I was able to get more songs under my belt before I left Calgary, and on the final day there I performed 8 of 11 songs in one of our sets. Because I don’t have any more official training time with Matt (for now), I would spend my mornings learning choreography off a video, and then I would incorporate a new song or two each afternoon at the Stampede; I’ll continue to do this for the next few days during our time here in Edmonton.
One of the neatest (and most unexpected) aspects of playing at the Stampede was meeting really cool people and getting free things! For example, the teens who worked at the corndog stand near the stage became crazy about Barrage and would give us free food—so thanks to Derek and his mom for all of the free (and amazingly delicious) corndogs! We also had the opportunity to meet some cool people through our work at the Enbridge Stage, including the phenomenally talented USA Break Dancers, with whom we collaborated on our tune “Dig a Little Deeper” in our final performance of the Stampede. The break dancers are also performing at the Capital EX, so we're hoping to collaborate with them again this weekend. Though I didn't perform in that number, I did record it, and you can check it out here.
The Stampede, though known as “The Greatest Rodeo on Earth,” has much more going on than just rodeo-related activities. One of the other really great opportunities was getting to see Denis Dufresne (an original member of Barrage and one of my heroes) perform at the Coca-Cola Stage with Deric Ruttan, winner of a Canadian Country Music Songwriter of the Year Award in 2007. When a small group of us went to the show with Andy, one of Barrage’s two sound guys, we were able to go up into the sound booth to watch the concert because Andy’s friend was working the show. It was awesome to be able to see what went on with all of the sound and lights from behind the scenes, as well as enjoy the concert from a great perspective. Later that night, we all also went to the Grandstand, the giant nighttime show which brings together a whole host of various performance groups—though we arrived late because we had our own show to play, we were able to see Denis’ wife Lynae (also an original member of Barrage) perform with the band for a short period.
At the grandstand:
Earlier this week, Matt created the following proverb after I informed him I was bored: “A quiet house is a boring house.” More often than not, it seems that the group adheres to this philosophy, and there’s nearly always something interesting going on. As many of my close friends know, I’m a big fan of board games, and fortunately for me, this group is filled with board game fanatics. At night, we’ll frequently engage in board game fun, with the two popular board games thus far being “Settlers of Catan” and “Taluva,” which have both been Morris Family favorites for quite sometime. However, one of my favorite experiences to this point occurred the other night when Hidayat and I set out to have a jam session in the living room. Pretty soon we had 3 violins, a guitar, and a pair of wooden spoons jammin’ out to songs from various genres. Throughout the night we played traditional country and celtic tunes, as well as pop and rock, when we covered songs by such renowned artists as Green Day, the Beatles, Cher, and Christina Aguilera.
Before joining Barrage, one of the things about which I was most concerned was food, as I am, for better or worse, the pickiest eater I know—and unfortunately when we’re on the road, I’m not going to have the only say in where we stop to eat. At the dorms in Calgary, we mostly prepared our own meals, making frequent trips to Safeway to stock up on goods. But, I’m happy to say that I’ve been actively trying (and even enjoying) new foods! For instance, I had Thai food for the first time last week at a really great little Thai restaurant in downtown Calgary (to which I returned with a small group again a few nights ago). Also, I went with Matt and Alicia to a Vietnamese restaurant where I tried curry for the first time (it also happened to be the first time I tried Vietnamese food). But, the best meal I had in Calgary was at Caesar’s, purported to be the best steakhouse in all of Alberta. Needless to say, it was quite an expensive meal, but it was nice to have such delicious and fulfilling food after eating so much deep-fried fare from the Stampede.
I’ll be back in Arizona on Tuesday, and am quite excited to be going back. The nearly three weeks that I’ve been here, while unbelievably enjoyable, have also been very physically and mentally taxing. It'll be nice to eat at my favorite restaurants, see my friends and family, and rest up before this fall—I’ll be flying to Europe on August 8th to start the fall tour, from which I’ll return home to Arizona on December 22nd. By the looks of the schedule, it also appears that I may have the opportunity to see quite a few friends who are now located in various places around the US, which is quite exciting!
I’ll probably get in one more post about the EdFest this weekend (or shortly thereafter), and will then be otherwise inactive until I leave in August for the huge tour in the fall.
Until then, here are some more pictures taken from the Stampede:
(above: people would frequently dance in front of the stage during the more upbeat numbers)