Nov. 25, 2007

Now, touching on this business of The Cherry Bluestorms in Toronto. No doubt you are wondering about the band’s appearance at International Pop Overthrow. Well, here’s what happened…

I was vaguely aware of a sound assaulting me in my bed. It was the day we were to depart for the Great White North, but I was happily navigating the Great White Waves of muslin. After all, it was only 10:00 A.M. The noise was Queeves, my man.

“Sir, a telephone call for you”.
“Who in their right mind would phone at this ghastly hour?”
“Mr. Tommy Diehl, sir.”
“Oh, well…if I must…”

As most of you know, I occasionally get out the old banjo and strum a bit with my band, The Cherry Bluestorms. Ryan Brown usually bangs along on the drums, but his aunt in Mild Middlesham issued an invitation, or subpoena as we like to refer to it, and Ryan knew better than to respond with a nolle prosequi. So, we once again called upon Tommy to fill the throne. No, I mean sit on the drummer’s chair.

In case I haven’t told you, Tommy is one of those Ohioans who masquerade as a New Yorker. You know the type. He belongs to all of the best clubs and all of that, but one can’t help feeling that he just finished milking the goats on his way to the feed store. Nevertheless, Tommy hates calfskins as much as the next bloke and we expected that he would attack them with relish at the next opportunity.

“Say, old man, what gives?”
“Well, I thought I’d get an early start, so I changed my flight to arrive in Toronto this morning.”
“There’s an enterprising lad. Is all going according to plan?”
“Well…, pretty much, except for one small thing.”
“What’s that?”
“Somehow, Dick Cheney got the idea that I’m an International Terrorist. I’m actually on my way to Guantanamo Bay”.
“Whaaaat? How on earth did he even know of your existence?”
“It seems he was booked on my flight and was going through my baggage.”
“What about your baggage?”
“I guess it was the Arabic writing.”
“Why in heaven’s name did you have Arabic writing on your baggage?”
“It wasn’t really on my baggage, it was actually in the baggage. On my cymbals. They’re Zildjians.”
“So, what are we going to do now? There’s an International Pop Overthrow expecting one Tommy Diehl to be doling out the blows in time to the smash hit sounds of The Cherry Bluestorms!”
“I was going to suggest that you ask Queeves.”

Do you know my butler Queeves? He’s one of those brainy sorts who apparently eat copious quantities of fish. He has found the way when those who went before failed.
“Say, Queeves, I would like a word.”
“Yes, sir?”
“You remember Tommy Diehl?”
“Oh, yes sir. The young goatherder who says he’s from New York.”
“Yes. Well, it seems he’s got himself in a bit of a jam. Dick Cheney thinks he’s an International Terrorist because he’s in the International Pop Overthrow and he has Arabic writing on his cymbals.”
“I have heard that Mr. Cheney is frequently paranoid and delusional.”
“Who did you hear that from?”
“My uncle, Mr. Bush happens to be Mr. Cheney’s butler. If I may suggest, sir?”
“By all means, Queeves.”
“My uncle tells me that Mr. Cheney is quite fond of melodic, ’60’s-influenced, guitar-dominated pop music, particularly when sung by dark-haired Carnaby Street beauties”.
“Are you saying that if the lovely Deborah Gee croons to the goons, they may let Tommy Diehl out of Guantanamo?
“That was the meaning I was attempting to convey, sir.”
“Queeves, you’ve done it again. The idea is a pip! But, how do we get Dick to bite?”
“I have already taken the liberty of asking my uncle to arrange for The Cherry Bluestorms to perform at the White House. There should be just enough time for you, Ms. Gee and Steve Giles to play for Bush and Dick, pack up your banjo and catch the next flight to Toronto, which I already booked for you”.
“I’ve never played for bush and dick before, but the way the dollar is losing value, it might be the wave of the future. But what about Tommy?”
“I also took the liberty of asking my uncle to arrange for Airforce One to escort Mr. Diehl to Toronto”.
“Well, I’m dashed! Queeves, take a fiver off the bureau…no, make it a tenner. You’ve earned it.”
“Very good, sir.”

After that, it was smooth sailing. We all met up at the Hotel Victoria where we made our home for the run of the festival. After a night of the dreamless, we paid the $8,000.00 Canadian to get our rented car out of the public lot (they say the Canadian dollar has risen against the American dollar, but I don’t know much about these things), and went to a rehearsal studio and ran through our set. When we emerged, there was a very light snow falling. Later that evening, it was off to The Rivoli, where we turned in one of the best sets we’ve ever performed. The Canadians appeared to endorse this view, as they were appreciative in word and deed. In fact, we’ve been promised a prime spot at next year’s IPO in Los Angeles, as well as IPO Liverpool, at the famous Cavern Club. After our performance, we were free to hob and nob and to enjoy the other bands playing IPO. We snuck away to the Horseshoe Tavern to see a few bands there as well. No doubt, you are wondering whether we were wasting away while wiving the wifestyle of the wich and famous wockstars. In fact, Toronto offers a delectable assortment of fare. We frequented the Irish Embassy, a pub where we had the best crab cakes and Irish stew we’ve had. The fish and chips were excellent as well. Tommy and Steve may have had a beer. Another discovery was the Richtree, which is a faux outdoor market located inside a huge modern atrium that resembled a futuristic catherdral. Turn to your right and you’ve gone back in time a century or so. At various stalls you can order pretty much anything you like, from crepes made to order to sushi. Of course, nothing really compared to traveling straight up to near the top of the highest structure in the world, the CN Tower, where we enjoyed unbelievable haute cuisine. The view is incredible and it’s literally 360 degrees, as the whole restaurant slowly spins around as you monge.

Back at the hotel, we had front row seats for the annual Holiday Parade. I’m not usually much on parades, which seem invariably to be scheduled at the coldest hours of the coldest days of the coldest season of the year. Just what one seeks for their outdoor entertainments! But in this case, the floats and so forth were particularly imaginative and the populace were not as populous as they tend to be in Pasadena, say. The spirit of the thing was really more what one likes to see and one was actually more able to see, so it was actually quite enjoyable.

Deborah and I took in a bit of Canadian history at the second largest private residence in North America (the first is Hearst Castle), Casa Loma. The beautiful mansion was built early last century by one of Canada’s most powerful industrialists, who shortly thereafter went bankrupt and had to vacate the premises. The Kiwanis Club took it over and it is now a tourist attraction.

Next, it was off to the airport, where we were informed by the lady who checked us in that we made it with 15 seconds to spare. But then, Toronto was so much fun, we just couldn’t tear ourselves away.

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