Hello Night Owls!
As always, it’s been a busy summer for the band. We’ve seen much wildlife in the last 8 weeks…and some of it two-legged!! (You know who you are… and we love ya!!) But back to our travels…
July began with a private show in St Louis at the America’s Center. We played for the yearly gathering of the Loyal Order of the Moose. We expected funny hats, but instead discovered an awesome collection of folks from all over the US and Canada. Members pool their energy and resources, contributing between 70-100 million dollars annually through community service in all 50 states and 4 Canadian provinces. Their efforts include caring for children and teens in need at Mooseheart Child City near Chicago, caring for seniors at Moosehaven in Jacksonville, and attending to many community needs through their Heart of the Community programs, available through every Moose Chapter. These are salt of the earth people…and they partied hard on a Saturday night in St Louis! Check them out: http://www.mooseintl.org/index.php/about/
From St Louis our travels took us through TN, NY, MD, OH, IN, GA, and MS…then West to OR, NM, CO, and SD. In all we covered close to 10,000 miles in the bus, and another 7000 by air. Crazy, huh?
All the shows are fun…but here are some of the highlights:
July 7 – LRB sold out an unprecedented 3rd straight show at the Franklin Theatre in Franklin TN. Always great for the Nashvillians to play for a sold out crowd that close to home (and for the Floridian)!
July 16 – Shared the stage with some old friends at the Violet Festival in Pickerington OH…Head East is still sounding great!
July 22 – After about 10 years, we were invited for a return visit to Moondance Jam, an annual festival in Walker MN. There had been bad weather the day before, so attendees to the festival were happy to see the sun and were primed for a full day of music. But due to the heat and the strain on the power supply in the area, at about 45 minutes into the LRB set…while we were in the middle of Help Is On Its Way…the whole PA shut down. Two amazing things happened…first, the crowd immediately picked up the song, finished the third verse, and even made the key change to sing the double chorus. 11,000 people make a lot of noise…but once those vocals were over, there was nowhere left for the crowd to go. So we waved goodbye thinking we were done. Amazingly, the power was restored in about 15 minutes…but most of the crowd had left for their RVs and tents to wait for the next band. So we began Cool Change with pretty much an empty field. That’s when the second amazing thing happened…they all came back…still singing!! It was a moment we’ll never forget! Thanks MN!
Aug 5 – We co-headlined a show with Richard Marx at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta. (That one had huge significance to Wayne and Rhonda Nelson…he proposed to her there in 2000 after another double bill with Chicago. They stayed in the same hotel on the same floor this time!) It’s an awesome venue…a real treat if you’ve never been. The floor of the 7000 seat arena gets set with tables for members to put candles, tablecloths, and any food and drink items they wish. It’s very intimate for such a large venue…a table side concert!!
Aug 13 – After two fly/drive dates in Oregon, we had an early flight to Albuquerque. We didn’t land until 4, but we met back up with our bus and our crew still got the stage set for a 6:00 soundcheck and a show at 7:30. Then…
Aug 14 – We did an overnight to Colorado Springs for an afternoon fundraiser at National Mill Dog Rescue. They had never put on a concert, but the volunteer staff did a fabulous job of making all the necessary preparations for parking, vending, ticket sales, and staging…in the middle of a CO prairie!! We haven’t heard the final figures yet, but we’re sure a lot of pups are going to benefit from the efforts of all that helped put the show on. From all of us…Adopt, Don’t Shop!!
Aug 15-22 – Wayne and Rhonda stayed on the bus and trekked through Rocky Mtn National Park in CO, Yellowstone Park in WY, and Devils Tower Nat’l Monument in northeast WY. That’s where all the critters come in…from Moose in MO to Eagles in OR, Pups in CO to Buffalo, Elk, Bear, and White Swans (who knew??) in WY, Prairie Dogs in MT, and finally to herds of White Tail Deer in SD. An amazing 8 weeks to be sure.
You might ask who did all that driving?? In the June Newsletter, we focused on the unsung heroes of our journeys…our crew. But we saved one of the members for a special shoutout this time…our bus driver, Earl Adams.
Every time the bus rolls, the driver becomes the most important person on the tour…without doubt. Our lives are in his hands, not to mention our rest when we do overnight trips. A good driver can rock you to sleep with the motion of a smooth bus ride…and a bad one can not only keep you awake, but can freak you out with rough turns, stops, and starts.
Earl is Mr Smooth. He even rolls down the road with smooth jazz playing in the driver compartment. All tolled, we’ve ridden with Earl for more than 8 years…and probably well over a half million miles. Nothing fazes him…not even us when we get into one of our bus rants about whatever or whoever. After a few minutes, you can hear him do his lazy laugh…heh-heh-heh… and end with “You guys are crazy!”
A couple great Earl stories…
He had to do a 900 mile run from somewhere in the Midwest and meet up with us in PA. The weather was horrific the whole way…but finally started to clear up as he got closer to the outdoor venue. At the last toll station on the PA turnpike, the attendant said she thought she heard a meow come from under the bus. Earl said no way…I’ve been running hard for 10 hours in this storm. No way a cat could survive that. But he pulled over to check just in case…and sure enough sitting on the edge of the battery pan directly under the driver’s compartment was a 2 pound black kitten. He was soaking wet and covered in road grime…and scared to death. Imagine…10 hours hanging on for dear life under a bus going 70 miles/hour! Earl coaxes the little stowaway off the ledge, cleaned him up and fed him. By the time he reached the venue, he had already figured out that the warm dashboard right in front of his hero was HIS SPOT! We pulled in to meet the bus and found Earl and “RoadieCat” in one of the luggage bays…playing and living large. One of the crew took him home. Last we heard, RoadieCat weighs in at about 25 pounds!...and loves him some Earl!
But as gentle as he was with that cat, don’t try to wake Earl up from a deep sleep…he might come up swinging. More than once our TM’s have had to get a key to wake him up…they only walk up to the side of the bed once. So this incident has stuck with all of us…
One summer in OK we had a 10:00 load-in, and then a 3:00 show. The hotel was about 25 minutes from the venue, which meant Earl didn’t get to his pillow until almost noon. By 5 we needed him to come back to move the bus and get us all to the hotel. We were getting no answers from his cell phone or his room. So we had to persuade the very nice lady at the front desk to take a master key, open his door, and wake him…but under no circumstance was she to go into the room. She called back less than 5 minutes later to say that all was good and he was on his way back to the bus with a shuttle driver. We all thought…that went pretty well?!! So when we got back we asked how she got that done so easily. With a very smooth husky voice, she said “I just opened the door and said Earl…Earl…wake up Earl. We’ve never let him live that one down…we can pound on his door, and his truck stop alarm can be blasting…but when a woman whispers he wakes right up!! Heh-heh-heh…That’s Crazy!!
Earl gets us there and back…smoothly. We couldn’t do what we do without him. If you see him by a big bus at the loading dock…say Hey!
“See ya in a minute…” Earl Adams