When you go to a show in your local venue that is presenting a touring artist, you often have no idea what happens behind the scenes. You enjoy the show and give little thought about what had to happen to get the band to your venue, or what happens after the show is over and you go home.
This series of articles is to give you an idea of what a band goes through out on the road in real time (or almost real time) as it happens. Making a Scene is taking a leap and has gone on the road with the John Pagano Band as they embarked on a 20 day tour through the northeast and Canada. I will try to give you the good and the bad, with video clips, pictures and written chronicle of the trip as it happens. Now every band is different, but the road has a way of throwing twists, turns and curves into any well thought out plans. The object of this series is to give you an idea of what it is like on the road for 20 days with an Indie Blues Band.
We had decided to use my Chrysler town and country for the tour, I had taken it to my mechanic to have a oil change and a full safety inspection. And we did a mock load up to make sure we can fit all the equipment in the van and still have room for the band and myself. I had purchased a roof cargo container to hold our luggage and other small personal items. Of course I took it to a self Carwash, gave it a good cleaning Inside and out. Not that this was going to stand for long, but it’s good to at least start with a clean car. We filled it up with gas and put some Lucas injector cleaner in the tank. Anytime I take a long trip I like to run some Lucas through the tank.
Since the first gig is in Delaware and a good 12 hours from where we are starting in Georgia, we decided to head out the day before so we can knock off at least half the trip. Luckily John Pagano’s In Laws live in Raleigh North Carolina and they have graciously offered their home for the band to stay in on both the first and the last night of the tour. We coffeed up and started a 6 hour drive to Raleigh. Along the way we discussed some of the itenary of the trip. One rough spot in particular is the last two gigs of the tour. We are in DC at Madams Organ which ends at 2:30am, which makes at least 3:30am by the time we pack up. We then have to be in Raleigh that day by Noon. We are trying to decide to either sleep for a few hours and hit the road early for Raleigh, or head out right after the gig and catch a few hours sleep when we hit Raleigh.
We arrived in Raleigh that evening, Lynda and Paul Harrison had a nice big pot of chile and apple pie with custard waiting for us. After we ate, the band decided to go out for a run (they are big about staying healthy) the band watched some TV (World of Dance and Family Feud) while I worked on the computer and we all got an early sleep to head out to Delaware the next day.
We have a gig in Boston on 8/9, but we have been unable to get in touch with the booker of the show to get any details on the show. The last communication we got was in July which was “Good to go, Details to Follow”. This was a little concerning, but we would keep trying. So far we are not listed on their website as being on the show.
We had figured Delaware was a 6 hour drive so to give us plenty of time, we left at 10am which should get us to Delaware by 4pm or 4:30pm with a lunch stop. At least that is what we thought!
We made our scheduled lunch stop and all was going according to plan, until we hit DC! It would have been bad enough that we hit massive traffic, but to add to the situation we had torrential downpours roll through the area. Every 15 mins or so the Waze Gps on the phone would update with a new ETA to the venue. With each update we would lose another 10 or 15 mins. Our Time to setup was 7:45pm with an 8pm hit. The opening act was suppose to hit at 7pm and as it it became clear that we were going to be cutting it close, John Pagano started texting the soundman at Jonathans Landing to keep him apprised of our location and ETA.
Needless to say the decision as to what to do with the last two gigs of the tour was pretty much resolved in this time. Seeing how the DC traffic can screw with our ETA, I am going to sleep at the band house while the guys play Madams Organ, they will pick me up after the gig and I will drive the 4 hours to Raleigh while they sleep in the van. It is the best decision we came up with so far.
Then this happens ..
We arrive at Jonathans Landing at 7:30pm .. enough time to unload the equipment and once the opening band ended their set the guys went up and got themselves setup. Thankfully the opening band had graciously backlined the drums and the bass amp which makes setup so much easier and quicker.
The crowd at Jonathans landing is always great! This was no exception! After all the stress of trying to get there on time, the traffic, the torrential rains along the trip, everyone at the club made us feel welcomed and appreciated. If you have never been to this venue, well you are missing out. It is situated in the middle of a golf course and boasts great views, great staff and great food.
THANK YOU JONATHANS LANDING!
After the gig we sold a bunch of CD’s and T-Shirts, packed up the van again and headed to the motel, which was provided by the wonderful people at Jonathans Landing. Time for showers, and sleep. The next stop is Long Island NY.
Still have not been able to get in touch with anyone at the Boston venue to confirm any Details on the Boston Gig.
We still had the sting of heavy traffic on our minds from the day before. We did not want to take a chance on that happening again so we decided to make it an early start the next day as we drove the 4 or 5 hours to Riverhead NY. Which turned out to be a great idea, as we did hit some traffic on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, but we were able to avoid rush hour and once we got on the Long Island Expressway we had smooth sailing to Riverhead. Now Tony the Bass player saw the sign that announces that you are leaving Brooklyn “Fuhgeddaboudit”, he looks at me and asks “Come on, nobody actually says that do they?”. I told him, no matter what I say, you won’t believe me till you hear it for yourself.
Now in Riverhead is where my Mother lives in one of those retirement communities and she is always happy to put us up for the 4 days we will be on the island.
When we arrived around 2:30pm, my mother had to attend a wake in Seaford NY, so she left out cakes, Donuts, Cold Cuts, Bread, and you name it. The guys in the band were in heaven and sugared themselves up got some relax time in and then decided to go for a run. Me, I staked my claim on the Kitchen table with my Laptop. The guys came back after a run and took their showers to started to get ready for the gig.
Around 6pm we all jumped in the van and headed to Patchogue NY to our next Gig At Bobbiques. We arrived around 6:45 and started the task of Loading in and setting up. Now, this is one of John’s old stomping grounds and he has a large following at this venue. The crowd started to file in early and staked their claim to their tables. The Ribs, Brisket and Cornbread was flying from the kitchen. Within the first hour of setting up, Tony has at least a dozen “Fuhgeddaboudit’s” and he burst out laughing each time he heard it.
The band was well rested and well fed and it showed in their performance, the crowd was really into it! Bobbiques was packed and you can hardly move from one side to the other. There were a couple special guest that came to sit in with John and the band, a young guitar player ” …. ” and an old friend, the Grammy Award winning Harmonica player/songwriter Frank Latorre (Johnny Winter, Winger, The King Bees). Frank sat in on “99 Problems” and the song he wrote “Another Time Another Place” it’s this song that the John Pagano Band Has been covering for years.
After the Gig we packed up the Van once again and headed out to Riverhead. We arrived around 2am In the Morning, showered and went to bed.
Still no answer to any of our phone calls or emails to the Boston Venue.
Now the day started out pretty dismal. Heavy rain was in the forecast for the early part of the day, and we had an outside beach gig scheduled for 7pm that night. While the boys in the band slept in I headed over to Frank Latorre’s house to pick up a PA system that he was going to lend us for the Beach Gig. We honestly had no room to fit a PA for this run, so we were really grateful when Frank said he had an extra PA he can lend us. I did bring my Digital Xair 18 with me and a case of Mics. So with his speakers and the Mackie head, I can make it work.
Around 2 pm, John Gets a call from the booker of the beach gig and she tells him that the gig is cancelled and she can make it up at the end of August. Now, we are touring through so by the end of August we are going to be a couple of Thousand miles from here. Now, as luck would have it, My High school alumni has a beach outing every year at the beach and this year it was on the same day as the gig. By 3pm the sun was out and the sky was blue. I headed over to hang out with some of my old schoolmates. All the while John was working with the booking agent to salvage the gig. It turns out she was able to reschedule for the next day, which worked out really well for us.
Since we had the Day off, John and I decided to head over to the gig Frank Latorre had that night where John sat in with the band. It was a nice intimate organic food restaurant called Wild side Bistro in Oakdale NY
We still have not heard from the Boston Venue yet, and we are wondering what are next step should be.
Well, today we got up to a beautiful sunny beach day. Not sure how we did it, but we managed to squeeze the PA into the van and we headed to the beach. Of course we made a stop to pickup some sun screen along the way, and it was a good thing we did.
We arrive at the Beach, and find out that the setup will be in the direct line of the Sun. We unloaded the Van, and started to setup the PA and backline. I miked everything up and ran everything into my XR18 which connected to my laptop through wireless network. I took the output of that and ran it into the Mackie PA head. This allowed me to mix from my laptop and control the sound. I pride myself on getting a good sound out of any crappy PA.
Now, no matter what Gig you are playing, you never know who is going to show up. A gentlemen came over and introduced himself to me. His name was Eric Baker who writes for Blues Matters Magazine. He had seen some of the Videos online and decided he needed to see the band for himself. It was great to have him come down, we had a chance to sit and have a really good conversation about the blues and it’s future. Now, Eric made some great commentary about the band and I look forward to see what he may write about them in the future. He did post a video of them up on Facebook!
Of course what tour is complete without having equipment problems. About 20 mins into the Gig the PA system just shut down. Not sure if it was bad power, or overheating, but it just stopped putting out. John did not skip a beat and launched into a couple of instrumental as I scrambled to figure out the problem. After about 2 songs I was able to get the PA back and and running and it remained that way for the rest of the gig!
The Band played a 2 hour and 5 Min Set in the Hot sun! Except for Tony Hossri the Bass Player who for some reason ended up in the shade. Both John Pagano and Shiloh Bloodworth spent the whole day baking.
We met up with an old friend of mine “Meg Ormand” who just happened to know the owners of the Boston Venue and she was just there two weeks ago. She promised to reach out to them but suggested that we reach out to the other bands on the bill. We thought it was a good idea, so we did just that! But for tonight, no word on the boston Gig.
This is one of the few days off for the band. Everyone wanted to go into New York City to walk around and see the sights. So we took the Long Island Rail Road into the city and started what turned out to be a 12 mile walk through almost every part of NYC! But, I did get to have some Shawarma, kind of a tradition for me when in NY.
On the Train ride back to the East end of Long Island, The band LUX, who is on the bill with us on the Boston Gig reached out to us and gave us the particulars on the show. They knew there was a third band on the show but they did not have a clue who it was. They have graciously agreed to backline the drums and bass amp, so that will make live so much easier for us. Our slot is 11pm to Midnight and we are going to have to travel out of the Boston because the rates on the hotels are so high in the city.
After Long day in the city the band decided to setup in the garage and rehearse some new songs and transitions for some of the upcoming shows. Now remember my mother lives in a retirement community, and the band had the garage door open, because of how hot it was. Well as you would expect someone came over to tell the band that this was a “Quiet Community”. So, they closed the garage door and continued. My mother at 83 make sure he knew that coming to her house to complain about the band was not acceptable. Period
Another day of rest, and rehearsal for the band. Of course my mother insisted the garage door stay open. I guess today they didn’t mind. Time to pack up the van because tomorrow we are off to Boston via the Cross Sound Ferry out of Orient Point!
Next week we head to Boston, Canada, Back to NY and PA! Tune in next week and see what happens during this leg of the tour
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