It's been an interesting month out here on the great American continent, with a series of first-time-ever catastrophes, dilemmas and anomalies which individually might seem little more than trifling annoyances, but when taken collectively make one wonder if perhaps we are going through a slightly skewed scene in an otherwise well-rehearsed play.
First, we had the frustration of being stranded by one of this nation's two largest air carriers in Denver airport on our way to Reno to perform that night in Caesar's Lake Tahoe - the first time there for us since the Seventies. It certainly is the first time in our career that we have had a date cancelled due to an airline foul-up, and a more helpless feeling I cannot imagine than having to allow a promoter to go dark that night, knowing that with just a tiny miracle, you just might be able to get there in time for a later show................NOT.
His decision was a wise one, but a great disappointment for us to know that fans turned up and had to be turned away due to lackaband.
Sorry, folks; you will be heartened to know, however, that the airline in question are so concerned about our loss, and so contrite, that they have promised to pass on my letter to their customer service department and that we might expect an answer from them within SIXTY DAYS!!!!
By then, I calculate conservatively, they will have made another eighteen to twenty million dollars out of other unwitting and trusting passengers.
Then the same airline, on our return trip to the East, managed to lose our wardrobe bag containing a fair collection of hard-sought European stage clothes, and other vital sundries necessary to well-dressed public appearance, and causing us to scour the malls of northern Connecticut & southern Massachusetts for enough to get us through one show up in Enfield, and another outside Pittsburgh the following day. Let's just say it was an interesting sight - AWB in replacement garb!! Fortunately, this one was redeemed, and the missing item turned up two days later, crumpled and mangled, but with nothing more than a severe ironing session (or steaming, if our long-time readers can recall Fred's purchase a couple of years back, and his short sharp education in the use thereof) needed.
And so, back to the safety of our bus, or so we thought.
The second date of the next leg took us to what we assumed would be a nice, pleasant day by the seaside, at Ocean beach, Maryland, at a hitherto-unknown (to us, anyway) gig called Brewmaster's Pub, on the strip there. As we approached Ocean Beach the titillating thought of a house-brewed cold pint on tap was dancing in my head, and this state of euphoria lasted until we pulled into the carpark of what seemed a very small - but potentially pleasant - gig.
That's when the balloon burst.
We walked in to find an infinitessimal stage in a corner with ONE guitar amp, and ONE bass cabinet sitting there, all lonely-like......no drums in sight, nor anything else that was promised us, as per every gig we do. To cut a long and harrowing story short, the neglectful Promoter had left procurement of same until the last minute, that had come and gone, and not until eight o'clock at night did some local heroism and much threatening provide a drum kit that would have been more at home in a scout hall than a professional gig.
After electing to try our best to do the gig so as not to disappoint fans who were making the trek to Ocean Beach (and mindful of the Tahoe fiasco a week earlier) we then learned that the promoter was trying to charge $25 entrance, after contracting with our agency to only take $15., and telling callers that it was $10. We protested that this was scandalous and wrong, but he refused to budge, and, as a result, many who came with families etc. were not able to afford this amount, and, after all, why should they when the circumstances that were provided to us prevented any chance of a grade A performance.
But it gets better.
Having played the show (full length plus encore, to a small but noisy crowd), Paul, our tour manager went to settle up with said promoter, who proceeded to storm out of his kitchen/office/den, swearing and knocking drinks out of Onnie & my hands, soaking us in beer and wasting some decent scotch (a capital crime where we come from), and then to have us bodily thrown out of his club! Un-frigging-believable, and yet another first in our recent history. I definitely got the impression that it's certainly not the first time he has done this, as his tantrum was carefully rehearsed and choreographed for maximum surprise element. So a word to the wise: Never, never be tempted to go there to see any band, no matter how attractive the prospect might seem. Let him rot in his little seashore swindlery, and may his toilet run forever.........it had no soap in it anyway. So much for employees washing THEIR hands!
Never mind, it has been smooth sailing since then, and we have had great concerts in Omaha, St.Louis, Boulder and Silverthorne, Colorado, and Portland, Oregon since then, and we are about to finish up our Vegas dates and head for California.
But I'd like to leave you with one more 'first' in our experience, that being the thrust of this diary entry in the first place. As we came down the escalator in an airport the other day, we were all astounded to be confronted by a security person wearing a blond wig, tons of makeup, but with a voice like a cross between Jack Hawkins and Barry White, if you get my drift. Fortunately, the surprise was not all ours, for Fred and Brian had their 'teeth' in......a truly frightening and hilarious sight in and of itself.
Then, as if that were not strange enough, one of the 'stewardesses' on our plane was also a 'man-man', as Brian calls the great undecided.
I can now finally reveal the airline;
it is "Man-Man United"
See you down the trail, podnahs.