Almost Famous

Step right up, sir or madam, and prepare to be thrilled, chilled and swilled with tales of madcap mayhem from the road! It’s… (cue circus music) The Unvarnished Truth!!

This past weekend, Punch Drunk Cabaret had the distinct honour of being invited to perform (and close) the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta, which is -- to use an agricultural metaphor -- no small potatoes. We’re not a country band, per se, yet we got to perform at perhaps the biggest country music festival in Canada! I LOVE POTATOES!!!!


This Blog’s Theme

This blog’s theme is all about the dangers and evil temptations of rockstardom. Also: countrystardom, popstardom and, to a lesser extent for some band members, pornstardom.

Playing shows is fun. Playing world-renown ones is also fun once you get over the “can’t-believe-we’re-playing-this-gig-I’m totally-crapping-in-my-pants” phase.

But oh, isn’t the irony thick.... three humble snake oil salesmen with rock backgrounds performing at a big-time, all fancy-like, country shindig!!


Cut From The Same Cloth

Honestly, folks… is it really all that strange? We, the PDC Three, at our core, are merely simple country gentlemen. The Rev. Robin Eklund hisself is from small town Camrose. Bandmeister Randy B is a Wetaskiwin farm kid. Yours truly, though I grew up in Edmonton, have had my big city attitude removed like a back alley bris since moving to Spruce Grove several years ago.


The Debut Of Flasky

Our pal, “D’Jeff” Nyback joins us on our jocular journey once again as road manager/special needs guy. Jeff is also the creative birth mother of a new band mascot…. Flasky! Oh, Flasky is such a cute lil rascal, always gettin’ into all kinds of monkeyshine! You’ll see more of him all the time and grow to love him as much as we do. He could very well eclipse all of us in the fame category. Watch for him with his own touring band soon… “Flasky And The Spunk Towels”. Ya-y-y-y, Flasky!!!

 Flasky and his posse


Underrated Conveniences (Porcelain Or Otherwise)

After arriving at the venue in the late afternoon for load-in, we cased the joint out and found our dressing room, merch area and a special treat usually reserved for famous musicians with contract riders. No, not beer (though they thoughtfully provided us with that, too)!

Flasky and backstage beverage pals

Unfortunately for the regular patrons of BVJ 2013, they had to use no-frills, portable outhouses for their human waste needs. We, in imaginary rock star land, had access to a backstage, spacious, self-lit, mirrored, sinked, air conditioned piece of pooper’s heaven. Was this a sign of the possible road ahead to stardom… or was it really just full of shit?

Flasky outside deluxe port-a-potty

‘Tang… Not Just A Tasty Drink

Had plenty of time to kill before showtime so we hit the grounds, tourist-style. ‘Twas a vast, midwayesque area complete with all manner of confectionaries, hawkers & vendors – wondrous sights to behold, delights to taste, activities to take part in and smells to tantalize the olfactory senses!

Bandmeister Randy B throwin' the horns outside of Motley Que BBQ truck


Speaking of sights to behold… the amount of scantily-clad female flesh parading around the grounds was enough to make a grown, single man cry. And cry I did, friends. Cry I did.

Apparently, GQ Magazine, Maxim, Cracked or somebody recently voted Camrose’s Big Valley Jamboree the music festival most likely where one could get…. some, shall we say. Being the gentleman I am, I would have none of it. Literally.  <sigh….sniff, sniff… quiet sob>

Flasky getting more action than Sawbones ever did

Beer and Storms Brewin’

The amount of beer poured, sold and consumed in four days at this huge event must have been, for lack of a more apt word, staggering! I thought we might be in for a pour of another kind when around 7pm, storm clouds started swirling about the grounds. Would Mother Nature threaten to cut the day short and cheat us out of the glory we craved? Or would she save her meteorological power for when we were on stage and blow us to smithereens with a lightning bolt, thereby giving us the posthumous glory we didn’t crave (as much)?

This looks bad on many levels but it's actually The Rev searching for beer

Pre-show cat impressions from the Rev... or worshipping some kind of wacky beer deity

Dreams The Devil Doesn’t Bury You Tonight

We were dressed for show and ready at 10. Scheduled to play at....wait for it... 1:30. There's only so many laps around the beer garden you can make and so many buxom drunken women to ogle at before you're looking at your watch. On top of that, the temptation to drink and smoke with my band of brothers during this festive time... oh my goodness gracious… I was doing everything I could to not have a good time so I can save it all up and have it when I get onstage.

History shows that the evil sins of the flesh have brought down many a man, famous or not. If there is a devil, friend, he was working overtime to keep me from my earthly duties. 


More Ironic Thickness

So, another lap around the grounds we go when suddenly, backstage, without warning, there stood Jack Nicholson and Danny Devito. Why? Who knows! Imposters? Who cares! They believed it and for five seconds, so did I. It’s ironic that there were a lot of famous people on the grounds that weekend and the only ones I met were impersonators.

 (l to r) Sawbones, "Danny", Rev, "Jack"


Let's Dance

Boy, walking around this place was sure paying off in blog fodder. This time around, a pretty young lady stopped to talk to us. Naturally, we were dressed to kill and packing a large modicum of grace and manners. And since, apparently, every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man, no wonder the lass requested a special favour of your dashing heroes! Trouble is, the favour was a birthday lap dance for her mom. <sigh>  Billy Gibbons didn’t warn us about this!

And no, none of us did the dance… even the desperate and occasionally weepy bass player.


The Quick And The Dead

After a few hours of “hurry up and wait”, we hit the stage a little after 1:30am! I’d estimate about a thousand people overall remained at the beer garden venue. Which was great considering the hearty few left were likely drunk, broke and tired from a weekend of countrified craziness.

You’d be proud of your Punch Drunk pals as we two-stomped our way thru an hour-long set of slightly skewed-for-our-audience material. Songs right in BVJ’s wheelhouse included “The Immaculate Pompadours”, “Hymn #5”, “Pandemonium” and even a chicken-fried version of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me”. Of course, we had to pull out some swing just to keep ‘em honest and dancin’.

 D'Jeff's blurry-eyed viewpoint of PDC on the BVJ beer garden stage

Sawbones: Deep in thought? Sleepy? Sexy? Scared of large crowds???

My personal highlight was on the last song of the night. During “Two Brown Bottles Of Beer”, I mock shoot a finger pistol at the Bandmeister, who promptly falls to the ground still letting the chords ring out on his guitar. I then see D’Jeff emerge from the stage right wings and drag BRB’s “lifeless” body away! Funny as hell, as Randy acted like dead weight, making poor D’Jeff work doubly hard to remove the “corpse” from the area.

And that's how we classed up and closed out Big Valley Jamboree 2013.

 Bandmeister Randy B... just prior to being dragged offstage


She was a big gig to be sure, friend, and it behooved us to do well. According to reports, we did! In fact, you may see us there again someday…. if we don’t get too famous.


Kountry Kudos:

The top notch, professional, behind-the-scenes crew at BVJ: Potsie, Chuck and Phil to name a few.

Amanda for amiable countenance and quality shutterbuggery.

Erica… she’s D’Jeff’s lil fireplug of an offspring… thanks for merch help, Erica!


 And thank you for your patronage, patience and support, dear reader. We won’t get famous without it.

And that there, y'all, is the unvarnished truth.