Hitman's Flying Circus
This is a look behind the scenes of what we've done, how we got there, and various issues we faced. It's not about what we've had for breakfast, or ramblings. If you have an interest in the REAL story of a struggling band, trying to break through, then read on.
We left off with the tour of 2011, and being short one trombone player.
In my younger days, I played with an outfit that did weddings, corporate gigs, etc. and worked with an excellent bassist, who also played a great trombone. But, he had relocated to Boston. And, even worse, he had a day job.
So I called anyway. And, in a stroke of luck, he was very open to the whole thing. Great - one problem solved! Next problem - merch. We didn't have enough time to get the new CD pressed. Solution: a whole bunch of "one-offs", hand made CD cases, and (of course) all done at the very last possible minute.
Last problem - working papers for everyone. You need working papes when flying into the UK, or you can (and it happens, too) get turned back at customs. And nobody could find a company that would do it for us, except for one company that charged an insane amount of money. So I kept looking.
And found Ben Ruth at CMEAS, who got all the permits done in plenty of time. Except I gave him the wrong information (hey, I tried, ok?) which we found out...
,,,the day before we left. So here's how good this guy is - it all got done, and when we landed in Heathrow, despite being pulled over by customs and forced to sit on the Group W bench until they confirmed my papers, it all went through. So shameless plug here (we've used Ben ever since), if you need working papers for the UK, contact Ben at "workpermits at cmeas.com" (using the word instead of the @ symbol to stop the spammers).
So, with the full band, we landed, went to the car rental, and realized there was no way in hell we were going to fit everyone into the two vehicles we reserved. A young lady who worked there, named Catherine Highlander, saw our panic stricken faces. She came to the rescue (which is why, if you look at the "thank you" section of "Blues Enough", you'll see her name). She somehow managed to get us a couple of assault vehicle sized vans that actually got pretty good mileage, for about the same price we reserved the other cars for, and we were off! Never found out what happened to Ms. Highlander, but I hope she's doing well.
Our first gig was at the Limelight Theater in Aylesbury. Cool! Full house, I'd played there before with UK bands backing me up, we're all excited -
...and the sound man didn't make it. But he sent a sub. But the sub didn't know how to hook everything up. And the speakers blew. And he didn't know how to mix. And there were no monitors.
And it all went fine. We jerry-rigged (jury rigged? geri-rigged?) enough speakers to get an out system. We played in front of them, and didn't get feedback. The audience had fun, we had a few weird moments but it all worked out, and it set up a trend - the first gig of every tour is, um, "challenging". And it's pretty much held to that.
One of the gigs was on the main stage at the Maryport Blues Festival, which was fantastic. Great people, excellent crowd, lots of fun. And then I took everyone into the town, which is a beautiful old place, to get some real fish and chips. But during the festival, the town gets pretty frantic - too many people, too many drunks, too many chances for a fight.
Like the drunk guy who stumbled into my wife. Thinking he was trying to grab her purse (hey, we're New Yorkers), I shoved him away. A couple of minutes later, his three friends showed up looking for a fight. I'm looking at the little guy with the big mouth, and didn't see the heavy guy run up to shove me - into a plate glass window.
I guess the fine merchants at Maryport were ready for this kind of thing, because it didn't break. I'm thinking Plexiglass. My bassist interceded, apologized (!) to the cretins, and we went back to the car - with one very pissed off Hitman.
All in all, it went well except one of us who was a "friend of Bill's" fell off the wagon - hard - and that will always cause problems. But we made it through, and came back to the US determined to work harder, and - not being happy (still) with the sound of "Blues Enough", to get it sounding right.
To be continued.
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The Hitman Blues Band
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