Book Review: “This Place Is Awesome – A Strange, Funny, Drunken, Sad, Noisy Week with The Dreadnoughts”

The word, awesome has become quite possibly one of the most commonly used words in Canadian conversation.  It is in fact so common in our dialect that from time to time its proper meaning can get misplaced and at times even misinterpreted.  Gone are the days of using awesome to describe the pinnacle term of excitement and born is its placement to describe events filled with mixed emotions and at times, sheer awe.

Such is the case with Adam PW Smith‘s premier book, This Place Is Awesome – A Strange, Funny, Drunken, Sad, Noisy Week with The Dreadnoughts.  It’s a one week personal documentation of life on tour with notorious Vancouver gypsy-cider-polka punk band, The Dreadnoughts and the consumption of gallon after gallon of cider.

Weighing in at fewer than 150 pages, This Place Is Awesome may come across as a quick read to the seasoned book lover but it is ultimately the content inside which really resonates a chord inside the mind of the reader.  The charm of this book is that between the stories of drunken shenanigans and lack of clean accommodations lies some very insightful looks into the life of this band and its members.

The stories and events that took place over this fateful week are certainly worth your attention for the entertainment value alone.  Tales of youthful hearts who full well know that this path doesn’t lead to early retirement so they live each day to the fullest following the creed of the legendary Joe Strummer who once said, “Give it all you’ve got or forget about it!”

Realistically, I could fill this review with quotes and Coles notes from the book itself but while I have your attention I want to highlight what I loved as opposed to sadly attempting to re-tell the same stories that you will hopefully soon enjoy.

So here we go…

I am familiar (and impressed) with the live music photography work of Adam so when this book hit my lap I wasn’t too sure what to expect.  A creative mind can generally beautifully merge writing and art but this was in my mind a diary of a week with a bunch of drunken punk rockers.  The worst was feared – would I be subject to monotonous stories of death defying live shows and projectile vomiting or would it go beyond that?

Well friends, it goes way beyond that. This Place Is Awesome is a picture perfect portrayal of a life well lived.  The Dreadnoughts found the map to success and they are sailing for the treasure it reveals through hard work, passion and the sheer love of good music.

This book highlights the route one should take down the path of life.  Sounds crazy doesn’t it …but its true:

Seek higher education, fall in love, hunt and gather all of the music you love from all parts of the World. Grab your like minded friends, make your own unique music, share said music abroad, have the time of your life, enjoy the alcoholic fruit of life and make your own history.  Finally, relax and move on.  It’s quite simple really.

In closing, hats off to Adam PW Smith for an excellent well written portrayal of a true to form band living in the moment.  Void of shameless album plugs and sugar coated glory; This Place Is Awesome will hopefully become a mandatory staple in the music industry survival guide.  God knows we need it!

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Comments 5

  • Just got this in the mail yesterday, really pumped to start reading it.

  • I have feelings Nick – real, grown-up feelings! 🙁

    Nicholas Smyth Reply:

    Oh, no, Taron, you’re awesome, the dirty bastard hippie who wrote the book is going to get booted over a cliff the next time I see him!! He still owes us $13.92 in royalties!

    Taron Cochrane Reply:

    I thought it was $14.27 then again I’m not your accountant.

  • It’s true. The book is full of lies. Nick is actually a sweet, sweet man with a heart as big as all outdoors. His breath smells likes cinnamon buns and he reads elf poetry in the van while making chamomile tea and giving neck massages to the driver. I’m sorry Nick, but the truth had to come out some time. This is that time. Admit it, ya big softy.

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