Well, looks like Tumblr is the new post area for my BHTM blog, which I thought no one would miss, but clearly I was wrong! I guess if I post to Tumblr, it will be shot over to the band web site, and while I’m not really sure how this will work, I felt it was time to say Hello to the fans again and get you all caught up on how things are going.
I can’t believe how busy the winter of 2012 has been, and how quickly it has come and gone. We certainly had a busy first three months of the year. After a phenomenal night at the House of Blues in Chicago on New Year’s Eve, we geared up for a tour that began with a sellout in Atlanta. What a great start! We worked our way north, stopping near my home town in Pennsylvania for a day off near the largest mall on the east coast, the King of Prussia Mall. Met up with some friends and made up for some lost time. We had shows all over the northeast, and after a short break at home we worked the midwest, including a super show in Indy the week of the Super Bowl. We pulled up to this gig the day before our show. The hotel was close to the venue (a downtown street stage type set up), so I worked a deal where I could get our bus “in the hole” the day before, and not have to worry about manuevering in the next morning, when the streets would be filled with football fans looking for beer and chicken wings days ahead of the big game. That evening, on our night off, we were invited to see the Indiana Pacers play a home game. Since the bus was parked right outside the arena, it was a short walk from the bus to the game. We had killer seats. 2nd row on the floor. We sat behind several of the Patriot players, who had the first row. Who the hell do they think they are? We had a blast, thanks to the fact that one of the owners of the team is a big fan of the band. Man, those kids on the court sure are big.
After the midwest weekend, which included Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and St Louis, we flew home on Super Sunday for a few days off, but made it in time to watch the big game. I lost all of my prop bets.
A few days later, we began a run to the west coast, by flying in to Reno and working our way to the shores of Lake Tahoe. We have made the Crystal Bay Casino a regular stop for us. Nice small room, and we fill it up every time. I don’t know where everyone comes from, but we are thankful they find this place and treat us well.
The next night, we sold out the Fillmore in San Fran. Always a fun time there. Then we headed south towards LA, but instead of doing the House of Blues, we did 3 smaller clubs outside the city over four days. (Hermosa Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Agoura Hills). Turns out we were right down the road from the foothills where M*A*S*H was filmed. That was my favorite 30 minute sit-com growing up. After those three, we rolled back north, stopping in Reading CA for a day off. First time there. We were walking to dinner and saw a girl sitting on the curb with her bicycle, in tears. She was in no apparent danger, and she was on the phone, so we let her be. when the restaurant we went to was too crowded, we turned back to find another one, and came across this gal again. This time I had to ask if she was OK. Turns out she had been attacked by some young boys for no other reason than to knock her off her bike. She was still shaken up, but had called her father, who was on his way. I didn’t want her to feel afraid of US, so we moved on after determining she was safe and that her Dad was only minutes away.
Portland was up next. Roger Clyne, who was traveling with us in a support role, had a good following here, and was definitely responsible for selling some tickets. He is a good guy, and we hope to be able to share the stage with he and his band sometime soon.
Next up was Saturday night in Seattle in a venue we had never been to. It was called the Neptune Theater, and for the life of me, I can’t remember a thing about this place as I type (at 30000 feet on a flight home to DEN). Oh well, I’m sure we had a good time and I’m sure the crowd had fun. Don’t you always?
We finished up the west coast leg in Spokane. Another good crowd, especially for a Sunday night. After this show, the bus needed to head south towards Texas, where we would have our next batch of shows. So, we drove overnight to Bozeman MT, where we caught a flight home for a quick break while the bus rolled south. A few days later, we flew again, this time to Dallas, to begin the best three day stretch of the winter.
Texas continues to impress us with the fan base coming out to see the band live. It’s really incredible. Also, we signed autographs in Dallas and Houston (and many of the dates on this winter tour), and broke records for our merchandise sales for the winter. Texas can party, and can really support a band when we need it most. I may never choose to live there, but the Big Head Todd band will always rock Dallas, Houston and Austin as long as they are still a band. Thanks to nearly 4000 of you who supported us down there at the beginning of March.
Next up was the deep south. We flew in to Orlando, and spent the night near the home of our bus driver, saving us the cost of a hotel room. (we really ARE running a business). His home town was not exactly on the way to Tampa, our first Florida show on the trip, but it was close enough to make it worth it. TPA was too expensive to fly in to, so it worked out well. St Petersburg was our target the next morning, and going over that bay bridge in to the city was a pretty cool site. If I had time, I would have liked to go to a Phillies Grapefruit league game, but there is never enough time to do many of the things we would like to do. Traveling is fun, but not being able to see ALL the sites this country has to offer can be a bummer when you have to work most days out on the road.
The State Theatre is a classic Florida hard rock club, or so it appeared to have been at one time. It was dark, and our shoes stuck to the floor a bit. But we had a good day and a good crowd. We were helped in part by a large contingent of Brian’s Mom’s friends and family. We set them up as best we could with chairs in a roped off section of the club, where they could watch the drummer do his thing. In our world, parents have top priority. When we are in Philly, MY MOM gets the best seat in the house. We are fortunate to get to see family when we travel. Something I would not be able to do as much if I was trapped in a cubicle with only two weeks of vacation time per year.
The House of Blues in Orlando was our next stop. This is a great room, with great crew and good logistics, and we only wish we could have sold more tickets to fill this enormous venue. But we had a great crowd on hand, including John and Sandy and their NASA team out in full force. We treated them to a private sound check party, complete with a pre-show warm up of Blue Sky.
We woke up the next morning in Ft Lauderdale. We were back at the Culture Room. A strip mall-y shopping center place where the bus took up seemingly half of the parking lot. Here we ran in to some truly hard core old friends from back in the days of Boulder, CO, when the band used to play at McCabes all the time, and everybody I knew either worked there or drank there. Roger, Paul, Trevor, and “Chicken” Rich set off the “way back machine” and we did get a chance to say Hi for a while. This club is interesting. The sound system is decent, but the owner decided to invest primarily in the lighting design. LED walls, fully programmable intelligent lighting and tons of haze fill this room. He is so committed to his club that he can be found there from 3PM until the joint shuts down well after we are loaded out. If only he could have put some of those lights on our drummer……
We made our first trip to the Florida Theater in Jacksonville the next day. Again, weak ticket sales were a bit of a disappointment, but we are looking forward to being invited back because of the quality of the venue. Great staff and crew, great audio and lights, etc.
Our largest disappointment with regard to ticket sales, however, was not in Florida, but in Mobile, AL. Not sure if we had ever been there, and not sure if we will every be going back. This part of the country just never had the radio support we would have needed years ago to establish the band and get some long term footing with fans. We somehow survived the Soul Kitchen venue, which, while staffed by a good group of people, was truly a scary building. We were shocked that this place had not been condemned, and can’t’ imagine a building inspector would not demand upgrades and improvements. Again, we were OK with the hard working folks who ran the place, and if invited back I’m sure we would play there. But with the lack of radio support we don’t anticipate being back. But if we do go back, I hope they pick up the garbage off the floor that has been there since the turn of the century — the LAST century.
Northbound, to the Carolinas… a beautiful part of the country. Started this run with a sellout at the Handlebar in Greenville, SC. Nice folks, and they clean the floors after every show. We would love to visit again. We left a box of CD’s there, and they emailed me and then shipped them home for us. People are nice….
The next night we were in Charleston, at the Music Farm. Another old building, but a decent venue all in all. Apparently it used to be the largest train station in the country. If this is not the case, don’t’ harm the messenger. We did a “brush with greatness” on this night. Our merchandise guy reported to me that Bill Murray was in the house. Sure enough, I spotted him in the 3rd row near the end of the night, and after buying a bunch of shirts and music, he was rocking out all the way to the end of the show. Afterwards, we coordinated a quick meet and greet outside in the alley of the club, and we learned that he is truly a fan. This was his first BHTM show, and we hope to see him again. We plan on emailing him the next time we are in the area (he splits time in South Carolina and…. New England somewhere). And of course we’ll be writing the sound track to his next movie, right? We’ll see….
Our second Fillmore of the year was in Charlotte the next night. Great room, good crowd, and even though it rained, we had a good day. We recommend the diner across the street for an awesome (not necessarily healthy) meal. Had a bit of a birthday meet and greet after the show for our friend Bobby, organized buy our biggest Carolina fans, the Harrills. Another close friend of ours (Bobby R.) stopped by the bus early in the afternoon before load in, and we caught up for a good while. He runs another venue on the beach that we love to play at, the Windjammer. We hope to be there again some time in 2012. Why? Because “the boat’s in the water”.
Now for the crazy routing of the week award.
After the Charlotte show, we loaded out (in the rain, ahem….) and rolled overnight to ATL (that’s the Atlanta airport, for you non-fliers). We jumped off the bus in the pre-dawn hours, and worked our way to check in for a flight to Denver. Made the flight, touching down before noon. From there, I pulled up the Tundra (perfect ride for these fly dates we do with limited gear), we loaded up our guitars, pedals, in ear monitor cases, and instead of going home, we drove right by home on our way to Crested Butte. Look it up. Beautiful part of the state, near Gunnison, CO (you could boat the Blue Mesa Reservoir for weeks). It was quite a long day, and we actually had multiple vehicles driving. As large as the Tundra is, we could fit the whole team in there. As I and my group got hungry, we started looking for some food near South Park. We stumbled in to a bowling alley with a restaurant attached, and actually had a pretty dang good meal. My chorizo burrito hit the spot. From there we got to within 15 minutes of Gunnison when we hit a speed trap. I was dead to rights, coming over the hill at 77 in a 65. But the Man was sympathetic to our trying 18 hour trip, so let me off with a warning. From there, we puttered up the hill to the resort just ahead of nightfall. there was no snow on the ground, and not much to speak of on the hill. Same story all over the country the way I have heard it.
No snow at all, until….
The next morning, it was chilly but not too much so for a Colorado band. We set up and line checked our gear, then made room for Guster to set up. They would play first, after a 30 minute set from our friend Zach Heckendorf, and then we would hit late afternoon.
Well, the snow came. By the time we were doing our changeover, it was falling at a pretty good clip. While the audio consoles were freezing up in the wind and snow, the band members were scaring up ski goggles to wear for the show. I’m not kidding. Rob put on his ski helmet and goggles, and the other three had the goggles alone. The snow fell harder, the wind blew wilder, and the consoles were still broken. The PA worked, so the crowd could hear the band, but the Monitor console was down, so the band could not hear itself play. I hope it was OK out front for the fans. After each song, I went out on to the stage to squeegee off some of the snow that would collect the previous 5 minutes. The keyboards were soaked, and Jeremy had to play with a towel covering the keys. Both pedal boards were covered in snow, as they were downstage where most of the snow collected. The lap steel guitar ceased to work, and I am awaiting an update on its condition. I rebuilt the guitar pedal board, and it all seems to be working. Better snow than rain I suppose. The wind blew the snow sideways, and it engulfed everything we own. But after drying it all out at our office in Golden the next 5 days, it seems to all be OK now.
We are off the tour bus now for a while, but if you look at our schedule, you will see that we are flying in for some “one-offs as spring thaws the remaining snow at elevations we will see in Vermont and New Hampshire.
After that, a few more single dates as we close in on our yearly Red Rocks date in June. It will sell out this year, thanks to some ticket sales to Barenaked Ladies fans, who will open the show for us. And when summer hits, so will BNL and BHTM, along with Blues Traveler and Cracker for a SIX WEEK tour that we look forward to. Should be a blast, and we hope that our fans will see the value of the show and support us as well as the other bands. More info at our web site.
Sorry for the long “catch up” blog. I know I owed you.
Big Head Todd and the Monsters