It has become somewhat customary for me to commence my periodic prose with an apology for my inability to keep more current with the day to day trials of our close knit group, the Big Head Todd band.
When I was a kid, summer meant Little League Baseball, Bid Daddy bubble gum ( I can’t find it anywhere these days ), and two weeks at the Jersey shore ( Ocean City brings back memories ). Nowadays, summer means airplanes, hotel rooms, line checks and, fortunately for our team, lots of fans out for a good time on a warm sunny night. Of course, the last three shows we have done this summer have all involved copious amounts of precipitation. Though all of those shows went off with just a few damp hitches. We often “bring the rain”, but it’s great that none of those events were canceled.
So, where were we….. The crowd at the Steamboat show was INSANE. Thousands were out to see the fireworks, and presumably, us! As a Colorado band, we sure do feel a bit spoiled being able to play outdoors in some of the most scenic mountain towns in the country. (I’d say WORLD, but I have not seen most of the world). Steamboat is high on our list. We have a close tie to the community, we fish the tailwaters of the Stagecoach Reservoir, and camp jut down the road in Yampa (but you’ll never find us!)
The following weekend, we were scheduled to appear at a private function on a beach to the east of San Jose Del Cabo, in Mexico. I will exercise some discretion and not go in to any detail on this trip, but if it helps…… Cabo is NO Jersey Shore!!!!
In perhaps the most far fetched routing maneuver we have ever entertained, we somehow managed to get from the southern tip of Baja Mexico to the middle of what I like to call “east tree stump” Iowa. Actually, it was a casino in a tiny town called Tama, requiring two flights and a 75 mile drive through GMO Central from DSM to arrive 90 minutes before DOORS. We set up, sound checked one song, and walked off the stage as folks started walking in. Wow, close one. Long day, but the airlines and the van drivers did their job, and then we did ours. Oh, don’t eat casino buffet chicken sandwiches after midnight. Just a word to the wise…..
The next weekend called for another mountain gig, this one near Jackson Hole, WY. It was actually on “the other side of the hill”, in Alta, WY, just east of the Idaho state line and the friendly town of Driggs, where we would spend the night. We actually flew in to Idaho Falls. I prefer Boise as a place to visit and fish, but the airport in Idaho Falls was the best way to approach Grand Targhee Mountain, which was the backdrop for our Saturday night festival appearance. Saw some familiar faces. That is always nice. Great crowd. Played after the Chris Robinson Project (or something like that? and they did not yell at the audience like they did when they were the Black Crowes and played a gig with us in CO years ago). And that Idaho Falls airport was amazing. So tiny, but nice and clean, modern, and easy to get in and out. 4 gates maybe? Love those kind of airports.
After 10 days of down time, we flew in to New York, grabbed some Suburbans, and rolled out to the end of Long Island. We arrived the night before our show in Amagansett, found a cool motel on the beach, partied with some fans at a fireside get-together, ate breakfast the next morning in Montauk (lahhh di dahhhh) and then packed out the Talkhouse that night. We had a Keith Hernandez sighting, but did not want to bother him. We think he enjoyed the show. Moved on to Westbury, also just off the LI Expressway, for our first visit to The Space. Great venue. And a great meatball park down the street for dinner. Can’t remember the name of the italian restaurant, but it was killer.
We rolled late night under cover of clouds and rain to Uncasville, CT, arriving at 3:30AM (touring is fun!), checking in to our rooms, and sleeping IN ahead of our afternoon load in at the Wolf Den in the Mohegan Sun Casino. Made my annual stop at Johnny Rockets, did NOT gamble (I am addicted, but have it under control), and several of us hung out and had a cocktail or two after the show, chatting up some fans we ran in to as we walked about. We did NOT like the “one drink in hand at a time” rule. Ridiculous… but the bartenders were just doing their job. Can’t fault them for a silly Connecticut law.
Our second “land’s end” show was the following night waaaayyyyy up near the tip of Cape Cod, in a small village called Wellfleet. There is a beach club up there called Beachcombers. Cloudy again, but no downpours. We had an amazing seafood lunch, complete with oyster bar and Coronas in a can. Dinner was GOOD fish and chips. They cleared out the restaurant at 6PM, then we crammed our gear on to a tiny stage, and we blew the place up… in a good way. (over)Sold out! Shot of Cuervo for you, Mr. Fire Marshall? Then, off in to the night to an overpriced Holiday Inn near the BOS airport. Long weekend without a tour bus. The bus is a great thing to have on long drives, especially when a venue’s dressing room is actually a storage closet. (Yes, Beachcomber, I’m talking about you). But we were all good sports and got through it. But I would have taken a nap in my bunk if it was on site. Next time it will be…..
Oh, gosh…. then where???? Oh yeah…. STURGIS, BABY!
What a crazy town. Sleep for 50 weeks a year, then for some reason, this “bike rally” thing, the town swells from 5000 to 500,000, with hundreds of thousands of Harley’s EVERYWHERE. Hysterical. That lifestyle is amazing. I could not roam on a bike that loud and that uncomfortable for all that long. Or were they all insurance agents and lawyers altering their persona for their two week vacation?
Well, there was a stage set up outside of Easyriders Saloon (clever), and we were the headliner. Our first time here ever. We had talked about it for years, and the commitment was finally upon us. And what happens? RAIN. Scary, loud, wet torrents of rain pounded the town literally as we were doing our changeover before our set. Earlier in the afternoon, the sun was out, and the ZZ Top cover band was rocking out (the loudest thing I’ve ever heard, except for all the Harleys revving for no reason), and the weather did not seem to be a concern. But then it hit, and it hit HARD. lasted for quite a while. We were certain they would cancel the rest of the night. But we waited it out, and finally, the dark sky was clear. And though we thought all the thousands of people who had been on site might start making their way home, we need to give some big time credit to the biker crowd. They poured out of the saloon as we fired up Cashbox, with that cool floor tom intro, and the evening turned out to be quite a success, considering we were THIS close to cashing out.
One interesting note about the Sturgis show was my decision to rent an RV to make the drive up to South Dakota. Flying was a thought, but the duration of the “fly day” and “drive day” was pretty similar, and this way, we had ourselves a built in Dressing room for the 10 hours we were on sight. It worked out great. Got me thinking about buying one. They sure are fun. Maybe after I buy my boat……
The next weekend, we did not need the RV. We were only faced with a one hour drive north to Ft Collins, where we were invited to headline the 41st annual Bohemia New West Fest, a huge event, free to patrons, to celebrate the town’s commitment to music and the arts. Bands all day long, and the place stayed PACKED for our set, and we were so excited to see such a huge crowd. We’d love to be invited back to that one. Not as much fun driving the Budget truck home compared to the RV, but I always make it as enjoyable as I can. More traffic than I had planned for on good ole I-25, or it would have been even more enjoyable.
This past week we had a logistical challenge that may top the list for us, at least in my (terrible) memory. We had a show in Chicago outside of Soldier Field, on the “Stadium Green” to help the runners of a local 5K celebrate after their race. No problem, right? But there was a problem….. Yep…. “ummm, yeah….. it’s suppose to rain from 2PM tip 4PM and then again from 5PM to 10PM”. Awww, c’mon man! We were on a bad stretch for sure, yet somehow we had not yet been rained out. And sure enough, though we never really saw the sun, the rain held off just long enough for us to sneak in a 90 minute set for the brave runners who stuck around, at risk of exchanging “humid wet” for “precipitation wet”. We had escaped again. But that was not the real challenge.
The next morning, we needed to jump on a plane at MDW, fly back home to DEN, THEN load up in 2 vehicles, and carpool/convoy up to Breckenridge BEFORE 2:30PM, the cutoff time for the city to close down the roads for stage 5 of the USA Pro Challenge, an insane 7 stage bike race in Colorado. Wtihout exaggeration, and with the critical ground support team of ONE (Thanks Dan F!!!), we cut across the road course 90 seconds before they would have NOT allowed us through. This enabled us to set up our gear, and get a proper sound check done in time for DOORS ahead of another rocking 90 minute set. Had we missed this window, we would have been banished to a coffees shop back up in Frisco for two hours until the race was finished. That would have severely hampered our ability to pull off that free show for the thousands of folks in town for the race, so we thank the CO State Patrol for not stopping us all the way up I-70. We did it!
Indy is next weekend, and we will celebrate Labor Day weekend at WARMFest. Great festival, in just their second year, so we are glad to be invited back. Please consider patronizing this event if you are within an allowable driving distance. See you out there on the road.
Tour Manager (and clothes drying fool)
Big Head Todd and the Monsters