Chapter 33 - THE LAST DAY
spending the night in Denver, we started out early for a rather
lengthy drive to our next and last concert of the tour, in
Durango, Colorado! To be more specific, the concert was actually
going to be at a place just outside Durango called the Echo
Basin Ranch and getting there was going to be an adventure
in itself. This place was so remote that we did the last few
miles on a two-lane dirt and gravel road, and as you can probably
tell by now, it was an outdoor venue, a kind of mini, no,
make that a micro Woodstock. Not my favorite kind of gig from
an acoustic standpoint but what the hell.
the last day of the tour and the next twenty-four hours was
going to be hectic to say the least. First, we had another
Rocky Mountain slalom adventure in the land yacht to even
get to the gig. And as you can imagine, 'Jeff the Invincible'
wasn't too thrilled about that. Next, it was going to be a
late and rather hasty sound check followed by the concert.
And, of course, lastly, we would break everything down one
last time, load it all in the trucks and then we would all
go our separate ways and disappear back into America, back
into our separate communities and our "normal" lives.
we were all members of some strange group of part time nomads
who lived on the move for a couple of months and then returned
home to their respective tribes. We can't really survive within
just one life style so we must remain in a state of artistic
limbo, spending necessary time in both worlds and trying to
maintain a reasonable balance between the two.
arrived a little later than late for the sound check but everything
was so loose it didn't really seem to matter that much. Apparently,
this was the first concert being held at this venue and the
crew had to deal with a lot of unforeseen problems.
nightmare for the crew was having to load in on a dirt road
to a stage in the middle of an open field with no loading
docks, and of course that slowed down the whole pre-show routine
considerably. And since it was an open-air stage with no walls
or roof, the sound guys would have to struggle for a decent
mix in both the monitor and house systems. In addition to
that, we were scheduled to go on just before sunset, which
kind of wiped out any idea of using any dramatic lighting.
Oh, and there were a couple of local head-banger, heavy-metal
bands hired as the opening acts. And although they looked
the part, complete with all the appropriate tattoos and piercings,
they were really pretty bad. And with all that extra gear
going on and off stage, it just made the crews job even more
complicated. In some ways the whole thing started to resemble
a Bob Hope USO show in the middle of some DMZ. Could this
be one last attack from "Roadzilla"? One never knows.
Once again, our land yacht served as a combination dining
and dressing room since the facilities at the gig were next
to nil. And although we went on to have a pretty good show
in spite of "Roadzilla," I have to admit it was
a bit of a struggle. Yes, we struggled with the monitor mix
and the lights and sound but more than that we struggled to
stay focused on stage. After all, this was not just another
day and another show; this was the last day and the last show.
the final show was over, the gear was all packed and loaded
and it was time to hit the road again but this time we were
saying a final good-bye to the crew. We wouldn't get to see
them at the next town on the itinerary; there was no next
town. They were now headed home or in many cases heading out
on another tour with someone else.
all going on the last long overnight drive of the tour, from
Echo Basin Ranch all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. At
that point the trucks would drop off the instruments and the
sound and lights gear which would be delivered later to the
respective musicians' homes or storage warehouse while the
land yachts for the band and crew would drop us all off at
a hotel by the Albuquerque airport.
was kind of a cosmic joke when you stop to think about it.
We were probably going to arrive at our hotel sometime just
before dawn and most of us were booked on flights that would
leave between eight and nine the same morning. Obviously,
that didn't leave much time for sleep. In fact, some of the
guys on the earlier flights were lucky to even grab a quick
breakfast before heading to the airport.
Jean traveled on the land yacht with us to a predetermined
location where a car was waiting to take them the rest of
the way home. So, here we were in the middle of the night
unceremoniously and reluctantly saying our good-byes by the
roadside before continuing on to Albuquerque and our flights
back home. I don't mind admitting that I felt a little sadness
as I watched the tail lights of Dan's car disappear down the
road. It had all been such a great adventure and I knew I
would miss everyone but it was now time to re-board the magic
bus and head out to our final destination.
had a few hours to go before reaching Albuquerque and we knew
none of us were really going to get any sleep in the bouncing
bunks, so we decided to declare one last happy hour at the
'Land Yacht Bar and Grill' for our mobile post-tour celebration.
I have to admit that we all got mildly inebriated, not enough
to be considered drunk but just enough to encourage us to
start trading some outrageous old road stories, telling tall
tales and sharing a lot of laughs along the way. And it wasn't
long before we also started to recount some of the crazy,
funny things that occurred on the road over the last couple
of months. Yes, the great whale expedition was now coming
to an end and this was the BIG unwind before going home.
'Jeff the Invincible' had predicted, we arrived at the hotel
a little bit before 5:00 a.m. and piled out of the magic bus
for the last time. All the remaining luggage was unloaded
and after doing a last check of the old land yacht for any
personal items we may have forgotten, it was time to say good-bye
to Jeff. Unfortunately, it had to be a quick good-bye because
Jeff was immediately heading out for another tour and would
soon be driving another bunch of musical nomads back and forth
the Invincible' had not only driven us safely across thousands
of miles on this tour, he had also become a friend and integral
part of our little circus family over the last month or so.
I had no idea if our paths would ever cross again but I did
know I would not forget him. To me, he would always be 'Jeff
the Invincible'; Starbucks coffee, Bulls Eye candies, AC/DC
on the headphones and this guy could drive around the world.
we're all standing at the reception desk, or should I say
what was left of us, and I realize this is it, it's time to
say good-bye to the remaining characters in our cross-country
adventure. We'd already said good-bye to Dan and Jean, the
crew, the truck drivers, and the bus drivers and now it had
dwindled down to just Bernie, Zoot, Photoglo, McEntee and
flight departed at 8:00 a.m. so after some heartfelt handshakes
and hugs he grabbed the hotel shuttle to the airport. He probably
had just enough time for a quick breakfast and a very slow
security check before boarding.
Photoglo were both booked on a 9:00 a.m. flight back home
to Nashville so they had a chance to at least check in to
their rooms for a quick shower, followed by a quick breakfast
and then a quick shuttle ride to the airport where they would
go through an extremely slow security check before boarding.
Bernie and me and we were booked on an 11:00 a.m. flight back
to L.A. So we had the luxury of getting a whole two hours
of sleep before the quick shower, quick breakfast, quick shuttle
ride to the airport and an agonizingly slow security check
before boarding. Then it hit me and I finally realized, we
were flying home on the 4th of July weekend and it seemed
like everybody who was flying out of Albuquerque was leaving
at the same time...11:00 a.m.!!
we endured the laborious airport security routine and then
headed to our boarding gate which, true to form was the last
gate at the end of the terminal, also known as a Rock'n'Roll
gate. That's because of another road rule in the "Great
Book of Roadzilla" which states; "Distance to an
airport boarding gate shall be determined by the amount of
time you have and the weight of your carry-on luggage,"
less time and heavier luggage equates into a longer walk to
the gate. I believe it's road rule #29 and that's followed
by road rule #30, which, if I'm not mistaken, has something
to do with traveling on holidays.
every seat on the plane was filled and every conceivable space
was stuffed with carry-on bags, we finally took off, right
on time. It was a short flight to L.A., just long enough to
finish the obligatory bag of peanuts and soft drink they supply
and get a numb butt from those uncomfortable seats. Oh, how
I missed The Chair !
twelve noon when we landed in L.A. and it was a beautiful
day. And since it was also July 4th weekend, LAX was an absolute
madhouse, especially at the baggage carousels. However, Bernie
and I were able to fend off several tourists long enough to
retrieve our luggage and make it to the limo outside that
was waiting to take us home.
headed north on 405 toward the San Fernando Valley, past the
Getty museum, over the Sepulveda pass and then to Bernie's
house. Bernie thought he was going to have some time off but
as fate would have it he would only be home for a few days
before going out to face Roadzilla all over again. You see,
he got a Rock'n'Roll S.O.S. call just a few days before we
ended Dan's tour and had to go out and rescue a tour in progress
that was in a state of chaos. A true road dog if I ever met
our brief good-byes and promised to get together for a round
of golf or a dinner sometime but I think we both knew deep
down inside that fate would have more control over that than
we would. We were road dogs, Rock'n'Roll Gypsies, and so much
of our lives were involved with fate and finding the next
gig. We still haven't had that round of golf or the dinner
but I'm sure we think of each other from time to time.
it was just me and the driver heading back to Burbank and
it felt so strange not to have the other guys in the limo
with me. All the layers of the tour had been peeled away and
had vanished in just twenty-four hours, Dan, the crew, the
band. Now I was alone and in the midst of my other life and
although I was happy to be home, I knew it would be about
a week or so before I was once again able to change out of
"Road Mode" and get back into my "normal"
life on the left coast.
Shazam! It had all disappeared in a twenty-four hour meltdown
and I ended the day by relaxing in 'My Chair,' happy to be
home but sad that there weren't a few more shows coming up.
As I sat back and sipped my Gin & Tonic, I couldn't help
occasionally gazing out the window at the neighborhood and
reflecting on what a great adventure it had all been. Long