Posts Tagged ‘On Tour’

As “perennial touring veterans”, Sparkling Apple would endure countless road trips to Take Our Music To The People. Seen here are some exclusive photos of Sparkling Apple on tour: the “topless” shots were taken at a roadside stop on what is now the Sea-To-Sky highway, on the way to Whistler BC. I remember this particular viewpoint (“layby” in the UK), because spray-painted on the side of one of the massive rocks was graffiti immortalizing our visit. Unfortunately, the artist misspelled our name (in all likelyhood it may have been Ding), and for many years we would drive by the same location to see “Sparkleling Apple”! With the renovation and reconstruction of the Sea-To-Sky highway, this sign no longer exists, but it was a permanent fixture on Highway 99 for years.

Gord and Art at highway viewpoint on the road to Whistler, 1974.

Art and Colin at viewpoint on Sea to Sky Highway, 1974. Tantulus mountain range in the background.

The other shot of the band was taken outside the Whistler Mountain Lodge on Alta Lake. The lodge itself was a vintage log cabin-style structure from the 40s, and band would stay overnight upstairs in the 60s-era panelled rooms. The band rooms, of course, had been lovingly christened by scores of touring rock bands performing at the lodge. As such, these accommodations were not fit for human habitation (unless the visitor played in a rock n roll band and would be well-acquainted with lodgings that looked as if Keith Moon has exploded some nuclear device within). As we were in our early 20s, however, our surroundings were taken as more of an adventure than as cruel & unusual punishment.

Whistler Mountain Lodge proved to be a popular spot for the early-70s ski crowd and assorted hippies. I recall one occasion where an attractive blonde girl was enjoying the music throughout the evening, and during a break, her male friend introduced her to me. He said, “Meet my friend, Joni,” to which I replied with the smartass remark, “Oh, Joni Mitchell, that hippie chick?”. Both of them answered in the affirmative, “Yes!”. In one swell foop, I had just insulted the real honest-to-god Joni Mitchell!

Sparkling Apple at Whistler Mountain Lodge, Alta Lake 1974

The dances held in the old lodge were rollicking, exuberant and joyous, reminiscent of the toga party in “Animal House”! Back in those days, Whistler was pretty much the Husky Station intersection, as well as cabins overlooking Alta Lake. Skiing could be accomplished at the Gondola area near what is now Function Junction, and today’s bustling Village was at that time the local garbage dump. For excitement, we’d cruise out to the dump late at night and watch the bears scrounging for wares!

An actual poster from 1974, advertising weekend dance at Whistler Mountain Lodge.


Art and Gord at Prince Rupert Airport (Digby Island) 1974. Notice the CP Air sign on the side of the plane! Photo by Colin.

On August 3, 1974, Sparkling Apple had an adventurous one-nighter at Granduc copper mine, near Stewart, BC. The deal was that the band would jet up to Prince Rupert via CP Air, and after staying overnight at the Rupert Hotel, would continue by way of a Otter float plane to Stewart, BC (stage gear included). At Stewart, we would unload all of our equipment, pack it into “crummies” (all-purpose pickup trucks) and drive it through the Alaska Panhandle and miles of glaciers to perform for a bash at Granduc copper mine, not far from Middle of Nowhere, Canada. All expenses were paid by the Granduc mine, and after performing at the miners’ community hall, our accommodation would be at the miners’ bunkhouse, with miners’ breakfast included. (We saw miners wolfing down 3 steaks, a mountain of pancakes, sausage and other items which your arteries would thank you for.)

The fact that “The Thing” starring Kurt Russell was filmed in Stewart may have contributed to our adventure. Yes, after a night’s stay in the most godforsaken hole in Prince Rupert (a northern city which doesn’t particularly boast any livability prizes either), we were on our way to Stewart in a float plane, flown by what we hoped was an experienced bush pilot. By coincidence, we had endured breakfast in a wild & woolly Prince Rupert cafe that morning, and the music on the jukebox was a brand new song, Paul McCartney & Wings playing “Let Me Roll You”. An ominous beginning.

We flew from PR to the remote outpost of Stewart, or at least it seemed remote to us — the runway was gravel, and the airport manager was a “hippie chick” who looked about 19! After unloading the plane and stowing all our gear on the aforementioned pickup trucks, we drove the circuitous route to Granduc Mine through Hyder, Alaska (yes, we were initiated with a shot of snakebite at the local bar — yow!). After miles and miles of glaciers and rivers bursting with spawning salmon, we eventually arrived at the camp, which may as well have been on Mars for its proximity to civilization. We set up at the  hall, and played to an enthusiastic and music-starved camp of miners — now that I think of it, there weren’t really too many women in attendance! No matter — the miners were hella wild (as they say in the 21st Century) and just couldn’t get enough of Sparkling Apple’s rock n roll. We therefore played about six hours, due to the fact that these guys just wouldn’t let us go home.

Art beside the Salmon River Glacier

After a wild, crazy and successful (and financially lucrative) evening, we journeyed back to Vancouver in the same way we arrived: crummy, float plane, jet, only to enounter some creative baggage handling at Vancouver airport. When we went to the CP Air cargo hangar to retrieve our band equipment, it was nowhere to be seen, as in Missing In Action. After much panicked investigation, our gear was finally located at the Quantas Lost and Found! Because Quantas is an Australian airline, we pictured Barbara the Les Paul and Bert the Bag, dumped on some stage in Sydney, Australia, where AC/DC thanked their lucky stars that someone had graciously donated a planeload of amps and drums!

Art and Gord outside the Rupert Hotel in (guess where?) Prince Rupert BC

Sparkling Apple loading gear onto Otter at Prince Rupert airport

Stewart airport. Woman with long red hair is the airport manager.

At the Granduc Copper Mine. Our “venue” is the community hall, straight ahead.

Granduc Copper mine (alternate view). Green arrow points to where we played.

Our name in lights

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Rock n Roll

Cameo Club, Surrey 1974

For your approval, a collection of photos, retrieved from our limitless supply of ancient artifacts: photos not of Sparkling Apple, but of the numerous instances where we were advertised on outdoor signs. These are not the entire collection of “name on the sign” pics, just the ones that were spelled correctly, and the ones we could actually find! All photos taken in Canada. By the way, people, if you’ve got vintage Sparkling Apple photographs, don’t hesitate to tell us about them so that we can present them on the Official Blog. Oh yes, these are just thumbnails — to see the photos full size, just click on each one.

McDonald Hotel, Prince George 1976

The band (and Ding) at San Diego Club, Fort St. John, 1976

Village Green, Duncan 1980

The band outside the Norlander, Winnipeg 1980

Bunny's, Thunder Bay 1980

Captain Maniac outside the Riviera Hotel, Edmonton 1980

Bobo's, Campbell River 1980. Buzz, Captain Maniac, Woody and Art

Captain Maniac outside the Chilcotin Inn, Williams Lake 1978

Hockey at 2AM! Outside our band house in Nanaimo in 1981, Puppy the Roadie (Steve K) and Buzz Constantly face off, with Art in goal. Woody watches through the window, photo by Captain Maniac.

With Canucks fever currently gripping the land (in Canada, anyway!), here’s a shoutout to Art the Fart the Heavy Metal Kid, who never missed a televised NHL game while on the road with the band. Back in the day, “Hockey Night in Canada” was on CBC-TV on Saturday nights (still is, if I’m not mistaken). All Sparkling Apple members were rabid hockey fans — except Captain Maniac, who would haughtily “harrumph” while the game was on. When winter winds were colder than the business end of a sorceress’s mammary, musicians and roadies alike would hunker down in front of The Box for a dose of hockey mayhem. Philosophically speaking, this behaviour no doubt would mobilize & prepare us for an engaging evening of rock n roll later on, particularly as there were no referees or officials at the nightclubs we played. We would have to supply our own calls, such as “too many men on the stage” or “penalty for pissing on the ice”, or “Sparkling Apple 3 – Audience 0: a f**king SHUTOUT!”. Art would follow the Toronto Maple Leafs, and was ecstatic when Sparkling Apple played in Toronto in 1980 — he actually had his picture taken in front of the iconic Maple Leaf Gardens. (see below)

Art outside Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, 1980.

Young Frankenstein

Posted: June 6, 2011 in Rock n Roll

Buzz Constantly and Young Frankenstein (Ric Whitman and Dave Vidal, when they were in the same band)

Here’s a vintage pic! Seen above in a section of a promo shot for their old band Kitsch, are Ric Whitman and Dave Vidal, probably from 1976. I remember on Sparkling Apple tours to Victoria, Buzz would look up old friends from when he used to live there, one of which was the Legendary Dave Vidal. Because he was a brilliant guitarist, Dave became a friend of Sparkling Apple, too, and we would look forward to hanging out with him whenever we were on the Island. In later years, Dave was well-known as a session musician and guitar tech (Art would see him to “set up my inclination”!), and I remember seeing him as a much-in-demand Hammond B3 organist at some of the Yale Hotel jams. When asked how a dazzling guitarist could be an equally impressive keyboard player, he would shrug it off with, “It’s just mathematics”. In 2016, I saw him at Joanne and Budd Marr’s wedding, and I reminded him of the following incident (which he remembered). Lately, he’s been a special guest at Steve Kozak’s Blues & Brews jam Wednesday nights at the Patricia Hotel in Vancouver.

So how did Dave get the nickname Young Frankenstein? It was in 1978, while travelling to the Victoria nightclub “The Surfside” on one of our many visits, that Art became sick on the ferry (probably because of the “beep dip” as the cafeteria cook called it). By the time he got to the club for afternoon soundcheck and to set up our gear, Art was so ill that he had to be taken to Royal Jubilee Hospital (I think the prognosis was stomach flu). Buzz, meanwhile, had gone on to Victoria ahead of us in a separate vehicle, completely oblivious to Art’s condition, and the plan was that he would meet us at the gig. We set up our equipment at the Surfside, fully expecting Art to be released from hospital later in the evening; as it turned out, though, an overnight stay was required! Expecting to cancel the Monday night show, I waited at the club with our roadies for Buzz to show up and to break the bad news to him. Just before showtime, Buzz did indeed arrive at the club with an old friend — you guessed it, Dave Vidal, who was wearing a t-shirt which displayed the logo from the then-recent “Young Frankenstein” movie. When we told Buzz of Art’s inability to play, he of course was shocked, but Dave, trouper that he is, volunteered to fill in. “I’ll play,” he laughed, and without any rehearsal, we performed the Monday night set with Dave Vidal on guitar! Dave was the kind of guitarist at whom you could throw any song, whereupon he would think for a second and then say, “OK, let’s do it”. What a guy! So it was because he was wearing a “Young Frankenstein” shirt that he earned that nickname, which was how we’d address him every time we encountered him.

Chicks and Cars and the Third World War

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Rock n Roll
Lost Weekend in Las Vegas, 1993. Jim Morrison is seen in the Flamingo Hotel, overlooking the old Dunes (now the site of Bellaggio).

Here we go again with another chapter in the Life and Times of Sparkling Apple, this episode featuring Kevin Swain, Captain Maniac and Art the Fart the Heavy Metal Kid. In this week’s adventure, Sparkling Apple go on tour with none other than Colin James in the wild & untamed 90s. Visit us on the Official Sparkling Apple Website (accept no substitutes). Warning: Some coarse and nasty content, not suitable for impressionable youth (there, THAT ought to attract more readers!).

Fort St. John is beyond Hope!

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Rock n Roll

Calling all cars… new blog entry seen in the vicinity of The Sparkling Apple Official Website! Suspects are armed and dangerous, approach with caution. That is all.

The story this week concerns our visit to Fort St. John, British Columbia, in January 1977. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Captain Maniac

The Golden Drip

Posted: February 6, 2011 in Rock n Roll

Now before some of you nervous nellies get the wrong impression, the title of this post is NOT a link to some skanky porn site featuring hookers engaging in sex acts involving bodily functions! No way, José! (Sadly, those sites do exist, and in this day and age I imagine they are well-frequented by professional losers.) Seriously, folks, this is just an example of Sparkling Apple’s custom of intentional dyslexia — the name refers to a nightclub in the Kootenays known as The Golden Drift! We’re talking 1975 here, gang.

This Nelson, BC establishment was run by a rather odd gentleman who went by the name of Cornelius Van Pelt, a Dutch immigrant who still possessed an unintelligible Dutch accent despite the fact that he’d most likely been a Canadian citizen for 75 years. He had a peculiar habit of going out in the audience with a pair of scissors and snipping off a large piece of some unsupecting customer’s necktie; his newfound prize would then be prominently displayed alongside other snipped ties, on a clothesline behind the bar — the Golden Drift Tie Club! Cornelius (yes, we referred to him as Cornhole-nelius) would appear onstage greeting the audience with “Velcome velcome to De Golden Drip. Fun Shpot Number Vun in BC. Drink a little, dance a little and shpend ALL your money, because dat makes me VERY happy.”

He would then introduce us by adding, “Now ve present a HARRRRD rock band — and you know vat DAT means! Here dey are, Da Shilver Vinggies!!” By way of explanation: prior to our booking, there had  been a band known as Silver Wings appearing at the Golden Drift. Apparently they did quite well (meaning that the bar sold a lot of beer during Silver Wings’ week), so as a result, Cornelius would refer to each succeeding band as The Silver Wings! We did meet up with other bands who were in the area at the time. Can’t remember what they were called, but one rock group from Washington State had us in stitches when they were bragging about their stage sound: “So-and-so had his guitar just QUACKIN'”. At that point we considered renaming Art the Fart as Carl Quackin’ (Art’s middle name is Carl).

The audience at the Golden Drift was comprised primarily of Kootenay greasers, who during the day would cruise up and down the strip (that is, the main street of town) in their so-called hot cars, in a vain attempt to recreate American Graffiti. [Side note: American Graffiti (the movie soundtrack) was so popular in those days, that 50s rock n roll was referred to as “graffiti”!] On the main street in town was an old boarding house called the Allen Hotel, which naturally prompted us to alter an “L” in the outdoor sign so that passers-by would be welcomed to the “Alien Hotel”.

The other segment of the audience was denizens of the local hippie communes (hippies were abundant in the area in 1975). I remember one hippie dude frightening his drinking companions with his cries of “angels and devils — angels and devils”, which produced spasms of terror among his coterie of hippie chicks! The principal drinking establishment was the Queens Hotel, which we were thrown out of because “we don’t serve hippies” (of course, our reaction was, “that’s OK, we don’t eat them”), and if I’m not mistaken is immortalized in a Trooper song, or at least on Ra McQuire’s blog.

When we weren’t performing, we would wile away the day in the Diamond Grill (wasn’t that a Seals & Crofts song?), watching those previously-mentioned demented rednecks in their quest for god nose what. Come dinner time, our idea of a “cheap pigout” would be to dine at the local Mr. Mikes and order the least expensive burger on the menu. Accompanied by all manner of free condiments like ketchup, mustard, HP Sauce, onions, soya sauce, chocolate chips, this burger would earn the reputation of The Assholy Grail — a heart attack on a plate, or “thousands of bites and turn out the lights”.

Our accommodation on one trip was at a sleazy motel across the lake. (I won’t mention the name of the establishment because after Googling it, it just so happens that it still exists!) We were all stuffed into a two bed, one bunk bed room complete with 70s pinewood wall panelling, but wonder of wonders, the motel had an actual swimming pool. This pool, not surprisingly, was the scene of several beverage-fuelled escapades involving patio furniture in the pool’s deep end late at night.

By now most readers are wondering, “So when’s this guy gonna get to the point?” Well, there IS no point. I’ve been deliberately wasting your time in order to inform you that this weekend’s “Road Tales” story, which normally would have been located on the Sparkling Apple website, is once again right here on the Offiicial Sparkling Apple Blog. However, stay tuned for yet another thrill-packed episode of our Continuing Saga in the life of a bar band, already in progress on Another Network (as Johnny Carson used to say). Fort St. John will be soon be exposed in our hard-hitting series!

We encourage you to leave comments on our blog, and unless you have been redirected from Facebook, the easy way to do that is to click on the name of the post title. You will then be redirected to a new page where LEAVE A REPLY is shown below the posting. Here you will find a form where you can type in your name and comment. Play nice, now! (Users following a link from Facebook will see the LEAVE A REPLY section right away.)

Keep on rockin’,
Captain Maniac

Flying Saucers Rock n Roll

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Rock n Roll

In the photo above: Outside Woody’s Trailer Park (Sault Ste. Marie in 1980) is our soundman, Woody (real name Jim Woodburne).

As mentioned in our last blog entry, the latest edition of Sparkling Apple Road Stories will once again be found at our trusty website in living color. This partiular installment concerns our lovable old band truck, scene of many refreshments and Black Sabbath musical interludes on cassette as well as journeying to Where No One Has Gone Before (since last week). Oh, I know I’ve probably forgotten many a good yarn where our truck was an unwitting participant, but let’s move on, shall we? If you have memories good or bad and you’re able to remember pertinent Sparkling Apple road stories, feel free to contribute them in the “leave a reply” section below, or directly on the Road Stories section of

Hey, wait a sec, I remember a truck-related road story (of which there can’t help but be too many): Once Art and I were driving in the old Ford Econoline after completing a gig, and being late at night & irresponsible young adults, we were merrily pounding back bottles of beer to accompany the journey back to our motel. This sort of behaviour is not condoned in the 21st Century, and far be it from us to be considered role models — but Christ, we must have been a menace on the road. Anyway, before long we were pulled over by a cop, and sensing impending doom, we hurled our beer bottles behind us into the truck’s cargo area. The cop came and went, but when we got back to Vancouver, we discovered that one of the tossed beer bottles had made a direct hit into an upturned Altec Lansing horn — like one of Steve Nash’s three-pointers! Concerned that the horn would be inoperable, it was delivered to the Kelly DeYong service depot, where an incredulous Dave Zeffert emptied its contents of what amounted to a full bottle of beer and broken glass!

We encourage you to leave comments on our blog, and unless you have been redirected from Facebook, the easy way to do that is to click on the name of the post title. You will then be redirected to a new page where LEAVE A REPLY is shown below the posting. Here you will find a form where you can type in your name and comment. Play nice, now! (Users following a link from Facebook will see the LEAVE A REPLY section right away.)

Keep on rockin’,
Captain Maniac

Photos, Left to Right:

Captain Maniac at Speedway Hall, August 77

Gerry Flasch (our lighting tech) at Speedway Hall, August 77

Ed “Sweat” Wilson at Speedway Hall, August 77

Two drunks in the balcony at Campbell River Rec Centre 77

Ding (our soundman) at Campbell River Rec Centre 77

Stringbean just reminded me on Facebook that the Rolling the Rock story isn’t quite finished yet. I’ve forgotten a couple of details, so in order to set the record straight, here’s Part Two of the Monumental Binge ’77:

As mentioned, both bands embarked on a Vancouver Island Tour, which lasted until our endurance or supply of beer ran out (whichever came first). In the above photo of “two drunks in the balcony”, Art is joined by Berrycup bassist The Prez, as they are contemplating the evening’s festivities at the Campbell River Rec Centre, and are apparently feeling little pain. Our afternoon soundcheck was punctuated by brief interludes with a bottle of Southern Comfort, which I had been transporting in my not-inconsiderable overalls. As the gig was in August, the Southern Comfort was now the temperature of lukewarm tea, but was enthusiastically enjoyed nonetheless.

It was at Port Alberni, however, where our merrymaking and animated amusement reached its nadir. As Port Alberni was Berrycup’s home town, Sparkling Apple’s assignment was to be opening act, a mission heartily accepted (because it meant the rest of the evening off, with some serious imbibing involved). After a workmanlike set of blue-collar farmhand rock n roll, the band went into party/mingle mode, while Berrycup did their usual stellar job of entertaining the crowd. After going their separate directions and left to their own devices, Sparkling Apple band members enjoyed the proceedings to the extent that yours truly, by that time well-liquored up and befuddled after gobbling MDA, mounted the stage to participate in whatever music Berrycup was providing. For some reason, Art’s guitars were still onstage, so I grabbed his gold-top Les Paul and started playing along as a guest guitarist. There were two interesting factors in play here: 1) I couldn’t play a guitar if it came up and bit me on the ass, and 2) the guitar was not plugged in to any visible amplification! But I soldiered on a la Jimmy Page or Ted Nugent, or whoever was the flavour of the month guitar god in 1977, and broke two strings while in the process. At this point, I had the presence of mind to put the guitar back where it belonged (i.e., somewhere onstage, preferably leaning against an amp), and after sufficient flailing and posing (in my quest to be the before-mentioned flavour of the month guitar god), I decided a wise idea would be to find somewhere suitable to pass out.

Amazingly, the spot I chose was at the top of the bleachers in the Port Alberni Rec Hall. While Berrycup played, I dozed, and settled down for a well-deserved nap. The next thing I knew, I awoke at the BOTTOM of the bleachers, covered from head to toe in bruises and welts. Before I could question, “Who shit on me?”, it became obvious that I had rolled from the top of the bleachers to the bottom — while ASLEEP, mind you — and regained consciousness in a slightly altered condition. Ouch!

By that time, Berrycup had finished their set, and it was now time to tear down the gear and load the trucks. While in load mode, we somehow discovered a ten-pin bowling ball backstage. Now correct me if I’m wrong (and I might be), but I believe the bowling ball in question belonged to Ed “Sweat” Wilson of Berrycup, and similar to my famed hat rack, was one of his onstage props. At any rate, said bowling ball was now in our possession, and like any self-respecting sports fan, thought it appropriate to be Alley Gators while three sheets to the wind. One of us lofted the ball down the hallway in a vain attempt at Bowling For Food, and down the “alley” the ball sailed — until it reached the men’s washroom. With an almighty explosion followed by a terrifying gush of water, the force of the bowling ball totally destroyed one of the toilets, causing untold destruction and water damage! Our reaction was typical of most musicians — “let’s get the hell out of here!!” We wisely chose to exit the premises immediately, but it was a few days later that we got a nasty phone call from the management of the Port Alberni Rec Hall about the desecration and our rowdy vandalism. Somehow, we had been identified as the perpetrators, and our solution to rectify the damage was to pay for the levelled toilet as compensation. As it turned out, any money we had made that evening now had to be used to pay the City of Port Alberni!

Keep on rockin’,
Captain Maniac