Chris Caffery
Tour Diary

June 1998
  Home Sweet Home? Savatage in America 1998
Tour Diary by Christopher Caffery

June 3, 1998
  Welcome to my US tour Diary…Some of you I know…Some of you I will be meeting for the very first time… Austin Powers has now taken over my dialect for this tour. I watched this movie about 10 times the past week and I am sure to use every line in the movie in the next couple. So please excuse the unnecessary, overabundant quotes.

Last night was kinda the storm before the…storm. My new guitar tech, Scott was meeting me in the city. Of course we needed to pick a spot that was easy to find. I figured the bright orange Hooters sign on 56th street was the answer. At 5 o’clock we were supposed to meet. Nine o’clock he wandered in. I was happy by then to say the least. We went back to Astoria and proceeded to Mulligan’s…our favorite local hang. We were joined shortly thereafter by Jon Oliva and the one and only Igor. Igor is coming out to sell our shirts. This tour should be funny. Igor is a friend of mine for about 15 years. He lives and bartends in Astoria. We stayed until 4 and stumbled our way to back to Camp Savatage. At around 10 A.M. we all dragged ourselves to the infamous SIR rehearsal studios. Anyway, rehearsal today was hell!!! Our bus made it here from Florida after an unnecessary trip to Long Island to get the rest of our gear that should have already been in New York City. We started playing our Noon rehearsal at 6 PM. I did get my new Jackson Rhoads guitar. It is very Shaggadelic Baby, Yeah!!! My Bulls lost and I am not too happy about that. Jon and Al have to ride by car to the first couple of shows. They need to be in the studio to do TSO tracks and I am sure they will be a bundle of energy at the first couple of shows. I am on the bus on my way to…Danbury, Where else!!! ’Til tomorrow---CCC

June 4, 1998
Danbury, CT…AGAIN!!!
  We woke up in our favorite place to start touring….It seems every tour has to start here. Jeff and I woke up and started to play baseball in the hotel parking lot. After throwing our arms out we loaded up and drove to the gig. Of course management has to come to the first one, adding additional stress and aggravation is part of their job. Paul O’Neill was here tonite too. The show was OK, considering my delay on my guitar was on the wrong setting and I sounded like Johnny Bravo from the Brady Bunch during my leads. John West, the singer who did the Witchdoctor demos with me was in the house. You should go get his new solo record called "Permanent Mark". Very Shaggadelic. We played "Paragons" for the first time tonite. It is a cool live tune. Oliva actually made it thru the vocals without passing out!!! Clay and Angel were in the house too, they are gonna try and make every show. Wouldn’t wanna smell that car in a week!!! Time to watch Austin Powers again. "Boy Vanessa has a fantastic body, I bet she Shaggs like a minx!!!" I think I am having trouble controlling my inner monologue!!!---CCC

June 5, 1998
Poughkeepsie, NY
  Yuk!!! That is the only way to describe downtown Poughkeepsie nowadays. I used to see tons of concerts in this town as a kid, I can’t believe how bad the neighborhood has gotten. Most of the stores are closed, graffiti reigns supreme. I did manage to stop and do a little damage to the old American Express Card at Toys ‘R Us. Sugar Man and Ghost Rider are my new Amplifier decorations. The last time I played the "Chance" was on the Gutter tour with the band Trouble. Tonight’s show was a lot of fun, much better than last night. My Mom, Stepdad and Sister were there. Jeff’s Mom was in the house also. I saw so many people I knew tonite. My guitar tech Scotti K’s band opened the show. They are called Plastic Peace, very cool band. His brother Rick is a killer drummer. My Bulls won tonite!!! Utah will lose this series!!! I like our bus a lot, of course it will be a bit more crowded when John and Al travel with us tomorrow…two more smokers!!! HELP!!! We are supposed to have two busses when we get to Europe. I finally will be able to ride smoke free!!! Zak and I are the only ones who don’t smoke. We will have our own bus with Gary and Scotti, everyone else can get lung cancer together on the other bus!!! My Mom loved the show. Although she managed to point out that my new Jackson sounded "tinnier" than my other guitars. I was planning to get a new pick-up in it, but when your Mom notices….Geeze!!! Talk at you in Long Island, I think tomorrow’s venue is tiny.---Goodnight CCC

June 6, 1998
Long Island, New York (Port Jefferson)
  Irony…Life definitely has its full share…I used to play the clubs on Long Island as a kid and none of them were as small as the one I played tonite after 10 ½ years in a signed band. After arriving in the closet I immediately walked out and scouted the local seafood restaurants. I grabbed Zak, Johnny and Igor and headed to eat. Seeing the stage was smaller than our table at the restaurant, eating a lot of food was going to be no problem. Usually I cannot eat ‘til after we are done. Columbus, Magellan and my dinner would sail across my microphone if I tried to perform with a full stomach on a larger stage. After shrimp, lobster poppers, calamari and a huge plate of crab legs I rolled my way to the bus for a nap. However, I was then informed I had to go do a radio interview at WRCN. Raymie took me there, he lives in this neighborhood…Al lives not too far away. After 30 minutes of talking with an English accent, I did some station ID’s, grabbed t-shirts, CD’s and left. Thanks to Donna Rodgers and everyone at RCN for the much appreciated support. On stage tonite I again noticed Clay Marshall and Angel Cruz. They stand in a different spot every night, I probably won’t be able to look at them without laughing soon!! !!

Now considering the hotel was about an hour from the club I never made it to shower today. My stage attire was the same as the rest of the day; shorts, cut off flannel (Ala Al) and my Mets hat. All in all it was a lot of fun. I just kept laughing and we gave the crowd the old "How’s your father" and left. I am very excited to get away from New York City so I actually feel like I am on tour instead of just hanging out. The bus is crowded now!!! Off to the land of Chicken Wings….’Til Tomorrow, Goodnight CCC

June 7, 1998
Rochester, NY
  "The Old Man’s Still Got It!!!" This was the onstage quote of my life!!! Mr. Oliva was tickling away at the ivories following "Believe" and paused briefly to make this statement before the beginning of "Gutter Ballet". He proceeds to sloppily start the song in typical fashion, Johnny and I were in tears laughing….Yup, still got it Jon!!! I did get my chicken wings and watched my Bulls destroy the Jazz by 40 points!!!! The club tonite was right across the street from Lake Ontario. I managed to sneak away for a jog down the pier, again finding some local ducks to feed and working off the wings. Earlier in the day I was able to get to the hotel for my much needed shower. Why are all of our hotels like an hour away from the venues??? Hello Gary!!!! Get a map Dude!!! Waiting to check in I noticed the coffee station in the lobby; hmm I see Regular, De-Caf and "Flavor of the day". The flavor of the day was written in pen so I had to approach the thermos to read it. Much to my dismay, the flavor of the day was…Regular. I mentioned irony right? Scotti got a new pick-up and nut on my Jackson and it reigned supreme!!! Rochester has always been a great Sava-city, you did not let us down!!!! Day off in Cleveland tomorrow…I should have stayed in Rochester…..Goodnight CCC

June 8, 1998

Day Off!!!!
  Hello Cleveland!!! Today was a pretty lazy day for me. Much needed sleep. We did get to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame….BORING!!!!!!!! However they did play "Gutter Ballet" from "Rage and War" all the way thru "Hounds". Jon and I sat listening out front through their "Rock" speakers. Managed to get some sun and listen to a little Criss Oliva too!!!!! What the heck are these bugs all over this city? Later this afternoon John and I went live on the air at a radio station here with "Doctor Metal". He did not spend 6 years in Metal school to be called Mr. Metal, thank you. Tomorrow’s show should be packed, the phones never stopped ringing. We really have too many male fans. Do chicks dig Rock Operas?…I am beginning to doubt it!!!! Finally saw the new Cleveland Baseball Stadium with the very Toothbrush-like lights!!!! If you’ve ever seen it, you know what I mean! Just got back from the hotel gym…I miss the gym actually. Running senselessly in one spot for an hour each day had become a big part of my routine!!! I just grabbed my E-mail from the last week!!!! OUCH!!! 180. I asked you guys to be kind while I was on the road? A lot of contest entries…no winners yet! Zak is sleeping in the room at the moment. He is convinced he has the Bubonic Plague or something like that. Said he got it from shaking hands in Rochester. OK, Sure…..He always sings better when he thinks he is sick anyway!!! I went to the bus before to find something to eat. I got a bag of chips. I was eating them plain and was bored. So, like an idiot I found a bottle of "Dave’s Insanity Sauce". The club owner in Rochester gave it to us. It was dark on the bus. I opened the bottle and put some on a chip, not being able to see that it was mostly hot pepper extract of the hottest kind. I forgot to shake the bottle. It still burns!!! I ran around the bus screaming!! I am getting blonder as I get older. Feels like there is a rugby match going on in my stomach!! Everyone went out tonite except for Jon, Zak, Johnny, Jeff and I…The crew should be very "Sharp" tomorrow. I’ll be gentile…NOT!!! I hope Cleveland lives thru a night with Igor and Taz !!! I am off to answer some mail and crash. ‘Til Tomorrow once again!!! Goodnight—CCC

June 9, 1998
Cleveland, OH
  I wonder……? Sometimes I wonder if I just ate way less if I would ever have to go to the gym? I suppose that would not be much fun would it? I woke this morning and went to the Hotel gym again for another hour of senseless running in one spot. After that I went to the bus and it drove to the Flats. In Cleveland, for those who have never been, there is a section by the waterfront with a strip of bars. This is where our crew guys spent all of their money last night!!!

I looked inside the venue, saw there was a pole in the middle of the stage on my side and immediately left to Hooters for lunch!!! I actually like the food at Hooters, although most of you probably think I could eat elsewhere for cheaper. Actually the Cleveland Hooters was way cheaper than the Manhattan one. Around 3 to 4 dollars an item!!! Gotta love New York!!! They do have great fries, the Wings are the Junk-foodiest anywhere, I like the Buffalo shrimp and today I ate the Grouper Sandwich. NOW...Let me tell you…I know these girls are not hired for their brains, but this place was special!!! I ordered a half dozen oysters as an appetizer. I watched the order come up. The wrong girl took it to the floor, I was at the bar. She soon was reminded by the customers at her table that she needed a dozen. She brought the order back. I saw the dozen in the back and pointed this to my waitress and the other one. I said, "I think she took mine…" They said, "Oh, you’re right!!!" Now, the six were on a small plate, the dozen a large. Just switch the orders right? NO!!! I actually watched the girls take six oysters off of the big plate and put them on the small. They then gave me the half – dozen left on the big one and brought the dozen back to the table on the small plate…DUH!!!! HELLO!!! EARTH TO HOOTERS CHICKS!!!! The flavor of the day was probably regular here too!!!! I went with Al to the local Mall after this with a huge smile on my face. Soon noticing that this, like every mall, was completely useless; we headed back for soundcheck. One of the guys in the opening band, there were 3 that night, told me that Ripper Owens from Judas Priest said hi and was mad I did not call him. Now how was I supposed to know he was home? He said that Ripper was too busy to make the show. I immediately found a phone and called Ripper. I left a message telling him that if he did not show I would kill him!!! I went back to the club for a meet-n-greet at a bar upstairs from Peabody’s and signed autograph’s for like an hour. After leaving the meet-n-greet I see a Black Sedan slowly pulling up to the bus with The Ripper driving. It was dark, he had on sunglasses, gotta love The Ripper!!! We got him and his friend plastered and they stood aside the stage for the show. I could hear Ripper screaming along with every song. He rules!!! We played "Tonite he Grins Again" for the first time tonite. I don’t think Al knew it. Great crowd tonite. We had a 94 person guest list tonite and three of them were ours…Silliness reigns!!! The opening bands from Cleveland had a bit of a run in with Gary…Silly opening bands….Gary eats local club musicians for snacks!!! Watch all hands and feet!!! I think one of the bands had two girls onstage who really liked each other…I missed it however. Oh yeah, Johnny and I were stupid enough to try the Hot Sauce again!!!! Whatever happens to common sense in Cleveland? Goodnight!!! CCC

June 10, 1998
Detroit, MI
  Now Children!!! That was my first response of the day as I entered the Hall and saw Gary fighting with the local sound guy. Gary can have the personality of a Cactus at times. I love him though. I immediately left the stage area in search of something to eat or drink. I noticed the dressing room sign and followed the arrow. WOW, this dressing room was larger than The Village Pub!!! I ate some fruit and grabbed a Snapple, afterwards I followed Jon to Western Union. I think his kid wanted some money for a date!!! We managed to find the Mall that was displaying the Stanley Cup. Too bad my beloved Rangers and Devils choked so bad this year. I am sure Detroit will kill the Capitols, I predict Sweep like the rest of this town!!! My Bulls won…AGAIN!!! 3-1 now. What’s the matter Malone? Anyway, it was a good show. Afterwards we noticed that a full-on Riot was underway at the Black Dance club next door. I watched the Savatage fans carefully walk to their cars amidst tear gas from our Unnecessarily large dressing room’s window. The crowd was being moved from the middle of the street by police in Riot gear!!! DUH PROMOTER!!!! Why not book us in a place that people may wanna drive to!!! They must have snuck Sirens onto the Hit List for the night at the club and then all Heck broke loose!!! Sirens…S S S S Sirens, Hungry Fo Dat Flesh Tonite!!!! Anyway, the crew minus Gary and I found the club downstairs from the theatre we played and it was $1 drink night. ANY drink. I watched Taz and Igor order 6 each and drink them immediately following. Next thing I know some double-jointed chick was dancing under black light and everyone's teeth were green. Detroit…A nice place to VISIT!!!! But…Goodnight, Chicago tomorrow, should be pretty interesting!!! CCC

June 11, 1998
Chicago, Il Baby Yeah!!!!
  Dreary…That was my first thought as I woke on the bus and walked to the front. We were still driving, about ½ an hour out of the city. Fog, rain, you name it. Well at least there wasn’t many fans around ‘til after the show!!! I love you guys, you are the reason that we are here, but I hate to see just about anyone ‘til about an hour after I am awake. You guys catch us with our hair not brushed, teeth not brushed, wrinkled clothes, wrinkled face…then you want photos!!!! YUK!!! I drove with Zak to the Hotel and listened to him complain about having Small Pox or something like that. You know, today’s new ailment. He even went to the doctor’s!!! I returned back to the Metro with the Mountain King and we went next door to eat. After finishing the unnecessarily long sound check we got ready to play. It was an early show. Thanks to George and Sherry from the Rock Shop for giving us what was left of the Rock Shop’s clothes!!! Tonite Zak actually did not look like Pele on acid!!! Sometimes his taste in shirts is rather amusing, This show was very much like what we see in Europe…total Mayhem!!!! This was a tough show for me because it was the first show we played that was this packed and it also was a place I had played before with Criss. We had a great night, I put a photo of Criss and I on my amps in a Gargoyle picture frame I bought at a truck stop. I think he was proud of the way I played tonite…I can feel him there at times and this was definitely one of them!!! Crazy Mike Paine from Rebel radio was in the house. Those of you from Chicago may have heard our Friday night on-air silliness before. We had a huge meet-n-greet tonite. Some of you I knew….Some of you I was meeting for the very first time!!! I think most of the crowd was on a list or had passes. We signed for a while…a long while. We sold out of shirts tonite. The angry mob made poor Igor sell the shirts off of the display or they were going to kill him!!!! I know some people had trouble getting into the meet-n-greet, I tried to walk as many of you in as possible. You must understand all of these venues have different policies and curfews. Sometimes it is out of our control. We always wind up in the bus, do not get pissed and leave, try to find us later and we will gladly sign your stuff. This goes double for Legion members. Thanks Chicago for a great show as usual and remember…If you see this bus a rocking’, don’t bother knocking’ Baby Yeah!!!---Goodnight!!! CCC

June 12, 1998
Columbus, OH
  Just when you thought you’d seen it all!!! We arrived in Columbus right around noon, showered then drove to the Newport. It happened to be a very nice day. So…I take the beach chair from the bus and sit in the lot behind the venue. Igor was fixing his shirt display on the ground next to me. Out from the music store next to the venue comes an irate store owner telling us to move. I was not in the mood. He was telling us we were taking his customer’s spots in the lot. I said, "What customers?" He said, "Hey, don’t get wise with me, I will have the bus removed." Geeze Mr., Lighten up!!!! I told him, "Well, I don’t see any customers, but I will move anyway, and you don’t have to be such an a#&$$!!$" We had to buy some supplies for the tour, not from you dude, he probably lost more business from us than he would have gotten all week. Oh well. I then decided to go to the tanning bed across the street and nap!!! After that Igor and I walked the streets looking for trouble. Apart from the fact that no one in this city has money, at least ten people were begging to us. Two even tried to rob me, I looked at ‘em and said, "The first time this happened to me I was 13, it was the last…" They left me alone. Then that was when the "Just when you thought…." Comes into play. There was this little college girl wandering the streets with blue/green hair. Well, nothing against that BUT…She lifted her arms and exposed her carefully trimmed blue/green arm pit hair!!! Either she was a natural blue or people here have way too much free time!!! The infamous Rossman Family showed up at soundcheck, hadn’t seen them since Europe. The show was fun…the monitors blew up, of course. I was playing my solo in "Blackjack" and looked over my shoulder only to find Jon standing there with a rubber chicken. Like I said… "Just when, etc. etc." I bet Angel and Clay’s car is starting to get a bit ripe by now, I think Legion members have been giving them crash space. Scotti and Taz almost got in a fight in some bar tonite, they went out for Raymie’s birthday, I sat with the Newport’s owner inventing new shots at the bar next door. We all have way too much free time!!! CCC

June 13, 1998
Cincinnati, OH
  Where am I? Apart from a slight headache, the once semi-clean parking lot behind Bogart’s looked like the side of the highway in Rio. Some of these US cities really need to look at New York City and take a lesson on how to clean up their act!!! Gary Muchmore’s Dad was here and he "Deep Fried" a turkey that I think gave Raymie food poisoning!!! Gary’s Dad looked just like him, only older and a little more well groomed!!! I said hello to him and he said, "I’d get up to say hi, but I am too fat and lazy!!!" Yup, that’s Gary’s Dad alright! Certain things made more sense after that moment! I bought the ugliest guitar I have ever seen in my life today. Well, it is either the ugliest or the coolest. It is a Wurlitzer. Hey, I was bored. Shant never play it though!!! Went to use a phone in the laundry mat/bar across the street and there was none other than The Mountain King himself with Ed Rossman doing his laundry. What a surprise! For the most part this was a pretty calm day. The show was fun. I just got back from Gold Star Chili. This was the place Criss and I used to go to. I got my ceremonial 5 way chili on spaghetti and just ate it on the bus. I miss you bro!!! Goodnight CCC

June 14, 1998

Atlanta, GA
  Remember when I said, "Just when you thought you’d seen it all." Well, I haven’t!!! I woke up today to the surprise of there being no Al Pitrelli on the bus. He had injured his hand or arm last night late after I went to sleep. I guess he went to the hospital and was returning to New York for more help from his own doctor. I had to play the show tonight by myself. I think it went well. I hope Al is alright….I am happy at the moment because my Beloved Bulls won the series tonite!!! 6 Baby Yeah!!!! I just hid most of the day before the show while I figured out how to play this stuff by myself in my head. What parts to do and not to do. We actually played "Chance" and "Magellan" 5 piece. I always knew it could be done, I had always kid the band about not doing Chance all the way thru on the Handful tour!!! Laziness Reigns! Of course I had to break a string during "Handful of Rain" tonite. Things can never go smooth when you really need them to. I finished the song with 5…Geeze, Savatage was a 5 guitar string band for a song…from 12 to 5 in one night! We threw in "Complaint" and "Taunting Cobras", the set was actually a lot of fun. Zak joined Jon on the rap part of "Paragons". This was the first time Complaint was ever played live. Clay and Angel were there, of course, and said everything sounded fine. I hope so, I was very nervous about playing all by myself. I had done it twice before in Florida in benefit concerts. But, they were not full sets. Tomorrow is a day off finally, I think I am going to start teaching Scotti the songs on rhythm guitar. I would hate to have to go to Europe 5 piece and he is a very good player. I am not sure what is going to happen. There has been some talk of canceling Europe. I hope not, I was really looking forward to playing with Black Sabbath!!! I hope you are ok Al, "Just when you…..etc, etc…" CCC

June 15, 1998
St. Petersburg (DAY OFF!!!)
  Gentlemen, Welcome to my Evil Beach Room!!!!--- A.P.---- Johnny found us a hotel right on the beach. I had the little suite overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the pool. Since I am the only bandmember here, I get spoiled!!! Zak, Johnny, Jeff, Taz, Gary and Jon went home. I have no idea how or where Al is. I did spend some time today going over stuff with Scotti just in case. I believe Al is out of the European tour for sure. I do not know if we are canceling yet. Today was extremely relaxing. Let’s see…I went swimming in the Gulf with Igor and Scotti. Igor in the water is pretty funny. We then went for seafood and after lunch I lost them at the pier. I found them shortly thereafter and we began making Strawberry Margaritas. Raymie and now Ed have food poisoning!! We played kill the guy with the Heavy Metal Nerf in the pool. Igor again was too priceless. Ron, our bus driver, was amused. He was awaiting the arrival of his wife, who lived not too far away. After a short break to shower we(Igor, Scotti and I) proceeded to Gator’s, a local beach bar, looking for some kind of trouble. I do not remember the name of the band, but I did go up and play two songs. "You Shook me All Night Long" by AC/DC and "It’s All Right Now" by Free. YUP, Free….that was the alcohol too!!! Not knowing if I have to play by myself again tomorrow or not, we did call it a relatively early night. I wish I could stay in this room for a week!!! Goodnight! CCC

June 16, 1998
Fort Misery….I mean Meyers
  Why? That is all I had to ask myself today. Many times. Why did the bus not come to the hotel to get us in the morning? Why did Gary send a non-air-conditioned van to pick us up and take us to the bus in 100 degree heat? Why did I sit at the bus for an hour waiting for Jeff to arrive when the reason the bus did not come to get us at the hotel was that there was no time? Why wouldn’t Gary ever screw up the catering, but the carting was so screwy? Why did I spend my day off yesterday working with Scotti when I think we are going to cancel Europe? Why don’t promoters promote? Why was there more people at most of our sound checks than this show? Why did my Marshall, my Laney and one of my cabinets all blow up in one day? Why do I drink? Why did I use my Fender for the opening of the show when Metal Edge was photographing and I just started endorsing Jackson again? Why did Clay’s car die? Why does Jon always screw up the beginning of Gutter? Al came back…why did he hurt himself in the first place, I really wanted to open for Sabbath!!!??? Why did I start drinking Vodka with grapes after the show? Why couldn’t I go to Disney yesterday? Why does someone as wired as Igor drink 3 Red Bulls and go wandering the streets after the show only to get harassed by the local police? Again…Why don’t promoters promote? Why do I drink? Why do I have to get up in 3 hours to go to a radio station? Why am I asking so many questions? Goodnight CCC

June 17, 1998
St. Petersburg
  OUCH!!!!!!!!!! Why did I jump into the weak side of the crowd?!?! I stage dove tonight and my beloved fans threw me back to the stage and missed!!!!!!! I have a half a grapefruit on my right shin!!! Today was truly special. The radio spot was great. Thanks Bubba and 98 Rock for your unbelievable support today!!! Austin Powers and Acoustic "Chance" at 9 AM…Yeah Baby, Yeah!!! I stayed at the hotel and got some extra sleep and sun today. I was nervous all day for the show tonight. Playing in the band’s hometown is very important for me. I really wanted to make Criss proud. After soundcheck I had dinner at a great little restaurant down the street, Mahi Mahi…Yummi!! Florida does rule for seafood!!! I sat and warmed up a bit longer than usual, I have my Martin Acoustic on the bus to loosen up on. The show was mobbed!!! I can’t explain it really, but tonight I was not alone. I have told you that every once in a while I get help on-stage. Tonite I had it all night. Sometimes I will go into one of Criss’ leads and all of a sudden I play it in a completely different position and it sounds hauntingly like the original. I would usually play it somewhere else, then all of a sudden I get guided to another spot on the neck in a different fingering and WHAMMO!!! The solo is perfect. Tonite I just felt a presence that was so strong. Every solo was this haunting to play. After the show Zak pulled me aside and said, "Man, you were possessed tonight, you were not playing by yourself, he was there." I think Zak was right. When I played "Temptation Revelation" I was so faint, yet so wrapped up in it, almost like I fell into another dimension. So…now that you all think I am nuts, I will continue. So many of our friends were there tonite. Ozzy from Doctor Butcher was in the house!!! Jon’s son Nick was there and I brought him on-stage, it was so cool to see Oliva and Oliva in action during Mountain King. Some shows you just never want to end. I wish every show was as magical as this one was, but I guess it happened at the right place. I miss you Criss, Thanks!!! Goodnight my friends, next stop Pedro and South of the Border!!! CCC

The Contest Winner
  Even though I am picking a winner, I still decided to write something every day, I had a lot of great entries and I thank you all. The winner touched me in a serious way. It was from Scott Beland in Tampa Florida. This fan felt the same emotion the whole band did this amazing night and I feel his words needed to be a part of my story. We decided to give a Dead Winter Dead denim Tour Jacket as the first place prize. I will throw in some autographed tour posters from other countries and some little trinkets and what nots . Congrats Scott. I would like to make special mention of a couple entries… Scott Kessler’s entry from Chicago. We had a very emotional conversation about Criss that I will not forget. Of course Alan Strange Wings had the funniest entry, Johnny wanted me to use it, Paul would kill me if I did!!! Chris Burnside gave a great description of the Cleveland show. To quote Chris, "The highlight of many of our lives happened as Jon intended to begin the introduction of "Tonite He Grins Again" However, the Cleveland fans would not let him begin. Our intense cheers prompted him to ask his mates "Shall we?" and to our good fortune Chris walked back on-stage and said "Yes" They both announced that this was the first time the band had ever played this song onstage and their statements were proven when a bewildered Al mounted the stage, picked up his axe and asked Jon, "What key is this in?" We laughed with Jon as he answered "B" and then Jon began the song again. Everyone was right on target, especially Criss, who was playing lead. I closed my eyes for a second and in my head I saw Criss Oliva onstage instead of Mr. Caffery. That special song was further highlighted by Al staring at Jon’s keyboards trying to figure out the chords. He was wide-eyed with confusion and kept mouthing to the crowd "I don’t know this" over and over. One guitarist made me laugh with his bewilderment and the other almost brought tears to his eyes with his perfect rendition of a song never played live by the band." I am glad you all can feel happy and sad in the course of our shows, there have been many ups and downs in this band’s career. I am glad we can bring some memories and genuine emotion to your lives. This kind of incident is what makes this band special and why we all love it so much. Chris, I will put aside something to send you!! I must take the time to mention Aaron Fiott who drove 10 hours in the rain and with heavy traffic and bad directions from the club only to miss the show in Columbus. He gets the quote of the contest with, "Anyway, my night sucked!!!"

He did get to see the Detroit show, sorry Aaron!! A special thanks to our own "Dead Winter Dead Heads", Clay Marshall and Angel Cruz, who managed to make me smile every night of the tour, re-planting themselves in different spots each night. I am very proud of you both, YOU MADE IT TO ‘EM ALL!!! How did that car smell by the end of the tour anyway Clay? Johnny and I were wondering!!! Thanks again for your entries, this was a lot more work than I had anticipated, however it was very worth it!!!

THE WINNER

6 – 17 St. Petersburg As told by Scott B from Tampa Florida

Musical Transcendence

By: Scott Beland

First off, let me say that I am no newcomer to seeing Savatage live. I first saw them way back in ’84 and saw them, I’d guess it would have to be dozens of times between now and then. Just one of the benefits of living in the Tampa area. So you might think that where Savatage is concerned, I’ve pretty much seen it all. Not So!!! Wednesday night at the State Theatre, something happened. Something that transcended just songs being played. Something that went way beyond entertainment. Let me say for the record that even being a war-weary Sava-fan the band never sounded so good nor kicked as much ass as they did Wednesday night. Despite the injuries and what not, the performance was just flawless, and I was really into it. The something happened. That song. Actually, those songs. Since the first time I heard it, the songs "Temptation Revelation and When the Crowds Are Gone", they have always Stopped me dead in my tracks. I have said and written this many times before, bit I view Temptation Revelation as one of the most emotional pieces of music ever. You can feel the emotion pouring out in that song. Combine that with the incredibly personal lyrics of "When the Crowds Are Gone" and that’s it. These songs are probably the most "Sacred" to me. I recall Criss playing Temptation and I get chills. So when Chris and Jon started playing these songs Wednesday I was caught a bit off guard. The last time I recall Temptation played live, Criss was playing. And there was Chris onstage, nailing that song to the boards. The song was alive for me again, as Chris seemed to be as caught up in the song as I was. And then there was just a keyboard, and Jon’s voice, and in the midst of hundreds of screaming Sava-fans and a room temperature that had shot well past ninety, the chills were back… Later in the show, Jon had announced that for the first time, his son was in the audience. Later still, during the final moments of "Hall of the Mountain King" at the point where you hear the final claps of thunder, I noticed that Jon took his son’s hand and had him pounding on the keyboard, providing the final thunder for the show. These were all incredibly personal moments, but as those of you who have been around for a while know and those of you just joining in will soon learn, being part of the Savatage experience is like being part of a large, extended, kinda crazy family. And you don’t mind sharing the personal stuff with Family. Peace to all, see you on the road!!! Scott B in Tampa, Florida

Thanks Uncle Scott!!! Glad to have you in the family, thanks again to all of the entrants!!!

June 18, 1998
Day Off, Travel
  "You never Sausage a place like this!" For those of you that have ever drove from Florida to New York or Vice Versa, you know what I mean. For those who haven’t, well, there is this tourist trap rest area at a stop in Dillon, South Carolina. It is almost right on the North/South Carolina boarder. I remember first going here when I was 11 years old. Tons of Neon, and tons of fireworks!!! Plus, a lot of Corny Billboards! I always stop here on my many trips from my home in NY to my many homes in Florida, depending on who wants me at the time!!! I think we hit an Armadillo last night and the bus trailer got a flat. Something like that. I was asleep. We arrived here rather late. Ron our driver hit a deer last week. Geeze Ron, don’t start aiming for frogs and possum or we are really in trouble!!! I can see it now…"Rock band dies in bizarre bus wreck, 30 species of animals seen blocking roadway!!!" Anyway, Al flew home to NY to get his arm looked at, I guess it hurts really bad. So does my leg. However, I don’t think I am happy unless I am in some sort of pain. Michele Middleton took the ride North with us, it is her and Johnny’s Anniversary this week. What a way to spend it, at Pedro’s Honeymoon Suites!!! They added a new ride here at Pedro’s. One of those ones with the screen where you feel like you are moving, but not really. Very funny music, I rode it a few times. We wound up in Pedro’s bar/casino. I lost some $$$ in the video Blackjack Machine and we all decided to go to sleep rather early. Back to Virginia tomorrow. Watch there are like 18 fire extinguishers waiting to kick my butt when we get there!!! "You killed my Brother!!" Remember the last time I was in Virginia…Good I don’t!!! Goodnight!! CCC

June 19, 1998
Springfield, VA
  Bummer!!! Well, it is final, we are canceling Europe. We are supposed to reschedule for later this year. I apologize to all of our fans that were planning to see us. I hope we will not inconvenience you in any way with your Summer plans. I know many of you come from all over to see us, I hope you can find out on time and adjust your schedules. Again, I am very sorry. Geeze, now there is only one more show left on this Tour!! Tonight’s show was way better than the last time we were here. The band was much tighter. Al had his son with him. Family week at Camp Savatage Mobile. I have not broken anything in Virginia yet today. The owner just gave me some 100 year old Jack Daniels, it is getting kinda hard to write at the moment!!! This place always treats the bands great. I grabbed the rest of my E-mail today. HELP!!!!! About another 300, a bunch of contest entries. Who’s idea was this anyway?…Oh, mine!!!! With my luck, Johnny will not be done with the bookwork for the tour and have to take the computer to Florida. I will fall behind. Then you may get to read this by August!!!! I’ll talk to you all on Sunday, we will be way to busy for me to write tomorrow. Biff out!!! CCC

June 20-21, 1998
Birch Hill and Home
  We made it. Another chapter in the Play. Geeze how silly. Yesterday was very hectic. Apart from the couple hundred fans that were there very early to hang out; I had to pack, do photos for Jackson, barbecue, entertain business people and entertain the tons of my friends that always show up at the shows in the New York area. I did manage to stumble into the club next door before our show with some friends. There was a male review going on. Funny, guys get kicked out of Men’s clubs for touching a girl’s leg. These crazy chicks had their hands down these dudes clothes and it was OK. Yeah guys, your wives and girlfriends are just going to the male review for fun, just to see what it is like!!! Right. Even if they say they have never been, there was more contact going on here than in any strip bar I have ever seen, well except for the Mons in Tampa, but that is another story!!! The band was on fire last night. I would like to thank the guys in Anthrophobia for doing a fine job last night with no drums!!! The place was packed like usual. Some of the best fans in the world are in New Jersey. Al made it thru another show, I did grab his Poland Spring water bottle before the show and notice ice floating inside. I drank from it and smiled, that was some seriously strong water. You sure that it was not Stoli Springs? Anything to kill the pain!!! John Igor and Zak went back to Queens for the night. Al and Raymie went home. I stayed outside and signed stuff and talked to fans ‘til around 5 am. When I woke up we were in the city about to get to SIR Studios. We store gear in a locker there and had to unload the trailer. Igor and his cousin Cres showed up to help. They were still awake from last night. This was at noon!!! They were a mess!!! Igor’s brother’s dog was with them. She is a Rottweiler, very funny dog. The bus left from there back to Florida with Johnny, Michele, Zak, Taz and Gary. Jeff is staying here to play drums on the new TSO. Arriving back in Astoria we all stumbled upstairs with my stuff and I went to sleep for a bit. I woke myself up to go to the fair on Steinway Street around 4. I had to get some Star Pizza…Best in Queens!!! Igor was still awake, wow…he looked awful!!! Jeff and I were tired and just left him at the fair. I am going back to sleep. Guess what? I was right!!! Johnny took the computer to Florida. He is supposed to be up soon to work on TSO, Geeze am I gonna have a lot of work to do!!! Thanks America for a lot of fun, I hope we will tour here more very soon!!! It Was My Happening Baby, and it Freaked Me Out!!!!!! CCC