Box News #271 – July 10, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2018 by heepster

Mick talks about, flying to Barcelona Spain, the surprise visit from one of our managers, the Hard Rock Café, Richie Faulkner from Judas Priest, the topless beach, the festival autograph signing session, Dee Snider and his party piece, Gremlin City and the crews 4am start time to the Czech Republic. Mick also discusses, the festival in Vyrava, thankfully using our own backline, the German Twins down the front, the crews second wind coupled with a few bevvies in the hotel. Mick also talks about the journey to Holysova, the Golf Resort Hotel, watching the England v Sweden World Cup Football game, Czech Bands at the festival, Scampi and Russ playing 9 holes of golf before leaving to fly home and the 54 mins on the tarmac.

WEEKEND WARRIORS – SPAIN & CZECH REPUBLIC

We all met at LHR Terminal 3 on Wednesday the 3rd of July to fly to Barcelona Spain for a huge rock festival. We were on the same day as a lot of other bands with ‘Dee Snider’ who was on before us, then the mighty ‘Heep’ followed by ‘Accept,’ ‘Judas Priest’ and ‘Ozzy.’

The flight over was fine and when we landed we drove to the hotel where we checked in and had dinner. A few of the other bands were staying there but none we could recognise. The hotel was basic, but it was just across the road from the beach and literally 15 minutes from the festival site, so all in all a perfect location.

As we were having dinner in walked one of our managers Adam Parsons with his lady Audrey, which really surprised us as none of us knew except Scampi our tour manager, who had neglected to tell us he was coming. This was really great, and we had time to chat about lots of things over dinner, as well as chill.

Davey had been in touch with guitarist Richie Faulkner of ‘Judas Priest’ his old mate from Camden Town where they both used to play covers at ‘Metalworks.’ Their hotel was in the City so both Davey and Russ took a cab over there to join him at the ‘Hard Rock Cafe’ for dinner. Evidentially that all got a bit messy with them not returning to the hotel until the early hours of the morning and joined up talking was evidently not on the cards.

The following day after breakfast the remaining three of the Orchestra that did surface, went for a walk along the beach and we ended up having lunch there at a beach bar too. This was very relaxing and coupled with the fact it was beautiful weather and that it was a mostly topless beach, extremely enjoyable.

We were leaving the hotel quite early that afternoon as we were on stage at 19.40pm and we had interviews to do and an organised festival autograph signing session that lasted 45 minutes. The festival was very well organised, and the two stages were side by side, so when one band was playing another could start setting up. This way the changeover times were minimal.

The funny thing is that when ‘Dee Snider’ was on, our crew were checking the equipment. Brian our Bass, Keys & Stage Manager tech was testing Phil’s gear as there was a problem, and Snider could hear this and came over to our stage with his microphone and said something down the microphone to Brian standing right by him akin to ‘This is my f******g show so shut up.’ This is evidently his party piece as he did it last year to another band but that’s our Dee for you. The bigger the larger the louder the better. All taken in good fun though!

Well when we hit the stage the stage hit us back big time as it was Gremlin city. We were on hired gear which did not help, but it was a steep hill to climb with problems with the monitors, in-ear systems, helicopter sounds coming from my speaker cabinets and the whole nine yards. We did recover and went down great and we received a wonderous response, but we could have done without the Gremlins.

After the show we did manage to see ‘Accept’ and ‘a bit of ‘Judas Priest,’ before the bus left to take us back to the hotel. Phil and Davey managed to stay on and get a lift, so they saw a bit of ‘Ozzy.’ It was a fantastic festival and the view from the stage was just amazing as there were people as far as the eye could see in every direction all ready to rock!

The following day it was a tough one for the crew, as they had to leave at 4am to fly to Prague in the Czech Republic. That was really tough, but they had to be there for the load in, at the festival in Vyrava. Our journey was a lot better as we did not leave the hotel until midday. On arrival in Prague we had a 1hour 30minute drive and we had enough time to have a little dinner, shower and get down to the festival where the crew were to a man looking understandably knackered.

When we arrived at the venue our changing room was in someone’s house which was a bit weird. Luckily for this show and the next one Vic and John our drivers had driven out from the UK with our backline, so we were very happy about that, especially after the Gremlins in Barcelona.

As we walked out on to the stage we saw the German Twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell down the front which was amazing. The audience were well up for it and we went down the proverbial storm. They really were a good festival audience and being on our own equipment, we were on fire.

We did not stay too long after the show as we all had to travel back in the same transport to the hotel, and a few of the crew were super tired. However, a few of the crew had got their second wind, so despite the lack sleep the dressing room booze was transported back to the hotel and a few bevvies were consumed.

The following day it was a 3-hour bus journey to Holysova where we were playing another Czech festival. When we arrived, the crew went straight down to the gig and the band minus Russ went to have a bit of lunch. The hotel was a Golf Resort and the World Cup Football match between England and Sweden was on. After lunch, this was shown on the TV in my hotel room and I got showered for the gig at half time, so I could see it all. What a game and what a result. A win by 2-0 and I was buzzing!

We drove down to the festival site and when we arrived it was in full swing. Evidently all of the top Czech bands were playing there too, so it was happening. We had a little changing tent off the side of the stage and you could hear the high pitch screaming going on for the Czech bands. Each band seemed to have songs with a chant in them that the audience could all sing, and each band had Pyros that ‘Kiss’ or even ‘Rammstein’ would be proud of. There were a tremendous amount of young Czech girls screaming and singing every word to every song, it was amazing.

When we hit the stage from the first note of the intro of ‘Gypsy’ the audience were with us big time. It was an incredible show and the atmosphere was just great. We had a marvellous time and by the look on people’s faces in the audience so did they.

We did meet the German twins briefly before we headed back to the hotel, but the back-stage area and our changing tent was pretty small, so we only had time to say goodbye and thank you for coming before heading back to the Golf Hotel.

Most of us went to bed but the crew and a couple of the band all congregated in one of the crew’s rooms, with the booze from the dressing room tent, and they watched the replay of the England v Sweden football game.

The next morning Scampi and Russ our resident golf nuts, got up at 8am to play 9 holes of golf before we headed off to Prague Airport to all fly back to London.

We were travelling on British Airways and once we were all on the plane they told us that we had to stay on the tarmac for another 45 mins before they could get a slot to fly off. This was a bit of a pain, but at least we arrived okay and all of our baggage turned up at LHR.

We all said our goodbyes and went home for another 4 days, before we fly out to Finland for some more Weekend Warriors. The Rock n’ Roll Circus continues!

‘Appy days!

Mick

 

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Box News #270 – June 26, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2018 by heepster

Mick talks about, the long journey to Yambol Bulgaria from Cornwall, The Giraffe Restaurant at LHR, the 3 hour drive to Yambol from Sofia, meeting the Mayor for dinner, the festival celebrating the heroes who fell for Bulgaria’s freedom, 30,000 people, the firework display, the German Twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell having a car accident in Sofia, flying to Copenhagen Denmark, Hotel Crapola, no restaurant, free beer, the Øresund Bridge, Sweden Rock, and interview with Mic Michaeli keyboard player with ‘Europe,’ 11,000 people singing the ‘July Morning’ riff and singing the Ah section of ‘Lady in Black.’

Mick also discusses his Birthday, flying to Amsterdam Holland for the Emmen Festival, 10,000 people in a tent, the entire audience singing Mick ‘Happy Birthday, presents from the band and crew, the overnight bus journey to Emmendingen Germany and the hot hotel rooms once again, the great show and a really cool festival.

Mick also talks about, flying to Pamplona Spain via Madrid, tight schedules, Bernie’s Birthday, Bernie’s Birthday dinner and presents, meeting the ‘Status Quo,’ boys, seeing the two tallest musicians in Rock from a band called “Kadavar,’ gremlins, the walking streets and bars, flying to Zurich Switzerland, the Hinwel Festival, the Red Arrows fly over, meeting the guys from ‘Manfred Mann,’ which is always a pleasure, the private tent to watch ‘Simple Minds’ and the flight home to watch the World Cup Football.

WEEKEND WARRIORS – BULGARIA, SWEDEN, HOLLAND, GERMANY, SPAIN, SWITZERLAND 

We had a festival in Yambol Bulgaria and most of the entourage travelled the day before, but Phil, Russ and I went the day of the show. The reason being that Phil had just come from holidaying in Greece, I had just finished a break in Cornwall celebrating my wife Sheila’s 60th Birthday, and Russ just fancied traveling with us. I had to drive 7 hours from Cornwall to my home and drop off my family, and then jump straight into a cab to take me to a hotel at the airport, as we had a stupidly early flight to Sofia the next day on the gig day. I had a quick bite to eat and then straight to bed, as I was so tired. 

The next day we met at reception and took a cab to LHR Airport for a BA flight to Sofia Bulgaria. The flight was fine but if you wanted anything to eat and drink you had to pay for it. Luckily, we had a good breakfast in the airport at a restaurant called ‘Giraffe.’

On arrival, we were met by our promoters and then we climbed into their Range Rover and travelled the 3 hours to Yambol. We had just enough time for a shower before meeting the Mayor for dinner. He was a big Uriah Heep fan, so he was delighted, and he made a nice speech to welcome us to Yambol. The festival was to celebrate the heroes who fell for Bulgaria’s freedom. 

Because of our late arrival there was no sound check, so after dinner it was straight down to the show. Well it was amazing as there were 30,000 people at the festival there, all ready to rock with the mighty Heep. They were amazing, and it was fantastic to see people as far as you can see and to the sides too. It was a special night and on the last note of our concert there started an enormous firework display. 

The German Twins Andrea and Claudia Obergfell made it after having a car incident in Sofia, so it was good to know that they were safe and alright. How they made it down to the front of 30,000 people, after their horrendous day I will never know.

After the show we had a few drinks and the Mayor invited everyone to a restaurant. I was super tired as were a few of the party, so I went to bed. Some of our entourage joined the Mayor but from experience those invites are closed off from everyone and are not very exciting, but I did hear that the Mayor opened up his private stock of Vodka and Red Wine for those that were there.

Bulgaria as you may know holds the annual ‘July Morning Festival’ so that song went down very well, as it holds something special in Bulgaria’s hearts. After all of that traveling, it was worth it to see that many happy, smiling, rocking faces of all ages! Amazing!

The next day we had to reverse all of yesterday’s travel except for me the Cornwall part, and I was very happy about that. When I arrived home, it wasn’t long before I had a nice cup of tea and then I starfished the bed.

Our next venture in 3 days’ time was to fly to Copenhagen and we all met at LHR in the Priority Lounge as Ace our manager had flown over. It is always great to see him, and we caught up on all of the Heep news which was full of positivity, with many exciting things happening in the pipeline.

The flight was on British Airways and it went relatively smoothly. We stayed at a hotel by Copenhagen Airport, which was less than adequate to say the least. It was stifling hot and there was no air conditioning and the room was trying to be trendy by having it half finished. The end result was that it looked like it was put together by a blindfolded man from IKEA. The bed was as comfortable as sleeping on a plank.

Well that was not the end of the saga, as we all met downstairs in the bar, which was in fact the reception. We asked where the restaurant was and the guy behind the bar/restaurant told us there was no restaurant at the hotel. Seeing the disappointment on our collective faces he gave us a beer each and then told us there was a restaurant open 5 minutes’ walk down the road. Well off we trotted with hope in our hearts and when we arrived they said that they had just closed even though there were people still in there eating and it was only 9 o’clock. Back we went to the hotel with our collective tails between our legs and we sat in reception, while the guy phoned around to see what restaurants were open. This was becoming a nightmare, so we eventually ordered a takeaway which Ace kindly paid for. While we were waiting for the food to arrive the receptionist guy wanted a picture with us, so quick off the mark we said of course for a beer, and he obliged, so all of us in our own way were satisfied.

The next day we were driving to Sweden Rock Festival over the famous Øresund Bridge which runs nearly 8 Kilometres (5Miles) from Copenhagen to Sweden. When we arrived, it was the usual well organised festival that you come to expect from Sweden Rock. We were shown to our dressing room but shortly after that there were a few things to do. Firstly, I did an interview with the keyboard player Mic Michaeli of the band ‘Europe.’ This was a double spin out as Ace and his management partner Adam Parson manage ‘Europe,’ and I had no idea it would be him, but it was short and sweet, and all parties were happy.

After this we had an autograph signing session that lasted 30 minutes before getting ready for the show. When we hit the stage, it was an amazing sight with 11,000 people ready to rock. There was a restriction of 10,000 but we had another 1,000 come to see us, which was very cool.

It was a fantastic show and the crowd were brilliant. They sang the end riff of ‘July Morning’ louder than the band was playing it, which was both amazing and emotional in equal parts. If we thought that was something ‘Lady in Black’ took it up another level. Even when we left the stage they were chanting the Ah section so loudly it was incredible. We came back for the encore of ‘Easy Livin’ and they continued singing after that, which we could hear all the way back to our Porto cabins. It was a huge success and it felt good to be back on Sweden Rock festival. After a reception like that I am sure they were too!

Once we had towelled down and changed we ate dinner in the Restaurant tent that was just great. Good food and drink served by lovely ladies after a stunning rock show, what more could you ask for. Well we could not stay to see any bands, so we missed ‘Ozzy,’ as we had to drive back to Hotel Crapola at Copenhagen Airport, and have another night’s, non-sleep on a plank, and sweat like mad throughout the night with no air conditioning.

The next day was my birthday, so everyone was wishing me Happy Birthday, but the circus that is Heep had to continue to Copenhagen Airport to fly to Amsterdam, where we were playing a festival in Emmen Holland. When we arrived, we went straight to the hotel! We weren’t doing a sound check as there were a number of bands playing.

I was surprised when we arrive to find the festival was in a tent. The backstage area was fine with everything catered for. Johnny Rotten was in one of the cabins for hours and not coming out. He was there with ‘PIL.’ There were many areas in this festival to go to but just as we were about to go on it poured down with heavy rain. This resulted in everyone at the festival crammed into the tent to see us, all 10,000 of them.

It was a great show and the band were on fire. We came out of the traps and the Heep machine rocked the night through. The atmosphere was electric, and we had a great time. Just before ‘Lady in Black’ Bernie stopped my announcement and announced to everyone that it was my Birthday and two lovely ladies presented me with a Cake, a Card and a bottle of Gin, and then 10,000 people sang me ‘Happy Birthday’ which was really quite emotional, especially as I was away from home.

The messages I received all day were just wonderful and my phone actually ran out of battery, as it was pinging so much all day long with well wishes. I was overwhelmed!

We met Kevin & Yvonne Jones after the show and they kindly gave me a Birthday card and a T Shirt for a present. Willy Boshart was there with some Dutch friends too, so it was good to catch up with them.

After our show, we had to jump on to a sleeper bus to travel overnight to Emmendingen Germany.

It took about 8 hours and when we arrived it was straight off the bus and into breakfast. It was a lovely hotel, but it had no elevator and no air conditioning, so it was stiflingly hot again.

We had breakfast and then went to bed for some no moving sleep that became impossible due to sleeping in a very hot room. There was a fan that just blew the warm air around and really didn’t do anything at all. Oh well such is life on the road. We had lunch with our manager Ace that was actually nice out on the veranda, coupled with some much-needed fresh air.

We eventually made it to the gig and it was a festival in the town square. Our dressing rooms were way up high with so many stairs to climb, I swear if we went any higher we would meet Buddy Holly and Jimi Hendrix. The dressing room looked out over the audience and the stage. The band on before us played mostly covers including a lot of ‘Deep Purple.’ They did it reasonably well I have to say, and the crowd liked it.

Once on stage we hit our stride and we were off and running. It was a great show and the audience were really loving it and joining in. I did see the twins down the front along with Sina Rückmann and Andy Heep Räpple which was nice. It was a really well run cool festival that the end result was that everyone had a great time and left smiling and chanting for Heep.

The next day we travelled back to London for 3 days before meeting back at LHR Terminal 5 to fly to Pamplona Spain via Madrid. It was Bernie’s Birthday. We were kept on the plane for about an hour, which put us in panic mode as we only had 1hr 30mins in Madrid to get our flight connection to Pamplona. However, it all worked out okay even though it was a bit of a rush as we had to also go through Passport Control, but we all made it.

On arrival, we were taken to the hotel which was very nice, and we arranged to meet in the bar at 7.30pm. We gave Bernie the choice on what restaurant he wanted to go too, and he got a map from the reception and off we went. We were walking for quite a while around the walking streets and bars, until we found out that Bernie didn’t even know the name of the restaurant. So, we stopped, and Scampi rang the hotel to get the name. Once we had that, we were set, and luckily, we were not far from it.

The restaurant was buzzing, and we had an excellent meal and some much-needed drinks, and unbeknown to us a lot of the Quo boys were there too including Francis Rossi. At the end of the meal we presented Bernie with a beautiful bottle of wine, a card signed by everyone and a chocolate birthday cake, which he loved. The cake was shared out to everyone who wanted some, and the consensus of opinion was that it was yummy! We then walked back to the hotel and most of us went to bed.

The following day was gig day. There was an early sound check with the Quo crew going down at 6.45am followed by our crew at 10am. It was a nice chilled day for the rest of us and we left the hotel at 4.50pm to have dinner and stay down at the gig. The festival was really cool, and the audience were ready to rock.

Well dinner was at a restaurant a few minutes from the Festival. It was a set menu, but everyone found something they liked which was cool. As we were leaving the ‘Quo’ boys were coming in for their dinner.

The festival site was well organised and there were 5 bands on in total. There were ‘Quo’, ‘Heep,’ ‘Kadavar,’ ‘Burning’ and ‘Jared James Nichols.’ We managed to see ‘Kadavar’ who are a 3 piece and played what I would call stoner rock, with two of the tallest guys I have ever seen in rock. The Drummer and Bass player. I assumed they were brothers and they would both give Mick Fleetwood a run for his money in the height stakes.

When we hit the stage, it was fraught with problems as our monitors were messed up. Bernie was hit the most with his in-ears and Russ had a problem with them too, and my guitar did not work for the first part of Gypsy plus the overall monitors were pretty much a shambles. Anyway, we quickly regained composure and overcame these little gremlins, raised our game, and the show was rockin’.

After playing Rhino (Quo’s bass player) came in to our dressing room and said it sounded great out front and that no one noticed any of the problems. For this show we did not have our usual Front of House or Monitor Engineers. For FOH we used Rob Hodgsingson who has been Deep Purples monitor engineer for 23 years. Everyone said he got a good sound, so that was a relief. The crowd were chanting for more, and as we played our encore ‘Easy Livin’ they jumped up and down as one which was brilliant.

Up next were ‘Quo’ who were a well-oiled machine, and they do have a high level of consistency. They had a small technical problem where Rhino missed a cue, and Francis said over the microphone ‘there you go Bernie’ and he looked over to where we were standing, and we raised our glasses to him. Top bloke!

We then all went back to the hotel where a few of us including me had a night cap, while others went to bed, and others namely Phil and Davey went to the walking streets where all of the bars were, as it was buzzing.

Scampi and Brian had one drink at the bar, as they had a flight at 6.30am the next morning. The rest of us could stay in our rooms until 2pm, as we were being picked up for the airport at 3.15pm. The idea was that we would meet at 2pm and go for lunch. I saw Bernie and Phil for breakfast, but no one else surfaced until lunch time.

Just three days again at home and we were back at LHR Terminal 5 to fly out to Zurich for the Hinwel Festival. We were playing on the Friday night and we were 2nd on the bill to ‘Simple Minds.’  Before us were ‘Corleone’ who is the project of guitarist with ‘Gotthard,’ then ‘Manfred Mann’ then the ‘Red Arrows’ flyover, then ’Black Stone Cherry,’ and then mighty Heep followed by the ‘Simples’

Prior to the show we had a couple of interviews to do, a photo session, and a meet and greet. I was scheduled to do the interviews, but I had a manic headache come on, so Phil and Davey covered for me. I took a couple of headache pills and relaxed in the dressing room until it subsided.

There were 11,500 plus people there and it is a very well-run festival, and the stage times ran typically like a Swiss watch.  It was a huge stage and a hive of activity at the back area with band crews setting up and dismantling.

We managed to see the ‘Manfred’ set and Mick Rogers had some trouble with his guitar set up that took 15 minutes to fix. I am not sure if it was totally up and running as the set started, but he still managed to eek out some marvellous melodic notes and sounds, even under that pressure. They have the songs and the players, so they will always go down well no matter what. They have a fine vocalist in Robert Hart and the crowd are soon on his side.

The Red Arrow flyover was amazing and deafening at the same time. They were doing formation stuff and tricks and it was really cool to see. This all happened over the audience’s heads and we had a very good view backstage.

The set for us was tremendous, and although we only had 75 minutes to play, we could not have gone down better. It was a truly amazing reaction and hopefully it will help us when we come back to Switzerland and play the famous ‘Volkshaus’ on the 25th of October 2018. We hit the stage at the right time too, as it was just getting dark and we could use the lights to great effect. It was a huge system so ‘Scampi’ was having a field day. The congratulations continued backstage from everyone including the staff, other musicians and the Promoter, so we were delighted.

There was a private tent that we were invited into that had the best drinks and food and even Cigars for those that wanted to indulge. I watched a bit of ‘Simple Minds’ from there and Bernie and I took the early car back to the hotel. They were just as I expected and no more really, so not by cup of tea. Everyone else followed after their set and I heard them all arrive back from my room.

Most of us made breakfast before we all drove to Zurich Airport to fly home. The boys from ‘Manfred’ were on the same flight so it was good to catch up with them again. We collected our bags and went home for 10 days before we fly out again to Barcelona. Over that 10 days we had a full weekend off, so we made the most of it, and of course we could see all of the World Cup Football matches. Come on Engerland!!!!!!

‘Appy days!
Mick

 

Box News #269 – May 2nd, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2018 by heepster

URIAH HEEP NORTH AMERICAN TOUR PART 6

Mick talks about Santa Cruz, rubbernecking, the huge fun fair, the Santa Cruz Diner and the Irish Pub, watching Spurs lose to Man United on the TV, the elusive shopping centre, the ‘Catalyst’ venue, hot rods, Russ and Golf, San Francisco, the Guitar Centre, the Starbucks inside the Wells Fargo Bank, ‘Crooked Street,’ Fisherman’s Wharf, the ‘Franciscan’ restaurant, the ‘Chapel’ venue, Mick falling down inside the ‘Chapel’, the 10- hour overnight journey to Bend Oregon, animal farm noises, the Uber driver taking selfies while driving and Mick being recognised as Ace Frehley of Kiss.

Mick also discusses, the adventure hotel, the ‘Tower’ Theatre, ‘Cosmic Playground’ the support band, Portland Oregon, an animated Bernie at home in Canada, The ‘Aladdin’ Theatre, Russ’s lost phone left in the Uber cab returned to him, meeting Kelly T. Lemieux bass player with Paul Gilbert and Buck Cherry, Seattle, the German Twins arriving, meeting Troy Monteforte and Stephen from Ampeg Amplifiers, the last show of the USA portion of the tour in ‘El Corazon,’ driving to Vancouver with a border crossing, having dinner with Ace, Sean & Pat, who had flown over from LA, The ‘Keg Steak House,’ listening to the mastering of a couple of songs off ‘Living the Dream,’ the Vinyl Shop, the ‘White Spot’ restaurant, the temperature drop and rain, the amazing queue’s around the ‘Vogue Theatre, Mick Monday Video’s, a night to remember in Vancouver, the 10-hour overnight journey to Jasper.

Mick also talks about, misunderstood language over breakfast, stunning scenery, free roaming Elk, the Union Hall Edmonton, the Head First guitar, my amp blowing up, the Beverly Sisters, the quiet dressing room, Calgary, The Palace Theatre, McDonalds, queues outside the theatre, a young audience including screaming females who were great, Calgary raising the bar for reactions and flying to Hamburg for a private show.

When we arrived in Santa Cruz we could not check-in, so we went for some breakfast until the rooms were ready. We were 20-minutes away from the beach, so all of us except Russ took a cab down there for a bit of rubbernecking.

There was a lovely long beach, with a huge fun fair, and it was a beautiful day. It did however remind me of Southend-on-Sea on steroids, as the fun fair went on forever. In case you do not know Southend-on-Sea is a holiday resort on the South-East Coast of England.

We found a restaurant to have some lunch and Bernie and Davey chose a Mexican and Phil and I went next door to a Falafel shop. They were eating inside, and we were soaking up the sun outside.

After lunch, it was back to the hotel to meet up at 7pm for dinner, after a few hours chilling in our rooms. We went to a Diner called simply ‘Santa Cruz Diner’ for dinner, that was a short walk away. This was fine and after that we joined Angus and Jonny in a close by Irish Bar. Phil, Russ and I were not in a drinking mood, so we left, but Bernie and Davey stayed.

The next day I woke up to a text from Scampi who said that on Channel 12 on the TV there was live coverage of the Spurs v Man United cup game. Because of this I skipped brekky with the boys and watched the game. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1 after not playing terribly well, with an off-form Kane. With 30 minutes to go I would have taken Kane off and moved Son into the middle and brought on Lamela earlier. Still we lost, and that was that, which is typical Spurs behaviour really. Scampi was delighted, and in equal parts the other way, I wasn’t.

We then went on a wild goose chase to find a Shopping Mall, as I needed to pick up a few things that I was running out of on this tour. We were given all sorts of directions, even from a postman, that were all wrong, and we walked forever. We were looking for a huge Shopping Mall as we know it, but the locals gave us directions to the main road where all of the shops were each time, which I can only assume was their version of a Shopping Mall.

We then went empty handed back to the hotel to get ready for the concert that night, where we were playing the ‘Catalyst’ venue. This was a good rock venue and after our sound-check we went for something to eat locally across the road from the gig which was a Pasta Bar. This was cool, and then we walked it all off walking up and down the main street, looking at all of the shops. It was a busy area with people parading up and down coupled with the occasional hot rod car burning its way down the street seeking attention.

It was a bit of a hang about day as we arrived for the sound-check at 5pm and we were not on stage until 22.10pm. Russ had some family and some golfing friends to meet, so he was busy. The rest of us shopped, sat on the bus on our iPads, watched a movie and even Bernie went to his bunk on the bus for a sleep.

The dressing room was directly behind the stage with only a curtain separating us. It was as usual very small and a bit of a tight squeeze. We had some meet and greets, and after this was done we could warm up.

If ever there was a crowed up for it, Santa Cruz certainly was, and they rocked. It was not a full house, but those that were there made it seem like it was. It was a killer gig made all the better by the atmosphere the audience created. It was electric, and we fed off of that.

After the show Russ met all of his guests and then we had some pictures taken, before we jumped back on to the bus to drive back to the hotel.

The next day we were driving to San Francisco for a day off. This was only a couple of hours drive but when we arrived the hotel rooms were not ready, so we went for a bit of a rubbernecking and some lunch. Bernie had Chinese on his mind so off he went to China Town and the rest of us found a nice restaurant not too far from the hotel. Once Bernie has a certain food on his mind he just has to have it, even if it becomes an endurance to get to the restaurant to have it, he will do it.

After lunch we went to the Guitar Centre which was across the road from the hotel, and it was an immense shop with every conceivable item you would need on the music front including guitars, bass guitars, acoustic guitars, amps, pedals keyboards, drums and studio equipment. It was a well-stocked shop, and we did while away some of the waiting time there drooling over some of the instruments. Mostly the vintage ones and they had loads of them.

Then Russ and I had a coffee in Starbucks that was actually inside the Wells Fargo Bank. The bank was closed but Starbucks was open which was kind of weird, as they were open planned in the same room.

Eventually we picked up our keys and then the band met at 7pm, and we took an Uber down to Fisherman’s Wharf. The driver took us through a famous area called ‘Crooked Street.’ Now this was a windy street that was incredibly steep. The views though were amazing.

We ate dinner right on the harbour in a restaurant called ‘Franciscan.’ This was excellent, and the wine hit the spot, and then we ordered an Uber back to the hotel. Bernie and Davey stayed for a nightcap at the bar with Angus, but the rest of us went to our respective rooms.

The next day we all left on the bus at 1pm to the venue that night called the ‘Chapel.’ It was a short ride across town and a very unique venue indeed, and much like the ‘Chapel Recording Studio’ in Lincolnshire in England, where we recorded ‘Living the Dream,’ which will be released on the 14th of September on Frontiers Records.

We had a bit of a hang about day, but once in the venue I was walking up some stairs by the side of the stage, to go to the dressing room, but they were narrower than I could see and bam I fell down and smashed my knee. It took a good 10 minutes for the pain to subside while I hopped around the venue, and I now have an award-winning bruised knee cap and bruises down my leg too. Angus helped me up with my bag, but the knee/leg was throbbing big time. I did manage to get some ice on it which helped I am sure, especially with the bruising.

We all went for some lunch at a Mexican diner, except for Russell who had gone golfing with his mates. He met up with us in time for the sound-check complete with his newly acquired red head and red neck from the sunshine.

The backstage area was adequate but very dark. However, the time soon passed, and it was show time, and when we walked on to the stage we could see it was a lively old crowd. They were amazing and did not let up for the whole show. It was a good night and a good way to say goodbye to San Francisco, because we had a 10-hour overnight bus journey to Bend Oregon after the show.

Before leaving we said hello to a number of people and the promoter came in the dressing room raving about the show which was nice. Then before jumping on the bus some of our party went out searching for some food to take on board, while others like Phil and Davey went to a close by Irish Pub for a couple of pints of Guinness.

It was a rockin’ bus there for a while with plenty of banter, shouting and laughter, before the animal farm noises started from the bunks. We do have some Olympic gold medal winning snorers on board.

Once in Bend Oregon we parked the bus outside the venue which was the Tower Theatre, and those that were up went for breakfast in a local diner. Then the band caught cabs to their hotel. The Uber driver got chatting and when he found out we were Uriah Heep, he wanted to take pictures with us. He was even trying to do a selfie with us while driving Aaaarrgh!

He then said that at first when we got into his car he thought that I was Ace Frehley from Kiss. Well Ace is 6 feet plus and I am 5 feet nothing, and he has dyed dark brown hair and I am grey. The only similarity is that we both play guitar, so how he came up with that I will never know. Still the driver wanted more pictures standing with him by the car before he eventually left a happy pup.

The hotel was one of those adventure type hotels where you can go hiking, skiing, snowboarding and all sorts of outside activities. The view from my room window you could see babbling brooks and full on nature. A stark contrast to San Francisco for sure.

The ‘Tower Theatre’ was just lovely inside and all seated. It was a smaller crowd that we have had of late, but they made up with that by being loud and totally with us all the way. Even all of the staff and stewards were clapping and singing along which was cool to see.

The support band came up to me to tell me that they named their band ‘Cosmic Playground,’ from the lyrics of ‘Sweet Lorraine’ which was very cool.

That was the first time in a long while where we had no guests, so back in the dressing room it was just us. We had a few drinks and then we drove to the hotel. The crew were staying on the bus, so a few of them had a quick shower in our rooms and then they all went to eat at a 24-hour diner close by the hotel.

The next morning, we had brekky all except for Bernie and Davey and then we started the 4-hour drive to Portland Oregon. There was some beautiful scenery on the way and Bernie had much delight in telling us all of the names of the mountains we had passed.

Yes, there was one excited Canadian on board, who I have not seen so animated in a long while, except for when he is on stage giving a million hand signals to our monitor engineer Jon for his in-ear mix, and it looks like he is trying to land a plane. It’s even worse if the monitor desk is my side of the stage. D’oh!

On arrival we parked the bus outside the venue and the band caught an Uber back to the hotel. It was just enough time to have a quick lunch and then to get ready for the concert.

We caught an Uber back to the venue for the sound-check, and the venue in Portland was a wonderful old theatre called ‘The Aladdin.’

After the sound-check Russ was understandably upset as he had left his phone in the Uber cab. Davey had booked the Uber on his phone, so Davey had to contact them and tell them the problem. Unlike in England you do not get the drivers phone number over here, so you are at the mercy of a lot of automated responses. However, the good news was his phone was returned by the driver just before we went on stage, and he received a healthy tip, so both parties were happy.

Once on stage we could see the theatre was rammed downstairs and up in the balcony. There were a lot of younger rockers down the front which was great, and they knew all of the words to the old songs and new. There were also a few people that had been on the cruise with us earlier in the year. It was an amazing night with a fantastic atmosphere. We met a few people after the show and then we all drove back to the hotel. Kelly T. Lemieux bass player with Paul Gilbert and Buck Cherry dropped by to say hello as he was a Heep fan.

The next day was a 4-hour drive to Seattle. The journey was fine and very picturesque, and this time we went straight to the hotel first. This gave us a couple of hours before the sound-check. The crew went to the venue to set up. We had two support bands that night, so we were not on until 9.50pm.

As we walked into the venue the two super Heep fans, the German Twins were there, so it was hugs all round. It seems ages since we left them in Orlando on the first part of the tour.

We also met Troy Monteforte and Stephen from Ampeg Amplifiers, which is the choice of equipment that Davey plays his bass through.

After this there were some meet and greets and that was all good. After an interview that I had to do, we went for dinner. Everyone scattered for dinner to various restaurants, but Phil and I had a basic Italian while some went Italian like us, some went Subway and Bernie went for a Thai.

We then relaxed on the tour bus for a while before returning to the venue to get ready for the show.

This was our last USA concert of the tour and the ‘El Corazon’ venue was heaving and rockin’ in equal measures. It was a great night and a good way to end the USA portion of the tour. Seattle still has a Classic Rock heart for sure.

After meeting a few people backstage, along with a couple of late meet and greets, we all drove back to the hotel on the bus. The crew wanted a shower so we all gave up our rooms so that they could do just that as they were sleeping on the bus. It was approximately 2am by the time they had finished, and we were getting up at 8am for a 9am departure, to drive to Vancouver complete with a border crossing.

We arrived at the hotel in time to check in and we all relaxed in our rooms until our meet time of 7pm. Ace our Manager had flown in, so he suggested that we meet up and go for dinner, as this was where Ace was brought up, so he knew the score.

He suggested a 7-block walk to a restaurant called ‘The Keg Steak House.’ Once again, he was spot on and the food and wine were delicious. Bernie was particularly pleased as he said that he ate there last in the early 70’s and it hadn’t changed a bit. A few of Bernie’s relatives joined us which was cool.

Then we walked back to the hotel where Bernie and Ace disappeared for a nightcap in the hotel bar, but a few of us had already splintered off to find another bar. I went back to my room to finish some listening on the mastering of the album that our producer Jay had sent me.

The following day we had to check out of our rooms at midday. We met with Ace and drove with him to a Vinyl shop that was good to mooch around in for a while. There were a few things I would have purchased, but Vinyl is heavy and too much to pack in my suitcase that is already full to the brim.

We then went for lunch at the ‘White Spot’ restaurant, which was cool, before going back to the bus that was parked a couple of streets from the venue. We relaxed there before going to the sound-check. Sean who is Ace’s assistant along with Russ did not join us for the Vinyl shop, but they did meet up with us for lunch.

It had been raining all day which was pretty miserable especially as we had showered for the gig in the morning, then we spent all day getting drenched, and bedraggled is not a good look on us boys.

The sound-check was easy-peasy and then we all went our separate ways for dinner. Davey and I went for a Subway up the road, as we did not fancy the whole sit-down shenanigans just to have dinner.

Back at the show we could see huge lines of people waiting to get in the ‘Vogue Theatre’ to see the show. The line went on forever and it looked like we were in for a good night.

I sat in the dressing room doing videos for ‘Mick Monday’ that our German Promoter was putting up on his Facebook site, to promote the upcoming shows we have with him in Germany with the ‘Zombies,’ supporting. We are filming a lot of this tour so that people get a real insight into life on the road.

When it was time to go on stage we took our positions and boy was it a great atmosphere. It was electric just on the intro tape. Amazingly the two German twins had taken their place down the front as the venue was packed to the rafters.

It was an amazing show and one to remember for sure. The audience were incredible and loud as anything and they were chanting ‘Heep,’ ‘Heep,’ ‘Heep,’ for a long while before we came out for the encore. There were a lot of young people down the front too which was just great.

After the show, we met many people in the Green Room, as well as a lot of Bernie’s family and relatives who had caught the ferry from Victoria BC to be at the concert. I had met them all before when I was best man at his wedding. Incidentally even the lady who married Bernie and Radka was there.

After meeting, everyone we then had to say goodbye, as we had a 10-hour overnight journey to Jasper, where we had a day off. We stayed in Jasper, purely to break up the journey to Edmonton where our next concert was, and another 5 hours’ drive away. We completed this journey on the day of the show. Bernie stayed over in Vancouver with his family and would join us in Edmonton on the day of the gig.

The temperature had definitely dropped in Vancouver and Jasper, so we had to dig out our heavy overcoats. On arrival in Jasper we went for breakfast and occasionally on tour we run into an accent problem or people think we are from Australia. Well this one did make me laugh as Scampi ordered Poached Eggs and the waitress nodded and said we don’t serve that here. In amazement Scampi persevered and kept repeating it and then the penny dropped, and she thought he was asking for Pork Steak, but eventually he got what he was asking for.

After some breakfast, we all chilled in our rooms until dinner time. We met in the bar at our usual 7pm and Phil, Russ, Davey, Scampi and I found a restaurant a short walk from the hotel. This was all good and after a bracing walk back to the hotel we all had an early night.

In the morning, a few of us had breakfast and although it was a bit brisk, the sun was out, and the mountains and surrounding scenery were breath taking. There were free roaming Elk all over the place and even some strolling down the main street which you do not often see in London.

We arrived in Edmonton 5 hours later, and we all had a Subway for lunch before the crew started to set up, and the band went to the hotel for a shower to get ready for the gig. Bernie had flown in from Vancouver, so he was already at the hotel.

While looking for lunch we spied a sign displayed outside a Pizza place saying, ‘Skinny people are easy to kidnap, so eat Pizza.’ J This did make us laugh and we made doubly sure we did not lose sight of Davey.

The venue was the Union Hall and it was packed, but before we went on, a guy came in the dressing room with his wife for us to sign his guitar with the ‘Head First’ cover painted on it, which looked really cool.

Once we hit the stage we could see the audience were well up for it, and it was an amazing night. Unfortunately, on the encore, my amplifier blew up for ‘Easy Livin,’ so all I could do was harmonise and it sounded a bit like the Beverly Sisters. (The Beverly Sisters were a blonde female close harmony pop vocal group from the 50’s-60’s) This did not stop the audience from going nuts so all was good.

We did not stay in the dressing room for too long after, as for once we did not have any guests, so we could get away earlier.

The next morning, we headed to Calgary for the last show of this 10-week North American tour and it was a 4-hour drive.

We were playing the Palace Theatre and we had no hotel during the day as we were staying at the Airport hotel after the show to fly back to London, and then on to Hamburg where we were playing a private show.

So, it was a bit of a hang about day either on the bus or in the dressing room. Russ and I did go to McDonalds opposite the gig just for something light, rather than a full-blown dinner.

There was a queue forming outside the venue and they spied us, so some of them came over while we were eating. We politely said could we eat in peace and then after that we went over to everyone in the queue, and signed autographs and had pictures taken which was cool.

Well the venue was packed and boy oh boy did Calgary raise the bar that night. There were a lot of young people there down the front and some girls were screaming with excitement the whole show. The audience were truly amazing, and it made it a night to remember. The atmosphere throughout was electric. We left the stage satisfied that the whole 10-week North American Tour had been a huge success and one we would love to repeat again.

The next time I would like to come back on a package tour, and with the new album get in front of more numbers. We have certainly laid the foundation for that to happen now for sure.

The mighty Heep send many thanks to Siren Management, Ace & Adam, Keith & Leora at APA Agency, our road crew technicians, Scampi, Brian, Angus, Rich, Jon & Ben, Caitlin & Allen our driver! Also, thanks to our Webmasters Dave, Louis & Konstantinos who keep all of our fans up to date with Heep news!

The mighty Heep thank all of you that came to the shows and made the whole tour a fantastic success! We hope to see you all again with a new album next year!

Just before we left the hotel for Calgary Airport, there was the Liverpool v Roma football match on the television in our rooms. Liverpool won 7-6 over two games and are now in the final of the UEFA Championship, which pleased Davey no-end, along with Jonny our monitor engineer, who are both die hard Liverpool Fans. The final is against Real Madrid so that should be a killer match to watch.

‘Appy days!

Mick

Box News #268 – April 30, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2018 by heepster

URIAH HEEP NORTH AMERICAN TOUR PART 5

Mick talks about, 12 days at home, back at LHR Terminal 5 to fly to Houston Texas, the mess up on getting the rooms on the first hotel in Santa Cruz, The Hard Rock Café, the Alamo, the river walk, Margarita’s, The Rock Box venue, Dosey Does in Woodlands Texas, the Music/Pawn shop, Dallas Texas, Cowboy Boot Buying, the bus driving to LA, the American Airlines flight to La and the limo, Wine Tasting and Happy Hour, the different time zone, the hotel with a ‘Skip the Tip’ policy, the ‘Rainbow,’ The ‘Whiskey A-Go Go, filming interview vids for the ‘Living the Dream’ release in September, Jay Ruston our Producer, Lemmy’s statute, Venice Beach, Dinner with our manager Ace, his Mother Fay, his assistant Sean and his daughter.

Mick also discusses. Russ playing golf, The Rose venue in Pasadena, Agoura Hills at the ‘Canyon’ Venue, Las Vegas, the horrible smoking policy of the Casinos, a dog in the audience, Kevin and Yvonne Jones coming over for their Wedding Anniversary with their daughter Lowri, Scottsdale Arizona, and Turquoise jewellery.

Mick also talks about Heep’s old road crew from the 70’s, a swimming pool in front of the stage, my son Mike and his friends and family coming to this show and Tucson Arizona, going back to LA, Davey playing on the Jam night at the Whiskey, San Luis Obsipo being cancelled, another dinner with Ace, Fay & Sean, the dodgy Uber X drivers, the lost credit cards, San Juan Capistrano and the ‘Coach House’ venue where we had a fantastic concert.

After 12 days at home we were all back at London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 to fly to Houston Texas USA to begin the next leg of our thus far very successful Canadian/American tour.

While walking around the terminal we bumped into guitarist Doug Aldrich and Bass Player Marco Mendoza of the ‘Dead Daises.’ They were off to Glasgow in Scotland and we were off to Houston Texas, so it was passing ships in the night, well passing ships in the day to be exact.

On boarding the flight both Bernie and I were told to stand to one side, as it was a 9 hour 50 minute flight that was most welcome. The films were all pretty rubbish but luckily, I had downloaded some on to my iPad before leaving.

When we arrived in Houston all of our bags turned up, and we met our driver who was driving us in his van to San Antonio, that was 3 hours away. With a couple of garage alcohol stops, and a few pee stops to follow, we arrived at our hotel at 6am UK time and 12 midnight USA time. It had been a long old day, but the guy on reception did not help matters as he was useless.

There are 10 in our party and Scampi always says to the hotel staff please book in the band first and then the crew. This is normally because the crew have to unload a lot of our equipment into a spare room while we are checking in. Well after some hassle he gave us all of our room keys and off we went to bed. However, the chump had not run our keys through the machine, so none of them worked. We all went downstairs to complain and when he put the keys through the machine so that they would work, all of our room numbers changed, so it was a complete mess. Eventually we all made it to whatever rooms we ended up in, and it was goodnight Gracie from all of us and straight to bed, starfish style.

Some of us got up for breakfast, but I decided to wait until lunch. There was a courtesy bus to take us downtown which wasn’t too far, and the weather was nice enough to just wear shorts and a T Shirt.

We ended up in the Hard Rock Café and the food was good and just what we wanted. Most of the staff were coming to the show, and when we went to pay the bill the HR Café had already paid it, which was very nice of them. They also gave us one T Shirt each and 50% on any other items, which was cool. I ended up with one T-Shirt and one Work Shirt.

After this we walked along the river walk where you could see all of the bars and restaurants and it was beautiful. You could also take a cruise down the river for $45.00. That’s a bit pricey in my book. We then went to see the Alamo. It was there that after a 13-day battle hero’s died fighting for freedom in the face of overwhelming odds. The Mexican army won over the Texans.

Needless to say, that is where Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for peeing on the Alamo while wearing one of Sharon’s dress’s and you can see why, as it is such an historical landmark.

In the evening the band met in the bar at 7pm as per usual and we went for a Mexican meal in a restaurant called ‘Tito’s Cantina.’ This was the real thing, and the chilli sauce was hotter than hot, but the Margarita’s helped distinguish the fire somewhat. It was most enjoyable, and then we walked back to the hotel where some had an early night, and some didn’t.

The first show was in a venue called the ‘Rock Box’ which for some reason I warmed to the name. This was a cool funky place and it was rockin’ by the end of the night. It was a fantastic reception and a good way to start that part of the North American tour.

The next day we drove to a venue called ‘Dosey Does’ in a place called Woodlands Texas. Now this really was super funky and we all had lunch there, and it was like playing in a giant log cabin. It was a seated affair and the crew managed to fit everything on to the stage, and the promoter came over and introduced himself, and said that we were in for a good night. Well the walls had dozens of photos of artists who had played there, and they were mostly single artists with just their acoustic guitar.

Well a rock band of our stature in comparison really is like a freight train coming at you, but he was true to his word, and they were a fantastic audience. Quite a few of them had been on the Rock Cruise with us earlier in the year, so they were rockin’. It was a really good night and they had certainly looked after us from the moment we arrived until we left, which was just great.

Next to the venue was what we thought was a Music Shop, so Davey and I could not resist going in. Well it was a music store okay, but it was also a Pawn store. If you have seen that programme on Sky Television called ‘Pawn Stars,’ it was just like that. It was half Music Store and half Pawn Store. There were guitars, amps, effect pedals, coupled with guns, knives’ and all sorts.

Anyway, after the show I met some friends which was super lovely, and I signed a lot of albums and had pictures taken, with those fans that had stayed in the room.

The next day we travelled to Dallas Texas. As we arrived at the hotel Bernie and Davey scurried off to a famous boot store and each of them bought a new pair of cowboy boots.

We went down to the venue for the sound-check and it was a lovely theatre called the ‘Granada Theatre.’ As we arrived there were a lot of fans outside with literally dozens of Heep albums to sign, along with pictures and even guitars. While the rest of the band went in the venue, I was outside for about another 30 minutes trying to get everything signed., There was even a huge 3-D Picture of me with a guitar stuck on which looked really cool to sign. They were very gracious and happy that I took the time to sign everything and get pictures taken, so all was good.

The venue was packed, and it was truly a rocking rock night. It was an amazing atmosphere and it continued the whole concert and Dallas did us proud. After the show we signed even more stuff on the way to the bus and had dozens of pictures taken and then it was time to leave. Allen our driver drove us back to the hotel and then he set off to drive the long old journey to Los Angeles as we were flying.

The following day we flew to LA in two separate parties, as the planes were full, so we had to split up. The crew went earlier and the band and Scampi later. This was okay, and we took an American Airlines flight that got us in to LAX Airport around 4.30pm. We were then picked up by a VIP Limo complete with a bar, black leather seats and blue lights inside. A mobile fun palace!

The traffic is always horrendous in LA, so it took a little time to get to the hotel, but you just have to accept the traffic in LA. When we checked into the hotel they said between 5.30pm and 6.30pm it was free wine tasting in the reception area, followed by Happy Hour on the 17th floor bar and restaurant. I missed out on the wine, but the rest of the band didn’t, having a good old time. This of course morphed into the Happy Hour, so they were getting well-oiled so to speak.

The problem was that we had gained 2 hours from Dallas time, so when it was say 8pm in Dallas it was only 6pm in LA.

We had some dinner which we could not believe the prices, but hey this was made up with the drink situation. That was the first time I had ever seen this on a menu though, as it said, ‘This is a tip free hotel as we pay our staff good money, so please do not tip.’ There are signs all over the hotel saying, ‘Skip the Tip’ and this is a gratuity free establishment. Wow in America that is rare. If I am honest though, because of the ‘Skip the Tip’ policy, some of the staff could be a little lethargic. Well their incentive was taken away from them by the No Tip Policy I guess.

Anyway, we all went to our rooms at 8pm LA time, as really our body clock was on 10pm time. All except Davey who had to meet a friend of his down town at the famous ‘Rainbow,’ so some of the crew who had not been to the USA before went with him.

The next day all except for Davey we had breakfast on the 17th floor, which had a panoramic view over LA, including the chocker block freeways with traffic jams in every direction, still it was good to see sunshine and palm trees I have to say.

After breakfast we had some filming to do for Frontiers our Italian Record Company, and each of us were interviewed for 15-20 minutes. Bernie donated his room for the filming, so he was first up. Ace our manager was asking the questions and it was pretty much all about the making of ‘Living The Dream,’ our new album. This all went very well and then we had some lunch with Ace and caught up on all things Heep.

In the evening we all met at the bar at our usual 7pm to get an Uber cab down to the ‘Rainbow’ for a bite to eat. This was just the band as the crew were off doing their own thing. Our producer Jay Ruston joined us once we were there for dinner and it was good to see him. We did take a picture of my old mate Lemmy’s statute before we headed off for the Whiskey A Go-Go where it was the Ultimate Jam night.

These Jam nights are run by a bass player called Chuck Wright, who we met on the Rock Cruise earlier in the year playing with ‘Quiet Riot.’ Dave had played at the Whiskey on the ‘British Rock Night’ a few months ago, along with his mate Richie Faulkner from ‘Judas Priest,’ so he knew Chuck well. We had VIP passes and it was an instrumental Jam night, and Jeff Beck seemed to be the favoured artist to copy.

Phil, Bernie and I stayed for most of the night and Davey, Russ and Jay stayed until the end. It closed at 2pm anyway.

The next day Phil and Davey caught a cab to Venice Beach, but were dropped off at Santa Monica and they walked all the way into Venice Beach. Bernie and I joined them later. It was a lovely sunny day and it was good to get out in the fresh air. The sun was super-hot so we all bought a cowboy hat each for a laugh, and to keep the sun off of our collective heads.

Venice Beach is kind of like Camden Town only with a beach and the sea. There were hundreds of shops and all sorts of characters walking up and down, and we even walked past the famous Venice Beach gym, where the beefcakes were hell bent on adding more beef to their torso’s.

We ended up at a Mexican restaurant for lunch that was great. The food was good and the did specialise in Margarita’s, and even served 4 drinks in one glass. Now that was very dangerous, but Phil and Davey stuck to the single glass and I had a beer while Bernie stuck to Ice Tea.

Bernie and I left the other two there, and we took a cab back to the hotel as we were joining our manager Ace for dinner that night with his Mother Fay. The funny thing was that the restaurant for dinner was directly opposite the Mexican we were having a long lunch in, so we had to get an Uber all the way back to the hotel to get ready for dinner .and then get an Uber back from whence we came, so to speak.

While all of this was going on Russ was playing a round of golf with Scampi.

Well once Bernie and I had left the Mexican Phil and Davey ordered another Margarita each, but it was tuned into ‘Happy Hour,’ so they were double shots. They had plans of going for a swim, but the wind picked up and sand was being blown about and coupled with the consumption of Margarita’s, they did not make it, so eventually they caught a cab back to the hotel.

We only had a short turn around before going back to the same area for dinner at the C&O Trattoria Italian Restaurant that Ace had booked a table for us all. Phil, Bernie and I made it on time and Russ had already said he would be a little late coming from Golf, and Davey came down a lot later as he need a shower to get himself together after the fun lunch. We eventually all made it along with Ace, his lovely Mother, Fay, Sean Baldwin his assistant and Sean’s daughter.

It was a great restaurant with a wonderful atmosphere where everyone including the waiters and waitresses broke out into song, and we were all given song sheets to join in. It was brilliant, and so was the food and drink, and we had a much-needed relaxing time.

After this we all made it back in an Uber X to the hotel and everyone went to bed except for Bernie and Davey who went to the bar on the 17th floor for a nightcap.

The next day was a gig day in the ‘Rose’ venue in Pasadena. With the traffic this was an 1hour and 30minute drive. When we arrived, we could see it was a big venue with a good size stage which really pleased us. The sound check went smoothly, and we were set. Dinner was at the venue so no worries there and that night there were two support bands.

Even before we went on, the dressing room was full, with management, agents, friends, musicians and industry people. We did manage to have a bit of a warm up before going on stage and when we did walk on to the stage, we could see it was rammed to the hilt, which was a good sign. People were saying that they have not had so many people in that venue for a long while.

Well it was a brilliant show and they were rockin’. The atmosphere was electric, and a good time was had by all. People were saying that they have never seen a reaction like that, which was all good news.

Back in the dressing room it was even more hectic than before we went on as it was busy, busy, busy. You really could not move for having pictures taken and meeting everyone. It went on forever and then we had the long drive back to the hotel.

The next day we drove to Agoura Hills to play the ‘Canyon Venue.’ This venue was owned by the same owners as the ‘Rose,’ so it was pretty much the same organisation and certainly the same menu for dinner.

That night at the ‘Canyon Venue’ there were another two support bands. The place was rammed, so we just knew we were in for a good night and it did not disappoint. The audience were fantastic, and we really had the feeling that LA had missed the mighty Heep, as we went down so well. It was simply amazing.

The sound was good, and the band were on fire and after the show once again the dressing room was rammed with well-wishers. Jay Ruston our producer came with Marty O’Brian the bass player for Lita Ford, and it was the first time he had seen us live, so it was a good one for him to be at, as the reaction was so strong.

We then had a long overnight drive to Las Vegas where we were playing the Boulder Station Railroad Casino. We arrived at the Casino at 7am, and then everyone crawled off the bus in various states, to check in. Luckily the rooms were ready, and it was good to see our name and picture in lights outside on a huge hoarding, advertising the show, even though I could only see it through one eye closed and one eye open.

I stayed in my room until lunch time and got some quality catch up sleep. Bernie, Davey and I went for lunch in one restaurant and Phil and Russ in another.

Now they are allowed to smoke and drink while playing the slots and the tables, so it really did stink in the main Casino.

The ‘Railroad’ venue we were playing was a really cool venue. All seated, but it had a good size stage and a good sound. Once again it was rammed to the limit and a completely ‘Sold Out.’ The mighty Heep are definitely making their mark in the USA and Canada and it is a really good platform to build upon. The audience were superb, and it was a rockin’ show in every sense of the word. One strange thing was a couple had bought along their lassie type dog with them, sitting a couple of rows back on my side. The dog stayed for the whole show and just sat there quite calmly. They even put him on stage when we did our bow at the end. I couldn’t resist a stroke or three as it reminded me of my dog Iggy in England, who I do miss a lot.

Kevin & Yvonne had come over from Wales for their Wedding Anniversary present which was really cool of them. Kev had contacted food poisoning, so he was knocked out flat for most of the time, not feeling very well at all. He did make it to the show though. However, Yvonne and their daughter Lowri saw all of the sights for him, so all poor old Kev could see was it all through their pictures and videos.

After the show we had another long overnight drive to Scottsdale Arizona. When we arrived, we had breakfast over the road from the gig and then we went inside the venue. Well we were all most surprised as the stage had a swimming pool right in front of it.

The band went to the hotel while the crew set up the stage. Bernie and Davey went shopping in a street that sells mostly Turquoise jewellery as Bernie wanted a bracelet of his repaired. We had to sound-check early at 4pm and there was one support band that night.

My son Mike arrived with 2 of his friends and his Uncle Danny with some friends, also there was our old tour manager from the 70’s Mel Baister, and our old 70’s lighting engineer Ian England. Wow that was a blast from the past I can tell you.

Well this was a very unique venue with a swimming pool in front of the stage. Nearly all of the audience were my side with a thin line of people in front of the stage with the swimming pool behind them. This was a run of 13 shows night after night and on the previous evening they had ‘Dokken,’ so it was a regular venue on the touring circuit.

It was a hard venue for us to fully project Heep style being kind of lop sided, but those that were there just loved it and there were many comments like it was the best concert they had been to at that gig, and that was from the audience and staff alike. That was good to hear but I wouldn’t be in a rush to go back there again. I have to say it was brilliant having my son Mike there, and that did my heart good.

There was one guy who was in the pool the whole show and he must have looked like a prune when he got out. However, had a lot of the ladies jumped into the pool mid set and turned the gig into a pool party, it may have taken on a different light, but it was not to be.

The following night we were in Tucson Arizona at the Rialto Theatre. This was a cool venue that we had played before. My son Mike’s family came which was a surprise and the dressing room was in another building across from the venue out back. It was a fair size with a toilet and shower which was cool as we had no hotel that night. They had a small basketball net with small basketballs, something like you would get at a fun fair, and an old gaming machine, so that gave us some entertainment. Russ won with the most balls through the net.

The show was great, and the band were on fire and although it was not rammed like we have been used to thus far, the promoter was delighted with how many people had turned up on a Monday night.

Well I had to say a sad goodbye to my son Mike who was driving back to Las Cruces New Mexico with his friends and we jumped on to the bus for an overnighter to Los Angeles.

When we arrived in LA our rooms were not ready so some of us went for breakfast until they were. It was a day off, so we could chill until the evening and then meet up for dinner.

Davey had other plans as he was going down to the Whiskey A-Go Go, for the 80’s theme Ultimate Jam Hollywood night. He planned to get up on stage and play 2 numbers which were Motley Crue and Cinderella songs. Chuck Wright from ‘Quiet Riot” organises this jam night and he very kindly helped promote our shows in LA which we thank him for.

The rest of us went for a quiet dinner in another hotel close by which was a bit of a nightmare. Half the menu was not available even though they had taken our order. We ordered a bottle of wine that after serving us our starters, only then they told us that they didn’t have that wine in stock. It went on like that the whole night, which was frustrating and not the nice chilled evening we were looking for.

Bernie, Russ and I then retired to our hotel bar on the 17th Floor and basically got hammered on some excellent red wine. We had just heard that the show the following day in San Luis Obispo was cancelled which didn’t help, and I am sure the news pushed us over the edge in the getting hammered department. We were told it was due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. This meant we had another day and night off in LA.

Most of the day we all relaxed, except for Phil who went to see the Getty Museum. I spent the whole day working on the running order on ‘Living the Dream’ and editing and transferring the tracks into the studio on my lap top. I ended up with a good running order that everyone liked, thank goodness.

In the evening we met our manager Ace, his Mother Fay and assistant Sean in a restaurant called Hal’s Bar & Grill in Santa Monica. The food was excellent and Russ, Phil and myself were not drinking but Davey & Bernie shared a bottle of red wine. When the Port came up Russ could not resist, so he joined in on a glass of that.

We then tried to get a cab back to the hotel and even though we ordered an Uber X to take five of us, they sent a car that only takes four, and this happened twice. I was just getting in the back seat of the second one of them and with the back door still open, the driver drove off at speed and I nearly lost my leg. Expletives were exchanged, and he was told to have sex and travel.

We eventually got the right size car and in all of the palaver of getting a ride back, I arrived in my hotel room and somehow, I had lost two of my credit cards. Ace our manager phoned the restaurant and they were not there, so I can only guess it happened with the cab saga somehow. Dave booked the Uber on his phone, so he tried to get in touch with them which was impossible.

I then spent a couple of hours frustratingly following automated instructions in England to try and cancel the cards. After a long, long while I got to speak to a person and cancelled both of the cards in the early hours of the morning, and then I went to bed after hearing the running order one more time to calm down.

The following day we travelled to San Juan Capistrano where we were playing the Coach House. This was only a 1-hour 30 mins drive from LA, and we arrived in time for lunch. There was no hotel that day, so it was a lot of hanging about to say the least. We were travelling overnight to Santa Cruz after the show leaving at 1am.

Well it was one of those sit down shows and prior to the concert we had a meet and greet where we had many pictures taken and signed autographs. Our managers came along to the show, Adam Parsons and his lady Audrey, along with Ace Trump, Ace’s Mother Fay, and Sean Baldwin Ace’s assistant.

The show was rockin’ and people kept standing up with enjoyment and some lovely ladies were even dancing in their respective positions, making it a really great atmosphere to work in. We had a great time and so did the audience, and then after the show we met a few people most of which were Bernie’s family and then we travelled the whole night to Santa Cruz. We also met guitarist Mitch Perry and his lady.

Mitch was second in line for the Ozzy job when Jake E. Lee took over, so he must have his chops up. At present he is playing with the Steve Priest version of the ‘Sweet.’

‘Appy Days!

Mick

Box News #267 – March 29, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on March 29, 2018 by heepster

URIAH HEEP NORTH AMERICAN TOUR PART 4

Mick talks about arriving in Milwaukee at the Potawatomi Casino, 3 days and 2 nights in the same place, the soap saga, Christine and the Goats Cheese, Russ losing on the tables, receiving the first mixes of the new album “Living The Dream,’ from Producer Jay Ruston, the Northern Lights venue, overpowering smoke in the Casino, Sickboy T Shirts and Hoodies from Jim Paidas, the Sold Out second show, the drive to Minneapolis, extreme tiredness, Paul Gurtler the Pledge drummer at the Varsity Theatre, the overnight journey to another Sold Out show in St Charles Illinois, Wornstar clothing, the Q&A hosted by the promoter Ron Onesti, the Nick Bell Band, meeting a father who named his son Uriah Heep, the Speakeasy 1920’s club, and an overnighter to Des Moines Indiana and the Social Security numbers at the Tax Office.

Mick also discusses, the English Pub called ‘The Royal Mile,’ Shepherd’s Pie and HP sauce, a busy day on my computer, Alligator Stew, the Robert Plant interview with Dan Rather, The Hoyt Sherman venue, the Mother and her 2 daughters, Jeremy Stewart the Pledge guy who came up and sang ‘Easy Livin’ at the sound check, Ben and his Tattoo, Kansas City and the wonderful ‘Knuckleheads’ venue, Jaren Johnston and the ‘Cadillac 3’ band, the overnight journey to Sioux City IO and the Hard Rock Casino.

Mick also talks about the air-conditioning dome that fell off the top of the bus and the Black Jack Table with our picture on it. The Premium Bar, expensive Red Wine, St Patrick’s Day, the Green River, Guinness, Cold Noisy Wind Nights, the Nick Bell Band, Edgar Winter, Burgettstown PA, the last show of that run in the Pepsi Cola Roadhouse, the Possum, Niagara Falls, the Rainbow and the surprise upgrade on the way home.

Well we arrived in the early hours of the morning in Milwaukee and Allen our driver parked the bus outside the venue at the Potawatomi Casino. Our rooms were not ready, so we had some breakfast until they were. Then we checked in and had some sleep in a quiet non-moving bed.

We were there for 3 days and 2 nights, so it was a luxury to open your suitcase and spread out a bit. I decided to not have lunch that day and wait until dinner so that I could just enjoy my room. I had so many emails to sort out with mails on the Homefront, interviews, business mails and just general email madness that follows you around the world. It was a good opportunity to bring that all up to date and of course it is pretty labour intensive just writing these blogs, and so easy to fall behind with all that happens in our busy lives on the road, so I caught up on that too.

I had a shower before joining everyone for dinner and I can tell you now that on this tour I am getting a dab hand at tossing the soap. Now those of you with dirty minds go to the back of the class. I usually take in the shower with me the soap bar from the sink, and when I have finished I can throw it back out of the shower and into the sink and even most times right back on to the soap dish from whence it came. It is a talent I never knew I had until this tour. If ever there was an Olympic Soap Tossing event, I would surely bring back a gold medal for the UK.

Well we had dinner in what could only be termed as the upmarket restaurant of the Casino. Although it was relatively expensive it did have some really good food and excellent wines. It was a good way to have a relaxing meal and just chill, but the best thing of all was that on checking into the hotel they had given us artist food vouchers, and we could use them against the lovely dinner and wine, so in effect it was free! ‘Appy days!

Christine the waitress knew I liked Goats Cheese, but they did not have any on the menu, so she promised to get me some from her local market. When the crew ate there the following day with Russ, she gave it to them for me. Now how lovely is that, a quality Goats Cheese complete with a packet of water biscuits. Perfect for the bus. What a lovely lady.

After eating we took a bottle of red wine into the Casino in the no smoking betting area and watched Russ lose some money on the Black Jack tables. Then we went to bed.

The next day was a chill day until it was sound check time. We had received by email two tracks that our Producer Jay Ruston had mixed off the new album, ‘Living the Dream.’ I listened to these a number of times and then made a few notes to send to him. Overall, they were fantastic, and I only made a few suggestions for him to try. It was certainly an amazing start and we would only be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s at the most. The rest of the boys did the same, so we were all on the same page.

Walking into the Northern Lights venue we were greeted by the staff all saying how great it was to have us back. It did feel good to be back having played 4 shows there before I have to say, and it is a lovely venue and very well run by good people.

The walk through the main body of the Casino to the venue was horrendous for me, as while they are betting, they are allowed to smoke and drink. The smell of smoke was overpowering and not good at all. Working there in that environment would surely take 10 years off of your life. It really made me feel uncomfortable I have to say.

Back at the venue it was filling up and we had to delay the start time by 10 minutes to get everyone in. Jim Paidas http://www.paidasmanagement.com from a T-Shirt company called ‘Sick Boy’ http://www.sickboy.com/ had sent a huge box of T-shirts’ and Hoodies for everyone, so we divvied them up between everybody, which made us all happy as we had some clean shirts to wear and apart from that they looked cool.

As we hit the stage the band were on fire from note one and the audience lapped it up. It was a great night, and everyone enjoyed it, even the crew that worked there congratulated us when we came off the stage and they see everyone.

We met a few people in the dressing room afterwards, but we didn’t stay too long before we went back to our rooms, walking through that fixating smoke to get there.

The following day Phil, Bernie and I met for breakfast and then for dinner we all met again only with Davey this time. Russ was eating with the crew in the fancy restaurant and so he picked up my lovely Goats Cheese for me from Christine.

The second night was a complete ‘Sell Out,’ and it was a fantastic reaction. We had a great time as well as the audience and the atmosphere was electric. It was an amazing night and a good one to end our two shows in the Potawatomi Casino, Northern Lights venue. Once again, the staff all congratulated us and said that they would love to have us back again. We would do that in a heartbeat.

After the show we met some people including a guy who had the D&W and Magicians Birthday albums tattooed on his arms, as well as our signatures. That was pretty amazing, and then I went to my room for a shower as we were leaving overnight to Minneapolis. My hair and clothes stunk of smoke, so I was really happy to have the time to do this and change my clothes, before boarding the bus and climbing into my bunk. I threw all of my Smokey stinky clothes into a plastic laundry bag, so that they did not make the rest of my clean clothes smell in my case.

It was a pretty quiet bus because we had been waiting round since coming off the stage at 9.30pm until the departure time of 1am. We had to wait that long because of Allen the driver’s hours. It wasn’t long before everyone had hit their bunk until we arrived at Minneapolis at 9.30am. This was just enough time to get checked in and have breakfast. Well only Phil, Russ, Alan and myself made the breakfast, as Bernie and Davey went straight to their rooms, and no one was up for lunch either. We had hit a patch of extreme tiredness, so everyone was taking every opportunity to rest.

Well overnight Jay Ruston had sent us the 2 song mixes incorporating our suggestions, so I had a good listen to them many times over even though I was super tired. Then I had some sleep happy in the knowledge that everything was sounding brilliant. It is always exciting hearing the mixes for the first time.

At the sound-check in the Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis we had a Pledger whose name was Paul Gurtler. He was a drummer and requested that we play ‘Stealin’ rather than ‘Easy Livin.’ This was a lot of fun and he had his whole family there who were really lovely and all super ‘Heep’ fans.

The concert was great, and we really had a good time and the audience were right with us from the intro tape. They did us proud but after the show it was another overnight journey to St Charles Illinois.

When we arrived in the morning Bernie had arranged a visit to a Rock n’ Roll clothes shop called ‘Wornstar,’ so both Bernie and Davey took an Uber there. Even though it was Sunday they opened the shop especially for them which was nice. Prior to this tour I had purchased 10 of their T Shirts, so in essence I was all Wornstar-ed up, but I was burnt out from the overnighter, as was Phil and Russ, so we decided on getting some sleep, as that was more important at the time.

The Sold Out show in St Charles Illinois was a new experience for the mighty Heep as the night was billed as the ‘Ultimate Heep Fan Night’ and it ran like this. First on were the excellent ‘Nick Bell Band,’ http://www.nickbellband.com then directly after that we were brought on to the stage for a Q&A. This was a lot of fun and it was MC’d by the promoter Ron Onesti. As we sat on the 5 chairs on stage,

Behind us, they played a video of all the various line-ups. Each of us were asked questions and it lasted approximately 20 minutes. Then we had 30 minutes backstage to change and warm up for the show.

Well the roar as we took to the stage was immense, and it stayed that way throughout the whole concert. The atmosphere was electric, and it was certainly a night to remember. It was a welcome back to Illinois response that was just wonderful and did the heart good.

We had another overnighter, so we met a lot of people and one special guest before we left. A Father proudly announced his son to us whose name was Uriah Heep. Now how cool was that? We had a lot of pictures taken with him, and it was his first Heep concert. He is now a fan, as well as bearing our name for life.

This venue was amazing on a number of levels as they had another venue on the side of the one we played that was basically a Jazz Club, and upstairs there was a club called ‘The Speakeasy.’ It was a private 1920’s club where the waitresses wore flapper dresses, and there were photos of Al Capone all over the walls. It was an incredible place and we had a quick drink in there before climbing on to the bus for the overnighter to Des Moines Indiana.

We arrived in the morning and luckily the hotel rooms were ready. Only Phil and I had breakfast and only Phil and I had lunch, as we did not see anyone else until the usual 7pm meet up in the bar for dinner.

During the day Scampi our TM, Bernie, Angus and Ben had to go downtown to get their Social Security numbers from the local tax office. This was not without its headache as they would have to go back the following day. These places are always a complete nightmare and a test on one’s patience to the hilt.

As it was a night off, Angus found an English Pub that was close by. The hotel had a courtesy van, so a few of the crew walked, but most of us went in the van. It was a Pub called ‘The Royal Mile,’ and they had a fine array of English beer in bottles and on tap, and the food was the likes of Shepherd’s Pie, and Scotch Eggs. This was topped off beautifully for us by an authentic bottle of brown English HP Sauce. Over there the English HP Sauce had been rarer than a penny black stamp or as some might say ‘Rarer than Rocking Horse Pooh.’ We were super delighted with the relaxed evening, and we were all back in the hotel for 10.30pm for an early night. Each and every one of us needed that, so that we could get our second wind on that leg of the tour.

The next day was another welcome day off but for some they had to go back to the Social Security office downtown which was a pain.

I was hoping for another relaxing day, but I ended up bringing my blog up to date, writing out the new album credits which was pretty extensive and like pulling teeth trying to get information from everyone, BMG wanted me to create a Vinyl running order for ‘Your Turn To Remember, ‘so there was a lot of listening to do, and also, I had more Jay Ruston song mixes to check out from ‘Living The Dream’.

I did escape for lunch and went to Buzzard Billy’s with Phil, Russell and Bernie which was a sports bar. They had Alligator on the menu and Bernie couldn’t help himself and had the Alligator Stew. This was too much for my plain culinary tastes.

On the way to the restaurant we shared a shuttle with this old guy who was bent over double and was walking with a stick. We had to drop him at the hospital first and we assumed he was going there for himself. When he had left the van the lady driver told us that he was in fact going to see his son in hospital who is 60, and that the guy was actually only a few months off being 100 years old. She also told us that he actually built the Hotel we were staying in, which was the Holiday Inn Downtown Mercy Campus, and that he had a room there for life. He built this hotel when all around was wasteland. An amazing story!

We took another shuttle service to dinner that night, as we were in the middle of nowhere. When we left we noticed that Davey was not with us, so I quickly texted him and he said he was coming down, so we turned around and picked him up. We always meet at 7pm and as Dave was not there we assumed he was giving it a miss. One of the rules we have on the road is ‘Stick with the Programme,’ or it will all go pear shaped.

We ended up having dinner at an Italian restaurant close by the hotel. This was superb, and it was a great meal along with some excellent wine.

We were all back at the hotel by 9.30pm and Phil, Russ and I went to our rooms while Bernie and Davey hit the bar for a night cap. While I was working there was an interesting programme on TV with an interview between Dan Rather and Robert Plant. It was very insightful and good to watch. His life can certainly be termed as colourful, and he is still being creative on his terms, and that has to be admired. However, I had not completely finished my days’ work, but I had made a good dent in it, so I was happy, but in the early hours of the morning my bed was calling.

The next day was gig day at the Hoyt Sherman Theatre Des Moines IA, and what a beautiful theatre it was. It was all seated with lovely ornate balconies and a wonderful size stage. At the hotel while we were waiting for the transport to take us to the sound check, a lady and her two daughters were checking in. The Mother did a double take and said that we were her passion in her youth and could she have her picture taken with us. Of course we did this, and then when they said they were coming to the concert and had tickets, I took their names and put 3 After Show passes on the door for them. They were delighted.

At the sound check we had a Pledge guy join us called Jeremy Stewart who sang ‘Easy Livin’, and he had a blast. It was good fun and then we had some pictures taken with him. All the time his lady was filming the whole thing, so that he had an amazing memento.

We also found out that Ben our monitor engineer on the day off, had been to a Tattoo Shop and had a Tattoo on his wrist. He had always wanted to tour the USA and this being the first time with the mighty Heep, he had a Tattoo to remember it by.

Before the concert we had a number of things to do, like the band and crew having their pictures taken all wearing their ‘Sickboy’ Clothes, then we had to do a Happy Birthday video for a fan, followed by an ID video for a Spanish festival later in the year. Then we had just 30 minutes to get changed and warm up for the concert.

Well the audience were well up for a good rock show and there were a few ladies down the front totally rockin’ out which was great. It was a really good atmosphere and a lot of fun and it was smiles all around. After the show the Promoter came up to me and said how much he had enjoyed the concert and that he would have us back anytime, so that was cool. We have been hearing that almost every night from our Promoters, so you could say things are going terribly well.

We met a few people 20 minutes after coming off the stage including the Mother and her daughters, and they said they really enjoyed the show. The hotel courtesy bus drove us back to the hotel and there was room for the Mother and daughters, so they joined us for the short ride back, which was cool.

The next morning, we were driving to Kansas City MO to play a show in a venue called ‘Knuckleheads.’ We did not know what to expect, but when we arrived it was a really funky good vibe venue. There was another tour bus there, and as we were wondering who it might be, I received a text from Jaren Johnston from the ‘Cadillac 3,’ saying it looks like we are playing the same gig tonight. In fact, it turned out that they were playing outside on one ticket, and we are in the main venue on another ticket, but at the same time. That was very unusual I have to say, and the downside was that we could not see each other play. As I walked to lunch past their bus Jaren came running out for a hug and hello which was cool.

Lunch was a short walk from the venue in a train carriage that had a little kitchen. It was called ‘Pigwich, ’and you ate outside on well-worn tables and benches. It was very funky, and I had a very tasty Falafel Roll. The weather was sunny and 22 degrees, so it was off with the coats and it felt good.

By the side of the venue were railroad tracks, and every few minutes a train went by sounding off its Air Horn as it approached the crossing. The venue was really cool and the dressings rooms comfortable which was a plus as we had no hotel that day, because we were driving overnight to Sioux City IO.

The ‘Knucklehead’ venue was packed when we took the stage and they were sure up for a rock show. It was rockin’ big time and with people down the front we really had a good gig. The smiles and fists in the air with plenty of ‘Hell Yeahs,’ being yelled created a great atmosphere, and I have to say that ‘Knuckleheads’ was one unique, funky affair, that I wouldn’t mind repeating.

After the show we met some good friends and then I received another text from Jaren saying that they were playing ‘Heep’ on the speakers in their bus and having a blast and would we like to pop over for a beer. We were leaving at 1am and they were leaving at 4am, so we did just that and it was good to catch up.

We pulled out dead on 1am to travel the long overnight journey to Sioux City IO, where we were playing in the ‘Hard Rock Casino.’ Along the journey the air-conditioning dome on the roof of our bus blew off, as it was extremely bad weather conditions. This resulted in the inner heavy wooden panel crashing to the floor inside the bus, so it was a cold old windy journey in those bunks. Luckily no-one was hurt as it happened while we were all in bed.

We arrived at Sioux City and the band checked into a hotel while the crew went to the venue to set up. It was raining so not a good load in. When we went for the sound check, once inside we could see it was a really cool venue with a good size stage. The dressing rooms were comfortable, and we were taken to the Casino to see a surprise something. Well it was indeed a nice surprise, as they had decorated the felt on one of the Black Jack Tables with a picture of us as we were on the poster. We all stood in position ala the poster and had pictures taken. Now how cool is that and definitely a first.

The gig was fantastic and although this all sounds a little like ‘Groundhog Day,’ the reactions we have received since being in Canada and the USA have been immense, and there is a real buzz going on about the mighty Heep. They were a great audience, and they were with us on every note played which was fantastic. Every venue thus far the promoter has said that they want us back, so that is terrific.

Before we travelled overnight to the next destination where we were going back to St Charles Illinois, for a second show, we were taken to the Premium Bar in the Casino. Bernie and Russ were in raptures about the red wine as the barman said it was the most expensive red wine in the USA. As it was close to St Patricks Day the next day both Phil and I had a Guinness each and Davey and Scampi enjoyed the delights of some expensive Bourbon.

We could not stay long as the bus was leaving for another overnighter. Now our driver Allen had covered the missing Air-Conditioning hole with plastic and Gaffa tape as he could not get it fixed until we were back in St Charles. This was about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike and it soon fell down making it another cold and noisy night.

When we arrived, the band went to a hotel for a day room and the crew went to the show. I had lunch with Phil and it was St Patricks Day, so the menu was full of Green St Patricks Day specials and all the waitresses and waiters wore something green. They do take St Patricks day seriously over here to the point that they say over 3 million pints of Guinness would be drunk that day, and even the Chicago River was totally dyed green. Evidently this is environmentally friendly, but it did look very strange with boats floating on it. This was initially executed in 1962 when Richard J. Daley served as Chicago’s Mayor. No half measures there then.

We did not have a sound check that night because there were three bands on. The ‘Nick Bell Band,’ ‘Edgar Winter’s White Trash’,’ and the mighty ‘Heep.’ We ate down at the show as food was brought in, and one guy bought in a tray of meatballs that everybody tucked into along with some chili peppers.

I had to do a video interview and then we did a meet and greet arranged by the venue. This was relatively painless and then we could go and watch the ‘Nick Bell Band’ play. They are a 3-piece band, and Nick holds down the guitar and vocals. They went down really well and I thoroughly enjoyed their set, as did the audience. They are good musicians and good to watch as well as listen too, as they do give out and I like that.

Up next was ‘Edgar Winter,’ who also went down well, but it is not my cup of tea, but his band can sure play.

We were up next and as it was our second show in that venue on this tour, it felt like a homecoming, and we had a blast. It was St Patricks day and still it was a packed venue which was great, and they were rockin’ hard. It was a fantastic show even though we could only play 1hr 15mins, so we kept it rocking.

After the show we said hello to everyone that we could, before we had to leave to drive overnight to Burgettstown PA where we were playing our final show of this tour at the ‘Pepsi Cola Roadhouse.’ Phil and I still managed to have a few Guinness’s to celebrate St Patricks day, so we did our best to help with that 3 million figure.

One guy and his lovely wife gave me a miniature guitar case with a Wizard Belt Buckle inside. Now how cool is that?

Well we jumped on to the bus and by 1am most everyone had gone to bed. The Air-conditioning dome had been fixed so it was at last a nice quite ride to the next city. Well except for the animal farm noises, but we were used to that by now.

We arrived outside the venue and there was a double house trailer that we could go in and have some Tea & Coffee, and some doughnuts served up by the lovely Rita. This was at the side of the venue and would be our dressing room. We looked in the venue and it was a huge place with a big wooden stage but in front of it were laid out tables all with numbers on giving it a wedding reception vibe.

We were served some chilli and sandwiches back in the trailer before the band were taken to the hotel while the crew set the stage. While we were waiting we saw a huge Possum scavenging about, which at first, we took to be a rat on steroids.

We had a few hours at the hotel before being picked up by Big Jim, who lived up to his name, to drive us to the venue.

However, Bernie had not accounted for the time change and was still relaxing in his room expecting another hour to chill.
He went into panic mode, but we said relax and Big Jim would go back to pick him up.

Rita looked after us well, and she handmade all of the food which was great. It was pretty basic with Chicken, Fish and Pasta but all very nice.

There were two Acoustic Guitars that we all signed that the promoter had given as prizes, but I was unclear how anyone won one of them.

The support band were a ‘Rush’ tribute band, although there were 4 of them. This kinda missed the point of Rush being a 3 piece. I thought that the minimum you could expect from a Rush tribute band would be to have the same amount of band members, but there you go.

We took to the stage and it was strange as everyone was seated at the tables ala a wedding. When they did let loose and get up, they were told to sit down again. Still we could see that they were well into it and singing the words and clapping along at all the relevant points.

I did get a standing ovation for my guitar work on ‘Magicians Birthday,’ ‘Between Two Worlds’ and ‘July Morning,’ and at the end we had them all standing and singing along big time.

The promoter was very happy with the reaction, and once again we heard those magic words that he would love to book us back again. It was our last show of this run and I thanked the Crew, Caitlin our Merchandiser and Allen our driver and they received a good cheer.

After the show we had a few drinks and signed a number of items that Scampi bought to the dressing room, before we all loaded on to the bus for the short drive back to the hotel. As it was the last night everyone had a hotel room, which was cool.

The next day we had an 11am lobby call, so we had time to finish packing, have a shower, have breakfast and then travel on the bus to Toronto Canada, to catch a BA flight back to London. Well I went down to breakfast with our driver Allen and it was all closed by 9.30am. This was disappointing, but Allen had spied a McDonalds up the road from the hotel, so we made that our first stop on the way to the airport. I had made it all through the 6-week tour without hitting one of these, but I had no choice but to join in with everyone else. The Roaties (Roadies/Technicians) as we call them, loved it.

We had the usual Customs to go through from the USA to Canada, but this was relatively easy. We had to get off the bus and they went on with a sniffer dog, but all was cool, so we could leave.

On the way we stopped at Niagara Falls which was stunning even though I had seen it many times. It was made even better with a beautiful Rainbow over the whole falls that looked magical.

Well Allen dropped us off at Toronto Airport and we said our goodbyes to both him and Caitlin before we checked in for the flight home. However, we did have a 4 hour wait before the flight took off, that some spent at a burger bar drinking and eating, and some of us sat in the Priority Pass lounge that was very comfortable, but it did get a tad boring.

As we were boarding the BA flight, Bernie, Brian and I were pulled to one side and were upgraded to Business Class which was great. We already had Premium Economy, but the upgrade was marvellous. Once we had landed we all picked up our suitcases and hugged and went our different ways, safe in the knowledge that we would be back there again in under 2 weeks to start another leg of the USA/Canadian tour, as the Rock n’ Roll Circus that is Heep just keeps on rolling.

It was so lovely being home, and so lovely to see my wife Sheila and my son Romeo, and our dog Iggy went mental for a while. Even my cat Biscuit was purring at my leg for attention, so Home Sweet Home it was, and I loved it.

‘Appy days!

Mick

 

Box News #266 – March 9, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2018 by heepster

URIAH HEEP NORTH AMERICAN TOUR PART 3

Mick talks about our Day Off in Annapolis MD, the tour being half way, the laundry, Rams Head venue, The Skype interview, my blown repaired amplifiers, bus snoring, Virginia, the Harvester Pac venue, the lift to the dressing room, Moonshine, Pledge Guitarist, the rockin’ bus, the Sports bar with a ridiculous amount of TV Screens, Kent Stage Ohio, the machine that regulates the voltage to my amps and Walmart. Mick also discusses, the 1970 University demonstrations re Vietnam, the washing machine and dryer, Dave and Carol White, the Golden Circle, Detroit and the Sold-Out Token Lounge, being away from home when things go wrong, Snookers and the Juke Box, Free Pizza day and going outside in the freezing cold to get to the stage.

Mick also talks about, the Heep buzz in Canada and the USA, 25 TV screens, Vintage Guitar magazine, Heep’s website 20 years old, screen junkies, Applebee’s Restaurant, St Louis, Margaritas, unusual do not disturb signs, The Loop Delmar, Walk of Fame, Chuck Berry statue, the Blueberry Hill Restaurant, Heep Vinyl, The Delmar Hall, The Beatles Poster, and watching Rock2 on the overnight bus to Milwaukee.

Well we had a day off in Annapolis on the 25th February, that for some was a day on, but at least we had no concert that night. Bernie, Phil and I decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant and a quiet night but nearly everyone else hit the town, which was a short walk away to the harbour. We were at the halfway point on this tour so a night in away from the madness was just what I personally needed.

However, we did manage to put a few items each in the laundry and dry cleaning that night, which would be delivered back by 7pm on the gig night

We had to check out of our rooms at midday because after the show at the Rams Head, we would be driving to Rocky Mount Virginia. Luckily the gig was a short walk down from the hotel because Davey missed the lobby call, and he had to walk down to the venue with his luggage, as the crew loaded in at 1pm.

We had lunch there and then a few of us went shopping. There was a skype interview that somehow got missed, so Scampi our TM texted me and I went back to the venue to do this. I didn’t have Skype installed on my Apple Pro Lap Top, as it was a recent acquisition, so I had to get Caitlin our merchandise lady to help me, and I was set for the interview. This went well and then I finished off Part 2 of this tour blog so that it could be posted.

On arrival in Annapolis Brian & Scampi took my 2 broken amplifiers to a music shop to get repaired. Well they came back working, but they had done no more than change fuses, so when we put them both up at the sound-check, even before I could try them, they both blew again, with just my tech Rich Bennett playing through them. So, it was another night on another amplifier, which was very annoying.

The shop was under instructions to find the cause of the fuses blowing, but all they did was replace them and, in the end, this was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

Bernie at last managed to see an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist and was given some medication and he just made the sound-check.

Still the venue was rammed when we walked on to the stage and there was a huge cheer as we took our positions. This remained for the rest of the night, and it was a fantastic atmosphere with everyone singing along to the songs old and new. We had a great time and it was all smiles looking at everyone from the stage. I managed to get through with my amp and all was okay when the adrenaline took over. Bernie sang well considering, and he still hit the high notes, so his adrenaline was working well too.

After the show, we had dinner that we had pre-ordered and then we met a few people back in the venue, including Lannis and Bobbi, before we boarded the bus for an overnight ride to Virginia. Scampi had kindly gone to the hotel top pick up out laundry, and then the bus was hopping there for a bit, with plenty of laughs, until everyone eventually went to bed and the animal farm noises ensued for most of the journey. If there was a snoring and farting event at the Olympics, the mighty Heep band & crew would surely come away with a Gold Medal.

Alan our driver parked up outside the hotel in Virginia and the band disembarked early and quickly found out that the rooms were ready, which was great. A few of us had a little breakfast that they called continental. The eggs were smothered in butter, the oatmeal was made with creamy milk, and so it was down to an English Muffin and a cup of black coffee.

The reason I mentioned the above is that I am Lactose intolerant and the only milk I can have is Lactose Free, so I was out of luck.

We then went to our rooms for a catch-up sleep in a quiet non-moving bed before we met for lunch. This was at a restaurant 1-minute walk from the hotel that we spied when we checked-in, but then of course, it was not open.

Bernie decided to give lunch a miss for some more sleep, so I took him back a Club Sandwich and an Ice Tea after I had eaten. Davey missed it completely and so it was just Phil, Russ and I, and the crew were already eating on another table. Back at the hotel I met a guy who was on the Rock Legends V11 cruise with us, and he loved it so much, he came again, which was terrific.

The venue was called the ‘Harvester Pac’ and it was a really cool theatre with for once an enormous dressing room. To get to the dressing room you had to take a lift on my side of the stage down a couple of floors.

They looked after us very well and you knew where you were when the password for the Network was ‘Tractors.’ Also, a lady came in the dressing room with offerings of ‘Moonshine.’ One was Strawberry, and one was Lemon, but we gave this a wide berth until after the show, still it was very nice of her.

At the sound-check we had another Pledge guy named Patrick Harmon who wanted to play guitar on ‘Easy’ Livin’. I asked him if he wanted to play on his own or with me, but he wanted me to play along too. He did really well, and he had his wife and brothers come in to see him, which was cool.

The concert was a seated affair, but not for long as they were soon out of their seats. It was a good show with a good feeling all round and the band were on fire. At the end they were standing and shouting for more and we could still hear them even as the lift took us down to our dressing room.

After this we said hi to Patrick (The Pledge guy) and Lannis and Bobbi and a few other people, and I signed a guitar and a multitude of stuff that was brought in to me by Scampi and Brian.

While I was doing this Bernie, Phil & Davey tried the moonshine, which they said was nice and smooth but later on the effects took place, as they were drinking other things too. We were doing a 9-hour overnighter to Kent Ohio, so the bus was rockin’ there for a bit, with lots of banter and shouting.

When we arrived, we were parked outside the hotel, so we dragged ourselves off the bus, and just about made breakfast, before getting our room keys and going to our respective rooms.

We then met for lunch and we found a sports bar a short walk from the hotel and it was right opposite the venue. That sports bar had the most TV screens I had ever seen. I counted 25 screens, and this was not a huge bar. A lot of them were tuned to different stations, so I was extremely happy they did not have the sound on. Can you imagine the racket if they did? Ha!

We could see out of the restaurant window the Kent Stage Theatre with our name up on the front of the venue for the 2 days we were performing there.

The food was good and then we went to a Health Food Shop that had a guy serving there that could have easily stepped right off the Harry Potter film set. Phil and I found a few things we needed which was cool, then we walked back to the hotel.

In reception Scampi our TM was with Brian and he informed me that they may have the answer to my amp problem. The problem being a power surge that blows the fuses on the amps rendering them useless. They found a piece of equipment that regulates the voltage to what it is receiving and stops them from blowing up. This would arrive by 12 midday the next day, and in time for the gig, so that was a big thumbs up.

Davey, Rich, Ben & Angus were just jumping into a taxi to take them to Walmart for some shopping, and then Bernie, Phil and I decided to go too. The manager of the hotel said he would take us so that was cool. It was only 10 minutes away, but he made a de-tour through the university to show us where the demonstrations took place, on May 4, 1970. Four unarmed Kent State University students were killed and nine injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire during a demonstration protesting the Vietnam War. The President at the time was Richard Nixon.

Well our trip to Walmart was a bit disappointing for me, but both Phil and Bernie found some items they needed and then we ran into the crew and Davey who were pushing a shopping trolley full to the brim, so they were very happy.

The manager of the hotel kindly picked us up to drive us back to the hotel and we asked him if there was a laundry service in the hotel, and he said that they had one on the second floor containing one washing machine and one dryer. Well those machines were going all day and all night I can tell you with the Heep band and crew, but it was lovely to end up with a suitcase full of clean clothes. Seeing as we were just over half way through the tour that should keep us going until we get back to the UK.

In the evening the band went for dinner in a restaurant opposite the hotel and this was an excellent choice, as it was recommended by the guy on the desk. After this Phil, Bernie, Russ and I had an early night, but Davey ended up going out with the crew back to that sports bar we had eaten lunch in.

The next day was gig day so the crew loaded in at midday and the band went for the sound-check at 5pm. The whole day it was raining so hard that we decided that lunch was to be had in the hotel.

Although the venue was an easy walk to the venue, unfortunately the hotel had no umbrellas, so we had the venue runner pick us up and drive us, as the rain was so torrential we would have got soaked through.

At the sound-check we met Dave White and his wife Carol who live in Cleveland. Dave along with Louis Rentrop in Holland look after our website, (www.uriah-heep.com) and while we are out on the road touring all over the world, they are the guys that let our fans know where we are and keep them up to date with all things pertaining to the mighty Heep. They do a marvellous job.

At the sound-check I tried my new gizmo that keeps the voltage stable and it worked great. I was very happy about that and I am now back on my Engl Amplifier. I am so relieved that this problem has been sorted as it has been a bit of a worry and the amps sound so good when working. Martin Klein of Engl Germany was really great in trying to find a solution for us, and that is why I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful company. He answered my SOS texts immediately and that is just great.

After the sound-check my guitar tech Rich, Davey and I went to a music shop a short walk from the venue with borrowed umbrellas. Rich had to pick up a drum piece for Russ and Davey and I had a look around. It was a well-stocked shop and they had some lovely guitars, especially their Acoustic section, and I was sorely tempted to buy one, but I managed to use some self-control and we just bought a rubber feedback plug to go in the hole of my Hofner Acoustic and a T.C Electrics clip on Tuner for Rich.

We had dinner back at the venue and our very small dressing room was literally on the stage, with only the door to separate us. This meant that there was no peace and quiet to be had when the two support bands were on. Luckily, they were both good bands, so it wasn’t too bad.

When we took to the stage, there was a huge roar and we hit the stage running. It was a seated affair, and as the tickets were tiered, they could not come down the front. We didn’t find this out until later, but on the last few numbers they were waved down by the security and everything went up a level.

I can understand that if you paid more for a ticket to sit down the front, and someone comes and stands in front of you, obscuring your view, that would be super annoying. Anyway, by the end of the concert everyone was standing and running down to the front and having a great time, and even when they were sitting or standing in front of their seats, it was an amazing response.

One couple even came down the front and gave us a carrier bag full of presents. Inside were Beanie Hats for each of us and a glass each. That was so nice of them.

After the show we stayed for a little while signing autographs and having pictures taken before driving back to the hotel. This time though the rain had turned to snow which was coming down heavily.

The next morning, we left the hotel at 9am to drive to Detroit, where we had just been informed was another Sold Out show at the Token Lounge. As we arrived in Detroit it seemed that we had left the snow behind in Kent Ohio, as the sun was out and any snow that was there had slowly melted away. However, it was still bitterly cold.

Talking of bitterly cold, as much as I like touring, the only real downside is when something happens on the home front that makes you feel so helpless. My wife Sheila has recently had a foot operation, and that is hard enough for her to deal with, with me not being around, so it is very hard for her to move about and she has to keep her leg up above her heart a lot of the time.

Well in England they have had a lot of snow appear from nowhere that has virtually seen the country come to a standstill. On top of that the hot water boiler in our house broke down, and all of the electricity went out. So, there was no heating, no electricity and no hot water, so both her and my son Romeo were freezing and unable to have a shower. Also, at the same time, one of our smoke alarms kept going off with an incessant loud beep noise. So that became a hat trick of disasters.

We have insurance for the boiler, but because of the adverse weather conditions the engineers were on overload. A lot of the call centres were not even operating because they could not get in to work. It was pretty much chaos in London and the whole country.

Luckily, we have some wonderful relatives who came over with a couple of fan heaters and Sheila managed to eventually get the electricity back on herself. How, I do not know, but thankfully she did. So, it is times like this that you really wish you were home to take care of it. However that is the life, but it does not make you feel very good at all.

They are over the worst of it now, but it was a couple of days of hell for sure for them, especially as she only has one good foot at the moment until the other one heals. My son Romeo is at college most of the day, so Sheila was on her own.

I digress, well as we pulled into Detroit we found out our rooms were not ready, so we went to find somewhere for lunch until they were. We found a place called ‘Snookers,’ which was just okay food-wise, but they had a Juke Box that Russell looked on, and he found that they had 825 Uriah Heep songs and 54 albums including all of our bootlegs and the last CD ‘Outsider.’ Now with a sold out show in the Token Lounge that night we can safely say Detroit had not forgotten about the mighty Heep. ‘Appy days!

Well when we eventually checked in we only had a couple of hours before we were driving to the sound-check. On the way in to the venue we saw a Pizza place advertise in their shop window saying, ‘If your name is Walter you can gave a free Pizza.’ I wonder how many fake ID’s they had before the day was out. Ha!

Luckily the Token Lounge had a good size dressing room to hang in. The sound-check went smoothly and then we ordered from a menu and dinner was brought in.

There were 2 support bands that night and just taking a peek out into the venue you could see it was packed to the rafters. The promoter was very happy indeed. To get to the side of the stage, as it was impossible to walk through the packed audience, as they were that rammed in, we had to go outside, which was not a good scenario as it was freezing cold, but there was nothing else we could do. So, wrapped in our coats we made a quick dash outside.

There was a seated golden circle that this venue runs that has seats in a half circle in front of the stage, and everyone else is standing. This was a little odd trying to project to the people standing on the sides and at the back, but we did, and it was a killer night of hot, sweaty rock.

It was a great show and the audience were amazing, and we did get all of the seated people up in the end.

After the show we met a few people before driving back to the hotel as we had an early start the next morning back to Kent for a second Sold Out night.

There is a real buzz about the band over in the USA and Canada and everything is going just great. We really do feel an upsurge in these territories and it feels good.

Well in the morning we drove back to Kent Ohio, and when we arrived at the hotel the band minus Davey got off the bus and by the time we realised this the bus had pulled away to drive to the gig. I texted Davey and luckily the venue was only just up the street, so he could walk down with his suitcase. Phew!

We had lunch in the same place we did last time that had all of those 25 TV screens and Davey manged to join us too, which was cool.

Then we had a few hours in the hotel before going to the sound-check. We then found out there was a Pledge guitarist joining us for a rendition of ‘Easy Livin’ on the guitar. His name was Dave Smith, and he did a fine job with his friend filming him, and then it was photo time, before I had to go to do an interview with a USA magazine called ‘Vintage Guitar.’

We then had a little dinner at the venue before going on to the bus where a few of us and the crew watched ‘Wayne’s World.’ This gave us a few laughs as we had not seen it in a long while, but soon we had to get back to the dressing room to warm up for the concert.

Well the venue was super rammed, and the audience were well up for it and it was an amazing night. They sang and clapped the whole way through and the cheer at the end was deafening. It was a night to remember for sure.

Our Webmaster from the USA Dave White was there with his wife Carol, and it is always good to see them.

We tried to get them up for a song at the sound-check ala the Pledge thingy, but in the end, we ran out of time. Dave plays guitar and Carol the drums. They said they were coming to 3 shows and as the second gig in Kent Ohio was their second, I thought there was another show that we could achieve this, but then Dave said they could not make the Detroit show, so there was no other show near where they live in Cleveland to pull this off, which is a shame. There will be other times for sure.

It is amazing that Dave started our website with me 20 years ago and here we are as strong as ever. He has done this in conjunction with Louis Rentrop our Dutch Webmaster, and quite frankly that truly is ‘Appy days!

After the show we had some pictures taken and signed some autographs and, on the way out there was a free bar. Now that was a difficult decision for some, but Bernie took the first car home, I took the second, Phil walked home later, Russ walked home a little later than Phil and Davey stayed with the crew before he eventually walked back to the hotel.

In the morning it did make me laugh as at breakfast I was sitting with my back to the TV screen and Bernie and Phil were facing me. They were looking over me to watch the morning news on the TV, and I was looking down sending my family morning WhatsApp messages on my iPhone. It did occur to me that we had all become total screen junkies. Ha!

The next day we travelled to Anglo Indiana where we were playing at the T. F Centre for performing Arts. There was no hotel as we were travelling overnight to St Louis.

On arrival we could see this was a well organised affair as our name was in lights outside with other bands that would be playing there like ‘Starship’ and ‘Foghat’ etc.

There were people to meet us as we arrived, and they supplied lunch. The venue had comfortable sized dressing rooms that were one floor down in a lift, plus showers, and they also supplied 2 apartments for us to chill in. Davey was the only one to take up this option. Bernie decided to have a sleep on the bus, Russ disappeared, and Phil and I were on our computers in the dressing room.

When the crew were ready for the sound-check we took the lift up one floor and saw that the venue was a beautiful theatre with balconies all round. It also had a number of amazing chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and ornate light blue and cream trimmings all around the walls and balconies. Even the seats were all powder blue, and it was a good size stage.

We had another Pledge guy called Dave Edwards come up and play with us on drums on ‘Easy Livin’ and he did very well. Russ told him he had a good tempo, then we had pictures taken and his friend was documenting all of this on his camera.

As it was a Sunday the promoter insisted we go on at 7pm, so this was too early for us to eat, so we planned to eat after the show and before we travelled overnight to St Louis.

Well the show was just great, and the venue had good acoustics, which was a nice surprise, and it was almost studio like playing on the stage. The audience were with us, but they loved their seats, still we got them up in the end, and so many of them showed their appreciation by standing up and clapping when they liked something.

By the end of the show everyone was up and singing and enjoying themselves and they chanted loudly for an encore.

After the show we met the Pledge guy and Lannis and Bobbi along with some friends and then we all went to a restaurant called ‘Applebee’s’ for dinner which was close by. We had something to eat and we had a few drinks, and Margaritas were proving quite popular with the band and crew, and the lady serving was young, lively, a lot of fun and definitely on the ball.

Well the bus was jumping for a bit when we took off for our overnighter to St Louis, but a few of us decided to hit the bunk while others partied on.

We arrived at 7.30am and crawled off the bus one by one to get to our rooms. Luckily, they were all prepared and our keys were ready to be picked up off the table in the front of the bus that Alan our bus driver had kindly picked up.

The only people to make breakfast were Phil, Russ, Alan our driver and Moi. The rest went straight to their rooms and bed.

The do not disturb signs were unique, as they said, ‘Do me now’ or ‘Do me later.’ Well this was an offer I could not refuse, so I put the ‘Do me now’ one on the outside handle of my door and waited, but to no avail. I was disappointed of London, so I went to bed for some quiet non-moving sleep.

Phil, Bernie and I met for lunch, and we went for a walk in an area of St Louis known as ‘The Loop Delmar.’ This was an interesting place with a lot to see, and we ended up having a Burrito.

The sidewalk was a ‘Walk of Fame’ with gold stars in bedded in the pavement with such names as ‘Chuck Berry.’ Miles Davis,’ ‘Tina Turner,’ ‘Betty Grable,’ ‘T.S. Eliot,’ ‘Tennessee Williams,’ ‘John Goodman’ and ‘Kevin Kline,’ to name but a few.

We also saw an 8-foot statue of Chuck Berry, and a Restaurant called “Blueberry Hill,’ that was full of rock n’ roll memorabilia, including the actual Blonde Gibson guitar Chuck recorded the song ‘Johnny B. Goode’ with.

Underneath the restaurant was a fully functional venue and the waiter took us there for a look. Chuck Berry played there many times, so you could feel the rock history dripping off the walls.

Up the road was an amazing Vinyl shop that even had ‘Abominog,’ ‘Live ’73,’ ‘Return To fantasy’ and ‘Wonderworld.’

We then went back to our hotel to chill until we met for dinner at 7pm in the bar. This we did but the crew went one way, and we went the other to a recommended restaurant called, ’Salt & Smoke.’

Both Phil and I loved our food, but the other boys were not so happy, so we went back to the hotel for a nightcap at the bar, where we me some friends before we all retired to our rooms at the unusual time of 9.30pm. To be honest that is unheard of, but it was a day off and we all felt we had to re-charge our batteries.

We all had to check out of the hotel at 1pm as after the show in the Sold Out ‘Delmar Hall’ that night, we were driving overnight to Milwaukee. So, it was a bit of a hang about day.

Davey came out for a walk with us, but after lunch Russ went back to the bus. There was a Head shop next to the Vinyl shop that had posters for sale and Davey bought one which had ‘The Beatles,’ ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers,’ appearing in Liverpool in the 60’s where Davey was born.

At 5pm it was time for the sound-check, and we had another Pledge guy Benjamin Boyd who was a guitarist. He did really well, and he had a blast. After taking pictures etc. we went backstage and ordered some sandwiches for dinner. It had started to snow so we did not fancy walking about trying to find a restaurant.

As it was totally sold out that night, we walked on to the stage to a fantastic roar and it pretty much stayed that way for most of the night. It was an electric atmosphere and a lot of fun and the band were on fire.

After the show we stayed for a short time, while the crew packed away before we all jumped on to the bus for the overnight journey. We watched ‘Rocky2” and then one by one slopped off to our bunks.

‘Appy days!

Mick Box
URIAH HEEP

 

Box News #265 – February 26, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2018 by heepster

URIAH HEEP NORTH AMERICAN TOUR PART 2 

Mick talks about landing in Charlotte Carolina, Dan’s Burger Bar, exotic drinks, Orlando, hit weather, hangovers, The `House of Blues,’ Pledge drummer, seeing Colin Hart, Rock Legends Cruise V1, seeing loads of bands, ESTA Forms, windy on deck, the Labyrinth bar, the neon sign, stopping at Cozumel Mexico, Hard Rock Café, the signing/photo session, Passport Control, the emergency stop on the flight to Philadelphia, The Pet Relief Area at the airport and meeting Alan our driver again with the tour bus.

Mick also discusses, Artsquest Centre, another Pledge drummer, meeting Greg Smith bass player with Rainbow, ted Nugent and Alice Cooper, the German super fans Andrea and Claudia, Wyndham Hotels special discount, Sellersville, Uber in the USA, broken Amps, Dunkin Doughnuts, The Gramercy, New York and having some family at the gig. Mick also talks about the Mohegan Casino in Uncasville, Fruit Machines, dinner with David and Lana Vinogradov, The Peekskill Paramount Theatre, 3 Dog Night, Jim Paidas Sickboy T Shirts, Chas & Dave, Annapolis, Football, Bernie’s Throat, Graham Nash and Soya Milk.

We landed in Charlotte Carolina with a couple of hours to wait for the next flight to Orlando Florida. This was spent by most of us in ‘Dan’s Burger Bar,’ which served exotic drinks, but Russ and I went for a quiet Mexican. Then when we joined everybody else in the Burger bar there was much merriment being had as the exotic drinks kicked in.

The flight to Orlando was good and we collected all of our baggage and then caught the bus shuttle to the hotel. I must say that it was nice to be in hotter weather after all of that snow, and when we arrived at the hotel the band went into the restaurant for dinner and the crew hit the bar. The dinner was pricey but excellent, so we were all happy. Phil and I went to our rooms after, but Bernie, Russ and Davey hit the bar with the crew. Evidently this went on quite long and, in the morning, there were a few hangovers in sight. The tell-tale sign was that Phil and I were the only ones at breakfast. We saw Bernie for lunch and we did not see Russ & Davey until sound-check time.

Phil went for a swim and I sat outside at a table by the pool working on my lap top. This was most pleasant after all of that snow of late in Canada I have to say.

We went to the sound-check at ‘The House of Blues’ and it is a good-sized venue, with a big dressing rooms for a change. We had a Pledge guy who came up on stage to sing ‘Easy Livin’ ‘with us at the sound-check, and he was in a wheel chair. He had his wife with him and he had an absolute blast. He was a lovely guy called Mark Stewart.

Then we chilled in the dressing room, where dinner was bought to us, as we had pre-ordered from a menu earlier.

We had a lovely visit from Colin Hart who now lives in Florida. We knew Colin from his tour manager days with ‘Deep Purple’ and ‘Rainbow.’ It was good to catch up with him and I had the chance to tell him how much I enjoyed his autobiography.

Colin was in fact writing the book on tour managing while Heep, Sabbath, Purple and Zeppelin were writing the book on rock music, so we go back a long way.

Well the House of Blues was pretty packed out and when we hit the stage we could see they were well up for it. It became a magic night even though we were on hired equipment, as ours was driving down from Canada to the USA with the tour bus. We had a great time and so did the audience, who were

extremely loud in their appreciation. For the first night of the USA part of our tour we were very happy. We could only stay 30 minutes after the show as we had only a few hours’ sleep back at the hotel before driving 4 1/2hrs to catch the cruise ship. This was loading artists at 11am so we could not be late.

The cruise was the ‘Rock Legends Cruise VI’ and some of the bands that were playing on it were ‘Blue Oyster Cult,’ ‘Bad Company,’ ‘Black Star Riders,’ ‘Vanilla Fudge,’ ‘Pat Travers,’ ‘Quiet Riot,’ ‘Molly Hatchet,’ ‘Steppenwolf, and ‘Sammy Hagar and the Circle’ who he had in the band Michael Anthony on bass and Jason Bonham on drums. Now there’s a rhythm section for you.

We all went through the stringent security checks with ease except for, yes you guessed it, Bernie. He was sent off to another room for questioning. The problem being that he did not have a copy of his ESTA form. He was there for 2 ½ hours while we all went to the artists restaurant for lunch. It eventually all got settled and he was allowed to join us, by which time we had all gone to our rooms and he ate alone.

Our first show was on the deck that night right after ‘Blue Oyster Cult’ who went down really well. This was our third rock cruise, so we knew what to expect on deck as it would be windy. Well it didn’t let us down and I played with a pair of hair curtains in front of my face all night and so did Davey. We went down fantastically well, and it was well attended too, considering ‘Bad Company’ were in the theatre downstairs at the same time we were on, and there was a rumour that Sammy Hagar was going to get up on stage for a number with them.

The scoop is that each band gets to play three shows on the cruise, one on ‘Deck 11, one in the ‘Alhambra Theatre’ on Deck 3 and one in the ‘Studio B’ venue. This way if you miss a band there are another two chances to catch them.

After our show we were allowed to go to the artists bar for an hour for free drinks. This is in a place called the ‘Labyrinth Bar.’ Well the mighty Heep were remembered from the cruises before and they let us stay as long as we liked, which was both cool and dangerous in equal measure.

The following day as I had indulged a little too much the night before, I took as a rest day before we played our show in the Alhambra Theatre at 7.30pm. It was nice catching up on some emails, doing a little work, and bringing this blog up to date. Sitting on the balcony watching the sea roll by and the clear blue skies, I have to say that it is not often I can do that, so I took full advantage of it, and I did not venture out until dinner and show time. It was a calm and peaceful day and just what I needed.

Well that was the lull before the storm as Bad Company were on before us and they were very slow in clearing the stage and coupled with the fact there was only one lift to get their equipment out and ours in, we struggled to get ready for the proposed time of starting at 7.30pm. We ended up being 10 minutes late and so we had to cut 2 songs from the set, which was a shame as the set right now flows great.

Still what can you do. I played a couple of chords on my guitar in the wings as the audience were already arriving and that was my sound check. Talk about flying by the seat of your pants. Still our professionalism took over and it was a great show. The audience loved it and it was nice to be on the big stage.

There was a lady in the audience that had a lit neon sign saying, ‘Hello Mick’ and I had never seen one of those before., so that was very cool.

After this I had a shower, and then I went to the ‘Labyrinth’ Artist bar for a couple of coconut waters and then I saw ‘Molly Hatchet,’ who had toured with us in Europe and ‘Rik Emmet and Resolution 9.’ Rik used to be in a band called ‘Triumph,’ that were known as the biggest support band in the world to us as they supported everyone in the USA tour after tour. Rik as an incredible guitar player and even at speed he has melody at the heart of his playing, and so do most of his songs. He was well worth seeing. After this I went to bed.

The next morning was docking day at 10.30pm where those that want to get off the boat and walk around in Port Cozumel in Mexico, can. It is always a bit of a tourist trap with lots of bars and shops etc. Bernie, Russ, Davey and I went to a Mexican restaurant to sit outside and have a pre-dinner drink.

We were asked for lots of autographs and we had a multitude of pictures taken and there were a bunch of French guys sitting next to our table who had pictures taken with us, and when we left to go to lunch, we found out they had paid our bill which was really nice of them. On leaving we were mobbed there for a little bit as people cottoned on to who we were, but it was all good.

We actually ended up at the Hard Rock Café for lunch which was very sub-standard for a Hard Rock Café and the food and service were awful. Still with the sun shining and the fresh air, there was no room for complaints.

The gangway to the boat went up at 4pm, so you had to be back on the boat by then. We decided to go back earlier and catch ‘Vanilla Fudge.’ They were on at 2pm and I couldn’t miss that. Their drummer Carmine Appice had been taken ill so the drummer from the Pat Travers band stepped in. Saying that it was good to hear all of the classics, but you could tell they were a little understandably on edge. They still have great vocals and Mark Stein is a wiz on the Hammond Organ.

After the ‘Fudge’ we went on deck to watch ‘Quiet Riot.’ They are still unmistakeably ‘Quiet Riot,’ with a vocalist with an incredible high range. It was a good time show and the audience were rockin’.

I then went to my room and as they televise some of the acts I managed to see on my TV screen, Sammy Hagar with his ‘An acoustic event with the Hagar family,’ which was cool, and this was followed by Todd Rundgren, who I have been a fan of for a long while. They were both in fine voice and kept me glued to the television for a while there and Todd knows his way around the guitar as well.

I then started to get ready for our signing/photo session at 7pm. There was a long queue, but each of them were very gracious and complimentary which was nice.

After the cruise we are playing 4 weeks of dates in the USA, so when each couple came up they said that they would see us in the city they live in on the tour, which was really cool. We have certainly made some new fans on this cruise.

One lady came up wearing a T Shirt she had made with ‘You Gotta Give One Minute, One Hour, One More Day’ on the front, which was great.

Also, the lady who surprised me with the neon sign on our second show, bought the sign again only this time with ‘Appy Daze on it, and she gave it to me. How cool is that!

Once the signing session was over we went for dinner and then everyone went to the artists ‘Labyrinth’ bar for a few drinks. Then Bernie and I went to the Alhambra Theatre to see ‘Rik Emmett & Resolution 9,’ again. They were on fire and Rik proved once again he is a gifted guitar player.

On walking to my room through the middle of the ship a lady came up to me to ask if I was Dee Snider of ‘Twisted Sister.’ Well that did surprise me as Dee is 6 feet plus tall and I have always been vertically challenged, he has a mop of curly Blond hair, and wears make up. To top it off ‘Twisted Sister’ were not playing on the boat at all, so I do not know if she was a little drunk or had smoked a little wacky baccy, but she was waaaaaay of the mark there.

After this little incident it was time for bed, though not for some, as the bar was filling up with all of the other bands as we left to see Rik, and with free drinks on offer, it had danger written all over it.

Our last show was in ‘Studio B’ at 2.45pm. We met for lunch and then went down to the show at 2pm. It was weird having an early show, but it was heads down and go for it.

It was a good show for us to end on, even though we were playing at the same time as, ‘Sammy Hagar and the Circle’ who were on the deck and ‘John Kay & Steppenwolf,’ who were in the Alhambra Theatre, therefore we all had a smaller audience, as people were spoilt for choice.

‘Black Star Riders’ followed us, and they had the same problem with ‘Todd Rundgren’ in the Alhambra Theatre and ‘Bad Company’ on the deck. Anyway, it was a mighty crowd and they loved it, and so did we. As always, the ‘Heep’ gave 100% no matter what size the audience, and you know what, so did the ‘Black Star Riders,’ as Phil and I saw them. They rocked hard!

I did go with Phil to see ‘Todd Rundgren’ this time live, and he was excellent. He is a real off the wall character, but he is a good singer, songwriter, guitarist and Record Producer, and the man does possess oodles of talent.

Well we had dinner with our managers Adam Parsons and his lady Audrey, Ace Trump and his assistant Sean Baldwin and it was almost a farewell dinner as the Cruise ended, and then some went to the ‘Labyrinth’ free artists bar for a last blow out, but I opted to pack and get an early night, as we were disembarking the ship early in the morning.

It had been a marvellous few days on that floating rock boat, and we have played some great shows, as well as seeing and meeting a lot of really cool musicians and bands. Along with that we have met a whole bunch of lovely people who are true rock music fans, so it has been a wonderful experience and all I can say is ‘Appy days!

We docked in the morning at Fort Lauderdale and we all met at 9pm in the artists section of the ship to disembark. On the way through to Passport Control we ended up running into some of the audience who wanted pictures taken and that was cool.

As we were in line at Passport Control 2 members were in panic mode as they could not find their passports. First up was Russ who found his passport in a pouch we were given by the ship to use when we went rubber necking in Mexico and the other person was…………. you guessed it Bernie.

We were all ushered along leaving Bernie to go through all of his belongings. After the previous events with his Passport you would think that would be the first thing on his mind, but this was not so.

The rest of us were taken through with the equipment to our ground transportation, while we had to wait for Bernie, who eventually found his passport, after ripping his suitcase apart, in his shorts that he wore to Mexico. He then joined us and off we went to the hotel. We were staying in a hotel in Orlando and then getting up at 4.30am to catch a flight to Bethlehem PA. Our rooms were not ready, so we went to a Diner 10 minutes’ walk away.

After this we all chilled in our respective rooms until dinner time. Although the weather was hot, it was windy, and you could feel a little rain in the air, but for sure it will be better than where we were going to the next day.

On the flight from Orlando to Philadelphia we had an announcement from the Captain that we had to divert for a medical emergency, so we landed in Wilmington North Carolina while 4 medics escorted off a guy who was not looking very well at all. We had 1-hour 15minutes still left to fly and we had to wait a while to get clearance to take off, so it was approximately a 2-hour delay.

Once we had landed, while we were walking the very long walk to the baggage claim area which seemed like it was in another post code, Russ suddenly remembered as it was a full flight they had taken his carry-on bag off him and put it in the hold, so he had to run the very long way back to the plane, only to be told it will come up with the other suitcases. D’oh!

On the way to the baggage claim I saw that Philadelphia Airport was very dog friendly, as they had an Astro Turf grass patch, complete with red hydrant for the dog to pee on, and next to it a poo bag disposal bin on a pole. That is the first time I have ever seen that! My English Setter dog Iggy would have loved that. This dog pee and poo stop was called the ‘Pet Relief Area,’ with 3 rules that were as follows: 1/ Animals must be on a leash and under control at all times, 2/ Please clean up after your animal and 3/ This is not a children’s play area. No kidding!

Well we picked up our bags and met our driver Alan and the sleeper bus, and at last it felt like we were on dry land. We went to our hotel while the crew went to the venue to start setting up for the night’s performance. The venue was in Bethlehem PA at the Artsquest Centre and a really nice venue. It lacked a few bits of equipment, as there were no monitor side fills, but overall it was a really cool place to play. It was a little unusual as there were people in front of you and to both sides. It was seated but by the end of the show they were all standing.

At our sound-check we had a Pledge drummer called Thomas Ference who came to play ‘Easy Livin’ with us, and he was great. He had a really good tempo and seemed to know his way around the drum kit. His lady was taking videos of him all of the time and then he had some pictures taken with the band and he loved it.

Once on stage we quickly hit our stride and slowly the audience began to trickle down to the front. It was a great night and a wonderful reception, and in the audience, I spied David and Lana Vinogradov who are from the Ukraine and now live in New York. We befriended them on the last few USA tours. Also, Bobbi and Lannis were there who we have known for a very long time.

After the show we met everyone, and the dressing room was hopping there for a bit with Greg Smith, who has played with ‘Rainbow.’ ‘Alice Cooper,’ and ‘Ted Nugent.’ He came back to say hi with a few of his friends. Also, super Heep fans Andrea and Claudia Obergfell from Germany joined us as they did not come on the cruise after doing the Canadian shows but are with us now on a few of the USA dates. After the dressing room shenanigans, we went back to the hotel, and it was super lovely to be back in a non-moving bed. ‘Appy days!

While I was getting ready the next morning to go down to breakfast, I had the TV on the Fox news channel and saw that a chain of hotels in the USA called ‘Wyndham’ are offering a discount for families who stay off their mobile phones.

Now that did make me smile! I wonder how many bookings they will get with that discount.

We drove to our next show in Sellersville. Now that would be a good nickname for the QVC channel that my wife Sheila back in England loves. We were playing the Sellersville Theatre that was totally Sold Out.

When we arrived, the band went to a hotel and the crew to the venue to start building the stage. We had an early sound-check due to the demands on the bands time from the sound-check on. We ordered a taxi to take us there at 4pm but it was not due to arrive until 4.30pm. This meant we were running late, so Davey who has the Uber App on his phone ordered one that arrived a little earlier, but it could only take three of us. Phil, Russ and I took the first car and Bernie and Davey the pre-ordered one. Well as Bernie and Davey arrived Scampi had only given them $20 for the cab and it was $45. Luckily the twins were outside, and Davey asked them if they had $25, and they kindly lent him the money so that the cab driver could leave. Then Scampi gave the money back to the twins, which just reinforces one of Russ’s and my favourite sayings which is: ‘Out of debt, out of trouble.’

On the sound-check we encountered a few problems, firstly with Davey’s gear that had an annoying hum on it and then my amplifier blew up. Luckily, I had a spare. After this we ate dinner that was brought in for us at the front of the stage, with tables laid out for us to eat on, before we had to do a meet and greet that was arranged by the venue. This was an unusual one for us, as we firstly had to play 2 songs, so we played ‘The Law,’ and ‘Easy Livin’,’ one old and one new. Then we had to sign autographs and have pictures taken right up to 45 minutes before stage time. There was a face to face interview arranged for me, but the guy was waiting outside for some reason and he missed it, so this will now be done by email. With getting changed and my warm up routine, he wouldn’t have had much time anyway.

My guitar tech Rich Bennett and our stage manager and bass/keys tech Brian West set about mending the broken amp. They pulled it to bits and replaced all of the fuse’s, but once put together again it, it blew again. It was a sterling effort by them to do this, but obviously the problem needs a proper workshop to get it fired up again. Phone calls will be made to the USA branch of Engl Amplifiers to see how we can get this fixed.

On stage it was a very dead studio like sound, but we soon hit our stride and it was rockin’. It was a seated audience, but they were soon standing. It was a really good atmosphere in the theatre and they were very receptive and appreciative. All in all, it was blast and a really good show.

We stayed a short while and said hello to everyone before driving with the crew on the bus to the hotel. The band had a hotel room each, but the crew slept on the bus in the car park. As I was leaving I was given the local newspaper ‘The Morning Call,’ that had a huge picture and article in it from an interview Phil had done, and it even had Phil’s picture on the front page inserted in the title of the paper. That looked very cool!

In the morning Phil, Russ, Davey and I gave up our rooms early so that the crew could all have a shower. While they were doing that Phil, Russ and I went for breakfast and then we joined everybody else on the bus to drive to New York. When we got on the bus there was Davey sitting with a box of 12 doughnuts bought from ‘Dunkin’ Doughnuts,’ next to the hotel. How does he keep so thin is beyond me, unless he only eats the centre’s!

The reason for the crew showering in our hotel, was because the venue in New York which is the ‘Gramercy,’ had no showers. Our bus cannot park up in New York, so it has to park on the outskirts, until we are loading up after the gig and then he can come in. The downside of all of this is that we have to stay down at the gig all day, and I personally hate that, and so do the boys. It was grey and raining hard, so not even nice weather to rubber neck about in.

On arrival there were some fans outside, so we signed a few things and had a couple of photos with them, and the twins were there also. They had strict security and the security guard had our individual names on a sheet of paper that had to be ticked off, and we had to produce our ID’s by way of our passport.

Once inside it did look like rock venue, and it reminded me of the old Astoria Theatre in London UK that no longer exists complete with the sticky floor from beer spillage. The dressing room was at least a good size, so we could chill there, before we went to dinner.

Bernie, Russ & I went for a Thai meal that was average at best and tasted liked it had been dragged across a sugar plantation it was so sweet. Phil and Davey found a pub for a beer and bar snacks. We then all went back to the Gramercy venue for the sound-check. When this was finished I had to do a Russian video interview while the others relaxed.

It was soon show time but before we hit the stage there was an endless stream of people coming through the dressing room to say hi and have pictures taken. Even the ‘Zombies,’ manager who we are working with later in the year popped his head in.

The venue was rammed when we took the stage, and it was a good night of hot, sweaty rock n’ roll. The audience were well up for it, and even after a few numbers they were chanting ‘Heep,’ ‘Heep,’ ‘Heep.’ New York did us proud and it was a glorious night. I even had some family there, so it was great to see them afterwards. It is always good to see friends and family from the UK when we are on tour for so long in another country.

Once the crew had loaded up the equipment into the trailer on the bus, a few of the entourage went to McDonalds to take food on board to eat, as we had a 3-4 hours’ drive to the Mohegan Casino in Uncasville.

We arrived at 3am and checked into our rooms, that were so far from the reception, we were definitely in another postcode. I found out later why, as this Casino was huge. The betting machines, gambling tables, restaurants & shops went on for miles in every direction.

Needless to say, none of us went to breakfast, though I found out that Phil was the only one that did, as he could not sleep.

On arrival, we were given a welcome pack that included a meal allowance of $100 that also included beverages. We all met for lunch and on the way to the restaurant you have to walk through the Casinos. There was a constant droning of bell ringing as literally hundreds of fruit machines are being played on machines that were huge. They look space age compared to the ones in England. The shame is though, they are allowed to smoke. There are no-smoking areas, but they are so small in comparison to the smoking areas.

After lunch and having a walk around taking it all in, we just had enough time to go back to our rooms and prepare for the sound-check. To give you some idea of what an expanse this Casino was, we got lost on our way back to the rooms and it took us 20 minutes to just get ourselves back in the right direction.

It was an odd venue as it was in the open and in the middle of the Casino with machines to the front, back and sides of the stage. It did have a cool dressing room, so after our sound-check which we kept to a minimum, we all went for dinner after I had done a Podcast interview.

We met up with David and Lana and 2 of their friends, to find somewhere eat, but every restaurant was full, so we decided to book a table for after the show in the ‘Michael Jordon Restaurant.’

Russ and I took our gig bag and stage clothes down to the sound-check, while the other three had to do the trek to and from their rooms.

The gig was terrific with the audience up really close, and it was packed out on all sides. We had a great sound on the stage and evidently by all accounts it was excellent out front too. We were rockin,’ and it was good to see so many young faces down the front of the stage and they knew all of the words. That really did do the heart good.

After the show we headed to the restaurant where we met David, Lana and their two friends. The crew joined us too, so it was the full contingent. Well we had a lot of laughs at our end of the table with David and Lana and the food and drink was excellent. After some people had their deserts and the last drinks were ordered, it was time for bed. David and Lana paid the entire bill, which was so generous of them, and then it was hugs and thanks all round, while most of us went to bed, but a few hit the tables to gamble.

The following morning Russ and I were the only ones down for breakfast, but we met everyone else on the tour bus ready to drive to Hudson Valley New York where we were playing the ‘Peekskill Paramount.’

We arrived at Peekskill and outside the theatre they had our name written, along with the other artists who were also playing there like ‘3 Dog Night.’ Now our first tour in the USA was supporting ‘Three Dog Night,’ as that was how their name was written then, and they were the biggest band in the USA. It was an amazing introduction into the USA and one I will never forget. They had three excellent singers being Danny Hutton, Corey Wells and Chuck Negron. Now Danny adopted us, and he introduced us to the full rock n’ roll lifestyle, that we had never experienced before. I have to mention their band too, as they were a brilliant tight band that allowed the three vocalists to soar.

We had no hotel as we were travelling overnight to Annapolis, so it was a bit of a hang about day. We arrived for lunch and after that we tried to find a Music Shop that sold instruments. It was pouring with rain which wasn’t pleasant, but we found it, and it only had very old guitars, amplifiers, one drum kit and even an antiquated mixing desk. They were not the type of antique guitars that you would want, so there wasn’t much to see to be honest, but at least we found it. We then went back for the sound-check. The inside of the theatre was wonderful and all seated, with worn red velvet seats. I must say I do love those old theatres as they are full of atmosphere, good vibes and musical history. They did look after us very well and the dressing room area was adequate.

As my tech Rich Bennett was testing my equipment my spare Engl amp blew up. It seems like a power surge is blowing the fuses. That is 2 Engl Amps down so Scampi our tour manager made some calls, and when we get to Annapolis the next day he found a shop that could mend them, even though it was a Sunday. That was a comforting thought indeed as we still are only half way through the tour.

When we hit the stage, it took a few minutes to adjust to my sound, with a different amp, but we were soon rockin’ out big time. They were a mighty audience and they were well into the concert, and it was nice to see some younger people down the front too. Mostly females, which was extra cool, as they were lovin’ it.

Sadly, it was the twins last show as they had to fly back to Germany and get back to work. They came back after the show, as did David and Lana Vinogradov, as they had driven up from New York City. Also, Jim Paidas came back, and he kindly gave us some T Shirts that were called ‘Sick Boy.” Check out their website http://www.sickboy.com/

There was an old Hammond Organ with internal speakers in the dressing room and after a few wines Phil started playing ‘Chas & Dave’ songs which was a bit of a laugh. The dressing room was rockin’ there for a while before we all went on the bus for an overnight journey to Annapolis.

The bus was reasonably quiet considering, but I guess we all let our steam off in the dressing room. Once we arrived early in the morning our driver Alan parked outside a Diner, so we could go in for breakfast as we could not check in the hotel until midday.

Scampi had got out of his bunk early to see the Manchester United game against Chelsea in England, and he was delighted they won 1-0. My team Spurs had won another local derby against Crystal Palace while I was sleeping, and Dave’s team Liverpool beat West Ham 4-1, so we were all happy pups. This was all topped off by Manchester City winning the Carabao Cup Final over Arsenal. Arsenal are local rivals to my team Tottenham Hotspurs.

We then all went into the Diner for breakfast. Now the portions you got in this restaurant were enormous. Russ had a Cobb Salad that was so big he was eating it for 20 minutes, and he was sitting in front of me, and it looked like he was still on the first layer. Most people in the restaurant were eating only half of their meal and taking away the other half. Trust me these were the biggest portions we have seen since we have been over here.

Once we checked into the hotel we got to work on getting our laundry done as we were just half way through the tour.

Well I looked at the cost on the laundry list in the room and you would have to get a small mortgage out to pay for it, so we decided to just do some essentials to get us through for a few days, until we have 3 days stay at the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee.

Well Bernie was having trouble with his throat, so he went to the doctors to get fixed up but after spending 2 hours he was told top ring at 8.30am in the morning. He is pretty durable as a singer, so he will be fine.

After being on the bus all night I wanted to get some fresh air, so I went for a walk around Annapolis. It was a Sunday, so most things were shut, but just down the street was the Rams Head venue we will be playing the following night and it was good to see both ‘3 Dog Night’ are playing there and Graham Nash. Graham Nash’s first album ‘Songs for Beginners’ is one of my favourite albums.

After the walk, I found a little coffee shop open and I went in for a coffee. It was here I found out that the British Accent sometimes gives people a little trouble in the USA, as I was asking for a Soya Latte, but the waitress could not get it, even when I spelt it out, then suddenly she says, ‘ Oh Soya,’ and I politely said yes. I was losing the will to live by this point, but the coffee did revive me.

As I was walking in the hotel Davey was coming out for some air too, so I gave him the run-down of activities and off he went. That night was a night off, which for some became a night on!

‘Appy days!

Mick