Posted by: Maggie Ross | March 15, 2012

Alberta chronicles

“Aren’t you long overdue for a blog?” says Maggie, and rightly so.

March in Saint John and we’re all trying to figure out what season it is. It’s been a relatively mild winter and a few days ago it looked like it was drawing to a close, barely a wisp of snow to be seen. But no such luck…I’m looking out the window at our parked car once again all but buried in whiteness. Nonetheless, I spend whole days around the apartment wearing shorts, summer shirts and no socks. This apartment tends to be too warm and what adjustment controls we have seem useless.

My trip to Alberta went well. I spent nearly two weeks with my mother in Medicine Hat. She’ll be 89 on her next birthday and I try to see her as often as I can, despite this canyon of distance between us. She fell in her kitchen a couple of months back, bruised herself pretty badly and dislocated her shoulder, and she’s still not right. Very limited use of her left arm. But she’s spunky, holds tenaciously to her independence. She maintains her own apartment, walks her dog (when the weather’s not too nasty) and drives her own car, though not too far and only in the daytime. I appreciate her quietly rebellious spirit. You wrestle with one day at a time and try to come out on top.

Then it was on to Calgary where I met with Rick Stavely who drove from Prince George, BC, the object being to produce three songs at MCC Studio. Ricks’s a great guy. We met once a few years back in Nashville but most of our relationship has been through e-mail and Skype. One thing I was immediately made aware of is how BIG a singer he is…his voice in a small room makes the walls shake. He’s unmistakably country and very authoritative. This was also my first encounter with MCC’s Dave Temple (owner/manager) and Johnny Gasparic (engineer, musician, background singer, and overall genius-at-large). The studio is modest to look at but chockful of cool instruments and state-of-the-art gear. They’ve been cranking out some commendable country tracks recently and we soon knew we were in good hands. The session players were great, the vocals went swimmingly and the mixes (which Johnny also mastered) sound like they belong on today’s radio. We’ll see!

The weather was warm and slushy most days and I was reminded of what it’s like to be in a big city. Constant traffic and slowdowns. But ah, the restaurants! That’s what I miss about larger cities…the variety of excellent cuisines. I didn’t sample as much as I might have liked, but Rick and I plan to be back later in the year.

Rick also had a gig that week, from Thursday to Saturday at the famous Ranchman’s Cookhouse & Dancehall. Rick’s three band members drove in Wednesday night. I went to Ranchman’s on the Friday night, stayed for three sets, and was utterly flabbergasted. Ranchman’s boasts seating for 1,000 which means the attendance that night must have well exceeded that figure (seems there were as many people standing and dancing as seated). The dancefloor was teeming, much of the time with well-coordinated practitioners of Country Dancing. The bar swarmed with young, attractive people ordering beers and shooters. The roar of noise was almost impossible to talk over but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from trying.

I watched this rollicking parade of merriment and thought that every songwriter and executive in Nashville should be flown up to Ranchman’s some weekend to witness country music doing its job…entertaining and engaging people who have no stake in the proceedings but just want to have a good time. Amazing! I thought the clubs were supposed to be dying!


  1. Larry you noticed how big Ricks chest is, he’s a big man. This is the only way they could get a heart this big into him. Rick has done so many benifits for cancer and the needy on a saturday night, or nights when he could’ve been out working for pay that he needed as he works as a musician (singer) .
    We are very proud of him and his hard work he does for others. I’ve worked with Rick and other musicians, no one works as hard as he does, he sure deserves a break in his music career, I’m hoping that this CD gives it to him

    Thank you for the great job you are doing on his new CD it sounds great.
    Nice to here you got to visit your mother while you were out here (89) and she’s still living on her own, thats great, she must be a tough old girl.
    Ricks uncle Arnold from Alberta

  2. Any time I had the honor of visiting Canada it has been my experience that the people enjoy their music and their life in a simultaneously deeper and yet lighter way than Americans.

  3. Thanks for the read, Larry.

    Hope your Ma is doing well.

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