With 54-40 done and in storage so to speak until we got another photo to add to it, we started looking for another band. I listened to CFOX Radio quite often. One day on The Fox I heard the DJ announce that The Hip were coming to town in November – in fact, the singer, Gord Downy Jr, was going to be on the show the next day just to chat about their newly released album. Of course, that’s all I needed – another great Canadian and well known band… and we had to ask them! But how?
My first instinct was to try and figure a way to contact Gord Downey after he finished his radio station gig but of course its not good policy to accost someone you dont know in the street and ask for a charity photo op 😉 So.. I tried looking up the band’s contact info and couldn’t find anything! No address other than Los Angeles or New York and not enough time for snail mail (internet was still relatively new at this time!)
So… what to do? I decided to write a letter and send it to the Venue! The band would be there for 4 shows in a row, but actually have to be in town for 6 days the way the dates were split up… I figured if the Tour Manager got our letter on the first day, it would give him 4 days to make a decision and call us – or not. It had to be timed just right too though! If the letter arrived at the Venue too early, the chances of the staff tossing it in the garbage was huge… so with fingers crossed and prayers said, I wrote the letter and put a date on the back to remind myself ‘roughly’ when to mail it off.
Time passed… and I didnt hear anything back. Sometimes I forget too that I’ve written a letter – once its gone, its almost as if its not real until I hear back.. its easier to not get my hopes up and be surprised when it does happen.
November 3rd came. Nothing. November 4th came. Nothing. November 6th came – nothing. On the morning of November 7th – the very last show for the band, I got a phone call from their tour manager. “I’ve had your letter in my pocket for 4 days and almost forgot about it. Can you come down today, in a few hours, and do the photo? Do you still have time to do this?” (It always astounds me when THEY ask ME if I have the time – like I’m doing them a favor and not the other way around! Its pretty cool when that happens and never ceases to surprise me)
I grabbed my gear, the comfort doll, my nerves – and headed downtown on public transit and got to the venue at the appointed hour. I buzzed the security door and told the disembodied voice why I was buzzing and gave him the contact name. “Hold please” and then silence. He came back and told me “he’s busy, can you come back in half an hour.”… so … I went for a walk and did some window shopping on the strip. Half an hour later I went back. I could hear them doing sound check inside, and was hesitant about interrupting the band in the middle of working, but buzzed again, and again was asked to come back in half an hour. Understandable. Food seemed like a great idea, then I headed back and was asked to come back an hour later please.
This time I didn’t hear any sound check/music this time and figured I’d hit it right… I buzzed the door and was told that the fellow in question was gone. I was crushed of course, but sometimes these things just don’t work out. I figured he’d gone for dinner – and the band wasn’t on till after 9pm so I had his contact phone number – but no cell phone! (it was 2006 remember – not everyone had a Blackberry or iPhone back then 🙂 ) I went to look for a pay phone and there weren’t any! The City had cleaned every single pay phone off the strip for a 10 block (or more) radius – I quit walking after 10 blocks. I went back to the Venue and the restaurant a few doors down and asked the very friendly guy behind the counter if he had a pay phone (knowing full well he didn’t). He must have seen either the determination or the crushed look in my face because he loaned me his cell phone! I told him it was a long distance call and he said go ahead.. so I called the Tour Manager and talked to him.
Turns out the person I spoke to through the Venue security door intercom didn’t even go look for the Tour Manager -just told me to come back later. The Tour Manager had been wondering where I was and if I was going to show up. A good lesson learned! He was very nice about it – told me the band had taken off for dinner and were not due back until after 9pm for last minute pre-show meeting but if I wanted to try coming back at that time – he’d try to round them up for the photo op.. that he’d leave a pass for me at the ticket window. I said yes please!
So… off to kill more time and happy that things were going work out. I went back at the right time – and by then the doors were open and they were letting people into the Venue. I was lucky – I just went to the ticket window, gave my name and got my pass and was let in! I got into the Green Room with no difficulty thanks to the Tour Manager who personally came out to meet me .. and I set up the camera (and tried to calm my nerves) while I waited for the band to arrive.
The band arrived – and were the most friendly, down to earth, nice guys… I had literally just enough time to snap 2 photos and have them sign the card, and as they were signing the card – they were being introduced on stage! They all took the time and signed though (cool) – and gave the comfort doll to the Tour Manager, then jumped on stage amid a cheering crowd. The Tour Manager was very nice – thanked me for my patience and perseverance and told me if I wanted to stay for the show, I was most welcome to. We make it a policy to always decline- but thanked him for the kind offer. I did however, stay long enough to watch the first two songs and hung off to the side. The guys in the band saw me and sent smiles my way, then I headed out and home with the hopes of a good camera shot.
Got the film back from developing and to my utmost disappointment and sadness – neither of the shots turned out. Even with flash, the Green Room was so dark that having my camera on ‘auto’ didnt enable the shutter speed to be fast enough. I moved when I took the shot, and one band member was badly you couldn’t tell who he was. That was the better of the two photos 😉 … I sent an email to the Tour Manager (who had given me his email that night so he could know about the auction results) and told him about the blurry shots and suggested a fix. My friend Tom Tharp who lives in Portland, is a good photographer. The Hip were going to play in Portland a day or two after Vancouver, so if they would let Tom take a photo – in theory, the band still had the comfort doll! The manager agreed and so thats how this shot of the Tragically Hip ended up coming into being – thanks to my friend Tom Tharp and a band and manager willing to bend over backwards to help out.
auction results for Tragically Hip – we added their photo to Collective Soul for our 6th auction and raised $220.00 for World Vision.