North American Tour Journal
Day 22 – 25
December 1 – 4, 2011
My first day back home in a real bed was strange. I had grown accustom to the noise and vibration of the bus below my small bunk in the tour bus. I was also “missing” the constant cursing and laughing coming from the lads surrounding me. It was way too quiet.
Chris and I slept late on the boat and raced home to get everything together for the short journey to Augusta, Georgia: John Kolbeck’s hometown. Sam, the bus and the first band, Romeo Spike, were already at my house in Acworth waiting for us. We loaded up the opener (Romeo Spike) and hit the road to Augusta around 2:00 pm. Donn Aaron, the guitarist for R.S., helped master our last two albums, so there was another friendly face around. He also played in some very cool bands throughout the years, so I have always had a lot of respect for his talents and musicianship. The rest of his band was extremely nice and ironically, his drummer was from the U.K., so we all had something to converse about.
We decided to have Lauren Fay, our backup singer on Staring Down The Path Of Sound, join us on stage for the last show. We hadn’t practiced with her at all, but what the hell, right? I was, of course, sure she wouldn’t let me down based on her skills and heavenly pipes. Lauren kept asking me before the show what songs she should participate in. I was exhausted by this point and couldn’t think straight, so I told her to do all of them. What’s the worse that could happen at this point, anyway?
We pulled up to the back of Sky City in Augusta and witnessed an FBI drug raid in progress right next to the club, so we didn’t have a place to load in. This should have been taken as an omen to leave and go back home immediately. At first we thought the raid was taking place at the actual club, but our videographer Bart, who was already there, informed us otherwise. We had to pull down the street in downtown Augusta and carry the equipment to the club from a little farther away. Upon entering the venue, I soon realized what a great space my old friend, Coco (the owner of Sky City), had created. It was truly first class. The rest of the band was impressed with the quality of the club and at the organization of set up and sound check. The only problem…no one showed up for the show. I was informed that nobody in Augusta goes out the day before a “first Friday.” First Friday in Augusta is a big day for some reason and it is well known that the day before is dead. Awesome. Would have been great to know that ahead of time. It was bittersweet. Not the way I wanted to end the tour. I wanted to go out with a bang. Instead, it became more of a friends and family private showing. John Kolbeck and I had a handful of close friends and both our families were in attendance. It was a miracle our family made the show. John’s mother had just been released from the hospital, so it was a very cool moment to see her walk up to the venue with John’s Dad and Aunt. My father, who avoids loud music and cigarette smoke like the plague, also made the gig but is seen in a picture with his fingers in his ears and head down. If I were playing Sinatra, he would be glowing.
The coolest thing about the day was taking my 7 year old, Jacob, on the tour bus with us, and having him attend the show. He did, however, ask where all the fans were at one point. Luckily, I had video evidence of other concerts to prove people actually did like Daddy. It was also a pleasure meeting Steven Uhles of The Augusta Chronicle for the first time who has written several articles about BSL, although I was embarrassed about overall turnout.
A big highlight of the night was watching Mark Burgess and Tony Skinkis tackle a screaming lunatic while we were playing. The crazy guy was taken out of the club, only to return to scream and yell some more and attempt to jump on the stage. Mark transformed from inspiring rock and roll star to club bouncer in seconds and removed the threat immediately. Unfortunately, Tony broke a finger during the scuffle. I couldn’t help but shake my head and start to laugh a bit while we were mid song. I couldn’t have thought this stuff up if I tried.
I was just going through the motions on stage. Without the crowds, enthusiasm and adrenaline, it is very hard to perform. Foxy phrased it best. He said he was always more scared to play to very few people than a packed house. It doesn’t make much sense, but I totally get it now.
Coco has an amazing club and his professionalism goes without saying. I don’t think our music necessarily fits with the Augusta scene, but I wish we had gotten a better showing. I also wish we could have experienced a club like Sky City in some of the other cities that were packed with screaming fans. You can’t have everything…
The 2.5 hour ride back home seamed like an eternity and reality set in that this would be the last bus ride with all the band members. I took some pictures on the bus and started gathering all of my spare items up that didn’t get packed the day before. I went up to the driver, Sam, and told him that the 8000-mile bus ride was one of the worst trips I have ever had, but I would miss it greatly. I told him I would miss his ZZ Top looking ass as well, and he smiled.
Reconciling the tour financially was hard and I can’t go into too much detail, but the only person who made money was Sam, our tour bus driver and occasional roadie. My only hope is that we all carry on forward and that the fans will support us all in the future and spread the word about both Chameleons Vox and Black Swan Lane. It is still infuriating to me that talented blokes like, Mark Burgess, John Lever and the rest are not rolling in it. We all continue to do what we love, but there should be a small pot of gold at the end somewhere.
Over the next couple of days we rested, played scrabble, drank, ate, did some American style shopping, and even recorded a few tracks in the studio. I became very close to my band mates from the U.K. and they reminded me they were a phone call and airplane ride away to do it again. I’m hoping some of the tracks I did with Chris Oliver can make it to an album in the future. I have tons of stuff to catch up on but I hope to start working on the next Black Swan Lane project soon.
The drive to the restaurant before the airport on Sunday, December 4th, was quiet and I had tears welling up a bit. I felt my platoon was being separated; my brothers were being shipped away from me. There is, after all, nobody in America who can fill the shoes of these players. No one else shares the same passion and feels this type of music like these guys from across the pond. Our hope is to be united soon, either here or in England, to carry on down the pavement of Black Swan Lane.
Thanks to all of you who joined us at the concerts, gave us a shower or a place to hang our hats and those who purchased our gear at the shows. Thanks to all those who helped get us down the windy and icy roads and who helped guide us in the right direction. Thanks to Chris Oliver, John Lever & Foxy for playing with John and me in BSL. Thanks to Kim for nicely dealing with all of us tearing up the house. Thanks for all the pictures and videos that were sent over that will be cherished for a lifetime. Thanks to Tony and especially, Tara for helping make things happen along the way. Thanks to Dean for pawning off our shirts and discs to people. Thanks Neil, for sitting in with the band and letting me vent on occasion. Thanks to Ray for being one of the kindest souls I have ever met. Thanks to Brandon for watching my two “daughters” while I was gone. Thanks, Sam, for keeping me safe and alive. And, thanks to Mark, for helping put Black Swan Lane on the map in the U.S.
Until next time… because the silence now – is drowning me.