Our travels take us corner to corner and coast to coast every year. But rarely do we cover that much ground in one month. So June makes for a good example of how we get from point A to point B to put on the shows…there are a lot of moving parts!! (Photo taken inside the bus)
The month began with our lead guitarist heading home from Spokane for carpal tunnel surgery…on BOTH WRISTS!! The doctor said he may as well get it done in one go and get rid of the pain. That added a moving part and a lot of angst…we had to replace Rich for 2 shows, and worry about the surgery results. Luckily we know a great player from Nashville, Danny Parks, who filled in for Rich when he and his wife adopted a child in early 2015. Rich heads home…Danny heads to CA.
And the bus headed from Spokane to San Diego in 3 overnight trips…hotel rooms in Twin Falls, Las Vegas, and then Escondido, CA. A few more moving parts…booking rooms for the guys to do their day work and let the driver rest…then on to the next stop during the night.
After the CA show, there were a few days off, so everyone flew home. The bus went from CA to Denver…even picked up another band who’s bus broke down and happened to be headed in our direction. Our moving parts helped get another group to a gig!! Then came Denver…
After our show on 6/12, Steely Dan and Steve Winwood were to perform on 6/13 at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater…just a few miles from Littleton where we were parked. So we figured out who wanted to stay and who wanted to climb in their bunk for the 3 day trip to the East Coast…then book flights from DEN to BOS to meet the bus 3 nights later.
Side note…the night before we had threaded the needle and sat right between two big storms. Not a drop!! But the show at Red Rocks was interrupted by a lot of rain…and 10 minutes and 4 inches of HAIL! And it’s open air…there’s nowhere to hide. So we got pummeled!! But miraculously, the local crew cleared the stage and The Dan Who Knew Too Much came out and played their whole set…half a house, but a great set. A night to remember for sure. Check out the video of the exit ramps…
TaDa!!! Rich’s surgery was a total success. So we said goodbye to Danny after the Red Rocks show, and he flew home to Nashville…as Rich was boarding his plane to Boston to meet the bus at midnight. The rest of the band hit the ground at the same time from Denver. Rarely does the timing work out so well, but the bus arrived at the airport as the first bag was hitting the carousel. Then up the coast to Salisbury, MA for a third sold out show in 3 years at Blue Ocean…a great venue sitting right on the beach. The waves actually break right under the club…and our green room. Very cool!
From there, a day off, then 3 shows on the weekend in New England. Add yet another moving part…a new lighting director joined us for the weekend theater shows. He’s a good fit and really plays the set with us visually. So you have a treat in store next time you see the band…a visual experience that goes note for note with the band.
Side note…the opener in Schenectady on 6/17 was a band called the Slim Kings…a great 3 piece band with Liberty Devito on drums. What a treat…to watch Lib again from side stage. He’s a caveman with drumsticks in his hands!! Liberty was Billy Joel’s drummer for 30 years…and it was great to hang with him again after so much water has passed under our bridges. He was always a favorite of ours when LRB was privileged to share a stage with Billy. He’s still on Fire!!
So a quick trip to PHL to send the early birds home while the bus headed back to Nashvegas. Our next stop would prove to be as cool as it looks on the billing…Firefall, Atlanta Rhythm Section, and LRB outdoors in Evans, GA at Lady Antebellum Amphitheatre. So cool to see everyone again…Jock, Sandy, and Mark…Rodney back with ARS. And everyone sounding great! The crowd got a big serve of hits start to finish…albeit in 100+ degree weather until the sun went down…when it cooled to a chilly 93!
The month ended with a trip to Iowa for a private party on an estate…earned by a long career booking bands and managing entertainment for casinos all over the US. That casino manager decided after all those years and all those bands that he wanted Little River Band to help his best friend celebrate his 60th. That was an honor. Some things come full circle…lots of moving parts!!
The guys most in charge of our moving parts are the members of our crew. We think you should get to know them a little better…they do the work of 6 or 7 guys, and care as much as we do about the quality of the show.
In charge of production and our Front of House sound is Jim Wakefield. We’ve talked about the moving parts that the band deal with…but add to those, getting our gear across the country…or finding suitable gear if we can’t take the bus and have to fly to a show. Then we have to use rented stage equipment with no real assurance that it’s going to work properly when we arrive. Jim handles all of those issues. And we’re proud to say that time after time and show after show we get reports and reviews back that the venue NEVER SOUNDED THAT GOOD! That’s Jim’s world…he tames bad rooms and weird PA systems like no one else!
Because we’re all on in-ear monitor systems, the mix we get fed directly into our ears is SO important. Any mistake causing feedback or that horrific noise you may hear at a show when something goes astray comes directly into our ears…and worst case, could cause permanent hearing loss. Making sure that doesn’t happen is our Monitor Engineer, Steve Kimbrough. You may see us look to our left or right and signal that we need more of “him” or less of “him”…or maybe more or less of “me” or “my voice”…maybe even less or more of you guys from the house mics!! Steve has a lot of other duties, but none more important that letting us hear what we need and want to perform.
LRB has to make sure that vocal harmonies are up front in the mix…but there are guitar harmonies that need to be featured too. And there are a lot of different sounds and guitar styles in the show, including acoustic. So a guitar tech is very important to our setup and our maintenance needs…those are covered by Nick Hooper. Nick is the youngest guy on the bus, but he’s never sent out a guitar out of tune, and he has the added responsibility of catching the camera after Wayne takes crowd pictures. He hasn’t missed yet. And he may be too young to relate to all the geriatric jokes…but he cracks the bus up on a regular basis because he’s probably the smartest guy in a bunk!
Last but not least, our newest crew member is in charge of the visual component of the show. Say hi to Paul Volzone. Paul’s job is to light up the band when we’re all singing, and to highlight all the nuances of the show that we’ve worked so hard to add…and that lots of you comment on when you hear them. But those moments become visceral when they’re lit…a moment of emotional connection during a song can be missed when it’s “lit” in the same white light as the rest of the show. But when enhanced by color or a special light on the person playing or singing that note, the moment can become a pivotal point in the song…maybe in the show. Lights matter…Paul is making them matter.
All tolled, look at all the moving parts the crew has under their control…sound waves for you and for us, guitar strings, amps, cabling, lighting fixtures, risers, and big buses pulling a trailer with about 10,000 pounds of gear. And then we have to jump on a bus or a plane and get all that stuff to your town…and maybe we lose a guy to a surgery, or a mom’s birthday in Australia, or the birth of a child, or any other life issue that might cause us to change direction on any given day. We haven’t even thrown in bus breakdowns, or tornadoes and hurricanes that we’ve just missed…knock on wood. Moving parts…June’s in the rear view mirror…here comes Summer, 2016! See you soon!!!
Written by Wayne Nelson