It was a Saturday, a day like any other day that we’d get up at 3:00 AM, fly across the country (with a connection of course) and then drive two hours to a gig. Then back home the next AM, a typical fly date/kamikaze mission. Except we didn’t realize that there was bad weather moving through the lower part of the country. When we arrived in Atlanta I had a message from the promoter asking me to call him ASAP. “You guys aren’t flying through Dallas, are you?” We weren’t. “That’s good because (insert name of National Co-Headliner Act here) is stuck in Dallas and is having trouble getting out. Let me know if you encounter any difficulty.” Little did we know what was in store.
We made it to Albuquerque and when I turned on my phone it blew up.
Phone call from the Lead Singer/Guitar Player — who was traveling from another part of the country via different path, was stuck in Denver and it was not looking good for him to make the show.
Hey I’m stuck herein Denver and I’m trying to re-book.
Phone call to travel agent:
Get him outta there ASAP.
Phone call to LSGP:
Travel agent is working on it.
We were somewhat short of a dozen because we had a sub for our regular drummer. The other singers were sick. To lose the LSGP would be problematic to say the least.
Phone call to promoter:
One of our guys may not make it because he is stuck in Denver.
Comment from promoter: which guy?
Me: <Gulp, fingers crossed> the lead guitar player.
Phone call from our management:
NCHA is stuck in Dallas, and the airport is closed because they had a quarter-inch of snow. The promoter is freaking because the show is sold out. We’ll know in a short while if LSGP will make it. BTW: find out the condition of the roads out there. I’m hearing rumors that roads between the airport and venue are closed.
Phone call to promoter:
Are the roads closed?
No, our driver is there to pick you up.
Crew at baggage claim:
We have a missing bag. Of course we do.
Great my day just became an hour longer. Truth be told, the folks in the baggage office filed the paperwork in 15 minutes.
Phone call from management:
Find out if there are any inbound flights from Denver this evening.
I run around the airport to the ticketing desk and find that yes there is an inbound flight from Denver due at 8:00 PM (we’re scheduled to go on at 8:30) and we’re an hour and a half from airport to venue. And that flight is sold out. Guess that won’t work.
Now it’s official: the lead singer is not making the gig.
Secondary singer begins having palpitations. We start the ride to the venue. The roads are slushy but certainly passable.
Phone call from manager:
If the promoter wants, we’ll have to do the gig without him.
Phone call to promoter:
LSGP will definitely not make the gig. We can still do this (we’ve done it before) so let us know how you’d like to proceed.
Let me run it by the venue GM and get back to you.
An hour and a half later we arrive at the venue and it’s tense: the promoter asks us to go ahead with the show but can we start a bit earlier since NCHA is not performing. Of course we can.
My crew is on stage tweaking gear along with one of the guitar players, who will fill the part of LSGP. He’s programming his rig for the sounds he’ll need while I troll the ‘net searching for and printing lyrics to the songs that he’ll sing. Meanwhile it looks like — despite the announcement that NCHA is not appearing — the house will be packed.
In the dressing room we scrape together a set list and cue the printed lyric sheets. The drummer who is subbing can sing so he’ll help out with backing vocals. The bass player will sing (for the first time ever) one of the group’s hits, and the second guitar player is working on parts he’s never played before.
We hit at 7:40 PM and after the first song is very well received, the singer makes the announcement regarding the modified lineup. Crowd reaction is mixed but after another song or two they don’t seem to care. They’re going bananas like it’s Elvis returned to Earth or something.
LSGP has found a flight home from Denver. As I am about to take a deep breath after the show has ended, I learn that all of our flights home the next AM are canceled — which I suppose should not have been a big surprise given the fact that we were supposed to make a connection in Dallas. America Airlines, in their infinite wisdom (read: stupidity), have re-booked me, and not the remainder of the guys, from Dallas to home two days later. But they did not re-book me from Albuquerque to Dallas. Guess they though I’d walk. Buncha’s dumbasses.
Phone call to travel agent at 10:00 PM
Please do anything you can to get us out of here
We wait and wait, but nothing until we hear the words no one wants to hear.
Phone call from Travel Agent:
There’s nothing I can do now so we’ll have to revisit this tomorrow.
I tell the promoter we will be staying an extra night so at least we can have hotel rooms and it’s no problem.
Email from Travel Agent at 9:00 AM
Email to Travel Agent at 9:03 AM
We’ll fly to any airport within a couple of hours from home, rent cars and drive if necessary.
Email from Travel Agent at 10:00 AM
Email from Travel Agent at 2:50 PM
I have four seats on a red eye that leaves at midnight and gets you home at 6:00 AM.
There are six of us. Anyone got an antacid? Or perhaps a bottle of Jack?
Text from me to the band and crew:
Sit tight, we may have a shot.
Phone call from Travel Agent at 3:29 PM
I got another seat.
Thank you God.
Me in person to band and crew:
Mr. X does not have a seat but Travel Agent is working on it.
I arrange ground transportation from hotel to airport, figuring that we should be there early. Meanwhile Mr. X is awaiting delivery of his lost bag from yesterday.
Phone call from Travel Agent at 4:16 PM:
I got the seat for Mr. X
Thank you God
Text from Mr. X at 6:15 PM
My bag arrived.
We all depart from the hotel at 8:15 PM and reach the airport by 9:40 PM — plenty of time. When we check in, we learn that the inbound flight (our plane) was delayed and so our departure will be delayed, until approximately 1:00 AM. Ouch. I’m too old for this.
Right now we’re sitting at the gate waiting, amusing ourselves with sillyness, iPads, videos and snacks. Why oh why is there not establishment in this airport serving adult beverages? We still have 40 minutes before boarding. Stay tuned.
We didn’t board the plane until 2:30 AM, probably took off around 3:00 AM, and landed around 7:45 AM. Sitting directly behind me was the proverbial kicking, screaming young child but thanks to Divine Intervention, she fell asleep after take off and made barely a peep until we landed.
Stressful? You bet. And we get to do it again next week.