurfaced, but subsided! Get it? No? Okay, that was my feeble attempt at humour and I am obviously wasted here!
The next day, Tuesday.
We had a little time before being picked up at 4 pm in the afternoon, so I went walkabout into the town centre as it’s always good to take in the atmosphere. I had to pinch myself that here I was in Quebec, many miles from home and having to reanimate my French! Would you believe that I got lost within a block and was in fact making my way away from the hotel when it was time for me to return? And even though I had a map I was totally disorientated and if it wasn’t for sighting Richard and his wife Kelly, well, who’s to say that I may well be there still looking for the hotel when it was in fact staring me in the face, but for the life of me I just didn’t recognize it! Lol. Phew, send out the search party!
The first gig was at a place called LE BUCHER
And was in fact a restaurant, but did put on live acts. Luckily it was only a 15 minute drive and after arriving and examining the venue, which of course had seats, we thought, well let’s just get on with it as the stage was big enough. There was a nice clean dressing room, towels and a rider that saw us into the next day. I did have to check out the Mapex Red Sparkle drum kit and make sure it was all in working order and it also had a Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum, yum yum, and luckily the owner knew very little of my reputation and had no idea as to what his cymbals were going to experience! Now that Threshold have a new system that doesn’t include any amplification and everything is now in-ears and controlled by Mr West, the stage is silent apart from me making a racket, it makes the engineer’s life easier. We had a very good sound indeed! Seeing as there was no support band we had to play for 2 hours, which is quite the norm for us now. Canada is a new territory and we weren’t expecting a vast crowd, but those who were there had a fabulous time as we put on a show for them to remember. After meeting and greeting and signing bits and bobs we gathered our clusters and made our way back to the hotel to which I then turned on the TV and immersed myself in more of Canada’s national pastime.
The next day we had to check out for a midday pick up and a 3 hour drive to Montreal.
Traveling in two vehicles can often be tricky as one usually arrives before the other, so I made sure I went with the equipment, I’m paranoid that way! Lol. We arrived some 20 minutes before the others and waited outside the hotel in another town centre, which was a little busier. After once again booking into our rooms and settling in we made our way to the venue called Foufounes Electric, which means Electric Bottom for those of you in the know, and virtually around the corner from our hotel. This was a typical rock club with black walls, graffiti and a sticky staircase of which we had to hump our gear and dare I say, I’m getting too old for this! Lol. It also had a balcony. Cool. We loaded in and were greeted by a young lady who was obviously the sound engineer. Looking at her I’m not sure she would have been old enough to get into the club she was working in. I’ve got snare drums older than you! Lol. Nirvana had played here, so we were in very good company. After a good sound check we made our way backstage, which was again typical black and red, you know how it goes. I must add that the engineer, whose name escapes me, did a very good job indeed and many thanks to her. Time to eat and another Vietnamese, but as I walked in after everyone else, I was asked by the proprietor “Can I help you?”. “Hmm, I’m with them” I said. I’m sure if he had his way he wouldn’t have let me in! Anyway, after the meal we made our way back to the venue and before long it was show time and another 2 hour performance as again there was no support band. The crowd wasn’t big, but my goodness me, did they make noise and for a moment I thought I was at Wembley watching the world cup final! They were very loud indeed and surely made up for those who weren’t there. So again we put on a show for them to remember. Some people had travelled up to 12 hours to see us, which is very humbling as I wouldn’t get out of bed and look myself in the mirror and would you credit it, some were shouting out for Kyrbgrinder? Huh? One woman said “I’ve been waiting 10 years to see you”. Well, we got here as quick as we could, it was a long walk. Ha ha ha. Well, after packing up and heading back to the hotel it was time for a shower and more ice hockey. I bet you’re getting bored of this now, aren’t you?
The next morning it was an early enough breakfast.
And to once again gather our clusters and check out of the hotel to make our way to Montreal Airport for our flight to Baltimore. AAAAGGGHHHHH! We checked in and eventually got on board our flight on a twin-propelled craft, to which this Glynn said, “Look. One of the propellers ain’t workin”. I hate you! Anyway, we landed, but had to get our connecting flight and as long as we and our equipment landed at the same airport then all would be well. So landing in Philadelphia we then boarded on a tiny American Eagle plane which was barley wide enough for the cabin crew to walk down the aisle! This doesn’t bode well for me and in spite of the flight being some 30 minutes, it was very unpleasant indeed as when coming into land, the blooming thing was tipping from side to side and landed on one wheel. I heard Mr Groom laughing as he knew what I was going through, hence I never take the window seat! I have never been so happy to have my feet on solid ground! So here we are at Baltimore airport to await our equipment and pick up. Hmm? I do believe her name was Octavia and her cohort whose name I didn’t get. We loaded everything into the trailer and along with another band whose name again escapes, no they didn’t go on the trailer, we commenced with our journey. Anyway, we made our way to Gettysburg, and a lovely drive it was too, with wonderful countryside and a vast amount of space. We eventually arrived at another hotel, which had a colonial feel to it, for another check in and another hotel room with of course, more ice hockey. I’m gonna do this in my next life! So, we actually had the evening and the next day to ourselves. Gettysburg is a historical town with lots of war memorabilia and artefacts and ornaments and ghosts and such like. After our evening meal, to which I must say if I see another French Fry I will need therapy, we went back to our respective rooms and chilled. Well I did, as the others went for beer or two at the local watering hole, located on the hotel premises. The next day I went walkabout again to take in the atmosphere, as we didn’t have to play till the Saturday and after all that flying I think we were all glad of the rest.
The day of the gig would you Adam and Eve it, it rained and yes, we were back in England or did we bring it with us, the weather I mean. So we arrive at The Majestic Theater, where the legendary Brand X had played the night before. Steve and Karl decided to go along and do some recon. A beautiful place it was too, with dressing rooms and showers, but all seated with a balcony. Not really conducive to rock & roll, but beautiful all the same for the audience may just want to fall asleep in these comfortable chairs! We set up and once again due to the new system we have, it doesn’t take long and sound check was a breeze with the engineer complimenting us on having this system and a very quiet stage. “I’m gonna have fun tonight with you guys, you guys rock” he says. Why thank you very much, sir. Typical Brits.
Showtime, and another 2 hour gig, which the crowd loved but were seated and occasionally got up to applaud and seemed a little distant from where I was, but loved it all the same as we were signing autographs for the next hour or so, which again is not my favourite pastime and hence Richard and Karl blocked me in that I didn’t make a dash for the nearest exit. We dismantled our gear and set off to the after show party located not too far from the hotel and have an after show meal. More French Fries and salad! There wasn’t much else that met with my dietary requirements, so there you go. Back to the hotel and to my disappointment there was no more hockey! Shame.
Anyway, the morning comes.
And it was time for us to leave the hotel and load up the trailer and make our way back to Baltimore Airport to get our connecting flight to Toronto. We said our goodbyes to our hosts and wished them well and hope to see them again some day. Oh dear, another flight or should I say another white knuckle ride to Toronto? And yet another from Toronto back to London. That makes 5 flights in 7 days. Go figure? Well, at least this time we were flying at night, which made getting to sleep a little easier and with the help of the selection of in-flight movies it made the agony of being so far from the ground agreeable. Landing back in London at 8.30 in the morning after a 7 hour flight isn’t my idea of a welcome, but who am I to argue, my feet are firmly back on solid ground! Phew! We again gathered our clusters at the carousel and after checking that nothing was broken we said our goodbyes and wished each other well and that we would see each other again very soon.
I would like to thank George the organizer of Rosfest for inviting us, and to Fred and Jean Louis, our new found Canadian comrades, for their hospitality, kindness and friendship and also to Threshold, for if it weren’t for you I would not be writing these columns and I would never have visited so many places that I didn’t know existed and whose names I can’t even spell.
I thank you for the experience, even the flying, and thanks for listening.
Photo credit: Pierre Menard of beauportrait.com