Studio capacity grossly exceeded!
Frontier Bus Lines out of Red Deer AB is a high-class well-oiled machine that really goes places. I guess you could call the smooth operators. They run all over the continent wherever the needs of group transportation are voiced. They've had guests from all over the world call them up to organize a trip of one sort or another. They also organize specialty trips that have become very popular with central Albertans.
We had gotten to know Keith and Laura over the years as they would bring a bus each year to the Kamloops Cowboy Festival. Somehow over a very strong cup of coffee one evening as we chatted the topic came up of bringing a bus tour out to the studio. Until that point I had not really given any thought to the concept that folks might be interested in knowing how we do things out here.
We set the date and they decided it would be what they call a Mystery Tour, part of their regular specialty trips they are famous for. I never thought folks would pay to take a trip somewhere they didn't know where they was going, but they fill the bus each time. The paying customers drove in, got picked up, and the fun started. Keith wound all over the place; up this road, through this town, looping back around to thoroughly confuse the patrons.
They arrived here, gathered on the front deck for coffee, and that's when those who were neighbours realized how much they'd been had. They could of walked over here, some of them.
I had not really given any thought to the concept that folks might be interested in knowing how we do things out here.
We shoehorned them into the studio here, opened all the windows, and as 50 old-timers sat elbow-to-elbow I commenced to get into teacher mode. The tour was to explain how I created a work of art on the computer, and how we build a song from scratch. That was all fine in theory until we realized that they were all facing the back end of my computer instead of the screen.
My wife Sharmon is the problem solver in our union so she rigged up our projector screen and a camera over my shoulder so that whatever I did was projected on 8 foot square for all to see. Worked like a charm. And the folks really were interested in how this stuff gets put together.
Then the fun started
The predominantly geezer crowd, who needed to stretch and get some air by this time, rummaged through the merchandise table set up for the day, looking for souvenirs to take home with them. What was to come yet was still a secret to them. I'm sure some of them wondered just why they had paid a premium price just for a school session.
We had hired a local caterer, a neighbor gal just across the valley from us, to build a full-scale supper. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade buns and a dessert to die for. Oh, and some veggies. That was held down the hill from us at our church which we rented for the evening, set up all nice and fancy - with tablecloths even.
They thought that was the end of the trip, but then I got up and played them a full concert. That was the coolest thing I've experienced in quite awhile, because it was music they related to, had spent time getting to know me over the afternoon, and all those elements together makes for quite a memory. They left feeling like they got much more than their money's worth.
And all the while Keith and Laura were sitting in the back like proud parents, smiling, watching their patrons have the time of their life.
We've had other bus tours as well, which offers a real nice getaway and way too much fun.