Chris Caffery
Tour Diary

March 1998
  Savatage in Brazil - A Handful of Shows
Tour Diary by Christopher Caffery

March 15, 1998
  Greetings to Savatage fans and music fans world-wide!!! I have decided to do yet another tour diary. I have a feeling this will not be the last. I am going to take you all with me on Savatage’s first trip to South America. Right now we are in the air. We took off from JFK International Airport in New York about an hour ago. Everyone is in a good mood at the present time; in-flight beverage service has just begun. As you may or may not know, on international flights, alcohol is complimentary. Let me take a look around myself and you’ll soon know what everyone else is doing. Jon Oliva is happy, one of the plane’s music channels is all Beatles. Johnny is right behind me just watching the in flight TV. Zak and Jeff are behind Johnny. They are talking. Zak has the cushions from his headphones inside of his glasses, very "Three Blind Mice" of him. Gary, our soundman, is behind them singing. What? I have no idea. Al is in the row behind him sleeping as usual. With the exception of Ed, our drum/light/T-shirt guy, all our other crew guys are missing. Why? Good Question. We did not have our Visas until Friday. We had to, for some reason unknown to me, go to the Brazilian Embassy in New York City to get them. Well we didn’t, but our passports did. We could not get Raymie and Charlie’s passports that day, so they fly tomorrow. I never told you things were gonna be perfect. I am gonna try to rest my ribs and get some sleep. Oh yeah, for those of you who did not know, I cracked two ribs in a Bizarre Florida Hotel Accident when I was there doing a guitar show three weeks ago!!! Yes, performing should be painful for me this week.

Talk to you when Savatage hits a new Continent for the first time tomorrow. I think I speak for all of us when I say…"THIS IS COOL!!!"----Chris out.

March 16, 1998
Sao Paulo
  OUCH!!! That was my first word spoken in Brazil. Never mix White Russians and Jack Daniels!!! Those airplane bottles of liquor are so cute, until the next day!!! I am on the bus going to check into the hotel. Looks like this is a pretty big city. All of our baggage made it. That is good. This place seems very laid back, I think we are gonna like it. I will talk to you before I go to sleep and let you know how I manage to crawl my way through this day.

I am pretty tired. We checked in, showered and went straight to eat. Rodesio…that is a Brazilian type restaurant we ate at. You sit at your table, change this red sign to green and these guys start attacking. Every kind of meat imaginable shows up at your side. Eight different types of Beef, all different types of Pork and Chicken(including hearts-YUK). They slice it right off the slab for you. The idea is to keep eating until you surrender then you flip the sign to red. Luckily I had to run to MTV with Johnny and Zak or I may have never made it out of there alive!!! We then did an interview for Brazilian Headbangers Ball. The host was a big fan. The interview went great. After that we had a couple other radio interviews and went back to the hotel to get the rest of the guys. I wonder if these people realize just how tired we are!!! We then drove like an hour(everything here seems like it is an hour away) to the first venue to check it out. That is when we got introduced to this drink. I can’t remember the name yet, but I have a feeling it won’t be the last we see of it. It had limes and sugar in it and some wicked gross tasting alcohol. Jon, Al and Zak loved it. I just ate ice Cream, didn’t feel much like drinking. It’s 3am now, I am beat. We never got any rehearsing done tonight. Not surprising!! Tomorrow is Savatage acoustic show #1…Wish us luck!!! Goodnight.---C.C.C.

March 17, 1998
Sao Paulo - KVA
  Surprised…I can only think of this one word to describe tonight. We left the hotel around 11 am to do another radio interview. After stopping to fill up on more meat we went to the venue. I really cannot get over the amount of poverty here. The amount of traffic is amazing also. I thought New York was bad. It is very hard to put it into words, the graffiti, the almost cardboard shacks, quite shocking. I really feel very fortunate to live in America. I think anyone who complains about their present situation at home needs to see this in person. I think it may shut them up!!! As for the show…Well, we all picked out our stools and ran through the set at sound-check. Al played a clean electric guitar. I played an Electric acoustic. Jon had a big old piano. Johnny and Jeff played pretty normal. Zak sat in the middle. I can’t remember this band ever being so nervous before we went on stage. We sat there eating "Corn" pizza from Pizza Hut, at least it wasn’t fish, and awaited show time. I just remember everyone asking the promoter "ARE YOU SURE THAT THESE PEOPLE KNOW THIS IS AN ACOUSTIC SHOW? Since noone really speaks good English here, most none at all, we took his word for it. I just remember the look on Johnny’s face as we crashed the first chord of "Welcome". Ah, the raw power of my acoustic!!! These people loved it. You could hear them sing every word. It was so much fun!!! I will include a set list at the end of this story. Acoustic "Blackjack Guillotine" was killer. Too funny, a song I originally wrote for Doctor Butcher, now an acoustic funk classic!!! Al and I played "Silk and Steel". I was doing great ‘til the very end. Then I "Biffed" the last arpeggio of the lead. I remember the first time I played "Temptation Revelation" live I did the same thing. I always get nervous playing Criss’ stuff for the first time. He never even played that live before. Jon sang "When the Crowds Are Gone" in his medley tonight, very cool. During the Medley he sang "A little too far", he and I did "Summer’s Rain" and "Tonite He Grins Again". We ended it with "Believe". A great show and experience I will never forget. There was this drink again tonight after the show. I had it with Vodka. I can’t remember the name. Very tasty!!!

Tomorrow all we have to do is go out to a club and sign autograph’s, tough job right!!!

It is 5 AM…Goodnight, the room is spinning!!!---Chris

March 18, 1998
Day Off - Sao Paulo
  Good Late Afternoon!!! The weather has been very cloudy here. No excuse to lay around until 4 PM, but it has. I fell asleep on the couch watching MTV and woke up to find an NBA basketball game on between none other than my beloved Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat. Da Bulls won, of course. I chugged three waters and took a five minute shower when I heard the bus was leaving to go shopping. Now I sit on the bus, on my way hopefully to some good shopping. One day I hope to have been everywhere on this planet so my friends and family will not be able to ask me to get them something. I love to buy for them, don’t get me wrong, it is just hard sometimes to get it done. We sit, in traffic, again. I have lived in New York my whole life and I have seen nothing like this. It seems like there is only one person in each car too. I imagine this place is an hour away, everything else has been. I need food. I will talk to you tonight after our nite out at "ROCK BAR MANIFESTO". This should be interesting…

WOW---They like us here!!!. Shopping was awful. We took all day getting to a bad mall. Thank the Lord for McDonald’s!!! We just returned from the Bar "Manifesto." There were 600 fans waiting there to get autographs. We signed for three hours straight. Kodak stock in Brazil must have went up tonight. All of us were blinded by a barrage of camera flashes. We sat upstairs in this bar while a non-stop line of fans drifted by for autographs. "Caipirinha" That is the name of this traditional Brazilian drink. Yup, it was in the house yet again!!! Jeff is hooked now also. It was funny watching all of the good looking girls gather in a room across the way waiting for us to finish. It would be nice if some of them spoke English!!!! I was told we had twice the people at the bar tonight that Iron Maiden had a month ago doing the same thing. Cool. I must go to sleep now, we have to wake up and fly to RIO!!! By the way…The bar tonight was about an Hour away from the hotel also!!! It is 4:30 AM…Goodnight—C.C.C.

March 19, 1998
Rio de Janeiro – Theatre Imperator
  Smash!!! That must have been the sound our luggage made as it was tossed on and off of our flight to Rio. One by one our flight cases and guitar cases came out on the turnstile. One by one we noticed how they looked like they were on the front lines in Bosnia. Jon’s keyboard stand looked like they used it to stop the plane. I guess "Fragile" is Portugese for "Toss those pieces of crap here". It is way hot here. I am in our dressing room at the theatre. We walked in the place and the opening band was already set up and sound checking. Duh. Why do I have the feeling this is gonna get more interesting as the day goes on. I am so surprised at the amount of poverty and graffiti here too. I am kinda speechless. This is definitely not the Rio you see in the movies. I must admit, seeing the one shack with no walls and a satellite TV dish was quite amusing. I have to go do an in-store appearance at a CD shop with Zak. Talk to you later…

Alrighty then!!! Savatage’s first full-blown show in South America is in the books. Rio reminds me of Los Angeles, Paris or Munich Germany. A huge city that just doesn’t have it together when it comes to live music. The show was great, it just came with its fair share of nuttiness. The monitor guy went on strike during sound check. We played on this huge white stage that looked like something out of a Jimmy Swaggart TV special. My cracked ribs were killing me. It hurt to sing. I felt like killing Columbus, Magellan and "Their Grandma" during "The Wake of Magellan". I think I have a cold. It is hard to tell. It is so hot and muggy here. The air is hard to breathe. The in-store appearance went great. A couple hundred kids waited eight hours to see us. They love to take photos here. A bunch of kids here have told me that I am their all-time favorite guitarist in the past few days. I don’t think I ever heard that before. It is very flattering. We are at some hotel in the middle of nowhere. In the lobby a few minutes ago Gary our soundman gave his impression of the loudest Tampa Bay barking lizzard I have ever heard. You should have seen the look on the little old ladies’ face at the front desk!!! If you don’t know what I mean, never mind. We fly back to Sao Paulo in the morning…so much for the topless beaches. It is 5 AM-Goodnight. C.C.C.

March 20, 1998

Sao Paulo – Teatro de Vampiros
  Bummer. That describes my morning. It was beautiful out for the first time and we were woken up at 10 AM and driven to the airport. From the airplane I could see that world famous statue of Jesus "Corcovado". I also saw the sandy white beaches, resort hotels, islands, etc. You know, the stuff we wanted to see on the ground!!! I could swear this one tiny ant sized girl on the beach was naked!!! You must understand how difficult it is for us to get to see things when we are on the road. The work is not that hard, just tiring and time consuming. I am waiting for my ride to sound check. I just finished signing some guitar picks. I actually use the steel ones like Criss did. My throw- away Savatage picks got lost in the mail. Just my luck. So I am signing a bunch to toss in the crowd. If I threw the steel ones I would kill people!!! Talk to you later.

What a great show!!! Two thousand five hundred new friends just said "HI!!!". There were some paramedics there to supply oxygen for Al’s asthma and they gave me medication for my ribs. I felt no pain!!! We had a bartender in our dressing room and armed security at the dressing room doors. Too funny. The paramedics were hammered at the end of the show. I have a feeling they had some special medication for themselves and I am not talking Excedrin!!! I was given a local Soccer teams shirt to wear on stage and fans at the meet and greet were arguing about it. One said the team "Sucked". The other said it was the best team in Brazil. I dunno, it was a free shirt!!! I do know that the new guitar I got from Jackson before I left sounded amazing tonight. I just re-worked out my endorsement with them after 7 years. I am very excited about that. Tonight’s show was actually only 20 minutes from the hotel, amazing! I did realize one thing tonight. A red traffic light after dark is merely a suggestion. No one stops!!! We asked why and they said it was because people are afraid of getting car-jacked and mugged. Nice, huh? The local promoters in Sao Paulo really gave us a special night to remember. I have a feeling we will be back. I can’t believe it is almost over, I am just getting used to this place and my new friends. Goodnight—It is 5 AM again!!! C.C.C.

March 21, 1998
Sorocaba - Ipanema
  Moo! Baahh! Oink Oink! If they say you are what you eat, then we all are turning into a bunch of farm animals. Just left another Rodesio and are driving to Sorocabba. Hey, at least we have a reason for the drive to be at least an hour! Last night at the show a fan apparently broke into the bus air conditioner and stole a belt of some sort. So we are sweating. That’s it, if this kid ever tries to come see us again we will make him watch the show sitting below five one thousand watt stage lights, with no fan. That will teach him not to make us sweat! On this drive we are at least looking at the jungle instead of traffic and shanty shacks. That is too depressing. Funny story from last night… We took some t-shirts with us here to sell. To carry them we bought some new suitcases and Gary grabbed a couple from home. One of which was hot pink. We could not wait to sell the shirts to get rid of this "Thing". It was very funny watching our rather large and frightening soundman carry this case. Anyway, last night I went up to the some 150 fans gathered around the bus and had them guess what number I was thinking to win the case. They went crazy firing out numbers. I realize this thing had Savatage stickers all over it and was ours, but it was sooo ugly!!! Some kid finally guessed the number and I sadly(Yeah Right…) handed the case over to him. I have a very funny picture in my head today of the bus driving away from the venue. All of the kids were yelling and waving. One with a big pink suitcase held high over his head. I guess I will talk to you tomorrow on the way to the airport. (Sniff, Sniff…tears L ) I really do not not want to go home at the moment. Bye for now.---C.C.C.

March 22, 1998
Travel Home
  Stuffed!!! I am leaving this country with yet another full stomach of food. This was the best yet. A little outdoor chicken bar-b-q place around the corner from our hotel. Yummy!!! The only bad thing is Gary ate a whole plate of beans and rice, mixed it with some hard boiled eggs and potato salad. Whoever sits next to him on the plane is in for a treat!!! The venue last night was very special. The ceiling was about 100 feet high. There was little reason for us to use any echos on our voices or instruments. There was a horse head hanging on the wall behind the bar in the rear. Now I know what I ate at the place yesterday.(Smile) Our dressing room was in the back and there was only one way to get in it. The front door. So we were stuck there. Only problem, there was no bathroom. So our dear friends at the venue kindly took some bamboo dividers and placed them beside the stage with a big ole bucket behind it in a corner. The night before we had a huge dressing room with two bathrooms, a bar, armed security and three huge couches. Last night, one tiny room and a bucket. I love the road! The stage was just as small. We just went up and relaxed and kicked Brazil’s butt one more time!!! Great fans. As we were leaving the venue we signed a bunch of stuff out the windows of the bus. These kids were screaming and chanting uncontrolably. As we drove away one kid was hanging from one of the windows screaming, "I am a real rocker, if you do not believe me then Fuck You!!!". The bus rounded the corner, stopped abruptly and he fell to the ground yelling " I am a real rocker!" I guess I believe him. It is a beautiful day today. The first perfect one weather wise yet. We just stopped on the side of the road at a coconut and sugar cane stand. There were these two little old men with machetes. One was slicing the end off of Green Coconuts and sticking straws in them to drink. Yummy. The other was slicing up sugar cane and sticking it into a grinder. He mixed it with ice and lime. Again yummy!!! This was the first thing we did the whole time we were here that had the feeling of the Brazil you would picture in your head. Kinda makes me even more sad to leave. I know there are so many beautiful and interesting things to see here. I hope we have more time when we get back here one day. I will close this story on the plane. ‘Til then…---C.C.C.

March 23, 1998
  "I understand that we have some rock-n-rollers on this flight." That was the announcement the pilot first made when we got seated and ready for take-off. It is after midnight now, so I can call it the 23rd. It was right at that time when I thought of a quote from a movie I had recently seen called "Fallen". The movie was not that great but there was something said in it that I thought was cool. Denzel Washington said "There are certain times in your life when something happens, either something you see or do, and from that point on your life is never the same again." This whole trip has had about twenty of those experiences. Savatage’s fans are gathering in large numbers world-wide and we are getting the chance to see it first hand. I keep having these "Pinch myself to see if it is real" experiences with this band. Sitting down and hearing the pilot make that announcement after just finishing a tour in South America is definitely another one. I would see these places on a map as a kid and dream of getting to see them. Now I get to fly there and play the music I love for the greatest fans in the world. Some people have the nerve to call this a job!!! Athens, Greece; Milan, Italy; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Tokyo, Japan; Hamburg, Germany; All of these places are so different. Yet surprisingly alike in one way. The love of our music. The chant of "Oliva-Oliva" echoing thru the halls before we play makes me feel so good about continuing this band for Criss’. Jon, as we oddly got called the "Greatful Dead of Heavy Metal" several times in Brazil, is our Jerry Garcia. The legions world-wide are our "Dead Winter Dead Heads". I like the sound of that. We look forward to, in the immortal words of General Johnny Lee Middleton, "Seeing you all in the trenches". The "Wake of Magellan" saga continues. Next stop, AMERICA!!! I will continue to give you the report from the front lines. I sit with Zak rambling aimlessly next to me, a make-shift Caipirinha in a foam coffee cup, the new "James Bond 007" just came on the screen…It doesn’t get any better than this. Good bye and God Bless---C.C.C.