Truthfully there wasn’t that many shows and the first ones still rank highest on my list. I came north one summer to do a couple shows Jesse Mathies had been working on with his band The Effigy. Arriving in Quesnel we spent the next few weeks hanging around town, going to all the scenic places and even came out to Wells and hiked to the top of Mount Murray. In a sense the story of my first show in Quesnel is the story of how I came to live in Wells though I could never have guessed that first time here standing on top of Mount Murray that I would call the plateau before me home. What I was thinking of was the red and dead trees from the pine beetle, as far as I could see.
This amazing summer of adventure, based out of Jesse’s parents basement, culminated in an amazing show and secondly in a split album people are still fond of. That album was basically created in Barry McKillicans studio and it would forever be known as the Quesnel County Country Punk Conspiracy. That’s when we recorded Smells Like Quesnel for the first time. It was that song that got me an invitation to play at Artswells Festival which I have now been a part of for a decade…those events way back then set the stage for my life here today.
I have no recollection of the first show I did in Quesnel back then, so it must’ve been awesome…but for some reason I don’t think so. It must’ve been just fun enough that I stayed around for the big show. The big show was on July 23rd 2005 and besides Under the Volcano Festival was really the highlight of my summer.
The Elks Hall lay host to this ridiculous assortment of bands such as The Tups, Four Horns, The Hippiecritz, Joey Only and the Effigy!! There were too many drunk teenagers to count and somehow we managed to survive what was essentially an illegal alcoholicaust with no one bearing any responsibility for the occasion. It’s these sort of all ages DIY punk bashes in rental halls that have become a thing of history…perhaps it was because the way we all behaved, punk across North America being teenage assholes. It was sure fun. I probably played 40 shows like that in my life…and that was actually the last one.
Teenagers were vommiting as quick as they could between RCMP visits to the site…that sorta thing. My memory is vague of the occasion but I know I paid for it dearly. I have grown up considerably since then. I don’t really party with teenagers much anymore but at 25 it was a little less weird. They think I’m weird now. That’s the difference ten years will make in your life.
The next show we did was in the very same hall. We were already a little bit older and wiser. There were no teenagers puking over the backside of a Ford Tempo. It was with Murray Boal and his excellent band. The show was well attended, largely by a more adult crowd. No one was drunk in public, though I might have been close to the line. The payout helped our band get up here to do some recording with Barry who was also playing bass with Murray at the time. After a week or so at Barry’s I took a Greyhound bus back to Nanton Alberta where I was living and working for the winter.
That was in 2008. I still believed back then that it was possible that I could become a success in the music industry despite not being all that great at music in general. Not long after my youthful idealism was largely crushed, and not by any one thing which is unfortunate cause there’s no real story to tell. Nonetheless, with no end in sight to the ‘small time’ as Corin Raymond would put it, I kept playing shows and having a lot of fun doing it.
I can’t exactly say the Hallis Lake Halloween party was inside the borders of what is commonly agreed on as being Quesnel. Perhaps it’s just better that I have a good excuse to not talk about the debaucherous things that I participated in that night. If I started telling those stories I’d have to talk about Bobb Inn and Artswells and Troll Ski Resort and every show we ever did in Wells and while we’re at it might as well write a paragraph about Williams Lake. NO WAY! Only shows that happened inside the town boundary of Quesnel can be discussed in this blog entry mostly so that the government will never know what really happened at Hallis Lake that night.
Since then we bought a monstrosity and moved to Wells to spend the rest of our lives fixing it. We have been in the area for a while but we still haven’t made too much of a habit of trying to play in Quesnel. I think that’s a shame and I know part of it is that until recently there’s been very little live music culture in Quesnel, a lot of people are just learning now how to go to shows of original live bands…they’ve never done it before.
Nonetheless…We have played two Billy Barker Days. We really enjoyed playing at the Cariboo Hotel and hope we get to do that again sometime, we did two shows there and they were really well attended. The Cancer For Life people got us on board there in 2013 and I’ve played no less than four times at the Quesnel Farmers Market. I also did some work with Shaw Cable in Quesnel all about music in the Cariboo.
Then the Occidental happened and it became an innevitability that we would start putting on some Outlaw Band shows. We just never did, but that didn’t mean that we didn’t want to. I know how awfull you all must feel about me sharing my gifts so rarely with the local townsfolk. Wells is so close, but really it’s a long ways away. Time to change that trend for a little while. I hope we keep motivated to keep coming to town and playing for you, it would be because you all kept coming to see the only outlaw country band in northern BC.
So, without further adieu, see you at the Occidental on Saturday November 29th. The band is ready. Then on December 19th I’m gonna do my Stompin Tom Tribute at the Quesnel Legion, consider that one a Christmas gift from me to the city.