This is my official “half way” point of the 2014 Winter tour. Not necessarily because we have completed 50% of our shows, but simply because I am sitting on a plane back to Denver for a few days off, and this is truly the first time I have had to put work aside for a day (of travel) since the beginning of November, 2013. I know, I know, we’re ALL busy. But as the days have gone by this winter, I have been nudged and nudged into action by some truly BIG fans. And you know we aim to please. So, herewith, our mid winter update…..
All of the band and crew met at our office in Golden, CO (it was never the BEER that made Golden famous…) and we loaded up “Sierra”, our 45 long Prevost XLII tour bus, and “Kewl 2”, our piece of junk trailer that follows us everywhere. I reckon that as long as it is there each day when we walk off the bus to load in, we should respect the job our trailer accomplishes. It gets our gear from one town to the next.
We stocked the trailer with gear, and the bus with warm clothing, and sent it east. Five days later we would see it again, literally, as we landed at LaGuardia on Long Island. Before the plan had finished taxiing, I looked out of the window, saw our hotel, and right out front, our trusty coach. We loaded up in to a hotel shuttle, and after a 5 minute drive, we were settling in to sleep in our bunks for the first of many long winter nights.
Our first stop was the Brooklyn Bowl. We had not been here before, so we were intrigued by the idea of a music venue that also did business as a bowling alley. After it was said and done, we were torn between this eclectic club and Irving Plaza, our historical NYC area play. Both have their logistical issues, but overall we enjoyed the change of pace. We hear that they are opening more “Brooklyn Bowl” type venues across the country as I type, so who knows, we may show up at one near you some day.
We rolled down bumpy I 95, as we always do, happy to escape the NYC traffic, even after midnight. We woke up east of Philadelphia, at a hotel in New Jersey. (the state where one day I will marina my boat). No parking for our bus and trailer at any hotels in the city. We then headed to our second consecutive NEW venue, called Union Transfer. Way north of where we have always played, down on South Street at the TLA. I can say that we all enjoyed this venue very much. Logistically sound for crew, and sonically decent for band. Props to my home town for coming out in numbers on a FRI night, and a shout out to some high school friends who came in to the city to visit me, and to enjoy the band. They are also true fans.
After saying our good byes, we hopped down to DC for our annual stop at the 9:30Club. This day was also our first Rock Bottom Visit since we had beta tested the idea in Denver ahead of our NYE show. Makes for a long day, scheduling in 2 hours (“happy hours” - BOOM!) on our already long days, to go say hi to fans at local Rock Bottom Restaurants, play a song or 2 or 3, do an interview with local radio personalities, answer questions from the fans, sign autographs, and drink Beer. But we have made it work 8 or 9 times already this winter, and have more scheduled (check the web site).
We made stops in Charlottesville, Knoxville (where a band member fell while running and got cut up pretty good — but rallied to rock the next night), Asheville, and Atlanta. Lotsa “villes” down there…. Good to know we have a good core group of fans down south. We are very appreciative. We ended that weekend in Nash — wait for it — Ville, where we were live on the local radio station for the majority of our show. No pressure there! We hung around the Carolina’s the next weekend, stopping in Charleston ( I could put a boat in down there too), Raleigh, and Charlotte. We seemed to bring a lot of cold weather and some snow to many of these towns who are not so used to it. We saw major accidents on the Atlanta highways, people slipping and falling in Asheville on the snow, roads shut down in Charleston, and if we hear the words Polar Vortex again, we may actually have to break down and google it.
Searching for some warmth, we headed back towards Georgia. We stopped for a day off to watch the Broncos destroy the Seahawks. Regrettably, this is NOT what we witnessed. Congrats to Seattle, and wow, we came in second…..
After a chilly day in Macon, we headed further south, and we finally found it. The sun. Our swing through Florida was warm, though we continue to confound the meteorologists down there with an inordinate amount of rain, especially when we play in Orlando. Sorry about that.
After our last show of the first leg, we rolled to a Fort Lauderdale airport hotel, ahead of a flight home the next morning. Reminder: NEVER book hotel rooms near the Ft Lauderdale airport, unless you are going on a cruise. Geez, rooms were SO expensive because of all of those cruisers.
I spent the next ten days preparing for the second leg of the tour. Routing, schedules, hotel reservations, and more airline reservations for everyone for the next few months. 10+ hours a day just hammering away on the computer. I sure could use a personal assistant.
And then…. Back to the cold. Denver was not too bad, and as soon as we touched down north of Hartford, CT at BDL, we were missing the dry air at 5500 feet. Cold, snow, and ice confined us to our tour bus the night before we started out on the next batch of shows. We started in Northampton. Too much snow and traffic to back the bus in to the load in area, so we pulled in forward. Slid on ice, nearly hit a telephone pole. The next day was another “first time at this venue” day, in a town called Port Chester, NY. A beautiful venue called the Capitol Theatre. Another cold day in an old theater, but we had a good turnout. The most people ( I think) on this tour to that point. We strayed from our “evening with” two set show on this night to make way for Anders Osborne to play an opening set ahead of us. Good guys. Anders sat in with our band for a song and did great.
From there, we rocked it over to Boston, to one of our favorite venues, the House of Blues. As it was a Saturday night, we had to do an early show (doors at 6PM!!!) so that we could get our show finished by the 10PM curfew. Why a 10PM curfew? Well, the local stage hands pulled no punches when they told us we had to make way for the “gay disco”. Now, we were out of there before our eyes had the opportunity to lay witness to the dance party that we were told would erupt, but we sure did see a quick transformation in the HOB from rock show to dance club, complete with a DJ set up where our drum kit had been, and a disco ball that seemingly dropped from the heavens and was lit up big time, sending us back to 1979 just before we got the hell out of there. Lansdowne Street is quite a scene after 10PM on a SAT night. Amazing how many kids are out to be seen.
We had a couple of days to work our way over to the Pittsburgh area, where we returned to Mr. Smalls, a cool gig that used to be a church of some sort. Another good crowd for a TUE, a night when we know it’s tough for you guys to get out to see the band. we thank all of you for seeing the band live, no matter what night of the week. Oh yeah, it was terribly cold in Pittsburgh.
Our next show was probably our biggest surprise so far this winter… A SELLOUT in Cincinnati! We owe fans a ton of credit for seeing us a few years ago at the 20th Century Theatre, and then spreading the word. It worked. We had to turn people away at the door, thanks to that Fire Marshall guy…. Thanks again.
We followed up the Cinci show with our best attended Cleveland House of Blues show ever. Ohio really took care of us this year! And then we finished up last night in a Detroit suburb called Royal Oak, MI. We were at a beautiful venue called the Royal Oak Music Theatre (works for us) and to our surprise, had a 3rd strong night in a row with respect to attendance. It really is true that fans of the band spread the word and get friends out to our shows, and we have been making more and more fans this winter with your help.
Waking up at 5:45AM this morning, we got to the airport with plenty of time for breakfast before loading on to our non stop flight to Denver. Sitting on the tarmac for 3.5 hours while waiting for the De-icing vehicles to restock their juice was not a fun way to get the day started, but ultimately, 6 hours later, we were home on our couches.
Thanks to those of you who have joined us before DOORS for our VIP Meet and Greets with the band. (info on the web site). It’s nice to talk to you guys and get your BHTM stories and answer your questions. And the band is making more and more friends (friends = FANS) by signing autographs and doing photos, etc. We hope you have enjoyed those experiences.
Four more shows this week. Milwaukee, Chicago, St Louis, and Council Bluffs. At that point, we will head home for a meaningful tour break, amounting to about 15 days, before we climb on the bus in Golden, and head WEST.
Enjoy the new record, and come see the band perform some of it live, along with some “oldies but goodies”. We have Ronnie Baker Brooks and Hazel Miller out all winter with us, so this show really is a “must see”. The band is sounding great. Find the date we are in town, get a babysitter, get tix, get your friends together, and get out there to see the most polished Big Head Todd experience ever.
Thanks you guys.