Chris Caffery
Tour Diary

March - April 2001 PT I
  Poets on the road…
2001 Tour Diary (Part 1) by Christopher Caffery

March 17, 2001
  Day one…The rehearsals.

Well not actually day one…

I know I am going to hate myself for starting this again. I never realize how much work these things are ‘til I get into a tour. I am flattered to see certain other people in bands have kinda noticed what I do for you guys and have devoted more time to their fans. You guys make this all possible, seriously.

Anyway…Welcome back my friends to the band that never ends!!!

I say actually not day one for a reason. This you may know from my posts. I have been working for almost 2 weeks with Jack Frost. He is really starting to get these songs down. I have been getting very anxious to tour. It has been 13 ½ years since I first stepped onstage with Savatage. I know I was just a rhythm guitarist and not even on the stage, but I had a love for this band that I could never explain. I still can’t. I just know that it is an honor and a privilege to be the lead guitarist now. Criss meant so much to me. I always felt awkward about anyone taking over for him in this band. When Jon, Paul, Johnny and you the fans asked me to come back, I returned so you could hear his solos and songs the way I know you should. To help bring the spirit back into the band. Now to be writing and playing new Savatage songs and playing his also as the lead guitarist makes me feel a sense of calm in my heart and soul. I am glad to see you all accept me in this role. Without your approval I would never consider this. Now that the band and you have given me your blessing…I promise to hold the torch high and to never let you down. Johnny and I were reviewing the new songs today. We will have our first full band rehearsal on Tuesday…Oh goodie!!! We really did not do anything for St. Patrick’s Day other than sit and watch people celebrate on TV. I think we will appreciate this time of relaxation very much in the upcoming months and even envy it!!! I am off to sleep. I don’t know if I will get to you every day…however…I will be letting you know all about the life and times of “Poets and Madmen”. # 7 in Germany…# 1 retail in Holland…Take no prisoners!!! We have a long way to go friends.

CC

March 18 - April 18, 2001
 

OK, rehearsals have been a bit more hectic than I expected. On the 20th of March we got into S I R studios and actually played for the first time as Savatage Mach 6. Things sounded surprisingly well. From what I can tell, the pictures were fine. I hate photo shoots. Chronological proof of age…YUK!!!!

Johnny is returning to Florida for a few weeks and rehearsals will go in stages. Me and Jack will continue guitar hell. Jon and Dracula, as I have re-named him…will continue to figure out who will sing what in lead vocal land. Then we will work on the background vocals, call in Jeff and start to bash out things in a little studio here in Astoria.

I went to check out “Laughing Boy Music”, yes it is the name, Ragmar Rehearsals at Laughing Boy Music, and they seemed to have what we need to do these preliminary rehearsals. They are excited to have us there.

Jack and I are just about thru 20 songs…the vocals are sounding great. I am amazed at just how versatile Damond is. We got very lucky finding him. He truly is a star.

I was very bummed to hear that the April 3rd street date was not going to be met. I thought it was a very good omen…well…it is still in the print adds!!!

Jeff was supposed to be here Friday the 6th, however his rental van broke down in NY State…things are going smoothly as usual!!! Jon, Drac, Jack and I still went over to load in gear and check things out. We need a little more PA, but it should work.

Jeff made it here on Saturday the 7th and rehearsals live and loud are underway!!! I have so much to play, it is going to take a few weeks for me to get all of this together!!! I bought a new effects processor. A Boss GT3. I want to get some better clean sounds and there are some harmony runs in the solos that I need to use the harmonizer for. I am dialing in those sounds at home. I will not know what they sound like ‘til we get to SIR next week. They are very cool so far. Since we are adding in “Miles Away” and “Carves His Stone” I want a truer old Sava clean sound.

Johnny arrived in NY on the 9th and we started Laughing Boy Blasting of the ear drums!!!

Things have been a bit weird…Johnny’s Dad had a mild stroke, so did Damond’s Mom. I lost 2 credit cards this week. Johnny had a blow out on his truck on the way to the airport. Then his flight was delayed. Jon’s wife had to have a lump removed from her breast.

What the heck is up!!!???

Going out one evening I discovered that Dracula not only has a love for Long Island Iced teas and Dr. Peppers...on fire of course…BUT…also for candles and wax. He was drinking the wax…HELP!!! What have we gotten ourselves into???!!!

As far as Jack goes…well…we all have gotten used to making sure he is the one getting picked on. I feel bad at times. However, when I first joined Savatage I was refreshing them on songs at rehearsal. Now 13 and ½ years later…I am still the one who does the refreshing. I have a bunch of Jack jokes stored up for the amount of work I have done with him. Sorry Jack!!! One of our finest moments so far being the arrival one day of Al Pitrelli to rehearsal and telling Jack we had some bad news. Oops!

By Friday the 13th we were sounding pretty tight and were ready to move the show to SIR. Saturday the 14th was first full stage rehearsal. I love my new sounds. Still a lot of tweaking, but very cool. I cannot believe my amps are still in the studio!!! I had to use a back up for the first day!!! I still have not gotten my new Jackson’s in for the tour. Time is running out!!! Paul is coming tomorrow….for the first time…HELP!!! After rehearsal…Jon, Drac and I got to jump in a Limo and go to a radio show in New Jersey. It was “The Tourbus” on WDHA. It was a lot of fun…all kinds of things were going on….and off there!!!

Sunday the 15th…Paul arrives. Of he is course very late and with his daughter. So…he basically hears nothing and wants to analyze rehearsal tomorrow. I think it is getting a bit late for that. I know he can do some work with Damond…but as far as everything else goes…we have a show in 4 days!!!!

Monday the 16th…Paul arrives again…with David Krebs our manager. They want to listen to the whole set. Bob Kinkel arrived shortly after. It actually felt like a frikin showcase!!! We lived thru it…Paul insisted we slow things down like he always does. I dunno. Times I think it helps, others I think it hurts. Tomorrow we have one more Paul exhibit to go thru. He says if it goes well, we can leave on Wednesday. Jon says…we leave anyway!!!

Tuesday the 17th…Paul arrives again…we play again…we finish the set and ask to please not play the next night. I actually have had not one day off in like 3 weeks. So, I said…If there is Wednesday rehearsal…it is without me!!!!

Wednesday the 18th…Meet the “Sea Mist”!!!

“We all live in a bus that’s fuckin’ green, a bus that’s fuckin’ green, a bus that’s fuckin’ green!!!”

We met Mike our driver at SIR around 11 on Wednesday. The bus is very festive, I think it has great potential. Of course Johnny and all of our luggage are in Queens at the band house. I had the joy of directing the bus to Astoria. Soon enough I would learn that it is too tall for most of the routes I know. It took about 3 hours to drive 3 miles!!! We eventually arrived at the “Tage Majal” and loaded up our bags and headed South. The “Poets” tour has officially begun. Jaxx…Seems we always start here. Or close to here. Jay at the club is letting us load in tonite and set up. He was awaiting our arrival with a big smile. The show was almost sold out in advance. We were given an open bar and all the time we needed to get ready. My new Jackson guitars arrived earlier that day and I finally got to open them. One, a white one, I loved. The other, I had a feeling it would not be around too long. It had no tremolo on it. It is the reason I needed another. I had two old guitars with me, however…both were not in the greatest road shape. Things are getting put up onstage, when all of a sudden someone hears a loud noise like steam being released. The Indian restaurant next door had a gas main burst open. The whole club was full of natural gas. And not just Gary’s!!! We ran out and called 911. About 5 minutes later 10 fire trucks arrived. I was thinking…oh great…our gear and first gig are going to blow up!!! Good sign! It took a while for the Fire Marshall to give us the green light to re-enter. It was funny watching this Indian lady stand in front of her restaurant. She was going to go down with the ship if it blew. DUH!!! Things got back to normal, however it was too late for us to continue…so…we pulled the bus to the hotel and slept awaiting show day. I did mention the open bar right…OUCH!!!

April 19, 2001
 

Jaxx - Springfield, Virginia

Upon waking up with a bit of a headache I was amidst some commotion at the venue. Seems someone thought we were at the bar ‘til 7 or something like that. I dunno. I hate stupid road cry baby bullshit. Jack, Damond and I immediately ran to a mall to escape the tension. Finding the nearest Hot Topic, we bought some new clothes and toys. My finest purchase being some Elvis Sunglasses. The “Fearing and Loathing Ranger” was being born. We arrived back at the venue and saw the Fates Warning bus pull in. It was even uglier than ours!!! Green too!!! Tommy from TKL cases showed up with a bunch of new goodies for the band and crew…THANKS TOMMY!!!

We were noticing the arrival of a decent amount of familiar faces. We call them “Nomads”. To be a “Nomad”, you have to arrive at no less then 5 shows in a tour and to disrupt your normal life to do it. We love the “Nomads”, it is very flattering. We even wrote a “Nomad” song. There are all kinds of stages of Nomads. Friend Nomads, Professional Nomads, Fan Nomads, Groupie Nomads, Drug Nomads, you name it. George from the site is a professional Nomad, so is Clay, who I believe will see all but one show…Don’t worry Nomads…we love you all!!!

OK, back to Jaxx…the biggest problem was that the PA system was not working. I guess the low end was blown out. So…the soundcheck was held off ‘til the last second and everyone was in a right jolly mood…NOT! They do have very good food at Jaxx, so Jack…no pun intended and I attempted to eat. Of course as soon as my food arrived, Gary calls soundcheck! I stopped on the Fates bus to say hello after soundcheck. Very nice guys. I watched a few of their songs in the show. It seemed like a perfect tour was about to begin. Our music fit very well together. We were on soon, I was a bit nervous and excited. I knew it was sold out and that nooone had ever seen this line up. I was very confident. Drac and Jack pulled thru with flying colors!!!

David Krebs our manager was there for the show and was extremely pleased with the entire show. I knew I had a few more shows to go before I was really locked in, but I knew we were going to be fine. It was a lot of fun to be back on the stage again, without a tux!!!!

April 20, 2001
 

Birch Hill - Old Bridge, New Jersey

All roads seem to lead to the Birch Hill!!!

I mentioned the “Nomads”…well…today we were noticing the arrival of the “Blow-mads”.

A “Blow-mad” is someone who comes to a show to bring Jon something they shouldn’t. Believe it or not, it happens quite often. They are usually good friends, but how can we see this as good. It is tough. Jon was hiding. I want to kill all of them personally. Jon’s health is very important to all of us. A REAL friend would recognize this too. Jon and I had to run to South Orange to do a WSOU radio interview anyway so we were semi-safe for a while. I could not believe how much that radio station had changed. It was so clean!!! The Blow Mads were beginning to Mass when we returned. Jon continued to hide in the dressing room.

John Bush from Anthrax was there. He is also the singer from Armored Saint. If you did not know…Joey Vera from Fates is the bassist from Saint. Small world! I loved “Raising Fear”. Killed CD. Metal Mike from Halford was also there. He and I are going to play guitars on John West’s next solo CD.

The show was pretty good, I thought. I did manage to screw up the solo in “All That I Bleed”.

Frode from Norway, my biggest critic, was standing right next to my amp. I just looked over and told him not to say a word. That is one thing I hate about the Birch Hill, stage right there is a big pit where people stand on the side of you. It is very uncomfortable to play that way. Jon managed to play his usual new version of the Gutter intro. He hates us all for getting inside his head on that one!!! Good night for all, I saw a lot of old friends.

“Believe” is in the set again…COOL!!!

April 21, 2001
 

Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance

I thought I remembered the first time I played this place…that was until someone reminded me after the show that I was wrong.

I said it was back on the Gutter Tour…I forgot we did it on the Mt. King Tour opening for Megadeth. Lots of dead brain cells since then!!!

I knew it would be a good show, I did not know it would be a great one. We had sold more tickets in advance than we did for the last time we played. By the time we went on over 700 Metal Heads were inside this very cool little theatre. My Mom and Sister were there too.

I was surprised at the number of young kids there with Savatage shirts and CD’s. A very cool sign!!! We have a long way on the road before we get Savatage in the forefront here in the US. Signs like this are very positive!!!

I jumped in the car with Clay and George to get back to the ‘Tage Majal for a nights sleep in my own bed. Actually I would have three. We were on tour…but back home already. Make sense?

April 22, 2001

 

L’Amour - Brooklyn, NY

I was lucky enough to get some sun in my back yard and enjoy an afternoon at home. John downstairs…my landlord’s brother lives in my basement…made his not exactly famous, but favorite Iced Coffee and we talked about the tour so far. There are lots of his Greek friends in Astoria that are huge Savatage fans. They are all coming to this show. John is actually going to be in Greece for the “RockWave Festival.” John is in charge of watering my plants when I leave. He still has a few more shows to go before he is a Neighbor Nomad. L’Amour is not quite what it used to be. For those of you who do not know the legend. This was the most well known rock club ever.

I used to go here every weekend. The DJ Chuck was a good friend. James from White Lion and I would live in the DJ booth.

I remember seeing Iron Maiden here under the name of “Charlotte and the Harlotte’s”. This is when they were playing the Garden that week!!!

They used to pack so many people in this place. It is a bit smaller now. The stage too…the sound…but it still has a vibe. The monitors were very bad for Jon and I could hear his voice begin to tire a bit. We had off the next day, so we returned to The ‘Tage Majal. The trip back was very unusual. First we got a flat on the equipment trailer. Then we got lost in a very bad neighborhood in Brooklyn. We passed one dead body and got a police escort to the main highway. Nice place to raise a family!!!

Most of us retreated downstairs to “Little Greece”. I retired before an exciting event. Igor borrowed some girl’s clothes and danced for the guys. There are photos to prove it. Johnny said it was the funniest thing he ever saw. Knowing Igor…IT WAS!!!

April 23, 2001
 

DAY OFF!!!

OK, what is wrong with this picture? I have been on the road for 6 days and home for 3 of them? I probably will miss it here in another week. Igor took some of the guys out for Croatian food. I went to Bartolino’s, my favorite Italian restaurant, for Chicken Florentine and Penne Alla Vodka. If you ever make it to Astoria. Go there!!! It is on Broadway and 35th Street. I purchased some funny things today for the Sea Mist. I got a Pineapple Pitcher and Pineapple and Flamingo cups for Sangria….The official tour drink!!!! I also got an inflatable palm tree and flamingo for the bus. Last, but not least, I got some fish lights for my bunk. There is a theme developing here…I have been inspired by the Mist!!!

April 24, 2001
 

Village Pub - Long Island, NY

Since the Sea Mist rolled to Long Island the other night…we were forced to cab it or train it to Port Jefferson. Everyone but Johnny, Drac and I left that morning. Dracula had to go into the city. Johnny and I slept. We took the train about 3PM. I like playing this place on the Island because of the seafood restaurant next door. Rushing thru soundcheck was priority. Raymie lives very close to here. He is Johnny and my guitar tech if you did not know. He used to work for Al, but I adopted him when Al went to Megadeth.

Off to eat!!! This place is kinda tough to get seated and served at, but great. You have to go to the head waiter, tell him how many people you have. Then you go to the bar and order food. One by one…by name. Then you get seated and they bring your food. I had King crab legs and shrimp. I find crab legs fun and good for you. Being too full to perform is no problem here because, if you have not been there…the stage is TINY!!!

I wore my ugliest glitter “Fearing” shirt and Elvis glasses. I think some guy liked it in the club because he kept putting up one finger and saying “You’re #1”. Actually, it was not that finger or that kind. I guess his boyfriend must have hit on me once or something. I could not understand it, but said goodbye to him as he was tossed out into the street. I don’t mind that stuff, but I would rather it be done on the street than while I am onstage.

Yes…whoever you were…you already got the attention you were looking for…now FUCK YOU! The show was a lot of fun regardless. However, I am very excited to finally leave the NYCity area for a month!!!!

April 25, 2001
 

Rhode Island - The Station

I woke up today and thought for sure that we would be at the gig. When I went to sleep last night I was told that we were driving to a ferry and waiting for it to cross the Long Island Sound towards New England. This is only 2 hours from the gig. However, I guess the bus was too tall for the ferry and I was woken up to a traffic jam and we did not even get to the gig ‘til after 2PM!!! Jack, Drac and I went to a local gym to workout and shower. I managed to grab a tan and we returned for soundcheck. Mt brother is coming to the show tonite. I am excited for him to see Dracula. Who, by the way, smashed my finger in an air-hockey game today before we went to the gym! OUCH! We are beginning to realize that the catering on this tour is way too healthy!!! Gary, our soundman has lost a ton of weight in the past year and has a new diet plan for us and himself. Fat free everything. We are all wasting away!!! I can tell Johnny is going to freak soon! There was a local band before Fates tonite, they had to set up on the floor. How bizarre. I feel bad when that happens. The show was a very good one. Dracula was told not to wear his devil horns anymore, he wore them during Mountain King the first few shows…however…a girl in the front row already had her own blue ones!!! We have not been to Rhode Island for years. I remember the Living Room. Well, kinda, I was hammered when I played there on the Gutter Tour. I was inside the club after the show and heard something about Cops and someones wife and the bus and I decided to stay put. Some details are ones you will never read in my diaries…SORRY!!!

April 26, 2001
 

Hartford, Conn. - Webster Theatre

If you read my last diaries, then you remember me talking about Jon Oliva and story telling in the grass. Today proved to be different than last in a lot of ways. First off, we have sold way more tickets in advance than we did tickets for the last show…AGAIN!!! I remembered there was a Dick Head Stage Manager at this place…so I did not hang around much during the day. I spent most of the day walking thru Mexico, I mean Hartford, looking for a Citibank. There were none. I managed to pick up a beach chair for the bus and decided to go work on my new tan. The show was really fun. The Mt. King’s voice is a little sore. He caught Johnny’s cold and needs about a week I think to build it back up. Damond is holding up fine and is learning everything just in case!!! I am almost used to my sounds and changes and parts. I love reading the internet and seeing people say I don’t look happy. HELLO????? I am fucking busy up here. You try my job once and see how much you smile the first week!!! There was over 3 times the people this time thru!!! Metal lives in the USA. There were all kinds of problems with Mr. Stage manager. Including him shutting Igor’s T-Shirt booth down early. Thanks Dick Head!!! I was a bit too tired to take the ride to Toys -r -US with Angel Cruz. He is the band toy supplier and a Head Nomad. A good friend. He did bring Mr. Frost and Damond. Jack got a big Frankenstein that became a part of the stage show. Thanks again Angel for everything. Tomorrow…back to New York!!! Huh? Will we ever leave New York?

April 27, 2001
 

Niagra Falls, NY - Evening Star

No, We will never leave New York!!! Ever!!! It seems like they have both kinds of music in this place…Country and Western!!! Since I spend a lot of time in Upper NYState this is not a new scene to me. I was expecting a bit more from this town…I found it later in Canada!!! My beach chair came in handy during the day…my cell phone did not…VOICE STREAM BLOWS JAMIE LEE CURTIS!!!!! We ate an incredible dinner here cooked by some little old German Lady. IT RULED!!! Johnny did not hate the food today. After dinner Oliva and I went to the Falls. We had never seen them. On the way I saw…yes…a Citibank. I sat there all day in the sun while the bank closed! Duh. The US side of the falls was not thrilling at all. It was cold and the view sucked. The best view was closed due to ice. We returned for soundcheck. Jack Frost and I left after soundcheck for Canada.

WOW…What a difference!!! This was like Vegas with a Waterfall!!! The Falls were beautiful on this side. It was dark and they were lit. After Jack and I left Canada…we were lit too!!! This was a lot of fun, I must return here!!! The venue was tiny, but the show was packed and Niagra Falls kicked ass!!! Tomorrow…HELLO CLEVELAND!!! My first time there in years without a tux…MAYBE!!! J

April 28, 2001

 

Cleveland, Ohio - The Odeon

I kinda remember being at this place to see Dio in December. We were in town with TSO for 4 nights. I woke up wanting to throw my cell phone in Lake Erie. Voice Stream had no network in Cleveland. Not a big college town I guess. I ran into Igor on the street and we went for breakfast. He got eggs, I got Bloody Mary’s! I immediately called and cancelled Voice Stream after only 10 days of service. They want to charge me $200 for cancelling. I think they should re-consider. I could get them a whole lot of business, but I can lose them a lot more than $200. We shall see! Jeff and I went to a TV auction with WNCX today. They are the radio station that broke the TSO live thing wide open. I love those guys. Dave Jockers was having his bachelor party today and it was winding up at the Odeon! The TV auction was quite humorous. I wore the Elvis glasses and we gave away some TSO stuff and a guitar. We then went to WNCX to do some TSO radio ID’s for the Winter. After that I went to my favorite place to eat on the planet for junk food. The Winking Lizard sports bar and restaurant. They have amazing wings and Junk. I invented Chili Fries for the menu last Christmas. I believe the Chris-Mess Chili Fries will be on the menu when I return in December. They had given me a hat then and I mentioned them onstage quite a bit. The hat may not seem like a big deal…BUT they never gave one to anyone before me. Even Alice Cooper was rejected!!! The lights went down on the stage and I appeared in my Tux ready once more for Cleveland!!! I had to do it! Plus I used an assorted number of “F” words and such in my raps. Something I can’t do at the Christmas show. The crowd was great…the band was great…The Great Gatsby was…Great!!!! Afterwards we had a huge meet -n- greet with a bunch of contest winners. Munsey from Skateboard Marketing was there…he arranged it. He is the one who got “Poets” to #1 most added on US metal radio!!! Thanx Muns!!! Thanks to Dr. Metal too for his continued support and Evilness!!!

Tomorrow…DAY OFF…Next Day…DAY OFF!!!! Jon is excited to get some rest!

April 29-30, 2001
 

DAY OFF - Cortland, NY…Yes…NY once again!!!

If I was to ask management to book a tour, make sure I had 2 days off in John West’s home town because I needed to record. Also I wanted the days to fall on the first day of May so I could Turkey hunt. I would also ask for the bus to pull up at a hotel at the bottom of the hill where I hunt and a mile away from Liquid Brick Tatoos. Do you think they would laugh themselves to death? Well it happened…just like that!!! We pulled into Corltand at about 3PM. John West picked me up and I went to his house to help him clean up his bar. We returned to the hotel to grab the guys for dinner at The Hollywood restaurand. Owned by Dave “Rock” Feinstein…guitarist from THE RODS. Ronnie Dio’s cousin. They were in Elf together. Ronnie grew up here. There is a “Dio Way” in town. We ate…well…Jon and Gary stayed at the hotel. Johnny went to visit a friend. Then we proceeded to Liquid Brick with Bryan Bancroft about 5 Jim Beam’s under. He proceeded to do some work on my right arm. At about midnight we went to downtown Cortland…a thriving metropolis and overtook the local bar Murphy’s. It was a painful night of Iced Teas…Jaegermeister and Flaming Root Beer’s. I went to stay at West’s. Everyone went back the hotel to die. Monday began with Mr. West telling me we had to go to the studio at noon. YIKES!!! I took some aspirin and went in the shower. We were putting some drums and guitars to a song we recorded earlier in the year for his new solo CD. I like it a lot. I think Raymie headed to the Brick first and Bryan started on him. John and I showed up there about 6. Taz actually went under first. He died out in pain and Raymie was getting sketched on. John and I took Dracula for some 15cent wings at Farrell’s. Another favorite hang of ours. Dave Bishop, the owner was to meet us for the turkey hunt in the morning. John and I dropped off Drac with a friend of John’s and I hear he almost lit Cortland on fire. I had to sleep early because we were to AWAKEN at 4:30. We made it into the woods…set up and of course…nothing came out where it always does…Turkey hunting is very frustrating. I had one run right into me when I was setting up a decoy…30 seconds in either direction and he was dinner. Oh well. At least I got to hunt! We returned from the hill to find out that Igor was missing. I later found him after the bus had left for Scranton. He was asleep on the couch at the Brick. I am glad I missed that night out!!! John, Igor, Bryan and I drove to Scranton later in the day on Tuesday…just in time for soundcheck. Jon Oliva slept for 2 days, he seemed very happy to get the rest. Everyone else really enjoyed their days off in the middle of nowhere USA!!!