Hello, friends! Rob here.
Well, it’s been a little while. I take full responsibility for the gap in communications. I’ve been having a bit of trouble stringing together complete sentences lately (don’t worry, I didn’t have a stroke or anything) and I think I got a little too caught up in the vacation mindset as we took most of August off. But now we’re back on!
The Revivalists have officially made our international debut! A few weekends ago, we traversed over ninety kilometers of the Trans-Canada Highway and racked up obscene roaming data charges to bring our particular brand of wholesome family rock and/or roll to the lovely people of Fredericton, New Brunswick during the 23rd annual Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival.
I’m proud to report that all of the stereotypes about Canadians are true, which is to say that they’re exceedingly polite and hospitable and they are completely unfazed by bad weather. Our semi-official host, HJBF music programmer Brent Staeben showed us all a wonderful time and personally I can’t help but feel as though Fredericton is a good place.
Other than breaking our personal record for northernmost show (and then breaking it again), the rest of our recent September tour was fairly standard. We’ve hit some new places, some familiar places, a few of those outdoor-summer-concert-series things of which I am unshakably fond…
Dave’s family came to Atlanta while we were playing one such outdoor-etc in nearby Roswell, Georgia, and he jumped out of the van to stay with his family while we had a few days off. Naturally, we took this as an opportunity to mess with him. You see, our exciting new chariot, Sprinterfell, runs on diesel fuel. And definitely NOT biodiesel. David has owned quite a few clunkers in his day (including Vandalf, The Revivalists’ first touring vehicle), and as a result he has borne witness to a litany of automotive catastrophes even without including anything band-related. When it comes to cars, he can be a little shell-shocked.
So we did what any good friends would do. We led him to believe, through a series of band group text messages, that we had accidentally filled the tank with biodiesel and that we needed to either repair or replace the engine, which would cost us well upwards of ten thousand dollars. Zack even managed to enlist a third party to play the part of a surly mechanic during a phone call shortly before revealing the ruse:
For those of you unsure, unaware, or unconcerned, that is legendary luthier Paul Reed Smith. Zack has been playing a PRS amplifier for a little while now, and so he took advantage of a day off in the DC area and paid Paul’s headquarters a visit. At some point he mentioned the prank, and Mr. Reed Smith was apparently all to eager to participate, gleefully cursing into the phone while telling Dave our vehicle needed “a whole new back end.”
We’re bad people.
And then there was last weekend. I know I’ve used terms like “marathon” and “endurance trial” in the past, but last Thursday-through-Sunday was a very strong contender for the most physically and emotionally taxing weekend in band history.
The Thursday show in Auburn wasn’t tough in and of itself, but it’s part of the equation because it took place about eight hours’ driving time from our next show in Lafayette. We were originally expected to arrive at 4 PM on Friday, but we negotiated to 5:30 so that we would actually be able to (sort-of) get any sleep Thursday night.
We still didn’t sleep very much. Sometimes, believe it or not, it is difficult to keep seven band-guys on task immediately after playing a show, especially when the task in question is one so patently unappetizing as load out. We left Auburn at 10 in the morning, running on about five hours of sleep.
In retrospect, we should have seen it coming.
It was an ominous day on I-65 S. The bright, wet heat of the day brought out about a trillion little black, flying bugs to mate. It was apocalyptic. Not for us, so much. But future generations of whatever species of insect that was will learn about that day in history class. We were popping so many of them on the windshield that, from inside the van, it sounded like it was raining. I was going to take a picture of the front of the automobile and post it on social networks.
It was a strange, sweltering day, but spirits were high. We were making good time. And then, speaking of reasons to take a picture of the front of an automobile:
That happened. We were parked next to the guy in the picture and he pulled around in front of us too tightly and clipped our front bumper clean off. Eleven days after Paul Reed Smith, posing as a mechanic for a practical joke, told Dave that our vehicle needed “a whole new back end,” we found ourselves unexpectedly in need of a whole new front end.
“Karma” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind.
We exchanged information and stuff, but we were eager to get back on the road and the damage looked to be purely cosmetic, so we pulled back onto the interstate without doing much in the way of diagnostics. The damage was not purely cosmetic. As of today, we still don’t know the fullness of what’s messed up under the hood, but the alignment is shot (like, if you want to drive straight you have to turn the steering wheel about ninety degrees clockwise form where it should be) and we ended up having to tape down some parts of the wheel well that were scraping up against the tires. We hobbled our way to New Orleans.
We were originally going to blow past our beautiful home on the I-12 bypass, but because Sprinterfell was feeling more unsafe by the minute, we had to stop in town and change vehicles. After two weeks on the road, it was a bit painful to spend a thirty-minute layover in New Orleans waiting in the parking lot of a U-Haul store, but we needed to do a bit of hitch-shuffling to get our old vehicle (to which we fortunately still have access) in proper towing shape.
Certainly nothing more could have gone wrong, right? After all of that? Friday was done being terrible and we were only a few hours late. Home stretch, guys. Let’s roll. Wait, we need to stop for gas. Wait, the keys are locked in the van.
The only set of keys.
I’m almost-but-not-quite stupid enough to write a detailed report of how to break into a vehicle that I own and post it on the internet, but suffice it to say that there was a bit of MacGuyvering involved, and that The Revivalists were definitely not meant to be car thieves.
Certainly nothing more more could have gone wronger, right? After all of that? Friday was done being terrible-er and we were only a few hours more late. The rest of the drive actually managed to pass without incident, and we arrived in Lafayette well after we were supposed to, but with enough time to set up our instruments on the side of the stage, stretch our legs, and catch our breath before a hurry-up sound check. It was our first show in the state of Louisiana since early June, and it was a complete riot.
And that’s the story of the worst day of banding ever. The show technically started after midnight, so literally nothing good happened on Friday, September 20th, 2013. Sorry if it was your birthday or something. Your birthday sucked. The end.
Just kidding. It never ends. That was only two days out of four, and two engagements out of five. Saturday could not have possibly been a better welcome-home present. Sincerest gratitude is due to everyone who came out and helped actually sell out Tipitina’s. This was a major milestone, and, coming off of a pretty grueling Friday, one hell of a bounce-back. I’m sure Saturday will go down in the annals of band history as one of the best times ever. That is, assuming we ever amass enough history to necessitate annals.
Just what the hell is an annal, anyway?
We had to curtail the post-game celebrations on Saturday (but we didn’t) because we had a very long Sunday. Sunday was a challenging double-header, but now that it’s over I can look back and say that it was a great way to cap off the tour. We started by hosting a Tipitina’s workshop, which was cool because we were able to just leave our gear onstage after the show on Saturday. It was very rewarding to have a chance to engage the next generation of musicians, and these workshops hold a special significance to The Revivalists, because Zack and Andrew met at one of them many years ago.
And then it was back in the van.
One quick load out, one quick drive, one extremely slow truck stop Subway franchise . . . one quick load in, one quick sound check, and just like that we were ready for the last show of the last weekend of the last tour of the first part of the month. It was loud and hot under the low roof at Happy Harbor, and it didn’t take long to get the foundations shaking.
And just like that, it was over. And just like that, it’s on again. We’re headed to Tuscaloosa tonight.
Tonight is our last night playing with a wonderful band out of Oakland called The Tumbleweed Wanderers, and I urge you very strongly to listen to all of their harmonious musical offerings. They’ve been a great group of guys with whom to share stages and green rooms, and we’ve become completely enamored with them over the course of ten-or-so shows.
Just kidding. It never ends.