Chasing White Buffaloes (the movie)

The whole thing was a gong show before it even started. I could fill this whole website with words, photo’s and video’s about this insane trip, but then there would be no reason to write the book or make the video’s.

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After my first trip offshore I had an abundance of money and five weeks of absolute freedom. What does one do with such luxury? He finds an unsuspecting companion and goes on a 30-day cross-Canada road trip, hitting as many music festivals as he can, all in the name of answering the question “What is the Canadian Dream?”

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In my last week on the boat I managed to hire a videographer and arrange a handful of free passes to music festivals from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island. My intention was to make a movie documentary. The premise was to hit as many music festivals as we could in 30 days. The unsuspecting companion was Jake Beed, an established videographer in the TV and Film industry out of Nova Scotia. I had gotten his name from some friends and contacted him while I was at sea. I managed to convince him to be my videographer and partner on this ramshackle trip. To this day I am still unsure why he agreed. the money was brutal and the plan sketchy at best. All the same he agreed and when I got off the boat we promptly packed my Honda Civic and put the rubber to road.

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Evolve Festival in Antigonish Nova Scotia was a total mess. I got piled up on acid late at night on the last day of the festival and around 12pm the next day I was woken up by security telling me we were the last people there and had to get the fuck out. I forced poor Jake to drive us all the way to Edmonston while I slept. Along the way we managed to stop by my brothers, say hello to my 1-year-old nephew and stock up on camping gear.

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The next day we made it to the “Beaches”: Toronto’s International Jazz Festival. The whole thing was a mess but somehow old Jake (Yacob as I came to call him) kept it together and we managed to collect countless hours of footage, while still getting drunk as hell.

Toronto ended and we made our way, like zombies on speed, to Calgary, where we totally blew it and missed Motion Notion Festival in Golden BC. But the failure in Golden gave us the luxury of taking our time on route to the Coombs Blues Festival on Vancouver Island. Naturally we stopped in Banff so I could show Yacob a good time. I doubt there are photo’s that show just how greased we were for this whole trip, but take my word for it, whenever we weren’t behind the wheel I was piling liquor into us at a ferocious rate.

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We made Coombs like bandits and made friends with everyone along the way. Vancouver Island is a place where even when you are lost, or sad, or mad, or hung-over as fuck, you still find happiness billowing out all around you.

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From Coombs we made our way to Artswells Festival in Wells BC. Quite possibly the cutest, coziest town in Canada, Wells is a pin prick on the map, just about as close to the end of the road as you can imagine. For a whole week the town of maybe 200, is completely transformed into a music and art festival. If Burning Man is the biggest and Shambala is the most insane then Artswells is the perfect middle ground. I dare you to go there and not fall in love immediately. Big shout out to Joey Only and the whole community of Wells for being so fucking awesome.

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From Wells we travelled to the Edmonton Folk Festival. This would be my 3rd time, and I swear it gets better every year. I know people who have been going for a decade, who sometimes complain about the lineup, but the Edmonton Folk Festival, like Edmonton itself, is about the atmosphere. The atmosphere is composed of the people. Edmonton in the summer time is one of the happiest places in Canada. Spend sometime there in the winter and you will understand why.

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I think we spent the better part of a week in Edmonton; far too long, as we completely neglected to go to the Kaslo Jazz festival in Kaslo BC. But when you are on a liquor fueled whirlwind tour of Canada, there is a tendency to lose track of time and itinerary. Regardless we left the Edmonton Folk Festival late on a Friday night, with probably too many beers in us, but all the same, we drove straight through the darkness all the way to Salmo BC to Shambala.

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What a fucking mess. My god. That festival is less a music festival and more a human safari. I’ve never seen more debauchery and disregard for ones nervous system. Even the good lads of Spinal Tap would have urged them to turn down the volume a bit. Imagine having your head jammed inside the center of a thousand foot high kick drum, going at a thousand beats a minute, and then imagine you were also in the Sahara desert. That is what Shambala is like. Your senses are constantly being attacked and your perception of reality is constantly in doubt. Yacob and I made the mistake of thinking we could tolerate two days there with only a 40oz of vodka. Halfway through day one the bottle was empty and we were both desperately confused. However, if you want to truly test your patience (and maybe your sanity) try enduring 48 hours at Shambala bone sober. I promise you will either find God or a dark hole in the ground.

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Shambala was simply the ending of the west coast leg of the trip. There were still two fucking awful festivals we had to make, all in Ontario.

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At this point time was so irrelevant that I actually have no idea how long it took us to get from BC to Owen Sound, but dammit we made it in time for the beginning of Owen Sound’s “Sounds of Summer” Folk Festival. We fandangled our way into the festival and two days later had a new appreciation for the place. We also had a longing to stay, as Owen Sound is the kind of picturesque Ontario town that the Tragically Hip and Bobby Orr make sound so appealing.

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Farewell to Owen Sound and off to Ottawa for whatever the fuck festival that was. I don’t even remember. But I remember it was a food and music festival. We only managed to catch the last show of the last night. It was cool though. It was a DJ set in an old church with sweet vintage decorations, cheap warm-as-fuck beer and tons of babes.

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Yacob and I spent the following day wandering around downtown Ottawa and reflecting on the whole trip. In total we had made it to 13 music festivals in 30 days. We learned a lot about Canadians and we learned a lot about ourselves, or at least I did. Yacob probably learned how much he hated Honda Civics and me. I wish I could say that there was some grand unifying lesson learned or message to be taken away from the trip, but in all honesty I was so wasted and numb the whole time I don’t know what I learned. I just know that it was my 6th and 7th time crossing Canada, and I made more friends than Facebook and photographs will allow me to remember. If I had to, I’d do it all again, probably under even worse conditions with even more ferocity. If nothing else it was a hilarious experience and one hell of a ride. Damn it may even turn out to be a good book.

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#photo #musicfestival #shambala #evolvefestival #coombsbluegrassfestival #artswells #BC #Music #roadtrip #fredpenner #jakebeed #130daysofsummer

About this blog

This blog is intended to be a unfiltered, unadulterated, narrative non-fiction of my experiences. The opinions and stories expressed here may not always be tasteful or even fair, but they will always be true. If it's a greasy story I will make an attempt to hide someone's identity. But be fairly warned: if we are getting greased together, then everything that goes down is fair game for this blog. Everything else will depend on how well I remember it and how, or if, I can tie it back into a decent enough story worth writing about. Whatever happens I promise to try and keep this blog interesting, relevant and up to date.

 

"If I go, I'm going out shameless"

 - Gregory Alan Isakov

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