This Tour Is Brought To You By...
...The Jerk Store!
Ok, I’m being a little harsh to the person that booked us in one city with a promise of a large lump sum that we were to use to fund the rest of the tour with. But this person waited for weeks before telling us there was some sort of misunderstanding between himself and the city managers, and the show would not be taking place. Of course, we booked the rest of the tour around this particular show, because that’s what bands have to do; find the money gig, and then take the shows on the way that don’t pay as much. Why take the lesser paying gigs? The ones that put you in a financial hole? Because the fans want to see you in their city, and not all cities have the bigger places to play, so you take the low guarantees. The Joplin cancellation came in after hotels for eight people in the rest of the cities were booked and the sprinter van was rented. The band starts out in the 3k in the hole again. So it goes. And so, I’ll LET IT GO. (for now..)
So, anytime you post on our social media pages, exclaiming “COME TO PHOENIX!!” or “YOU GUYS SUCK, YOU NEVER COME TO DES MOINES!!”, try to remember that the band can’t afford it without a money gig or two. And if that money gig cancels, then well…well.. we will probably still come because I’m a sucker that way.
The trip to Nashville is one helluva boring one, a long drive through nothingness. Most times the band, especially the members with young kids at home, take this opportunity to get some sleep. I’ll put the headphones on and play my sound machine at full volume. It’s set to "white noise", as in static, not people in my home town of East Grand Rapids chatting about soccer over mocha lattes, though that would put me to sleep as well. I need the noise machine to drown out Wheel’z music choices: Heavy metal or 80’s pop. He’s a complicated man, Wheelz. One minute he’s cranking up the Jesus rock with Stryper, and the next, he’s sending all of our ears to hell with Kajagoogoo. (I’d like to think Jesus had better taste than Stryper, and perhaps Kajagoogoo was the 80’s way for God to smote us.)
Randy is another father with young kids, and like me, can pretty much sleep anywhere, in any position, as you can see by these photos.
This is a grown man. He has young kids at home.
The only reason I was awake to snap the picture on the left is because Wheelz reached over to smack me awake.
“What?!” I cried, thinking maybe it was time to dish out cash for another toll booth.
“Look at Randy sleeping,” he chuckled, then let out a thick snort.
“You just woke me up to look at Randy sleeping?!” I asked incredulously, before I even unbuckled my belt to look at Randy directly behind me.
“It’s funny. You know, for the blog!!” and more chuckling.
I unbuckled my seat belt, turned around and gave a look, then begrudgingly took a picture of it for the blog. I told Wheelz not to wake me again goddamn it I got little kids at home, and I need some sleep… and he honored it for the next 30 minutes until I heard the thump thump thump of the rumblestrips and woke to find him trying to take a picture of the Tennessee Titan’s stadium, while being passed by a semi. Here's the pic:
A terrific shot of the stadium, well worth risking the lives of 8 people.
I forgave him this rude wakeup call, because we were minutes from the club.
The pic on the right is the one that Channing took, and as you can see in the one I took, Jim had taken a picture as well. SO, again...thanks Wheelz. We have it covered. (No doubt he's chuckling right now, perhaps even choking on his Cheetos.
The first stop is the City Winery in Nashville, TN, on a Monday night, and I wondered if people would show, and by god, they did.
The band rocking for all of Sam's guests, 120 ladies, and a few men, in waiting.
It helped that Sam knew some people in Nashville, and had a few names on the guest list, or as he calls it, the “Strange List”, referring to the women he puts on the list that he may or may not even know, but is trying to woo them into.. uh…his arms.
And though I decided that his new nickname should be “Dr Strangelove”, it didn’t stick; it seems the rest of the band prefers “The Nibbler”, the name Joel gave him after Sam apparently nibbled the ear of old school fan (as in she was old, and at one time went to a school). All in good fun of course. BTW, “The Nibbler” sounds like something a wrestling MC would say. “And in this corner, weighing 150 lbs, Cougerville’s very own boy toy…..THE NIBBBBBLER!!!”
This venue is among the best in the country, and after we shook the fog out of our brains from the 10 hour drive, we rocked the stage…for the most part. The people on the guest list seemed to love it. But they are conditioned to love a show, because they just got in free and came to hang with the band backstage.
Yep, it wasn’t our best show, but I always try to keep in mind that my standards are HIGH. And for the most part, everyone else has the same standard, as it should be. But sometimes, a seated audience won’t give you any energy, and a band can’t feed off of that energy and rock with them, instead of for them. We usually call this audience an ‘oil painting’, as in “that crowd was an oil painting.” But what are they going to do? They're sitting down. It’s the band’s fault for not rocking past it.
I went backstage afterward, determined that heads were going to roll! Unfortunately for me, someone caught me on video and made a GIF of it:
No one felt as I did, and the crowd seemed to love the show too, what the hell was I yammering on about? I started to second guess myself. Maybe it was a great show after all.
It does however bring me to this point: Whether the band feels they are on or not doesn’t matter. Not every night is perfect, not every member is on. But when everyone IS on, it’s magic, and magic is what we look for every night.
And for those people who haven't seen the band, and have no idea that we have songs other than The Freshmen, I want them to be blown away by the performances every night. It absolutely has to happen. We're lucky to have a hit song that we could build on, in fact, if we hadn't written a song like The Freshmen, we wouldn't be touring.
You see, I believe that songs are 'out there' in the universe, and if you're a song writer, you're lucky if one comes to you. In other words, The Freshmen could very well have been "I'm Too Sexy" or "Unbelievable" (actually, I wouldn't mind having written that EMF tune, although I would have slowed it waaaaay down, and perhaps added a lone cello. In other words, ruined it.)
We were a band that got to be a part of a very 'cool' time in rock and roll. 90's meant that lyrics mattered again, songs mattered. What didn't matter as much was fashion, although I would take cutoffs and combat boots to parachute pants and mullets any day. Had we written The Freshmen back in the 80's, we could very well be demanding "19oz Jars of Hair Mousse" in our contracts.
So, the downside to touring are the nights when the magic doesn't happen, and I'm left feeling a little bummed. But it’s short-lived because I always think of the upside:
We’re not Kajagoogoo.