It’s Canada Day up Canada way. I hope you had a safe and happy one. Here’s what I did on my Canada Day vacation.
It’s Canada Day up Canada Way, and I’d like to share a story about one of our neighbours who always celebrated Canada Day with us. His name was Mr. Evans, and he was actually American. His cottage was across the street from ours, and he made sure to do a massive fireworks display on the long weekend. It was Canada Day and 4th of July all in one. Mr. Evans and his family spent hundreds of dollars on those fireworks every year, probably close to a grand. And they were American fireworks: bigger and brighter than ours, not to mention illegal up here!
The rockets’ red glare, and bombs bursting in air, united our countries together in friendship every July long weekend.
Mr. Evans was always good to us when we were kids. There is one story I’ll never forget. It was about soda pop.
“Up here in Canada, you can buy raisin pop,” he told us. “You can’t get it in the United States, only in Canada, so I make sure we buy some every time.”
Raisin pop? None of us had ever seen, heard or tasted such a thing! But he insisted it was real.
One day he showed us a can of proof! There it was on a Crush: “Raisin”.
But our American friend missed something. In Canada, everything is bilingual. Boisson gazeuse: “Raisin” is “grape” in French. All he found was a case of ordinary grape soda!
A modern can of Grape Crush with French and English on one side
Happy Canada Day! Here is your Can-Con for this holiday: The Legendary Klopeks. According to bassist Mike Lukacs, “We used to always play Shannon [Larratt]’s Canada Day BME BBQ every year. Always liked that.”
For a review of the Klopeks’ first album Homicidal Suicidal Klopekticidal by Aaron at the KMA, click here!
THE LEGENDARY KLOPEKS – Straight to Hell (2002 Pink Skull)
Once upon a time, in Niagara Falls Ontario, there was a band. This was a band unlike any other. They were fronted by future Guinness’ World Record holder Sweet Pepper Klopek. Sayeth the Huffington Post, “Sweet Pepper Klopek…has set many Guinness World Records [and] managed it again by lifting a 5.4 kilogram, or 12-pound, sledgehammer suspended from two huge fish hooks plunged through his cheeks.” Mixing punk rock, wrestling and humour, their best album is the 24 track Straight to Hell.
Every song ends with the words “fuck you!” and almost all are under three minutes. There are also several tracks only a few seconds in length, and yes, even they end with “fuck you”! Some sample song lyrics:
“Where’s my soup? Fuck you!” (“Where’s My Soup”, 10 seconds)
“Touch my dink in the ditch. Fuck you!” (“Touch My Dink in the Ditch”, 12 seconds)
“Turtlenecks and armpits. Fuck you!” (“Turtlenecks and Armpits”, 20 seconds)
For the record, “Where’s My Soup” has long been this writer’s favourite Klopeks tune. For a while I considered getting a “Where’s My Soup” tattoo. A tattoo shop in St. Catharines Ontario used to offer free tats to anyone getting Klopek ink. And I did consider it, but ultimately decided against. After all, how did I know that in 10 years time, my favourite song wouldn’t be “Terry and the Ass Pirates”? Or “Bush Party Hand Job”? Or “She Fell Off the Couch” which has an actual guitar solo?
The fact of the matter is, every song is fast, brittle, vulgar and incredibly fun. The lyrics are fuck-laden beyond conception. The Big Lebowski himself has never dropped so many F-bombs in just 33 minutes. Nothing is taken seriously. Most songs start with bass noodling via Lemon Kurri, moving on to Sweet Pepper screaming like a man possessed. Regardless, these are actually really good punk songs! There is nothing polite or safe on this CD — that’s why they called it Straight to Hell! No apologies. “When it’s all said and done and I’m dead and gone, life’s a fuckin’ game, and fuck you I won!”
In the continuing saga of all the pets in the greater LeBrain clan, you may recall that Lil’ Shit was the most recent addition to the family. Bass clarinetist extraordinaire Kathryn Ladano recently acquired Daisi aka Lil’ Shit, below. I finally got to meet Daisi this past Canada Day weekend!
It was a great weekend full of bonfires and awesome Canadian scenery too.
Stompin’ Tom Connors – “It’s Canada Day, Up Canada Way”
Canada Day Weekend, 1997. Rush were closing up their final bunch of dates on Leg 2 of the Test For Echo tour (June 30 and July 2). Tom, myself, Trev, and several other record store guys had the whole weekend off and went to see Rush on the Monday show, which was the first of the two shows. Outdoor show, at Molson. We did not know that a few months later, Neil Peart would experience unbelievable personal tragedy. For years, it appeared that we had seen some of the final Rush shows, ever….
One of the guys,Troy, brought his younger brother Tyler. Tyler worshipped Zeppelin. Still does. He named his (black) dog “Zep”. Back then, he was 17 and had never heard Rush. He thought Bonham was absolutely the greatest drummer who ever lived. We told him, “Tyler, Bonham was god-like. But you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Neil Peart.” He scoffed.
We brought some beer in the trunk of the car, and snuck into the bushes and had some drinks. We stumbled into several groups of people in the bushes, drinking, smoking (cigarettes I’m sure) and partying. It was great. We were all there, every one of us, to bask in the glory that is Rush. It was a giant communal party. Some people were already out of it, and slurring, “Duuuude…they’re gonna play 2112 dude! We are the priests of the temples of the sphinx! (sic)”
Indeed, I had heard from one of my customers at the store, that Rush were playing all of side 1 of 2112 on this tour. What would that sound like? Could Geddy even sing it anymore?
There was no opening act. There was instead a brief intro before Rush hit the stage to “Dreamline”.
At the halfway point, Rush did indeed play side 1 of 2112 (as chronicled on their Different Stages LP). They took a brief break before coming back to finish the show. These being the last Toronto shows of the tour, the roadies were out there clowning around, playing with puppets, all to the delight of the patriotic crowd.
Of course, the Professor did his unbelievable drum solo. This was around the time that Freddie Gruber had been teaching Neil, and Peart was beginning to feel jazzier in his style.
Tyler was blown away. “You were right…that guy was almost as good as Bonham!”
Tom and the rest of the guys were so blown away, they actually bought some more tickets from scalpers and came back to see the second show on July 2.
By far, the best and most patriotic Canada Day Weekend I ever had was seeing Rush. What could be more patriotic than rocking to Canada’s official ambassadors of music?