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nerolog, Stardate 123104


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Well folks, I started them here so I'll end 'em here.

Stardate 123104

nero @ Maverick’s, Ottawa, Ontario

It’s curious how an arbitrary marking on a calendar can actually influnce the world. A long time ago a group of people somehow settled on January first as the biggining of what they decided was to be a year and a whole bunch of wars and leap years later everyone in the even partially civilised world gets a calendar of some sort from their local drug store or the pizza place and it has all these little arbitrary markings on it, telling us when we should feel different things. January first is supposed to make you feel fresh and reborn, a new start at all those resolutions once again, and consequently New Years Eve is supposed to make you reflective, thankful, perhaps sad or even a little analytical, and wasted.

There’s no denying that the arbitrary calendar marking influenced the date of nero’s final show before taking a touring break, and no denying how much of a reflective, thankful, sad, analytical, and wasted night it turned out to be. The influnce of aribitrariness.

I have before me a tape labelled “nero’s 1st show/August 15 97/@ Cracker’s 2000”. I can’t remember if I was at that show or not, it seems to me I was, but I can tell you nero grew great strides beyond that first show, both outclassing and outlasting the venue, undergoing lots of changes and influencing many lives since then. I had seen the band several times under the name of “Plow”, and when Dave, Jay, and Shane left the band to start something else up I was behind them all the way (the other guys sucked). I remember Dave asking me what I thought of the name “nero” and I thought it was a good name, though I hated the lower-case “n” (still do) and mistook it for Nemo; I thought nero was the dude under the sea. They added Emily on vocals and Steve on dancing, and I thought they were both awesome. Emily really captured the audience with her charm and her Edie Brickell-like good looks, but she had this intangible quality about her when she sang that was like a…I dunno, maybe I was just in love with her. Steve danced, and I guess mucked around with a sampler a bit, but it was his dancing that really added to the show. I was dissappointed when he left the band, I liked the Frankie Goes To Hollywood thing about it, especially with Emily on vocals (it woulda been a bit weird with only guys in the band – maybe a little too much Frankie Goes To Hollywood). Eventually Emily had to leave the band for good to move out west and they (obviously) couldn’t find an adequate replacement. I remember telling Dave they should just play the tunes without vocals - they had enough interesting stuff going on in the music. He recalls it differently, but however it happened, it happened, and they went on as an instrumental trio.

Then two other great things happened: Tuesday nights at the Whipping Post and Sunday nights at Babylon.

I went to a few of the Weekly Whipping shows and there was this table, the second from the stage, and every week there was this group of people around it. The table grew to a couple of tables and eventually I found out these were people that knew each other through a new website called phishsanctuary.ca (which eventually grew into jambands.ca). I soon signed up (it was my first experience with an online forum) and an incredible support group grew before our very eyes in the intervening years, a support system which is in a large part responsible for any successes enjoyed by the band. When we registered for the board there was a few dozen members, now there are almost 2000 signed on and I can’t tell you how many people in how many cities came up to me at shows telling me their avatar names, nor can I describe just how integral the site was to the band.

Babylon was a new bar in town and willing to experiment with their Sunday nights rather than just keep their doors shut and a few months into the Weekly Whipping gigs they gave nero a regular room to play every Sunday. I lived nearby and came pretty much every week, so I offered to do the door for them every Sunday, and that, coupled with my relationship with the guys already, laid the seed that led to me managing the band, which had a fairly dramatic impact on all four of our lives (and later Chris’s) as well.

Here’s a story: In August of 2000 nero scored a gig at this new festival to take place in (of all places) Antigonish, Nova Scotia, with a show booked the night before somewhere in town above a Chinese food restaurant. Around the same time I planned a crazy trip for myself – 21 days hiking solo through Algonquin Park with no booze, no drugs, and no cigarettes. Kind of an iron-man body-cleansing trip. By day two I was bored to death and my mind was racing for an excuse to give in and get the hell outta the woods and I thought, “Hey, maybe I should go with nero on this trip and sorta be their manager.” Tin foil man reared his ugly head, I packed everything up and virtually ran out of the woods hitting the first smokes store and fast food restaurant I could find and badda-boom, I’m their manager. And oh, the difference to me, to appropriately quote The Path Least Chosen.

So, with a fan base and some band management, off the band went. We bought a bus and started playing insane amounts of shows, learned to love and hate each other a bit, eventually Shane left and Chris came in to continue the journey of good times. There were crazy parties, crazy people, snowstorms that would stop a buffalo herd, breathtaking views and heartwrenching breakdowns, friends and fights and smelly ugly bars and some sweet, sweet gigs. Times I’ll never forget and nights I’ll never recall. Bagged a US booking agent and started doing all that sh!t to Americans too, pissing in their lawns and drinking their free beer while we try to sleep on the side of their nice tree-lined streets and Wal-Mart parking lots. There were some pretty questionable sleeping accomodations and some fantastic festivals and meetings. There was the excitement of going to Madison Square Garden for the Jammys, the excitement of hearing Zedonk come together, the excitement of getting press from Relix and Guitar Player, and just some really damn cool experiences.

And now all that’s done. Chalk up a little sadness to the old arbitrarimeter tonight.

Tonight, New Years Eve. 200 people can tell you 200 different versions of the night, and mine goes like this: Sitting at the door gave me the oppourtunity to see all those beautiful people walk through the door, each of them smiling, and most of them I consider to be a friend, thanks to that table of folks at the Weekly Whipping shows. It woulod be a damn big table now, and I can tell you there were several of those original table-dwellers through the door tonight. I sat there sober and loving it, hugs and handshakes and happy conversations with nero pouring their hearts out onstage for a soundtrack. The roar at midnite warmed my soul. Great sound eminating from a truly, truly great crowd. My evening was punctuated by a sit-in with the band. They asked me up for Black Betty>Voodoo Lady, and I really, really enjoyed it. nero really is one of my all-time favourite bands (even after seeing them about 300 times), and it’s so awesome to play with them. Sitting in with them the few times that I have has given me an acute appreciation of how much of a unit the three of them are musically. They’re hard to blend with; they blend enough on their own, you can just play on top or underneath. A couple of times I looked into the crowd and had to look away, the site was too beautiful and I don’t deserve it, but fu©k it was fun. I even got to sneak a little Bolero in there.

The bar element of the night ended and many of us headed to the 40 Main afterparty. I gave a couple of Toronto friends a lift. As soon as we got there they wanted to leave without even going in! Weird drugs were getting the better of them so I spent the first couple of hours making sure they were staying and having fun. Aren’t I nice? The party took on many forms, from couch-climbing dance fiestas to hallway confessions to choked-up hugging to uncotrolled laughter to coming up with one of my best how-to-get-pretty-girls-away-from-you lines to drink after drink to bad jams to kitchen scrounges and eventually to an embarrassing noontime stumble home that had me flat on my ass about eight times. Suffice to say, our good friends reflective, analytical and wasted reared their arbitrary heads, curiously at just the right times. As I closed my eyes to sleep, somewhere off in the distance you could almost hear the fat lady singing.

Thank you nero. You changed my life, you changed many friends lives, and you changed your own lives, all for the better. It was hard work, but it was worth it, as hard work usually is.

Quote of the Day: “So now it’s just the sex and drugs then?”


Whispy Mountain Wonder

Downside Up

Johnny Joe>


Holetown Charlie




Auld Lang>


The Year Of…

Black Betty>

Voodoo Lady

401 Theme>




Dr. Who>

401 Theme



Chocolate Monkey Machine>

Miko Mard





Sgt. Peppers (reprise)

e: Condor>

Steppin’ Out>


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As usual Todd, your log captured the night perfectly. A fitting end to a magical journey. It's been great getting to know you, and I have nero to thank for that. I know I'll miss reading the logs, and seeing you at shows and the afterparties. Thanks for all your work with the band. You really did a great job...

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Right on velvet.

I wish I could have been there for NYE. I remember being at the first nero show in Nova Scotia at The Orient Lounge in Antigonish, NS a day before the Evolve. That was really fun start to crazy and hectic fly by the seat of your pants festival experience... I belive that Lauzon was on stage at one point was guesting with The SLIP.

Although couldn't make this last show, Zedonk is their swansong which full realized their project. Way to go out with some style boys..


Todd, you made no mention of the ther Bands that Nero and co. would have crossed paths with.. MOE., Trey, The Slip, BNB, Bulfrog, Jennifer Hardswick Band, JSB, GTB, AMB, Addison Groove Project, Bob Wiseman, I'm sure there are loads of Ottawa musicians too.. please tell us more!!

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Something I meant to add to that nerolog was this paragraph:

"Now that they've finished touring I can breath a sigh of relief that we all made it. I say this becuase I always had a fear in the back of my mind that some accident would befall the band and I would have to issue some horrible press release like "Canadian trio careens off cliff in ball of fire, all members deceased, most gear broken" or something. I guess it's a little like the inate fear that moms have of their kids being dead in a ditch somewhere.

We made it."

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What people don't know about these much hyped and heralded 'nero-logs', is that Velvet would usually write them days and sometimes weeks previous to the shows in question, submitting the sealed documents to 'nero' upon departure for tour as a step-by-step instructional procedure .. thus predicting muscial highs and lows, weather systems, mechanical disasters, horrors, internal conflicts and uncomfortable social situations (that most men would never subject another human to). We abided, as the contract we'd signed was our word.

Colonel Snelgrove always liked things to work out a certain way, and that was just the way it was.. you may notice many chapters remain unpublished.

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