Back in 2014, Big Sir embarked on a small European summer tour and I wanted to share 24 hours of events that make touring in a small situation, so valuable. Even though there were not a lot of the typical touring stories that happened on that run, the small car travels have their own unique challenges and payoffs.
Let me start with the totally, unbelievable payoffs we experienced upon arriving in Livorno, Italy. As we get to this on-the-beach venue, we learn we may play outside because of the good weather that summer. As the day unraveled, there is a small storm that gathers off the coast, moving the gig to the indoor club. Lisa and I prefer this because we know how intimate Surfer Joe (the club name) was so we get even more excited.
Across the street from the venue is one of Italy’s best gelatarias so before soundcheck, we head over to Caprilli and I order my usual, yogurt gelato. Insane gelato in every way and made with all natural ingredients on the spot.
We head back to the venue and we meet up with our friend, Toto. Toto runs another venue in Livorno but it's closed for the summer; Toto is such a good dude that he offered to take us to the legendary Melafumo restaurant. This place is an awesome seafood restaurant that has the spirit of Che Guevara all over it. To top it off, they don't like to charge a lot of money for what they offere because that is not in the spirit of Che. Just look at the food pics and you will see how lucky we were.
After dinner, we head back to the venue where Lisa and I have really great show and do well in merchandise sales. As I finish packing my gear, I look up and there are world famous chefs Chuck Hughes and Danny Smiles from Montreal! I had texted them when I learned they were in Italy, telling them we were in Livorno, eating at the great Melafumo and playing a show. They got to the restaurant for dinner after we had left for the gig but they still managed to catch a couple of songs of ours at Surfer Joe! I had given them Big Sir's Digital Gardens, and they texted me that it was the soundtrack to their Italian travels!
After the show, Lisa, Fed (our amazing driver/friend) and I head to our friend’s apartment for our night’s rest and we learn that there are only two beds, since they didn't know we had a third person with us. I volunteer to sleep on the couch and this is where the challenges start to come into play. The couch was a two seater so I kind of sleep in an S shape for a couple of hours, while battling mosquitoes. I am cursed with the fact that mosquitoes love me and will bite my skin until I am swollen like a pickle. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get in the car to grab some sleep.
Next stop is Rome, a city I love with all my heart. It is one of the most breathtaking cities in the world and though we are playing just outside the city, I am still excited. As we were driving to Rome, we learn our show was once again, moved from an outside venue to a club. The problem this time is that the club is very far from the original site. We become concerned when we also learn that the promoter has changed. The entire car ride from Livorno to Rome, we are on Fed’s phone and emailing, trying to get as much info as possible.
Having traveled extensively the last ten years, I knew we had to leave Livorno with enough time to get to our hotel, rest a bit and then head to the venue. That always works unless you hit traffic and this is Rome and, of course, we hit a huge wreck because of the storm over the city. We end up getting to our hotel, dropping our bags and heading straight to the venue. The venue is awesome but the owner is concerned that there was not enough notice to tell people about the venue change. We become concerned because it is never good when a venue is worried about attendance.
As our set time arrives, we end up playing to 15-20 people which is fine by us, but not the venue. When we go to get paid our guarantee, the venue says they didn’t make enough to pay us and Lisa and I have to take the hit. Taking a loss on such a short tour really hurts but in no way am I complaining. We had the opportunity to play our music in beautiful cities and we got to eat some of the best food in the world. It is just life’s ups and downs, that's just how it goes and I wouldn't trade it for anything.