HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ROSE LANE! My baby’s birthday. We’ve been moving around so much I barely had time to get her a card, but couldn’t find a suitable present. But I’ll get her fixed up somewhere along the line in the next week or so. We took our time getting up, eventually going down to the hotel restaurant for some lunch. We were hoping for a bit of luck with the weather today, but to no avail.
Clouds covered Halifax, and while the rain held off for a good bit of the day, by the time we got to the gig in the afternoon, the bottom dropped out. This would be our first of a few shows with Alice Cooper opening up. A band called Sloane was the first to go on, followed by AC, then Kanye West and then us. I was surprised to learn that my old pal Damon Johnson was playing with Cooper. Damon was the main man in a band called Brother Cane that I did a record with. They had a hit called “Got No Shame” that I was on. They eventually broke up and Damon did some solo stuff, and now has the lead guitar position for the current Alice Cooper tour. We were reunited after their set finished, and Rosie and I enjoyed seeing him and catching up on his life and career.
It was also good to see Alice again. Way back in the early 70’s we did some gigs together when I was with Alex Taylor, and also when I was with Dr. John and later with the Allman Brothers. They had been hit by the rain and were soaked after their set.
Kanye also got rained on during his set, and we thought it might let up by the time we went on, but no such luck. I have to say we were definitely due for a soaking…. we’ve been more than lucky so far on this tour and have only had three or four rain shows. There should have been many more…but the Gods have smiled on us! There is something special about rain shows anyway…everyone gets wet together and it’s endearing. Of course I have to confess that Charlie and I don’t really get too wet. Both the drums and the keyboards require being covered as they can suffer severely if they get really wet. Anyway, it was a fun show in spite of the rain, and a great time was had by all.
The next day we had just enough time to have a little walk-about in Halifax before our departure for NY. We went down to the harbor area and had lunch at a casual seafood place near the water. We both tried the lobster rolls…somewhat different than what we expected, but nevertheless they hit the spot. Afterwards we walked back up the steep incline of streets to the Lord Nelson and zipped up our carry-on bags, met our group in the lobby and loaded up for the ride to the airport. Being an international flight, the logisticians had arranged for us to make a short stop in Portsmouth to do the customs and immigration, and then it was on to NYC. We landed at LaGuardia and were bussed to Manhattan to stay at the Palace, our usual NYC digs. But Rose Lane and I wouldn’t be there long…we had a commitment that had been on the books for quite some time…before the extension of the tour was announced…to go to Reno for an event. But we would spend the night in NYC, and after consulting with the concierge, we had dinner at a Mexican place called Mama Mexico. It was very crowded and loud…not exactly what we had intended. The food was ok, but we weren’t exactly blown away with the experience. The waiters seemed to all be in a big hurry and we felt rushed during the meal. No matter, though. We finished up and went back to the Palace to unpack and relax a while before bed. We love the Palace…we always get a really nice suite with two large rooms…a living room and nice sized bedroom. There is also a small kitchen and a second bathroom, which is cool. The staff there are very nice and remember our names. A few of the guys at the bell desk are Chuck fans and have followed me with the Allmans, Clapton, Sea Level and Stones…and even know my own solo music as well. But like I said, we wouldn’t be here long. The next two days would be quite interesting!
We were able to have a leisurely morning on the 25th, as our flight to Reno wasn’t until about 2. So we took our time getting up and getting ready for the travel. Reno is a long way from NY, and there are no direct flights, so we’d have a good bit of travel on our plate. We left from LaGuardia and connected in Denver, then from there to Reno arriving at 8pm. The Reno event would be for the HMSHost Company. HMS runs many different concessions at airports and roadways all over the US. Anything from their own brand stores to Starbucks and other brands. Our friend Bob Morrison from a public relations and ad firm called CMT Advertising based in Virginia Beach had made the arrangements and hooked me up with them. I was to be a featured author at their booth at the ACI (Airport Council International) show, which was being held in Reno this year. They had purchased about 250 copies of my autobiography, “Between Rock and a Home Place” and my children’s book, “The Tree Farmer”. They would be giving them away at their booth, and I would be signing them. Bob had thought that it would be a good match, and he was right. The HMS folks are really great people and we all hit it off right away. But before we were to meet them the next day, Bob would pick us up at the airport and take us to dinner. We were staying at the Nugget hotel, and as there were several restaurants there and it was getting fairly late, we made it easy on ourselves and had a casual meal at a steak house in the Nugget. Bob prepped us on what to expect at the event the next day, and after dinner we headed up to our rooms to get some rest.
We didn’t have to be at the show until noon, so we were able to sleep in some and take our time…which was a good thing considering that it would be a very long day. We met Bob downstairs about 11 and had a quick lunch before going to the show, which was at a different hotel. We arrived, and introductions were passed around. We met Sheila McGee, Les Cappetta, Joan Ryzner and other members of the company, all of whom were really gracious and friendly, making us feel right at home. Sometimes these kinds of events can be unpredictable, and I was unsure of how I would draw for them at their booth. But I was really pleasantly surprised when we got underway…the line to meet me and get the books signed was very long…winding past the HMSHost booth and around several others. I signed for two hours straight, and in the end we ran out of books with probably 75 or so people still wanting them. A huge success, and we were all pleased beyond our expectations.
It went so well that Joan told us she wanted to get the books and perhaps my CD’s as well in some of their stores. This is great news for us, as we believe this kind of marketing is just right for our situation. We enjoyed some social time with them before saying goodbye and heading to the airport for our red eye flight back to NY. We had a 6:30pm flight that connected to Phoenix, had a short layover and then a direct from there to NYC, getting in at 6am. Ouch! At the Reno airport we had some time before the flight and spent it with Bob having a light bite to eat. Joan and her assistant from HMS also had a flight out and met us for a short time before we all headed our separate ways. It had been a win/win/win situation for which we were all grateful. Now, the hard part!
The first part of the flight was about an hour and twenty minutes…not too bad. But then we had the red eye from Phoenix to NY, which was close to 5 hours. We managed to get a bit of kip on the plane, and arrived in NY a little early, around 5:45. Luckily the traffic wasn’t bad and we were back at the Palace about 6:30. We crawled into bed and slept until noon.
Headed down to the stadium around 3:30. We couldn’t get in a sound check due to the early opening of the doors. I went to my dressing room to work on the set list, which would be similar to the Boston one, but with Only Rock and Roll as the opener, and Far Away Eyes before the ballad and Just My Imagination in there. Then went to see about my guests that were coming. Fred and Dinah Gretsch would be coming…. Fred had graciously given me a couple of guitars that I have signed for charities, and I wanted to make sure they were well taken care of. I found them in the Rattlesnake and chatted for a while; eventually taking them back to meet Ronnie, Keith and Charlie. Fred had evidently met Charlie before, and they had a nice long conversation. I was able to get a photo of them with Charlie and Ronnie, but when we went to do Keith, their camera had run out of film. Anyway, they had a great time.
I checked in on some other guests I had arranged passes for…Dan Beeson, John Dewberry, Peter Newcomb, Wally McLallen, Jon Weisswasser, David James, Tyson Blue and some others. Found most of them, but couldn’t find Wally even though I peeked in several times. We also had the usual little “warm up” time in Keith’s room, going over Far Away Eyes, Just My Imagination, You Got The Silver and Sway. Then it was Showtime, and we moseyed on down the hall to rock NYC for the sixth time on the tour. And that we did!
Travel day to Louisville. But before we headed out, I had a luncheon with Leslie Cauley. Leslie is an excellent writer that works for USA Today. She and I have been in touch several times over the past year about her doing a feature on me, and while we haven’t nailed it yet, I’m hoping that she will come down to Charlane when we’re off tour and be able to see what we do there first hand. She has also been gracious to help me with editing an op-ed piece I tried to get in USA and some other places. Dan Beeson had arranged a lunch for us at a place called Lever House that was just around the corner from the Palace. We had a nice light lunch and a great conversation, with Leslie asking some good questions. That wound up at a little after 2, and we were slated to leave at 2:30….so I said goodbye to Leslie and Dan and I headed back to the Palace. Rose Lane had checked us out of the hotel, and after we said bye to Dan, we got on the bus for LaGuardia and the flight to Louisville.
On the flight, Mick asked me to meet with him for an hour or so in his room that evening to work on ideas for the Austin, TX show and the Beacon Theater shows, both of which are to be filmed. That sort of blew out a dinner that Rose Lane and I had planned to have with the Kennedys and Simpsons. So when we landed I called Neal to apologize about missing the get together, and after settling in our Seelbach Hilton room, went to meet with Mick. We covered quite a lot of territory, but still have a lot of research, work and rehearsals to do to prepare for those shows. Still, we made a good start.
After that, Rosie and I went out on our own to the Red River Tavern for dinner, which is in the City Life section of Louisville, just around the corner of the Seelbach. By then it was about 10pm, and we were pretty wasted from the activities and travel of the last several days. We had our light dinner and walked back to the hotel. There we saw the Corys and the Simpsons, and talked to them for a few minutes before saying good night and heading up to the room…. having no trouble falling asleep.