Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bad Company

Hit the ground running this morning. I have a lot of work to do, wrapping up the last tour leg. Ran a couple of errands for groceries and such, but the day was mostly spent chained to my dining room table, of which I've now made a gigantic mess! It will only get worse for the next week or so, until I'm caught up to date and the last FedEx packages have been sent to LA and London.

Met one of my childhood guitar heroes tonight – Mick Ralphs, who played in Mott the Hoople until he quit the band to join forces with Paul Rodgers and form Bad Company. Bad Co. played Walnut Creek tonight and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Three original members (Mick, Paul, drummer Simon Kirke), some bass player I didn't know (replacing the late Boz Burrell), and the band was supplemented by Howard Leese (orig. guitarist for Heart) on guitar.

The show was awesome. You would never know that Paul Rodgers was 59 years old – his voice was strong and dead on. Paige went with me and I think she liked it as much as I did. Here's the setlist from the show tonight (courtesy of my buddy Foxy, the band's Tour Manager):

Fuckin' crowd pissed me off. They didn't make enough noise for the band to come back for a second encore, which would have started with "Deal With The Preacher" which is my favorite Bad Co. song.

So, anyway, when we first got to the venue, I parked backstage (thanks Wilson and Shaw) and went to see my friend Cindy, who was doing catering for the gig. We sat and had a bite with her, and Mick Ralphs was sitting a couple of tables away from us with a couple of folks. About 20 minutes later, just before he was gonna leave the room, I walked over and said hello. He was a complete gentleman, and when I told him I planned to attend all five of the Mott the Hoople shows in London during October, he laughed. Not being one to be a pest in situations like this, I thanked him for his time and split. Those five minutes went by way too quickly, but I treasured them.

For sure, that was the highlight of my year so far…

Monday, June 22, 2009

Heading Home

Noon flight from Vancouver to Toronto. Nice seat, cranky asshat in the seat next to me, though. Forgettable flight, as they all should be. I watched a movie (Bourne Identity) on my iPod, listened to some tunes, read a magazine, and before you know it, we'd landed. Even after going through U.S. Customs and Immigrations (in Toronto? Huh?), I still had an hour-plus to kill, so I went and grabbed a bite to eat. The flight to RDU was on a Canada Air Regional Jet, much smaller, but a had a row (of 2 seats) to myself.

On the ground in Raleigh by about 10:30pm. Cab to the house and then there I sat, wide awake until 3am…

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day Off in Calgary

Crawled into my bunk last night around 2:30am, a few minutes after we pulled away from the venue in Winnipeg. Woke up this morning around 8:00, but having changed time zones yet again, it was really 7am in Alberta.

Whenever I'm in Alberta, I can't help but think of my favorite Neil Young song, "Four Strong Winds." Neil performs it, but it was written by a guy named Ian Tyson. Partial lyrics:

"Think I'll go out to Alberta,
Weather's good there in the fall.
I got some friends that I could go to working for.
Still I wish you'd change your mind,
If I ask you one more time.
But we've been through this a hundred times or more.

Four strong winds that blow lonely,
Seven seas that run high.
All those things that don't change, come what may.
If the good times are all gone,
Then I'm bound for movin' on.
I'll look for you if I'm ever back this way."

Beautiful song, and it's from my all-time favorite Neil Young album, "Comes A Time," from 1978. I have listened to that record hundreds of times in my rocking chair on my front porch. And I'll listen to it many more…

Finally made it to the hotel around 3pm. Up to my room and get some work done for a bit, then shower and head out for dinner. I walked around for awhile, stopping and reading menus at places I passed along the way, but wound up eating back at the pub attached to the hotel. The entrees sounded good, and the appetizers sounded even better. I got the Stilton Cheese Dip, which was served in a pumpernickel bread bowl with Granny Smith apple slices and bagel crisps. Damn good, damn fine.

Also got an order of Blarney chips, which were really nachos without the tortilla chips. In their place, the base was made of waffle fries. Had the usual toppings – cheese, onions, jalapeno pepper slices.

I was drinking some lager from the Netherlands that the bartender recommended. All I remember is that the name started with a "D." Tasty stuff it was, indeed.

Made it up to my room by 9:30 and in bed by 11:30…

Monday, June 15, 2009

Show Day in Winnipeg

OK, I'm a dummy. I left my camera charger at home. By being extremely frugal with it, I managed to squeeze four weeks use out of the battery, but it finally died in New Orleans last week. I'm too cheap to buy another one, especially since I’m flying home next Monday, the 22nd.

So don't expect to see any pictures here this week…

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day Off in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Made it to the border around 10:30 this morning. Took the better part of two hours to get all five buses of personnel through Immigrations. On any rock tour, there are always a couple of guys with (minor) criminal records that require thorough examination by the Immigrations folks.

Got away clean and made it to the hotel by sometime around 1 or 1:15pm. We're staying at the Radisson in central downtown Winnipeg. Last time I was here, I stayed at the Fairmont, about 5 blocks away. There's a cool minor-league baseball park nearby, too. I went to a game there one year.

As luck would have it, we're here on Sunday, which is the night that all the classic car aficionados cruise the downtown area, specifically Portage Avenue, the main drag, where our hotel is located.

Before I even went to dinner, I saw nothing less than 30 cars I'd love to own. I'm talking pristine-condition pieces from the 60's and 70's.

I went to Hy's Steak Loft for dinner, probably the best steak house in Winnipeg. Had a great shrimp cocktail appetizer and a blackened tuna steak for my entrée. Service couldn't have been better, but maybe that's because I had the entire bar area to myself.

Spoke to the sommelier for about 20 minutes about Canadian wines. He was very helpful and educational. One of the waitresses overheard our conversation and I wound up talking to her for another 15 or 20 minutes about Charlotte, of all things. She had friends in Huntersville, NC, (just north of Charlotte) and knew plenty of North Carolina.

After dinner, I hit my hotel bar for a beer and went to stand outside to watch all the vintage cars go by. Think I'm gonna have to buy another convertible at some point…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Travel Day to Des Moines

Long, crappy day stuck on the bus. We pulled away from the venue in San Antonio last night a few minutes before 2am. I woke up around 8am, got dressed, and headed up front to hang out with Charlie.

And that's how it was, all day long…

We finally pulled up to the Renaissance Savery Hotel in downtown Des Moines at 6:45pm. Seventeen hours trapped on a 45-foot submarine. I couldn't get to my room and into the shower fast enough. As I was showering, I realized I hadn't had enough water to drink all day and was feeling pretty dehydrated, to the point of having a low-grade headache. Damn sure didn't feel like going out on a restaurant hunt, so I checked the room service menu, decided it looked more than sufficient, and headed down to the lobby bar.

Had a really good glass of Penfold's Cabernet, and ordered a shrimp cocktail that was terrific. The next appetizer I got, though, was the bomb. It was a country fried tuna dish (I know – weird, right?). They took a tuna steak, coated it with Japanese panko (bread crumbs), and flash fried it. The tuna was rare, but warm, the panko coating light and tasty. It was served with a ginger-soy sauce and wasabi mayonnaise. Yummy!

I was eventually joined by Piers (the band's chef), Minh (carpenter), Marguerite (production coordinator) and Tiffany (wardrobe). A glass or two of wine later, I headed up to my room.

On a bum note, today marked the first day off city that I didn't go running. After 17 hours trapped on the bus, I just didn't feel like it. No guilt, no excuses, just wasn't gonna do it.

Finally got in bed around 11:30…

Monday, June 8, 2009

Second Day Off in New Orleans

After staying up pretty late last night, I slept in today (yeah, right!) getting up at the ungodly hour of 8:30. WTF! Maybe tonight will be the night I get some sleep…

Between my running/walking at the gym yesterday and walking all over the French Quarter last night, my legs were toasted today. I wound up going down to the hotel gym again and walking 3 miles just to loosen them up. Within an hour, though, my left knee was totally tightening up again.

Had lunch at Mother's again today, this time alone. Jessica was working today - boo.

Here's the world's best sammich – a Mother's Oyster Po' Boy, along with an ice-cold Dixie beer, fries and a bottle of Crystal Hot Sauce. The only way to possibly improve this meal would be to use Texas Pete Hot Sauce instead, but heck, I'm in Louisiana, so I don't mind using the local stuff. But no way in hell would I defile this sandwich with that nasty Tabasco – it has more heat than flavor, Texas Pete has more flavor than heat. Crystal is close enough to Pete that I'll use it.

The Po' Boy Mecca:

Sat in my room most of the afternoon, even squeezed in a 45-minute nap. Sure needed that.

Eventually wandered over to Acme Oyster House for dinner. I recently saw it featured on the Travel Channel and realized I'd never eaten there in all the times I've been to New Orleans. It was pretty rocking. My favorite dish there was the Chargrilled Oysters. That's oysters grilled on an open flame and topped with seasoned butter and grated Romano cheese. They're served with small toasted pieces of French bread, which you can dip into all the goo. The goo being oyster juice, butter and melted cheese. Good stuff!

I wasn't very hungry after that, but I ordered a PeaceMaker, anyway. That's a Po'Boy sammich that comes with fried oysters on one half and fried shrimp on the other. It was OK, but Mother's sammiches are better.

After dinner, I wandered around on Bourbon Street looking for a good band to watch. Found a couple of them. One had a bad-ass guitarist who was a blast to watch. He was a helluva player. They were a cover band, but played tunes I like (uh, that pretty much means the music from the 70's) and this kid would deconstruct all the guitar riffs and solos and just OWN them. They did everything from James Brown to the Stones to Van Halen and were great!

The other band I really liked was playing at Fat Catz. Eight-piece, all bruthas, and they rocked like mofo's. Their guitarist was a complete bad-ass, too. The 3-piece horn section was killin' it. These guys played a little bit of every style, too. Funk to pop to soul to straight up rock. When they did Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer," the dance floor quickly filled.

I watched them for probably the better part of an hour before heading out. Ran into 5 of our truck drivers on Bourbon Street as I was moseying back to the hotel. Hung out with them for a few minutes, but I was done for the evening…

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day Off in New Orleans

It wasn't really a good week for blogging – I had a pretty busy week, with shows on Monday & Tuesday, then our only triple night run of the tour on Thursday, Friday & Saturday.

Today, we start 2 days off in New Orleans.

I sat up with the gang on the bus pretty late last night. I was in the mood for a glass of wine, and wound up having a couple of them. Finally crawled into my bunk just before 4:30am and managed to sleep until around 8:20 this morning.

Got up and went up front to hang out with driver Charlie. He's a hoot and makes me laugh with his stories. We pulled up to the hotel shortly after noon.

We're staying at a great hotel called the Windsor Court Hotel. I have a killer room, with a great view…

Blazed to the room to change and then headed (where else?) to the gym to run. Managed a couple of miles and walked another 4 or so.

At one point during the afternoon, I had to go to the lobby for something and there was an honest-to-god string quartet playing classical music in the lobby. I stood and watched them for a few minutes and really enjoyed it.

As soon as I was done with that, I walked around the corner to Mother's to get an Oyster Po'Boy. I think Mother's has the best Po'Boys in New Orleans. If you think differently, let me know. I'll be happy to try another place, but I bet they don't measure up.

While standing in line to place my order, the cute brunette in front of me struck up a conversation, which led to her inviting me to share her table – turned out we were both there dining alone. Her name was Jessica, she was 45, from DC, and cute as hell. She was in town for business and staying at the Intercontinental, a few blocks over. We sat there for an hour eating and chatting, which reminds me of a t-shirt I once owned. It had a picture of Albert Einstein on it and said "Sit on a hot stove for a minute and it feels like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour and it feels like a minute." True dat, Albert!

Anyway, after lunch, I wound up back in my room for a couple more hours, reading and working on the computer. Split just before 8 to go meet Jessica for dinner and drinks…

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Show Day in Nashville

The show tonight completed the only three-shows-in-a-row run we have during the tour. I'm glad to have it out of the way.

It was also the first indoor show. We've been doing all outdoor shows until today. I'd rather do buildings, myself. The office rooms and bathrooms are better.

I was standing just outside my office door about 8pm tonight, and looked up to see Faith Hill walking down the hallway (en route to the band's guest suite/friends & family room). She looked right at me, and SMILED REAL BIG. I smiled back, she said "Hi." I melted into the floor. She is one fine looking woman. She had a few other folks with her, including her husband, Tim McGraw. Dang…

Roadie friends Angela and Jessica came out to visit tonight. They both live here in Nashvegas. My buddy Lance (from Tour Supply) and his lovely (and very pregnant) wife Tara also came to the show and to hang out.

We've got the next two days off in New Orleans. A bunch of people are talking about taking a swamp tour, in a boat of course. Not sure I'm interested in that. I've seen plenty of critters in my life. Besides, if I see a snake, I'm likely to beat that sucker to death…

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day Off in Cincinnati

We're staying at the Downtown Hilton (on 5th St.), right in the middle of everything fun to do in Cincinnati (that I know of). I got into my room around 2pm, changed, and went downstairs to the gym to run. Made it about 1.4 miles when a searing pain shot through my left knee. No idea what caused it, but after several attempts to continue the run, I gave up and got on a stationary bike. I had forgotten what a good workout you can get on a bike, and my knee didn't hurt at all from riding it. I had a mondo-ass river of sweat pouring off of me by the time I was done. It was fun!

Later in the afternoon, I dragged a few of the crew guys to my fave Cinci watering hole, the Cadillac Ranch. There were 5 or 6 of us, and we stayed there for a few hours.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped and listened to a Brazilian pop band playing outside at some sort of fund-raiser. They were really good. I wanted to hear "The Girl From Ipanema," but they never got around to playing it. (Someone later told me they played it right after I left – damn!) As we were leaving, we ran into another group of folks who were on their way to Rock Bottom Brewery. I jumped in with that crowd for a bit. They were all eating, but I just had a couple of beers.

I was back in my room by 11…