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One Week in Canada

Thursday, July 10 – Having driven from Atlanta to Toledo, Ohio, the day before, with all the right papers and the right answers we crossed the border at Windsor with no trouble at all. The London Music Club in London, Ontario, is a venue Delta Moon has played a few times now. We have a good following there. We saw lots of familiar, friendly faces and a few new ones too. Thanks to Brian Mortimer and Karma Productions for booking another great show. Zack Albetta, on drums with us this week, did an outstanding job. After the show it was smiles all around.

Later Mark, Franher and I walked downtown to find a snack. We blundered right into a family of skunks clawing through some garbage bags on the sidewalk. They never looked up, but we fled across the street in panic. At a bar that we were able to find just minutes before closing, we asked the bartender if skunks were common there. She said, “They’re pretty popular.” I said in Atlanta we had raccoons and possums. She said, “We have raccoons. We have possums, too, but they’re not as popular.”

Friday, July 11 – We had breakfast at the Covent Garden Market in London, a large indoor market with booths containing restaurants, fruits and vegetables, a bakery, a butcher, dessert shops and lots more. Mark and Franher got Thai, Zack bought a Greek pastry and I hit the New Delhi Deli. We reconvened to eat together at a table by the coffee shop and then dispersed to stock up with provisions for the road. Every city should have a market like this.

Angelyn Smolders, the co-owner who booked us in Paddy Flaherty’s in Sarnia, is a force of nature and a dear friend of Delta Moon. She and the staff of the club went out of their way to make us feel at home. They had planned an outdoor show, but a purple sky and a tornado warning forced us inside. We remembered with dread a tiny shoebox stage, but they had enlarged it and put in a new PA too. This was a fun night.

Saturday, July 12 – We played four shows in two days at the Kitchener Blues Festival. The first was the biggest, on the Clock Tower Stage in Victoria Park. The festival had shut down the night before for the tornado warning, though someone told us the actual tornado was 300 kilometers away. At any rate, by Saturday evening everybody was ready to rock, and even more so at our second show of the night in the remodeled bar of the Walper Hotel. “This place is too clean now,” a woman told me. “You need to swamp it up.” There was no stage and the people were right in our faces, even throwing their arms around us and yelling in our ears while we were playing. Spilled beer might have contributed to the swampiness, but that all got mopped up pretty quickly. The evening ended with a conga line snaking through the venue as we shook and banged percussion and our friend Dave Tree Man blatted away on his tuba. Kudos to our limo driver, Alan, who got us from place to place on time and in one piece.

Sunday, July 13 – We had a 3:00 show at the Boathouse, sharing the stage with the Tarbox Ramblers. I have listened to Michael Tarbox’s records for many years, and he was familiar with Delta Moon, but we had never met until 15 minutes before our show together. We swapped songs back and forth, as rhythm section members took turns on and off stage. I missed Franher’s bass backing vocals on a few songs, but other than that the show was big fun. Good things happen when all the musicians are on the same wavelength. Our second show was on the same stage later that night, when we followed a powerful set by our Atlanta buddy Michelle Malone to close out the festival. Our friends Rob Deyman and Silvia Dee from the Water Street Band joined us on guitar and accordion for a few songs. They sounded fantastic, and I love that Silvia’s shoes always match her accordion. It was a good ending for a great festival.

Monday, July 14 – We had a wonderful time in Canada. Now back to the madness.

We felt the tension immediately as we drove up to the US border. We’d never before seen border agents going through the trunk of every car. We have re-entered the US many times and thought we knew how to prepare and give the right answers. I never expected the agent at our gate to raise his voice and bark at me. He slapped a sticker on our windshield and told me to drive over to the building. There were so many people being questioned that we had to wait a long time just to get into the waiting room. The border agents seemed overworked and frazzled. The people in the red plastic chairs were stressed and miserable. When a small girl followed her father into the room, beaming, it was as if clouds had parted. I realized it was the first time in two hours I had seen anyone smile. Over all this, from a frame on the wall, our President glowered with knit brows and chin thrust out, as if to say, “You’re fired.” From America!

The border agents have an important job to do. I respect that and respect them for doing it. But Delta Moon has visited ten different countries so far this year, and the only place we’ve been treated rudely and made to feel like criminals was our own native land.

Finally, after the agents and their dog had searched our van, they determined there was no reason to deny us entry or to send us to jail. They released us into the wilds of Detroit.

At a gas station in Ohio we heard an employee brazenly use to N-word to a cop in pointing out some kids who had littered in the parking lot. We didn’t stick around.

It was after 4:00 in the morning by the time we reached Atlanta, with Franher at the wheel.

I said, “Good job, Franher.”

Franher said, “Good job, everybody.”

(Photos by Zack Albetta.)