2003 Ottawa Road Trip Report
The Argonotes have just returned from a fabulously successful road trip to Ottawa to watch the Argonauts crush the Renegades. For those of you who couldn't come along we have decided to try to convey a taste of the trip.
The day began bright and early in Kitchener where our luxuriously appointed highway coach expertly driven by Casey picked up the first of the Argonotes contingent and began the trip to Toronto. Things were just a tad bit confused when our musical director Steve received a cell phone call saying the bus was in Toronto and they were calling to enquire where we were. After a short explanation and a minute or two wait our chariot hove into view. Musicians and morning do not mix well but as the royal blue motorcoach, supplied by Great Canadian Coaches Inc. the official highway coach supplier of the Argonotes, pulled alongside the subway parking lot the bleary eyes Toronto Argonotes contingent joined their comrades and headed off into the rising sun.
The Argonotes, in order to secure a more favourable charter rate, had agreed not to play on the big blue bus but trombone Ian came to the rescue. Great Canadian motor coaches come supplied with both a CD and a VCR and Ian, after being inspired by our illustrious leader Steve email brought along his copy of That Thing You Do. This musical comedy is the perfect movie to aid musicians on a bus to pass the time, and earns the Argonotes seal of approval. The title song may be a bit hard to get out of your head so rent at your own risk. Fortified with caffeine and muffins during a quick stop on the 401 the brave Argonotes soldiered one.
Having been pre-warned by out in house transit planner Colin of the traffic chaos reigning in Ottawa due to lane restrictions on Highway 417 we followed his careful crafted directions and arrived at Lansdowne park ahead of schedule. It was a warm fall day, great for football and Frank Clair stadium is a great place to watch the CFL in action. After picking up our tickets, playing a few songs for the gathering fans we headed off for our prearranged concert outside of the coliseum which for some reason was full of policemen getting their heads shaved. After engaging in a battle of the bands with the operators of some strange game that involved kicking a football at a picture who were trying to drown out our dulcet tones with some overamplified music that not even a mother would love we managed to find the only shade within two kilometres and settled in to introduce our repertoire to the CFL fans of Ottawa. Fortified with water supplied by our musical director we soon drew a crowd of adoring fans.
As we were playing we glimpsed in the distance a glint of silvery pom-pom in the bright sunlight as the Toronto Argonauts Dance team arrived at the stadium. When they heard us playing they came over to say hello and then asked if they could join us in a few numbers. After a quick huddle with our musical director the set list was agreed to and much shaking of pom-poms and playing of bouncy tunes ensued. Afterwards our musical director commented that those were the worse three songs we had played all day and opined that if we wanted to watch the dance team performing we should put more effort into memorizing our book. After the dance team finished with us we wrapped up our performance and headed off to find out seats. We stopped on the stadium ramp to entertain the multitude of fans entering the stadium who may have missed our earlier performance. The Ottawa fans were very friendly and appreciative of our efforts and only yelled "Argos suck!" at us once or twice which is a refreshing change from our experience when we travel to Hamilton.
We settled in to our assigned seats but decided that in deference to those sitting right in front of us we should move to the back of the grandstand to allow a bit of a buffer between us and the Ottawa spectators for when we cut loose. Also our experience from Hamilton has shown us it is better to keep a low profile when in an opposing teams ballpark and sitting in a place where someone can't "accidentally" drop a beer on your head is always a good idea.The beer vendor quickly learned that the Argonotes are a thirsty bunch and hovered around our section for most of the game keeping both the brass and the woodwinds adequately lubricated.
Amazingly though the Argonauts generated zero yards passing and only two first downs in the first half we still went into half time with a 13-9 lead thanks to the educated toe of Noel Prefontaine. The football players sprinted off the field to avoid getting eaten by the police dogs who entertained the crowd at halftime with a contest to see which dog could pull the arm off a hapless fan in the least amount of time. Special Argonotes kudos to the woman fan who volunteered to have her head shaved for charity.
Things were looking a but grim in the second half with the Argos down 17 to 25 with 9 minutes left in the game until with two masterful touchdowns the Argo pulled ahead to win 30-25. We played a few songs for the remaining desolate Renegades fans and with a last look at the Rideau canal which passes behind Lansdowne stadium we headed off in search of our bus.
After a quick tune for our driver Casey to prove that we actually were a band and not just a bunch of drunken louts trying to scam our way into football games we boarded our motorcoach for a quick cruise by Parliament Hill before heading for home. After a few comments of how it looked smaller in real life than on TV we headed down the 417 marveling at the backed up traffic in the other direction we had so skillfully avoided earlier in the day.
While waiting for our arrival at an appropriate eating establishment the band sipped a much appreciated before dinner aperitif provided by an anonymous band member while watch the Emperor's New Groove provided by Trumpet Peter. Dinner was secured at Tim Horton's/ Wendy's where the staff at Wendy's looked a bit shell-shocked to see 25 ravenous Argonotes appear out of the darkness on an otherwise quiet Saturday night. It's a good thing that musicians are generally a low key lot as this factor likely saved the life of one band member who observed that he had time to finish a nice quiet bowl of chili purchased at Tim Horton's while those who had lined up for their ration of charred meat and fried potatoes at Wendy's were going to have to eat on the bus.
After a post dinner digestive was consumed and the movie finished the bus quieted as the partied out band members chatted, snoozed, read and played cards. As the bus glided into the bright lights of the city and the Toronto contingent waved goodbye to those heading on to Kitchener it was agreed that this was yet another successful Argonotes road trip. As out illustrious leader Steve pointed out "Book the bus and they will come".
Sound like fun? Want to join us next time? Contact us!