UK tour Al's next four days
After Mickleton we set off for Skegness. it was a rainy day and there was talk of flooding so we set off early again. The cloud cover was so thick that our GPS could not find a signal. We just attempted to find our way back to the motorway as best we could. Finally we came to the castle and we knew we hadn't come that way before. As we rounded the castle the GPS finally locked in and started to tell to make a U turn if possible. It took us back to the castle and over a bridge and next to a raging stream that looked like it was nearly on the verge of flooding. We got out of there as quickly as it was safe to do and found ourselves on the M6 again. The landscape flattened out and started looking like upstate NY except for the 3 nuclear power plants that seemed to be planted in the middle of nowhere and separated by ten miles or less. I imagine this is where England gets much of its power. Still most of the countryside maintained its charm.
As we approached Skegness it started looking very touristy and less charming. There were lots of knickknack shops and trailer parks with every size and shape of mobile home. Finally we arrived at Butlins and found the tent where the food and common area was. There we met back with Philip and his wife, Beverly. After we had a sandwich and some coffee they took us and Tish, Snooky and Cindy to our rooms in the chalet closest to the sea. From our living room we could see the giant windmills in the water, providing more power to the UK. Maybe it's just me but I find these wind powered turbines to be aesthetically pleasing. Later on Phil told me that the UK has become ecology crazy and there are unscrupulous characters who sell solar panels to unsuspecting home owners and don't tell them that their roofs will need replacing and the solar panels will need to be removed. We both agreed that solar was probably not the way to go for UK ecology anyway.
We found out we would not be getting a sound check, just a line check behind a curtain before we went on.
When we got to the dressing room we met up with Patrick our French fan, friend and photographer and Serge, his Canadian counterpart. They were scoping out the venue for the best places to photograph the band and make their videos. Also there was Cindy's cousin from Ohio who I had first met when we played Cleveland last summer. After some warm greetings we went about getting ready for the gig.
Cindy and I went out into the venue to set up the merch table and her cousin helped. There was another band on, a blues cover band from Germany, who spoke with a German accent but sang like they were from the Deep South of the USA. After they finished we were able to find someone who told us the proper place to set up. It was dark spot on the side of the stage that was far from ideal but I already knew that with a show of this size there would be things that were far less than perfect and one needed to maintain grace under pressure and not sweat the small stuff.
Then it was back up to the stage to make sure the drums were set up properly and make sure my in-ear monitors were working and that I would be getting a reasonable mix during the show. Suddenly the curtain was rising and I realized I'd left a bunch of things back in the dressing room. I ran back quickly and grabbed my harmonica and the holder and a set list. As I got back to the drums Phil brought my little Godzilla hat and I told him to put it back in the dressing room, which was directly behind the stage, because I had an idea. The set went off well and the audience seemed to be really into it from the very first song. Unfortunately the lighting people seemed to be clueless. Despite having awesome equipment it didn't have any impact. Often whoever was singing was in the dark while lights flashed everywhere but on the musicians. I was thinking that it looked like little kids getting turned loose with a massive lighting rig, just having fun pressing buttons and moving faders. I found out later that much of the staff are in fact volunteers and are doing it as some kind of internship program and am resolving to send a letter to the festival with some constructive criticism. The sound system, however, was first class and the mix on stage was wonderful. I pretended for much of the show that I was in a dark recording studio making musical magic.
During the bass solo on Godzilla I exited stage left quite obviously and went into the dressing room and donned the Godzilla hat which bears a resemblance to Kermit the Frog. I then went over to stage right and waited in the wings for Dennis to finish his solo, which was brilliant as usual. I then scooted along the lip of the stage with my head down so that the hai was a little hard to see. Tapping with the drumsticks anything that could make a sound. This was a moment when the bad lighting was an advantage because there was an air of mystery to the routine. Finally I got back up on the drum kit and played some heavy riffs to bring it to a close and bring back the band for another chorus and the ending of the song. We did Schools Out and Reaper for a quick wrap up and left the audience shouting for more.
We went out to greet fans and sell some T-shirts and CDs and signed tons of other things including a sharp leather dress. That was funny because when the young lady said, "Can you sign my dress?" i though she said, "Can you sign my breast?" and during the process of stammering an answer she said to me, "It won't wash off because it's leather." Me, "duh, OK."
By the time we left the only food places open were Burger King and the Fish and Chips place. BK was sold out of almost everything and there was still a huge line to buy whatever food remained. Dennis, Cindy and I went to the Fish and Chips place where all they had left was chips. we got some fried potatoes and went back to the rooms to eat. We had the chips with salt and vinegar and some warm beer. In spite of the challenges it was a very successful night. I slept we'll and had good dreams this time.
The next day we had a 40£ voucher for food but unfortunately the restaurants were still sold out of everything. We bought chocolates and junk food and headed out for York with Phil. On the way Phil gets a phone call and says, "Bad news guys. Tonight's gig has been cancelled. There's some issue with the sound guy so the promoter has pulled the show. And tomorrow's gig is looking shaky too." He didn't know why but I was feeling bad because I knew some fans who had bought tickets and there was no way to let them know because we had no Internet, being on the road. and nobody's phones would do any kind of cellular data so we could update the website or post on our Facebook page. We set the GPS for Clitheroe where we would stay and wait to see the status of Tuesday's gig and at least we would be able to get the word out there.
When got to the inn we found that they only had 2 rooms available and Cindy had joined us for the next 5 days. Joe and I decided to room in the room with 3 beds and Dennis and Cindy could have the other room. What we didn't realize is that the other room only had a single bed. Being the troopers that they were Den and Cindy said they would manage. Later in the afternoon we found out that the Yardbirds Club gig was also cancelled. That was particularly a drag because we had started playing Ain't Got You in anticipation of playing the club named after one of our favorite English groups. We did email and later went out for an awesome meal of Indian food. We then went back to the inn and hung out with our French speaking friends for several hours before calling it a night.
The next day was deemed laundry day and we set out for the local launderette. We got there just as the school children were getting out of school. They were all in uniforms and were smart and energetic as children of that age usually are. A number of them came in the laundry as their parents were doing laundry and we talked to them about their town, school and various subjects. On the way back it began to rain hard so we had to hurry back to the hotel.
That night we went to LaVespa, for what I considered the best meal of the tour. I had Moules in some kind of garlic sauce and linguine with lobster. The lobster was not the kind of lobster meat that you would get in the US but a half lobster complete with head and shell. There was also tiny shrimp and a sauce to die for. If you ever find yourself in Clitheroe, do yourself a huge favor and check out LaVespa. It's not even that expensive.