Slave Lake, Alberta. Pipeline town north of the middle of nowhere. Had to do a one hour one man show. Dirt road streets, wooden plank sidewalks and the saloon right out of a cowboy movie. I was given a room upstairs. The door looked liked it had been kicked in a hundred time. No thanks.
Fifty pipeline guys hootin' and hollerin' at the bar across the room. Maybe three people sitting up front. I was going to do an all music set and just plow through it. Broke a string in the second song. Started telling jokes while digging for strings in the gig bag and then the arduous task of changing and tuning while trying to make some kind of sense with what I was saying.
I was joking about MacGyver and his Swiss Army knife. That suddenly caught the attention of one of the bar guys. He walked up to the side of the stage and said, "A knife? You mean a knife like this?"
And right out of Crocodile Dundee, he pulled out a really, really big knife. Not quite a small sword, but a really, really big knife.
I said something like,"Yeah. Like that."
He was happy with that and went back to the bar. I didn't care whether or not I made a new friend.
String tuned. Song. Song. Another song. I might have done the same song twice, but it didn't matter.
Did the hour. Got in the car and out of Dodge.
The next show, the next night, was in Lethbridge and nearly five hundred miles south. I knew I couldn't check in almost a whole day early.
It was the time of the Hale-Bopp comet and it shared the frigid clear night sky with a full moon and the Milky Way. Hard to keep your eyes on the road with all that to look at. Thankfully it was a pretty straight road.
Halfway down, I pulled into one of those rest stops with nothing to offer but white stripes on blacktop.
I slept until dawn amid a dozen purring diesel dinosaurs.