May 2001 PT II
Poets on the road Part 2 and 3... The search for my missing notes.
2001 Tour Diary by Christopher Caffery
Let's see…where were we? The last time I left you we were on the U.S. Tour weren't we? I think so. I am sitting at my Mom's computer right now. It is July 21st. When we had left for Europe in June I had planned on using some of my free time, and believe me there was a lot of it, to finish the U.S. story. Unfortunately after about three days my computer had decided to take a permanent leave of absence. This is not a problem, since I was planning on using it as a frisbee anyway. The one major problem is this. All of my notes from the U.S. are lost inside. Stuck in a WORD coma. So…I had no real way to finish, no real way to store new notes, just about no real way of doing any work on my computer at all. So…….I have decided to do a Tour Story. From what I can remember of the U.S. and what I kinda remember from the recent European Vacation. I did write down several notes on paper from Europe. Some I managed to wash with my laundry, others I misplaced. There are a few I have, however, I have decided to just plain wing it and write from my head completely. No notes. No itinerary. Just my own brain. This is scary.
I probably should sign on-line to see where I left off on the U.S. thing, but that would be helpful. Plus my Mom is on the phone with my brother. I know I had written up to Cleveland, after that there was the tattoo experience. So, I think we are on the bus with our newest castaway Brian Bancroft. Liquid, not Lakewood Tattoo. Like I had said, he was supposed to be joining us for a few days, up to about Chicago, to finish work on the guys who had gotten none. Jack Frost was the first to get inked on the road. He got his work done in Detroit. It was not in the City. The Theatre we played was in a cool little town in the suburbs. I remember it being the first gig with kinda real catering. Jack got a tattoo of none other than Jack Frost from Nightmare. Sally was with Jack. There were some little Savatage S's worked in also.
I remember when Jeff Plate nicknamed this tour the "Drink, Fuck and Fight Tour". This was before we left. There had been a lot of drinking. Not nearly enough fucking and absolutely no fighting. That was until we go tot Grand Rapids. Unfortunately the fighting was the bounceds beating on Double B. Brian. I just remember looking into the crowd and seeing him kinda mocking the audience for fun. Mostly to amuse us, Then he got into it with someone and the next thing I know he got thrown out. Too funny. He was OK. You can't hurt BB. The day was going so well too. The club was right next to a Strip Club and laundry mat, everyone was happy. Clean clothes and naked chicks. Seemed like a plan. Good show regardless. Small crowd, but just as loud as any we had seen! Thanks for the show, no thanks for beating on out tattoo artist!!!
From there I believe we moved to Minneapolis. I had not played there in a very long time. 1990 to be exact. This rainy day Johnny Lee got a tattoo of a tribal band of Savatage S's intertwining around his right arm. It is very cool. The show was fun, although I do remember it being about 1000 degrees onstage and the stage was a tiny one too. The Legion never disappears. This we find out all the time.
Now, if memory serves me correctly, we moved onto Chicago. Always a big Savatage town. I had never played a House of Blues, although I had heard nothing but great things about them. You can tell that these clubs were designed by people that had been on the road and had bad experiences with just about everything. There was some kind of Sunday gospel thing going on, so we were not loading in until 4. We were parked underneath the venue in a garage. I woke up with no idea of where we were. I did manage to find Gary and secure the lunch buffet. There were a lot of stairs to climb if you did not use the elevator. For those of you who have never been to a House of Blues…GO!!! The clubs are so neat to look at. This one in particular was very special. It was huge. There are very nice showers in the dressing rooms. This is a good sign from the start. Then they have a cute and friendly girl who takes care of all the dressing room food and supplies. The crew in the club is also extremely together. Just a great place to play. Mr. Jon Oliva himself decided to get inked this day. I know most of you have seen it by now. It is a Savatage S in flames. His Mom thinks it looks like a Hot Wheels Car!!! The show that evening was fantastic. Over 1000 Savatage fans on a Sunday night! Chicago still rocks even if Michael Jordan is gone. We had a very short drive to the next city in Illinois. So we all raided a local bar and proceeded to kill brain cells in honor of Johnny Lee's birthday which hit at midnight. I vaguely remember some flaming shots of something and Igor getting upset because I mentioned that he can't count too well. Sorry Igor.
The next day, Johnny's actual Birthday, took place in a kinda small college type bar. Brian had bought an inflatable sheep that would make it to the stage. It was quite amusing. I had managed to decorate it with silly string. It looked like the sheep needed to see the doctor. We sang to Johnny and I got him a present that he was very happy with and we drove off to St. Louis. Brian was supposed to fly home from there. This is when he realized that he had lost his ID. He was stuck in the Twilight Zone!!!
I played this venue with TSO last year. The town was buried with snow the last time I was here. I did not even realize that there was a cool little street with stores and restaurants. It was by this time in the tour that the band got really going. Hit it's groove. Too bad that noone promoted this show. It was not that full. Fates Warning and us were becoming very good friends. Joey Vera is a madman! This show was the last of a run of 8 straight I believe. We had a long drive to Austin, but we also had a day off!!!
When we reached Austin I was excited to see that the hotel had a pool and I started to work on a much needed tan. We were trying to plan the evenings events. I believe it got very interesting. Damond, Kyle - Jack and Jon's tech - and I went out first. We hit the strip of bars downtown. Damon had not eaten and got a bit silly too fast. I remember him almost getting me in a fight with a whole staff of bouncers. Not too healthy. We all wound up at one of Austin's finer gentleman's establishments. Then…somehow…I wound up at a party at someone's house. They said it was 5 minutes away. It was about an hour. I just remember reading everyone the riot act and calling a cab. It was definitely about 50 minutes away. I hate when that happens. Nights off can be hell!
So can show days…this club was a nightmare. Shitty lights, shitty sound, shitty stage, shitty stage hands, just a pile of shit!!
I had not been in Texas in 10 years either. I was so excited to get back. The last time I was in Austin I missed the gig. It was on the Gutter Tour. Jon and I got so plastered in the afternoon that I never was able to play. I think I tried to jump out of a window. I remember waking up on the bus and seeing Criss. I asked him where I was, He said Houston, I said "Houston? What happened to Austin?" He laughed and shut my bunk curtain.
Things were a lot different in Texas. Not the same in the least. In the old days this was the place for touring. Girls…wild crowds. What the hell happened to Texas? The fans were great in Austin, it is just not the same in Texas.
The following day was Dallas, we played the Bronco Bowl place. I think TSO played the big room here. The 3000 seater. We did have a great crowd. I had fun during the day bowling with Damond. That was until I realized that I should not bowl and expect to play guitar. Kevin Easton from Jackson Guitars brought me a new toy today. Another Rhoads. A twin to the sunburst one. I needed it badly. Two of my old Jackson's had died in the past week. However, it was not too right to play for your guitar company after bowling for an hour!!! DUH!!! The show went well considering the amount of pain I was in. Dallas still rocks, it is just not the same. Kinda hard to explain. I think we are just getting OLD!!!
The following day in Houston we found a dog. Yes, we still had Brian, he was out of tattoo needles and was just along to watch and drink Jim Beam!!! Brian was kinda jealous. He felt unloved with the puppy around. We had to leave and do an in store appearance. Judging by the turnout, the show was going to be great. It was another odd venue. Kinda like a sports bar turned rock club at night. The local opening act had to set up on the floor!!! Great show, we did manage to find someone to take the dog. Who, by the way, fell asleep in the dressing room during the show. Savatage is a thrill a minute!!!
San Antonio was another bizarre venue. Kinda in the middle of nowhere. We did another in store appearance and somehow managed to lose Jack Frost. He was stuck at the hotel. OOPS!!! Someone from Fates was from here. I think Ray. For some reason, Fates did not show up at the in store, I dunno. The show was fine, some drunk guy in front kept unplugging my pedal board. We were soon off on our way to New Orleans!!!
I was very excited to get here. I had never been. After a few hours I had decided that I designed this town in a past life!!! It definitely seemed dangerous! We had the next day off too. I knew things would get ugly! The show was at another House of Blues. This was a small, but cute one. Same great food and treatment. Savatage had never played this town. I am glad we cracked the ice. I bought a cool Blues Man's vest during the day and sampled some of the local frozen drinks. Raymie had discovered that it was 3 for one happy hour. I returned back with him kinda dizzy for the show. Once finished, I managed to lose everyone in the band. I was still in the club when the bus left and most of the guys went to some rock bar. I tried to find it and it was closed. After stumbling around the streets I found some fans that hung with me until I found the guys. We had wandered Bourbon Street going from bar to bar. I believe we had went to sleep somewhere around 10 AM. Well, I did. I don't know about everyone else. We had to check out of the Hotel at noon and were to spend the day wandering the town again. Bus call was midnight. I knew everyone was not too happy with being woken up. I was just happy that the bus Air Conditioner got fixed. We almost had to get a new one. I heard the crying at the front desk by the hungover masses and decided to grab Igor and go on a boat cruise with 2 hours of sleep. We went on a Bayou Swamp Cruise. With frozen drinks as breakfast, we got on the bus to the swamp. This was actually a blast. Igor was entertaining the whole boat. The Captain was very amusing too. I could not understand either of them!!!! We saw alligators and learned how to hunt them. We learned how to catch shrimp. All of this before lunch!!!
Upon returning to the tour bus, we found Raymie and went to eat. I went to this place called The Acme Oyster Bar. Al had always told me to go there. It had amazing oysters. From there we decided to blow off sleep and to continue drinking!!! I am not sure if that was a good idea or not. I was drinking Hand Grenades and chasing it with Hurricanes. I was hanging in there until about 9PM then I think I lost too many brain cells. We also lost Igor who had lost his mind at bout 6. We were in some Kareoke Bar. Igor had his hair tied up very oddly and was dancing. I remember him dancing with some girl with a bird in her cleavage. This town is definitely meant to be taken in small doses. About 3 or 4 hundred dollars of alcohol later I returned to the bus to tell everyone about the alligators. I like this town a lot, too much!!!
The following day we made it to Atlanta. This whole day was in slow motion. The show was killer. I actually saw two people I went to high school with in the audience. One lived there. The other was on tour with the Renaissance Festival. Along with that there was one female that continuously showed her breasts all night. The bouncer in front of me thanked me for a great show on and off stage afterwards. Right on!!!
Three more to go before US leg #1 is done! We entered Florida and everyone was in a good mood. Mostly because they were all getting close to home. I found out that Igor, Raymie, Kyle and I were to be the only ones on the bus on the way back to NYCity! Jeff was staying in Florida nd Jack decided to fly home. I decided to stay with the bus and get my stuff together. Plus I wrote all of the notes that I could not get to in my computer. But, I will get to the ride soon.
Orlando was a totally cool House of Blues. Right in Disney's Pleasure Island. I loved it here. I got sun, good food. This is how everyday should be. The Nomads were massing again. Of course Clay Marshall had still been there, not to miss a show until Greece! Way to go Clay! I had decorated the dressing room this day. Amber, the kind girl who worked there, had let me into the candle closet. It was just like home. David Krebs, our manager, was arriving. So were some European journalists. They were mostly flying in to cover the show in Tampa the next day. Mattias from Rock Hard Magazine did make it to this show. There were people from all around the world here. This was the Nomad vacation show stop! I think the funniest thing that happened was onstage during Mountain King. Damond had come out with Devil horns on during this song the first week of the tour. He kinda was not allowed to wear them anymore. Knowing that David was there…Damond decided to come out onstage with Mickey Mouse ears on. This was during the part with the harmonized very low evil voice. I remember seeing the image frozen on the club's TV screen after we finished. Fantastic show, great crowd. We actually had a large number of females in the crowd. Very rare these days!!! Orlando rocked.
Not only were we happy to get to Florida, so was Brian Bancroft, traveling tattoo artist. He had friends in Orlando that were to get him money and ID and help him home to Cortland. We were all sad to see him go. His laugh was a part of our everyday routine. If you ever get to Cortland, I highly recommend a trip to his shop. He is Da Man!!!"
St. Pete ruled!!!! Back home! Tampa/St. Petersburg had become my second home over the years. Along with the Savatage guys and their families, I had spent many a years worth of time in this town. Jon and I went to a friends house to shower and sit by the pool. Some of the others went home. By the time sound check hit, it had become a friend, family and fan Nomad extravaganza!!! Andreas from Metal Hammer was there, so was Frode from Scream Magazine. He is in competition with Clay to see who is King Nomad. I think Clay passed him in Europe with over 60 Savatage concerts. Although Frode had seen the band with Criss and had been to Brasil and seen the first ever acoustic show! It was very difficult to play Believe this day and the spirit of Criss was alive and well in my soul and my hands. This was definitely a special show. I had played this place before and every time I play places like this I feel so strange onstage. You just remember the times with Criss so well. It is so hard to believe that it is almost 10 years since he passed away. Still does not even seem real. It was fun to see Damond play a hometown show. He was very fired up. I did want to see Zak although he did not attend. I always wish him the very best. Ozzy from Doctor Butcher was there with his shaved head. Nice look Ozz…YIKES! No sigh of Wacholz either. There were an ample number of friends and family in the audience. I think Jon had 28 family members on the guest list himself. Tampa / St. Pete…you will always be the most special place for Savatage to play. It was where it all began. Where I first played a note with the guys. Where the spirit will live forever!!! Rock On Thunder Bay!!!
Now as far as the last show in Boynton…Here it goes. Not the greatest day of our lives. By tring to give the fans who payed their hard earned money the show they deserve…everyone got ripped off. Some promoters should try to learn to read before they sign contracts for shows. One plus one is two guys, get it together. As far as the other BS. I don't want to give anymore attention to a Bullshit situation. Things got stupid, end of story. Thanks to Fates Warning for a great tour. Thanks also for the Stone Hrge Monument and the dance onstage!!! Very Funny!
From here we drove back to Tampa to drop the guys off. Jack had flown out of Lauderdale. By the time I woke up the bus was very empty. I immediately decorated the back lounge as my bedroom. There I would relax and enjoy a long ride home. Packing my stuff and writing the notes that lie in a computer coma. I hope I remembered enough to make this worth reading, I know other details will come out in time. I always hate leaving and starting tours. I was just settled in. I did need time to get myself together before going home. This bus ride was so relaxing. Of course Pedro's South of the Border was a stop. Been stopping there since I was 11. In the meantime…enjoy this 'cuz it is all I have ok?????
By the way, I got home and it rained for a week straight. Yuk!
I did just sign on to see what I may have missed. Seems I forgot the Scranton and Rochester shows. Scranton I am sorry. You were a lot of fun. Rochester…it was a long day of playing "Can we get the PA to work. There was some sangria involved in the passing time. Igor also sold his shirts in a mini-boxing ring. Rochester was a a lot of fun for all. Regardless of the PA problems…a fun town indeed!!!
Next up…A Trip to Europe. Six weeks that ate like a meal. In other words…Six Long Fucking Weeks in Euro-Sava Land!!!!