It’s funny to me how some things change and some things stay the same. It’s funny to me, as well, how some things are with you for a very long time, and lead you down different avenues in your life. Big John Bates is one of those things for me. So join me for a spell as I wax idiotic about a period in my life that began 14ish years ago and is something that I still carry with me.
I think I first saw a Big John Bates show back when he performed with a burlesque troupe of dancers called The Voodoo Dollz. It was probably 2004/2005ish – I piece memories together in the ether of my mind, largely based on embarassing photographs and milestones like going to an art critique drunk, or my published letters to the editor. I was fresh out of high school, I had Bettie Page bangs and a severe case of anxiety. I loved rockabilly and I dressed like someone’s senile gothic grandmother. I think a Big John Bates show was the first time I had ever seen a burlesque show and this was back before everyone and their momma did burlesque, and it was very exotic. I remember taking Scotty Floronic to a show in 2006 at the local college campus, where two burlesque dancers hauled him onstage and poured Jagermeister down his throat to the tune of a song called “Take Your Medicine”. I remember the nervous glances of the boys in the audience looking around, somehow unable to believe the scantily clad women cavorting around and the locale not being a strip club. Burlesque is different, it’s a celebration of nudity and a mockery simultaneously. It’s high and low brow and the people who perform it, are nothing short of fucking breath taking.
One of John’s burlesque dancers was a beautiful lady named Tristan Risk, someone Scotty would later interview for DrunkInaGraveyard.com, someone you horror fans may remember from her roles in genre films and anthologies – she played Beatress in the Soska Sister’s American Mary, and has been in Astron-6’s The Editor, and in the ABC’s of Death 2, just to name a few of her very notable roles.
It’s funny how I have gone from someone who merely attended shows to someone who documents them, something like a scribe, or something worse maybe. It’s funny how I grew up idolizing musicians and artists, and now I consider them to be peers in using creation. Big John Bates has always been in the periphery of my life, whether with the Voodoo Dollz or not. From my first burlesque experiences, to Shambhala Music Festival, to Tristan Risk’s success in horror, and to considering her to be a friend. I feel an immense amount of pride that I can only describe as patriotic, when I see people from BC succeed, and see things take shape.
Big John Bates is still touring. Their show last night in Kamloops was at a small local pub, but was well attended. I saw a lot of the old guard punk types who are now aging into mortgages and starting families out, which is remarkable for a Thursday night.
It felt like old times at the show, even though I found myself in a different position – earplugs in, stalking the stage to get good photos, trying to avoid getting in anyone’s view line, and avoiding being danced into. I love seeing people get hyped at shows, especially local shows. Watching people dance around, especially to BC based rockabilly is amazing. I feel that sense of immense pride and gratitude.
A local band I’ve never heard of, called InVerse opened the show with their brand of rocker style covers, performing covers of songs like Rocket Man, Hit Me Baby One More Time, and the always appropriate Jolene.
It was heartening as well to see InVerse wearing their jerseys in solidarity with the people of Humboldt who lost 16 people in a horrific bus crash. This also gives me an immense sense of pride. I work through my own grief of losing someone everyday, and when I see people standing together with those who have lost, it is so very quintessentially Canadian. It’s a simple act, to put on a piece of clothing, but the meaning is profound. And I think this statement sums up what it is to be Canadian. We are simple, and yet we are profound – like the land we call our home. It’s simple beauty dwarfed only by the vastness and multitudes.
The show was great – I think it show cased the unique talents of two bands. Big John Bates and his band were impressive as always. It’s always somewhat breath taking to watch a tiny little lady like Brandy Bones scale a gigantic stand up bass and lug it around like it isn’t several times her size. I had lots of fun at this one. Go chuck Big John Bates a like on Facebook and if you have the opportunity, don’t hesitate to see their live show.
And thank you immensely to Big John Bates and Brandy Bones for having me along to photograph the whole ride.
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