Monday, July 23, 2007

Dispatch: Portland and the way things go

So the July run to Canada is now officially in the books, (thank you Canadian fans! You guys are awesome!!) But not without one last gasp of drama and intrigue. I usually don’t like to show the downside of what we do, but this story is an example of what musicians sometimes have to go through to do what they love. In short, this is what we get paid for. The last date of the tour was to be a charity event, benefiting battered women. As a side note it was to pay us a fairly substantial amount of money, not big money, but in the course of the way this particular tour was laid out, the money was going to be needed to get us home. Not that someone needs to pay me to be against hurting women, but it’s just how the business end of this particular show worked out. Anyway, the gig was in Portland ME. Stop reading this now, open another window, go to and type in the distance from Nashville to Portland. Figure time and fuel and you’ll see that a gig has to be fairly lucrative to justify that kind of distance. Granted, we were in Addison NY (awesome gig!!) the night before the Portland gig, but it was a 20 hour drive home staring us in the face, with all that that entails.
To continue, unbeknownst to us, the “money man” for the Portland gig disappears about 2 weeks before the show. Why we weren’t notified of this earlier is just one of the many mysteries that fall into place in this narrative. We are under contract to perform and we are warriors, so not showing up isn’t really an option, but the knowledge that suddenly the financial bottom is falling out of the gig does give one pause. From Addison to Portland was a 9 hour drive, so we played Addison and then drove overnight to Portland arriving sometime around 10:00 am. The hotel has rooms for us under the “money man’s” name, but since they haven’t been paid for, we have to pay for the rooms if we want to get into them. We’ve been in constant contact with a nice lady who we’ll call “the coordinator” who after many calls in which she stresses her non-liability and the fact the she’s just “the coordinator” (even though her name and signature are on the contract, but we’ll get to that in a minute), agrees to call the hotel for us. After her call, we then call her back (which we did most of the day as no one seemed to want to call us first!) whereupon she tells us that under advice of LEGAL COUNSEL, she’s not going to put any money out of her own pocket lest she appear liable. The fact that “the coordinator” has sought legal counsel, doesn’t escape me on the warning meter.
Let’s pause for a moment and sum up; We are 9 hours further from home (20 hours total), with no money, no hotel, an uncertain gig (scheduled for 11:00 pm) and no one wanting to take responsibility for this fast sinking ship that only the SHB seems to be riding on. It’s pointed out to me by various people involved that if we don’t play, we void the contract and have no recourse to pursue legal action to get our money back. As I said before, we never really think of not playing because we are warriors and we don’t bend or back-up. Nevertheless, it’s quite a quandary when you think about it, which is really all I’m able to do since I, a) Have no hotel room to sleep or shower in, b) can’t start for home.
So it falls like this. “The coordinator” and a companion meet us and lead us to the gig for load-in at 1:00pm. She then agrees (I suppose against the advice of legal counsel) to pay for our hotel rooms so we can at least have a place to shower and sleep. She does also arrange with the folks at Chili’s to give us a discount for a meal. (Thanks to Chili’s!)We show up at 9:30 as we would for any other gig. We’re 5th on the bill and headlining. One act, a friend of “the money man” is a no show…hmmmm. We play a great set. My boys are bad no matter what the circumstances. We pack up and leave. No one thanks us for being professional and keeping up our end of the deal. No one commiserates our plight, offers us a hand loading out, or throws us some gas money, just the old after show disappearing act. They do, however, record our show (without permission) play it back over the loud speakers while we pack up and then tell us that they can’t give us a copy because they have to leave the venue and don’t have time, but we’re welcome to track them down and they’ll send us a copy when they have a chance.
So what have I learned? I remain staunchly against any form of abuse and I still think that anyone who would hurt a woman is a punkass bitch. I think that our life will go on much as before (albeit, with more conversations with attorneys in my near future.) I’m sorry for what we went through but I’m glad we played. We were professionals. We dedicated a song to Tammy Faye Baker who passed away the previous night. I would love to come back to Portland and play a regular gig. We had some great fans that came out to support us and it was awesome to see some friendly faces in the middle of the siege. “Moneyman” if you read this, I don’t hate you or bear you ill will. I am, however, going to hunt you down and you should pray that the only thing I do is sue the shit out of you.

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