My Dinner at … uh … Janey’s

Despite its jazzy parisian cool, the live recording of Toots Theilemans playing ‘Moulin Rouge’ is, oddly, the perfect headphone soundtrack for this calm and quiet drive to Campbellton, New Brunswick. It’s Saturday, and it feels like a Saturday. People are out in their yards, talking to neighbours, tending to their horses, and lounging in plastic chairs while their kids jump on backyard trampolines. It’s neither sunny nor warm but it’s Saturday, damn it, and the weekend is honoured with great respect in this neck of the woods.

In just twenty-four short hours, the high-intensity rock-and-roll adrenalin of Toronto has subsided to the point where recalling events and impressions will be difficult. As the green and peaceful countryside rolls by my passenger seat window, I’m fighting a strong resistance to the idea of re-visiting the events of the past few days. And that’s as it should be. I am here now. In New Brunswick. In that world so eloquently and lovingly documented by David Adams Richards, one of my favourite living authors, in his magnificent novels.

Many years ago now, I bought David’s first book, “The Coming of Winter”, and was stunned by the power and depth of its intimate human drama. Several years later, In an uncharacteristically audacious move, I called up my literary hero, nervously suggesting we get together for a drink.

“Why don’t you come over for dinner?” he replied.

One of my personal highlights of 2005 was the brilliantly written Globe and Mail story about Trooper, “The Long Good Time”. As a consequence of his week in the van with the boys in the band, its author, Peter Cheney, - one of Canada’s most respected feature writers - became a close friend and the honourary sixth member of Trooper.

I invited Peter and David Richards to join me for dinner in Toronto on Wednesday night. Thanks, in part, to the hospitality of our excellent hosts, Dave and Jane Doherty and the delicious food and casually classy ambience of their ‘Town Grill’ in Old Cabbagetown, the evening became my favourite of the tour. Although the two writers had never met, I had a feeling that they would hit it off - and they did.

Cheney is an outgoing and dramatic character who speaks and thinks like he writes. He is nearly always funny, even when he’s serious.

“I met the Devil at the crossroads …” he often solemnly admits as an introduction to his next story.

David is quiet and deeply thoughtful but can also be equally hilarious.

I had a wonderful time. I think they did too.

Dinner was the welcome antidote to a pressure-filled day that included a live performance with Kim Mitchell on Toronto’s Q107 and a national interview with ET Canada’s Rick Campanelli. The next day I met with Shauna MacDonald (Officer Erica Miller on the Trailer Park Boys, Promo Girl on CBC Radio One) to talk about my possible involvement with a new TV show, and Tom Kemp and Jeff Craib from the S. L. Feldman and Associates Toronto office, with whom we drank a few beers. My book reading was at 7:00, where my old pal Stu Jeffries (97.3 FM EZ Rock in Toronto - ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’) brought me on … followed by a riotous (and particularly excellent) Horseshoe Tavern rock show with my awesome band, Trooper.


David Adams Richards’ new book “The Friends of Meager Fortune” will be released September 19th 2006. I love all of David’s books. “The Bay of Love and Sorrows” is my very favourite.

Peter Cheney’s work can be seen in the Globe and Mail His Trooper story, “The Long Good Time” can be read here.