MORE NOTES FROM "THE
Hi, everybody, long time -- no see. But as you know, we've been very busy broadening our horizons all over this great land and playing our hearts out to anyone who'll listen, even though there's no audience anywhere quite like your hometown audience. Still, we've been very fortunate to have received some great "hometown" hospitality from new friends and fans everywhere who made us feel very welcome so far from home. For this we owe a great deal of thanks and respect to Julian Lennon, his band, crew, and fans for making our experience one we'll never forget. A tour like this one is what bands dream of -- the opportunity to get out in front of sold-out crowds night after night and play for them. We've done that and made friends and touched lives through the power of music. There is no greater thrill.
So here are some stories from our life on the road we thought you might like to hear. Thanks again to all of you who made us feel so welcome out there and to all our fans who keep us going.
The Push Stars
Chicago was our first gig of the tour. We were all mixed with excitement and nervousness when we showed up for sound-check. As we were setting up our stuff, we heard him. Then we saw him. Yes, it was the son of John Lennon. You know, from the Beatles. At this point we didn't really know anything about him so we were definitely a little intimidated. We sat around and watched them sound-check. They didn't know anything about us, either. We were just this young, upstart, whippersnapper band from Boston. Would they like us? Would we like them? These kinds of thoughts go through your mind when you're starting a tour. I mean, we had to spend the next six weeks with these guys, and we had no idea what they were like. The suspense was killing us.
Ok, so maybe that's a bit dramatic. Right after the sound-check Julian came off the stage and walked right over to us and introduced himself, putting our fears to rest. He was extremely cool and talked with us for about a half an hour until the rest of the band came over and met us. We immediately hit it off and knew this was going to be a fun tour. (We soon got to know Julian as the man and artist that he is and forgot all about that his ol' man was in some 60's band.) The show that night was sold out.
The next day we flew to Minneapolis to do a radio show for KTCZ. They're playing the heck out of us, which is great. That night we performed "Minnesota" eight times in a row. It was a SMASH!
Then on to Seattle, where we played another radio show for KMTT "The Mountain". Afterwards we went and got some coffee. Then we went for coffee. We capped off the night by getting a cappuccino and some mochas and then a latte followed by another coffee. We got up the next morning, had a coffee and visited Amazon.com world headquarters. I asked them where they kept all the books. Nobody laughed. We had one more coffee and we were flying. Then we got on a plane and returned to Chicago to pick back up on the tour.
Ft. Wayne, Indiana, was the next stop, which was great because it was always a dream of mine to go to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Big club, sold out -- great dinner that night. I believe we had chicken.
Next Pontiac, MI. Awesome show, great crowd. Almost Boston-esque in spirit. There was one guy who kept shouting things to Chris that no one could understand. Later we found out that he was trying to tell him that his zipper was down. (Not Chris' zipper, but his own. I think he was insane, but harmless.)
Cincinnati was fun. By this point we were really having fun with Julian and his band. We found out that Manny, the drummer, played for Tears for Fears and Martin, the bass-player, played for the Waterboys and World Party. Ryan said, "YOU were in the WATERBOY? I loved that movie!" Martin just played along. Later that night we went out for a Cincinnati specialty -- spaghetti with chili on top at a place called "Sky Line". We got our picture on the wall of fame.
On our way to Pittsburgh we stopped off in State College, PA, to play a quick gig. We like playing college gigs in the summer because it's so much more peaceful then. We did an interview on their rock station, the "Revolution," and the phones lit up. (OK, so I lied.) Pittsburgh was the next night. During the day we visited their station WYEP to play on the air. Nobody in the band is a Steeler fan, but we like Pittsburgh just the same. Actually, I think I had a Steelers' bathrobe when I was a kid. I miss that bathrobe. Am I digressing?
We showed up to Cleveland and saw a line of rabid Julian Lennon fans waiting by the front door at about 4 o'clock, and they were asking for our autographs, too! I guess they like us. We found out that they were following Julian to every show. Soon they became our fans, too. The show was sold out that night, and Chris delivered the rock line "THANK YOU, CLEVELAND!" when it was supposed to be "HELLOOOOO, CLEVELAND!!" Oh well, back to rock school.
Julian had the next night off, but we drove to Providence instead. Chris quoted Alanis Morrisette with the line "Thank you, Providence". We played on a beautiful night out on the water with Mistle Thrush -- a great band from Boston.
A long drive to Alexandria, VA, the next day to catch up with the tour again. Another sold-out show at the Birchmere, which is one of our favorite venues to play -- very music friendly. Believe it or not, a lot of venues aren't music friendly, which is ironic, don't ya think?
Philadelphia found us in front of Geno's Cheesesteaks again for the only place in the world to get a real cheesesteak. Actually, we alternate between Geno's main competition across the street -- Pat's (the real original). I think most of us prefer Geno's, though. Besides, our picture is up on their wall between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Oprah Winfrey. Oh yeah, the show was a great time, too. But it's really all about the food, man.
New Haven was the next stop, to play the world famous Toad's Place. This is where we met up with our friend Rob Bellezza. Rob agreed to come out on the road with us for a week to help us out. I know, we thought he was crazy, too.
The next couple of gigs prove that if you really want something bad enough, you'll put up with a lot. For instance, when we showed up in Allentown, PA, for the grand opening of a new club, we were surprised to find out that the club was REALLY new. As in it wasn't BUILT yet. It was 4 o'clock and as we were rolling our gear in, a guy stopped us at the door and said, "Wait, I have to paint the floor first." We knew this was a bad sign. Then we looked around and noticed there was no sound system in yet. But, we decided that the show must go on so our sound man Ron rolled up his sleeves and started installing a sound system. (He even got his Rubber Monkey to help, even though all he did was chain smoke, pace around and shout orders that had nothing to do with sound or lighting. Things like "Tuck in your shirt, you slob! Get me another drink!!" (More about the monkey later.)) Anyway the club finally got finished and we went on much later, and Julian played 'til the wee hours. The die-hard fans stuck around and appreciated that we didn't cancel the show. Since then we included the stipulation in our contract that the venue must "actually and physically EXIST in its entirety..." or we simply won't play there.
So it's August already and we start off by playing a restaurant in Annapolis, MD. We stayed in a motel in the back woods of Maryland that made the "Blair Witch Project" look like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". Not that we were scared or anything, but we high-tailed it outta there as soon as we could. Later Ron and I sat down to a genuine Maryland Crab dinner only to find out that the crab was imported from Asia. Go figure!
Off to the Big Apple to play at Irving Plaza -- one of the highlight shows on the tour so far. The show went great and afterwards Julian reserved the China Club for a private party. Everybody is pretty sure they had a good time, but details are fuzzy. I guess that means a good time WAS had by all. Still wondering why that guy from VH-1's "Behind the Music" was hanging around asking Chris a lot of questions, though.....
On August 5th we flew back to Seattle to start the second half of the tour. We played the Crocodile Cafe -- owned by Peter Buck from REM. Unfortunately, he didn't get up to play with us. Oh well. I remember it was very crowded. We grunged out and then went for a coffee.
Next stop, Portland, OR. On the way down through the winding, mountainous roads of rural Oregon, we figured we had to stop in the middle of nowhere to enjoy this picturesque setting of nature's beauty. (Pee break, in other words.) It was rare to find civilization, but we did manage to find a truck stop. We were just hoping that they would have something decent to offer after a ten-hour van ride. As we got closer, I was amazed to see a huge sign that read "ESPRESSO / DIESEL / CIGARETTES / JERKY." I scratched my head, "Espresso?" Sure enough when we went in there was a $3,000 Italian gold-plated espresso machine right next to one of those hot dog merry-go-rounds. Not to mention 42 different kinds of Jerky (including venison) and various do-it-yourself hunting and fishing supplies. But espresso? We HAD to try it. It was good! Ron hunkered down with two corn dogs, a chili/cheese-filled jalopeno heat-lamp dog and a double-shot vanilla decaf skim latte. Who would have thunk it? Espresso on the road! We made the trip to San Francisco without blinking once.
We played the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco, and someone told us that Jimi Hendrix's ghost still lingers in the disco ball. I'm just telling you what they said. I guess that explains why Phil, seeming possessed, lit his accordion on fire during "Everything Shines". I don't think it went over very well. It definitely didn't with the fire marshal. Ahh, times they are a changin'.....
Santa Cruz, dude, was like the next stop. This might be the only place in the country where you'd have no trouble finding gingko-biloba onion rings. That night Matt Backer from Julian's band won the wildest shirt contest, hands down. Chris came in a distant second with his pink tuxedo shirt. That was the first and last night of the contest.
Off to Los Angeles where we got in just in time to watch Julian on Jay Leno. That was very exciting. We kept saying, "Wow, we KNOW them. This is so cool!" Everything was going great until Ryan threw a fit when Julian didn't mention him on national TV, and he trashed the hotel room. I've never seen him so mad. I said, "Ryan, he just didn't have enough time, man!" Finally I calmed him down. But a word to the wise : if you're ever on Leno, you had better mention Ryan's name or there'll be hell to pay.
The House of Blues in LA was awesome. Rumor has it that Ringo was there, but no one saw him. That's kind of like if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? From now on I'm going to use the Ringo analogy when I pose my Zen riddles. Maybe it'll catch on. Oh yeah and Ron Jeremy (famous adult film actor) was there, too.
The next weekend was tough because we played a casino in San Diego and had to fly to Pittsburgh that night to tape the World Cafe in the morning. That was fun because it was at the grand opening of the Andy Warhol Museum. (I kept asking everybody : "What's with the Campbell's Soup, man??") The show went great and we were treated very well by WXPN in Philly and WYEP in Pittsburgh, two radio stations that have been very supportive. Now all we had to do was fly back to Las Vegas to play the House of Blues that night. No problem, right? Wrong. When we got to the airport our hearts sank when we saw our flight delayed due to bad weather. We spent the whole day in D.C. and finally had to fly to LA late that night. We got to Vegas the next day, met up with Julian's band and still managed to enjoy our day off. I guess things could be worse.
Julian cancelled the next two shows, but we played the next show in Scottsdale, Arizona, at Alice Cooperstown. That's right. Alice Cooper owns it. He wasn't there, though. It was an outdoor show. It was 110 degrees. It was Alice Cooper's place. School's out for summer. Rock on!
Our next drive was a long one. All the way up to Boulder, Colorado, to play the Fox Theatre for the Gavin Convention (for Radio Program Directors, DJ's, etc.). The best part of this gig is that we opened for not only Julian Lennon but WILSON PICKETT. It was a great show. We waited 'til the midnight hour, and it was well worth the wait.
Next night, off to Denver to play the "Soiled Dove". I think they should just call it the "Pigeon". But seriously, I think we would all agree it was one of the best nights on the tour based on audience response. We got a standing "O", which is good because everyone was sitting at the time right before the standing "O". I mean a lot of times people are already standing, and you couldn't call it a standing ovation if... oh forget it!
Now a long drive to Dallas, Texas. We stopped in Amarillo for some go-cart racing. I think Ryan would have won if Ron hadn't knocked him off the track (which is illegal by the way, RON). Phil video-taped it, and the footage might appear in an upcoming video. Then again, maybe not.
The Dallas show was at Deep Ellum Live. Julian's show was especially good that night, and he gave much recognition and thanks to all his loyal fans. Ryan wore his sexy blue ER shirt.
Ah, Austin, Texas. Is there a better music town? At Stubbs Bar-B-Q in Austin, they take a liking to ten gallon cowboy hats and a big appetite -- but they DON'T take American Express. Visa, it's everywhere you want to be. (JUST KIDDING. Please don't sue me... I just thought it was time for a commercial break.) Austin is a great town. We stayed at the Austin Motel, which has remained untouched since 1950; very retro. I do think they should change the sheets, though.
New Orleans is next. House of Blues. This was fun, trust me. Wish you could have been there. And if you were there, we wish WE could have been there with you. Fun, I tell you, FUN! The next day we had a day off. Ron woke me by shaking a VooDoo doll in my face. I doubt I shall ever be the same.
Friday, the 27th, brought us to Atlanta, GA, at the Roxy Theatre. The reality that the tour was ending soon started to sink in. Seriously, watching Julian's band inspired our band to try to be as professional as possible, always. When you're on tour and you're playing the same songs night after night, it's easy to lose the initial excitement that got you up on stage in the first place. When we watch other bands that have been doing this many more years than we have, it gives us more momentum to keep going. We are musicians for life. We feel the bond with other musicians for life. We do this because we LOVE it. We don't ever question why! THAT is our bond. We love these songs and we'll always play them with that energy because it is our calling in life to make music that we enjoy. If this gives enjoyment to others, then it only gets better and more fulfilling. Besides, sometimes we get those deli platters with the little pizza puffs! Mmmmmm!!!
Nashville, Tennessee, at the Exit/In was our last gig with Julian. The club was packed, and there was definitely excitement in the air for the show. We got up there and played, but when it came time to play "Cinderella," Chris said, "Wouldn't it be great if you worked a job where you could just fire everybody on the spot and hire a whole new crew?" The whole crowd cheered. "Well," he said, "Dan, you're fired! Ryan, beat it! Phil, take a hike!" As we walked off -- on walked Julian's band. They played a stunning rendition of "Cinderella". To return the gesture, Ryan and I got up and played during their encore and then we all played together for Julian's finale : "Stand By Me". We hung out for a little while, said our goodbyes, but had to drive overnight to Virginia Beach for a daytime show the next day. It was a great ending to a great tour. The next day we narrowly escaped the wrath of Hurricane Dennis on Virginia Beach.
Well, that's all folks about that tour. Oh yeah, I said I'd explain the Rubber Monkey. He is a friend of our tour-manager/sound-man/roadie/babysitter, Ron Mesh. The monkey is our unofficial mascot. He likes to sing along to CD's in the van and insists on taking pictures at all landmarks along the road. Yes, he is a rubber monkey and he rarely lifts a finger to help, but I have to admit we kind of like having him around just the same. Anyway, next time you see us play, request the company of the Rubber Monkey and I'm sure he'll be delighted to oblige. And I don't care what anyone says, this road life is NOT making us crack UP!!
Here's to growing older but not up. Here's to health and happiness. Here's to you and the beauty and power of all that music has to offer. If we can come to you and make your day a little brighter, then we've done our job. Hope to see you soon because you make it all worthwhile!
The Push Stars