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.

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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
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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
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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 the last time I saw him, he was a much-in-demand Hammond B3 organist at one 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”.

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
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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
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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