My Summer

I haven't written here much this summer. I did manage to contribute a bit to the Twittersphere, but anything more that 140 characters seemed to be beyond me. I was pretty busy. Luckily, for the first time ever, Gogo took photographs at every show this summer from his place at the keyboards - so you can get an idea of what my life's been like for the past few months. Many of these shots necessarily involve the back of my head, but all of them show the party in front of us. Short of standing up there yourself and feeling the palpable love that overwhelms us every night - it's a stage-side look at what we did this summer. Three of the shows (Parksville, Olds and Cochrane) have two pictures each (Cochrane, so that the collection wouldn't end on an odd number) but the rest are individual shows and roughly in the order we played them. Every show we've done since Canada Day is represented here except for the private one we played for our multimillionaire buddy in Muskoka.

Gogo's full set of pictures from the tour, including autographed body parts and tour bus exposés are here and I encourage you to check them all out. I thank my rock and roll brother for documenting our experience every night. It's the first time anyone's ever done it, and seeing all of them together like this is quite moving for me. Hopefully you enjoy it too.

Derren Brown on Minor Celebrity

This rang so true to me and made me laugh. Derren is talking about his admiration for Helena Bonham Carter and in particular their attendance at a VIP gathering after a Rufus Wainwright show. "Since then I have found myself alongside her many times, normally when in Rufus’ company, but never said hello. On each occasion I pass by imagining she wouldn’t know me from Adam: then, when I leave, I wonder if she might have done, and whether I had seemed rude. Such are the conflicts of C-rate celebrity."

Derren Brown's always excellent blog is here

Trooper's 35th Anniversary

Trooper's first album was released 35 years ago, on July 1st, Canada Day, 1975. 1975 is the year the Vietnam war finally ended, and Sony first introduced Betamax video tapes - the first home videocassette tape recording format.

Bill Gates & Paul Allen wrote the first computer language program for personal computers in ’75 (and then went on to form Microsoft) and the two Steves were hunkered down in a garage in Los Altos, California, working on their first computer - incorporating Apple Computers the following year.

Jaws, The Towering Inferno and Young Frankenstein were box-office hits in 1975. Bruce Springsteen released his amazing third album, Born To Run, the film version of The Who's “Tommy” premiered in London and Saturday Night Live debuted on NBC.

As large stretches of time always do - it seems like an eternity ago - and it seems like just the other day.

My 6-Minute 3-Minute Film

This was my submission for the 2009 "Cindy & Monty's 3-Minute Film Festival" (discussed earlier, here). We had the best time ever at this year's event – and I showed my film to great critical acclaim – but I withdrew from competition because, despite my best efforts, my 3-Minute film turned out to be 3-Minutes too long! It's a twenty-something travelogue, documenting Connor McGuire's solo month in Europe. Check Connor's website to see *his* 3-Minute film ...

Trooper and the Cracker Company

In the last few weeks, friends, fans and a couple of people on the street have brought up the ‘Raise a Little Hell’ Cracker commercial. Some have congratulated me. Others have joked about lifetime supplies of saltines. Others, knowing that I don’t watch TV, simply wanted to be sure that I’d heard about it. As it turns out, I found out about it the way they did. I heard the familiar ‘A’ chord ring out from the living room as I worked at my computer here in the den. I jumped up, and Debbie and I watched, fascinated, as the slow motion crackers dropped into the waiting bowls of exploding tomato soup.

I’ve explained Trooper’s relationship with the Premium Plus cracker company to many people, and now would like to explain it to you. We don’t have a relationship with the Premium Plus cracker company. They don’t send crackers for our dressing room rider and we played no part in the choice of soup used in their commercial. The entire deal was done not only without our involvement, but also, without our knowledge.

Here’s how it works.

Universal Music owns the recording of ‘Raise a Little Hell’. Sony Music Publishing administers the use of the song. In both cases we are supposed to see royalties from the deal that’s struck, but we have no involvement in or control over it. No one even asked.

My share of the royalties won't be a lot of money considering the song I co-wrote will be repeatedly played on TV - in a cracker commercial - until next March, but not bad considering it just fell out of the sky onto me.

Thing is though, I’d prefer the song be covered by a kick-ass rock band and become a huge international hit. Hopefully said rock band will not see the cracker commercial.

Book News

My book has received some excellent reviews and has been nominated for the Blooker Prize. Also, I ran into the guys from April Wine at the Saskatoon Airport today and Brian Greenway (who is in the book and, apparently enjoyed reading the book) told me that he had seen it front-racked at bookstores in the Toronto International Airport. Which makes me very happy.

Little Ramon and the Enduros

On November 22nd, 1963, US President John F. Kennedy was shot dead as his motorcade slowed round a bend in Dallas’s Deeley Plaza. A short month later, a British group called the Beatles released their double-sided single “I Saw Her Standing There/I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, initiating what would soon be called Beatlemania. Six months earlier on June 13th, at the onset of a seemingly endless Fraserview summer, I turned 13 years old.

Every man in the sprawling Fraserview housing project was a Second War veteran, the father of three or more children and the unwilling but not ungrateful recipient of a lower than average income. These were contracted conditions of the rental agreement. The houses in the project shared four identical floor plans. There were kids everywhere.

At the time, I was the singer for the Epics. The group’s guitarist, Brian Graham was my best friend. Derek Solby, a Killarney High School wunderkind, played the drums and Ken (Tarpaper) Hynds was the sax player. Gerry Andrews played a Fender Jazzmaster, and, with his guitar swung out of the way, the electric organ. It was Gerry who hooked me up with another group - a Fraserview soul band that would soon be called “Little Ramon and the Enduros”.

Gerry had signed on with the nine-piece horn band and had recommended me to replace their diminutive but muscular singer Fuji Forchuk. The remaining musicians were a hard-core crew of soul music fanatics in their mid to late twenties. The singer that preceded Fuji, and who had remained attached, talisman-like, to the band, was Rick Cameron - a quintessential James Dean greaser and a member of the notorious Bobolink Gang. I met with Cameron alone in his kitchen one afternoon to discuss my role in the band - tempering my adolescent admiration of his rebellious cool and juvenile delinquent fashion sense with wary respect and an abject fear that he was probably well accustomed to. It was hard for me to believe that these guys were giving me the time of day - let alone a spot-lit place at the front of their soul revue.

Brian Henderson, the lead guitar player was the fastest, coolest and funkiest player I’d ever known. He wore horn-rimmed glasses, sported a blonde pompadour and played a Fender Telecaster. He was Fraserview’s Steve Cropper. The band’s manager, a burly, hard-assed, unpolished lout, was the drummer’s father. He would occasionally visit us in his dungeon-like basement - where we practiced - and deliver what he thought were inspirational pep talks, in the manner of the Commitments’ Jimmy Rabbit - but lacking the conviction, passion and intelligence. It was this man who announced dramatically, when Gerry and I had finally tired of his two-bit tyranny and given our notice;

“Singers and Guitar players are a dime a dozen.”

Paul, the sax playing Sal Mineo look-alike, taught me ‘the Continental’ - the cool and casual step with which all the players shifted, in perfect rhythmic synch, from side to side - the pivot executed at the drop of the left foot, and then the right.

Fuji Forchuk stayed on to deliver a final unforgettable basement command performance, so that I would be clear about what was expected of me. Wearing a tight white wife-beater over his dark muscular torso, he moved with animal grace and sang ferociously. In the musty basement darkness, lit by a single bare light bulb, he jumped, shook, gyrated and, at one point, rolled on the floor. The band’s manager nodded in told-you-so approval. Fuji was the best.

I watched in hopeless appreciation and dismay, knowing that my thirteen-year-old feet could never fill Fuji’s shiny, black, and lightening-fast shoes. I was convinced I lacked the cool, the charisma and the menacing command of the stage that characterized Fuji and his band-mates, and I was probably right. I was thirteen, five-foot-eight, weighed 110 pounds and could not, for the life of me, get my mother-cut curly hair to stay molded into the essential pompadour position - despite liberal applications of my Dad’s Brylcream. Worse yet, I was a nerdy smart kid at school - I had skipped a grade only two years prior - introverted, socially awkward and nearly always afraid that guys like Rick Cameron were going to beat me up for sport. But for all that, no one in this new band seemed to notice, or care.

At home, alone in my room, I nervously dropped the needle onto a borrowed James Brown LP, ready to begin transposing lyrics and fleshing out melodies. The music filled the room and I was transported to a dark, wild and erotic alternate universe. This was not the clean-cut radio music I knew and loved. This music was dangerous and dirty - too passionate and overt for Fraserview. Songs like “Please, Please, Please” and “Try Me” - unashamedly over-the-top soul ballads - were unlike anything I’d ever heard. A week went by and I was emulating every note and emotional vocal scratch that came from the throat of the man soon to become the ‘Godfather of Soul’.

Singing with a full horn section blowing thick, sweet and menacing chords behind me was thrilling. Jumping on to, and riding, the careening guitar hook of “I’ll Go Crazy” was an exhilarating vocal adventure that was different every night. The tight, staccato horn shots punctuated the funky groove like syncopated rifle shots and kicked into my back as I sang.

I learned to dance - in a fashion. I did the Continental with the band at the appropriate moments. I lost myself in the deep soul groove. I may not have mastered Fuji Forchuk’s moves, and no one ever invited me to throw in with the Bobolink gang - but for a brief groovin’ moment in the long summer of 1963 I was Little Ramon, a soul singer unaffected by the cruel and clumsy teenage reality of his otherwise un-soulful world.

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.

Book Launch Party Announcement

The Vancouver launch of my book will take place at the Roxy Nightclub (where the Canadian Idol auditions were held) on Monday May 8th at 6:00 PM. The event is open to the public and free. The invited guest list is a who’s who of Vancouver music and entertainment. I will read from the book and copies will be on sale. The Roxy is located at 932 Granville Street, Vancouver. You are all (every one of you) invited to attend.

‘Sounds Like Canada’ Interview

Last Wednesday, Connor and I went in to the city to the big CBC building downtown. I thought it would be fun for him to see how a big-time national radio show (Sounds Like Canada) worked - and I wanted him with me in case someone decided it might be good for him to join in. As it turned out, Shelagh Rogers did invite him in to the studio after about ten minutes and he stayed on with us for what turned out to be an hour long interview. We were both gob-smacked when she played “The Audience Takes a Bow”. This was our song’s first airplay ever, so, as it played on radios and computers across Canada, we high-fived over our boom mikes. Shelagh was such a joy to work with that both of us forgot that we were on the radio. We were just having a great conversation with a really cool new acquaintance. We left the building wondering what we had said.

I was surprised, two days later, to read an email from Gillian Rodgerson in Toronto saying that she’d just heard the interview. We were told it would run a week later. Heather then wrote from Calgary with another heads up. Connor and I dialed in the CBC Calgary online feed and listened to it in the den. When it was done, Debbie joined us and we listened, again, to the Vancouver feed as it played in real-time.

It really was one of the most delightful interviews I’ve ever done. Shelagh Rogers is beyond professional and has the creative courage of a lion. We wandered fearlessly from topic to topic. She is THE best audience - and it was a total treat to meet and talk to her. And Connor, of course, loved it.

Shelagh said the book should be re-named; “Canada”. God I loved that.

We’ve received permission to post the interview here (and on the Trooper site) so that you can hear it if you missed it. We’re just waiting on the CD from CBC.

Publishing is a Vicious Game

We’d been driving for seven or eight hours and Winnipeg was still too far away to think about. We’d stopped for a piss - and more bottled water. It was dark and see-your-breath chilly. We stood in the spill of convenience store fluorescent light, and talked quietly on our cell phones to our wives and girlfriends.

The new gold Suburban I was leaning up against was overflowing with luggage, jackets, blankets, a pillow, a ukulele, a violin, two computers, empty Starbucks and Tim Hortons cups and cookies from the Alberta Cookie Lady. There was no room in there for personal calls.

Scott, Gogo and Frankie, in the back half of the Suburban, had just watched “Still Crazy” on the onboard DVD player while I watched “Hostage” on my Powerbook in the passenger seat. Smitty, behind the wheel as usual, watched the long, straight and virtually unchanging highway. I was glad for the rest. Our first tour of the season had started with a bigger bang than usual.

My week of CBC National Playlist sessions was followed by interviews with the two local papers. This would be the first time that I would face questions about the book, and I was disturbingly unsure about how I was going to respond. My concern was compounded by the fact that my friends and family would most likely see the results of my potentially amateur inaugural book-promotion efforts. To my great relief both interviews came off without a hitch.

My friend Myles Goodwyn once wrote that “Rock and Roll is a Vicious Game”, which is arguably true, but one of my five interviews on Tuesday made it clear to me that rock and roll’s got nothing on the publishing world. My first interview of the morning was a spirited radio spot with a funny and bright Saskatoon DJ. I was pumped and ready to go when my next call, from an Alberta newspaper entertainment writer, came in. After minimal preliminaries, the writer began to discuss the phenomenon of “books like this”. He made jokes about rocker Brian Volmer’s new Helix book. He told me he was planning a sidebar for my story that would list titles for imaginary books by other rock stars who, he was convinced, were going to write even more “books like this”. He lamented that he was doomed to host a weekly series called “Book Talk with Rockers”. He was reveling in rudeness.

At the point where I was convinced that input from me wouldn’t be necessary for his story - he clearly had all the material he needed - he finally asked me: “So why do we need another book like this?”

“Well, uh, Dickface,” (Dickface is not his real name - I’ve changed it here to avoid potential legal action) “I, uh … you know Brian’s had a pretty intense journey of his own, but I have to say that it’s entirely different than mine in many ways.” I wondered if he could sense the forced smile and the cold, controlled civility.

I continued to speak, as humbly as possible, about writing the book as I carefully considered the idea of hanging up on the guy before I told him to go fuck himself. My wife and son were listening at the kitchen table only a few feet away. I chose to stay the course.

“And what is it …” he asked, warming to his theme “about blogs, that makes you think that we want to read your innermost thoughts from your personal diary?”

“Well, Asshat,” (not his real name), I responded, “it’s not actually my diary …”

And then, like the boxer in “Against the Ropes” the mediocre Meg Ryan movie that Debbie and I watched the other night, I reached my limit, changed up my stance and bit down hard on whatever it is boxers bite down on, and said something like:

“You know, it’s not a diary and it’s not “another book like this”. It’s MY book, and it took me three years to write - and it means a lot to me.”

He paused for a moment - seemingly shaken out of his righteous groove - and then he told me, authoritatively, that I should not be so sensitive.

“I’m just challenging you.” he said, sounding pleased with himself.

“I’m with you” I grinned, “I’m with you.”

Most of the good stuff that appeared in the finished story followed. I went off, and said what I needed to say, convinced that doing otherwise would be a waste of valuable interview time. My favourite part of the interview came when he tried to re-visit the topic of blogs.

“Do you write on your blog about everything that happens to you?”

“No, just things I think people would find interesting.”

“So are you going to write about this on your blog?”

“Oh fuck, yeah” I said.

Waiting …

My books are arriving today. I’ve gone to the door twice already, thinking that they may have been left on the porch – which is stupid, because I know that I’ll need to sign for them.

I’m both Christmas morning excited and sky-diving terrified. When I was writing the blog entries that eventually became the book, I imagined my audience as a group of uncritical friends who knew me well enough to suspend judgment and cut me some literary slack. Now, in book form, those same words are exposed to anyone who cares to have a look. Critics will be reading it – and, probably, voicing their opinions about it. People I know and love, alerted to the book’s release, will now be obliged to read it to see what I’ve written about them. My 90-year old Aunt Lena in Quesnel will see all the F-words.

Erik Hodgson, the publicist for the book, says it looks “great” and my good friend and front line administrator Heather Uhl says it looks “fantastic”. She got her boxes this morning. So where are mine?

No Biz Like Show Biz

I arrived at the downtown Vancouver CBC building 40 minutes early – budgeting extra time for a morning rush hour that I’ve obviously had no experience with. The two security guards sent me downstairs to ‘Master Control’, which turned out to be a large room full of gear and one lone technician. He was not expecting me, but directed me to a small, dark room with a chair, a mic, a set of headphones and a beige metal box with only one functional knob – the incoming volume.

“They’ll come on soon.” He promised.

Five minutes before show time, my headphones were still eerily silent. As casually as I could manage, I made a quick second visit to master control.

“They were calling the wrong number,” he said smiling “I gave them the right one”.

I returned to my room and was shuffling through my notes when the Toronto producer said “hello”. He promised that the voice of Jian Gomeshi would soon join us and we went over some technical issues while we waited.

My friend Howard Mandshein, the outrageous and charismatic Winnipeg showbiz icon, had warned me that his week on the National Playlist had been challenging. Sitting alone in my tiny triangular studio I was about to enter into a debate, on national radio, with three people I could not see and did not know, all of whom were gathered in another downtown studio 4000 kilometers away. I reached for my volume knob and cranked it up loud.

What ensued was fun from the start. Jian Gomeshi, Tara Thorne and Dalton Higgins were enthusiastic and entertaining debate-mates and the show, guided by Jian’s innate professionalism, rolled out smoothly and confidently.

My headphones became my lifeline – the focus of my complete attention. My temporal Vancouver reality shrank to the space between my face and the black mic in front of me.

During a break the headphones went quiet again.

Moments later, they crackled, and a new voice broke the silence.

“Hello, Ra?”

“Hey” I answered, confused.

“This is Joe, I’m your engineer here in Toronto. I just wanted to say … thanks for the music”.

I’m smiling as I recall this. I enjoyed meeting and talking to Joe - across the country, through the CBC’s phone lines. He told me he was going to blog about it. And he did.

There’s no business like show business.

Click here to visit Joe Mahoney’s Blog and read about our conversation.

National speed-reading

I’ll be on CBC radio’s National Playlist tomorrow morning at 11:30, and every day after that, at the same time, until Friday. I’ll be part of a team of “music makers, music critics and music lovers” - there will be four of us including host Jian Gomeshi - who will engage in a spirited debate about our favourite music.

Each guest brings in two songs (one new, one old) that they think should make it to the playlist. 8 songs are debated but only 4 make it to the weekly top ten - like ‘Survivor’.

I’ve written two “pitches” for the songs I’m proposing and I’ve massaged them into fifty-second sound bites for the show. This has necessitated multiple re-writes followed by a crash course in reading them very quickly. Tomorrow I will sit in a downtown CBC studio by myself and pretend I’m hanging with the other panelists in Toronto. At some point in the week I’ll be asked to present my pitches. I don’t think anyone at CBC will mind if I share them with you now. I enjoyed writing them and it seems like such a waste to have them go by so quickly on the air.

So here they are:

The Motown Records building in Detroit may have been demolished in January but the power and glory of the Motown Sound lives on, forty years after The Temptations recorded their first number one hit: My Girl. The song opens with one of the most famous bass lines in pop music history, followed by the most recognizable guitar hook of all time. When David Ruffin sings the opening line – the musical sun comes out and stays out. Written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White from the Miracles, sung by one of the most successful groups in black music history - backed up by the world’s greatest house band - My Girl was destined for Hitzville - but the track has an additional magic that transcends the sum of its parts. Structurally, the song is pure genius and the seamless and brilliantly detailed arrangement contains one of my favourite bridges. Where else could the words “hey hey hey” convey so much meaning while simultaneously uniting the world in a blissful singalong moment.

I was preparing to write my pitch for The Arcade Fire’s “Crown of Love” when it occurred to me to check and see if it was, in fact, released in the last 12 months as the criteria for the show requires. Sadly, neither the AF album nor the most recent Weakerthans album made the cut. I defaulted to a great song from the new Bright Eyes record. This is what I will (quickly) say:

I was not a convinced fan of Connor Oberst and his band Bright Eyes, until I heard the quirky, jerky and totally engaging track – ‘The Arc of Time’. Mr. Oberst must be tiring of his “boy wonder” status. It’s hard enough to create a recording that is both innovative and listenable, lyrically meaningful and musically engaging without having to deal with the complication of a critical press with high and often specific expectations. It takes courage to confound your fans, and I admire this well crafted entry into the critically dangerous pop-song arena that confidently avoids any pop formula that I know about. Built on the dated bones of a Bo Diddley beat, this track knows instinctively when to change up – when to add and when to take away. The performances are infectious, the lyric cuts “to the deepest part of the human heart” … but most of all - I like the way it moves.

Welcome Back

It's going to be really hard to keep writing this blog, now that I know that what I write could eventually be published. My first attempt at writing a quick 'welcome back' post for the new site focused on what I had wanted to be when I grew up - and how, by imagining careers as a DJ or a newspaper writer, my adolescent dreams had undershot my eventual reality. That thread collapsed in navel-gazing confusion. The next two posts self-destructed as well. The writing wasn't good enough. This is my fourth try.

Since this is my first post since the completion of the long and painfully introspective process of editing a three-years collection of wildly uneven blog-writing for my first book, I'm sure I'll get over this self-conscious hump. If I write something stupid I can fix it in the mix.

The book will be released in April - not, like a new CD, on a specific day, but over the course of the month. There are, it turns out, many differences between releasing a book and putting out a new CD, not the least of which is the fact that the book - my book - is all about me and my thoughts and experiences. I have never felt so vulnerable.

Preparation for the book's release has helped to keep my mind off the terror of literary nakedness, and the resuscitation of this website has been a part of that. Mad props to Debbie and Connor who have been my daily (and sometimes, hourly) beta testers and aesthetic gurus, and my good friend and web co-conspirator Heather Uhl, who has once again wrestled PHP, CSS and HTML into submission, helping to create Rev. 2 of

Above Alberta

(This is the introduction to my book, written on a plane on the way to our New Years gig at Reds in Edmonton.)


Jully Black closed her eyes and inched her lips toward the microphone. The first two words - the title of the song - seemed torn from a personal reverie ... surrendered unwillingly - as though her thoughts and emotions had boiled over and out of her mouth by accident, by mistake.

"Pretty Lady" she sang, and I let out an involuntary whoop.

"Here I am" she admitted, and other audience members gave it up. Spontaneous.

My nervousness turned to pride. Jully was singing the shit out of a song I wrote 40 years ago with my writing partner Brian Smith - and my wife and son and many of my peers in the music industry were there bearing witness. I grinned across the large round table - first at my family and then at Smitty. Debbie squeezed my leg.

After singing, Jully told the audience that her manager was a huge Trooper fan and had pulled strings to sit at the same table as us ...

"With God" she said.

She went on to describe our band as "honest-to-God Canadian legends". The crowd cheered as she called Smitty and I to the stage to accept our 2005 SOCAN Classic Awards.

Ann Lorie, who wrote "Insensitive" for Jann Arden, was also sitting at our table and had shed a few tears when accepting her award, but Smitty and I were too buzzed for sentimentality. We could feel a palpable connection with the music-biz crowd arrayed before us - many of whom had become friends and compatriots over the years. The evening's awards ceremony played out like a personal celebration of a long and successful career that continues to offer up the elusive rewards of adventure, challenge and straight-up fun.

I was proud to announce from the stage that night that my son Connor and I had just written our first song together. After the show, in Jully Black's dressing room, representatives of an independent record company approached Connor to talk about his music. He smiled and accepted their card appreciatively. Here he was, functioning comfortably in an environment that would have absolutely terrified me at eighteen.

I started singing in a band when I was twelve years old - five years younger than he is now. I recorded my first album 13 years later at the age of 25. I'm 55 years old now and have never had a real job. I've written hundreds of songs, performed thousands of shows and have traveled tens of thousands of miles - most of those back and forth across Canada. Trooper is as viable today as it was in the seventies when songs like "We're Here for a Good Time" and "Raise a Little Hell" were knocking down doors and serving as our invitations to the best party in town. In many ways our status has elevated recently to a place just south of legendary - where, for instance, total strangers embrace us as they would a favourite relative visiting from out of town. The party continues.

Trooper's first web site went online in 1996. Little Timmy Hewitt and I hacked together the html for 'Rev. 1' long before Google, eBay or had registered their now iconic domain names. I started my own personal site - they weren't called blogs then - not long after. I wrote about my life on the road and those things that someone unfamiliar with this kind of life might find interesting. I was surprised and encouraged by the enthusiastic response to that tentative and sporadically updated site, so, by the time Blogger launched their online interface, I had decided to maintain a semi-regular online account of a 53 year-old's rock and roll adventures.

This book represents the first three years of It was written in real time as journal entries. It has no beginning and no ending, but surprised me by telling more than a few seemingly complete stories.

It was written in airports and rented vans, on ferries and planes - in billet-rooms in remote high-north villages and luxury hotel suites in the heart of the Big Smoke. Some of it was dashed off quickly at four in the morning. Some of it might be more carefully considered than it needs to be. Often it reveals much more than I'd intended at the time. And sometimes, the story is fleshed-out by that which wasn't written down at all. Each entry came as a complete surprise to me - as did, of course, the unfolding events I was chronicling.

The SOCAN Awards were held in Toronto at the end of November. I'm writing this on a plane on the way to Edmonton Alberta on the last day of 2005. Our New Years Eve show tonight will be at Reds - a very large club in the West Edmonton Mall. It's going to be a total sold-out zoo!