Sunna Gunnlaugs

Tour Diary: June 23 – July 2, 2002, Canada

February 5, 2011 10:53 pm | Filed under: | Comments (2)

Quinsin Nachoff – tenor sax, Matt Pavolka – bass, Scott McLemore – drums

We decided to create this journal on the way up to Canada as a way of documenting our experiences in places we'd never been. I'd like to think this is what inspired Zuckerberg to make Facebook, but at the very least it was a lot of fun and still makes me smile to read it now.

Day 01:
Leave NYC for Buffalo, stay with friends on the way to Toronto.

[pavolka]
Buffalo. The tourist slogan for this city, as proudly announced in green and white letters on our way in on I 90, is "An All America City". As lacking in sentiment as I generally am, I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I realized that I, too, am an America.

[sunna]
I am an Icelandica in Buffalonian.

[scott]
Ben and Jerry's twice in one day. It doesn't get any better than this. Benni and Berglind were terrific hosts. Tofu fajitas with the original Buffalo Wing sauce. It's all about the food. Yum!

Day 02:
Welcome to Toronto

[quinsin]
being severely over rehearsed this should be fresh. it will be interesting to see everyone elses take on my home town. i have not much else to say. am looking forward to playing with this rhythm section and some nice writing.

[scott]
No ice cream today. Oh well. The gig was fun. Quinsin did a great job. We did get some Creemore (Canadian Beer) that was almost as good as Brooklyn.

[pavolka]
We are in pop land. No soda to be found here. The great soda/pop divide. Why must we create walls that keep us apart? Can't we all just get along? How about a big giant can of Soda-Pop for the whole human race to share (but what will be in it-Coke or Pepsi?).
By the way, Canadian Beer is lame.

[sunna]
It felt good to play today. The "Sennheizer sound guys" did a great job. I am guessing we had maybe a thousand people attending the show and the music was very well received. We hung out with some friends afterwards and our first day in Canada was pretty good. Could have been a bit warmer though.

Day 03:
Ottawa, Oh Ottawa

[sunna]
I started the day being interviewed by a documentarian over a bowl of veggie-chilli. We had no gig today so we hung a bit at the festival site. EST was playing later and I would have liked to see them but we had a 5 hour drive to Ottawa so we split. We are staying with the Icelandic Ambassador and his wife and it is nice to have a piece of Iceland in middle of Canada.

[scott]
doughnuts yumm. We got Gulash at the Ambassador's house. It's beautiful here. We're playing at the same time as Herbie Hancock tomorrow. Nothing like a little competition.

Day 04:
Still in Ottawa, playing the Mercury Lounge

[pavolka]
Bass direct bad, microphone good. Sound man says no, drums will BLEED. Bass player vampire, drinks drum blood. Yummy!

[sunna]
It rained all day and seemd like people stayed home to avoid the demonstration against the G8. I think that yesterday would have been a better day to perform 'cause there were just too many distractions today. The club was kind of cool and I dug the DJ who played some hip groovy jazzy snazzy stuff between our sets. I'd like to come here again.

[scott]
There were breakdancers after our show tonight. They reminded me of when I used to breakdance. I could do the flare, the robot and the spin on your head thing… as well as a few other things. The drums tonight were a bit much to deal with. They were Peavey's, who I didn't realize even made drums but quickly realized the reason for my being unaware. The music was cool regardless… last set especially. The crowd was small but strong. Touring is fun.

Day 05:
Relaxin' in Montreal

[sunna]
We drove to Montreal today. We are playing tomorrow so we used the free time to check out some concerts. We saw the Brad Mehldau trio and later Jack DeJohnette and John Surman. The festival site looks great and there is a lot going on. It was still raining but I am hopefull that we'll have good weather tomorrow and I am looking forward to playing. I used my Icelandic connection again to hook up accomodations for the night. There are some really nice people in the world.

[scott]
Cheese! Brie and Camembert and some I'd never heard of. Mehldau was incredible as usual. Backing up a bit: Pavolka left his jacket with his wallet in it at the club last night. Even though he got it back today (with the cash in it!!!) this is a momentus occasion for me as it relieves me of the position of most forgetful in the band.

[pavolka]
Who am I? What the hell is going on? Footballers, saxophoners and sex swings. I've got it! Must be Canada. There's some kind of festival going on here. Lots of cats with bebop hats and mobs of people watching them. It's quite a groovy scene.

Day 06:
Performing at the Montreal Jazz Festival

[scott]
Moules frites tonight and not a minute too soon. We were starving! We had an amazing set at the "Scene General Motors" with I don't know how many thousands of people. Afterwards we went to check out Quinsin's band down the street and it was predictably great. Lot's of fun here. Can't wait to come back.

[sunna]
It was totally awesome to perform on the largest outdoor stage in front of thousands of people. The energy was great, the weather was great and we had a blast. We checked out some local musicians later and ended up at an "off festival" gig. I knew some of the people that were playing from my stay in Banff last year and they sounded great. I sure hope to come again next year.

[pavolka]
The highlight of the festival, for me, was the 85 to 90 year old couple improvising choreography at the front of the crowd. Yeah, man.

Day 07:
Performing at the Victoria Jazz Festival

[scott]
Well, enough about food. This place is really nice. The local accent is a little startling, but it reminds me of a mellowed-out Irish accent. The club was cool, and it filled up pretty much to maximum by the time we went on. Not bad considering we were competing with the folk festival. This is definitely the hotel of the tour. Too bad we only have til 6am to enjoy it. Our camera broke somewhere between Montreal and here but when the van arrived to take us to the gig the driver brought along a friend who is a photographer. Believe it or not, they were nice enough to have it fixed for us while we set up. Great people in Victoria.

[sunna]
We spent most of today in transit. I hadn't slept much so I tried to sleep on the plane. We had a short layover in Vancouver which we spent running, to what seemed like the other end of the airport, for some sushi, and back through security where we had to turn on our laptops, handhelds and cameras to get through. Victoria looked really nice and I wished that we had more time to look around. We played at a club and although people were very complimentary I knew that we hadn't given our best performance and felt a bit bummed. But that's how it is, every band has it's ups and downs.

Day 08:
Performing at the Vancouver Jazz Festival

[scott]
This is an incredible festival. It's an incredible town and I'm just totally amazed how open minded the people here are. The concerts are all very well attended not matter how "out" the music is. The architecture strikes me as a combination of Scandinavian and Japanese. Walking around I feel like I'm looking at an issue of Wallpaper magazine. Everyone has treated us really well. I was especially impressed after Sunna and I heard Malaby's trio (which was incredible). It was quite late and she said to me "I wonder how long it will take a cab to get here if we called it." One of the festival people heard that and just called us a cab and it was there in a few minutes.

[sunna]
I had a feeling that I would like Vancouver and I was right. This is my first time on the West Coast and this area is absolutely gorgious. We performed at Roundhouse Festival Hall, which used to be a train station but has been converted to a community center. The design is really charismatic and I enjoyed our performance. The dutch drummer Han Bennink played with a quartet after us and a septet from the UK was next door. We had sushi for lunch (again) and walked around a bit admiring the architecture which reminded me very much of Scandinavia. Tony Malaby was giving a clinic with Michael Formanek and Tom Rainey so we stopped by and said hi. They were also giving a concert at midnight. We hung out and listened to an orchestra play music by Gavin Bryers sung by Holly Cole. By 11pm I was falling asleep and contemplating going back to the hotel since I had been up since 5:30am. We had stayed at a 5 star hotel in Victoria and our Vancouver hotel was quite a step down, (I'm not even sure if it had a star at all), so the idea wasn't very appealing and I decided to walk around and admire more of Vancouver's architecture and hoped that the cool evening air would give me a second wind. I made it to Tony's performance but was about to fall over by the end so I turned in, looking forward to not having to set my alarm for the first time on this tour.

Day 08:
Canada Day at the Vancouver Jazz Festival

[scott]
A great time was had by all. Once again we were followed by Han Bennik which was great for me. I like his playing a lot. It was also great to see Bobo Stenson who played before us with a band from Montreal. There were tons of people out for Canada Day and the atmosphere was highly condusive to good music. What a great way to end a tour. This has been awesome. I hope we do it again… I hope Sunna subjects herself to the booking process again. She put in so much work to put this thing together. Thanks, Sunna! New York here we come… again.

[sunna]
We walked down to the docks today and it was so beautiful (except for the floating Esso gas station) with the tree-covered mountains embracing the water, a bunch of little boats and some super nice looking house boats in between. The condo buildings look really nice and I was thinking that it must be nice to live here. Today we played in Granville Island and we had to catch a ride with the aquabus because there were too many people on the streets celebrating Canada Day. That was actually kind of neat. I felt inspired by our surroundings again like yesterday and playing was fun. It was a strange feeling listening to Bobo Stenson (one of my heros) knowing that my band was on next. I have to commend the people here for a great festival, venues and staff. I really enjoyed my stay here and I know that I will visit again. 5:30am departure back to New York to book the next tour.

[pavolka]
Up, down, in, out, awake, awake, tired, wasted, Bobo, Malaby, Fourgasm, islands, mountains, sushi, brew ha-ha, green funds, beautiful, funky, terse, verbose, morons, artists, Canadians. Bitchin', EH?

Day 09:
Flying back to Montreal

[quinsin]
Too much sushi is a good thing, too much sushi is a good thing, etc. this egg breakfast i just finished in the calgary airport is definitely the best one i've had today. it's been a blast getting into this really hip music for a few days in a beautiful environment. many friends have been coming down and hanging out. nice to see malaby. already missing the new york thang again…back to the real world now, EH?

[sunna]

Well, the tour has come to an end, appropriately enough, on Canada day. Thanks for reading along with us. See you next time.

2 Responses to “Tour Diary: June 23 – July 2, 2002, Canada”

  1. John Le Marquand says:

    Very sorry to have missed you at the Vancouver Jazz festival since I was living in the Vancouver area in 2002. Glad you got to see the west coast. It's a wonderful place to live. If you didn't like the Esso gas barge you would have hated what was there a few years ago. Five gas barges,Texaco, Esso, Home, Chevron & Shell. At night they lit up Cole Harbour & were very colourful. The boat traffic has dropped so much over the past years that one gas barge does what five use to. Vancouver is very beautiful especially on a sunny day but Victoria is much nicer place to live.
    Enjoy your group very much & used to play in a group much like yours. Prefer the alto sax to the tenor in your group. Seems to fit better with the piano.

  2. Dear John,
    Thank you for your comment. I would really like to come back to Vancouver but since I live in Iceland now it's sooooo far away. But you never know. I might try to get back on the Canadian festivals.
    Loren Stillman is wonderful. So light and fluent. My next album will be a trio with bass and drums. We are planning on releasing it in spring.

    best wishes to you and thanks for listening to my music.

Leave a Reply