20 April 2009


Photos from the Sun Run

18 April 2009


Join me and The Neurotics at the Sun Run tomorrow

UPDATE: Here are the latest photos from the 2009 run.

Neurotics onstage at Flickr.comThe biggest shows I've ever played with my band The Neurotics have been our annual performances atop a scaffold, at the starting line of the Vancouver Sun Run. Tomorrow, Sunday April 19, 2009, marks the sixteenth time the band will play at the event, and is the tenth time I'll be there on drums. (I left the band for a few years in the '90s, and missed 2007 because of chemotherapy.)

Anyway, it's quite the crowd—last year more than 55,000 people ran past our stage, which is like playing for a sold-out B.C. Place Stadium. Sean, one of our guitarists (turning to the left in the photo) calls the gig a "heads-up hockey" show: there are lots of stops and starts, usually without much warning, as run organizers make announcements and start each wave of the run. There are few if any breaks. We have to be hyper-aware of what's happening for several hours in a row. But it's lots of fun.

This year we're taking a different approach than usual. Every other year we've had four musicians on the scaffold, but this time we'll have six, adding an additional percussionist and a singer. We'll be just as silly as usual, however, so if you're heading down to the Sun Run, wave hi. I'll be on either drums or percussion when you come by. Alas, chances are I won't be able to see you in the mob, but you never know.

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20 April 2008


Out there havin' fun at the Vancouver Sun Run

As I mentioned a few days ago, my band The Neurotics played, for the 15th year in a row, at the Vancouver Sun Run, which as of this year appears to be the largest fun run in North America. There were over 59,000 registrants for the 2008 race.

As part of the photos I took downtown today, here's me behind the drum kit, with Swingy Neurotic (a.k.a. Doug Elliott) on bass:

Sticky and Swingy Neurotic

Thanks to Dilly Neurotic (a.k.a. Sean Dillon) for snapping that one. We all look a bit chubbier than usual because it was freaking cold for late April in Vancouver (just above freezing), so each of us had at least three layers of clothes under our costumes—I was wearing a T-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, and a chunky sweater underneath my Union Jack shirt and glittery jacket.

Rock on, Sun Runners!

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14 April 2008


Join The Neurotics for the Sun Run next Sunday

Sun Run 2003 - 06.jpg at Flickr.comBack in 1994, I was making a go of it as a full-time rock and roll drummer, and my cover band The Neurotics managed to snag a spot along the route of the annual Vancouver Sun Run, where we got paid a bit of money and had the chance to entertain tens of thousands of people as they ran 10 km through Stanley Park.

We were pretty silly (as we always are), and the runners liked us, so somehow the next year we were recruited to play on the scaffold above the starting line for the race, downtown at Burrard and Georgia streets. We've been the band there ever since (among numerous others along the route), and next Sunday, April 20, 2008, marks our 15th appearance at the Sun Run. (The band's lineup varies a bit each year, but for once the group of four musicians will all be guys who've done this show before.)

It's a strange gig, and one of the reasons the organizers keep calling us back is that we've honed our ability to play what guitarist Sean calls "heads-up hockey" up on the temporary stage. We have to show up before 5:00 a.m. to beat the road closures, haul our gear up some rickety scaffold stairs, do a very quick setup, and then go get some breakfast. Once we start playing around 7:30, it's pretty much a continuous performance until all 50,000-plus runners and walkers have gone by. That takes several hours.

But while we're up there playing much of that time, there are a lot of stops and starts, dictated on the fly by the race organizers and announcers on the platform with us—and we get little warning. Sometimes we only play 30 seconds of a song. Others we get 10 seconds (or less) of warning that we'll have to stop another, or just as much notice that we have to start. The mayor might speak, or other local celebrities. There are speeches and announcements, and each group of runners has its own starting announcement and air horn. A group of Fitness World aerobics types helps everyone get warmed up. We need to fit into the gaps, so we learned years ago that a set list does little good.

It is an awesome thing to see tens of thousands of Vancouverites thronging the streets below. It's also a huge load of fun. I was unable to play last year because it was early in my combined radiation and chemotherapy treatments. This year the timing is better, so while I'll be tired, I expect to be able to play the show without a hitch.

If you're in downtown Vancouver early on Sunday morning—especially if you're running by on Georgia Street in front of the RBC tower—look up, way up, and maybe you'll see me bangin' like Charlie Watts. But I'll probably be too busy to wave.

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