Box News #269 – May 2nd, 2018


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

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2 Responses to “Box News #269 – May 2nd, 2018”

  1. Glen Doucet Says:

    Great that the tour went so well, we are still bummed that we had to miss the show in Ottawa, hopefully the Mighty Heep will be back soon and we can see you then….can’t wait to hear the new album…..

  2. It seems you had a fantastic time on the North America tour. Thanks for the enjoyable report, Mick!

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