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Music Hall Lounge - Great Lakes Blues Society, London, Ontario, Canada


   Pretty Boy's Corner

July 29, 2010

Susan and I are up at 7:30 am and we get some coffee and Susan goes for a walk. I eat some breakfast and head back to the room to shower, pack, stretch, and practice. We get packed and head down to the van at 11 am. Our drive is only 3 hours today. I know I am happy about that.
We drive to the border crossing at the Rainbow Bridge. We can see Niagara Falls from the bridge which gets everyone excited. We are planning to stop somewhere on the Canadian side to take pictures of it and enjoy it but our plans are soon altered. At the booth the agent takes our passports and asks a few questions about our plans and travels. After a quick look inside the van by the agent he tells us to pull over in a parking area and go inside the building for further processing. Uh, oh. This does sound good. This is about 12:15.

Inside we all get into a long line which is moving slowly and the agents that are servicing this line keep being distracted and going on break. After about forty minutes they finally get to our group. The agent asks all the preliminary questions about our trip and after a fashion they single me and Donto out for further questions. As near as I can figure out, something appeared on their screens that indicated that Donto and I had been involved with the law some how in the past. I know that in my twenties I was a confused angry person and I got involved in many things that were harmful. Drug use was one of these. I had thought these things had been expunged a long time ago but apparently not. The agent asked me about my past records and I explained my history to her to the best of my ability. I told her my last dealing with the law in this regard was back in 1977, forty-three years ago. Apparently this satisfied them as they no longer asked me any more questions after the agent talked to her supervisor.

Donto, however, had something in his past they did not like. They were not going to let him in the country. The supervising agent was a hard nose. What made things even worse was the agency was anything but friendly. Any time you asked a question or made a request the response was a curt surly one. By now we had been there for 2 ½ hours and everyone was getting tired and hungry. We had watched many of the agents come and go from wherever they were coming and going from, but the supervising agent just kept punching buttons on his computer and staring at the screen. I almost lost it when I saw another agent bring the supervising agent a coffee and a roll. Aw. Do you care about these six people waiting for your decision? Finally, he tells Donto he can go into Canada on a temporary permit which will cost him $200. What could he do? He paid it and they finally let us go after detaining us for three hours. At this time it is nearly three o'clock and we are supposed to be in London, Ontario at four o'clock which is 2 ½ hours away. We call the promoters and let them know of our delay and they will be waiting for our arrival.

We get to the Delta hotel in London and it is really nice! Too bad we will only be here for a couple of hours. We drop off our bags and head over to the Music Hall Lounge. We have a little trouble finding it even though it is staring us in the face as it is in the back of a parking lot tucked away in the corner. Paul Breau, one of the officials of the Great Lakes Blues Society, guides us in and we are immediately greeted by a lot of volunteers to help us move our gear into the hall. It's a nice place with a quality sound system. O'Neal, the sound man, gets us up and running quickly, Susan orders and gets our dinners, and we head back to the hotel to eat and change in less than an hour for our 8 pm show.

We get there in the nick of time and a lot of folks have gathered for the show. The band sounds great and the crowd is really responding to the LMB. Playing for blues societies is nice as they already know what to expect and if you don't let them down they will reward you with their approval of cheers and applause. Laurie sets the place on fire and wins them over. On the break we get to meet these really fun loving Canadians who make us feel right at home. Many autographs are signed, people met, and hands shaken. We then prepare to play our last set. The last set is a ripper. We finish at 11 pm with 'Livin' in a Man's World' which always gets a rise from the crowd, especially after Laurie does one of her signature walks through the crowd during her solo. As Jack Black says in 'School of Rock' she gave them some of her 'face melters'. They demand an encore and we comply with our version of 'Crossroads'.

What a great night and a great bunch of people, which might never have happened if the border agents had decided otherwise. Also, on another joyous note, Denis Burns, Treasurer/Vice Chairman of the Great Lakes Blues Society, reimbursed Donto the $200 that he had to pay to the border agency for the temporary permit. When we pack up for the night not one of us has to lift anything. These guys just jump in there and get it done. I am always amazed at how generous people can be. I only hope that I can carry the same spirit of giving. Thanks, Greats Lakes Blues Society, especially Denis, Paul, and Stephen. Keep up the good work and hope to see you next time we are traveling through your great country.

Back to the hotel by 12:30 for a short 4 hours sleep. We need to get on the road by 6 am to make it to Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Too bad. These rooms are nice.
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