Category Archives: Van Chronicles

Van Chronicles – Chapter 20

A Town Called Paradise

It’s September 21, 1998, and I’m sitting in my seat at the Halifax Metro Centre; Van’s getting close to wrapping up the show and is singing “Send in the Clowns.” He interrupts himself to shout out, “If you’ve been watching the news today (which I hadn’t), you know, don’t bother, they’re here,” and though I’d missed today’s breaking news, one imagined the reference was to the Bill Clinton having sex while on duty headline of the day. There are clowns all over, and Van had been dealing with a few of them himself the last few days. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 19

Days Like This

The idea of a group of otherwise normal adults communing over the cause of one man’s music is a bit of an odd notion, at best. A harmless one, but still a bit odd. And it poses a bit of a dichotomy. On the one hand, listening to the music is a solitary endeavor – it doesn’t matter how many people are around, whether it’s at a concert or sitting in front of a computer, the music isn’t a collective thing, it’s an individual thing. At a concert, I simply tune everything else out; it’s not hard to do. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 18

Mud-splattered victims

I flipped over the page of the April 13, 1997, issue of the New York Times and there it was – a full page ad announcing the Guinness Fleadh – that’s a flaw, not a flee-duh, and a fleadh means festival in Irish – on June 14 and 15, and big as bold, there’s Van’s name, headlining both nights of the Saturday and Sunday festival. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 17

House on the hill

As I flip through the calendar pages of 1996, there’s not a lot to choose from between the piano and violin lessons, kid sleepovers, dentist and doctor appointments, and trips to the park until we come to June 25, which has MOVING DAY scrawled across it. Lock, stock, and barrel, we were picking up and moving up the coast, to Massachusetts, about an hour north of Boston, which, if nothing else, meant we were still going to be in Van territory. It’s not that I would choose where to live based solely on how frequently Van comes to play, but by the same token, I don’t see me moving to Montana or Missouri anytime soon either. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 15 (continued)

To answer Haji’s question: Yes, we are ready to party. It’s Canada Day for Dennis and me, reason to celebrate, and what better way than a night of Van. Jones Beach is in the middle of nowhere, Long Island, New York, with a parking lot the size of Singapore. Which meant only one thing: tailgate party, just like the football fans do. Not being a serious football fan, this was going to be my first. And you know me, always game to do something once. Dennis and I had brought enough alcohol for a carload, but it was just we two. A 40-oz J&B and a 40-oz Southern Comfort. Which we did our level best to demolish. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 15

Hello, New York

“Are you ready to parr-tee with us tonight?” Haji, doing the MC duties

This is as good a time as any to stop, look around, and take stock of the situation. The Van fan situation. At this point I had been listening to his music for twenty-six years, had been to a total of seven concerts. By definition, the concerts were the icing on the cake, a thin veneer of icing, but it was what it was and it never occurred to me that I was missing something, that I should do more, want more; I just did what I did, listen to the music, at times exclusively, and saw the odd show – that was my life as far as Van’s music was concerned. Contained. Nothing rocking any boats here. I never talked to anybody about Van, I never met anybody at any cocktail party or whatever who knew who I was talking about. Or if they did, they couldn’t have cared less. Not that I was out giving that theory a test all that much; if we were partying at someone else’s house, I’d more likely as not have gone off to wherever they kept their books and be sitting there with my head in a book I’d not seen before. It was like a book previewing service supplied by my hosts. I wasn’t beneath ranking these parties based on the host’s book collection. The world has enough social butterflies. And that’s OK. I love books. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 14 (continued)

Homeschooling was a great way to get to know my kids – having them home, watching them grow up, doing stuff with them, learning along with them, finding out what really makes them tick, what they love, what they hate. When there was a problem, there was always enough time to sort it out; and whenever something good was going on, there was no bell to tell us we had to stop. We just kept on going. And along the way, I encouraged them to always follow their dreams, that if they didn’t, no one else would do it for them; to challenge authority; and above all else to be responsible, to think, for themselves. I’m afraid I was a bit of your peace, love, and understanding kind of mentor; but I figured they’d meet enough other people in the course of their lives who might be more the ballistic missile types, not that there’s anything wrong with that, just I was looking to get my piece in while I had the chance. And in the meantime, we all had a good time: they got a chauffeur and I got to relive my childhood, this time with no gold stars being handed out. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 14

Good morning little schoolgirl

In American society there are certain ties that bind, and some places they bind you tight. Coming from the bright lights big city of Toronto to suburban New England, the first round peg in a square hole was religion. It seemed that everyone had one here. Except we had come from a place where mostly everyone didn’t have one. We sure didn’t have one. Continue reading

Van Chronicles – Chapter 13 (continued)

We’ve got seats in the left orchestra, not terribly close to the stage, but not so far either. I have a couple of distinct memories of this show, neither of them particularly memorable, but there you go. The first is watching what seems like a constant rotation up on stage. First Jimmie Witherspoon was on, then he was off and Van was on, then he’s off and Junior Wells is on and then Van’s on, then they are both off and Witherspoon is back on and then off and Van is back. All this off an’ on and back and forth, it was enough to make me go for a bromo. Just stand in one spot. Don’t move. Continue reading