Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Little Man and Ike Reilly 2001: Backstory.

2001, young, 100 pounds, pre mustache, naive and stars in my eyes I hopped into the tour buss that was converted from an old-folks home transportation vehicle we called the "Geezer" or the "Geeze" for short. It read Senior Adults On the Move on the sides. These are just a few pictures I took on the road.

I lived in Chicago and my band Little Man had just put out an album called Core of Discovery. My drummer Dave Cottini was getting more busy since his other band got signed to Universal. That band was Ike Reilly.

Since my band was dismembering and the opportunity came up for me to tour with Ike as a guitar tech/roadie, I took it. I was already good friends with Dave and their keyboardist/guitarist Ed Tinley was a college friend who recorded that first Little Man full length "Core" album (and many more following that). I quit my job and hopped on. I jumped whole heartedly into something with no idea as to what would come of it. For a person that is more introverted and uneasy in some social situations, I thought this would help me come out of my shell a bit. Massive adventure.

This band was already a tight knit band of brothers before I got on board. If it wasn't for Dave and Ed, I wouldn't have been able to handle it or felt a part of anything, but these guys took me in and I got to know them all better as time went on. Phil was a wonder to hear play guitar every night, we hung out a bit and he showed me the first ZVEX pedal I ever layed eyes on. Tommy played bass with enormous enthusiasm. Off stage and on the buss he played guitar that blew my mind and he kept us entertained with some great songs along the way, real cool and laid back person. Dave and Ed I spoke of already. These guys loved crossword puzzles on long treks and stuck them finished like trophies on the inside walls of the buss. We all used to shout "TOUR!" when something great happened on the road that was tour worthy, were sloppy drunk or was just having a really good time. Then there's Ike. A lyrical sparkler not much taller than myself who had a contagious laugh and led this whole group of marauders. He drove the buss sometimes and in traffic jams he'd change into his running shorts and take a jog ahead of us until we caught up with him. He wrote alot on the road and usually had his acoustic guitar with him for strumming out ideas. I payed close attention to how he made this all work and what he had to go through to make it happen. These guys really rocked live and put on a great show. I was usually behind some amps making sure everyone got what they needed, tuning and switching guitars.

We also traveled with a sound person Fred, the "bull," Han who was usually pretty quiet but very cool and a tour manager Manny that year. Manny was super difficult for me to travel with. Yelling at me, pushing my buttons, then we'd be pals, then it was back to some sort of power game or something ridiculous. Not very fun when your on tour with some good friends. We worked things out though.

All of them rolled pretty heavily on Coors Light, Vodka and Red Bull and who knows what else. Wine woman and song as it goes. For the most part, while I certainly partaked in such, I was hired to work and usually most of the beer was gone by the time I got done loading out.

The band toured for the album called Salesmen and Racists. We played some big shows and to some very well attended clubs and venues across the country mostly Midwest, south and east during this time. We were on tours with and opened for Blues Traveler, Chris Whitley, John Mayer, Bob Schneider and Keanu Reeves' band (got to meet all these guys. Keanu was great. I introduced myself at sound check "Hi I'm Chris." He shook my hand and in his best surfer voice as you can imagine returned with, "I'm Keanu."). I also got to meet Sandra Bullock, as she was dating Bob Scheider at the time.

New York City was magical. (We were there just before Sept. 11th.) Stopped at a bluegrass jamboree in southern Ohio. Started an impromptu sing along on a front porch of some locals on a hot night in Cincinnati after a show. Strip clubs (it was a bit surreal when we saw girls dancing to one of Ike's songs as we walked in to one one time). Sang songs outside the White House gates. Practiced in hotel rooms. From Boston to Austin Ike and the band gathered devoted fans. We then moved into a real tour bus I called the Black Stallion with a new sound guy and tour manager. The buss and it's driver, Rodney the "Lightnin' Rod," just came off a Puff Daddy tour.

I left my own band, guitar and songwriting to tour and see the country. I tuned guitars and lugged gear with hopes that I'd meet some key music industry people and get to use the experience as a jumping point for new endeavors. I learned a ton about being on the road and had an amazing time with these guys. But it was very difficult for me not to be playing. I got to see alot of different music scenes. The Twin Cities was a favorite to all of us. The band was best in this city and the people were like no other I'd met anywhere. Live music is a passionate thing to do and see to many people here and it shows. I met my wife in St. Paul and she used to take me out to see other bands and sent me off with local favorite albums so I got to know the scene really good and was amazed at the caliber of music that was being produced there at the time.

As things slowed down with the tour I was anxious to get back to my own music. The Twin Cities felt like a second home and I was up for another big change. Late 2002 brought me back to St. Paul and I've been there ever since. Ike pressed on and is continually putting out great music. When they're back in Minneapolis for a show it's good to see these guys and help out on a song or two or whatever they need.

July 29th 2011 my band Little Man opens for the Ike Reilly Assassination at First Avenue's mainroom in Minneapolis. We're celebrating 10 years since the Salesmen and Racists album. Ike will be performing the album in it's entirety! Tickets are available HERE.