Getting Over the Gap!
We were scheduled to play in Kentucky as the featured band for their “Thursday Night Live” Concert Series for several months. The date would prove to be a significant one for the band in the sense that it was scheduled to be the first tour date to kick off the release of our new 6 song EP featuring the Bellamy Brothers. Although everything was running smoothly this year for the band, the story of how we crossed the Cumberland Gap to get to that KY gig must be told!
We had decided to part ways with our drummer at the end of last year’s season and replace him with Mark “Bam Bam” McConnell former drummer for Sebastian Bach, Blackfoot, etc… We had been working with Bam to get him acclimated into the band and getting all our songs down, when only a few weeks before the KY gig Bam came down with an illness that would land him in Shands hospital! Furthermore, we got the call from his wife Rikki on a Tuesday afternoon and before we could get up there to visit Bam he had passed away that Thursday morning…
As you can guess the band was totally crushed because Bam Bam was an awesome individual, friend, and drummer so we were suddenly thrown into the quandary of what do we do about the imminent dates looming over us that are only few weeks away? Bam’s passing was totally unexpected and now the family was planning a memorial and festival, known as Bamfest for June 16, which they asked us to perform a song or two in honor of Bam. We of course could not refuse and were honored to be asked to perform at such an occasion; however the question still remained who is playing drums?
As we worked with Bam’s family on what they wanted us to perform, we realized that we suddenly were going to be performing at a festival in a matter of days and the request was to perform something that would be fitting for the memorial service. We had no songs in our set that would be appropriate and we were not about to perform something just to perform so we were facing another obstacle. What songs do we play? Who is playing drums?
We decide to fly our bass player from Kentucky where he currently lives to practice with us for Bamfest and our other upcoming dates, TDM has never felt comfortable flying so it would be his first flight in an emergency situation like this we had to get him here quick.
Moreover, we still had no drummer to rehearse with so we were scrambling to get everything back stable to push on with our dates and honor our fellow musician because Bam would have wanted the show to go on!
Now, as it would seem that all could be lost and only a few days before Bamfest, I am suddenly standing with my hand on the phone to call and cancel everything we have worked so hard to schedule for the next few months ahead because we still do not have a drummer, I thought long and hard about how far we have come over the years and stated to Nic “this cannot be the way it is going to go down, we must find a way to make this happen! Where there’s a will there’s a Shane” Nic and I began making calls and hitting up all of our industry contacts to see if we could find a drummer to save the day 🙂 We came up with one that is available, he is a young guy out of Ocala that is currently in his second year of College at UF for Music education and his dad is a well known drummer on the local scene. We quickly schedule the audition and get him into the practice room. While he sets up his drums, I am praying for a miracle to happen. Nic and I get set up and we start to play…. And, after only having the songs for a few days this guy is playing the songs pretty darn well! That’s right we are back in the saddle! By the way the drummer’s name is Patrick Gulick, which is now our official drummer.
Now, we are ready to get down to what we call in the music industry “Wood Shedding” with over 20 songs to get down in only a matter of days we have got some practicing to do… However, we still need a few songs to perform at Bam’s memorial. And, its getting late and we cannot reach our lead guitar player and he has not shown up to practice. Now, picture this were standing in the practice room with Nic, TDM, Patrick, and myself, waiting for my lead guitar player to show, when I get a text from the lead player that states “Shane I am sorry I have not hit you up yet, but I have been in the hospital with chest pain and I have to go back so I am not able to perform with you all at the upcoming gigs” As you can guess we were all stunned and amazed at what felt like the world coming down on our parade. However, we were determined at this point to make it happen at all cost.
Therefore, once again we find ourselves trying to joggle many things. For example, we have to perform at “Bamfest” the day after next, we have the “Thursday Night Live” Concert Series in KY the week after, and were set to perform in front of 15,000 people for the 3rd year in a row at Williston’s Independence Day Festival and Fireworks show the week after on July 3rd…
I jump on Facebook and quickly hit up a lead guitar player Mike Brown, which had filled in the past on short notice, which by the way performed at Countryfest 2011 the year before with us and he hit me back that he was available! The clouds once again part and sun is shining again… We quickly decide that we will perform a few songs for Bamfest that I have never sang outside the shower, known as “Wish You Where Here” by Pink Floyd and “Stand By Me” it just so happens that the our new drummer Patrick knows these songs on guitar so it was up to me to learn the songs and make them my own by the next morning.
We work through the night and call it at 2 am with the Festival the following day at 10 am we drag over to the gig and filled with emotions I some how sing those songs and leave not a dry eye in the crowd… Suddenly everything was worth the fight and we were feeling great about everything!
My buddy Thomas Leece at Affordable Moving a national moving company based out of Ocala, FL heard about all the trouble we were going through and offered to help us get transportation taken care of, which he did a 15 passenger van and a driver named Vinny that would later become one our biggest fans! We loaded up the van and hit the road to KY before we knew it we were at the gig and on the stage peforming for hunderds of folks that had been waiting to hear us preform for months and for some years because it just so happen that this was also TDM’s hometown. We rocked that crowd for 2 hours straight with a feeling of satisfaction because the crowd was with us up till the end going crazy and having fun. We signed autographs and took pictures with people for over an hour and no one was the wiser of what we had done to get there. Later as we crossed over the Cumberland Gap I smiled to myself while thinking of what can be achieved when people put there heads together and refuse to give up!
Thanks to everyone for help and support!
Thanks for Believing – SW