Summer of '97 or so, the End of the World Festival, Ontario Canada.

Review by Kristen Hilliard (Switch to

North of Thunder Bay

Summer of '97 or so, the End of the World Festival, Ontario Canada.

Todd Rundgren to play!

I was living in Montreal, Thunder Bay was 25 hours of driving away. When I heard that Todd was playing, the Tubes and some great Canadian bands, at this festival called, The End of the World festival. Had To try to get there. I mean how many todd fans can make it to the north woods of Ontario, Canada?

The other bands on the bill were super duper. For example, deep blue sea and Blue Rodeo. Blue Rodeo is an awesome canadian country rock band. 5 band members, two trading lead vocals. Especially the Tremolo album, '97. Deep Blue Sea is from Newfoundland and sing these rocking sea chanties. Wild! Good Celtic undertones.

Anyway, Todd Rundgren! He was scheduled to play during this 3 day festival in the Boondocks of Ontario. Also known as, 2-3 hours north east of Manitoba. Todd!! I had to be there. Contacting the web site, I managed a written commitment that I would be the massage therapist to the talent!!! Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!

Wow! Yippee! Lucky lucky lucky!!!

Renting a car, driving for 25 hours straight into unknown , barely charted territory. My back was sore after 5 hours. Stopping at one of the few roadside stands… no one speaks english and I can barely comprehend the local french dialect.

Then at about 20 hours into the journey, near the city of Thunder Bay, I picked up a hitchhiker, mark. He was a tragic figure, a lonely soul, who had been just kicked out by his girlfriend. Believe me, even in July, Thunder Bay is no place to be homeless. Brrr.

We hit it off and I told him of my journey. He decided to come to the festival. Needing the space.

We arrived early Friday morning. Already a long line of cars at the entrance, waiting for the doors to open.

Long story short, my contact started to flake out on me with all the different egos pushing around the production of such a massive event. I was going to be stuck in a tent a half mile from the stage! No way. I was bummed. Mark came through. I had made it into the unknown, arriving safely with an ally. Mark made friends with the key figures. It was a very male-centric scene happening back stage. Women were fluff. So he massaged egos and was genuinely helpful with other details. Has a good head on his shoulders this Mark.

In the end I was able to get set up near the stage. In the backstage compound. Which had about 4 trailer sleeping units. One of the production managers agreed to let me use his trailer during the day. He slept there at night. But mark was a great help I made it into my own trailer, with table set up, incense burning and beaded mobiles placed here and there

Tubes played Friday night. What fun! Fee was not impressed with me, but I was tongue-tied and neglected to mention my love of the Remote Control album (produced by Todd). And of course the classic, What do You Want from Life?! The Tubes' set was fun. Too short. Fee was bummed there weren't very many beautiful dollies. But Rick was sweet and we hung out dancing to another band that was excellent.

Groovy night, not as many people came by nightfall as could be hoped. Did some work with a bunch of local bands called in from Manitoba, Thunder Bay. these bands are here to fill in between the name bands. tried to drum up business. Most of these kids were just into playing music and getting high. Not so much health oriented.

But here I was, another Woodstock!? Friday night. A beautiful if a bit cool summer night. So dark and quiet around the stage of lights and sound. I was ready!! My own space for when Todd came to play, and of course anyone who needed me. This was heaven. A beautiful mellow crowd. Though small. I had made it! I was torqued!

Saturday it rained and was overcast. The crowd did not grow significantly by 2 pm. Word in the field was that the publicity for the show got screwed up in Toronto, the largest "closest" venue. (close = 5 - 8 hours away.) . Todd was scheduled to play Saturday night.

Then rumors of bands being cancelled. The promoters were nervous. Things not going as hoped.

I found out the next day from the limo driver, he got to sit and wait for the word with Todd. The limo driver who hung out with Todd for 3 hours at the airport in Manitoba. Todd was practically here!

But it just was too far out in the middle of nowhere. And bad weather.

Sunday was beautiful. Deep Blue Sea and Blue Rodeo both showed up. Had a great great weekend.

Almost got a chance to hang back stage with Todd. Maybe another day.

As for Mark, we parted in Thunder Bay. He said he had friends to talk to. It was awkward. He had been so helpful. Was a sweet man. As usual in these situations, I become tongue-tied. Don't even give him a card. Or maybe I do. I never heard from him…that's ok. I hope he is well.

I was speeding out of Thunder Bay, 85 on a two lane road, way up north, hardly any traffic. Sunny day. Warm in the car. Tired but happy. A little sad to say goodbye to Mark. To have missed Todd. So close.

One killer speeding ticket and 20 hours of driving later. I was home.

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