The “tour” story about Bandanna apparently gave some people, including my beloved Mrs Gibbo, the idea that touring was some sort of wonderful, bohemian lifestyle chock full of naked women, intoxicating substances and midnight law breaking! In an effort to correct this very misguided idea, I would like to present a tale from the other end of the scale. A real tour!
It was 1992 and we were working for a great bloke by the name of James Blundell.
He was red hot property at the time and we worked hard. 6 shows per week, every week for 6-10 weeks at a time. If we could fit a matinee show in we would as well. Monday was classed as a “day off”. It’s funny how driving up to 12 hours can be considered a day off. We literally were on the job 7 days a week for weeks on end but it was great. I can honestly say that some of the best times I ever had professionally were with this band. There were a lot of factors that contributed. James himself was a thorough professional and a real gentleman. The band were absolutely red hot, all top class musicians and all top blokes. They were an absolute joy to watch. The crew all got on well and all did a great job. The standard of venues was usually good. Clubs, theatres etc and the hours were very civilized for people in our line of work. It was usually an 8pm to 10:30 show which is much earlier than a rock gig.
A day usually went something like this.
- Wake up in a hotel/motel room somewhere at around 8am
- Have coffee, shower, get dressed all while watching the tele.
- Drive to the next town on the list. Stop for breakfast/lunch on the way.
- Arrive for load in at venue at 1pm.
- The first road case off the truck was known as VIC. Very Important Case. In it was an urn, tea, coffee, biscuits etc. This got set up first so the water was boiled for a hot cuppa after the load in.
- Load in and setup 8 tonnes of PA, lights, staging, instruments etc. It usually took 3 hours as long as the room had easy access. Sometimes you carry that gear up as many as 4 floors, up the back fire escape quite often.
- Be ready for the band to arrive about 4:30pm for a sound check. This usually took an hour.
My brother Brett at his post side stage during a soundcheck. His job was to keep the whole band happy on stage by providing 8 seperate monitor mixes to an array of speakers on stage. Do you know what the difference between a Monitor Guy and a Toilet is? The toilet only has to deal with one arsehole at a time.
- You do a quick tidy up of any last minute crap like setting up the merchandise stand or such, followed by a search for something good for dinner. You try to have one “decent” meal a day if you can swing it.
- Get ready for “Doors open” at about 7pm.
- Support act on at 8pm for 30 minutes.
- Main Act at 8:30pm for nearly 2 hours.
- Pack up. With six crew we could pack up and load 8 tonne of gear into the truck in 1½ to 2 hours which usually got you back to you room not too far past midnight.
The never ending stream of black boxes. Note the downing of a well earned, refreshing ale.
- A few late night beers and a little tele and off to sleep.
- Do it all over again, and again, and again!
As I said, they were pretty good hours really but shit we did some driving. This is, to the best of my recollection, just one leg of a tour that we did, covering about 4 weeks.
Day 1, drive for about 1000k’s to meet up with the band and half the crew in Brisbane who have been doing record company promo shit.
Leaving NSW. Note the rainbow.
Arrive in Brisbane to find that the record company is still paying for room service. Yeehah!
The next day we are on in earnest. It starts with a drive to Gold Coast to pick up extra lights then off to Toowoomba for the first gig. Up 1 flight of steps!
then(roughly) Kingaroy, Caloundra, Gympie, and Bundaberg.
Some of the boys doing common after gig activities. One is passed out drunk. The other is dribbling shit to his Mrs on the phone just before passing out drunk.
We get a day off at some resort at Bundaberg before the show. The weather is shit so we just bum around all day but appreciate the rest already. We actually sit down to a real meal in a good restaurant. Wow.
Update. I was reminded that I had my first Cane Toad kicking experience in Bundaberg. Happy days indeed!
Then Gladstone, Rockhampton, Emerald, Dysart, Mackay, Townsville and Ayr. I get to catch up with my Auntie Margie and a few of the cousins in Townsville. We even get devon sango’s with Uncle Ray the next day on our way out of town. Bleedin’ luxury.
Enough of the socialising though, it’s off to Cairns.
Even though the gig is at Innisfail, we drive a couple of hours past it as we are staying in Cairns and for some forgotten reason, we need to go there first. We then turn around and drive a couple of hours back to the gig at Innisfail. On the way back to Cairns after the gig that night, I fell asleep driving the truck. Luckily, the guy in the passenger seat was awake and managed to wake me up. He only realised I was asleep when we crossed the road rounding a bend and ended up sideways. Something that is not recommended in a truck! I was wide awake for the rest of the trip.
We got back to our room in the early hours of the morning to find that two of our rooms, mine included, had been robbed. In all the years I travelled, this was the only time it ever happened. They got away with mostly clothes and a bit of cash. I think a few other things went missing that weren’t reported to the Police! Bastards.
We had the next day off in Cairns which was spent mostly sleeping. That night we walked into town to find a Blues Festival going on. It turns out that one of the acts are friends of mine and I am drafted into doing sound for them. So much for the day off. We end the night at Johnos Blues Bar, pissed as nits, watching Phil Emmanuel go off. What a great night.
The next day we do our gig and as soon as the truck is loaded, we start the trek to Mt Isa. The first stop is Townsville for a few hours sleep in a bed. Then head about 1500k’s inland. Fuck it’s a long way. This is the last gig of the run and after this we are heading back to Sydney for a few days off before doing Southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Shutting the truck in Mt Isa, ready for the 3 day drive home. That pan is 26foot long and is chockablock full. Top to bottom, front to back. My Uncle Ray who is a “real truckie” said it was a “poofy town truck that had no right to be driven so far.”
The truck becomes a central part of life on the road. You drive it, sleep in it, eat in it and it carries your entire life for months at a time.
Nearing the end of the first day driving home, we came across the famous Blue Heeler Hotel at Kynuna which was the subject of James’ first(I think) Golden Guitar winning song. We decided it would be a great idea to stop for a pie and a few beers. The publican was really friendly regailed us with stories of when the film clip was being shot. It was a real big deal for them and they treated us well.
Leaving The Blue Heeler.
Crossing the desert that night we were treated to the beautiful sight of a desert sunset.
“Only two more days of driving boys, and we’re home!”