This isn’t just ‘based’ on a true story, this is the real thing, I know...I was there.

It was winter 2008, and not just any old winter, but a Canadian prairie winter; nothing between the howling wind and Winnipeg but two bare ass trees just north of Regina. Marie-Josée and I were wheeling our way north, waaaaaayyyyy north, all the way up to Fort St. John, B.C. where the tour was starting. We had four great shows in Fort St. John before heading down to Grande Prairie, Alberta for a double header at Better Than Fred’s.

I’m just speculating, but it seems entirely possible Jeff Foxworthy wrote a lot of his, ‘you might be a red neck’ jokes in Grande Prairie. You ain’t never seen so many 4x4’s and big screen TVs with sports of every size and colour in your life. Anyway…we load our gear into Fred’s while Toby the chef busted out some serious uptown sizzle and whipped us up a meal that will never be on the menu…off the chart cuisine.

About that time the owner volunteered to lead us back to his place, which is also the band house. We wound our way through Grande Prairies downtown following John’s big ass 4x4 and eventually pull up in front of his idyllic suburban home. John lives upstairs but tells us that we’ll get back from the gig before he does, and because it’s so f**ing cold out, he’ll let us park in his driveway so we can plug our Japanese import in. (I know this is supposed to be a slight…like the car I drive is supposed to say something about me, but in -40 all it means to me is that I get to park 30 feet closer to the door)

We chill out, we get ready, we go to Fred’s, play the show, have a couple drinks and head back to the band house. I’m driving and MJ’s chatting away (thankfully in English so I’m actually catching some of what she’s saying) we pull up in John’s driveway. Our plan is for MJ to grab the guitars and hightail it for the door while I plug the car in. As I’m scrambling around in the snowdrifts digging like a mole looking for an electric hole to plug the extension cord in, Marie-Josée is rattling away at the back door with the keys. Eventually I get the car plugged in and join her at the door. Together we’re pulling and pushing on the lock, jingling and jangling the keys, lifting up, pressing down, I’m talking dirty to the door knob…all the crazy shit you do when something’s not working. Then it dawns on me that John might have given us the wrong keys and this set may be for the side door. Piling even more guitars in MJ’s arms I promise to be right back and dash around the side of the house. I get to the side door slip the key in the lock and voila, success! I let myself in, feeling a bit uncomfortable that I’m in John’s place, especially as there is a dog barking somewhere, but as I tiptoe through the kitchen I console myself with the knowledge that this isn’t technically my fault. If he hadn’t given me the wrong keys I wouldn’t be sneaking through his house. At which point I reach the back door and nothing is familiar. There are no stairs where there were when we left, the door opens a different way…and as I open the door to let MJ and 70 pounds of musical gear crash through the door I suddenly realize, ‘we’re in the wrong f**ing house!’

We started giggling, and shushing each other, which made us giggle harder. We tried to sneak out, but were suddenly unable to turn around without banging guitar cases against door frames and boot cupboards. I’m sure are all the deep resonant overtones sounded like Tree Beard and slough of drunken Ents after a kegger.

We get outside when I realize we can’t just run cause our car is parked in the frigging driveway. As I’m struggling to get the keys out of my pocket Conan bursts through the side door. MJ, showing great athleticism I didn’t even know she possessed just…vanished. With his large, He-man body glistening with he-sweat, nostrils flaring like a Stallion he bellows, ‘WHAT THE F#&! ARE YOU DOING IN MY HOUSE!’

At that moment I remembered a sales lecture I sat through right after high school. The gist of the lecture was, most salesmen are men and most of their door to door sales are with the woman of the house. It was a long drawn out boring lecture that involved points like, ‘the man is usually bigger and psychologically may intimidate the woman,’ so whenever possible the salesman was supposed to stand on a lower step than the woman, subconsciously putting her in the dominant role, blah, blah, blah.
This runs through my head as I try to assume the most unimposing, frail, waif-like artistic form, and begin (inexplicably) to talk in a high, womanly register at 100 miles an hour, ‘Oh I’m sorry sir that was me we have the wrong house and it was a total accident and I didn’t mean to walk through your house,’


‘It was the keys, the keys; we thought the keys were the wrong keys or the side keys…’


‘That’s my car, I know it’s an shitty import and I should be renting domestic but I was flirting with the girl at the counter for fun and she gave me this upgrade,’


I think I was bowing and genuflecting the entire time, making every overture to peace and conciliation I could think of. I backed the car out of Conan’s driveway, pulled in NEXT DOOR, where John actually lived and ran for the door. Of course the keys worked just fine this time and we slipped inside quietly. Neither of us could find the light switch in the entrance way but I headed down the stairs with guitars in both hands as we started to relive the events of the past few minutes in that giddy, post excitement way, which was right about the time I missed the last two steps. Suddenly I took flight, arms outstretched, each clutching a guitar case spread wide like the wings of a majestic swan…until I came down with a sound I’m sure even Conan heard. An Olympic belly flop with a half twist and two droning Ents farumping in each case. Insult, as they say, to injury.

The next day I confess to John what happened. He thinks it’s hilarious and heads down to the club where he proceeds to start telling the staff the story, which is when the bartender says, ‘Oh yeah I heard about that driving to work,’ a confused pause ensued, ‘they were talking about a break and enter on the news, apparently the guy startled the intruders who took off…in a shitty little import.’

Published in Tour Stories

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