Sunday, August 9, 2009

Traveling Band circa '73

The main residents of the Union Street House were the Union Street Band...a Grateful Dead kinda band. We did a lot of their stuff amidst other rock 'n' roll, country, and originals. That's why there was live music in the house every night after dinner.

Michael would usually be the first one to wander over to the piano...a piano he retrieved and restored from a local movie theatre. It was used to play along with the silent flicks of yesteryear and, with a lot of TLC, Michael made it sing. Three of us from the band are still musicians, over thirty years later.

We used to do tours of the Gulf Islands in Georgia Strait...Quadra, Cortes, not to mention up and down both Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. We packed all the equipment into our blue '57 Divco panel truck, which never went from second to third gear unless you swore a blue-streak! My seat was an amp...and I wonder why my tailbone doesn't wag in me old age!

We would play in one-room school houses or funky old buildings and the hippies would come out of the woods, food, kids and sleeping bags in tow. Some folks arrived with cabins built on the backs of old pickup trucks. A lot of good-hearted, long-haired folks and beautiful bumbies with names like Sita Sunshine-Daydream poured into the place. The audience always seemed to be kinetic colour, as we played for hours and hours...till people began to curl into sleeping bags in corners.

One night, on Cortes Island, we were invited to stay at our friend Bear's cabin. He had often sailed down to Vancouver, bringing a thirty-pound salmon or whatever his catch was...but we had only been on his boat, never to his cabin. After almost eight hours of playing...we were ready for another adventure. Oh, to be young and boundless in energy!

We drove down to where Bear had a rowboat waiting in the dark, the sky taking our breath away with its starry brilliance above. We rowed across the small cove and began climbing a cliff, our eyes adjusting to find the hand holds in the pale light of a waning moon. It took a while and we all hit the mattresses, cushions, couch, or floor as soon as we got inside the cabin.

I was the first one up, just a few hours later, and lit a fire in the wood stove for some coffee. Then I walked to the window and the sight that waited for me shall forever stay in my heart's memory. We were atop a cliff of a couple-hundred feet, the cove and Georgia Strait filling the view. Eagles were fishing for breakfast, whales, dolphins and seals playing in different waves throughout the vista.

It was one of the best morning's of my life, alone with the Mama and all this natural peace. This was the morning I finally felt I had found home for my spirit, after wandering the world. Of course, life always derails our train of thought and runs away with our plans. In just a few years I would be in New York and it would take me nearly twenty years to get back to the part of Mama's lap I wanted to call home.


  1. Those were the days, eh? A wonderful story and I'm glad that you found your way back here and that I found your friendship.

  2. Same goes for me Stefery! What gifts in this life...still crazy after all these years! xo