Monthly Archives: May 2014

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Breakout Tour: Days 6 & 7
Main Street Cafe
Clarksburg, WV

The decision not to spend another day at the campground was made by the weatherman. The forecast called for scattered thunderstorms all day, so there was no real point in paying for another day if we weren’t going to be able to spend it outside anyway.

Checkout was at noon, so we were up and getting ready by 10. Being a Tuesday Nate was up a bit earlier working away on his computer. The on site showers were spacious enough, and I happened to pick one that was relatively bug free. Nate and Mochello, however, ‘chose poorly’. Even though the place was very clean, the issue was that there was no true seal on the doors to keep the bugs out. Nate shared the shower with some unidentifiable Oreo sized bug, as did Mochello. Moch was extra lucky. The lights in the bathrooms were motion activated, and he took just a bit too long… He found himself plunged into darkness mid-shower.

We rolled out at noon, found some breakfast, then headed to the local Starbucks so Nate could finish his work day. After a productive day for all of us we took off towards West Virginia.

The roads there from where we were were some of the most winding, hilly, backwater roads that we’ve ever taken the bus on. One lane bridges and sharp corners were the flavor of the day. The day’s rain had stopped by the time we started driving, so while it was fairly slow going, it wasn’t that dangerous. I felt bad for the Dive guys who had taken the same roads a few hours earlier, but in the middle of torrential rainfall, AND hauling a trailer.

The twists and turns of the mountain roads seemed to go on forever, but finally we met back up with a main road and then a highway. We arrived at the Clarksburg area Walmart that Dive was parked at a little after 1am. Everyone still tired from the campfire the night before, so we all went straight to sleep.

We had plenty of time to kill before we had to load in. When we woke up we drove up the road to another Starbucks to knock out some more of the never ending office work that comes with being in a band. This kept us busy well into the afternoon.

Load in was at 4:30, so we packed up shop at 4 and headed downtown. Clarksburg is a valley town, with a few rows of buildings creating a spine-like strip right down the center. The structures had a very 1920’s/30’s feel to them, their age worn on their exteriors like battle scars of time.

The Main Street Cafe felt almost like a cross between a bar and a youth center. If you were to stand facing the bar it felt like any other, beer taps, mirrors, bartenders… The moment you looked over your shoulder, however, the round, class room style tables made it feel like we should break out the board games and eat some Cheetos. (I’m not hatin’, I’m just trying to paint a picture!) Old movie theater seating lined one wall and a few pool tables completed the room’s unique style.

Both bands parked directly in front of the venue so we ran an extension cord out the front door to power our busses. That was cut short when foot traffic dislodged our taped down wire, causing it to get pinched between the jamb and the sharp edge of the bottom of the metal entry door. The door sliced into the wire, and in a shower of sparks, tripped the power circuit.
Unplugging, and thankful that it wasn’t another major issue, Dive started their generator.

We had a number of fans at the show including our long time friends Steph and Devanne. (Who brought us stuffed shells and pasta salad. Between that and the two pizzas that The Main Street Cafe we ate like kings for the evening and into the next day!)

We had to be in Canton, OH the next day, so we took off in that direction after the show. Luckily, we were back on main highways and no longer traipsing across middle of nowhere Appalachia. We drove about an hour, pulled into a Walmart and went to sleep.

Ain’t That America

Breakout Tour: Day 5
Memorial Day
Front Royal, VA

Days off usually aren’t such when we’re on the road. We rarely have time to just sit and enjoy ourselves, because we’re usually driving or doing some sort of office work. We decided to make our day off for Memorial Day a bit different. After a little Googling, we found a RV campground that was kind of on our way to West Virginia and set out.

When we arrived in Front Royal, VA the first thing we did was hit the grocery store. We all picked up steaks and various vegetables, and also all the fixing we needed to BBQ our hearts out in true American fashion. The RV park was just a few miles away from the market, so we were there in no time.

The entrance to the park was it’s own adventure. We turned off the main road into what felt like someone’s driveway, then continued on through a cattle gate. The driveway continued on through a pasture, with cows roaming free along side the road, occasionally crossing our path as we made our way to the main office to check in. We crossed another cattle gate, then pulled up to the main office.

The RV campground was more of a camp compound than just a bunch of campsites. In the main office there was a shop that had almost every camping necessity possible. In the same building a laundry room, showers, and fully functional bathrooms rounded out some of the basic need amenities. Outside, there was about half a dozen or so small cabins available for rent lining one side of the parking lot. On the other side, a small hill led to a below ground pool, a basketball court, a mini golf course, and a giant hot tub.

Our campsite was down another hill, behind the main office. Each lot had it’s own power, so we plugged in bus and set up out site. The Memorial Day crowd had already left, so we had the whole lower area to ourselves, including the surrounding sites. The guys from Dive were planing on meeting us there, but they were still driving and were yet a few hours out. Root went on a firewood mission, gathering everything from sticks to logs, creating a huge pile that would keep a bonfire burning well in to the night. We set the bonfire pit up about 50 yards from our cooking fire so that we had two distinct hang out spots.

Nate set up some empty cans to use as target practice with the BB gun that he had picked up that morning. We all took turns taking potshots at defenseless beer cans, knocking them from their perches. The BB gun was a bit temperamental on the reload process, but after a while we got used to it.

The whole time we were playing with the BB gun the sun was blazing down on us so we figured it was a good time to go for a swim. We spent about an hour in the pool, staging different swimming competitions including underwater and freestyle. Dive finally showed up just as we were done in the pool and getting ready to head back to cook dinner. Gathering our things, we went back to the bus to set up our grilling area.

Once the charcoal was ready we all took turns grilling our own food. There was chips and salsa, steak, kabobs, salad, corn on the cob, beans…. All the makings of a great cookout. After dinner, with the sunlight waning, Root started up the bonfire. We spent the rest of the evening and into the early morning hanging by the fire until all of the firewood that root collected was burned. Over the course of the evening, one by one everyone gave in to sleep.

Dead Things Don’t Always Stay Dead

I’ve always had a penchant for superhero movies and tv shows, so when “Heroes” premiered in 2006 I was instantly hooked. The ‘ordinary people developing extraordinary powers’ storyline, while sounding simple, was crafted with it’s own unique slant that gave the series a refreshing feel to it. The show had a solid first two seasons, then the infamous writers strike of ’07/’08 and the lack of steam upon their return caused the third and also the fourth seasons (which was the final season before the show was axed) to flounder as it tried to hold on to any vestige excellence that existed in the beginning of the show.

So, you could imagine my mixed feelings when it was announced a few months ago that “Heroes” would return as a 13 episode reboot/sequel series next year entitled “Heroes:Reborn”. The current word is that some of the old characters will return, and that there will be plenty of new ones coming into their super human powers as well as the series progresses.

Season 4 of the original run ended abruptly, without any real closure, so the idea of wrapping up the story line is a good, good thing to me. And if the writers can stay on point, which I think the half-season format helps with, the idea of having a successful reboot is a distinct possibility.

I was very skeptical at first of the idea of having the miniseries concept applied to a show that I’m accustomed to being full seasons, but it is super clear that the reduced format is helping with ’24: Live Another Day’. It allows a better flow of a story line without all the added fluff needed to stretch an idea out to the 20-24 episodes of a full length season. If ‘Heroes’ can learn from the new season of ’24’ then maybe the things that initially set it apart from the crowd will return with it.

Now, if we can only get a ‘Firefly’ reboot……

Shock Me, Make Me Feel Better

Breakout Tour: Day 4
Q Ball Cafe
Fredericksburg, VA

The Q Ball Cafe in Fredericksburg, VA is a pool hall with a bar and a stage (shocker, right?). We arrived at the cafe mid afternoon, after taking care of the usuals. Dive was already there, so we pulled right up beside them again. They have a portable generator attached to their trailer, so we’ve been parking close to them and sharing their electricity so as to have power on our bus without having to constantly idle.

As soon as we arrived we took Johnny Dive and his can to the gas station to fuel up on petrol for generator juice. While we were out we stopped at an auto part store to get a few cans of freon for our leaky rear air conditioner. The weather was meant to be muggy, so we wanted to be as prepared as possible.

Once back at the club we loaded in, and then Nate and I crawled under the bus to put the new freon in. The process is fairly simple, and soon enough the a.c. was pushing out cool (Not cold! It still needed a few more cans!) air. I went to the Dollar General that was in the same parking lot to get a fan to help stay cool until everything got back to good.

We had another relaxing evening, as our set wasn’t until 10:30 that night. Q Ball Cafe permitted smoking, so we were doing our best to limit our hang out time inside. (It only worked partially, because the next morning I STILL woke up with a sore throat! Oh, oops. Spoiler alert! We lived through the night!)

The on site lighting guy (nice guy who seemed like he either did a lot of drugs in the past, or was on a few that night!) said that he thought that the board was too finicky, so he wanted to run it that night. Personally, I think he was just having so much fun doing the lights that he didn’t want to share. (If you saw him running the lights, you’d understand….) It all worked out though. One of my cousins that I haven’t seen in over 20 years was able to come out to the show, so it was good to be able to hang with him for a bit.

The club didn’t have it’s own sound system, so they brought in a guy. He had a huge digital board that reminded me of the one Trox used on our run with Miggs and OAS, but this guy was no Trox. Line check took a while longer than normal, and even after Man on Earth started things weren’t 100%. By the 3rd song Nate had to take a quick break to readjust the stage monitors because they were caught in an ear piercing feedback loop. With things mitigated to tolerable levels, our part of the show continued without a hitch.

When Dive took stage they were plagued with a whole set of different issues. They were experiencing an electrical grounding issue that was causing them to be shocked. Early in their set Johnny caught a shock from his microphone that knocked him off his feet. The guitar and bass players received a heavy shock from touching each other while playing, and the drummer was catching current in his in ear monitor. At one point Mochello gave their guitarist, Joey, a fist bump during their set and received a jarring jolt for his troubles. The issue got to be so bad and unresolvable that Dive cut a couple of songs out of their set. Afterwards, a few people tried to figure out the issue, to no avail.

After the show our two bus convoy headed to the neighborhood Walmart, so we could all get some sleep and then figure out what we wanted to do for our Monday/Tuesday Memorial Day weekend. Whatever we decided we knew that BBQ was to be in our future!

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Breakout Tour: Day 3
House of Rock
White Marsh, MD

When you’re on tour with a rock band, waking up at 8am when you have absolutely no reason to sucks. Especially when you can’t fall back asleep. Our typical night takes us well in to the early a.m., so we wind up on a schedule that I call ‘Rock-n-Roll Time’, up until 3 or 4 in the morning, and then sleep until 10am, or 11 if you’re lucky.

We had spent the night in Gullifty’s parking lot where they had let us run an extension cord to plug in our bus, so waking up with fully charged electronics was an early morning bonus. There was a McD’s in the next parking lot so Nate, Root, and I walked over to grab a bit of breakfast.

The evening’s show was set to be an early one, so load in was at 3pm. We rolled out of the parking lot with plenty of time for travel, showers, and a healthy workout. After the dailies, we got to the club shortly after Dive did so we parked beside them and waited for the venue people to show up and let us in. Once load in was finally able to be complete we all had some time to kill before the show was set to begin.

The first band hit the stage at 6pm so most of us went in to check them out. As their second song was ending it seemed as if the lighting guy finally started doing his job because there appeared to be a strobe effect happening from the second floor. Only it wasn’t. In reality, sparks were flying from an upper room, followed by the bright flicker of flames as something in the electrical room caught fire. Once the initial shock passed, the venue employees bolted across the floor and up the stair to assess the situation. By the time they got up there the fire had died out leaving behind a melted and scorched circuit breaker panel. One of the breakers apparently tripped but was faulty so it shorted out, melting wiring and burning a hole through the metal breaker box. The show was shut down and everything was put on hold until the venue’s owner could show up to give his summation of the situation.

The owner made the call to cancel the show completely about an hour later despite our efforts to find a way to make the show go on. We were prepared to do whatever necessary to make things work, but like that perpetually disliked Dr. on every tv medical drama, in my opinion he gave up too easy.

Left with it being 7pm and us not having a show, we decided to head on over to Maryland Live!, which is a casino in Hanover, MD, so Mochello could spend some time “working” at the poker tables. We all waked in to the casino with him to check it out. The place was very shiny and new, everything looked as if it had just been taken out of the box. Out of curiosity Nate and I walked by the craps and blackjack tables and to our surprise found nothing under a $25 buy in. I looked around and saw that the place was packed, and immediately felt sick about the amount of money that was just being pissed away before my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gone and had fun at a casino before, but when you can’t play a few hands of something without maxing out your credit cards, mortgaging your house, and selling a kidney… well, that’s not my kind of fun.

Literally right next door to the casino was a huge mall, inside which was the temple of Anubis… Ok, not quite. There was, however, a facsimile of such in the form of a movie theater called the Cinemark Egyptian 24. The whole wing of the mall that the theater was in was designed as an Egyptian temple, inside and out. Outside, huge columns lines the path to the front door, with giant statues of different gods standing watch as you enter. The exterior walls of the building were stuccoed to resemble the huge stone blocks that comprise ancient Egyptian temples. Inside, hieroglyphs covered the walls and interior columns. More statues were placed about, making the experience complete.

Nate and I decided to go see the new X-Men movie (which was great!), while Root and Stevie G went back to the bus to get a jump on the sleepage. The movie got over just before 3am, so once we back to the bus sleep came quick as could be.