Paul Rogers American and Canadian Club Tour
Notes From The Road
- Chapter One -
Sorry it took so long to get this out to everybody but America Online has turned out to be just less than useless when traveling and trying to access the internet. I finally, yesterday, opened an account with Earthlink who has nation wide access. Much better!! (It's not a plug, it's just a fact)
The first morning of the tour. Up early to finish packing and say goodbye to all the animals. I had decided to take the train to San Diego instead of meeting the tour bus, band and crew for a drive around LAX and associated freight terminals, finding the band gear in some warehouse, loading the band gear in the trailer and then a long ride to Solano Beach California. Much more civilized to take the train. So Eddie loads me up in the jeep and off to the Chatsworth train station for the first train ride I've ever had in America. Amtrack to San Diego, Solano Beach Station. Twenty-three bucks from Chatsworth to San Diego First Class! Not bad. Across the valley to Downtown Los Angeles and Grand Central (Union) Station. After a short stay, I start my trip south to San Diego traveling along the coast. It was a beautiful day. Looking out the windows, my thoughts wander to tonight's show and what lies ahead - being on the road again.
I arrive at the train station just North of San Diego, Solano Beach, grab my bags and start the walk to the club. As I'm walking down the street with all my bags, I ask a passerby where the club is.
"It's right there" pointing a couple of doors down. I continue to walk, dragging my bags behind (I forgot how heavy a months worth of clothes is). As I approach the club a couple of guys are standing outside staring at me.
"You must be Rick" one of the guys says laughing.
"I am. Do I look that funny?" I ask.
"No, just homeless! Follow me. I'll take you back stage. I follow him to the dressing rooms back stage.
The tour begins.
I'm really glad I didn't take the bus. The rest of the band and crew didn't arrive until about 30 minutes after we should have started setting up. I had already scoped out the sound system and was ready to set-up the stage by the time they arrived. After a while our opening act arrived fresh from Winnipeg, Canada. The New Meanies. They were to be our opening act for the duration of the tour.
(Pretty much all of my live mixing experience was in huge arenas that held over 10,000 people. I always had the same PA system, mikes and outboard equipment. I was about to dive into the challenges of mixing a rock & roll band in a small venue with different gear every night, for the first time.)
The first show was in a place called Belly Up Tavern. Interesting name. Much better than I had first thought. A small club with a lot of heart, a decent sound system and great staff. The food was also really good. Paul and the band played a good but careful set that night. We were all trying to get our footing and discover where this grouping of talent would take us.
After the show, we said our goodbyes to the Belly Up. I got on the bus for the first time and with the band and crew, traveled to San Francisco to play The Fillmore. What a great and historic venue. We ate dinner in the staff cafe and the walls were covered with framed posters of the Artists who have played there in the past (the posters that were specially made for The Fillmore for their outside displays).
That night turned out to be trouble for Paul. He got a really bad throat infection and had a hell of a time singing, but he toughed it out and did a shortened, but very good show.
Back in the bus for an overnight drive back to L. A. for a show at the House of Blues. To those of you who had requested tickets, I apologize. I was allowed only 4 tickets because the house was near capacity. Slash from Guns and Roses played a guest spot with Paul for a few songs. Needless to say the show really rocked! After the gig, I was able to go home to sleep in my own bed, the last time I would be able to do that for the next 3 1/2 weeks. The next morning Ed took me to meet the bus and join the rest of the crew and band for a morning ride to San Juan Capistrano.
Ahh...lovely San Juan and The
If anybody ever asks you if you want to go there, just say NO! What a dive. When we arrived at the gig, we found it almost impossible to park the bus (a 45' Prevost) which at this early stage of the tour really made our driver "happy". An 8 foot open beam ceiling greeted us. From the stage you could reach up and touch the ceiling. Humm...how should I mike the drum overheads??? When I fired up the house system, with only the group masters and main output faders at 0 (unity) I measured the hum and buzzes coming out of the speakers at 82db spl. For those of you who understand tech speak, you can see I was in deep trouble. To those of you who don't, it suffices to say the hum was something that wouldn't go unnoticed by the audience. The staff there said that the console had been doing that for the last 2 years and that they couldn't fix it!! Needless to say I was PISSED!! Techs at Soundcraft (the makers of the console), the local tech and myself spent all afternoon on the phone together trying different things to cure the problem with no results. Of course the show went on as scheduled. By using a very "unusual" gain structure within the console I was able to reduce the hum somewhat, but by any standards it was really bad. The band played well, but the show was a little rough. Paul kept hitting his mike stand on the ceiling! We all got really drunk (driver excepted) that night and were really glad to be out of "The Coach House" and off to Las Vegas!
"The Joint", the name of the venue within the Hard Rock Las Vegas Hotel , turned out to be a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT experience from the one we had just had (thank God!). What a great place to see and mix a concert. The guys and gals that helped out there were completely professional. The sound system and lighting equipment was topnotch. (Authors Note: You can check out the specs by following "The Joint" link above and selecting "joint tech info" link for a complete list of gear and layouts) For the first time I was able to get the sound for Paul just right. No excuses. No hassles. What a great show. Even though Paul's throat was still bothering him, he rose to the occasion and, as usual, performed an incredible show, despite the fact that he was in real pain.
While we enjoyed a day off in Las Vegas, our driver, Doug, was going to take the bus from Vegas to Laughlin, Nevada to pick-up a new trailer (we we're towing a trailer behind the bus to carry the band equipment). Why did we need a new trailer you might ask? Good question. Well, the tour manager under estimated the carrying capacity of the small U-haul he had rented and Doug (the driver) wouldn't tow it any longer due to safety reasons. You see, the trailer was overloaded by nearly 1500 pounds!! This was the second trailer that we had trouble with but that's another story. Doug left Vegas at about 6:30pm for what was going to be a very rough trip for him. At about the same time, those of you in Los Angeles might remember a little storm named Nora. It brought rain to So. California, and flash floods to the deserts around......Laughlin, Nevada!! Well we didn't see Doug until about 11:00pm the next day (his original round trip time was estimated to be 5 hours-he was gone nearly 18). The bus was caught in a flash flood and the bays under the bus were flooded. What's in the bays you might ask? Good Question. The generator, batteries, inverters (they supply 120v AC to the bus when the bus is under way) and all the associated computer systems to run everything else! When Doug finally surfaced (please excuse me) he was still wet. He and the driver of the other bus that was meeting him with the new trailer spent all night in a torrential rain changing out (you guessed it!) the generator, inverters, some of the batteries and suspension computers. Is this any way to start a tour? I don't think so. After re-packing the new trailer after the show in Vegas we we're off for a 18 hour ride over the "Ricky" Mountains to Denver Colorado......
To Be Continued
To All, My Best!!