Rock and roll stories can sometimes sound embellished or even unbelievable, according to author, CBC broadcaster and occasional Powell River area resident Grant Lawrence. But Lawrence said in his new book, Dirty Windshields: The Best and Worst of the Smugglers Tour Diaries, he has written what he calls an evidence-based memoir.
“The stories may sound wild, but we have the photos and diary proof that it actually occurred,” said Lawrence.
Powell River Public Library will host a Literary and Musical Evening with Grant Lawrence at 7 pm on Friday, November 17. The event is the first for Lawrence in Powell River since the publication of The Lonely End of the Rink, his second non-fiction autobiographical work.
Dirty Windshields is about Lawrence’s life on the road as frontman for the Smugglers, one of the grab-bag bands of new wave and indie pop-punk stylings that were prevalent during the 1980s and 1990s. The Smugglers toured extensively in Canada and the United States and recorded from 1988 to 2004.
Lawrence said he will also be reading from his first book, Adventures in Solitude: What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck and Other Stories from Desolation Sound, and his friend from the rock and roll years, Tom Holliston, formerly of Nomeansno, will be joining him to provide musical accompaniment.
“I've known Tom for 25 years, at least,” said Lawrence. “Tom is going to sing a few acoustic songs because he's actually an incredible singer/songwriter when he's not punking out with Nomeansno and the Hanson Brothers. I'm pulling him out of the woods of Lund.”
Holliston is not the only musician from those Smugglers days and the punk movement in Vancouver and Victoria who are now living in the area. Nomeansno drummer John Wright also made the move to Powell River and pops up frequently in Lawrence’s book.
“He's the Obi-Wan Kenobi figure,” said Lawrence. “He's the sage mentor. Nomeansno kind of wrote the blueprint for how to be a band and how to be self-sufficient and do it yourself.”
The advice given to Lawrence and the Smugglers was pretty straightforward, according to Wright.
“It not only means doing it yourself, but it means growing from the inside out and encouraging bands to always work with people you know and trust and you'd call your friend,” said Wright. “That was the big thing.”
Lawrence maintains a home and life with his wife and two children in Vancouver. He said he is looking to make a permanent move to Powell River, but not in the immediate future. He bought a house in Townsite last year.
“I’m looking forward to it being my retirement home,” he said.
Lawrence said he has had a love-hate relationship with the area for years. Now that he is older and remembering years of playing clubs that were just four walls painted black, he has grown to appreciate Powell River as his favourite place in the world.
“As a kid being dragged up there, I thought Powell River was boring. I thought Lund was just a backwater and I found Desolation Sound, in and of itself, was an awful place,” said Lawrence. “All I wanted to do as young teenager was just get away and be in the most urban centres. I had to live through 16 years of rock and roll touring to realize how much I actually appreciated Powell River, Lund and Desolation Sound.”