Summer Olympics of JE: Reach for Gold, Settle for Gas Money

Category: music 200

Entry no. 1: Paddlefest Saint Andrews (May 18-21)

JE Sheehy

Oh this again.

I had a blast, like that time I took part in a songwriting residency in Quebec and we drank all the Pabsts the local grocery had in stock. Or that time Deep Fryer played with Cancer Bats, after I’d worked at a festival all weekend, on the eve of my big 29 birthday. (It wasn’t a big birthday, I ate a Little Caesars hot’n’ready pizza in my car for lunch – but that’s another story).

But, for every ounce of triumph, there was a barrel of bullshit, like that time I drove two hours home after a show where the opening bands (and their friends) bailed after their sets, because they were tired. I got home at 4 a.m. and worked at 7:30 a.m. A Montreal AM traffic station was on, for the company and the lols.

It’s ok. I’m over it. I’m 29 and this ain’t my first rodeo. After all, I ate a Little Caesars hot’n’ready pizza in my car on my birthday, so rock bottom and I have been casually dating for a while.

Anyways. I’ve been eating healthier this year, working out and cutting down on the bad habits. The #newme is ready to tackle – yet again – a bunch of shows this summer.

So far, the 2018 shows have been good – ranging from the National Arts Center in Ottawa to the big chaotic High Street Boys debut during Flourish Festival.

This stretch of shows is basically my Olympics. I’ve trained all winter for the dozens of shows – spread across five bands – coming up, but I’ll settle for gas money instead of gold.

Since I’ve already spent a good chunk of my last two summers on the road, bouncing between festivals and shows, I figured it might be a good idea to finally start writing down some of these experiences.

Think of these blog entries like Spinal Tap, except it’s your cousin’s terrible high school band, which could only play Metallica’s cover of Whiskey in the Jar, but “Enough of my yappin’, let’s boogie”, in the words of the great Marty Di Bergi.

So, I’m about to pack the sedan and head out to the first show of this stretch; Deep Fryer plays Paddlefest this weekend. Oh god. I’ve never been to that festival or St. Andrews. Who knows what’s gonna happen? Expect the unexpected, or whatever.

I drove in Friday with Mike Erb guiding me on our way from Fredericton. We listened to a bunch of Against Me! and Suicidal Tendencies during the drive.

I’ve been significantly cutting back on junk food and I don’t think stopping at Burger King for the 2 for 6 deal was such a good idea. Either that, or I’m old.

My first impression of St. Andrews was a good one. The town looks nice and clean, as much as its people are polite. I was in line for a beer under the tent while The Sadies played and some guy let me know very politely (no irony here) that I cut the line. “Sorry, I didn’t know, thanks,” I said. He smiled back at me. It must be the ocean, eh?

Talking about a weekend of firsts. It was also my first time seeing a proper Sadies set. I feel like an imposter about the fact that I played at the same festival as them. This never happened to me and it probably won’t happen again until I play at the same festival as Jean-Jacques Goldman (look him up).

I bailed early after watching Coyote at the Red Herring. I had an international tour of uptown Saint John bars booked Saturday and decided to rest a bit.

I got back to St. Andrews on Sunday, in time for the bluegrass brunch. It’s not my thing, but it’s fun. There’s four or five people dancing. I need to start dancing at festivals, but it might be too late at my age.

Being in a band is 1% playing music and 99% waiting. So, on Sunday, I waited, hung out, napped, ate and waited some more.

Eventually Deep Fryer plays to a packed room at the Red Herring. Spirits are high and we’re playing a very sloppy but high energy set. I heard that the people who loved it, friggin’ loved it and the people who hated it really hated it. I was in good shape, as I spent half of the first song on the ground, wondering how I even got down there. We also introduced some new shenanigans to the set. No wonder my whole body has been hurting since then.

After sets, I usually go outside for an hour or so for some JE time. I didn’t get the chance to do so this time. People kept stopping me to talk about how much they loved (or hated) the Deep Fryer set. Someone said I was a real Tony Iommi. This other guy went on about how much he was really into metal and was stoked to see a metal band.

I get it, when I drink, I’m also really into metal.

Motherhood is playing inside. They rule. They just played at Pouzza Fest in Montreal on the same bill as Frankie Stubbs from Leatherface fame. When I grow young, I wanna be Motherhood.

I’m pretty sure I’m the first one to go to bed again.

On my final morning in St. Andrews, I was the first one up and decided to grab coffee at Honeybeams before leaving. I finally had a bit of downtime by myself, which is the one thing that keeps me somewhat sane on the road.

I love the first morning after at a festival in a smaller town. You can see the locals slowly taking back ownership of their town, with festival-goers at their worst, barely able to function. The contrast is beautiful.

I’m sitting on the coffee shop’s patio by myself, before running into everyone I saw that weekend, one person at a time. Someone should play Time of Your Life already.

On my end I’m glad to be going home. The party’s over, but St. Andrews was a great place to start my marathon of summer shows.

The good: Having feelings while watching The Sadies

The bad: Missing out on Land of Talk on Saturday night

JE Sheehy plays in too many bands for JE’s own sake due to an inability to stay in one place at a time. After being diagnosed with the Littlest Hobo syndrome in 2004, JE started playing guitar in Deep Fryer and Young Satan In Love, fronting High Street Boys and Beard Springsteen, playing bass and keyboards in The Trick, having feelings in Starving Ghosts and being generally confused in his solo project. He is very tired.

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