Day 44: The Dr’s Office
After our morning ritual, (to which, for the day, we added getting an oil change on the bus), we went to set up a temp office at a McD’s. (Not before we met the states most inept sandwich shop employee. The benefit of the doubt says that it was possibly his first day at work, yet something tells me otherwise.)
We had a bit of time to kill because Stevie G was set up on the bus giving a Skype guitar lesson. (Hit him up, he gives lessons for any skill level firstname.lastname@example.org you won’t be disappointed!) The rest of us dove in on various office work tasks while we waited.
Almost as if on cue, about the time Stevie G finished his lesson and came in to grab a bite to eat, the phone rang telling us the Dr. was ready to see us.
We packed up shop and headed over to his office.
As we pulled up to the house of Dr. Fink, legendary keyboardist from Prince and the Revolution, excitement grew.
Back when recording The Time Spent Wondering, Nate reached out to Dr. Fink about what types of sounds he had used during his days with Prince. The end result of the conversations was Dr. Fink guesting on the track “Been Gone Too Long”.
On this tour, we had a show booked in Minneapolis, Dr. Fink’s hometown. He agreed to guest on keys for our whole set, so we showed up at his studio to practice the set list.
The hallway entry to Dr. Fink’s studio is lined with gold and platinum records, both from his days with Prince and from his solo career. Walking down the hall put into perspective the caliber of the Dr.’s talent. (In case you couldn’t get my subtle hint, he’s got a bit of skill in those fingers!)
We all gathered in to the mixing room, and they started charting out the songs so Dr. Fink could have the chord progressions on hand. As they were working the songs out we got to see the Dr. in action, he would listen to the recordings of the song, find out which sound he wanted to use, then work the chords and add his custom fills into the song… It was genius in action.
After a few hours of work we all went out to dinner at a local Thai restaurant. Everyone was held in rapt attention as Dr. Fink entertained us with stories of his touring days with Prince.
When we were finished with dinner, we headed back to the studio so everyone could finish working on the set. Dr. Fink let us listen to some personal recordings of practice sessions from his days with The Revolution, which was absolutely amazing. Hearing the behind the scenes banter, Prince goofing off, and the jam sessions on familiar songs was unbelievable. They spent the last hour or so working out a special cover song for the night, which I can’t wait to hear.
When we were done, we said our goodbyes and headed back to our Walmart for the night, everyone falling asleep anticipating the next days show.
The Road to Minnesota
We left Oshkosh right after the show at New Moon cafe and headed to Wisconsin Dells, a tourist destination along the Wisconsin River, populated by casinos and theme parks. We slept that night in a casino parking lot, waking up in time for Root, Stevie G and I to hang in the on site sports bar for NFL Sunday. We actually spent all day there, watching 3 full games. The late game was a Green Bay game, so the bar filled up with quite a number of Packers fans. During that game the bar did a free to enter prize giveaway, with the grand prize being Monday Night Football tickets. Root won a casino dice cup, which he gave to another patron that was ogling it.
Nate and Mochello spent their day playing blackjack and other games at the casino, with naps interjected throughout the day. We stayed the night in the same parking lot, woke up, got breakfast, then headed toward Minneapolis.
Along the way we stopped at the Forevertron, the world’s largest scrap metal sculpture. It’s a difficult place to explain the sculpture in words, suffice to say it looks like a cityscape from the Dreamworks animated film Robots. Built in the 1980’s, the sculpture incorporates some of Thomas Edison’s inventions from the late 1800’s, pieces of early power plants, lightning rods, and even the decontamination chamber from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. If you ever find yourself in southern Wisconsin, put stopping there on your to do list!
Continuing our drive, we arrived in the Twin Cities around 7pm. Our first stop a Planet Fitness to wash off the stale air of the casino. The next was the Mall of America, the United States’ largest shopping mall. In the mall’s center is a mini indoor theme park. Don’t get me wrong, when I say ‘mini’ I don’t mean a kiddie coaster and a carousel. There are full sized roller coasters, a log ride, bumper cars, and plenty of things that twist, twirl, and hurdle you in to what seems like controlled impending doom.
We went on two of the coasters, one that spun the cart as it bulleted along the track, the other took you 75 feet straight up, crested the top a mere 6 feet from a glass ceiling, then plummeted straight toward the ground before rocketing through a series of loops, turns, and corkscrews.
We had dinner in the food court, then took off to find a Walmart to park in for the night. Root and I got a Redbox movie to watch before bed. (We watched the new Will Smith scifi movie… Not his best, but not too bad) After the we all hit the hay, as the next day was meant to be a busy day.
Day 41: New Moon Cafe
This was our first trip to Wisconsin, and given the way things went I’m pretty sure it won’t be our last.
Our day began still in Chicago, with Nate, Mochello, and I having spent the night on the bus, and Root and Stevie G at Root’s friends place.
The bus crew met up with Gail and Ben for some IHOP, said our goodbyes, headed to planet fitness, then over to pick up the other guys, and finally on the road to Oshkosh.
The ride up through Wisconsin was uneventful, and upon pulling into town we couldn’t help but notice that Oshkosh looked like it hadn’t aged since 1940. (Ironically, someone told us that night that the Johnny Depp movie Public Enemies was filmed there, which was set in the ‘30’s)
New Moon Cafe is a coffee house restaurant with an odd shaped stage. It is only about four feet deep but twenty feet wide. We had to bring in the drum carpet for Nate to stand on in order to balance out the stage plot.
Once we had that figured out, the manager came up to us and told us that the owner had double booked the night, and that there were now 5 bands there to play, oh, and the place closed at 11 sharp.
We talked amongst the other bands and decided to all just do short sets so that everyone had a chance to play.
There was a group of about 20 teens that were rocking out when the guys were playing that all signed the mailing list on their way out the door. (Wisconsin kids seem to roll in packs and love to rage at rock shows. When we were on our spring tour in Memphis, TN a flock of 80 Wisconsin kids crashed our Hard Rock Cafe show, helping us surpass that Hard Rocks Monday night attendance record)
After a few interesting bands, including one very drunk one, we loaded out and headed to the Wisconsin Dells for the night.
Day 40: The Elbo Room
Our ‘day in the life of’ continued with our waking up in a Walmart parking lot (par normal) and heading to a Planet Fitness. After an hour of driving, we pulled into the gym. When we got to the locker room, we found it under construction, with only two showers open and a line for them. A vote was taken, and we decided to leave and find the next one.
The next gym on the way happened to be in the south side of Chicago. A few of the guys had a little apprehension about this, given the neighborhoods reputation. Planet Fitness however seems to exist within it’s own solar system, as every one we have ever been to has lived up to standards not always found in the surrounding communities. The staff is always pleasant, and the gyms are always clean. Chicago was no exception. As a matter of fact, the locker room was one of the most spacious ones we’ve seen.
After showers, we headed to the club, by way of the wonderful Chicago highway traffic. We got to the club what we thought was late, which turned out to be early, as the door guy wasn’t there yet and they didn’t want us loading in until he showed up.
To kill a little time, we went to order a Chicago deep dish pizza down the street, and to meet up with Gail, our awesome friend and the head of our street team, and her superhero husband Ben. They had driven up from Ft. Wayne, IN to hang with us, and as always, whenever they’re around it proved to be a super fun night.
Chicago has always been a very good market for us, with lots of friends that come out to hang and a new music friendly population. The club had a brand new sound system and a very capable sound guy, so the show sounded great. The manager commented after the set that he had never seen another band in that room take command of a crowd that wasn’t already theirs so quickly and completely in that room before.
We had to wait until the last band was done before we could load out, so we had plenty of time to hang out with our Chicago friends. Everyone had a great night, and I have the video to prove it.
After load out, we decided to spend the night in Chicago. Root and Stevie went to Roots friends house for the night, and Nate, Mochello, Gail, Ben, and I went to get some late night dinner. After dinner, we parted ways and headed to the familiar comfort of a Walmart parking lot.
Day 39: Hard Rock Cafe
Detroit has gotten a bad rep in the country because, well, I’m not going to make excuses for it, it’s an earned reputation. It’s a rough and tumble city, subject to lots of financial hardships due to the the up and down auto industry, among many other factors.
The thing that strikes me about Detroit though, is the underlying positivity that exist among the people that we’ve encountered there. Everyone, from our tour sponsor Motor Energy Drink, the fans, the waitstaff at the clubs…. The forward outlook they have is downright inspiring.
We started our day by finishing off our drive, making a quick pit stop so Stevie G could see his niece, pulling into Detroit in the late afternoon. Along the way, Nate and I decided the next 24 hours would be a prime time to film a documentary chronicling a day in our lives. (Part of the reason I’m a day behind again on the blog…)
I spent the night as cameraman, videoing all the things that happen behind the scenes of a rock n roll show. The load in, eating dinner, waiting to play, the show, and the load out, etc. In the next few days we hope to be editing and have y’all a finished product very soon.
Detroit is the home city of Motor Energy Drink, so Gianni, his wife and their friends showed up, which is always a recipe for an amazing night. Motor Energy is a huge supporter of ours, and it is always a pleasure to hang with them. (By the way, they just got their online store set up for individual orders, so hit them up at www.motorenergydrinks.com In my opinion as a energy drink consumer, it tastes better than the competitors… And that IS an honest opinion, not just a sales pitch!)
Playing Hard Rock Cafe’s if always fun. The waitstaff is always pleasant, and the crowd that sticks around for the show is always a receptive one. We picked up the gig only a week ago, so we were added onto an existing bill which was a Halloween breast cancer research benefit show, featuring musicians from the above office building, most of whom were costumed up, one of the most memorable being Count Dracula playing a Chapman Stick.
After the show during load out one of the waitstaff approached Nate, saying that he felt that Man on Earth’s music had an incredibly positive message that was exactly what the people of Detroit needed, and that it resonated with him in a way that left him feeling up built, and that the bands music belonged there in the city. Hearing such a compliment left a great vibe on the bus as we pulled away, putting some miles behind us as we headed to Chicago.