Friday, October 28, 2016

Not So Crazy: Party at the Riverview Asylum

Hard travel. Terminals at night. Canada is starting to cool with the season, and other ports are calling. Next week the Zulu Skies Tour will reach South Africa, but tonight I'm playing on darker roads in Vancouver. I'm playing the 10th Anniversary party of Cottonwood Lodge, a modern residence for the mentally ill, set on the sprawling grounds of the original, Riverview Hospital asylum.

This is a giant tract of land, slowly being brought into the modern age. But the connections to a recent, dark past are everywhere on these twisting roads: barred facilities. Places where people were subject to electro shock, brain surgery to quiet them down, sterilization. Cages. Haunted? Absolutely. The dripping overgrowth, the moss-faced buildings with wire fencing, holes in the walls, twisted old depots. This was a town once. With it's own bank and transit. Crazytown.

Movies are frequently shot in the surviving, old school buildings.

Cottonwood Lodge, I'm pleased to report, is a modern, friendly, mostly unlocked facility. I played Cottonwood's little coffeehouse, and had a nice time with staff and patients here. It's always a pleasure to be able to give something back to the towns that have supported me over the years. In recent times some of these, off-the-radar stops have been among my favourite Canadian, west coast shows. Worth doing. Blues is healing music, and sometimes it really needs to go to places that need it the most. Both the Artist and the Audience escape the Asylum, if only for a few moments time.

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