St. Patrick’s Day, 2008 — Dakota Dunes Casino, Saskatoon, SK

Left Calgary earlier than originally planned for a couple reasons.  Firstly, though it was only about 350 miles to Saskatoon, it was all on two-lane roads.  So we didn’t really know what kind of time we could make.  Secondly, and truly the real reason, was we couldn’t find any parking downtown Calgary that didn’t expire at 6am.  So somebody was going to have to get up at that time anyway to move the rig.  Seemed to make just as much sense to leave at that time.  Although, those beds at the Calgary Marriott are dang comfy.  Come 6am, the plan made less sense than it did last night.  But regardless.  Off we went.

Very Canadian drive today.  Long, narrow, seemingly endless highways.  Very little traffic (save for the occasional tractor crossing the road, and trains running alongside it).  The farms being interrupted every hour or so by a small town with a Petro Canada gas station and a Tim Horton’s.  Maybe a hardware store.  It’s strange, I grew up in Canada, but Vancouver isn’t remotely like this.  Yet I still think of this as being the quintessential Canadian scene.  In some ways Vancouver is very Canadian, and in some ways it’s a more worldly city.  But it’s not at all like this.

Got to Saskatoon maybe two hours ahead of schedule (one thing about those two lane highways – turns out you can absolutely fly down them).  The Dakota Dunes casino is about 20 minutes south of town, and there’s no hotel there, so they put us up in this great castle like luxury hotel right downtown.  Pretty nice place, and we each had our own room, so we got out of each other’s hair for a little bit before heading to the gig.

The casino only opened last summer, so it’s pretty new.  They do everything right as far as putting on a show.  Great sound crew, nice stage, and all the sundry staff were right on top of things and treated us great.  If anything, they take the show too serious.  For example, we were given security escorts from the backstage area to dinner (which was a pretty great buffet, by the way).  We don’t really think the escorts were necessary.  People were much more interested in the slots than in harassing some people who look like they might be in a band. But that’s definitely cool.  It’s much better to have people be too on top of it than the opposite (more common) situation.

The show was fun.  90 minute set, full room.  Naturally focused on the fiddle tunes, in honor of it being St. Patty’s and all.  Went by real fast, just an overall good time.  Then back up to our castle hotel in the city to resume living the life of luxury.

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