What are some memories of your tour or being on the road?

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Wow, where to start... I toured with a blues rock trio for 12 years (late 90's into 2000's,) and have toured with various jazz and rock groups, all domestically and abroad. I was happily married at the time (still am, 25 years and counting) so there are none of "those" stories. I'm a pretty straight living guy, (I got it ALL out of my system in my much younger years) which really helps on the road. Because it really IS work, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I'll start with the Canadian Edition.

We did 2 or 3 tours of Canada a year all about 5 weeks each. Eventually we had to cut them back, I think we were making too much money in Canada, that's a country that doesn't like to give money to foreigners. The border crossings were always a trip. Every band has one bozo (never me) that always makes that process a fiasco. Our working papers were always in order, (the management was top notch,) but there was always some issue.

Someone once joked about having some beef ramen packed away to the border guys after hearing about a mad cow breakout. We had to unload EVERYTHING to find all the ramen that contained "beef by-products."

Then there was customs asking us to weigh the t-shirts that we had to sell, only problem was the only scale was technically "in Canada" and we couldn't bring them into the country to weigh them, it was a multi hour issue. I forget how it got resolved, wasn't really my problem.

Crossing the border back into the US a few days after 9-11, talk about tense: M-16's, body armor, and dogs. No joking around that time through (or any really.) That was a really weird time to be on the road.

Having a promoter comp us a day on the slopes right after we got off of a plane in Calgary. I could ski, but before then I had never really experienced high altitude issues, after a few hours on the slopes, I figured out that I was a danger to myself and others (for some "unknown" reason.) In "my condition" skiing was downright stupid in the Canadian Rockies, so I walked down the slopes, so I didn't break an appendage mid-tour. Management appreciated that. That altitude thing is REAL!!!

Getting a kidney stone (worst pain EVER!) mid-tour in Canada, thanks to some wonderful Canadian medicine, and morphine, I passed it, and played that night. But damn, I thought that I was gonna die!

Traveling to Yellowknife (find it on a map, not too far from the Arctic Circle) a few times for a 2 week stay, and being treated like Van Halen by promoters and club owners. The schedule was playing 4 sets a night and then having those crazy Canadian miners take us out all night till sunrise, and then oing promotion for the gig during the next day (every day.) This schedule went on for 2 weeks, I slept the entire bus ride back (25 hours or so) to Edmonton after those two weeks.

And oh those endless rides on the Trans-Canadian looking like you were riding on the surface of the moon. I fell in love with the town of Saskatoon playing at Bud's On Broadway, got more depressed than ever playing the King Eddie (in Calgary,) lost hope for the future while playing and "eating" in Winnipeg, never had the guts to say the name of the town "Regina" in public, grew to HATE those stupid "loonies," really dug Kokanee beer, and did several runs of 30+ nights in a row. Nothing like it, those were the days!!!!!

In the US

We played at the Flora Bama (4 sets a night of craziness) in Florida every 8 or 10 weeks or so for 10 years or so. That was always a 4 night run (Thurs through Sunday.) Then we would go from there, sometimes do a month or so in Florida going across the Gulf Coast, and working our way down to the Keys and then back up and through the deep south to Texas, Louisiana, or up through the mid-west. Strangely I can never remember most club names, but I'll remember the good restaurants that I ate at FOREVER. Strouds in KC, This Little Piggy in Macon, The Sidetrack in Edmonton, a cool place in Hazleton PA with a unique ground beef cheesteak, Fisherman's Wharf in New Orleans, Moody's in Rockland Maine, Cappy's in Camden Maine.... But band menu's at the clubs always pissed me off though!!!!

We did many of the Easy Rider Rodeo's for several years, and did Sturgis a few times, those were WILD. Headlined some barbecue festivals in the mid-west, I LOVED those! I always dug seeing the Badlands, and stopping into Wall Drug. We used to play in Buffalo a lot and would sometimes kill a day in Niagra, I NEVER get sick of the falls. Playing Buddy Guy's in Chicago or BB Kings in Memphis was always an honor.

We did Beale Street once a year, and I still say that Memphis is a GREAT vacation spot for any music lover. I wore out the musical tourist spots many times over, and they never get old. Memphis has GREAT FOOD.

I remember a 3 week run in Vegas that was weird. The casino had me use v-drums, and behind glass. And it was one of the most humid months in Vegas history. I remember walking down the strip at 3am after our last show one night, and feeling "a chill," it was like 101 degrees. I was proud of the fact that I was in Vegas for three weeks and they only got 8 dollars of my money, TOTAL! But it wasn't all my doing, I remember it even being to hot to even walk to the pool, we didn't go outside, ever, just too hot and humid, and I'm from Jersey!

I'll have to save the European memories for a later post. But all in all, LOTS of work, and that's really the ONLY way to get your playing together. I saw most of the world, saw band members blow tons of money, wreck their relationships, get into trouble.... I had lots of fun with the guys, kept reasonably healthy eating Subway ("healthiest" fast food you can find,) and only drinking moderately on extended stays. I had fun, made some great friends, but I always knew when to say when, and I always knew why I was there. My employers loved that about me, and I played my ass off EVERY night.

Being away from home sucked, but my wife is the best, there was never any "trust issues." This was pre smart phones and pre widespread internet, so it was a MUCH different time and communication back home was tough sometimes (because of my schedule and my wife's schedule,) although it was only about 25 years ago. But I always sent home a good deal of money (banking my per-diem sometimes as well,) and the money I made during those 12 years or so helped us buy our house, and make some good investments.

Earplugs and cheap sunglasses help with sleeping, your "schedule" can get really turned around. I walked into a McDonalds once at 5pm and ordered a McMuffin. The girl looked at me like I was nuts and said, "Sir we only serve them until 11am, and it's 5 pm." I had just woken up from my bunk, and thought it was 5 am, oops!

Getting rest whenever you can is always good advice, and packing light. Having lots of time to read, and having the time to listen to lots of music was WONDERFUL!!!!Taking care of yourself, and a healthy relationship back home is pretty important. Packing two types of clothes, black and white, makes doing wash easy. And basic responsibility and courtesy is essential!!! I would do it again in a second, (although times HAVE changed,) in fact I am actively pursuing a road gig that a friend of mine just left after a long run, we'll see... It's called making a living, and it's a long way to 67 (that's the SS age, right?)

MSG
 

Drumstickdude

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I toured my home country in the UK for a 2 full years in the mid 90s with one of the last traveling circuses that had animals. I drummed 6 nights a week 2 shows a day, and every week after the last show on a sunday I had to help pull down the tent and move it all to next place then up early next day to build it all up. It did show me some sort of discipline and it was very hard work it it was freedom in a way. I wanted to get on the cruise ships as a drummer but it never happened, oh well. Oh, and the smell of those bacon butties on build up day morning coming from the candy floss/burger stall was something else. Oh, and the smell of sawdust!!.:brave:
 

jansara

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Sitting in a blacked-out diner at 4 AM after the guitarist backed the singer's new Lincoln Mark into a utility pole and knocked a power line down in the parking lot while getting it on with a groupie. It was complicated.
 

Trilock_Gurtu

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Wow, where to start... I toured with a blues rock trio for 12 years (late 90's into 2000's,) and have toured with various jazz and rock groups, all domestically and abroad. I was happily married at the time (still am, 25 years and counting) so there are none of "those" stories. I'm a pretty straight living guy, (I got it ALL out of my system in my much younger years) which really helps on the road. Because it really IS work, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

I'll start with the Canadian Edition.

We did 2 or 3 tours of Canada a year all about 5 weeks each. Eventually we had to cut them back, I think we were making too much money in Canada, that's a country that doesn't like to give money to foreigners. The border crossings were always a trip. Every band has one bozo (never me) that always makes that process a fiasco. Our working papers were always in order, (the management was top notch,) but there was always some issue.

Someone once joked about having some beef ramen packed away to the border guys after hearing about a mad cow breakout. We had to unload EVERYTHING to find all the ramen that contained "beef by-products."

Then there was customs asking us to weigh the t-shirts that we had to sell, only problem was the only scale was technically "in Canada" and we couldn't bring them into the country to weigh them, it was a multi hour issue. I forget how it got resolved, wasn't really my problem.

Crossing the border back into the US a few days after 9-11, talk about tense: M-16's, body armor, and dogs. No joking around that time through (or any really.) That was a really weird time to be on the road.

Having a promoter comp us a day on the slopes right after we got off of a plane in Calgary. I could ski, but before then I had never really experienced high altitude issues, after a few hours on the slopes, I figured out that I was a danger to myself and others (for some "unknown" reason.) In "my condition" skiing was downright stupid in the Canadian Rockies, so I walked down the slopes, so I didn't break an appendage mid-tour. Management appreciated that. That altitude thing is REAL!!!

Getting a kidney stone (worst pain EVER!) mid-tour in Canada, thanks to some wonderful Canadian medicine, and morphine, I passed it, and played that night. But damn, I thought that I was gonna die!

Traveling to Yellowknife (find it on a map, not too far from the Arctic Circle) a few times for a 2 week stay, and being treated like Van Halen by promoters and club owners. The schedule was playing 4 sets a night and then having those crazy Canadian miners take us out all night till sunrise, and then oing promotion for the gig during the next day (every day.) This schedule went on for 2 weeks, I slept the entire bus ride back (25 hours or so) to Edmonton after those two weeks.

And oh those endless rides on the Trans-Canadian looking like you were riding on the surface of the moon. I fell in love with the town of Saskatoon playing at Bud's On Broadway, got more depressed than ever playing the King Eddie (in Calgary,) lost hope for the future while playing and "eating" in Winnipeg, never had the guts to say the name of the town "Regina" in public, grew to HATE those stupid "loonies," really dug Kokanee beer, and did several runs of 30+ nights in a row. Nothing like it, those were the days!!!!!

In the US

We played at the Flora Bama (4 sets a night of craziness) in Florida every 8 or 10 weeks or so for 10 years or so. That was always a 4 night run (Thurs through Sunday.) Then we would go from there, sometimes do a month or so in Florida going across the Gulf Coast, and working our way down to the Keys and then back up and through the deep south to Texas, Louisiana, or up through the mid-west. Strangely I can never remember most club names, but I'll remember the good restaurants that I ate at FOREVER. Strouds in KC, This Little Piggy in Macon, The Sidetrack in Edmonton, a cool place in Hazleton PA with a unique ground beef cheesteak, Fisherman's Wharf in New Orleans, Moody's in Rockland Maine, Cappy's in Camden Maine.... But band menu's at the clubs always pissed me off though!!!!

We did many of the Easy Rider Rodeo's for several years, and did Sturgis a few times, those were WILD. Headlined some barbecue festivals in the mid-west, I LOVED those! I always dug seeing the Badlands, and stopping into Wall Drug. We used to play in Buffalo a lot and would sometimes kill a day in Niagra, I NEVER get sick of the falls. Playing Buddy Guy's in Chicago or BB Kings in Memphis was always an honor.

We did Beale Street once a year, and I still say that Memphis is a GREAT vacation spot for any music lover. I wore out the musical tourist spots many times over, and they never get old. Memphis has GREAT FOOD.

I remember a 3 week run in Vegas that was weird. The casino had me use v-drums, and behind glass. And it was one of the most humid months in Vegas history. I remember walking down the strip at 3am after our last show one night, and feeling "a chill," it was like 101 degrees. I was proud of the fact that I was in Vegas for three weeks and they only got 8 dollars of my money, TOTAL! But it wasn't all my doing, I remember it even being to hot to even walk to the pool, we didn't go outside, ever, just too hot and humid, and I'm from Jersey!

I'll have to save the European memories for a later post. But all in all, LOTS of work, and that's really the ONLY way to get your playing together. I saw most of the world, saw band members blow tons of money, wreck their relationships, get into trouble.... I had lots of fun with the guys, kept reasonably healthy eating Subway ("healthiest" fast food you can find,) and only drinking moderately on extended stays. I had fun, made some great friends, but I always knew when to say when, and I always knew why I was there. My employers loved that about me, and I played my ass off EVERY night.

Being away from home sucked, but my wife is the best, there was never any "trust issues." This was pre smart phones and pre widespread internet, so it was a MUCH different time and communication back home was tough sometimes (because of my schedule and my wife's schedule,) although it was only about 25 years ago. But I always sent home a good deal of money (banking my per-diem sometimes as well,) and the money I made during those 12 years or so helped us buy our house, and make some good investments.

Earplugs and cheap sunglasses help with sleeping, your "schedule" can get really turned around. I walked into a McDonalds once at 5pm and ordered a McMuffin. The girl looked at me like I was nuts and said, "Sir we only serve them until 11am, and it's 5 pm." I had just woken up from my bunk, and thought it was 5 am, oops!

Getting rest whenever you can is always good advice, and packing light. Having lots of time to read, and having the time to listen to lots of music was WONDERFUL!!!!Taking care of yourself, and a healthy relationship back home is pretty important. Packing two types of clothes, black and white, makes doing wash easy. And basic responsibility and courtesy is essential!!! I would do it again in a second, (although times HAVE changed,) in fact I am actively pursuing a road gig that a friend of mine just left after a long run, we'll see... It's called making a living, and it's a long way to 67 (that's the SS age, right?)

MSG
I love Canada, but its tough to tour. I did two weeks up in Inuvik (Summer of 07'), waaaaay north of Yellowknife. Cool experience.
 

rondrums51

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I was on the road a lot back in the 70's. Our booking agency kept us working steady, but we made a lot of long drives from one gig to the next. Most of our gigs were 6 nights a week for two or three weeks. Most gigs included hotel rooms, but not all. I lived out of a trunk, carried a compact stereo system so I could listen to records, figured out how to cook stuff in my hotel room because I was sick of restaurants, had many great encounters with chicks, did a lot of sightseeing during the day, hooked up with the local reefer dealers, and generally had a great time. I had no home address, so I would have my parents forward my mail to whatever city I was in. I worked in 40 states and Canada. What a life. Young guys today will never experience it.
 

old_K_ride

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did some long hauls driving...Cincinnati to Vero Beach FL straight thru...check into hotel/sleep...get up...go to venue...set up...do show...pack up and drive straight back.
Little Rock AR to Lake City FL...that was a fun one.

had an interesting experience in a topless bar in Las Vegas after the gig one night...my wife still doesn't know about it...and never will.

I had to share my Yamaha Recording kit and brand new Sabians with a pounder at the Charleston WV Civic Center one night.He was hitting crashes so hard he was causing the boom arms to go sideways.I ran up & fixed'em while he was playing while imploring him to go easy.He didn't.He collapsed the ride cymbal stand...that was it...I ran on the stage and took all the cymbals down leaving just the hats...

I got to throw candy to kids from an antique fire truck in Owensboro KY when the band I was with were Grand Marshals @ 4th of July parade

Oh...and I met Andre the Giant between shows in Providence,RI.
top that!
TR
 

scaramanga

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Many of these posts are amazing. What a great thread. I really love stories about journeyman musicianship in the era when we were traveling salespeople.
 

EvEnStEvEn

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Played a 2 week run at the Holiday Inn lounge in Pocatello, Id. around 1980.
An unusual booking because we were a full-on rock band who regularly played large dance clubs, dance halls & auditoriums, ect.. yet we managed to minimize our gear for the smallish lounge stage and played the covers game during our stay there.

One day during the second week of that gig we noticed a custom touring coach parked in the lot, obviously used for an entertainer or band. That night during our final set 5 longhaired guys sat down at the bar for last call. Dark room, couldn't distinguish faces.

Soon after, the waitress brings a tray of drinks to the stage. "These are courtesy of Blackfoot"
Naturally we invited them to jam the last song with us but they were done for the evening having played their concert earlier at the local arena. We visited with them until about 7 am on their bus when bandleader Ricky Medlocke offered us the option of taking the promoter provided limosine to their second nearby arena show the following night to watch their set as guests of the band - but we couldn't go due to our glorious Holiday Inn gig the next night.


Oh, the Supertramp guys brought us up a round of drinks a few yrs later during a club gig in Nevada City but that's another story......
 

glaze148

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My band opening for Mother’s of Invention in Putney Vt.
We asked if we could use their sound system. Ours was dinky.
They said no, and we were so naive we couldn’t figure out why not.
Duh.
Later an audience member thought I was Zappa, and I signed his name to an autograph
 

MrYikes

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I remember we were playing between acts in Illinois. A guy named Murray was producing a show called Nudes on Ice. They spent two days getting the ice rink built over the dance floor, maybe 15x15 foot. They couldn't get the ice to freeze. So the girls acted like they were skating while sloshing around in cold water and it was cold, you could tell by looking at the girls. They did that 3 times a night for two nights. It's good when the opening act becomes the stars of the show and we got to keep our clothes on,,though in thinking back, it wouldn't have taken much to get ours off.
 

Fat Drummer

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Great stories folks, Ive enjoyed these very much and I hope a lot more will be posted to be sure.

I am fortunate that I dont have a lot of bad memories (I blocked those out maybe) but a few of the better ones that stick out are watching a beautiful sun set over the salt flats in Utah, boarding the plane and catching up to the sun to watch it set a second time within a couple of hours over the pacific coast mountains. Or waking up one morning and jumping in to the Pacific ocean for a morning swim and then taking a swim that same night in the Atlantic. Or even getting the oppertunity to circle Mount St Helen's soon after the eruption by air.
 

moodman

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1967, My band was living in Boston, sleeping on the floor at Handley Sound and living off of the huge bag of doughnuts that Dunkin Donuts threw out every night at midnight. We 'borrowed' one of Handley's vans for gigs, trouble was when you accelerated, it pulled left and when you let off, it pulled right. This made for some harrowing travel. We played a Hullabaloo Club on Fri (complete with dancers and a set like the TV show) they paid in check and we parked outside a bank in some town, sleeping in the van, until opening hours. The check didn't get cashed and we scraped together our bucks to get to a Sat night gig at some college. On the way the guy driving slammed on the brakes and as I turned to see if the equipment was OK, a huge Crown amp came flying forward and split my nose open. Thus, I played the college gig with a bandaged nose. (Whenever we played 'Get Off MY Cloud' that night, all the girls got on the boys shoulders and they danced like that) The next gig was a 2 week stand in Waterville Maine at a place called the Chez Parie, said to be owned by the 'Mob'. We arrive totally broke and I get elected to ask for front money. I walk into an office that looked like a scene from the Godfather, dimly lit by a green shaded lamp, and a scar-faced gent sitting at the desk. I make my request and he says "Your manager sent you up here with no money? F him, the next time you want to play here, just call me, forget your manager. Here's $200 and why don't you boys take the whole top floor" We each got a room, one with a complete kitchen. ( Back in Boston, one of our members had said our guitar player was better than the player in a band called the Joyful Noise, this got back to them and one of our managers told us "the Noise has fans in the mob, you'd better be careful or you'll end up dead in an alley" We took this seriously as another of our managers had disappeared after shorting the take for a Getz/Gilberto show he'd handled. Everyone said the mob had got him. Our bassman's vintage Vette was then stolen and found trashed upstate, hmm) The guy at the Chez had us out to his home on a pond ( east coast for LAKE) where we partied and got drank under the table by those paisans. Another guy took us to his family home where his mom fixed us a great feast. Those 'mob' guys treated us great.
Back in Boston, we got our record contract on RCA, and didn't become rich and famous. The Noise became Ford Theatre and released some great albums. They covered one of our tunes, I like our version better but no recording of it still exists. Our rhythm player went solo, he wrote 'Eyes of the Ranger" for Walker, Texas Ranger.
The trip to NYC to record is another story...
 

moodman

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When we recorded the song Jefferson Airplane (roach clip made from a split paper match) we had to call it Season of Forgetfulness, since the Airplane were on that label too and RCA said that name couldn't be used. The guitar figure is an exact copy of the one our guitarist played, my drum part was different. Our version didn't get released, just 2 of our tunes on a 45. A guitarist named Al Ciola, also on RCA, covered some of the stuff on an instrumental album, which I once heard on musak somewhere.

edit: when I say 'our tunes', the songs were written by Harry Palmer, our song writer and then, a member of the Ford Theatre, we just recorded them. Harry produced an album for Clapton.
 
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thejohnlec

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Cool thread and great stories!

I traveled for about 2 years straight in the 1990s before we settled in Nashville for a while. We visited 40 of the 50 states, went to the Bahamas, Canada, North Korea (10 days in and around Pyongyang). We happily had a 43-foot tour bus and a management company booking us out of Orlando, so we had a nice place to go back to when we had a break. I then did a couple cruise ship contracts, hitting the Florida Keys, Freeport, all 5 Hawaiin islands, Tahiti, Bora Bora, French Polynesia, up and down the Mexican riviera (stood onstage at Cabo Wabo).

I was bent on living clean but certainly had some fun. Played some cool places, tried a whole lot of different things, played with some great musicians who still keep in touch today, and really appreciated the opportunity to see so much of the country. Met my wife in that band as well - married 25 years this past May.
 

EvEnStEvEn

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the songs were written by Harry Palmer, our song writer and then, a member of the Ford Theatre, we just recorded them. Harry produced an album for Clapton.
...and Harry Palmer is also R. Stevie Moore's uncle and was instrumental in mentoring & encouraging R. Stevie with his early recording career.

 

jptrickster

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Not on tour but a typical gig couple hrs drive at Marbledale pub in Washington Ct , basically in the middle of nowhere , actually near Roxbury Ct Keith Richards has a house up there.

Huge storm coming through just as we set up and knocked out power . With much deliberation and a few shots at the bar I began the set with a 20 min drum solo. Unfortunately it wasn’t recorded there was no power!
I was in my early 20’s youth wasted on the young. Nowadays a 2 min drum solo is a too long lol. Power finally came back on gig was great.
The End.
 

Tmcfour

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Playing dice with the bartender at the Roscoe Spritzer in LA. Fun night. Played with two bands from Japan. One a punk band called The No People. Neat place. There was an old elevator shaft that was filled with broken furniture so no one would fall in it.
 

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