Fred Penner Is A God

Ladies & Gents! Children of all ages! Festival fun is upon us! This edition of The Unvarnished Truth marks the beginning of the music festival season.

First stop of many this summer: the 35th Annual North Country Fair in Northern Alberta... in the quaint little hamlet of Driftpile Valley. Being from Dustbowl AB as we are, Punch Drunk Cabaret feels a geographical kinship towards Driftpile.

Aaah, roadtrips.... the open country.... the sweeping vistas.... and the getting lost. Word to the wise: don't leave your directions back at the hotel or else start hearing things like: "oh we're close"... "we'll be fine"... "the Lord will guide us", etc.

May The Fourth Be With Us

Tagging along with us was our tech du jour, Jeff Nyback (drummer par excellence for Camrose's own Bloozhounds) a good egg and great brother in rock.

There weren't proper change areas at the festival site so we transmogrified into our dapper best at the hotel room in Slave Lake... where the fest site directions now were. Are you starting to regret hangin' with us, Jeff?

As Nature Intended

Years of selling our brand of snake oil has heightened the ol' olfactory senses. We do have the collective nose and experience to arrive at any destination in good time and good humour. Once PDC entered the NCF world, we were quite charmed by the amount of peace, love, co-operation and braless women.

But this is no mere hippie haven of Woodstockian proportions! Don't be fooled... a well-oiled machine, complete with a crack team of enthusiastic volunteer help has been the backbone of NCF's astounding longevity.

The Cat Came Backstage

One of the big names appearing at North Country Fair 2013 that everyone was talking about was Fred Penner, a true celebrity and veritable rock star of children's entertainment.

Your humble scribe and attention whore spotted him at the artist hospitality area where I pounced upon him only wanting to trouble him for a picture. Instead what I got was a warm, personal exchange with a friendly, down-to-earth gentleman who didn't have to give ol' Sawbones the time of day, let alone some quality conversation.

Got my picture, too.

The rest of my bandmates followed and Mr. Penner engaged all of them equally, sharing some time, music talk and laughs. The biggest bonus after all that was a magic trick he performed in front of us using The Reverend's cigarette which he had to moisten for the trick's execution. Said Rev: "Can't wait to tell my mom that Fred Penner licked my cigarette."

The Great (Non-Biblical) Flood

We were due onstage at 11:15pm but an artist scheduled before us who couldn't make it because of that nasty flooding business in Southern Alberta bumped things up & around for everyone. Being the pros that we are and fresh off of our celebrity high with FP, we adjusted ourselves, in a manner of speaking, and proceeded to rock Driftpile Valley with all the musical ferocity of a biblical scourge. 

Crowd Control

These days at PDC shows, you'll hear a few sneak peeks of material ear-marked for the next record. "Hail The Kings of Steampunk Swing" seems like a lock, for instance. "Hymn #5", among other goldies from the first opus continue to aurally titillate, not to mention the never-fail covers, "Rock This Town" and "Don't Be Cruel".

The Reverend Robin Eklund is sure stepping up his game as we play more high profile dates. During some frantic guitar tuning that momentarily incapacitated yours truly as well as the Ringmaster Randl Bailer, Rev took it upon himself to walk from his drum kit to the front of the stage and incite the crowd to an orgasmic swell, merely by raising his arms and flashing the superconductor smile that makes women flutter. World-class drummer... beloved father & husband...  and mesmerizer of the masses.

Rev/Pen II

The Rev running into Mr. Penner Saturday morning before breakfast at the hotel.... 
FP: "You guys really shook it up last night."
Rev: "Thats what we do every night, Fred."

Requests Politely Turned Down: 1.....  Ringmaster had to decline an opportunity to have someone dance the polka onstage with us. Now if Walter Ostanek was there, different story.

Bass Guitar Picks Given To Children: 1.... Though not my forte, one does learn a thing or two by hanging out with legendary children's entertainers.

Friends Familiar 

J & Grayson, Lucas, Carol Weatherall, John Armstrong, the talented Aussie ladies of Jungal and, of course, the ever-gracious Fred Penner.

Next stop: the Double Dragonfly Musicfest. Bring your bugspray!

And that, mesmerized masses, is the unvarnished truth.