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Ricky Blue's Other Life
Ricky Blue
Ricky Blue
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is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer. He and partner George Bowser are the famous Bowser and Blue comedy act. Here's his bio from their Bowser and Blue website.

Ricky Blue was born in Liverpool, England, but raised in Maine, New Jersey, and Toronto. He has an MA in English from Concordia University. He has been involved in bands and media music in Montreal for over twenty years. In 1981 he won an international 'Clio' award for excellence in advertising.

He once appeared on television naked.

His life had no real meaning, however, until he began to play with Bowser and Blue. Rick plays guitar, mandolin, and harmonica, and sings in a rather pleasant baritone when George will let him.

His columns are archived here

Posted 11.09.04

RICKY BLUE

Alberta: Good country, good folks

We arrived at the Daysland Motel at 2 p.m. We had spent a lazy morning driving through big-sky farm country via Vegreville, stopping to eat brunch and see The World's Largest Easter Egg. The lady at the desk smiled.

"They's lookin' for you in Holden," she said, consulting her watch. "You'se supposed to be playin' right now."

We wheeled around and ran out the door.

"I'll call 'em and tell 'em you're on you're way!" She yelled after us.

This was the only gig we had not advanced; and the only one where our lodging was in another town almost fifty miles away from the theatre. We had assumed that like every other it was an evening show. But it was a matinee! We had broken Bowser and Blue's first law of survival: Always read the contract!

I hit 150 kilometres an hour for the first time in my life as we sped across the flat landscape on a road as straight as our small town Alberta audiences. The road was dry, but all across the fields was a five-inch layer of snow. This was no joke for the farmers. Winter had come three weeks early.

The cattle could no longer graze. It costs $1.50 to feed each head per day. If you have 500 head of cattle this little trick of nature can wipe out your entire year's profit. They needed a laugh.

And that was our job.

We sped past oil wells bobbing in the fields. We had asked farmers if that didn't help make ends meet.

"Mostly goes to the oil companies," they said.

Oil is everywhere in Alberta. Every cheap motel is full of oil workers sleeping between 12-hour day and night shifts. At over $50 a barrel it's a boom. And "boom" in Alberta is much more benign than "Boom!" in the Middle East.

Calgary has become a Western "Toronto." All that oil money has to be banked, managed, and invested, and the high-rise towers of companies devoted to these tasks are springing up like mushrooms.

But like Toronto, Calgary is a city of people that come from somewhere else. Everywhere we went we met people from Montreal. From Pierrefonds, from Hudson, from Dorval. All part of the great Anglo Quebec Diaspora. One (ex-Montreal) radio DJ told me that he has been here for ten years and has yet to meet anyone who was actually born in Alberta.

We pulled up to the Holden Community Theatre in twenty minutes. We expected anger. Perhaps a threat to withhold payment. We couldn't have been more wrong.

They were smiling. They helped us in with our equipment and we were onstage playing by 2:45. These were the native Albertans: friendly and easy-going. I was amazed at their grace and kindness.

Not only did they allow us to start 45 minutes late but also they made light of it. They thoroughly enjoyed the show without any resentment. And after, they invited us to join them for dinner in their community hall.

This is the difference between Alberta and Calgary, one lady explained. Calgarians are like Ralph Klein. They are the stereotypical politically conservative Albertans we read about. But the real Alberta is actually more like Saskatchewan, the province that gave us Tommy Douglas and medicare. People are community-oriented. They look after each other.

And that day, they looked after us.

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