Tour Diary - June 29-30
Heat has hit Northern Germany, I’ve been thru 5 shirts and 4 showers in 2 days. Today’s tour diary is going to be a combination of gratitude and bitch fest.
I had a rough day yesterday and I didn’t handle it very well. I was very frustrated by my performance on the Haus am Walde stage that was made worse by some technical difficulties and extreme heat roasting me in the sun.
We had a great afternoon, sound checks went well and then the sun moved a little lower in the sky so the canopy on stage was doing less and less of its job. Emily Davis and Tori Phillips took the stage and sounded amazing and I slowly watched the shadows climb their legs until they were entirely in sun. They are gracious to me and invite me up on stage to play lap steel in "Old Man". I feel bad for them not being able to hang around and enjoy the day - they have another gig tonight in Varel at Sonnendeck so they have to motor at the end of their set.
I’m on next and so I just start drinking lots of water.
Our set starts out ok, with 12 string and some guitar looping and me and Mona singing the Riddle & The Stars song “The Sea.” The stage volume is low but it works. The band joins us, I start the next song and that’s the last I hear of my guitar or vocals until nearly the end of the set. I’m strumming chords blindly. I know I’m playing the right chords but I can’t hear a thing. I’m singing by memory and I know it’s not good. I ask for more sound in my monitor several times but it never comes. There’s a thing about performing where you keep asking for something to get fixed and you feel like the audience is thinking “what’s this guy talking about? We can hear him just fine, he’s just being a primadonna…” And so you stop asking. Not because the thing got fixed but because you don’t want to keep asking.
My frustration with this is because it worked during sound check and they have one of those mixing boards that has pre-sets for each act. Everything should be the same. But it seems that during the changeover they plugged my vocal mic into the wrong lead and so it wasn’t routed properly and so if they turned up the line that I was supposed to be on - nothing happened. (this is learned much later)
That was part of it. I had a guitar cable die. I bought it new 18 days ago. And they had my ZT amp wired in with their DI box. The DI box battery died so my guitar amp wasn’t coming thru the PA. The sun was so bright on stage I couldn’t see what pedals were turned on or off. Sam’s box for his bass was jumping presets and neither one of us could even see the displays on the boxes to tell what was on. It was literally the most extreme sunlight level on stage of the whole day.(2)
I powered thru but wasn’t happy. This coupled with the extreme heat on stage and I felt like an ant under a magnifying glass and I lost things; bits of lyrics, chords, Niklas’ last name.(1) It all just imploded in my brain along with the hopes of my giving a good performance. I played my 12 string for a couple of songs and then picked up my 6 string, it was sitting in the sun and the whole guitar had gone a half step flat.
So I am sorry I didn’t perform as well as I could’ve. I soldiered on and we rocked. While all this is going on with me - Niklas Herzog, Sam Barnard and Mona Li played and performed amazingly well. They carried me thru. I can’t thank them enough. I came off stage pissed. More than anything else, I was pissed because I was made to believe that the things not working were my fault. And yeah, I break stuff but the one bad cord was sorted out very quickly on my part. And Niklas, Sam and Mona did all this barely hearing me and Niklas without hearing any guitar the whole set.
After my set Ben Lorentzen takes over and he sounds fantastic. I may have given him shit about how many pedals and things he has on stage but all of his stuff is pre-mixed before it even goes to the soundboard. He hands them a couple of XLR cables and the soundmen are essentially turning on a cd player because he’s done all the work for them. (and even handles his own monitor mix with in ear monitors!) And I’m not someone who gets jealous of other performers - we’re all on our own trip - but I started cursing my lack of internet signal as I’m online looking up to see how much it would cost me to get a set of in-ear monitors.
At the close of the evening is the Byrnes/Partridge show. Todd Partridge and I sharing the stage for a finale of sorts and before we start we make sure they do a line check to make sure everything is working. This is where we discover lines have been crossed, things have been mis-bussed and the DI box for my amp is dead. I watch the guy that’s helping the soundman try to put a microphone in front of my amp and I watch him unable to adjust the mic stand so the mic is in front of the speaker and he just walks away. I tell him that I will fix it and I unscrew and adjust the stand so the microphone is in front of the speaker and not under the amp. This small thing exacerbates my feelings of frustration.
Todd’s “whiskey gospel” rock is the perfect end to the show, he’s got folks clapping along and rocking great. We both play very American styles of rock but two very different styles. His was the right end of today’s show, mine was not. I give it my all but the energy is all wrong. It’s frustrating and I end up with this feeling of missed opportunity and pent up rocknroll without release.
I look forward to Haus am Walde whenever I get the chance to play here, it’s a fantastic show on a big stage and I had really hoped to deliver a great show. I did not and for that I am very sorry for all my fans that were there.
You can’t win them all right?
Some of the great stuff that happened - Lisa Marie showed up with her new baby girl Emelie and I got to meet her and hang out with her and her mom. Claudia and Oliver made another show and brought me their favorite raisin bread for toast and a bottle of Rose. Kevin was here even though his birthday party was last night and it apparently was epic. I saw Sara for a minute and then got to hang out with Bettina at the end. And so many more great things.
Tomorrow’s another day ~
Sunday, I have to wake up at 8 am to drive 1.5 hours south to play at a hotel that used to be a monastery. Everyone is very nice and I’m the brunch time entertainment. It’s the first show where I can’t get anyone to sing along to APB. The big excitement of the day happens when a big gust of wind comes along and takes 4 of the 5 big umbrellas out of their stands and across brunch tables and everyone has to scramble. I’m set up in the sun again today and sweating it out. They bring an umbrella over for the last ten minutes of my set and I am grateful for the little things.
I drive back to Bremen, take a shower and fall asleep for the next 5 hours.
(1)I really thought Niklas last name was Lidstrom for most of the set. Which is crazy because Nicklas Lidstrom is Swedish, a defenseman, has won the Stanley Cup and is not a drummer.