I write this in the wee hours of the morning, after sailing the seas of asphalt this past weekend.
My band Rogue! had a gig in Portland at the White Eagle on Nov. 9. We drove up the day before and left the day after. Sunday the 10th, we left about 7:30 a.m. and got back about 1:30 a.m.
Does it necessarily make sense to drive all that way for one gig? Most would say no. However, when we were offered the gig, I didn’t want to say no. What did we have to lose?
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it takes to make a dream your reality — the part of the journey where you’re entering uncharted territory or venturing into blank pages of the manual that have yet to be written.
As the great Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead said in a 2011 South by Southwest interview, “The mistakes I’ve made don’t exist anymore. Go out and make your own mistakes.”
Thankfully, this gig doesn’t fit into that category.
A similar thing happened last March in Nashville, when I drove there in two days for a Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp.
We left North Hollywood at 5:30 p.m., Friday and by the time we arrived in Midland, Texas at 5 p.m., the next day, I was a different person. That’s not even counting the drive from Nashville to New Mexico in 24 hours, after we had finished.
We took shifts driving and sleeping in rest stops, until we were finally reprieved by some motor lodge next to the interstate.
Having done this, driving back from Portland to the AV would be difficult, but not unusual for me at this point.
However, I don’t think my band and our openers, Janell Crampton and Peter McGuire, have driven that far in one go.
My drummer and I tackled the driving in shifts and chunks of the Golden and Beaver States. One would tackle the farmlands, the other would tackle Sacramento through Shasta.
Becoming one with the van is critical. You find your space early and nestle in. The smell becomes a part of you and you a part of it.
Even in the winter, it can get fairly ripe in there, as we all discovered. We arrived at our drummer’s house at 5 a.m., to pack the cargo area and managed to fit a six-piece drum kit, an Ampeg BR100 with two pedal boards, a Fender Deluxe Reverb with a pedal board, a full-range keyboard with amp, four guitars and all of our personal items.
It was a solid pack up until the cursed keyboard stand wouldn’t fold down all the way. We put it on a seat in the middle row of the van.
The poor bastard who sat in that row (sorry Peter) would get the occasional wake-up call when the stand fell into him during a sharp turn or sudden takeoff.
The drives were filled with the usual shenanigans and conversations peppered in with long bouts of silence. I love the first couple of tours, going from laughter and frivolity to seven hours in and it’s total silence, apart from the road noise. Fantastic.
Any doubt I had about my decision was squashed by my surroundings. Getting to drive past Mt. Shasta at sunset and waking up in Oregon the following morning was magic.
It dawned on me that any uncomfortable feeling I have a about travel is gone.
In some ways, I’m more at home rumbling down the road, at this point. I can be connected to everyone around me or completely withdraw and almost meditate.
I’ve talked about finding your way and drawing your own map as the crazy journey goes on.
Last weekend was a reminder that I’m deep in the jungle at this point. I’m totally fine with that. As strange as my life has gotten in the past year, at least this strangeness is in a positive direction.
Here’s to many more, Portland. Thank you for your hospitality.