Introducing Toronto Music Scene’s Feature Fridays! We’ve invited guest columnists to tell us stories, tips and lessons learned through grandious adventures in the music industry. Feature Friday #1 is from Wes McClintock of the Paint Movement who tells us about surving car crashes and being saved by Yukon Blonde and the CAA.
By: Wes McClintock
The Paint Movement
Decemeber 2, 2011
Three alignments, three oil changes, new control arm, ball joints, water pump, new headlights, new wipers, one totaled trailer, one rental trailer, one flat tire, one rental van, three CAA phone calls, one U-Haul roadside assistance, three different mechanics, three cancelled shows, three blizzards and two tow trucks in just two weeks. This is what touring is all about.
Our worst day was when we drove from Thunder Bay to Edmonton. We left Thunder Bay late at night and hit Saskatchewan in the morning. We had no idea winter hit the prairies so early and sadly driving like a senior citizen wasn’t enough to keep us out of ditch territory. We hit a patch of black ice and prepared for our demise. We did a head count as soon as the van stopped moving. Everybody was fine and it’s a miracle the van wasn’t damaged! The poor trailer however had flipped over and broke in too many places to count. None of our gear was damaged, which was another stroke of luck.
The town we crashed in was called Wolverine, which was somewhat unsettling when stranded in a remote part of Saskatchewan as the sky was darkening by the second. We called CAA (our heroes) and in their opinion the trailer was totaled. With frozen fingers we threw all of our gear into the van and all squeezed in for a cozy trip to Battleford. Our tourmates Yukon Blonde knew of the situation and were waiting at our hotel for us with a case of beer and a round of hugs.
The Paint Movement’s broken trailer
Yukon saved our butts by loading our gear into their trailer for the remainder of the tour. After our gig in Edmonton we realized that our van wasn’t feeling the way it should. It had the tendency of making hard rights on its own ever since the accident. We had a mechanic look at the beast and in his opinion it was not safe to drive to our gig in Canmore, AB. We hastily rented a mini van and drove speedily to the gig arriving just in time. The audience was eagerly waiting and thankfully Yukon set up all of our gear so we could jump on stage immediately. After a great show, the amazing Canmore crowd all wanted autographed cd’s and even photographs of us! We felt like broke celebrities with a rental van! We had no time to truly enjoy the Canmore scenery or sleep in because we had to rush back to Edmonton to retrieve our van and drive from there to Kamloops, BC. After paying a whopping $600 for the fix we decided that this van needed a name. “Lieutenant Van” was what we agreed on.
The route we took to Kamloops was through Jasper National Park, which is quite pretty during the day but a slow drive through hell at night. Lieutenant Van scared us yet again as every time we made a turn it felt like the right tire was going to pop out of its socket. We later found out this was due to the mechanic not fixing the alignment issue properly. We again drove like the elderly while massive freight trucks would barrel passed us at 130 kms making us soil ourselves like the elderly (sorry elderly). The snowfall was getting heavier so we decided to stop at a rest area and ask a trucker why it was legal to drive in this province during the winter. He let us know it was much worse further down the road and the smartest thing to do was to get a hotel. We made our way out of the park and did just that. That was the first of three shows we had to cancel.
Our final destination and show with Yukon Blonde was on Victoria Island, BC. The morning after our gig we needed to pick up a U-Haul trailer as Yukon would not be there to carry our gear anymore. We had a couple of shows to play solo on our way back and our first gig was in Golden. We thought we could make the show as it was just a rainy night. That rain quickly turned to snow when we hit another lovely stretch of road called Rogers Pass. The beginning of a twelve-hour blizzard was just commencing and the roads were once again too treacherous to drive on. We knew the drill now, cancel the show and get a hotel before we all die.
Around midnight, something didn’t sound right. We stopped the van, got out and saw that the right wheel of the U-Haul was flat. We called U-Hauls roadside assistance for “assistance.” The operator was stationed in Arizona and she suggested we “limp it” to Kamloops, still about 30 km away. (By limping it she means to drive slowly on a popped tire). She said there was nothing they could do. We were furious at this ridiculous suggestion and called CAA for actual help. Thankfully they saved the day and we drove to Kamloops to get a hotel room.
The last kick in the butt on this tour was missing our much-anticipated show at the Phoenix in Toronto. It was our last show of the tour and we were all excited to open for Parlovr and The Rural Alberta Advantage. Merely eight hours from Toronto Lieutenant Van started smoking. It overheated and the water pump blew. We once again called CAA (our heroes) to pick us up and drive us to Timmins. We knew we had missed the show and as a feeble commiseration, we split a one hundred ounce pitcher of beer at the local pizza shop and collectively cried on the inside. It was a perfect ending for a perfect tour.
The main moral of this story is, get a CAA membership right now! Either that or don’t travel across Canada in the winter. Or maybe don’t drive a van that has accrued over 300,000 kms long distances. Or maybe the moral is always have trailer insurance. Well, the moral that covers everything is, don’t do what we did.
Anyone have an extra van/trailer combo?