Box News #266 – March 9, 2018


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

 

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7 Responses to “Box News #266 – March 9, 2018”

  1. Thanks Mick for again a incredible Heep on the road story. Hope Sheila is out of trouble by now. Please stay in good shape for the rest of the tour

  2. Billy Moncrieff Says:

    Hi Mick ,
    Glad the gremlins with your amps is sorted out now . Detroit certainly has good taste in music . That jukebox sounds cool with all the Heep albums and songs on it . As you say , USA and Canada seems to be loving the tour ! .

    Rock On………………………………..Billy

  3. My kids got us tickets for the Angola show as my Christmas present. I got to see the mighty Heep with my daughters and sons-in-law! I loved the setlist!

    Magician’s Birthday has been our birthday song since the kids were little.

  4. David Learmonth Says:

    All going well it seems. Some excellent organization behind it all!
    Must be a wonderful position to be in – even after what must be nearly fifty years, to still have the same enthusiasm & drive to keep on rocking. Congratulations on “cracking” US & Canada – again.

  5. Glen Doucet Says:

    So glad to hear that the tour is going so well, still disappointed that we had to miss the Ottawa show, I hope that the mighty Heep will soon be back to Canada and we can rock to the best band in the world….

  6. Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your web site is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you’ve on this blog. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles. You, my friend, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched all over the place and simply could not come across. What an ideal web site.

  7. Benjamin Boyd [Neil Boyd on Facebook] Says:

    Hey. I just found out how to send a response. i had a great time sitting in at soundcheck in St. Louis on March 8th. The band and crew were all very polite and professional. The Carparelli guitar played and sounded great through the Engl amps and speakers. Ready to do it again in the future. Thanks so much giving me the opportunity to play with Uriah Heep one of my very favorite bands. Friends who saw the FB video were stunned, surprised and supportive and they have renewed interest in UH, too. All the best, Mick, Davey, Russell, Phil, Bernie.

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