Day 1: The Tour Starts
11 Days ago we left for our annual winter tour of the Western Cape. What follows is the account of the men who survived.
Any tour that starts on Friday the 13th does make me worry a bit. I woke up at 3am on Friday morning at my house in Pretoria, the capitol city of South Africa, affectionately known as “Snor City” which means “City of Moustaches” and started the journey to collect the band before we departed for the 12-hour trip ahead of us.
The first port of call was Clint’s (The Bass Player) house who lives about two miles from me. Then we headed off to Johannesburg to collect Andy (Drummer) & our Road Manager (Pumpkin), which is about 30 miles from Pretoria.
After an invigorating session of packing the gear we fueled up and hit the road. Every single piece of gear we use has a unique place in the back of our pick up where it fits perfectly and it’s Andy’s job to make sure we pack it right.
Everyone in the band has completely different music tastes but we all agree on one thing: Joe Bonamassa’s “The Ballad of John Henry,” my favorite blues rock album of the last decade was a perfect choice to make the 500 mile journey through South Africa’s version of a desert, The Karoo, a bit shorter.
6pm that evening we arrived in the Karoo town of Beaufort West and we checked in to our usual spot, a sketchy motel just off the national highway, called “The Wagon Wheel” which kind of resembles the motels you see in low budget slasher movies.
We woke the next morning in the freezing temperatures with snow looming and warnings of possible road closures ahead of us, so we got back on the road as quickly as possible. Snow in Africa… Yes, it happens.
Day 2 Wellington: (Wine, & Brandy country)
Show number 1 for the tour was the “Bordinghuis Theatre” in a town called Wellington. A small, 80 seat theatre, which we had sold out months in advance.
The thing that concerned me the most when we got there for sound check was that our stage monitors were twice the size of the front house speakers, so Pumpkin had to get the sound engineer and the venue owners to swop them around.
Sound check was brief but successful so we retired to our backstage which was actually just a garden shed. Good times…
We started the show at 8pm that night and the audience was very appreciative of the music in spite of the fact that we are actually way too loud for a venue that size and the freezing cold of winter.
Day 3: The Gecko Bar, Hermanus (Whale watching country)
We sold out the 150-seat bar venue in the harbor of Hermanus, a small coastal town.
The last time I had played the venue was in 2004 and my memories of the place were not very fond ones. We arrived to a sound crew vigorously setting up the stage and sound to an already filled up room. Sound check is always tedious when there is already an audience present. I did a quick check on my microphone (1, 2 etc..) and in true bar tradition, a drunken local, thought it would be funny to shout out the rest of the numbers after I counted my “1,2” on the mic. It always amazes me that people consider that an original joke.
In spite of the hassles, we were really firing at show time that night. Everything felt right and it turned into one of those rare nights where we all came off stage very happy with the way we had played.
Day 4: Monday (The only off day)
The only day off this tour was Monday and we were all looking forward to that day. Our accommodation was at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction, in Cape Town, South Africa’s mother city. That’s when it began.
Sharing a room with Clint is for the most part, a pleasant experience. But the dangerous mixture of fiber based breakfast cereals & protein shakes caused an unceasing wind to blow through the night. The gas Clint was expelling is what I would imagine a dead Labrador’s feminine region to smell like. Nothing like a bit of that to clear the old sinuses.
After this the rest of the tour started in full force. We had eight days and eight shows left. It was going to be hard work.
Keep an eye on the Blues Rock Review website as well as our fan page for the next blog, where we will be bringing you some more stories from the road and tour. Cheers!
- Dan Patlansky