For as long as I have been apart of Fire On Mcginnis, they have talked about one day playing the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. This year the band was invited over to play and everyone has been pretty excited about it. It has taken some hard work to get this all lined up and ready to go by some of the more active members of the band. They had to figure out how to transport not only our music equipment, but also our PA system on the Alaska state ferry as well as where and when we would be playing.
So, what I know of Haines is not much. It has a population of around 1,800 people and is home to the surviving set pieces from Walt Disney‘s White Fang picture, which was filmed there in 1990. From Haines you can drive up to Anchorage, but you do have to go through Canada to get there.
Armed with that little knowledge, I packed my bags, drum gear, some food because of my Slow Carb Diet, and waited for my bass player, Matt to show up with his wife to take me to the ferry Dock. At just before 7AM we arrived at the ferry dock and got our tickets and boarded the ship we would be on for the next four and half hours to Haines.
The ferry itself is filled with all kinds of nooks, crannies and corners that people can tuck themselves away in. My band and I found one such place with windows so we could see the scenery float by. During the trip we were able to review some of the songs. An acoustic guitar fiddle will pulled out at one point as music was rehearsed. The rest of the trip was filled with reading and napping.
When we docked in Haines and exited the vessel we drove straight to the Fogcutter Bar to unload and set up our gear.The Southeast Alaska State Fair was in full swing, so we would not start performing till after the fairgrounds closed for the night around 11PM. We took a couple of hours and staged all of our musical equipment and then decided to get some food.
After eating we all headed back up to the Fogcutter and finished our setup. A quick two song sound check later, the five of us piled into three vehicles and headed to our respective lodgings for this trip to take a nap. Around this time I realised that Haines only had the Edge network available to smartphone users. So updating Google+ was impossible and getting so much as a text message out most of the time was either hit or miss.
When 10:30 rolled around Mat (bass player), Mark (guitar player) and myself (drummer) packed ourselves into Mark’s car and headed back to the Fogcutter bar. It was still light out and it would have been sunny if not for the clouds in the sky. At least it was warm(ish).
In the bar, I asked the barkeeper (I have been wanting to say that this whole post) to fill up my aluminium canteen with ice water which I carried back to behind my drum set. A few minutes of checking cables and our sound and we were off playing music moving through our song list one by one.
The Haines crowd loved the music and was very enthusiastic for us to play our brand of Celtic rock music. Dancing and cheers went on all night long. The people of Haines could not have been more welcoming and wonderful to us.
For this bar gig I switched to using baseball gloves over my normal golfing gloves. This is mostly because I could not find a store in Juneau that sold left and right handed golfing gloves and I just should bite-the-bullet and order them online already. The thing I did not like about using the baseball gloves is that they were to padded. So my hands could not articulate themselves as well. I opted to keep them on my hands over having my hands all bloody and blistered by the end of the night.
I think it was close to 4AM when we wrapped up at the fogcutter. To celebrate we all went outside to smoke a cigar and talk about how the show went. The sun was coming back up already. While we talked people from the bar came out to compliment us and eventually Mike (guitar and bagpipes) and Marth (Guitar, Fiddle and Vocals) grabbed their bagpipes and fiddle and played a couple of songs outside for those of us enjoying the cool night air. It was a wonderful night.
The next morning I was sore and slow to move. My back just felt like one bit knotted up mess. I stretched out a little bit and drank a lot of water and started to feel better. I think it was close to 2pm before we left for the fair grounds. There we found food and entertainment with several food booths and two musical stages.
With food quickly filling the void in our guts we started to work out the plan of getting our musical gear onto the main stage for our 6PM performance. A lot of which was a blur for me. Maybe because I have slight stage fright and maybe because there was just so much to get done between getting on stage, playing music, and getting all our gear back off again. There was a lot to do in a short amount of time.
When it was time for us to get everything setup we all worked together and worked quickly to setup ourselves on the stage. We were introduced as “Fire On McGinnis from Juneau Alaska”. With that we started playing. Two songs in I broke a drum stuck and flung it out into the crowd.
Four songs into our set at the fair and I broke my throne. How does that even happen? But I did it. I was able to stay balanced through to the end of the song we were on. Luckily there was a spare throne at the back of the stage.
I remember the show going really well and getting lots of applause after each song we played. We ended out set with cheers from the crowd. Together as a group we got all of our gear off the stage so the next band could setup quickly. We got all our gear packed up in our vehicles and then spent the rest of the night enjoying all that the fair had to offer.
The part of the fair I enjoyed the most was that it was right next to the White Fang set. I spent a lot of time walking up and down the boarded sidewalks and smoking a cigar in the cool night air.
We got back to Juneau early Sunday afternoon, unloaded all our gear. What a weekend!