Ides 74: Hazy Express
In June of 1970, a rather remarkable train pulled into Union Station. 14 cars long, it was arguably the biggest party train ever to run the rails anywhere in the world. Filled with members of the Grateful Dead, The Band, Traffic and Janis Joplin, the CN train was chartered to transport the performers across Canada to shows in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.
The nice thing about trains is that they generally stay on track, something that could not be said for the “Transcontinental Pop Festival,” which saw dates cancelled in Montreal and Vancouver, protests in Toronto and poor attendance in Winnipeg. The tour ultimately lost nearly a half million dollars.
The musicians, on the other hand, had a ball. As captured in the 2003 film ‘Festival Express’ the bands all drank, jammed and made the most out of the two-week train trip across the continent. Remarkably, they hadn’t even made it out of Ontario before the train had to stop (yes, they pulled over the train) at the town of Chapleau (2022 Ice Fishing Capital of Canada!) to replenish their liquor supply by buying out the entire contents of the local LCBO.
Grateful Dead drummer Micky Hart said “Woodstock was a treat for the audience, but the train was a treat for the performers.”
We toast the “Casey Jones” that drove that train with this Hazy Double IPA.