June 4th 2005
Did we say in the reunion heading that we tell it all…. the good, the bad and the ugly? Because this one got real ugly, not only behind the scene, but at the scene as well. The planning for this started in January. Our manager decided it was time to return home for a show. All of our reunions to date had been in the Verona area. He called Dave Porter from 805 (805 had headlined the Taste of Syracuse in 2003) and got the contact information. It took about a month before they said they wanted Alecstar as their headliner. Our thanks go to our old friend Dave Frisina (back then from 95X and currently from TK99) for putting in a good word for us. It then came down to a price. Our manager told them we had three plane tickets to purchase and equipment we had to rent. Their response was…. You won’t need to rent anything because there will be a backline there. For those of you unfamiliar with that term it means that drums, amps & keyboards are provided at no cost to the performer. We struck a deal. They did mention that they might book a “national act” if they could get one reasonably. A few years ago they got Steppenwolf as the headliner so that was cool with us. Eddie Money (and probably a host of other classic rock acts) have played events similar to this. Well a few months had passed and on a phone call to the TOS office, our manager was informed that the Bacon Brothers were now the headliner. That was almost an insult. Two years earlier when we played with 805 at the Turning Stone our show with them sold out in *5* weeks. The Casino holds 800 people. The Bacon Brothers were scheduled to play the very next night. (Sunday) They had sold a little more than 100 seats. We were asked if we would be interested in opening up for them to push the ticket sales for their show. We could not do it because we had three guys living in Florida and Arizona and two of them were leaving Sunday afternoon to return home. This is nothing against the BB’s but we felt it was a bad idea. From the moment they were booked we got lost in the background with all the other bands. We actually contacted TK99 and asked them to help push our reunion for the show. We wanted people to know we were there. All we were hearing was about the BB’s. To TK99’s credit they came through for us… especially Dave Frisina. He made a big difference for us and for that we owe him a big debt of gratitude (or at least a beer!). A few weeks later George phoned our manager and reminded him of years back when we would open for national acts and the problems we had to deal with. Restricted stage space, restricted stage lighting and restricted PA use were the big three. A letter was faxed to the local company that was providing these items. We did not want any last minute problems and wanted to clear up any potential ones. We also requested the use of an amp and the drum kit. They were very professional. They didn’t care one way or another. They just wanted a trouble free show…As did we. They referred us back to the TOS people to make sure that there would not be any problems. Tuesday, the week of the show our manager got a call at home saying we would have to play in front of all the Bacon Brothers equipment, we would have to rent the very equipment we were already told we could use at no charge. Then they dropped the big problem on us. They wanted our drummer to set up off to one side of the stage instead of in the middle where he has always played. At that point our manager exploded (almost literally!). Insult had now been added to injury and they were told the band would not play under these new and last minute conditions. This was not what we had agreed to three months before. The whole event was becoming a circus. We had suggested that they push this event as The Bacon Brothers with special guests Alecstar. That way they could take advantage of both bands being there. The sad thing is that the draw with the BB’s was all about the famous actor in the band. Unfortunately its not about their music. Steppenwolf may not have had a hit in over twenty years but at least they have had hits. The BB’s have had none. Nearly no one has heard their music. They were not even a one hit wonder. This was all about Hollywood. Much like Bruce Willis or Billy Bob Thorton's band. People want to see the famous actor. Well the following morning we got a phone call from the TOS people. They didn’t want to lose us from the show and wanted to work it out…. as did we. They relented on us having to pay for the drum kit rental and for the amp we needed. They offered to put the BB drum kit on one side of the stage and ours on the other. That way both bands would share the inconvenience. We still would not be allowed to use the drum riser. Frankly we didn’t like the idea at all. Besides the minute we were done playing they would move their drum riser over and the only inconvenience would be ours. And as Jack pointed out, they hired us to do an Alecstar show. We don’t play with a drummer off to one side like 805 does. It works great for them but it could spell disaster for us. Our stage volume is loud and we need the drummer in the middle where he can be heard across the stage. Plus it would throw the whole dynamics of the band off. We decided it simply would not work and told them no. The simple solution to this was to share the drum kit. It didn’t belong to the BB’s, it was rented. That would solve the issue simply and effectively. The problem with that was that their drummer would only play on brand new heads. Nobody else could use them before him. We stayed our ground. We would give them our best but it would be how we always have. The TOS people went back to the BB’s stage manager who finally relented and said we could use the riser and set up in the middle of the stage. Apparently he was the one who was putting out the restricted stage space demand. The day of the show arrived and when we got there the first thing we noticed was this great big wide open plaza that we could have parked the tour bus that we had rented on. We wanted to use it to change, tune our guitars in and generally hang out in after we were done playing. We were told there was no room. We did notice that there was a large trailer for the BB on the plaza. Was it because the bus was bigger than their trailer? There definitely was not a space problem. We set up our merchandise under a tent on two tables and hung a vinyl sign on the side of it to let people know where we were. The TOS people then asked us to put our sign underneath, and on the backside of the tent we were under. Our manager then pointed out... why have a sign if no one can see it? They didn't put up any fight and it got to stay where it was. We got there around 5:00 as we were due to go on at 6:45. Well 6:15 came and the band before us was still playing. Our manager went over to the person running the stage monitors and asked where the stage manger was for the event. He was told there wasn’t one. After hunting around our manager found an event staff member who made a phone call and had the previous act close their set. They went way over their allotted time. We started to set up, and when our manager started to push back the BB’s amps a few feet their stage manager started screaming at him. We had been under immense pressure to get our CD done in time for the show. Mixing had only finished two days earlier and the final shrink wrapping process was done the morning of the show. Stress was the word of the day. An argument ensued and the BB's manager said he would have us pulled from the show. He was told to go ahead by our manager and that when he did… our manager was going to get on a microphone and tell the crowd why the band wasn’t going to be playing. A TOS staff member intervened at that point. He calmed things down somewhat and we finally hit the stage around 7:10, almost a half hour late. And we did so without the sixth and silent member of the band….our sign. Because of the all the amps onstage along with an enormous B3 organ that was there for the BB's, we had no room to set it up. It’s not just for show. In an event like this, it lets the people in the audience, that have never seen us before, know who we are. Just before we started our set we were told we need to be off by 8:30. No problem. We could still get our set played in that time. It was ten minutes shorter than promised, but we had allowed for the possibility that there might be unforeseen delay's and we would not get the allotted amount of time. Well at 8:10 the stage monitor guy, who wanted nothing to do with stage managing, stood on the side of the stage and said we had one more song and we had to go. That really was the last straw. We had to fight and fight to simply get what was promised to us three months earlier. We never asked for anything more. Our manager went over to the head of the event and told him we had been told to be off by 8:30 just an hour ago, and now that was being changed after an already late start that had nothing to do with us. He was asked to “work with them”. Apparently that was a one way street that week. Our manager had decided enough was enough and he was going to tell the band to play on until 8:30 as promised. Fortunately Dave Frisina (TK99) was close by and he had been asked by us to bring the band back out for the encore. He intervened on our behalf and the TOS people relented. Our thanks to Dave Frisina….. the patron saint of Syracuse bands. On our side of the stage it could have gone a lot better and there was no reason it should not have. On stage it was just pure fun. We want to thank all of you who came to the show. We had a blast. There are a lot of things that go into playing an event like this but it all comes down to you guys. You are the reason we do these shows, and you are the reason we will be back……..
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