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  • Writer's pictureRoss Campbell



As St. Leonard, our Canadian Bard might say:

Everybody knows being a Musician isn’t Easy;

Everybody knows being On the Road is Rough…

People who play music strictly for fun often enjoy it way more

than people who make their living from it, particularly those who

travel from city to town in order to do so, constantly repeating

the same songs over & over again in some bar. Long hours in the

van, lonely wives at home, restaurant food, Holiday Inns---these

are some of the drawbacks to ‘life on the road’.

Well known Smoky-Voiced Singer & Wild Youtube Keyboardist

Ron Casat, my old Calgary buddy, wrote a great song called Pack

It Up, which sums up the loneliness and perpetual motion of being

out on the road for weeks or months at a time. He also sings that

Jesse Winchester classic Nobody Told me About This Part, another

eye-opener capturing the disillusionment of the young musician

as s/he realizes the reality of being away from home for extended


While I was a graduate student at UofS, my quartet CONTINUUM

played mostly ‘3 nighter’ gigs, meaning Thurs/Fri/Sat, so we did

not travel as a rule, nor work with booking agents, but tried to

book ourselves into local clubs a month or two in advance. As

independent artists, we had to come up with our own advertising

techniques, working under a very limited budget.

Way back before Facebook, one of the chief forms of advertising

for a gig was by postering on billboards around the town. I usually

made my own posters on a typewriter and a Gestetner machine,

which is hard to describe to our digitized kids. (“Well you had this

drum-type rotor thing with a stencil on it, with a crank handle…”)

You came up with a basic design on the stencil, then printed it

onto coloured paper, which was your main expense. Once you got

your stencil cut & installed, you could crank out as many dozen

posters as you could afford paper for.

If you read Chapter 1, you know about The Bust and my strong

reaction of disgust towards the injustice which I felt John

Popowich had inflicted upon me by exploiting his role as a Police

Officer. He had searched me illegally on the pretense of having

smelled pot, had me charged & fined, and given me a lifelong

criminal record, which affects me to this day. I had a profound

grudge against Popowich that needed to be expressed, but I felt

powerless to do anything about it.

At the time of The Bust, I happened to have a 3-day gig coming up

at CONTINUUM’s usual venue, The Parktown Motor Hotel, a

couple of weeks later. It was time to make a new poster and

plaster it up all around the town, as usual. There were quite a lot

of wooden construction hoardings on the streets of downtown

Saskatoon & around the university campus in those days, & my

habit was to put up colourful eye-catching posters in diagonal

groups of 3, on as many hoardings as numbers would allow.

I used a bucket of wallpaper paste & brush to make sure the

posters were well adhered and couldn’t be ripped off. Pasting was

my specialty ---I wanted the whole world to see my gorgeous

posters. The simple designs looked good in threes, I thought, and

they were often still legible for months after the gig had passed.

For previous Parktown gigs I had used a hand-drawn logo for my

band, CONTINUUM, with my own name being simply typewritten

in at the top of the poster, using All Caps. I recycled that basic

design by changing the dates to the upcoming weekend. There

was still a bit of empty space at the bottom, and as I was

considering what information to include, it suddenly occurred to

me that here was a possible outlet, however futile, for My Desire

for Revenge against John Popowich. Why not use the bully pulpit

of the poster to trumpet my disdain to the entire city?!

Since it was a matter of John’s dishonesty & predatory behaviour,

I pondered that perhaps drawing a clear distinction between his

type of corrupt cop and the average ‘good cop’ might be

detrimental to John’s wellbeing in the long run. For one thing,

having his name up all over town would undoubtedly feed his

huge ego, perhaps to the point of causing serious over-reach or

some such.

Plus there was always a chance, I thought, that there could be a

corresponding negative reaction to him among those more

honourable cops who had to work with him. Could I even hope

that some among those might start seeing his name & ultra

macho reputation as something to kick around the locker room

or the police station coffee room? A puny hope, I knew, but I had

nothing to lose.

In a flash it came to me, and I typed in:

Featuring the New Hit Single: “Thank God Every Cop’s Not Like

Popowich!” (see Poster illustration)

Of course, the phrase ‘New Hit Single’ was tongue-in-cheek, as it

implied that the song had been played on the radio, which no

western Canadian indie musician could hope for at the time. It

was merely a ridiculous statement designed to make a point and

hopefully get a rise. Not only had I not written any such song, but

I had no intention of doing so. It was just a cheap toss-off.

As the Parktown gig approached, I did my usual job of saturating

the town with the new poster, on yellow paper, making sure to

expertly bond each poster to the billboard. It was finicky, messy

work but somebody had to do it. It was the price an indie

musician had to pay to get a good audience.

The gigs went well, as I recall, with full houses, except that we no

longer felt comfortable smoking our reefers in the Dodge out

front of the club, and had to improvise on that account.

Having done what I could to release my pique, I let the whole

concern with Popowich slide. I got involved with other things and

forgot all about him, as one would expect. I had received no Likes

or comments about my poster design, which was to be expected

in those days, and CONTINUUM went on to play many more gigs

with many more hand designed posters.

At that point I did not expect to hear John Popowich’s name ever

again. Certainly I could never have imagined the sorts of lurid

associations which came to be attached to his name a few years

later, with allegations of criminal, sexual and even ‘satanic’ acts.

Chapter 3 will reveal all the incredible details of what came to be

known as The Martensville Nightmare.

STAY TUNED to read all about how Heavy Karma caught up to

Constable John Popowich!

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