Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Goodbye Ontario - Hello West Coast

Montreal was on our list from the moment we planned the tour. It was the coldest few days so far but that didn't stop us from hiking up Mt. Royale twice - Once to look over the city during the day and again after-dark to check out the night lights. Juggling in the cold on a windy mountain top is rough but so worth the photos of LED props against the skyline. It was a good thing we have thick skins to stick through the brisk night because we ended up meeting a couple of film-makers who wanted to get some footage of Vid and his instrumental beatboxing for a web-series. That night we head over to the open-mic at Brutopia to blow their guitar strumming minds with our glow-juggling beats. Our performance went really well, it was a busy loud bar before we started and we had a silent gob-smacked audience on the edge of their bar stools by the end of our set. We especially impressed MC Puzzle, a inebriated rapper who was enamoured by Vid's beats. He asked Vid to accompany him on stage so he could spit some rhymes... or er... sporadic profanities floating on his drunken haze. The duo evoked many emotions within Tess, she went from feeling sympathy for Vid, to amused by the awkwardness, to cringing over the lyrics and finally the undying urge to find a giant cane and pull them both off the stage. To Vid's credit he tried so hard to end the set with beats that had undeniable finality to their rhythm. Yet MC Puzzle had more to say than Vid had bargained for. It was a fun experience and that was not the last of the amateur rappers that flock to us UK beatboxers.

After this we drove back to Ottawa, excited to busk on Halloween night. Halloween, in Ottawa on a Monday. Despite very little traffic, the people passing by were very generous. A few straggling costumed amateur rappers and a handful of people who loved us and threw us some cash kept our energy levels up and made up for the over-excited Tim Hortons employee (a Canadian coffee chain) dressed as a 'Tim Hortons Zombie' hugging Vid and smothering the shoulder of his suit with fake blood. All in all, it was worth our time and a good warm-up for our performance the next night at the Rainbow room. The Rainbow room was our toughest gig yet. From the limited amount of people that we know currently living in Ottawa, everybody that we'd asked to come showed up... all seven of them. The bar did absolutely no advertising for us not even a status update on Facebook. It was a great venue and a nice big stage and, even in the quiet environment, the performance went very well. It's just a shame when promotion is one-sided because, come on, this supposed to be one of the best jobs in the world. If you can't be bothered to let your regulars know, what hope is there for an underground scene?

Our last full day in Ottawa involved a workshop for a TV network, Mountain Road Productions. We worked with a group of four kids ages ten - fourteen who were funny and really up for playing. We played games, beatboxed and improvised giving them tons of ideas for their webseries, Totally Random. This show is co-written by the cast of kids and the amazingly talented Chelsea O'Connor. We had a blast guiding them on the workshop and can't wait to check out the show when it comes out at the end of the month.

The next morning, it was off to Toronto. We used a ride share that we found on the Internet and, somehow, the driver had forgotten that there were two of us. We turned up to seven people needing to fit into a six seater car for a five hour drive. It was cosy.

Toronto was a definite highlight this time around - Anthony's wonderful hospitality, jamming with Tess's high-school friends, learning the rest of Bach's Prelude in C major from Anthony, busking with mask and recorder - This is why I don't do 'shopping holidays'; there's more fun to be had. My favourite part was smashing it at The Supermarket, a swanky yet still quirky and alternative venue in Kensington Market. It was heaving in there and the entire crowd loved it. You could hear a pin drop, if it weren't for the bass noises coming from our mouths. The glow-juggling scene could not have gone better.

From Toronto-Pearson airport, we were finally leaving Ontario. We arrived in Vancouver after a 5h30 flight with no meal and picked up the rental car that will take us down the west coast of North America. This was the first time in British Columbia for both of us. Here we performed at Cafe Deux Soleils, again managing to transform a noisy bar into a captive audience without saying a single word. This is always special. During the day, we hit some good luck and found out that Tess's friend had a tourist pass that got us to Vancouver's Suspension Bridge and a cable car up Grouse Mountain. It's pretty important to fit in some downtime between the emails, admin, performing and teaching. We kept enough time back to make a showreel from some of the Ontario Footage (See bottom)

Finally we fulfilled a goal that I have had for the last three years: Attend a wedding of two really amazing people in my life, Martina and Noah. I lived with Martina in California and we went to Dell'Arte together. She inspired me in so many ways and I truly aspire to be as happy and beautiful as she is through and through. I vowed that, no matter where I was in the world, I would make sure to be with them on their special day. 

We woke up early on the morning of the wedding to make the quick five hour jaunt over to Washington State... We were greeted by a longish line of cars to the border; that was frustrating but not off-putting. We had given ourselves plenty of time before the ceremony and our performance so we were only worried once we were directed to the 'security inspection'. They took our keys and threw them on our windshield and militarily directed us to the looming building that makes Gotham City seem friendly. We heaved open the giant glass doors to reveal roughly two-hundred people as disgruntled to be there as we were. One giant line in front of a bunch of poker-faced officers. Two hours later we left after paying a mere twelve dollars to have a stamp put in our passports. Needless to say we were very late for the wedding, the journey ended up being ten hours and we arrived after the ceremony but just in time to perform. We blew the guests away and rocked the house! It was a wonderful audience of happy hippies who were really appreciative for our performance. My soul felt all warm and fuzzy after.

The wedding was phenomenal! If you are ever invited to the wedding of two really talented performers, make sure you don't miss it for the world. The cake cutting and the first dance were two stellar comedic, slapstick performances that were classy, graceful and tear-jerkingly hilarious. Vid and I were gobsmacked as we watched Noah lift Martina above his head during the dance. They are so talented and their chemistry is explosive. Their love was palpable, it is true and real and I wish the both of them the best in every facet of their lives.

The next day we had a little honeymoon of our own. We took a winding road through the mountains to a little secret hotspring nestled in the woods. There were baths carved out of cedar and a tap from the ground directly into the tub. At a hundred and thirty six degrees Fahrenheit we had to cool it down with buckets of spring water, one more day to stop and breathe before the 7h30 drive to California.


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