Saturday, June 11, 2005

The Distillery District Blues Festival (Belch, part two)

As per the plan, I headed out this morning and linked up with P-Doug at his place, and we drove downtown to take in the Blues Festival at the Distillery District. We got there about quarter after eleven, plenty of time to find a good seat. P-Doug demonstrated an unerring knack for finding a great spot that stayed shaded all day, put us in the front rows, and kept us near the suds. The weather co-operated by pouring a gorgeous breeze off the Lake that, combined with the shade, kept us nicely comfortable despite what I understand was 41 degree Celcius weather with the humidex. That's 106 Fahrenheit to you non-Metric types.

Looking back towards the entrance to the District.

A little downrange of this shot is a sandwich place P-Doug and I always eat at when we're down here called the Brick Street Bakery. (N.B.: at time of writing, their site consists of their address and a note " coming soon". But they may eventually have something worth looking at, so I include it as a nod to their good intentions.) Since we didn't want to lose our place, we each went separately. I went first; bought the turkey chili with cheddar. This comes with a couple of slices of their organic bread, robust and chewy; perfect for dunking. I also bought a scone. Scones from this place are bigger than your fist, and they're fantastic. It's like eating a little bit of Scottish cake that's butch enough to kick in the door to The Bread-Only Social Club and demand to be served. P-Doug bought a shepherd's pie and a scone. The irony is, it's a sandwich place, like I said. If you ever find yourself there, check 'em out.

We were surrounded by beer taps. I stood the first round. A couple of little cups, not quite a pint, I'd have to say, cost me twelve bucks. A little steep, but that's the nature of yuppie venues. That one went pretty fast. While we were sitting there letting the music and the breeze pour over us, we noticed a guy buying a pitcher. It had never occurred to either of us that that was an option. P-Doug hopped up and got one. I'm figuring, well, thirty bucks. No way! Eighteen! And we got about five glasses out of it, which cuts the cost-per from $6 to $3.60. Screw buying it by the cup down there anymore. A word to the wise!

Gary Kendall Band.

We sat through the sets of two bands while we were there. The first was the Gary Kendall Band. These guys were good. Downside for them was, they started just after noon, and there was hardly anyone there yet. Upside was, no one was too hot and tired yet, so the applause they got was enthusiastic.

Grant Lyle.

Round about 2PM, Grant Lyle and his band set up. The crowd was getting pretty full by then, especially under the canopy where P-Doug and I were sitting. Maybe I was just getting logy by then, but I didn't think they had the same spark Gary Kendall's band had. The crowd seemed less enthusiastic too. Again, that might have been a function of the heat, but there were also a lot more people to applaud, so... For myself, I found my listening became far less active and more passive. This is not to say I didn't enjoy their music; I did. Just that Kendall's clicked with me more.

Georgette Fry.

At one point during Gary Kendall's set, P-Doug excused himself to go to the washroom. He was gone about 45 minutes. I was wondering if I should call the Coast Guard; did he flush himself into Lake Ontario? Turns out he'd just gone wandering. Came back with a magazine and a CD. So, later on, towards the end of Grant Lyle's set, I decide to do the same. I won't burden you with my speculations as to just what was making the men's room floor so slippery I nearly landed on my keester; I'll just say that I, too, went for a post-piss stroll. I ended up at the main stage where Georgette Fry and her band were playing...

Blues, hell! So happy, they're dancing!

I noticed a couple of young women were up by the stage, dancing, and I couldn't resist taking a few shots of them enjoying themselves. It was one of those rare moments when the American underpinning of the Canadian character pushes through the easily-embarrassed British veneer and says "What the hell." Good for them!

Hope the boss doesn't recognize the back of his head...

Did I mention that we were sitting literally ten feet from one of the bars? We saw an interesting array of people pass by between us and the stage. When P-Doug pointed out this guy's shirt, I just had to get a shot of it. It's a boozy take-off on Green Eggs and Ham of Dr. Seuss fame. Wish I had this shirt. :)

Anyway, by the time the second set was over, around 3:30 or so, I was ready to head out. We headed back to P-Doug's place, got G, and had supper at Shopsy's Deli up at Woodbine and Steeles. P & G dote on the place, but I have to confess, the tuna wrap notwithstanding, I find the fare surprisingly bland and usually a little disappointing, given the prices. The smoked turkey I had this evening ($8.99) was generous, but epicureanistically not at all inspiring. (Okay, I liked the potato salad). Given the tiresome flack we take from Montrealers (including my mother) about how they're the only people in the universe capable of making a smoked meat sandwich worthy of the name, I'd love to be able to take them someplace in T.O. to prove them wrong. Sadly, I think this would be evidence for the defense. But have the tuna wrap; that, they seem to have a real flair for.

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