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This Place Is Awesome

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Before five star hotels and personal jets, before regular hotels and economy class seats, even before Motel 6 and tour buses, there is the "tour van". The mobile circus that serves as transportation, bunk bed, dinner table, and rec room for hundreds of hungry young musicians.

In 2009, music photographer Adam PW Smith flew to England to spend a week touring with the Vancouver-based celtic-gypsy-polka-cider-punk band The Dreadnoughts in the middle of their first European tour. Smith was in the thick of it, suffering all the standard indignities but one. The result is a book that reveals much about life as a young, touring band who bring real meaning back to the DIY ethic, and a few things about what it's like to be a 43 year old trying to survive in that environment.

This Place Is Awesome is Smith’s first book. Packed with comical stories, insightful reflections, and a selection of his highly-regarded photographs, it brings new perspective and a splash of cold reality to the rock bio/tour diary genre.

156 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 2011

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About the author

Adam P.W. Smith

1 book1 follower
Adam PW Smith is a Vancouver-based photographer with a highly regarded reputation for live event photography using available light. He has been called “the best concert photographer in the country,” and can be found hiding in the wings of concert halls or crouching behind speaker stacks in theatres, clubs, and bars all over Vancouver, England, and, more recently, Poland.

In 2011 Smith published his first book - This Place Is Awesome - an account of the week he spent touring Britain with Vancouver's gypsy-klezmer-celtic-cider-polka-punk band The Dreadnoughts. The book is a combination of photographs and stories, and attempts to provide a glimpse into the real world of touring at the bottom end of the music industry food chain.

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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Profile Image for George Ilsley.
Author 12 books237 followers
September 30, 2019
Just looked at the pictures, mostly. This account follows a Canadian punk bank on the road in England. One band member describes them as medium functioning alcoholics on the way to being low functioning alcoholics. One needs to really really appreciate binge drinking to get the most out of this book. Otherwise— there are lots of pictures!
Profile Image for tamarack.
244 reviews49 followers
January 3, 2012
This Place is Awesome is what happens to zines when they grow up and get settled. Which is a good fit -- because like Adam, I have grown up and become a little settled too. This is what tour is like for those of us who aren't really into DIY/punk touring anymore. Not that I've done the band thing myself, but I have done enough young-punk traveling of my own and am familiar with staying awake until your hosts feel like passing out at 4.30am, sleeping atop lumpy couch cushions, and worrying that I've contracted scabies from that squat in Footscray.

This is a tour book about tour, and as Chris Ryan commented in his review, "there is very little talk of the music". Instead of feeling like Adam was taking me (the reader) to a gig, I felt I was being crammed into the back of the van with someone's smelly feet and a zucchini.

Oh, yes -- and the photos were awesome.
Profile Image for Andrea Federau.
23 reviews
November 17, 2011
A thrilling page turner on the travails of traveling with a band through the wilds of English pub gigs. At times anthropological and in others archaeological; it's an exploration of a particular microsociety as seen through the eyes of a photographer who's been described as "the only adult in the room."

A romp with great pix!
51 reviews3 followers
December 26, 2018
Highly entertaining account of a music photographer's week-long travels with one of my favorite bands, the Dreadnoughts.
Profile Image for Chris Ryan.
81 reviews9 followers
November 20, 2011
This is an enjoyable book; it will take its place on my shelf next to Dave Bidini's On a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian Rock. I have just two criticisms. One is that I have to say it could use an edit. The other is that, for all the talk of the band, there is very little talk of the music. For example, just two words are devoted to the London gig: "went well." All of the hell and inanity of the tour was ultimately in support of the music, and I wish there had been some talk of particular songs and performances. It is difficult to describe music, but not impossible; I wanted to hear a bit of "Celtic punk" in my head as I read the stories (yes, I realize I could have fired up YouTube). I'm not sure how curious I am, having read the book, to seek out the music.
Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews

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