Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day Off in Buffalo, NY

Woke up at 6am this morning, just a few minutes after Charlie had parked in front of the hotel. He'd already gone in and picked up all of our room keys and was spreading them out on the table in the front lounge when I came out of the bunk area. Everyone else was still sound asleep.

I grabbed my bags and headed up to my room. Got changed and headed down to the hotel gym. My legs were still in pretty rough shape and I wasn’t sure I could run, but I was damn sure gonna try.

Only managed a couple of miles before I had to pack it in. Guess I really needed that extra day of rest between runs. Can't wait for Wednesday to get here. That'll be our next day off, spent in Cincinnati. Anyway, after the run, I walked around the downtown area for a bit. It was a brisk 49 or 50 degrees, and I was soaked with sweat and only wearing a t-shirt and shorts, so I walked at a pretty good pace to stay warm.

After that, I putzed around the room, and spent some time on the computer. Turned the TV on to watch the race around 1:30, only to discover that the FOX channel had no audio. The other 95 channels on the set were just fine, no problems at all, but FOX's audio was o-u-t. Bummer.

Around 5, I headed down to the bar to wait for Denise to come pick me up. Denise is my buddy Blaine's girlfriend, and she lives here in Buffalo. Our new carpenter Minh was hanging out, and after Denise got there, we jumped in her car and headed over to Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar, where Buffalo Wings were invented back in 1964.

Live Nation Julie was already out walking around in that neighborhood, so when I called her, she was only a few minutes away and would meet us there. When we got there, we discovered 2 other groups of crew folks already settled in, one in the dining room, the other at the bar. We grabbed a bunch of stools at the bar and chowed down. Not being a wing eater, I had the fish and chips, but made sure to put plenty of their famous Suicide Sauce on it.

After dinner, Julie, Minh and I jumped in with Denise and she gave us a proper tour of some of the better parts of Buffalo. Saw a lot of great neighborhoods and a few places I'd like to visit next time I have a day off here.

Back in my room by about 10…

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Show Day in Pittsburgh

As much as I enjoyed having three days off in the same location, I was quite happy to go back to work this morning.

I wish I could say the same about my legs. I seriously torched them yesterday and I'm paying for it today. I spent the entire day walking around like I was crippled.

One of the few things I'm not digging about getting older is my diminished capacity for running. It's taking me (seemingly) forever to increase my distance. Shit, I used to roll out of bed and do a 6.7 mile run 3 days a week and a no-limit fun run on Saturday that could easily stretch into 10 or more miles.

Now I'm all excited about knocking out 3 miles and it cripples me the next day. But I'm not giving up – all it takes is time.

One thing I have always enjoyed doing on tour is going to a coin laundromat on the occasional day off to do my own laundry. I find that little routine to be strangely relaxing and comforting. But going into this tour with an attitude toward staying healthier, I am choosing to send my laundry out to the fluff n' fold every so often (as most crew people do), thereby removing one of my oft-used excuses for not exercising on days off.

The result – I have run in all 6 cities that we've had a day off in since the tour began, and I have no intention of stopping. I am completely happy about that!

Got an interesting phone call during the show tonight. I have a 16-day break coming up in a few weeks and one of my regular artists is planning a 5-show trip to South Africa, which would fit perfectly into my schedule. But, it would leave me with only one night off at home on either side of the trip, thereby negating my break.

So…go to South Africa (and Nigeria) for the first time ever, or stay home and relax? Guess I'll need to sleep on this one for a day or two. I really, really love my time at home, but I just had six months off, so I don't have much of an excuse for not going…

Friday, May 29, 2009

Third And Final Day Off in Pittsburgh

Up at 6am, knocked out the inbox and browsed the paper. Went down to the hotel gym and managed to run 3 miles. I'm pretty sure it's been at least 3 years since I ran that far. I'll pay for it tomorrow, but I was lovin' it when I was doin' it.

Walked down the street to the original Primanti Brothers location for lunch. PB's is a Pittsburgh institution. You may have seen it featured on any one of several TV shows, such as "Man vs. Food" or "Sandwich Paradise" on the Travel Channel. Their thing is to put the coleslaw and french fries ON the sandwich, not on the side. As weird as that sounds, it's unbelievably good. You can check out their website HERE.

A bunch of tour peeps went golfing this afternoon, and another bunch went to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game tonight. Not being interested in doing either of those, I trekked back down to the Strip district around 6pm. Wound up sitting outside at Roland's Seafood Grill, a really cool place that's been around since 1959. If there was a Roland's was back home in Raleigh, I'd be a regular. It's that good.

Sat at a table outside (on the sidewalk) for a couple of hours, just sipping beers and trying to decide what to have for dinner. Settled on a six-piece shrimp cocktail (they were HUGE) and a lobster roll for dinner. I normally wouldn't order a lobster roll except in Maine or Maryland, but my waiter Justin said it was worthy. Awesome bread (from Mancini's), garlic, butter and a truckload of lobster meat. Killer meal!

You can check out Roland's Seafood Grill HERE. And you can bet I'll be back the next time I have a day off in Pittsburgh. Same goes for Primanti Brothers, too!

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped at Crystal, a combo Lebanese restaurant/dive bar (WTF!!!) that I had passed this afternoon. Turns out it's been featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives." Bartender was cute as hell, and the Buds were ice-cold. Too bad I couldn't stick around for a few more – gotta get up super early tomorrow morning because bus call is at 7am.

You can check out Crystal HERE.

Back in the room by 10 and in bed around 11…

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Second Day Off in Pittsburgh

Pretty much never left my room today, except to walk to Bruegger's Bagels to grab a sandwich for lunch.

Tonight, Live Nation treated the entire crew to a very nice dinner around the corner at a restaurant called the Sonoma Grill. About 40 or so people showed up. Good food, good times…

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Surprise! An Extra Day Off!

The band's singer has a sore throat and a bad cold, so tonight's show in Saratoga Springs has been postponed for two months. So, after last night's load-out in Philadelphia, we headed for Pittsburgh, where we already had two days off scheduled. Now, it's gonna be three. No complaints here.

We're staying at the Westin Convention Center, about 6 blocks walk from The Strip, the cool downtown area with a bunch of killer bars and restaurants. Also, located in the hotel lobby, is the Original Fish House, a killer seafood place. I've probably eaten there 10 or 11 times over the years, because whenever there's a day off in the 'Burgh, it's usually at this hotel.

Met up with Julie and Marguerite for dinner tonight in the O.F.H. It was killuh as always…

Monday, May 25, 2009

Day Off in Philadelphia

Got to the hotel at 4am this morning from the gig in Hershey. After hauling my stuff up to the room, I was wide awake for a bit. Finally went to bed about 5:45am.

Got up around 9, but had a helluva time getting out of bed. I really needed more sleep, but I have too much on the brain to sleep any longer. Maybe tonight…

Around 10:30, I went down to the hotel gym on the fifth floor to get my run in. We're at the Loew's Hotel on Market Street in downtown Philly and they have a huge gym, with attendents and lots of equipment. It's far superior to most hotel workout rooms.

I managed to run 2.5 miles and walked a couple more. I'm pretty happy insofar as my day-off runs. We've had four days off since the tour started and I've run on all four of them. The 2.5 miles today was also my longest run since January! Maybe I'll finally get my groove back after all.

Walked over to the local Wawa for a sandwich for lunch, and pretty much hung out in my room all day. Got a phone call about dinner club (my group of regular "day off diners" – me, Julie, Marguerite, Tiffany, and Chuck), but I had to pass. I've got to knock out a budget for one of the upcoming tour legs. Grabbed a quick bite sitting at the bar at Maggiano's across the street and was back in my room working by 8pm.

Hit the pillow around 11pm…

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Show Day in Hershey, PA

Just as the show was about to start tonight, the skies opened up and pissed down rain for about an hour. It was a pretty ugly storm, with a bit of lightning. The opening band was cancelled because to put them on after the rain stopped would have put the whole show too far behind schedule. Pete Yorn was able to take the stage at little after 8 and he played a shorter set than usual in order for the band to get onstage on time (sort of).

We've got a quick little 2-hour drive to Philadelphia tonight, where we'll get straight into our rooms around 3:30 or 4:00am. I sat up with some of the other folks for the drive and had my first beers of the tour. By the time we pulled up to the hotel, I think that only Russell (one of the carpenters) and myself were still awake…

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day Off in Hartford, CT

Got to the hotel nice and early this morning, giving me the whole day to knock out my huge list of things to accomplish today, which was as follows:

1. Go for a run
2. Watch the "24" season finale on my computer
3. Go to dinner with my buddy Dennis

I know, what a joke, right?

As soon as Marguerite handed me my room key, I bolted to my room, changed, and went to the gym on the 5th floor to run on the treadmill. As I said before, I'm not really a fan of treadmills, but running around in downtown Hartford doesn't sound like a good idea.

After that, I walked around the neighborhood for a bit, then grabbed a sandwich to take to my room for lunch.

Hung in the room until about 6pm, when Dennis showed up. Dennis is my tour manager on the Josh Groban tour and he lives about an hour away in a Boston suburb.

We had a great meal and a good bottle of wine around the corner at Morton's. I was back in my room by about 8, which was fine by me. Dennis had to get home with his wife Barbara's steak dinner that he ordered as we were having dessert.

I was tired as hell from 4 or 5 nights of very little sleep, so I laid down and took a 45-minute nap, after which I putzed around the room for a bit, repacking my clean laundry and buying a few CD's online. Finally got in bed around 10:30…

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Show Day in Washington, DC

OK, so the gig's not actually in DC, it's waaaay out in the suburbs. Bristow, Virginia, to be exact. Mapquest says that Bristow is about 15 miles from DC. Whatever…

My buddy Pete, who grew up in Raleigh, has run this venue for the last 10 years. He used to run Walnut Creek, the amphitheater in Raleigh. This venue is dead serious about their curfew. These signs are posted all over the place backstage:Click on the photo to enlarge it if you can't read it.

Did you notice how much the fine costs for going into over time? Not to mention that they can and will pull the plug on your power…

I had a guest at the show tonight who I haven't seen in 30 years. She was Cheryl Balston then, Cheryl Bauer now. We started dating during the last few weeks of high school and were together for about a year. Recently reconnected through Facebook. Which is about the only thing that's worth a crap about FB. I also recently reconnected with some old friends from Charlotte I haven't seen in 20-plus years.

Today was our Production Manager (and Fearless Leader) Craig Finley's birthday. Everyone calls him Fin. After load-out, we had a big parking lot party by the buses. We had some extra time to kill because we weren't leaving for Hartford until 3am. There was booze and cake and revelry and such.

I'll likely sleep like crap tonight because I-95 north of Delaware and into Connecticut is the shittiest stretch of road in the US. Not looking forward to this ride…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Day Off in Virginia Beach, VA

I predicted last night that we'd make it to our hotel today around 3pm. It was a 760-mile drive from the Birmingham venue we played last night. We pulled up to the front door of the hotel at 2:59…

I'm that good.

Threw my shit into my room, cranked up (or down, if you prefer) the A/C, put on my running duds and took off. Wound up running down the sidewalk that ran along Virginia Beach Blvd. Ran a couple of miles and walked a couple more. Back to the hotel for some work and a shower, then later met my buddy Brent Carpenter in the lobby to go have drinks and dinner. Brent is Rush's Monitor Engineer and he just moved down to Virginia Beach a couple of months ago from New York. We last toured together on the 2006 All-American Rejects US Tour.

I have to admit to everyone who loves my guacamole that Brent pretty much taught me everything I know about making the stuff. To my own credit, I tend to put a helluva lot more garlic in mine than he does in his, but it's basically the same recipe.

My dinner club gang showed up while we were sitting there in the lobby, so we all went across the street to McCormick & Schmick's. After dinner, Brent and I sat at my lobby bar for a nightcap.

I headed up to my room shortly after 11pm and hit the pillow…

Monday, May 18, 2009

Show Day in Birmingham, AL

Up around 6am, grabbed a shower in a pretty raunchy and dirty shower building by the bus parking area. I've never been one of those guys who brings "shower slippers" on the road, but after this place, I may reconsider that notion…

I actually watched a couple of songs tonight. The band is starting to grow on me. Met them all yesterday at the Atlanta show and they're all genuinely nice people. I'm kinda surprised at how nice everyone is out here. Feels like I've said that a million times, but it's true.

Finished work around midnight, which gave me a little time for blogging and websurfing, and of course, buying some more CD's from Amazon, just what I need. I must have 15 unpacked boxes of the damn things at home from when I bought my house and moved in 3 years ago, yet I still buy 6-12 more per month. WTF?

We've got a 13-hour drive tonight, from Birmingham to Virginia Beach. I'll be hatin' it, because even though I won't go to bed until around 3, I'll still be up by 8. Which means we'll still be 7 hours from the hotel. I just want to get there and get my run in before I meet my buddy Kirk (who lives there) for a couple of beers.

OK, I absolutely have to share this photo with y'all. I so wish I had been at this party. Best EVER from the looks of it:

Off to the bus…

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Day Off in Atlanta, GA

In spite of going to bed at 4am, I woke up feeling great just before 9 this morning. I was the only person awake for about an hour, and spent that time sitting up front with Charlie, my bus driver. Funny, funny guy – he'll be fun to hang out with a bit.

We made it to the hotel just before noon. We're staying at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in downtown Atlanta. If you've ever seen the Burt Reynolds movie "Sharkey's Machine," you might remember one of the final scenes where the bad guy was thrown from a high-floor window to his death.

I'm on the 58th of 72 floors and this is my view:

In the following photo, you can see Philips Arena, and just on this side of it, the CNN Center, where the CNN network is based. Can you say "Robin Meade" on Headline News? Not sure, but I think that Turner Television and TNT network are also there. In the bottom right of the photo, you see Centennial Park, scene of the 1996 Olympic bombing:

And speaking of Robin Meade, who is the Number 1 reason to watch Headline News before 10am every day:

I got dressed to go running around the park, and just as I was about to go to the elevator, the sky rumbled and opened up in a hellacious thunderstorm. I waited awhile for the storm to pass, but eventually decided to go to the hotel gym and run on a treadmill.

And of course, as soon as I was finished and went back up to my room, the rain stopped. C'est la vie!

Had a plan to go to Legal Seafood, about six blocks away, with Julie for dinner. Marguerite, our Production Coordinator, and Tiffany, who is the Dressing Room Coordinator and Wardrobe person, joined us. Meet the girls…




As always with Legal Seafood, our dinner was amazing. Mags (Marguerite) and Tiff both got lobster. Julie and I both got the Wood Grilled Assortment, which consisted of 2 ounces each of Wild Atlantic Salmon, Tuna, and Swordfish, along with a skewer of scallops and a skewer of shrimp. Mmmmm…

Back in my room for some computer time, then off to bed about 10:30. Gotta get up at 5:30 tomorrow…

Friday, May 15, 2009

West Palm Beach, FL - First Show

The day started early for me. Up at 6am, handled a bunch of email, checked out, and made it outside way too early for our 8:00 bus call. But it was nice to sit outside in the fresh air and read the newspaper.

We have eleven people on our bus for this leg of the tour. That's at least one, if not two, too many for me. I'm not claustrophobic or anything, it's just that the more people there are living on our little 45-foot submarine, the messier it tends to be. Such is life as a roadie…

Here's a photo of my new home for the summer:

Today turned out to be one of the best "first days" I've ever had on a tour. There are nearly 70 people out here, so I'm a long way from learning everyone's name, but everyone just couldn't be nicer. And that goes a long way towards having a good time on the road.

My Live Nation counterpart, Julie, will be sharing an office with me everyday. Also, because she doesn't have her own office road case, I'm letting her keep a bunch of her stuff in mine. I didn't have it nearly full and I'm happy to share.

The room we had today was pretty dang small, but as roadies must, we made due. The whole day went smoothly, settlement was painless, and I finally made my way out to the bus about 1:30am.

Looks like everyone on my bus is pretty mellow, no high-volume ESPN SportsCenter viewing all night long. No one turned the TV on at all; there was just some really good conversation. Live Nation Julie and I are the new kids, so it was good to get to know some of the other folks.

I finally crawled into my bunk around 4am…

Thursday, May 14, 2009

First Day Back At Work

The venue that the current leg of this tour is starting in is the Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach, FL. I was here a few years ago with System Of A Down during one of the Ozzfest tours. That band's crazy-assed, drugged-out, drunken band assistant commandeered a golf cart that had a hard canopy-type roof over it and managed to drive it at full speed a bit too close to Ozzy's personal tour bus. The roof of the cart smacked the driver's side mirror and shattered both the mirror and the enclosure, to the tune of about $800.00 damage. Needless to say, Sharon Osbourne wasn't too happy about that. I would've loved to be a fly on the wall whenever she read the band's Tour Manager the riot act for that little incident.

Came over to the venue this morning on the 9 o'clock shuttle. Met a bunch of folks, got an office, got started. My Live Nation counterpart is a lovely young lady from Detroit named Julie and we hit it off immediately. Early indications are that I'm gonna enjoy this tour. There are a lot of nice people on the crew.

It was pretty uneventful for a first day. Not much to report. Julie and I split around 10:45 and got back to the hotel just in time for me to run into the bar and see the Carolina Hurricanes win Game 7 of their playoff series against the Boston Bruins.

Go Canes!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Travel Day To W. Palm Beach, FL

Not a bad day. I had gone to bed a little after midnight last night, and slept like shit. Finally got up around 5:30am. The good news was, I had some extra time, so I decided to take a run. The bad news was, I only had the old shoes to run in. Oh, well…

Traveling by air these days is pretty much crap. Flying with US Airways is no picnic, either. My flight out of Raleigh was delayed by two and a half hours. Missed the connection in Charlotte, and finally landed in W. Palm Beach around 9:30. Dropped bags and checked email in my room, then headed down to the bar, where I had a late dinner that consisted of two glasses of wine and some hummus with pita bread.

Hopefully, I'll be blogging a little more consistently now that I'm working again…

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Running Away...

Had to run in old shoes this morning because I shipped my new ones to Florida in my road case the other day. I'm gonna try to run every day off during my upcoming tour. Fingers crossed on that thought.

Those damn shoes were 'bout wore out! Probably shouldn't have done that and I bet my knees will be killing me tomorrow.

I'm running away to join the circus tomorrow. Nah, actually flying to West Palm Beach, FL, because I've been hired to do the Colplay tour. Should be an interesting summer…

Met up with about 10 friends on the Ale House deck tonight for a "Bob's Going Away" dinner. Also, to watch the Carolina Hurricanes hockey game. Unfortunately, they got their heads handed to them. Ugly game.

After that, I went with Foy & Terry for one round at Northside. For once, I did the right thing and left after the one beer. Home and in bed shortly after midnight.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gig Time...

Got a job tonight. Looks like I'll be going back to work next week. Details soon…