Magic Bag Theater
Well...the Detroit show back last August...hmm, interesting, very interesting.
My trials, tribulations, and triumph with MK/BFD.....
The story begins the day (night) before getting a call from Beller while they are on the road on the way to Detroit. Talked about where, when, how to get here and there, etc. You can tell Bry was stressing already as he was just getting "warmed up" as being tour manager taking over for Mr. Chatfield, who had to rush home prior to the Detroit. show. Plus the weather on the drive was really bad and rainy...and their car phone was going on and off.... I did have two people that offered a free place for the band to stay...Drew Fignar Jr. and Gregg Moore, but they were both 15-25 Min. or so from the venue, so Beller skipped the idea. So I established that we were going to meet at a hotel the band had called to and reserved beforehand.
Next day rolls around and I gave them a buzz after 1 p.m. (I live almost 2 hours north of Detroit) and find out from my new friend Cami that they went out bowling and to grab some food, etc. I said, I'm off, see ya after 4-ish...
Roll down to Detroit, camera in hand, ready to start the good times. Get up to the room and Mr. Nordegg answers the door and explains that everyone was out. He invites me into the room as he was crashing and watching some TV. He told me about the goofy/scary/bad karma stories that plagued the very beginning of the tour. As I sat entranced listening to the amazing stories, in walks Marc who promptly guesses who I am and we hit it off right off the bat. The three of us sat around talking for a bit and Jason, Cami, Bob, J, and Bry came strolling in next. Bry was the only one I knew out of the big group that filled up the room, so I was introduced to the rest of the entourage. Pretty soon I was sitting there watching Bry go into "manager mode" and get stressed as he made arrangements via phone for the next day. Cami kicked back for some rest as remained Thomas...Marc joined the idea. Bob was messing around with his Strat and his mandolin. Jason and J asked me about where they could get some film around town... Mike walked in with the big smile and the room lit right up. Mike kicked back and played a CD as he rested. It wasn't long and Jason, J, and myself were out to hit the local used CD stores. After directing J to the wrong exit, we finally came across two of my favorite spots in Royal Oak (a Detroit. suburb). Jason got really jazzed that he came across a Self CD and J found a CD that was made up of some dude from overseas that screams chants, put to the music and talents of Ween...can't think of their name off hand (it started with a Z I think), but it was one of those underground "supergroups". He also found a soundtrack that contained a song that Frank Zappa was really into...a hard to find soundtrack, I assumed. So I bought the guys a present and picked up the tab for the CDs (found an Adrian Legg CD for myself). We hit the next store really quick and no one found anything that perked their interest...plus we were in a real hurry to get back to the hotel. We made it back to meet Mike in the elevator as everyone was cleaning out the room and getting ready to head to soundcheck. We grabbed everything and headed out down the road to the Magic Bag. As everyone loaded in the hotel parking lot, I snapped a few pictures (which Mike has a copy of everything I shot...I don't think any of them are up on the web yet though).
We arrive 5 minutes down the road at the Magic Bag, where I find my friend and Keneallyite/Zappahead Drew Fignar Jr. waiting in his vehicle. We all gathered around the back door next to the gear truck and await the next plans and listened to the evening's headliner New Riders of the Purple Sage soundcheck. (Got to remember, this was one of the only gigs--maybe only gig on the first part of the tour, where MK/BFD opened for another band). I introduced Drew to my new friends and he offered to help us all load in. Pretty soon, we were loading in as the NRotPS remained on stage. We hauled ass getting everything in. That was Beller's first introduction to my abilities as a roadie (as seen in his descriptions of all of us Guest Hosts...funny shit Bry! Where did that Red Wings idea come from??...hahahahaha....). As the New Riders finished up, we all walked around checking out the place. Mike was really mellow, as he gathered himself saving all his energy for the performance. I snapped pictures of Mike and Bob, Mike and Drew, and other pre-show stuff. Beller was running around like a chicken with his head cut off...it seemed like he was really stressing. We all were asked to be quiet by the New Riders once before they got done...kinda funny. Before we got on stage, I sensed a bit of depression from Mike as he didn't see any piece of Magic Bag paper with the band's name on it. It was all New Riders... I brought two copies of two different Metro Times (local mag) with BFD in it, explained I got a CD out to a local radio station, and called the Detroit Free Press (as I too am a journalist...trying to get all the print I could). Mike asked me in wonder if anyone was going to come or knew about the show. As I placed the Albatross around my neck, I knew I wasn't about to win any awards as Guest Host...but I filled him in on how many people I knew were coming, etc...which seemed to lighten the burden for the moment.
Next we were off gearing up the stage. I was tossing amps, cords, guitar cases, keyboard equipment, to the guys from the floor. I asked permission to have a friend come and video the show (Gregg Moore) and he and his friend Pat Ferarr came about that time. Bry gave permission to let them in early and they set up to tape for the show. Mike kicked back in the audience area and directed placement of amps and spots for everything as the band set up on stage. It was great watching the pro's at work, I must confess. Every little detail and idea measured up for the big performance. One thing I was beginning to notice...Marc has got to be the happiest musician I've ever met. He was wearing perma-grin all day/night long. I can't recall a more positive, energetic, enlightening musician. He REALLY enjoys music and everything that surrounds it.
Soon the band was soundchecking and getting the club people to dial in the PA and wedges just right. Vocals here, vocals there, Bob's mandolin, Mike and Marc's keys, Bry's cab, Jason's cymbals, etc...nothing was skimped on. While they were getting the sound down, I offered Cami help setting up her section. She refused help to drag in all the shirts and CDs and said it was the only job she had and she just assumed do it all herself. I kicked back for a second with Drew, Gregg, and Pat. Soon the band was off to grab some dinner before the show. The Magic Bag kicked in some dough and they headed out. Cami stayed behind and we hung out talking about some of the nutty people and questions she gets asked about CDs, shirts, etc. Bry brought back some chow for her and they came back and gathered to change into stage clothes backstage. As I shared some fries with Cami, people started coming in. They started buying stuff right off the bat. I sat and watched as people were checking out the CDs and stuff. There must have been 50-75 people in as the band walked out on stage. Totally forgetting one of my jobs...I stood back BS'ing with Cami and Mike walked up to the microphone and said, "Scott Baker, please come to the stage if you want to introduce the band". Probably the highlight of my day, and I totally forgot that I got to do that. So I ran through the crowd and got up there and introduced BFD. Very cool experience and everything went smooth.
The band smoked. Every ounce of energy that Mike saved up before the show poured out of him as he (and everyone else) put in 110% into the show. Marc was all smiles...Jason got to recite some "fucking" movie lyrics about some "fucking" movie...oh that was funny, Bob was awesome with his guitar and vocal harmonies, and Bry was in the musician's "trance" all night long. I shot pictures from every angle, everywhere. Another big surprise (which came after the show a few days later when I got a tape of the show) was Mike used my name at the end of Inca Roads, the last song of the 50-minute set. (where FZ said Chester Thompson's name during the fast lyrics at the end of the tune, Mike replaced Chester with Scott Baker....funny stuff, even though I never could understand what exactly was being said in ANY version of the song). I didn't hear it live as I was shooting pictures from the side of the stage during the song, concentrating on absorbing every BFD moment I could get in Michigan.
We quickly loaded out with direction from Thomas and Bry. They were throwing gear and I was hauling. Jason brought me cymbals and drum equipment to be put away outside to hurry up the stage for the New Riders. I stood outside guarding the BFD gear and helping break the equipment down. Mike stayed in to have a beer and sign autographs at Cami's sales booth--by the time the show was over, the place was more than half packed and everyone was into it. People flocked around Mike. The rest of us were out back packing and placing stuff on the gear truck as it began to sprinkle a bit. I wanted to get everyone together for pictures afterwards, so I made sure I told everyone not to hurry off. My friends Sean and Rob met me back there as did a few fans awaiting Mike. Drew, Greg, and Pat followed us out to get in the picture. Soon Mike and Cami came out and we finished all the business. Bry was cracking me up talking about how I was throwing amps and drum stuff into the gear truck at him...which he said normally took two guys. Well...stuff wasn't that heavy Bro! We had a blast.... As we took pictures and said our good-byes, Mike was the happiest I'd seen him all day. He was giving Marc a run for the perma-grin! It's always cool when everyone was happy with the performance and sharing stories and highlights from the quick evening. Everyone was in great spirits and even Bry seemed to be mellowing a bit and starting to have some fun...although he was moments away from the "road manager stress situation" once again. I thanked everyone and Mike gave me a great big bear hug and thanked each other for the great time. We had one of those "I love ya man" moments and the band jumped in the vehicles and were on the way. I've seen Mike and Bry since '94 and we've been in contact ever since. It's always great to have those road reunions and get to spend some time together, no matter how short they seem. If the chance to help out were ever to come my way again, I'd be the first in line to do it all again. Whatever it takes for my friends...
Looking forward to the Detroit return of BFD...and hopefully a full headlining set the next time!
That's my story....
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