Leaving Ottawa

Two Marshall amps sit on the sand. Waves crash in the distance as an orange west coast sunset burns through it’s final minutes of glory. A young man approaches, straps on a waiting Stratocaster and begins to play. Thunderous Jimmy Page power chords echo across the beach.


The short film ends and I sit, transfixed, in the darkness - the only person in the small theatre. I was waiting at the entrance to the National Gallery of Canada when they opened the doors this morning.

I had wandered slowly through the lower gallery taking, as always, extra time with the Group of Seven, soaking up the power and tenderness of Tom Thompson and the majesty of Lawren Harris and J. E. H. MacDonald. I sensed my Dad’s presence beside me as I admired a Cornelius Kreighoff, one of his favourites. I stood with my nose nearly touching Alex Colville’s “To Prince Edward Island” and examined the thousands of tiny brush strokes that create the high-surrealism of his eerie and evocative paintings. In the Contemporary Gallery, I mounted a motorized office chair in a large interactive installation and, pedaling hard, failed to elicit the promised spinning. As I exited down the Gallery’s long staircase/ramp I could feel my creative batteries topping off.

Our return to the Ottawa Tulip Festival last night was a triumph over the elements and an excellent party, despite intermittent rain and a cold, biting wind that whistled past the Parliament buildings and across the large outdoor stage. As the crowd-lights came up in “Raise a Little Hell”, I could see the faces of thousands of brave concert-goers standing in the rain - arms in the air - shouting the words.

Lance Chalmers has returned for our summer tour - still the brother he became during his eight years with the band. He walked onto the stage in Sarnia, Ontario - after three years and no rehearsal - and dropped back into the slot without missing a proverbial beat. Ottawa is Lance’s home town and last night his parents, brothers, sisters in-law and their kids all partied happily backstage with us. Gogo invited two random teens in for orange juice and full deli-tray priviledges. They were visibly chuffed to be part of the action. Kids, parents and grandparents swarmed the t-shirt booth after the show. An eighteen year old girl told me I was “hot”.

A 9:30 show time put us back at the ‘Les Suites’ Hotel by 12:30AM. By 12:35 I was sleeping like a baby.