August 14 2014
Sitting here on a ‘travel day’ in Vancouver, Washington which is
bizarre as our eventual destination is Vancouver, Canada. The thing is that a trip from San Francisco to Vancouver, Canada requires a break for our bus drivers. I’m sure back in the day, before pesky safety regulations, groups traveled through the night and day and night again fueled by whatever got you there.
These days there is a system put in place to make sure we all arrive safely at our eventual destination. I for one would rather arrive alive.
Just two days ago The Conspirators were wandering the streets of the
great city of San Francisco when we were informed of Robin Williams passing mere miles from where we were standing. It was a surreal moment for had it occurred a day or two before or after we would have been anywhere else. The fact that it happened so close to us touched us more than I can say.
As a kid I first found Robin, like most, as Mork from Ork on Happy
Days before that character was spun off into his own series. His true
genius shone in his stand up appearances. He could flail from the
insane to the intimate in the same breath. It was never a surprise that he would go on to be an accomplished actor. My favorite of his films was the Fisher King as directed by the great Terry Gilliam. His filmography is loaded with great work- The World According To Garp, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting for which he won a Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar and on and on.
It is a heartbreaking loss made all the more shocking to learn it was
by his own hand. Nothing makes me angrier than those who pass
judgement upon others. Especially in circumstances like this. Mental illness is rarely understood even by those who consider it their field. Not understanding clinical depression leaves no one any right to comment on it. God forbid anyone should have such tragedy touch their own lives. Robin was a great man plagued by his own illness just as many others have their own. His just happened to have a much more dire effect than others.
Unfortunately problems of this nature are not uncommon among creative
people. It is part of the madness than can spawn genius. Feeling the
dizzying highs and dark lows is part of what makes writers put pen to
paper, singers put voice to song and painters put brush to canvas. It
can be a terrifying ride or a blissful journey often at the same time.
It is each of our personal trip through this thing called life and we
are all headed in the same direction. We will all arrive eventually at the exact same destination. What are you gonna do with your one chance on this planet? Are you going to make a difference? Doesn’t have to be something spectacular like cure a disease. Could be as simple as being your child’s hero. To me that is pretty spectacular. Live your life as you choose to but live it spectacularly. Make a difference. To your special someone or your child. To your dog, maybe. To yourself.
God knows Robin did. His life was a big shining light. He made a difference. He made people he would never ever meet laugh or cry or think. What more could one ask for?
My only brush with the man was to be standing ahead of him on the
escalator in the Virgin Megastore in Vancouver several years ago. It
might have been an HMV by then. I’m not sure. My friend nudged me to look behind me and there was Robin Williams. Wow. Crazy. I hadn’t the nerve to say anything. I rarely do in such situations but it is now an experience, as fleeting as it was, I cherish. I saw him just casually chatting with his companion. Just like you or me. He was a man. He was also a legend and I choose to remember him as such.
Thank you, Robin, for all the years of joy you brought to me and my family and friends. You will never, ever be forgotten.
Wow. That was harder to write than I expected. It is never easy to
face these kinds of things. It’s strange as the older I get the more
bizarre life seems. I’ve been watching Cosmos of late and it has been
blowing my mind. If anything I feel it has been stretching my mind. Making me think in ways I am not all that comfortable in thinking. The universe is so grand and endless how can I bother wasting one second on the inconsequential minutiae of regular life. Traffic, the long line at the bank, someone’s negative rant on Facebook. All completely meaningless in the endless scope of our universe.
We are mere ants fighting over anthills. Someday we will all realize this.
My lack of significance in the grand scheme of things is my
significance. It makes me want to make the best of this little tiny
life I have. Sometimes it makes you feel like what’s the point of
doing anything? What difference would it make? To me it levels the playing field. We are all the same. From space Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Barrack Obama, Michael Jackson appear the same as the guy who works as the janitor at your kid’s school. To me it makes me realize, more than ever, that we are one and the same. None better than the other.
In the past I’ve had friends drop out of music to become regular folk.
To the pirates and outlaws out here on the great perimeter of reality
we call the music business watching a talented guy throw in the towel can be seen as a traitorous offense. To turn your back on your God given talent is shameful and inexcusable. But not to me. I have seen potential ‘rockstars’ go on to be amazing parents and have a very loving, fulfilling life that they may never have experienced had they stayed out here on the perimeter. To me that makes them ‘rockstars’ all the same. For the rest of us, the blessed or the cursed, depending on your interpretation, there is no option. We live, we breathe, we play music. We act. We paint. Whatever the muse or demon.
There is one major difference to me. As a working musician in Vegas
4 years before I became a Conspirator I noticed a great discrepancy. My working musician friends would say, ‘I gotta work tonight’ or ‘I’m working Thursday’. That terminology never sat well with me. It was never work to me.
Musicians shouldn’t work.
To quote David Johansen from the New York Dolls ‘They go to work, we
go to play’
That’s how I think. Playing music is the greatest gift and honor in
the world. I didn’t ‘work’ last night at the Filmore in San Francisco
but I sure as hell PLAYed there! That’s just me though. However my friends wanna categorize what it is they do that’s fine. I think they might get a lot more joy out of ‘playing’ rather than ‘working’. There are musicians out there who would love to be making their living ‘playing’ music and they KNOW what work is. I KNOW what work is. It is NOT for me. I highly recommend all of us start working less and start playing a whole lot more. Even if playing is just goofing off on weekends. Take full advantage. This ride is not permanent. It’s wayyyyyy too short. Why spend it all working? Shudder…
When last I joined you we were in Denver, Colorado for a travel day
before getting to the Forum in Los Angeles, California. In many ways
there are two places in the US where musicians want to be at their
best. New York City and Los Angeles. I don’t prescribe to that rule. I gave 100% to 100 people at the Dive Bar in Vegas on a Tuesday back in the day. I know no other way. I hurt myself just as bad in Kansas City as LA. I leave blood on stages all over the planet. That said artists always wanna have their best food forward in those centers because of the watchful eye of the industry be that press or otherwise.
The thing I like about being a Conspirator is the bare bones, meat and
potatoes attitude of our presentation. We require no screens and pyro
to kick your ass. We do it with skin, bone, blood and rock n roll.
None of that changes whether it’s LA (Los Angeles) or LA (Lethbridge, Alberta…that’s in Canada but LA nonetheless…never mind.) The LA Forum is a legendary spot. Historic shows have happened there. I have bootlegs recorded there in my collection. The show was pretty amazing. I didn’t know but apparently Jm Carrey was standing side stage watching us play. It would have been rad to have noticed him there. He is a fellow Canadian transplant and one of my faves. The successor to the crazy that Robin Williams first laid out. That woulda been a cool pairing. Robin and Jim. Too bad I’ll never see that.
But I digress.LA was amazing. Aerosmith were on fire. They did Dream On with a Children’s choir which was pretty epic. We got to watch Steven direct the entire thing during rehearsal and he was every bit as attention to detail as he is with everything else. Very impressive.
Apparently Sir Jonathan Depp was sitting in with the Bad Boys From Boston again but we weren’t around long enough to watch. We had to bring the rock to the good people of Scottsdale, Arizona.
All in all playing the Forum was an amazing experience. Looking forward to checking off more LA venues on my checklist.
Got to catch our second Major League baseball game in Phoenix. The
Conspirators (and Scott Uchida) tagged along with some Canadian friends to watch Phoenix play Pittsburgh. That was a great deal of fun. Watch some baseball, eat some ballpark food, hang with friends-good times.
The show in Scottsdale was pretty awesome. It, again, was another
headlining two hour set for us. We got to add You’re Crazy back into the set which was great for me getting to sing that AND Dr Alibi. I’m very fortunate to get to sing as much as I do. You can even hear me screaming along with Brother Myles all over World On Fire.
The Scottsdale show was a blast. People came from Canada, Vegas and beyond.
Good sweaty fun.
Then it was on the bus to…home. It’s always weird when you’re in
‘road’ mode to find yourself at home. You feel a need to put on your
‘home’ face but you’re still on the road. Home just happens to be a stop on the road. If that makes any sense.
Anyway, we were on our way to play the MGM with the mighty Aerosmith.
That’s a big deal for any Vegas resident. A big homecoming for lil’
Frankie Sidoris who happened to be gracing the pages of Las Vegas Weekly as the hometown hero returning home. For Fitz and I Vegas is also home so getting to play in such a grand setting was a wonderful homecoming indeed.
The show was awesome. I’ve seen a number of great shows in that venue and that was not lost on me. At the last minute my parents decided to come to the show from Canada so they were in attendance as well as a few thousand friends.
After the show we got to catch up with some friends, some family and
then we were on our way to the first real break on the tour. I spent a
couple of days in Vegas entertaining my parents. I took them to the Philip Seymour Hoffman film, A Very Wanted Man which was very good but very talky. It was very real-ish in that it was not action packed at all considering the subject of the film. It was very well acted and directed just very thinky and watchy. Not a summer popcorn blockbuster. Directed by the amazing photographer, Anton Corbijn who is responsible for some amazing photos of Depeche Mode, U2 and many others. He’s also responsible for one of my favorite concert films, Devotional by Depeche Mode.
Without my parents I went to Guardians Of The Galaxy which I have
every intention of seeing again. Marvel just nails it almost every
time. That was a lot of fun. I’ve been resisting filling my house with GOTG action figures and nonsense as I have enough junk to rival Neverland Ranch. I do fully intend to put GOTG in the regular cannon of repeated viewings.
From there we headed to lovely Lake Tahoe to meet back up with Aerosmith.
Playing places like Tahoe seems so strange as it is a lovely touristy spot.
Reminds me of Banff or Jasper in Canada. Maybe Whistler a bit. A little Aspen in there too. Adorable little community. Not the kinda place you expect to see a rock and roll show.
The show turned out to be killer. Shook hands with Joe Perry before taking the stage. That guy is an honest to goodness Rock Star. No two ways about it.
Part way through the show I look over and see a familiar face behind
the monitor board. Hey, that’s David Coverdale! Wow! What a trip. He turned out to be a true gentleman and a gigantic sweetheart. That was a real trip. Mass respect for David. Not only Whitesnake but some epic moments within the Deep Purple chapter. He’s a legend.
The Tahoe show was amazing. I saw some Dammit shirts out there. Saw some in LA too. Always a thrill for me no matter how long I’ve been doing this.
Looking forward to the next trip to Tahoe.
Then we were back to California at Pechanga Casino in Temecula. This
was our own show again so we got to dig deep into our 2 hour show.
These are my favorite sets. As much as touring with Aerosmith is a gigantic thrill getting to play the two hour show is infinitely more satisfying.
Being so close to LA a lot of friends came up for it. Got to catch up
with friends and family before screaming off into the night for another adventure.
Here’s where things get a little wacky. A little wacky because the scheduled show at Conchord, California did not end up happening at all.
We had a day off and went to see the new James Brown bio-pic, Get On
Up which I loved. Not enough can be said about the Godfather of Soul. He literally invented a form of music. Soul, R&B, Funk all changed by his hand.
Funk basically created by him. All of this from a man with no musical
training. No dance training either. Just 100% pure natural talent and ability. THAT is inspiring. He was beyond determined. He worked harder than anyone. Talent plus hard work might get you somewhere. Push, push, push, fight, fight, fight, dig, dig, dig. It was inspiring.
The man had no shortage of demons and down sides. His behavior could
be down right deplorable. He was a force to be reckoned with.
The film was a joy. Non linear, which is always a challenge, and the 4th wall is repeatedly broken which can also be risky but it all works here.
Musicians can be hard on music films but we unanimously dug it. I plan
to see that again before it’s out of theaters as well.
Back to the wacky-
So the morning of the show I hear rumblings of cancellations. Uh oh.
Apparently Mr Kramer has some kind of health issue and tonight’s
performance is going to have to be scrapped. Slash, to his credit, is insistent that OUR show must go on. I was skeptical. How can we possibly pull off a show tonight? At breakfast I listened to Cheryl, our tour manager, and Slash in and out of phone calls, “that venue is too small. We’ll never fit on that stage” “that one’s not available. It woulda been perfect.” All very bleak as far as I was concerned. But I should have known better. When Slash puts his mind to something. Something happens. Something awesome.
Out of nowhere we WERE in fact going to play. And not only had we
found a venue that venue was one of San Francisco’s most legendary spots, the Fillmore. Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane etc etc etc had all played this legendary hall. I was shocked it was happening at all.
So just like that it was announced that the AeroSlash show was
cancelled BUT the Fillmore show was ON! We didn’t even show up at the venue til like 7:30pm for soundcheck. We were on stage 2 hours later to play a full, celebratory 2 hours. We had lost a show but built a triumphant show nonetheless. We giveth what they hath tried to taketh away!
It was a very victorious show as we had fully expected to be riding the bus to Vancouver rather than playing a show. It was a really special show and I was very happy to be a part of it. Thank you to everyone who helped to make it happen. Thank you to all who attended and made it such a good time.
So now here I am in Vancouver, Washington on the dreaded travel day
waiting for the bus driver to get enough sleep so we can ride on to
Vancouver, BC, Canada so I can finally see my family. I always love
going to the Motherland. It’s a heartbreaker to have such a brief time in Vancouver. We are literally there for ONE day. I will wedge my family into one day before we return to the US to play the Gorge in Washington state.
Yes, that’s right we ARE playing the Gorge. The Let Rock Rule tour has
NOT been cancelled as reported on TMZ. Surprise surprise TMZ has reported something inaccurate. Tabloid nation.
Joey is getting sorted but the tour will carry on. The show MUST go on.
Slash proved that by making the Fillmore show happen. This tour
continues as scheduled. Conchord being the only unfortunate hiccup.
Get well soon, Joey Kramer, one of the greatest drummers in Rock N Roll history. He’ll be back stronger than ever. Wait and see!
Well, I guess I better get myself on the bus to Vancouver from
Vancouver so I can be rested enough to spend the day with family. By the time anyone reads this it will probably be show day in Vancouver, BC. I’m really looking forward to it though I always look forward to the Motherland.
Some Todd Dammit for your ears and your body-
“I can’t stop those tongues a-flappin’ so I just keep my toes a-tappin’
Put the bullshit in the lost and found and never let the bastards drag
Your loyal and humble servant