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Alexander McCowan doesn’t have outrageous requests he sends off to venues before he performs, such as demanding they provide a bowl full of M&Ms with all the red ones removed.

McCowan actually doesn’t have a rider, a list artists provide promoters before a show outlining certain food, beverage and other requirements.

Instead, he mostly stays with the “pub grub” from the places where he performs, and follows a fairly simple routine.

“My number one thing is no dairy the whole day until after the performance,” said McCowan. “It clogs up the vocal cords, so anything from cheese to milk to yogurt, I stay away from.”

McCowan added he tries to eat about two hours before a performance, giving the food time to digest and settle.

“I like to sing when I’m a little bit hungry, not when I’m full. It gives a bit of an edge, and is a little bit less comfortable,” he said.

A third thing? He tries to remain hydrated.

“For the most part, I mostly play pubs and lounges, so I eat a lot of sandwiches and salads,” he said. “One of the toughest (things I ate before a show) was a toasted tuna sandwich; I didn’t have enough water that day and it made my throat super dry for the show.”

Watch McCowan perform Thursday, Feb. 24 at Shannon’s Irish Pub. Visit

- Matt Preprost


When food - second only to gas - is the biggest expense touring bands have budget for, it’s no wonder why Kelowna-based Yukon Blonde allots themselves only $15 per day.

“If we can get food and whatever else with that, that’s awesome and we’ve done well, but it doesn’t always really work out like that,” says guitarist/vocalist Jeff Innes in a phone interview from a ferry somewhere between Victoria and Vancouver.

If the touring life is fast, the food is even faster - not to mention sloppy and greasy.

“When we were in the States the last time, we had burritos three times day,” Innes says. “The reason we were going to Taco Bell so much is they have dollar burritos, so that’s a $3 meal right there. (Guitarist) Brandon (Scott) got a tattoo of an avocado on his arm because he was eating so much guacamole.”

As Yukon Blonde embarks on a 21-date Canada tour, the band plans to bring a cooler and hit up grocery stores in an attempt to eat healthier on the road.

But, this isn’t to say a band can’t get a good meal on the road. Innes lists off venues like Amigos in Saskatoon, La Cercle in Quebec City, and Hunter’s in Charlottetown as providing the best catering.

Also included in that list is the Pyramid Cabaret.

“We’ve definitely been fed some rough food that’s below pub standards, but the Pyramid was amazing,” says Innes. “The Pyramid, as a matter of fact, has had some of the best food we’ve had on tour.”

Catch Yukon Blonde live Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Pyramid. Visit

- Matt Preprost


With rising fame, comes more anxiety.

This is something that St. John’s, Nfld.-based Hey Rosetta! is well aware of. Especially since the June 2008 release of Into Your Lungs, which was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize, has turned them into one of Canada’s hottest touring acts.

“The stakes are a little higher,” front man Tim Baker recently told the Toronto Star. “The more people listening and judging you, the more ill at ease you feel.”

In the interview, Baker revealed he tries to avoid reading what critics and fans are saying about his band online - although his father has a habit of relaying the information to him anyway.

“My dad is really into checking out our Facebook page,” Baker said. “I go home for dinner and he’s going on about what someone said about this and what someone said about that.”

The band’s newest album, Seeds, was recorded with producer Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian, Mogwai) to help the band achieve the sounds to match the album’s title and the imagery the songs try to convey.

“These little things, these little images or musical moments that can, hopefully, take root in people’s minds and grow into something more meaningful ... sort of become part of something bigger than what they are,” Baker said.

Catch Hey Rosetta! live Sunday, Feb. 27 at the Pyramid Cabaret. To read a review of Hey Rosetta’s new album Seeds, turn to page 13.


- Staff

Published in Volume 65, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 24, 2011)

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