The Way West Tour, June 22nd to July 29th 2016

So the Way West Tour is a thing of the past, I have been back home in Pennsylvania since August 5, back with my loving family. So what was it like going back out on the road after so many years away from it? Well, it was great, everything I had hoped it would be. My tour manager, Garry Lines and myself set up 23 dates between Saskatchewan and British Columbia. First performance, a Community Concert in Beaver Flat, Sask, last performance, a house concert in Saskatoon. In between those dates, I played in Swift Current, Cantaur, and Maple Creek Saskatchewan, then back to Medicine Hat Alberta , out to Tompkins Saskatchewan and Cypress Hills Park in Saskatchewan, back to Medicine Hat then Didsbury Alberta at the Country Nook where I hooked up with guitarist John Cronin. We first played together 40 years ago in Invermere and over the following years worked together off and on for 6 or 7 years. He spent 7 years with Canadian legend Ian Tyson, touring North America. It was great to see him again and wonderful to hear his guitar playing adding color and texture to my songs. Another surprise in Didsbury was my dear friend and former band mate of many year, Brian Richard who dropped by to play some bass guitar.

After Didsbury, John and I crossed the Rockies to perform at the Steamboat Mountain Festival in Edgewater British Columbia on the afternoon of July 8th where we were joined by Marty Beinguessner on bass. solid as a rock he was! Sunday the 9th was a songwriters workshop for 20 or so folks where I basically describe my approach to songwriting. After my work shop I was asked to join the amazing Oscar Lopez for his guitar workshop. Oscar is an amazing musician, 7 time Juno nominee, 2 time Juno winner. 

The next stop took John and me back into southern Alberta to the Twin Butte Country General Store. What a great night that was! The next day we were back Medicine Hat. That weekend we performed at Eagle Valley Campground, Medicine Hat Brewing Company on Saturday then off to the Buye Family Ranch and Farm for a House concert which was a wonderful evening. Then we were off to Calgary to the Ironwood Stage and Grill where I got to perform with a full band! John and I were joined by Myron Shotz on fiddle, Joey McIntyre on drums and Brian Richard on bass. We had a great time and were told after our show by the bartender who has worked there for 4 years that it was the best set of music he had heard in that room. I let that sit as it is. 

We left Calgary the next day for Rossland BC where I performed at Fuel Gastropub, owned by my oldest son Aaron, on Thursday evening. I took advantage of that performance to pay tribute to my late songwriting partner Denis Gunn who was from Rossland and was one of the finest songwriters I have ever known. 

Friday night was a return to my roots, the Royal Canadian Legion in Nelson BC where I was completely over whelmed by a sold out house of old and dear friends. It was the highlight of the tour. I was joined by my friends Roger Henthorne on bass, as well as providing the PA system and again John Cronin on guitars and dobro who drove over from his home in the Windermere Valley in eastern British Columbia. Like I said earlier, John and myself have played together off and on for 40 years, Roger and I have played together for 50 years, it was a wonderful evening of good friends and music from the hearts of three longtime friends.                                                                                                                                 On Saturday Aaron picked me up and we drove up to the Six Mile Lakes where I spent many a happy day in my youth fishing. All available camping site were taken so we ended up going to Syringa Creek Provincial Park and set up camp there for the evening. It was wonderful to be able to spend time with Aaron, as it had been 7 years since we had seen each other. The next day was spent exploring the old townsite of Remac on the Pend D’Reille river where our family lived when I was a little boy. Not much left of that site but it stirred up some long forgotten memories.

Monday morning Garry and myself were off to Vancouver for the final 3 dates of the tour. We had absolutely marvelous accommodations provided by my dear friend Paul Hovan, a 12th floor condominium over looking Vancouver harbor. Wednesday evening we were in Gibson’s at the 101 Brewing Company where I shared the evening with Del Cowsill, son of the legendary,late Billy Cowsill and I can tell you the apple did not fall far from the tree. That evening I was invited into the home of Jim Foster, another legendary Canadian songwriter and performer. Next back to Vancouver and a rehearsal with Rusty Creek. Saturday, the linchpin job of the tour the 9th Avenue Kits/4th Avenue Reunion. It was an absolute blast! As Paul Hovan told a friend, “ Cameron got on stage and held court!” Quite a compliment, the band was great and included an old and dear influential friend Lee Stevens on bass. So many old friends and family were there, my middle son Tailis,(checkout Conscious Flow Jewelr) my sister Maureen, nephew Daniel, another great group of Nelson folks. Just an amazing time. During this week I spent a wonderful evening with my middle son Tailis.

Sunday afternoon a picnic and then a Back Yard BBQ and concert in Deep Cove. A wonderfully receptive audience for the last official show of the tour. We left the next day for Rossland then onto Cranbrook for a family reunion with my brothers and sisters, hosted by our niece Theresa and her family. A couple days in Cranbrook then back to Medicine Hat and to Saskatoon where Jill Reid hosted a house concert in her penthouse suite. Another wonderful evening, great receptive audience and a feast of buffalo burgers. On a plane at 10 minutes after midnight, home the next day. 

I guess this is a little drawn out but here are a few things I learned along the way

1: at 71 years of age I am as good as I ever was, my songs have stood the test of time.

2: the road for me, is a comfortable place.

3: don’t eat the wraps Canadian Airlines serves in flight unless you have a food thermometer to test temperature 

4: if you go into a restaurant, no matter how fancy and prestigious and you find dead flies on the window ledges, get up and leave, their sanitation program is non existent

5: it is painful to see old and dear friends and family in the jaws of addiction

6: Husky Truck stops and gas stations men’s restrooms smell as bad in 2018 as they did in 1973. They are at least consistent in one aspect of their business

7: I am blessed with friends and fans who have been loyal followers of my career since I was a kid

8: my brothers and sisters are the best anyone could have

9: my wife Kristy and youngest son Timothy are my anchor in this life

10: I have the best road manager and merchandise girl in the business!

11: A lot of people were involved in making this tour happen. My in laws, Tim and Deb Warriner who watch my son for 6 weeks, my wife Kristy who adjusted her work schedule facilitate my absence. Garry Lines and Barry Dean who set up the Alberta/Saskatchewan dates and merchandise. Jeff Shoop who designed all the graphics for posters, t shirts, hoodies and the Westwind Rider cd, Chris Eichelberger who provided the photos, Nathan Pinsent for the Westwind Rider cd cover, Jesse McRae for the cd liner notes and all the venues and folks who invited me into their homes to perform, Jill Reid who took over as merchandiser, Nick for driving the bus, Ahmed for being a great roadie and last but not least my dear friend and impresario Paul Hovan who set up the west coast dates and who has been influential in my career from the very beginning. All of these folks made it possible, all I had to do was go out and do the best performances of my career. Thanks to each and everyone involved, I couldn’t have undertaken this tour without all of your help. So greatly appreciated!

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  • Bitterroot Bill

    Bitterroot Bill Montana

    billethekidd@yahoo.com

    billethekidd@yahoo.com

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