The Mythical CBC Interview
This is a transcript of a CBC interview with Dave Soroka, on The Afternoon Show, April 18, 1996. Interview by Mark Forsyth.
Mark: You've heard of the magical mystery tour, how about the mythical coffee house tour? Dave Soroka of Grand Forks calls himself a rock n' roll poet, and when you don't have a record contract or a management company to do the leg work, but you wanna play, you create your own tour. And that's what Dave has done in the B.C. interior, and he is sharing his list of playable coffee houses with other aspiring artists out there, and we have reached him, on the road, somewhere near Bonner's Ferry Idaho, is that right Dave?
Dave: Well actually I got a late start today, I'm still in Washington, but I'm just about to cross the Pend Oreille river into Idaho, I'm in a town called Newport.
Mark: Are you gonna make it for your gig tonight, Dave?
Dave: Well I'll just phone 'em, I'll just tell 'em, you know, it's not a paid gig, they're not losing anything if I show up a little late. I'll make it.
Mark: So where did this idea of a mythical tour come about?
Dave: I was just a musician that had no place to play, and, so I started looking for open mikes, and, uh, that kind of thing, cafes around B.C., and started going out of town and playing, and found I had put together a list, and I realised that this was a circuit, y'know, that other guys could make use of this.
Mark: So you plotted it out on a map, didn't you, and you give names and addresses of places where performers can play free.
Dave: Exactly. Here and there they'll give you a little money, but that wasn't the point of it, y'know. They're not really overall paid gigs, y'know, a lot of them will give you a meal and a place to stay, but you make all those arrangements yourself, with the cafe owner. Y'know, the idea is, you can just sit down at the phone, and book your own little mini-tour.
Mark: What are some of the towns on this mythical tour?
Dave: Lemme see...Fernie...then up through Elkford and Sparwood, Golden, Nakusp...I dunno, Trail, Nelson, over into the Okanagan, north Okanagan's a rich area, there's Salmon Arm and Armstrong and Kamloops, and Ashcroft is a good little town. I don't have it right in front of me, but there's, there's quite a few more, and now there's gonna be a few down here in the northern states.
Mark: Dave, you've been at this for quite a long time, what keeps you going on a tour where you're lucky to break even, from the sounds of it?
Dave: It's an investment. I'm trying to create a career for myself, and so when you're out playing a coffee house circuit like this, the idea is, you don't just pull into town and play at the cafe and leave again. You could, but if your idea is to create a career for yourself, what you do is you contact the press everywhere you go, y'know, you talk to reporters, you tell 'em what you're doing, if they think it's colourful you'll get mentioned in the paper, if they wanna come down and watch you play. You might get a good review here and there, and after a year or so you've got yourself a little press kit, and you can start, y'know, getting yourself more promotion that way. You might end up doing concerts and stuff, which is what's happening with me.
Mark: What's your worst nightmare on the road, Dave?
Dave: (laughs) My worst nightmare? The empty hat. That's, that's the worst nightmare.
Mark: The empty hat? Okay.
Dave: Yeah, you, you sing your heart out all night, and then you leave the cafe with an empty hat, and that'll bring a tear to your eye. That's happened to me a few times. But, y'know, I've seen the hat overflowing with money too, I've seen where you couldn't see the hat for all the money in there, those are the good nights, you know. There's horror stories, road horror stories...I pulled into a town one time, did my thing, did my show, and then found out that the place I had lined up to stay had fallen through, and so I was stranded, and it was winter, it was last year. So I wound up driving, I drove about an hour and a half to the next town where I thought I knew some people, but they weren't home, so I wound up taking a hotel that night, and I spent more than I made in the cafe, y'know. I don't know...there's other things, there's all kinds of potential horror.
Mark: Well, there's obviously a flip side to it, or you wouldn't continue to do it, I would think. You must get some satisfaction out of lining up your own dates, and performing for people.
Dave: Well, definitely. Definitely. There's far more satisfaction, there's way more good than bad out here. The people that you meet, the scenery, it's fantastic. Learning to approach a completely strange room, full of completely strange people, when you're completely unknown. Learning how to walk into a situation like that, just strap on your guitar and play, and really put your heart into it every single time, night after night. Y'know, you learn how to do these things, you learn how to live on the road, perform on the road. Experience like that, you couldn't go to school and learn that stuff.
Mark: Dave, I'm gonna give your phone number here, if other aspiring musicians want to get this information...but why, why do you want to share this with them? This map, and the various contacts.
Dave: Well, it was sort of like, as I went around, putting the circuit together, I mean, it's not going to do much good for anyone if I just keep it in my pocket. I can work it, but it doesn't help anybody else. I thought it would be a good idea to spread it around. I got this picture of the interior of BC, y'know, with musicians out on the highway, driving or hitchhiking or whatever, and going from town to town, lotta music in the cafes. I thought it would be just a colourful kinda...see if we can bring back a sort of folk music scene, live folk music scene, maybe I could, y'know have some part in that. It'd be fun.
Mark: Okay, well, listen, I should let you get on your way there, I can hear the trucks warming up in the background...good luck there.
Mark: Take care, eh Dave.
Dave: Thanks, Mark.