Cuban Cigars and Country Music

I seem to have lived many different lives and even today there is a part of me that wonders what new door will open and what new world will be revealed.  Being tied in one spot or connected to any kind of routine for any length of time has always made me feel uncomfortable and I’m always looking over the horizon to see what new opportunity awaits.  We are on this planet for such a short period of time so why not try to taste and savor every flavor that life has to offer.

I came originally from a ranch about 12 miles away from a very small town tucked into the bottom corner of the middle of nowhere.  As a kid I’d look up into the sky and see passenger jets flying overhead and I’d say to myself that when I grew up I’d be on those jets seeing every corner of the world.  On the other hand I had friends in this small town that couldn’t fathom the idea that there was anything else going on in the world and they only wanted to stay right where they were for the rest of their lives.  I had a close relationship with a lot of the kids I grew up with but, for the life of me, I couldn’t understand what it was that kept them from leaving and seeing for themselves what life would be like in a big city full of excitement and new options.

I knew how to play a musical instrument, my father was a musician and taught me all he knew, so after school I left home and began an adventure that lasted for decades and continues today.  I was able to finally get on those jets and see for myself what it was like to play on some of the world’s stages, record in beautiful recording studios with renown record producers, hear myself on the radio, see myself on television and entertain troops on a few different continents and live what I considered to be the dream of my youth.

For the last 30 some years I’ve been involved in the Canadian Country Music scene and one of the more exciting weeks of the year is when different cities in Canada host the ” Canadian Country Music Awards.”  As years go by you see a lot of the same faces and catch up on what everyone is doing, where they’ve been playing shows and who they believe are the new hot up and coming artists.  This is a week long event and a lot of partying and drinking takes place in various night clubs, hotel room events hosted by different record labels, tour busses and hotel lobbies where all night jam sessions keep everything loud and exciting.

My favorite thing to do is visit a lot of my friends who tend to hang around the various smoking sections and I’m usually known as the cigar guy.  Cigars are an interesting conversation piece.  People will always have a story about a favorite uncle or family member who smoked them and I think those memories stay with people for a lifetime.  Its the aroma that triggers so many of the memories and because of cigars I’ve met people who I would have not ever spoken to otherwise.

A lot of these folks who hang out in the smoking sections are cigarette smokers and there is nothing I get a kick out of more than having them try whichever cigar I’m smoking at the time.  So many of them will instantly have a negative reaction to my suggestion because they usually have had bad experiences with cigars when they were kids after inhaling them and getting sick.  First thing I tell them is that cigars really do taste a lot different than how they smell and with a small effort and an open mind we can work together to eliminate or at least diminish these childhood memories.

Cigarette smokers have a difficult time NOT inhaling smoke so here is the best way to fight that urge.  I tell people to take fill their lungs with air before putting the cigar to their lips and then take a small puff and very slowly exhale all of the air and smoke through their mouth and nose.  What usually happens is that I get a look of surprise from the participants and 9 times out of 10 they want a second and third puff as well.  Another one of life’s doors open for these lovers of machine made, white paper tubes filled with finely chopped tobacco and it never ceases to feel like victory whenever I’m met with favorable results.