"Don't slam the door so hard" my Dad says as I get in his van. He's a bit of a grump sometimes but not usually. I get in the driver seat and take us on the 30 minute ride to my wife's work so that she can drop me off at the airport. The airport is too complicated for a 78 year old man to figure out. Tearful kisses, and I'm off to Kennedy where I am to meet the rest of the 'Hoos for our night flight to the Rock and Roll Promiseland!
Always early, we are all there in time to have a bite to eat and to catch up on personal matters as well as matters that lie ahead. We finally board the plane and most of us knock out pretty hard on this half full flight. There is room to lay down across several seats. I think Dan was out as soon as we were airborne. I could hear him snoring with my earplugs in over the roar of the A-340 engines.
Six hours later I pull on his hair. "Dude, we're landing". He is slow to believe that we are already there. He was lucky enough to miss the breakfast of croissant, juice and some round fruity cake-like thing left over from the Columbus trip (Christopher, not Ohio!).
I got a couple of two hour power naps thanks to Advil PM. The perfect drug for when you're hurtin', you're old and you wanna be sleepy.
Rams ("like St. Louis" Roscoe says) picks us up that brisk morning in Spain and it's already after 10am their time. The airport there is unbelievably beautiful. It looked as though it took forever to build.
We settled into our lovely and gracious digs at the Ateneo Hotel, near a huge square downtown.
There were lots of shops and restaurants and oh yeah, lots of hookers. An hour or so later our Spanish record company and promoters, David Jiminez and Juan (?..sorry) took us to an excellent lunch at the very mod and metro CUBIK. I had an appetizer of calamari tempura before my main course of salmon cannolini. Many bottles of "Tinto" were brought out which made us all quite sleepy again. It was getting dark when we ('Hoos minus Keith) accidentally met again just out side of the hotel. We walked until there was nothing else to do but eat again. We made the poor choice of choosing a VERY authentic place where the waiter spoke NO English. I ordered a green salad and got a lot of cooked cabbage and peas with ham, not my thing.
Back in bed by 11pm, I wake up the next morning and realize "Shit! 15 minutes till van call!" Hair sideways (what else is new!), I grab my stuff and run out the door.
"PartyTown! Spain!" -roscoe
Downstairs, we meet our tour damager, David (pronounced "dah-veed") Cortes for the first time. The VW LT35 transport van was soon loaded and heading for Los Picos Whiskey Bar in Lierganes. Up and down and through the mountains it seemed as the van was losing steam. We were worried that it wouldn't make it all the way so when we finally did make it we called for a back-up which we were assured would arrive the next morning. We had loaders waiting for us upon our arrival as we sussed the place out. It was kinda small and funky just the way we like'm. After a pretty rough soundcheck (damned digital boards!)we were taken to dinner and served wine that was chilled and described thusly, "No grapes were harmed during the making of this wine". I quickly request that they "Take it away". We watch the Spanish version of "Deal or No Deal" in the smoky little joint chowing down on salad and choice meats, my choice was tuna, of course.
The gig itself was pretty exciting, it being our first show in a while and all. We're always just as curious as you as to what we'll gonna play like. It's ten minutes before showtime and the crowd is sparse. "Don't worry" they tell us. "They will come". We walk out of the dressing room and BAMM! An instant packed crowd of insane, screaming maniacs meets us at the stage.
The excitement level is at a fever pitch as we knock out the first two numbers in glorious fashion, arms raised, rockin' like Dokken, hell yeah! We're beginning to continue when I notice a limpness to my kick pedal. "Shit! broken spring! It's not mine, mind you so I got no clue what to do. I'm using a totally rented kit save for my snare and cymbals.
David quickly comes up and grabs the thing and runs back stage. We are now at a loss for what to do next. But in the spirit of every show is different, we do "Frozen Head State Park", "Church Folks Comin'" and Keith did "Over the Top" sans bass drum which actually worked out OK. Having wasted enough time, David finally brings a jerry-rigged pedal back up and it's off to the races. All in all a rockin' ass show and a great start to the tour.
It was a short trip to Bilbao after we changed out our van with another back at the club the next morning. The hotel was pretty swanky and there was a nice spread waiting for us backstage at the venue when we arrived, especially popular were the peanut M&M's. I remembered playing Azkena the last time we were in Spain. It's a long, pretty good sounding room. I was surprised at the ticket price though, 18euro, about $20. Damn! We must be good! Once again at 9:30 no one was there, but at 10pm the place was packed to the gills!
After a couple of songs I knew this was gonna be a good night. I was feeling it. I was ON! My monitor mix was great and singing was as easy as being at home in the shower.
Once the ass kicking was over they were beating the door down to the dressing room. A couple of folks broke through and were quickly escorted away. One "writer" came in begging for our "setlist, your setlist!" He wouldn't take no for an answer as we had no setlist. That ain't the way we roll, fool! If you were any kind of writer, you would have wrote the titles down as we went along. We're not gonna sit down and try to remember what we played just because you're some kinda slackass! Get out!
I walked to the back of the room and the merch girl was feverishly trying to open another box of CD's. It was a great night…again. Two for two, this was a good sign.
10am the next morning we left for Lleida. It was a good 5 hours so it was an early van call. It was a 5:30 soundcheck and Roscoe was inexplicably being zapped whenever he touched guitar and mic at the same time. 220 volts is not something you wanna mess around with, folks. That shit will kill you! They musta tried 15 different things to fix it until they finally got the zap "livable". After such a bad soundcheck we knew the gig was gonna rock, that's usually the order of things. Bad soundcheck, good gig. Good soundcheck, bad gig. Dude ordered up some great pizzas for our dressing room, which was in the basement of the cathedral next door. We were instructed to please be quiet as there was an opera being sung just down the hall and it was full of crazy opera-lovin' grown-ups. Whateveah! Dude! You gots my wine?
The show was great although the patrons were a bit quiet between songs. You could hear a pin drop. Maybe they had just come from the opera thingy next door, who knows but we damn sure rocked dey asses! We finished with Big Al's "Comes to me Naturally" I got back to my room and heard the disastrous news, NC State had beaten Carolina. Huh? Fire Roy! I was so pissed off I could hardly sleep.
David met the local promoter back down at the club at 10 the next morning and they loaded the van. When they were done we hit the dusty trail back to Madrid. It was a foggy, raining, nasty ride for the next five hours. When we got to our hotel rooms I took a walk and found a grocery store. I got a great bottle of Rioja for less than $5, a bottle that would no doubt cost me 3 times that at my local shithole grocery back home. It was so cheap that I got 2. I could'a cared less about the Super Bowl but the other guys stayed up and went to an Irish bar that had it on. It didn't start until midnight or so local time and I said, "Screw that!" and stayed in my room and had a glass or 6 of the good stuff.
We waited and waited for Dan until we could wait no more for our trek up the street to the radio station. His cough was pretty bad so he up and hauled his ass to the doctor. Roscoe, Keith and I did the show without him after going through the airport-like strip search for weapons, contraband and/or drugs. We stopped along the way and picked up an acoustic guitar that the music store man was nice enough to let us use. Turns out the dude was a fan. At the station we spoke, were interpreted and then we spoke some more and got interpreted again until we were finally asked to play a song.
We did "All Dressed Up" and I felt pretty good about the way I sang it. I had just enough "hair" on my voice to actually like the way it sounded. Roscoe played the acoustic and I banged the jingle stick as we made it though without much of a hitch. Dan said later that there was tons of reverb on our voices and that it was pretty annoying. Who invented that thing anyway? The reverb box, I mean. Let's all find that guy and kill him, shall we? Asshole!
When we were done Keith and I walked to the grocery and bought more wine. We found a little vegetarian fast food chain joint that rocked my world! They give you a little tub for whatever you can cram in it from the bar, mostly middle eastern fare with deliciously fire-y sauces. If you're ever in Europe look for it. It's cheap too! I got too much food for about $4. The place is called Maoz.
Dan felt better by the afternoon so he and I went and did the nationwide radio show we were scheduled for. Usually, only 15 minutes were dedicated for segments like ours but the DJ liked us so much we talked for 35 minutes. He particularly liked talking about Dylan and was impressed that our pal, Bobby had talked about us on HIS radio show.
Later I waited in my room until it was late enough to call home. Unfortunately, it was late enough for everyone to get home from work/school so that I could talk to them but TOO late for the cheap phone home place to be open. The six hour difference made it hard to co-ordinate conversations with the family, especially on travel days. I walked the streets looking for another place to be open until I finally gave up and used the free internet at the hotel to send an email.
Palma de Mallorca
The airport was socked in with fog and our trip to Mallorca was delayed an hour. Thinking back on it this kinda pisses me off. That's one less hour we got to spend in this heavenly place. Oh my God! Book your flight now! This is just a little island of the coast of Spain, in the Mediterranean where the weather is temperate, the scenery is unbelievable and the people are the happiest in the world. We are starving when we arrive to our hotel, so our babysitter, David searches us out a decent resturaunt to eat at. "The club is buying" Cool! The chef at Picos de Europa says he'll be glad to whip us up a little something . Most everywhere else is closed for lunch at 3:30pm. Now, I'm always good with salad and salmon and this dude couldn't have made me happier. It was a little raw in the middle which is fine with me. Dan and Keith said that they might have had the best steak of their lives in this place. We toast the chef on the way out and go back to the room for a quick lay down.
Alleya (not sure about the spelling) picks us up later for soundcheck. We bring gig clothes knowing that we won't return before showtime. Once again a pretty nice spread is layed out for us. The sound guys were easy to work with and pretty funny too.
During the show they kept shooting out the fog from the fog machine.
Oh yeah, just like cock rockers do it! The show once again rocked really hard as we had a house full of crazy Spaniards(and one German!)in this mini-coliseum, Teatre Lloseta. We were kinda "free form rock" this evening but everything was completely "in the pocket." Roscoe was starting to get really sick so we took up some slack with a few songs we normally don't play. We met some great folks afterwards and I met a few folks that I had talked to via email a few times.
On the way back to the hotel we were feeling pretty damn silly. We were making up songs for a fictitious band called Butcher Head. The first single, "My Last Good Finger" was gonna be followed by the knock out hit "Butcher Head on my Shoulder". Damn we can be stupid sometimes. But this place, Mallorca really knocked me out! Mark my words, I'm going back!
Damn! I hated to leave but the shows must go on! We flew back to Madrid and Keith and I decided to have lunch at the veggie place again and maybe have a little wine to aide digestion (or for whatever reason we could come up with!). We went and got the stuff and took it back to the breakfast room. I got back and opened my bag and I couldn't find my falafel balls. I swear some homeless looking old man snatched 'em as I was (hands full) trying to open the door to the restaurant to get out. Bastard! Anyway Keith shared his as we opened the windows and a enjoyed the beautiful weather. We ate and discussed his solo record, which HAS to happen. We had too many good ideas and were crying laughing at them. Suddenly, we realized that we were both outta wine.
We picked up a few coins off the street and bought another bottle a piece. Ya know, it's probably a GOOD thing that it's not this cheap back home!
Anyway, we went back to our breakfast room and started hollering out ignunt redneck shit at the folks below until things finally deteriorated and we were suddenly horizontal in our rooms.
We had a rainy, quiet, hungover 4 hour ride to Valencia the next day. David was cussing in Spanish and English at how the streets of Valencia had NO signage. We rode around for about an hour before finally finding the place. The guys from WahWah took us to a great authentic family style "tapas" place, La Taberneta del Euro. You could tell right away that our waiter was also the owner and really took pride in the place, great food! (and wine of course!)
The streets of Valencia are lined with trees, orange trees that have a deep ditch around them for catching rain water. Well, on the way back from our fabulous meal a certain singer/guitarist of ours, not watching where he was going, had the misfortune of stepping directing in one of these freshly filled ditches and had to play the entire gig that evening with "sop foot".
I hated it for 'ol Danny boy and I couldn't help but laugh. But instant karma got me when I went to pick up my bag. I had forgotten to zip it back up after getting a shirt out. Dumped everything on the nasty backstage floor!
With such an auspicious beginning you know that damn gig is gonna rock, right? Well, shyeah! But it took a while for them to warm up to us after opening with "Everything/Anything". We eventually won them over though, to the point where they couldn't live with out us and wanted to have our children. It was crazthy! Two, count 'em, two encores.
It was a windy start leaving our hotel north of town. Orange orchards for as far as the eye could see were being tossed about by the gusts. But we had NO idea how hard the wind would blow just an hour up the road. The farther north we went the windier it got. It was really a good thing that David had lots of experience driving as a former big rig driver.
This was scary. Our little bread truck was being thrown all over the road for the next four hours by (I swear!) 60-80 mile an hour winds. The ocean was solid white caps. As any and all waves were just blown into the air there was a strange mist that hung above the water. We got out the eat at a shitty rip-off road side stop and had to walk at 45degree angles. (Did I mention that the food sucked?) We survived the turbulence and made it to Barcelona just in time for rush hour, lucky us!
The sound check was a bit frustrating as everyone has gone to these damn digital boards, yet they don't really know how to use them which takes longer than usual. We decided to live with what we had an make the best of it. Once again, just minutes before showtime and no one is there. We walk out to play and it's PACKED! Weird! I mean, we know why, because it's cheaper to drink someplace else. But damn! How do you all come in at the same time? That one puzzles me.
It was an early show so we're done kicking everyone's asses by 11:30 so Dan and I go have a quiet meal in some little side street beer joint. We look at each other realize that we are now officially brain dead. There's a point in the tour when you are rung through the ringer so many times in a row, loosing so much sleep and being herded like cattle hear and there and everywhere that you enter a zone, a twighlight zone. It usually takes a few days, a week or more sometimes, but it happens and you lose all track of space and time. You are locked into one thing and one thing only, surviving the next gig.
A growling tiger woke me up too early the next day. The paper thin walls in the hotel allowed me to know the inner workings of the bowels, mouths and sinuses of all of those who were in the rooms near me. The guy who snored like a tiger gave me a brief reprieve at around 6am. Though his quietness only last long enough for him to get up and turn the TV up as loud as it would go. Ya deaf bitch! Who was in there, Pete Townsend? Then he put his shoes on and started stomping about, just brutal. I would'a yelled at him, but he sounded pretty big.
It was windy again on the way back to Madrid. Although not quite as bad as the day before, it was still scary at times. I passed out for a little bit in the van an hour or so before getting into Madrid. I needed it after the listening to that tiger all night. There was only a couple of hours after soundcheck to get it together for the show which started at midnight so I didn't even try to lay down. I had a good dinner at my veggie place and just hung out. When we got to the club the opener was all over the place, musically I mean. Country, country rock, jazz, hell it didn't matter! I can see them right now at practice.."Hey! Let's throw this in there!".. "OK! Cool man!" Uh..not so cool, man.
Good thing they only had 20 minutes to piss the folks off with. The crown gave them NO response, at ALL! NONE! NADA! NOTHING!
We got out out there and made them forget the hell they had just been put through immediately. "What are we waiting for?" they all screamed in English. I'm sure half of 250 to 300 people don't even know what they are saying. But man, do they sound great saying it!? A stern beat down was given by each and every Yayhoo despite our fatigue and sicknesses. We were finished and in bed by about 3am. David Jiminez told us later that the local Madrid TV news anchors were discussing (with our music in the background) how excited they were about our show that night between segments.
We had an early flight to Newcastle the next morning and little did we know how hard that was gonna be!