Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Does it seem like I'm complaining: Back at the 9-5 grind...

3 months on the road and as quickly as it started, now it's all over and I'm back at my day job. WEIRD! I'd like to reassure all the folks that have responded to my blogs that I haven't given up. Yes, the road life was tough. The Chief was unpredictable at best and damned uncomfortable at worst. My band mates were both a pleasure and a nightmare to live with. I travelled into terrain that made my mind reel in awe and recoil in disgust. I met people who were fabulously talented, beautifully generous and seriously crazy. I played my heart out to the masses, ate crappy food and lived on precious little sleep. When asked, my stock answer to the question "how was it" is "it was an experience". That really covers it-totally. It WAS an experience. Not one that I would trade for anything. Now that I am again waking at a 7am to the annoying alarm and making my lunch for another day at the grind, I take solace in the fact that this was the first, but not last time I will be doing this. To be honest, I can't wait to do it again. Thanks to everybody who gave us advice, believed in us, and wrote words of encouragement. I'm glad that you were along for the ride. It WAS an experience. All I can do is promise to continue to document these experiences and hope that everyone who is reading this gets something of value out of our crazy life on the road. You are the reason we keep doing it. Keep checking back. There are so many more stories to tell...

Monday, August 09, 2004

A Day in the Life...

I've noticed that the blog entries have been few and far between in the last weeks. Betse has tried to keep you updated, but my entries are more fleeting. Why? I'm tired as hell! I'm thinking this is why...

24 hours on the life of The Wilders:

7:45am: Wake up. Realize that I'm in The Chief. Realize that I haven't had any water or food in the last 12 hours. Panic.

8:00am: Actually get out of bed. Try not to wake other Wilders. Know that it's impossible. Say, "screw it" and put away sleeping bag, fold up couch and, in doing so, find dirty socks from the day before while other Wilders pretend to sleep regardless of the commotion.

8:05am: Find clean underwear, T-shirt and towel in suitcase and put on shoes for run to the shower.

8:06am: Nod, but don't speak to Betse, who is also headed out for cleansing.

8:07am: Look back at Ike and Nate- who continue to pretend to sleep.

8:10am: Peel off dirty clothes and wash off in RV park shower. Pretend not to freak out about all the foot fungus that is probably on the floor.

8:20am: Dress, brush teeth, pee and walk back to the RV.

8:25am: Nod, but don't speak to Betse, who is also back at the RV from her shower.

8:39am: Heat up water for coffee. Banish stinky clothes from the day before to the closet.

8:45am: Force Nate and Ike from their pretense of sleep. Remind them of the departure time we agreed to the night before. Lay on a guilt trip. Watch as they begrudingly become verticle.

8:50am: Speak to Betse for the first time. Tell her that the coffee's ready. Pour a thermos full for myself. Sweet coffee. Wonderful coffee...

9:00am: Move chairs, CD product, T-shirt box, maps, backpack, cell phone, Rolling Stone "Top 500 albums of all time" issue, USA Today newspaper from the day before, bass amp, checkbook, Nerf Football, gallons of water, television set, dining room table and other miscellaneous gear from front area of RV back into "travelling location".

9:05am: Watch as Nate and Ike finally get their crap put away and go to shower.

9:15am: Throw away trash, pull electrical connection, check oil and tires on The Chief.

9:20am: Wish a "good morning" to Nate and Ike as they return from the shower.

9:30am: Play "rock, paper, scissors", to see who drives the first shift. I always lose.

9:31am : Leave for next gig. Frequent stops are necessary for gas and urination obligations. Ice, beer and water are purchased and stored in The Chief. Fast food is consumed on the way for minimal nourishment.

7:00pm (sometimes later, sometimes earlier): Arrive at gig.

7:05pm: Enter club and greet bartender, club owner, and sound man (in that order...)

7:20pm: Explain to sound man that we use a single microphone "all the time" and reassure him that "everything will be ok...we are professionals..."

7:25pm: Complete sound check after manipulating club's EQ units so that our mic doesn't roar with feedback while sound man looks on in bewilderment.

7:30pm: Leave club for dinner at local burger/sub/pizza/or unknown recommended restaurant within walking distance.

7:45pm: Order and wait for food, wish for more time to consume it. Eat it too fast anyway.

8:20pm: Head back to RV to change clothes, drink a beer, chill out.

9:00pm: Go back into club to hang out, drink another beer, chill out.

9:45pm: Tune instruments, get one more beer, wait for opening act to finish.

10:00pm: Start show, try to get into it regardless of personal feelings, remember to play tunes that were requested. Try to deal with multiple string breaks and rowdy audience members.

Midnight: Finish set with encore. Talk to rowdy audience members. Try to convince them to buy CD's. Ask them to buy additional beers for themselves in hopes of getting one more "drunken impulse buy".

12:45am: Pack up instruments, CD's, T-shirts, and other miscellaneous gear and load out to The Chief.

1:00am: Change back into sweaty clothes from before show. Hang up sweaty show clothes. Drink water and eat corn chips.

1:15am: Go back into club for "idiot check". Determine that all gear and personnel are accounted for and say goodbyes to sound man, club owner, bartender (in that order...).

1: 20am: Look at map and determine possible overnight RV park possibilities.

1:30am: Leave for RV park destination. Listen to music, talk about the day, talk about the gig, talk about people at the gig, fall asleep in an uncomfortable position in one of the chairs. Wake up and go in the back to crash on the floor.

2:30am: Arrive at RV park. Pay at the "late arrivals" station. Find spot. Plug in. Move chairs, CD product, T-shirt box, maps, backpack, cell phone, Rolling Stone "Top 500 albums of all time" issue, USA Today newspaper from day before, bass amp, checkbook, Nerf Football, gallons of water, television set, dining room table and other miscellaneous gear from "travelling location" to front area of RV. Open fold out couch, overhead bed and get out blow-up bed in preparation for minimal night's sleep.

3:00am: Go to shower, brush teeth, pee and walk back to RV.

3:10am: Say goodnight, try to go to sleep as soon as possible. Know that that the sleep I'm gonna get will never be enough.

7:45am: Wake up. Realize that I'm in The Chief. Realize that I haven't had any water or food in the last 12 hours. Panic.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

And then there was Rockygrass...

We managed to make it out there though the Box was starting to loosen up... in the seams, that is. We had some water leakage issues in a few areas. (Ike & Nate did some work after we got home, so hopefully it's sealed up tight now.)

This post is of course way post-RG, so let's see if I can sum it up concisely:

It rained and rained and rained, until Sunday, when we played. So folks were real up and happy to see us, and let's just say we gave the people what they wanted! Overall yours truly had a terrific time hanging out a lot w/ MB Booker, our trusty and wonderful booking agent extraordinaire. Mary even introduced me to one of my main music heroes, Tim O'Brien. I was a stammering fan on the first intro, but a little later we hung out and chatted. The second meeting was much more mellow than the first, though I'm sure I still said stupid things. Those of you who know me, you know that's not hard for me to do!

Bottom line is this: we played two major fests two weekends in a row (Grey Fox and then RG) and we stood up real well against all the hot pickers and major acts in both cases. It's still fun to be the underdog! And yet I hope that we get beyond being the surprise act. I hope we get to the point where folks are just antsy to see us because they know they're going to see a great show.

I want to express my thanks and appreciation again to you all for sticking with us and for your votes of support. I hope y'all realize how much it helps us. Knowing we have good friends who wish us well goes a long way in the quagmire of challenges and leaks and loss of sleep and broken strings...

And Greg G., I know some of us sure like the cookies you mention... whatever your reason for asking, I'm sure it's a good one! Look forward to seeing you & Carl Friday!

This weekend, after our return to St. Louis, we face another new venue at the Int'l Bluegrass Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky (of course in KY). I'll let you know how it went next week, before we take off for a short Northern stint in MN and WI. Great adventures await us up north, culminating in Larryfest, which is where we discovered at least 18 distinct varieties of beer represented there, last year... that might be some kind of record in itself.