Alta States 

Taking it to the people: Guitar Doug goes global

"Play it again, Sam."

Humphrey Bogart as Rick in Casablanca


As romantic as the rock-and-roll lifestyle appears to outsiders, few who've ridden that roller-coaster ride would ever describe it as healthy. Or sane. It's a boom-and-bust world. A place where you're only as good as your last show. And if your resistance to the sirens' song of booze, drugs and sex is low, there's a good chance you'll eventually wash up on the shoals of your own dreams.

Just ask "Guitar" Doug Craig. One of Whistler's most enduring musical acts - almost an institution now - Doug came up the hard way. You'd never know it from his attitude, though. The guy is irrepressibly buoyant. Things are always good with Doug. He has a smile on his face for everyone.

But spend some time with him and a whole other reality begins to emerge. Meaning? Doug's as conversant with the dark side of rock-and-roll as anyone I know. Just ask him.

But I'm getting ahead of myself again. Where did we leave off last week? Oh yeah - spring of 1989. Doug had just left Edmonton for greener (or should I say whiter?) pastures. Had tumbled into Whistler looking for an open mike where he could sing for a few beers and something to eat. This is how Doug describes his arrival here.

"I remember driving up Howe Sound," he recounts, "and seeing the pulp mill in the distance with all the smoke. 'That must be Whistler Village,' I thought. But something wasn't right." He laughs. "'Where are the lifts? Where are the runs?' That couldn't be the resort. So I kept ploughing on."

When he reached Creekside, he still doubted himself. "'Is this it?' I thought. 'No way!'" Another burst of laughter. "I drove right by the village and eventually had to turn around." It was dark. Doug was tired and hungry - hoping against hope that he might find a bar in town sponsoring a jam night. Instead he found Johnny Thrash.

Say what? The notorious Johnny Thrash - cosmic outlaw and social gadfly - was the first person to greet Doug in Whistler? "Yeah. He said: 'Follow me to Citta's.'" A short pause. A smile creeps across Doug's features. "So I helped him push a Marshall amp through the snow and started jamming the moment I got to the bar. And that was that." Indeed. Doug would continue playing at Citta's for the next 56 straight weeks!

Talk about finding your place. "It was kinda cosmic that way," he says. "That's where I met P-tor Sprieceniks too. We became best mates. Along with Chris Kettles. We all loved skiing and mountaineering - so we got to be a pretty tight crew."


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