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To Banff… AND BEYOND!

We all know how much fun road trips can be… The stories, the music, and the anticipation of arriving at your destination. And with the technology of today making it possible for everyone to have a fly-on-the-wall firsthand account, step inside the “Hotel Buick” if you feel so inclined, and join Anthony Towstego, (hereafter referred to as “Tony”) and I on our journey across the great plains of Saskatchewan into the majestic mountains of Alberta to bring EWest Music to the Banff World Media Festival.

After getting a few boring things out of the way (gas, snacks, cash, a new shirt), we swung by one of our EWest Music camera operators, Andrei Feheregyhazi‘s place to collect the camera which we used to cover the festival.

Within no time we were off!

EWest Music driving through the Great Plains of Saskatchewan... (Side Note, apparently you can never have enough sunglasses in a vehicle... At one point I counted 6 on the dashboard)

EWest Music driving through the Great Plains of Saskatchewan… (Side Note, apparently you can never have enough sunglasses in a vehicle) (Photo by Melissa Henderson)

No road trip would be complete without a driving playlist, especially an EWest Music trip! The original plan was to listen to Tony’s albums on the way to Banff and mine on the way home… However the way home plans changed so my awesome driving playlist was never heard!!! I will get to that in a bit though. Back to Tony’s. First up we listened to an album that Tony had picked up at a concert the night before, Jason Plumb and the Willing.

If you are from Saskatchewan then there’s a slight chance that you may have heard this little diddy?

While enroute, we even had our own chance star-encounter, we ran into John Mayer in Rosetown of all places!!

"John Mayer" and Melissa Henderson

“John Mayer” and Melissa Henderson (Photo by Anthony Towstego)

Music and story-telling are indeed the best ways to spend a day long drive with anyone and it just so happened that I was in the car with one of the best storey-tellers I know! So for the next hour I listened to Tony’s tale of “Delia” (his version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles), and how he managed to survive a broken down vehicle, literally in the middle of nowhere, (in -40 degrees!), and how one truck, two tow-trucks, a bus, a cab, a handful of helpful-in-their-own-way people helped him to eventually catch his flight to LA to attend the Academy Awards.

After spending an hour repeating “NO WAY” and laughing harder than I had in some time, we followed up “Delia” with some Nat King Cole.

The trip also marked an important day in EWest Music History (in the making), as we launched our promo video in conjunction with the official launch of our social media platforms, literally while enroute to Banff to tell the world!

With the click of a mouse EWest Music's Facebook is officially launched to the world

With the click of a mouse EWest Music’s Facebook is officially launched to the world 

Time flew by and soon we were approaching Drumheller, land of valleys, hoodoos, and dinosaurs every which way you turn!

You can't leave anything laying around in Drumheller! Dinosaur-like-birds are fascinated by triangular music related things.

You can’t leave anything laying around in Drumheller! Dinosaur-like-birds are fascinated by triangular music related things. (Photo by Anthony Towstego)

Tony and I share a love of movies, which made this trip even more fun, and we had a National Lampoons moment at Horseshoe Valley, (affectionately know as Canada’s Grand Canyon). GRISWALDS!! You may have noticed there is a bit of an underlying theme alongside that of music: MOVIES! My love of both music and movies is equally shared and I tend to have to explain most of the random movie quotes and references that find their way into my almost every conversation. In fact, I have very recently become an addition to a movie review/discussion site called F This Movie!, and I am their first “international” contributor! I’m a little worried of my Canadian accent showing through, but I’m doing my best to keep it contained. It just so happened that my first article on the movie site was published while we were in Banff… Can you say “Perfect tie in??”)

Back to road-trippin’ our way to Banff.

By this point we had been “on the road” for a long time and I know I have a really high daily quota of words to fill, (how much can you really say to one person in a day?), however even I was getting tired of listening to the sound of my own voice at this point. So we killed the time and passed the miles by singing along to our favourite songs by James Taylor and Tom Petty.


As we pulled into Banff (just after 10pm), I was mentally preparing myself for the hurricane that is the Banff World Media Festival, and we literally hit the ground running. At midnight we had already been whisked off to the Netflix After Party followed by the After-After party down the street at St James. (As it turns out, every evening ended at St James). This was an opportunity to meet and chat with producers, actors, broadcaster, directors, distributors and almost anyone else involved with film and television production, from around the world! We wanted to get the word out about EWest Music and what better way!

The next day was an early start, we registered, media pass was acquired and everywhere I looked people from all areas of the globe were in discussions regarding current, and future film and television projects. I met a producer from Victoria, Leslie Bland and discussed a couple of his projects, my favourite being his feature length doc, Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood. My conversation with him went from theatre to television to films to politics to how Canada’s Prime Minister, Brian Mulrooney discovered Michael Bublé, (he had him sing at his daughter’s wedding at which David Foster was in attendance and the rest, as they say, is history). And that was just one conversation! There is a risk of having this article run near novel length should I detail everything my little journalist ears heard, so I will choose my favourite stories and leave the rest to your imaginations.

Later that evening I covered the Shaw Media sponsored Rockie Awards Gala, and as I walked in to the awards ceremony already underway, the first thing I heard was a joke about Justin Bieber. I mean that poor kid has given award ceremonies enough ammo to last him until he reaches puberty! (Uhhh I mean…. adulthood?). The main event was of course the highlight, beloved Canadian actor and songwriter Alan Thicke’s acceptance of the gala’s prestigious Canadian Award of Distinction. (The award is presented to a Canadian whose body of work illustrates outstanding achievement).

The next day proved to be another fun-filled day of excitement! While we were setting up for an interview, we had the chance for a brief HELLO with Mr Henry Winkler, (the Fonz himself!), and he is just as cheerful as I had always imagined him to be. Sometimes all it takes is a hello to make your day shine! Thank you Fonzie!

Following our star encounter, we launched into what was my highlight of the day, an interview with JP Ellson, CEO of Creative Saskatchewan, to discuss the excitement of the amount of Saskatchewan productions currently underway, many which were discussed and brought to life in Banff during the festival. We also talked about the role of Creative Sask in all aspects of the arts in Saskatchewan. Check back next week for that full interview on this site!

Melissa Henderson discussing Saskatchewan productions with Creative Saskatchewan CEO JP Ellson (Also pictured, Ryan Boyko as Camera Operator)

Melissa Henderson discussing Saskatchewan productions with Creative Saskatchewan CEO JP Ellson (Also pictured, Ryan Boyko as Camera Operator) (Photo by Anthony Towstego)

Later that evening we adjourned to St James (like I said, every night seemed to end here) and we wound up in an incredible chat with our Adrien Brody look-alike friend. He is in fact Michael Petrasek, agent to the stars, and what follows is his personal account of one of the most awesome stories about his friend, LEONARD NIMOY!

“So my first time out to dinner with Leonard, I am sitting beside he and his wife Susan and their friend Letty Pogrebin, (founder of Ms magazine) sitting opposite us with my client. I had bought one of those cheap disposable cameras, (this was just before film really disappeared and people started using their phone for everything). I wanted to take a picture of Susan, my client and Letty, but my camera had jammed and I couldn’t advance the film. Now, I had just discovered that Leonard was into photography, (he’s quite good, at the time he had just finished The Full Body Project). I was still in a bit of a stunned state, a huge Star Trek fan sitting next to Spock, and him buying me dinner! Which may explain why, when I had no luck with the camera, I had the brilliant idea of giving it to the photographer at the table to see if he could fix it. Next thing I knew, I found myself handing the camera to Leonard. He looked at it for a second or two, turned it over, and then handed it back to me saying, in his rich and melodic baritone “Give it a whack.” Which I did. And it worked.”

I’m sure you able to imagine the litany of horrible Spock imitations and demands for more stories of course! This one was my favourite so it had to be included. Thank you Michael for the permission to use one of your tales with Mr Spock. Like I mentioned earlier to you readers, one story is all you get, as this is verging on a novel-lengthed blog, and then I would have no choice but to charge you to read it. Keep it under 5000 words and we stay on the novella side of things and that my friends, that you get for free.

Its home day and I am all packed up and ready to go, (I’m standing here outside your door… Just can’t help but sing it when all the right words come together!), and our last stop before hitting the road was the location of a former WWI and WWII concentration camp to visit the Enemy Aliens museum. Thomega Entertainment (the magic producer behind EWest Music), and Armistice Films are co-producing a movie of the same name, Enemy Aliens, and while we were in Banff the project was discussed with distributors and funding organizations, and several shooting locations were scouted. Check out the above link and “like” the Enemy Aliens The Movie Facebook page to receive updates and current information.

Shortly afterwards we had made our way to Calgary for a productive meeting regarding Enemy Aliens and met up with family to catch up on old times. Before long FIVE HOURS (!!!) had passed and it was nearing 9pm when we hit the highway back to Saskatoon.

As I mentioned at the start of the article, I had a playlist all mapped out for our drive home. However by this point, I was tired, I still had to coordinate 5 interviews for the following two days for Saskatoon’s Mosofest and my brain was on the verge of shutting down so I put all of my focus into co-ordination mode and did not get the chance to listen to one song. HOWEVER, I have so thoughtfully written them all down for you fine folks. So here be my “Let’s Sing Along and Annoy Each Other With Our Tone-Deafness” driving tunes for Tony and I! (I have unfortunately left out any of my normal singalong punk and metal tunes, as to accommodate Tony’s taste in music as well).

Andy Cherry – Our God’s Alive
Paul McCartney – Let It Be (Live)
Matt Redman – 10,000 Reasons
Rise Against – Saviour (Live)
Lion King Soundtrack – Can You Feel The Love Tonight
A Day To Remember – Since You Been Gone
Paul McCartney – Blackbird (Live)
The Black Keys – Little Black Submarines
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy
Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
Paul McCartney – Eleanor Rigby (Live)
Swing Life Away – Rise Against
Paul McCartney – Hey Jude
Johnny Cash – I Walk The Line
The Lion King Soundtrack – Hakuna Matata
Oasis – Champagne Supernova
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Johnny Cash – Hurt
Kenny Loggins – Danny’s Song

You have made it to the bottom of this article? CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I was pretty sure I would have lost you partway through the first half! You will probably never get that 20 minutes, (or hour), of your life back. However, when we next meet, repeat these three words exactly, (klaatu, barada, nikto), as proof of having made it down to the final sentence and I will congratulate you with a high five. BAM!

 

– Melissa
Lovin’ Life, One Day at a Time

Melissa Henderson

Much like a scent can evoke an emotional response or memory, upon hearing any song off Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, I am instantly transported 23 years in the past and I find myself driving through the Black Forest with my family off on an adventure!

Throughout life's journey I have been developing into this current version of myself, and have noticed that above all my taste in music has best reflected who I feel I am.

Listen in on my life soundtrack and you will find a range of genres from Punk to Metal to Christian to Disney, easily summing up who I am as Loud, Happy and Animated!

"My greatest gift to you
is a dance floor
free from insecurity"
-Alexisonfire

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