MIDWEST TOUR 2006!
The Midwest. The heartland of this great country. It definitely was heart felt for The Sunset Pioneers, as we performed two shows live, at the great Midwest Country Theater, www.midwestcountry.com located in Sandstone Minnesota.
Our performances were also filmed, and will be aired throughout the year, Saturday nights for the Midwest Country TV Show on RFD-TV. Check the link to find out the listing and time for your area. www.rfdtv.com
When we arrived in Minnesota, we were greeted with great excitement by one of the theater’s owner and operators, Kathy Jensen. I was happy to finally meet the person behind the voice. Kathy and I have spent many a time talking business on the phone during the past year, and it was such a joy to talk with her. She was always so happy and friendly on the phone, and usually, by the time we were ready to hang up, we were sharing funny stories and fine memories. Well, meeting Kathy proved to be twice as nice. She was so genuine and so down to earth, that she made us feel extremely welcome.
The other half of the theater partnership is Kathy’s husband Joe Jensen. Now Joe was down at the Minneapolis airport, picking up the rest of The Sunset Pioneers, when I arrived at the theater, but I soon learned that Joe was a wealth of knowledge when it came down to the TV end of business. Joe runs a 4 camera shoot of each performance at the theater, and edits each weekly TV show that airs on RFD-TV. Folks, this is an amazing feat. You would not believe the time, the money, and the effort, that goes into putting on a quality and successful TV show. Joe also runs one of the 4 cameras during each show, but what I admired about him was the same I did about Kathy, they are both sincere and honest folks. The other cameras are operated by a wonderful staff of cameramen, and it was nice to see them wearing cowboy hats.
There is always somebody behind the scenes that does an incredible amount of technical work that makes a show happen. Well, Midwest Country Theater is no exception. Operating the controls of the live performance sound, and the TV mix, and the lighting, and the stage set up was Jeff. He is the son of Joe and Kathy and is the part of the partnership that I can’t say enough about. His attention to detail, in all realms of the process, is to be commended. Jeff had us set up, tweaked in, and show ready within a couple of hours. It was an enjoyable sound check indeed. Thanks again Jeff. He even surprised us with a fiddle tune after the concerts were over.
One of the noteworthy things that happened during the Midwest Country Theater experience was The Ladies of Lunch!! Oh my goodness! I have got to tell you, that in between performances, we were treated to a scrumptious spread of home cooked food, prepared by the sweetest gals of the Midwest. The variety of food rivaled that of the best buffets, and the special down home touch just made it even better. Thank you ladies!
Speaking of food, I have to tell you how thrilled we were to have a WhiteCastle hamburger restaurant right next to our hotel. Being originally from the Midwest, I used to eat WhiteCastle’s all the time. Since we moved to Arizona, we can only enjoy them when we are on tour or visiting in the Midwest. Arizona does not have that chain of restaurants, so it is always a treat when we have the opportunity to enjoy them. I believe we went through about 160 hamburgers before we left the Midwest. Our stay was at the Travel Lodge and we couldn’t have had a better combination. A Travel Lodge, a WhiteCastle, and a liquor store all within a ½ block area. I call that great planning.
Before we drove to Minnesota, we were in Manitoba Canada for a week. There was a reunion of the Urbanski family in Beausejour Manitoba. Gramms (my mom) was originally from the area, and grew up on a farm about 7 miles out of town.
We haven’t had the opportunity to see relatives and friends up in Canada because of our show schedule. In fact we had to cancel our attendance to the reunion 5 years ago because of a performance, so it was nice to be able to work this one out.
We had just returned from our California Tour, did 2 shows in Arizona, and left right after the second show to drive to Canada. We made it there the day before the reunion and a great time was had by all! While visiting Canada, Gramps, Cassandra, Calena, and I, had the opportunity to perform at the Canadian Legion.
We also entertained throughout the week at private parties and had one performance at a cabin on the LeeRiver. I did learn one very important lesson after that performance. In fact is it was more of a reminder, from my days living in the Midwest. After performing, DO NOT go outside all sweated up to enjoy the night air. I had a near death experience as I was instantly swarmed by mosquitoes. They lifted me off the ground and started flying me over the river. With the strong wind blowing from a summer storm, they couldn’t hear my cries for help inside the cabin. I was getting farther and farther away when, luckily Cassandra and Calena came outside, after putting my guitar away, looking for me. They saw my plight and quickly responded by taking 2 fishing poles and casting up to me. They were able to reel me in and save me from the swarm. They both sustained quite a few bites from the encounter, but have since healed up. Thanks again girls for your heroic efforts. OK, OK, it might be a bit of a fish tale, but I’ll tell ya, I sure don’t miss mosquitoes!!!! Yikes!
We had the chance to go to Victoria Beech and spend a day with our good friends Ab & Betty Hansford. We have known them for 10 years, as they have come to our shows in Arizona. It was great to visit them in Canada where they spend the summers. We sure look forward to seeing them again in the Fall.
One of our past production engineers, Maverick, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We had the opportunity to see him again and while we were visiting, he and his brother, Holliday, challenged Tomahawk and myself to a game of horseshoes. Now these young guys thought they had it easy, challenging us older folks to the game, and to be quite honest, when we started, I was feeling the same thing. But, Tomahawk and I pulled it out at the end to be victorious.
We were unable to play again as we were called in to perform. Maverick is the son of Dan & Kathy Wayne (Steffes), whose house was so graciously given as our home while we were in Canada. And I do mean home. I don’t think we could have felt any more at home than we did there. The entire family, Dan, a real working cattle rancher,
Kathy, Holliday (Evan), and Slick (William), set a level of hospitality that I don’t believed can be matched. Thank you for making us feel so special. I sure enjoyed the coffee in the mornings with Slick, and the wild games of pinochle at night, and of course, everything in between.
And now for the rest of the story. Kathy is not only a phenomenal hostess, by providing food and drinks for all of us for the entire stay, but she is an internationally acclaimed hair stylist. She has traveled the continent and is in demand on stages everywhere. She owns a salon (not a saloon) called Dynasty, in the town of Beausejour, Manitoba.
A couple of years back, when we knew that we were going to be able to include this leg of the journey into the Midwest Tour, we retained Kathy and the Dynasty Salon for a day during the tour. Now most of you are thinking why is that so different? Well folks, Pioneer Pepper has never had his hair done professionally in his career!
It gets better though, because Cassandra and Calena have never had their hair cut EVER! I have to admit, I was a bit nervous not knowing what was going to happen, and I got down right scared when that there hair washing chair about threw me off. I didn’t know those things are designed to lay you on your back like a broncin’ bull does.
The glass of Grand Marnier and cold beer, that I was given, helped a lot!
The rest of the hair styling experience was most enjoyable and quite informative. I learned more about the styling trade and hair care than I ever thought I would. I can see why Kathy is so sought after in the industry. The scissors that she cut my hair with cost $1400. Her level of knowledge, total professionalism, and attention to her cliental is unsurpassed.
She has three coffee pots, a good supply of spirits, and a superb staff that makes it all worthwhile. I recommend to everyone, go and see her!
She made a believer out of me, and the results showed. The following week when we were filmed for the Midwest Country TV Show, I was flooded with compliments about my hair on stage. Thank you Kathy for making me look good.
As Cassandra’s and Calena’s Pa, it was almost scary to watch them get their hair cut for the first time in their lives. But, they wanted no one else but Aunt Kathy to do it first. I now know why. The girls looked beautiful. Thank you Kathy for making all us first timers so comfortable.
Now my wife Tomahawk has been to other stylists in the past, but when she asked Kathy to be able to make her hair do this when she does that, and make it stay this way, well it did. I was amazed. It looks fantastic. Dan Wayne even said it makes Tomahawk look taller. I think “taller” must be a code word for “sexier”. The whole Hair Experience was really enjoyable!
And with my new styled hair, immediately came the perks. I was able to be Romeo Pepper to the beautiful and charming Martha Juliet. A special time it was indeed, to be under Martha’s window and to sing those great Cowboy Shakespeare love songs to her. Martha, I found out, was a fan from watching us on the TV show, “Discovering”. We were on that show for 6 consecutive years in Michigan. Martha, let me know what windows you are planning to be at and I’ll be there!
I want to thank all those that made the Canadian leg of the Midwest Tour 2006 so memorable. I also want to tell you all up there to watch for The Sunset Pioneers coming to a province near you. Jump Events out of Toronto, Ontario is trying to line up a Canadian Tour. Keep checking their web site or email them for updates! www.jumpevents.ca
On the way back to Arizona, we stopped in Illinois to visit Tomahawks mom. She lives in ElmhurstIllinois and is currently recovering from some surgery and medical situations. It was great to see her again, and to have Cassandra and Calena spend time with Grandma V, or as we know her, Gigi, again. While back to the old stomping grounds in Illinois, I was able to spend an evening with Sleepin Bear, an original member of the old “Prairie Sunsets”, and HT. I worked with both of them when I was a police officer in KaneCounty. There was a lot of reminiscing about the ol’ police days and it sure makes you think about how much has happened since then.
This incredible ride of Pioneer Pepper & The Sunset Pioneers is due to each and every one of you. I humbly thank you for all your support and kindness you have given me over the years since I decided to turn in my badge, and went from cop to cowboy. Thank You!
I also want to thank The Sunset Pioneers; Doc Bellows, Dusty Cart-Ride, Perfesser Rolland, Cassandra, Calena and Gramps. To my fantastic crew; Tomahawk, Quick Draw, Crowe, and Nevada. You’re the best!
We will see you on TV. Check the dates and times. www.rfdtv.com