Why won’t you talk about Costa Mesa?

Well, because it was my least favorite show of the tour, thanks for asking. I can explain why, and it has nothing to do with the performances of the band members directly, but what happened to our monitor mix right before we went on…

[UPDATE] I spoke to someone in the Furs organization yesterday and he corrected me- it was not our Aux Monitor mix, it was our entire digital I/O rig, which stands for Input/Output. In civilian speak, that’s EVERYTHING onstage and how it gets to the mixing board and then back to the speakers. So… it’s truly amazing that a show happened at all.[/UPDATE]

Let me quote myself, if I may, from a long letter to the Furs Faithful on their own webboard, Burned Down Days. I was responding to some thoughtful and gentle criticisms leveled by the band’s fans after the Costa Mesa show, and I am quoting a previous comment by a user named “skyler”:

The tour was fantastic and a great opportunity and I wouldn’t change a thing… except… Costa Mesa. And here’s why:

Quote from: skyler on 07/18/07, 01:02 AM
I was at the show tonight and there was someting horribly wrong with the sound. The sound for the Alarm and the Fixx was perfect. During the set up for the Fur’s set, Richard’s microphone didn’t work. Then when the Furs came on, Mar’s microphone didn’t work so you couldn’t hear the sax during Heartbeat. The reason Love My Way was performed during the encore was because the marimba part was playing out of time during the first part of the show and Richard stopped the song visibly upset but he carried on like the professional that he is and gave a great performance for the rest of the show.

Every bit of this is absolutely correct, and you possess a VERY sharp set of ears and eyes, sir ma’am.

Here’s what happened:

After the Fixx finished their set, they struck their equipment, I came up and set up my drums correctly, and people were rushing around getting ready for the Furs set to begin. Somewhere in this hurried set of preparations, someone, no doubt a local crew member trying to be helpful, unplugged the Furs’ auxiliary monitor mix. This killed power to our wireless mics (Richard’s vocal, Mars’ sax) and the minidisk player containing the marimba part for “Love my Way” and our submixes. Our front of house engineer (that’s the person who mixes what the audience hears) saw everything go dead on her board and knew something was wrong. She sprang into action and had to run down to the stage, while we, the band, had no idea that there was a problem. Security saw a woman running towards the stage and tackled her, further delaying her from fixing the problem.

Once she was able to get past them, she was able to plug the mixer back in, but because it is digital, then it defaults to factory settings. She threw a fast approximation of the mix together, rushed back to her station at the FOH mixing board, which was near the back of the 10,000 person crowd, and we started playing. We still had no idea that anything was wrong. In the meantime, Mars started blowing his sax, but his mic was still not in the mix. Our engineer had to leave her station AGAIN, come down and enable the sax mic. I don’t know the technical details of all of this, but what you saw and related her mirrors exactly what was happening.

NOW. By the end of “Heartbeat,” miraculously, our FOH engineer (and I would love to tell you her name and give you her email address so you could say to her “NICE RECOVERY!!!” but I don’t have her permission) had gotten order restored and the set was underway. However, the monitor engineer (this is the guy who is in charge of adjusting what the band hears) was a local guy, and somehow didn’t realize that he absolutely HAD to unmute the Minidisk player in my monitor for me to play “Love my Way” in time. See, in the version of “LmW” that we all know and love, there’s a marimba part that is a crucial part of the song. Now, it’s not feasible financially or logistically, to bring a marimba player on the road for one song. (Ever see a marimba up close? It’s the size of a zebra.) So, the Furs have the marimba part recorded onto a Minidisk, which I stop and start as necessary. (I hate to lift the curtain on this bit of magic and show the strings and wires that hold some of the show together, but I think it’s better if you understand what happened.)

Now, so that the hand can start in unison, there’s an eight count click before the marimba part starts. Some of you who have stood very close to the stage have heard that “tock tock tock tock” at the beginning of that song. This gives me four counts to get the tempo in my head, then four to count the rest of the band in, and Bang!, off we go.

Well, monitor guy was one bong hit past competent, I am guessing. I hit “start” on the track, waited for the “tock tock tock” and heard nothing, then suddenly, the marimba part for “Love my Way” was playing through the main speakers (the ones facing you, the audience). THE CROWD GOES WILD! Everyone on stage froze. I hit “stop,” then turned to face the monitor guy and gave him a look I call “The Big Eyes,” which is International Musician Sign Language for “Um… dude?” I thought, well, certainly by now he knows that he needs to unmute the Minidisk player in my monitor. Make that “two bong hits past competent.” The second try netted the same results as the first. I even tried, lamely, to count everyone in to come in eight bars late and we’ll try to catch up. Richard, wisely vetoed this idea.

This, of course, makes everyone onstage furious. There’s nothing like feeling silly in front of a few thousand of your closest friends.

Now, at this point, there are two people who should know what is going on. Me… and monitor guy. No one else has any idea why this isn’t working. Remember, none of us onstage knows about the chaos going on behind the scenes, we just know two things: Mars’ sax was inaudible in “Heartbeat,” and now this.

Richard, once again wisely, elects to move on to “Ghost in You,” so we did, and I will be the first to admit that we played it a little shakily for half of the song, because there was a lot of quantum weirdness going on.

AFTER THAT, i think that the show kicked into high gear and we played well right through the encore, even though we were somewhat shaken. The Furs, to their credit, rose above a series of obstacles that would have stopped many other bands IN THEIR TRACKS, and then put on a great rock show. Full stop. Respect to the Butler brothers, John, Mars and Amanda. The idea of calling a halt to the show never even occurred to them.

Afterwards, talking to our engineer and road manager about what was going on, I was stunned (STUNNED!) at 1. how much had gone wrong in the minutes before the show was supposed to start, and 2. how much they managed to fix before we got onstage. Full credit goes to them for their professionalism and also to the Furs for their indomitable spirit and commitment to great performances.


I don’t know what the future holds for me and the Furs. I was called at the last minute, and I won’t presume to know if they will ever use me as a drummer ever again, but I wanted to make sure that the record was straight about the last show.

As I said on my blog, “…it reassures me of something that I really like about this band (and for Richard especially): Every show counts. It really upsets these guys if the audience seems detached or if the show itself doesn’t go well. I think this speaks very well of their commitment to their fans and their music. It’s good to be part of an organization that really cares.”

So… that’s the long and short of it. It did sort of put a mild damper on post-gig celebrations, but that’s why it’s “Live” and not “Perfect.” I still think it was a strong show, and that the Furs are the most professional outfit I’ve ever worked with, so I left with much love and pride about the tour.

Later, I will talk about the trip home, and all that… LAX, here I come!

This neighborhood seems to so familiar…

After our show in San Diego, we loaded up the bus and headed north towards San Francisco. For my east coast readers who are geographically challenged on West Coat locations, that’s pretty much the longest drive of this tour. I sat with Amanda in the back lounge of the bus for a few minutes once we were under way, thinking “I’ll stay up for a while and hang out and do some reading.” True to form for most of this tour, I was falling asleep before we were outside the city limits, so I went to bunk.

I woke up somewhere in Northern California on the 405. Coffee was already made (Mars usually wakes up before anyone) and I sat watching the tawny brown hills roll by, and the wind farms with their massive whirling propellers. The bus slowed down for no apparent reason and I looked out to see a large white SUV lying on its side in the left lane, surrounded by CHP cars. Ah, California, you don’t change…

We arrived in SF early, parked outside the club and I got out and did some walking around. It took me about half an hour to realize that I had been in this neighborhood before. Ever do that thing where you walk into a place from a new direction, and you think “This all seems familiar, but completely unfamiliar too….”? Then, suddenly, your perspective shifts and it all snaps into place?

In 1991, my band Five-Eight recorded a full-length album in SF at a studio called Brilliant Studios. We were there for a month and a half in a neighborhood where prostitutes and addicts roamed the streets at all hours of the day and night. It turns out that the club we were playing, The Mezzanine, is either in the exact same space as the building-formerly-known-as-Brilliant-Studios, or is less than a block away.

The area has some new buildings, and there have been some attempts at gentrification, but it’s still a really crappy area. While we were in the club doing soundcheck, someone smashed the window on a club employee named Sarah’s car for really NO REASON. They didn’t steal anything, just wanted to break some glass. Ah, city life.

I wandered off for some brunch at a nearby restaurant and then returned for sound check. The club has some pretty deluxe accommodations, including a stone tiled shower, which I availed myself of. Later, I got to visit with my friend Deanne, her massive pitt bull/Great Dane mix named Jumbo, and also checked out her sisters amazing organization Muttville, a place for old dogs who need to be placed with foster owners or just nurtured through the difficult times at the end of their lives. What an amazing thing they’re doing. If you live in Cali, schedule a visit and maybe take an old dog home. If you don’t, send money. Kibble ain’t cheap.

Back in time to discover that Tu Lan had closed for the day, so we went to a taqueria nearby.

The Mezzanine was packed when I got back to the club. The Alarm were busy bringing The Rock to the faithful. I swear, if there’s any justice in the world, one day it will be possible to walk into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and see Mike Peters’ giant rock and roll heart up there on the wall next to fragments of Pete Townshend’s guitar and chunks of Keith Moon’s waterlogged Rolls Royce.

I didn’t think it was possible, but by the time the Fixx had finished their set, there were MORE people in the club. It was a complete capacity crowd. No more paying customers, no more guests, no more nobody but (god forbid) the Fire Marshall.

We came out and I started playing the intro to “Heartbeat.” Mars began his sax solo and then the whole band came crashing in. Concurrent with this, I felt a rush of warmth over my lower body. I thought… “I don’t think I just pissed myself…” As the song went on, it turned into a burning sensation, heat all over me, and I thought… “Oh, my god… That’s SO HOT…. OH! OH MY GOD!!” The lighting designer had put two spotlights directly behind the drum riser, and they were WAY! TOO! HOT! to be used that close to actual human flesh. By the time we got to the bridge for “Heartbeat,” I was beginning to worry for my safety. I ended up scooting the drum seat as far forward as I could to get away from the heat, but it wasn’t doing much good. By the end of the song, I was pretty certain I had been burned bad enough to leave a lovely red spot.

Once the song ended, I draped a towel over the back of my drum seat, creating a small shade barrier between me and the lights, which lessened my discomfort some, but didn’t mask the burning completely. Other than that, it was my favorite show of the tour. The crowd was really into the show and the sound was fantastic. I don’t know what more I could have asked for.

Afterwards, I said goodnight to my SF friends, climbed back onto the bus, and off we rolled, into the dark.

San Diego is kind of an interesting place

I don’t know why TBogg wasn’t at the show, though.  I emailed him a COUPLE of times… maybe he was at the zoo.  Ah, well.  Maybe he was was ignoring me…

We bused down from Long Beach in the morning.  I was late for the bus call because I got my signals crossed with the tour manager, so everyone ended up waiting for me while I was in the hotel room reading Firedoglake.  I got a little razzing for it from Mars, but it’s all fine.

The drive to San Diego was uneventful and the scenery was lovely.  I sat in the back lounge watching the hills roll by until they gave way to ocean.  Our West Coast bus is even larger than our East Coast bus was, and we set about the process of distributing our stuff and claiming our respective bunks.  My bunk is now officially driver’s side front, top bunk.  I like the fact that there is an outlet next to my head on this bus, so that I can plug in my phone to charge once I crawl up in there.  The clearance on bus bunks is just enough to lie down, so on the last bus, when the outlet was down by my feet, it was REALLY difficult to plug in my phone before going to bed.  The outlet was just a tiny bit too far for me to reach when I was standing next to the bunk because it’s so tall.  It’s the little things…

Arrival is San Diego was fairly noneventful as well. Hot and bright at midmorning, then sound check, then several of us wandered down to the mall and were all reminded that recreational shopping is not really part of the options available to musicians, for the most part. Who spends $100 on a shirt? I did buy a coffee and some Ben and Jerry’s while I was down there, and even that was really expensive.

The show was one of the best yet, with the minor problem of me being unable to see the set list during a complete blackout between songs. Almost started “Heaven” where “Heartbreak Beat” was supposed to be. John saw it coming and called the count to a halt just in time.

After the show I met a large crowd of the Furs’ Faithful. What nice people! Welch, thanks for the photos! My favorite photo from the tour so far is one of Richard and I playing “Dumb Waiters” in Buffalo:

I walked Tricia, our front of house engineer, to the 7-11 after the show so she could get a few things, and man, the streets of downtown San Diego at closing time are a freakin’ ZOO. Glad I don’t have to live with that reality every day.

Once we reboarded the bus, it was time to drive to San Francisco.

I remember that there was a Blues Traveler tour shirt from some years ago with the slogan “While you’re dreaming, we’re driving” on it. So true…

I probably should have blogged on the flight, but…

I totally got sucked into American History X and then M*A*S*H* (the original Robert Altman film) as they played on the seatback screen in front of me…. but I am already ahead of myself. Let me back up to where I left off.

After Boston, we drove all night to Long Island, got there about dawn. I woke up in the bus and found out that the van was leaving for the hotel and showers in just minutes, so I slammed a cup of coffee, threw a bottle of water into my carryon bag, along with my shaving kit and some clean clothes, then off Mars and I went to the hotel. I was able to shower there and shave for the first time in days. (I wish I could grow a decent beard, but I have no real facial hair to speak of. After three days it looks like I am growing a nice little volunteer fireman mustache, and after a week I just look like a catfish.)

We played in Westbury, NY, which is right smack in the middle of Long Island, I believe. The venue was called the North Fork Theatre, and it was sort of interesting. Built in 1966, apparently, it looks like nothing on the inside so much as some sort of rock and roll flying saucer. It is possible for bands to play there in the round, though we had the seats behind us blocked off. (I have to admit that I was a bit relieved about that. I like the idea of playing in the round in theory, but in practice it would make me a bit uptight…)

The backstage was once again palatial, and the chef, a woman named Wendy, turned out the most amazing meal of the tour! There was a lovely Penne Bolognese, a Chicken/corn tortilla casserole, three amazing desserts, several vegetarian options, some really fine local bread… one of the desserts was a puff pastry stuffed with a mango cream… I’m telling you, it was amazing.

The afternoon was spent, for me, doing some laundry in the venue’s laundrette and later hanging out with Pat Egan from Relapse Records. Pat’s a huge fan of the Alarm, so it was nice to be able to hook him up with a ticket for a good seat to see his boys ROCK Long Island.

The Furs show that night was VERY well played, and Richard did his best to bring the audience into the show, but the North Fork’s stage has a barricade and a thirty foot gap between the band and the audience. Richard leapt over the barricade and tried to engage the audience in the immediacy of the rock and roll spectacle that was unfolding in front of them. Somehow, probably because they were sitting down on comfy seats, they sort of watched and listened… intently, certainly, but there was precious little dancing in the aisles.

After the show, the Butler brothers were having a tete a tete about the crowd, and I realized that the subdued response was a source of some distress to them. I found this very interesting, in that it reassures me of something that I really like about this band (and for Richard especially): Every show counts. It really upsets these guys if the audience seems detached or if the show itself doesn’t go well. I think this speaks very well of their commitment to their fans and their music. It’s good to be part of an organization that really cares. There are plenty of bands who, at this stage of their careers, might turn in some half-assed performances and count on their catalogue of hits to continue to pull crowds. The Furs, fortunately, still want to play great shows.

John rushed off after the show, as his lovely wife is having a baby! (I think I can speak about that without jeopardizing the band’s privacy.) The rest of the band took the bus to the Ramada next to JFK to get some rest before the next day’s flight to California. Tricia and I got a bunch of the gear loaded into her room for safekeeping for the night. That was a real trial…

The next day, we loaded out of the hotel, got a shuttle bus to JFK and checked 22 bags of assorted guitars, flight cases full of keyboards, an odd drum here and there, and all of our non-carryon bags. We flew six hours to the Long Beach airport and deplaned at nine pm local time, midnight EST. We were pretty beat. I don’t particularly care for flying. (This will come as no shock to regular readers of this weblog.) Yesterday’s flight wasn’t THAT bad, as flights go- nice big plane, so turbulence was minimized and I had a little screen to stare at to keep my mind from racing.

We checked into our hotel here in Long Beach and today was a fairly relaxed day off.

running to catch up

OK! It’s been a whirlwind couple of days, so let me try to bring this weblog up to speed with a quickness:

Point Pleasant in New Jersey is the whole concept and ethos of the Jersey Shore incarnate. I had a blast. The venue was sort of a semi-enclosed stage backing up to a lovely white sand beach. Down south, close to Florida, there’s so much coastline and most of it is developed in ways to prevent the kind of MASSIVE crowds you see on Jersey beaches. It was amazing how tightly packed the humanity was there. Around nightfall, they all went home, put on different shorts and came back for the show.

It was hot and loud onstage, and the crowd seemed like it was inches away. I haven’t been so comfortable onstage with the Furs as I was in Jersey. It was much more like a Music Hates You show than any of the other shows we’ve played, so I was totally in my element. The show itself was a little faster and harder than past shows as a result I think. John was playing his guitar like it had blades on it and Tim and I locked in nice and tight. I am really starting to feel the Furs songs in my bones like a good drummer should. The crowd was AMPED, and Richard was bringing the show to them.

We played an abbreviated set to accommodate the city’s fireworks display, so it was a nice, concise, hard-hitting blast of rock and roll. I had a fantastic time and came offstage drenched in sweat and my ears were ringing like two bells. The crowd was like a massive beast with an insatiable appetite. I think that if we’d wanted to, they would have hung from the stage and kept roaring if we played all night.

After the gear was stowed in the trailer, we headed off into the night for Boston, and I fell asleep two or three times in the back lounge before finally giving up and going to bunk.

I woke up on the bus, dropped down out of my top bunk and staggered around looking for coffee and my shoes. When I finally exited the bus, I was facing down the street. I turned around, stretched and looked up and what should appear before my eyes? The giant sign on the back of the right field wall of Fenway Park that announces that it’s the home of the Boston Red Socks! I had been sleeping in the shadow of the Green Monster! The house that Teddy Ballgame built! Awesomeness.

Wandered around Boston a little bit and found some coffee. Wandered back to the bus. It’s interesting how superfluous the drummer is until the gig. Later, I wandered over to the Berklee School of Music and saw the oldest drum shop in America, according to the counter guy there. It was also, oddly, the only store I wandered into in Boston where they weren’t at least mildly rude. I don’t really belong here. I would probably adapt after some years here, but man, the whole “The customer is always an asshole” thing just clashes against my southern sensibilities.

I changed a couple of drum heads at soundcheck and then Hugo showed up. He showed me the college where he teaches. If you happen to live in Boston, you have to see the art show that’s hanging there if you get a chance. I love this guy’s work. He’s got a great eye, and he seems to always find the most interesting angle to shoot his photos from. It’s not the largest show, and I wish there were more photos, but I really feel like Zaltman deserves more exposure.

Hugo and I went and had an amazing meal of sushi at his SECOND favorite sushi place. We went to his favorite place only to discover that they were closed for vacation. RATS! Still, the second favorite place blew anything I have experienced out of the water. Amazing meal, it was…

Hugo’s father is having a little better time of it, but the prognosis isn’t good. I can’t even really fully comprehend what he’s going through. I can’t even think about losing my father without being overwhelmed with sadness. I am glad I was able to fill in for him on this tour, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity.

WELL, on to less depressing topics!!!!

Hugo had to go grab his lovely daughter from the sitter, so he missed the gig itself, which is a shame, since it was another scorcher. I am finally so comfortable with the Furs tunes that I can really DIG IN and knock the hell out of the drums, which is, y’know, what I do best. The Butlers NOTICED, too. We had a real barn burner last night. Some of the tunes like “Dumb Waiters” and “President Gas” slowed down a little bit and swaggered like an angry drunk. I was digging the sort of menacing feel of last night’s gig, and I think the crowd was as well.

Oh, and “Only You and I” felt CATACLYSMIC last night. Fine gig. All of the gigs lately have been high points. I hope that keeps up.

After the show, there was some milling around backstage, and I actually met one of the guys from the band SS Decontrol, which was kind of insane. I used to love those guys back in the day.

Then, back on the bus for the drive to Long Island, and I went to bunk about 4am. Now that I am more comfortable with the tunes, I am really having fun.

with Hugo’s blessing

I spoke with Hugo Burnham yesterday.  For those of you just joining us, he was the drummer who had been picked for this tour before he had to return to the UK for an emergency.  He’s back in the States, now.  He is bearing up, as is his essential nature.  (Hugo doesn’t just have the classic British stiff upper lip, he’s got an iron backbone as well.)
We talked about the ups and downs of my adventure with the Psychedelic Furs and how it’s steadily getting better, and we talked about how fun it would have been for him and the Furs if he’d been able to do this.  I asked him if he wanted, y’know, now that he was back in the States and all, for me to approach the band and say “Hugo is back if you want him.”  He’s such a great drummer and would be such a natural for the Furs.

No, he said.  Too much on his mind, too much on his plate, and he’s glad I am having fun.  So.

They’re stuck with me, I guess.

Now THAT’S more like it

Tonight was far and away the best night of the tour so far. I finally felt really comfortable playing the songs, the tempos flowed really naturally, the songs soared and roared. Richard sang beautifully and was clearly having fun, as were Tim and John. Tonight was good, good, good. I am finally relaxing and playing like the drummer I know I am capable of being.

The crowd may have been the largest I have ever played for in my career, and they were having a fine time, as well. When we finished the song “Heaven” there was this huge sound as they went nuts. I shouted to Richard over the cheering “THEY LIKED THAT ONE!”

This was a magic night, one of the sorts of nights that make playing music for a living worthwhile. There are so many sacrifices every musician makes in order to play- long times away from home, uncertain or negligible income, no health insurance, etc, but transcendent nights like tonight are the reason we do it.

I met a woman at the Chicago gig who asked if I could get her Furs t-shirt signed by the rest of the band, but Tim and Richard had scattered to the winds, since they had rides and other plans that night after the show. I suggested that she turn up in Naperville, because we were there all day today hanging out at Ribfest and just people watching. She found me after the show and I was able to round everyone up and find a Sharpie and get it done. She seemed pretty happy about it. I am glad she caught me.

Also, I met a contributer to the Furs’ fan site who was awfully kind to me and was overflowing with praise for the gig. It *was* a good gig, and I am thrilled she was at this one.

All in all, I am starting to feel like I am living up to my own standards. One or two more shows and we’ll be a well-oiled machine.

Last night was Chicago

And it was better than Indy as far as playing with confidence and accuracy, but there were still some minor issues with ending at the right time and reading signals from Tim Butler.

All in all, it feels like it’s moving forward. We played at the House of Blues in Chicago, which is a really interesting venue. The sound system is top flight, and my monitors were clear as a bell. I think we played the best version of “Love My Way” we’ve played yet. Mars (saxophone) is from Chicago and the hometown crowd was pretty clearly delighted he was there. It was interesting, also, that the crowd was so large that I think that they were unable to really jump around and get into the show as much as they would have liked if it hadn’t been so packed.

House of Blues is an entertainment complex- it’s massive and there are a lot of people working there full time. The dressing rooms are palatial and larger than many of the clubs that Music Hates You plays. I am finding that the large crowds aren’t freaking me out at all, it’s more apprehension that I am not going to play well that is making me a bundle of nerves around show time. I have to keep telling myself that it’s only the first or second show and that it’s not going to be a perfect show, and be ok with that. The Butlers and I share a commitment to playing the absolute top notch show, though, and it’s frustrating to all of us, I think, that I am being a bit on the slow side getting all of this pulled together.

John Ashton, on the other hand, is about as laid back as I could have possibly expected anyone to be. He’s been all smiles and cracking small visual jokes or making faces during the shows. I find this immensely comforting, actually. I think he finds my anxiety and stress a bit unnecessary, and he wants me to remember that it’s only rock and roll. He’s a real gent and I only found out yesterday that he produced “Alice,” my favorite Sisters of Mercy song. It occurred to me last night to ask Richard if there was actually a girl named Alice that both he and Andrew Eldritch had known, as a woman by that name turns up both in “Alice’s House” and the SoM song “Alice.” Answer: Nope.

Another myth destroyed.

I did get to run around some in Chicago with John- we rode the El up to Belmont and got some Thai food and I hit my favorite thrift store looking for an extra pair of black jeans for this tour. No dice, but John suggested hitting a Banana Republic back near the club, so we rode back downtown and wandered Michigan Avenue a bit. I stumbled across the Levis store, which is what I would have bought if there’d been anything at the thrift, so I wandered in and LO! it was a half price sale. I am ridiculously loyal to the Levis 505 jeans, and getting a new pair for $20 was NICE.

After soundcheck, I ducked out to meet my friend Vicky from London who was in Chicago on business. She had some friends from work in tow and we went to get a bite to eat. I was, as has become my custom before the show, completely uninterested in food. Too anxious. I finally regretfully excused myself and went back to the bus to study the songs some more.

Then, the show went ok, as I mentioned earlier.

After the show, we convened briefly upstairs at the HoB to meet and greet, though it was mostly the Mars show up there, since a ton of his friends turned up. I met Mars’ wife, who is a really lovely person and sharp as a razor. I also happened to meet Phil Ranstrom, the creator of a film called “Cheat You Fair: The Story of Maxwell Street,” a documentary about the open air market in Chicago which was the birthplace of electric blues. You can see the trailer here. It looks like an amazing film. It doesn’t have a distribution deal, yet, but you can maybe catch it on the festival circuit.

We finally climbed aboard the bus and headed for Detroit. I had hoped to sit up late for a while and hang out with Za (our backline tech) and Trish (our front of house engineer) because I think they’re doing such a fabulous job, but once I got a little food in my stomach and the road started to roar under the tires of the bus, I went limp and couldn’t hold myself up any more. I am putting so much pressure on myself to do well…. once the show’s over, it’s all I can do to not just fall asleep where I stand.

I climbed up into my bunk and slept all the way to Detroit.

We have a day off here today, and I spent most of it sleeping, too. I have my own hotel room here and I have been mostly just hanging out and doing nothing. Sometime later today, I plan on doing some laundry. Ah, the glamorous life of a rock star!

First Show- Successful.

Well, after a long soundcheck where we played most of the set, I felt like I was NEARLY ready to play the first show. It was not the best soundcheck- been struggling with some parts. The Furs seemed a bit trepidatious about their new drummer. This was perfectly understandable, as we had yet to get through the set without any issues.

I met my brother-in-law Kevin for supper and kind of pecked at it since my nerves weren’t really leaving me much appetite. We were playing at the Vogue Theater in Indianapolis, which is in the sort of hip end of town called Broadripple. I found a cigar shop and got a Romeo y Julieta Vintage Maduro, stood outside the bus and smoked it while hanging with Kevin. That helped with the nerves a lot. That’s the great thing about quitting smoking- nicotine regains its potency when one loses one’s tolerance for it. A good cigar is like a mild sedative.

I retreated to the bus, did some more studying of the set and before I knew it, we were headed onstage.

The show itself was a huge success, I think. It’s funny- I have been really nerved out playing for the Furs. They’re a band that I have loved for most of my life, and they have very high standards for performance. However, once we were in front of the crowd, well, CROWDS I know. I have been performing most of my life. I have been onstage more times than I have been to get a haircut. Once I was out there, i felt MUCH more comfortable. With the exception of my monitor dropping out during “Love My Way” and me losing the marimba part (which is sequenced, and therefore must be played along to), the set was really, really good. It wasn’t perfect- there are a couple of parts that I need to get a bit more comfortable with, but it was rock and roll, and it was good. During the show, John Ashton was mouthing something to me in the way that musicians do to communicate when they’re playing and it’s loud. I had to really concentrate to make it out…

He was saying… “Don’t…”



Um, got it.


Right. So, I didn’t during the show.

The encore… well… didn’t go as well, but the crowd hardly noticed. Simplest fucking beat in the world, “Sister Europe.” I don’t know how I got it in my head that it was something else. Stupid nervous error. Ah, well. Best forgotten and moved on from.

After the show, we went to the bus. We were all dripping sweat. The Butler brothers gave me a bit of a ribbing about fucking up the encore, but I think all in all, everyone is somewhat pleased that it’s coming together. And it is, despite our short rehearsal schedule and my case of nerves.

We pulled out of Indy and I thought I would try to stay awake and watch that bit of highway go away, since I used to make that drive all the time when I was living in Chicago and my wife’s parents were living outside Bloomington, IN. I don’t even think I made it outside of the city limits before I’d fallen asleep. I woke up in a complete daze in the rear lounge of the bus, laptop open on my lap and no idea where I was or how I’d gotten there.

I stowed my gear and climbed up into my bunk.

Tonight is Chicago, and the House of Blues. I woke up in the bus in the parking garage at the House of Blues, and I am about to jump on the El and do some exploring. I think I might need to buy another pair of jeans since I only brought two pairs and the ones I wore last night got soaked in sweat.

The band has a room at the Sax hotel across from the HOB and I think it’s the nicest room I have ever seen. It’s certainly the nicest one I have ever been in. But now I must abandon it and go exploring. I haven’t been to Chicago since I lived here.