Steve Cook's soul, song, and sweat.

Shinybass journal entry 07-09-12

Oh the places you will go…

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then you are all LOVING me right now.  It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted, but rest assured, I am still alive and kicking, and as cynical as ever.  My usual Monday posting time was sort of taken up by a little project we’re working on.  Without going into too many details, it basically took my Monday day off and turned it into a 6:30AM to 11PM day, with just enough time for a shower somewhere in there.  My next couple of days (off) were not, and I will get to those later.  Excuses?  Hell yes.  Of course they are.  As I always say, there is time for everything, and I honestly did have some time to write on Friday, but I figured that I would let you all enjoy the weekend, and not screw with the routine.  Not like I hadn’t already…

The bus was rolling for an 8-day excursion, which means that we bring everything that we could possibly need and didn’t want to buy to the bus and try to pack it all in.  People shake their heads at us – ‘How can you leave for that long?’ Well, you sort of get on the bus and go.  It’s quite routine.  And really, 8 or 9 days (I forget how long we were out) isn’t that big of a run.  Lots of bands stay out for months. And that’s why fantasy and reality get blurred – when we are on a bus, and away from home, we don’t have much to worry about.  I didn’t have to feed the dog or water my garden.  And that actually sucked b/c the entire 4×4 is gone – burnt up.  I forgot to ask our house sitter to water.  My wife did great up until SHE left for 5 days for her own vacation.  Gardening rule #1 – Plants need water.  A few tomatoes will be saved, but the rest is a steaming pile of wilted neglect.  So my countless hours out there will be lost, and now I can worry about other things the rest of the summer.  Like kayaking!

If I go day by day in our touring updates, you may become sickened at the boring routine of eating, showering, and playing shows, so I will try and remember a few of the highlights, lowlights, and citylights.  We started in Canton, OH, where a show with Kip Moore in searing temperatures set the tone for the days ahead.  Our bus is metallic and black, so staying cool was a bit of a challenge on a few of the days.  I do remember being a little mad at myself in Canton, because I chose to stay at show site instead of venturing out.  I visited the football HOF last year, right?  Well, it has been totally renovated and expanded, so I missed that boat.  A classic car museum across the street from the hotel?  Didn’t see that, either.  A small consolation prize, however, was the basement full of vintage cars at the hotel itself.  It was a smart man that leased the space for his dealership. And keeping with tradition – the obligatory 4-sided clock…

The next day found us in Hershey, PA, which they booked us for two shows in this tiny amphitheater inside the park.  If you have ever been to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, I felt like we were playing the bird show theater.  I am pretty sure the agents screwed this up, but we made the most of it.  The catering was exceptional, and the bowl of miniatures was gone by the end of the night.  90 minutes of parking lot football helped burn it all off after the show. My eyes were gazing towards the horizon, which is a crafty way of saying I was ready for the next town – Pittsburgh!

When I initially saw Steel City on the schedule, I called my Dad and brothers and asked if they wanted to come up and we could have a a little family hang.  The words were still lingering when I received confirmation from the airlines on all the tickets.  As fate would have it, the Pirates were playing the night before we hit Heinz field, so it was a match made in heaven.  After a few emails, we had some things lined up to have some fun.  And fun we did.  The family was given the tour of PNC park, and then for the game we had the whole band in a luxury suite.  Not bad digs. Backing up one day, as part of my long day off, I did get to see some pretty incredible things, more pictures and video of that to come…

The next morning was spent driving through my Dad’s old neighborhood, and we visited a house he lived in back in 1958.  The owners were nice enough to let us walk around and share stories with Dad.  I was very happy to see the house in great shape, which is always a crap shoot.  Conversely, we could have done without seeing my Grandma’s old house, which was immaculate when she lived there, and looks like hell now.  But time moves on.  It is just wood and shingles, and hopefully the memories from inside are good ones, which for me, they always were.

Playing in front of Heinz field was one of those ‘moments’ for me.  I had my family side stage, I was gazing out over thousands of fans with the backdrop of the Allegheny river and the cityscape of Pittsburgh behind that.  Plus, we had just come from inside the stadium, which was yet another ‘backstage’ tour of another of sports’ most storied franchises.  Add a dinner at Primanti’s Bros, and a visit to the Heinz/Smithsonian and Pittsburgh Sports museum and well, we were pretty much in Pittsburgh heaven.

After a massive July 4th fireworks display, we were off to the Rivers Casino for blackjack.  Two of our gang of four came out ahead, so that wasn’t terrible.  I hate being the first to leave, but I said our goodbyes and the bus rolled on to Chicago for a day off.  Staying at the Hard Rock has become very familiar to us, and as many times as I have visited Chicago, I have never been to the Museum of Art, which sits a scant half mile from the hotel.   After 3 hours in the museum the day before, then 2 1/2 walking around this one, my proverbial dogs were a-barking.  I am glad I pushed through, however, and experienced first-hand some of our world’s greatest masterpieces.  I wonder though, are these copies?  The security was out in force, but the art was relatively ‘exposed’.  Can someone explain this to me?


So the display in that last picture was fairly impressive.  I would imagine fighting with armor (poor horse) would pretty much suck, and as we sit in 100+ degree heat, then forget it.  I surrender.  Take my lands, and I will gladly sign over the deed.  I am sneaking off to make passage to a more tropical climate.  I’ll take my chances with malaria and scurvy.  Keep your damn metal hell.

Chicago eased into Iowa, which had us booked at yet another odd show – a biker rally with the Kentucky Headhunters.  10,000 sweaty, half-naked, leathery faced riders were the audience.  And when I say half naked, that is being generous.  It seems that the only people that take off their clothes at a festival are the people that you DON’T want to see naked, and I will say, it makes for a humorous evening seeing men in gold thongs rocking out next to large women in homemade assless chaps.  I am living the dream, indeed.

Which brings us to Summerfest.  Phil has played Summerfest for 11 straight years, and has played there more than any other artist.  This show is one of his biggest of the year, and it really is insane.  The people start camping out and jockeying for seats 6 hours before showtime.  The electricity from the show was simply astounding, and it really is hard to describe that to someone who is not onstage.  It’s stressful, euphoric, and fulfilling all at the same time.  The video doesn’t do it any justice. Just like last year, I was happy to be part of the biggest festival in the world.

So after the laundry is done spinning here on the home front, I have some work to do.  Like dig up my burnt stems from the garden.  And get some groceries bought.  You know, the important little things.  I will leave you with one thing to think about.  As I walked the museums this past week, a thought kept creeping into my head.  The words ‘What will you leave behind?’ were repeating over and over in my head.  I gazed at amazing works and carvings, centuries old, and the words just kept echoing.  In the shortened attention span days in which we live, I hope that artisans continue to take great pride and effort to produce new masterpieces, and also that the ‘common man’ such as you or I can make strides to produce something other than status updates.  Even if you can’t paint a line or sing a note, your impact can be felt for years to come, if you so choose.  There’s a lot that needs fixing, developed, and helped on this planet, so ask yourself what YOU will leave behind…and go.

Thanks for enduring the lengthy read today.  Lots of great shows coming up, and lots of great radio stations are playing ‘Don’t Miss Your Life’!  I hope to see you all at some point this summer, and for those of you that told me you missed my column last week, thank you – I appreciate you hanging in there!

See you on the road!





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