If you are reading this, I thank you. It’s quite easy to show an interest in a blogger or podcaster and even easier to drop them if they become infrequent or out of practice. I am glad that I have learned to use RSS readers because they sniff out if there is anything new from those who say what they say when they do as opposed to the 15 post a day pro/semi-pro guys who have perhaps a single nugget of pure sunshine a week.

We have completed our mission to Spain and despite the uneven entries to the buildings and bull rings, the damaged gear and unpredictable local participation in the production, we have survived. A few of our number have left the fold as their assignments were complete and the rest of us flew to South America. More about that further down the page.

Ok, I’m gonna try to recall the past few weeks in an entertaining and semi-factual way. I posted about some off time stuff, a trip to the Alhambra, a few hours to the Guggenheim but some of you are sick enough to want to know about bullrings and how the blood/sand/sawdust effects electronics. You all need help.

I had the opportunity to go to a few cities I’d never been to before besides the beautiful Northern Spanish city of Bilbao. I wish I could go into more detail about a few of them but this is the reality of how we travel sometimes. We arrive in a city late in the morning because the predicted distance was incorrect. We get off the bus and wander into a bull ring to find that very little has been done yet. As the trucks dance into position and the stagehands scatter like roaches under a kitchen light, we try catering for coffee. Though they have been there for hours, there is still no black heaven or mud or java or roadie fuel or whatever you want to call it. A feeling of disappointment surges up and is washed aside by the fact that most of these places have small cafes near the service entrance, usually manned by grumpy older guys in white shirts who see your faces or your shoes and immediately start watering down the coffee. It’s the “Americano Effect”, meaning that if you are from the USA, you like your coffee weak. I am on a one man crusade to change this viscous stereotype.

Most major towns have a Plaza De Toros and it usually doubles as an outdoor concert venue. We played the ones in Murcia, Castellon and Salamanca.

Smaller than the big boys in Madrid and Valencia, they present certain production challenges as did the local equipment providers. They are dusty and stupid when it’s dry and a total drag in the rain. You’re working in sand and rock rather than concrete. Some of these places are still charming and have nice detail but others are starting to look like whorish soccer pitches…

In all we did 12 shows in Spain which is a tremendous amount of ham and cheese. The tour could look for a Lipitor sponsorship. The people were outstanding, the views breathtaking and the diversity of culture was welcome. I love Spain even if it isn’t the easiest place to do a show.

I spent our last day there scouring the music stores of Madrid for spare tubes and wah- wah pedals in preparation for our next leg which has even less support services. Without the help of Ximena and Santi, I would have never got the job done; thank you both for helping the gringo roadie cover his butt.

As a reward for the hard work we got a 9 hour flight to Caracas, Venezuela in coach and a 6 hour bus ride to our first destination which was advertised as a 2.5 hour ride. The trip from the airport up the canyon to Caracas and then to Valencia was full of traffic and rain. In 1999 when the show was last here a series of storms led to mudslides that took over 25,000 lives and made 100,000 homeless. Driving in from the airport which is at sea level to the city itself which is up a narrow and deep 4 lane highway, you can see how the elements could easily have their way with man and his structures. Building homes one right on top of another along the steep hillsides there is no doubt of the chance for disaster.

They appeared to be working on a more modern bridge overpass to replace the current path…

One we began to enter this city of around 4.7 million, the skies opened and it began to pour. We were told that the drive to Valencia was about two and a half hours; it took about six. Between the rain, the traffic, having to pick up some of our US crew who had flown ahead at a roadside gas station and the driver just pulling over to eat because he said he hadn’t had anything all day, we arrived in Valencia in the dark, exhausted from our 17 hour travel day.

At least the first building was epically dreadful. A small round dome basketball arena that reeked of petro-chemicals, the process of building our artists show with mostly local Venezuelan and Brazilian equipment took nearly the three days that we had until showtime. For us backline guys, it’s not so bad because we bring all our own gear but for sound, lights and video, it was dismal. The building was full of humidity and fumes and it appears that it takes usually three times longer to do things here than it does even it the lamest of places.

Everybody on our team did all we could to provide a safe, reliable and consistant set up. That’s what we do in whatever place we are. When you get to a place where the focus is not on these details, it can be like pulling teeth. If you’re self contained, you can get into a space and then tell the locals to get out of the way. This situation is hard because so much of the show is dependant on their gear and participation.

I actually had a longer more ornate post written that went poof into the aether. For now I’m gonna wrap it up as the night gets late and tomorrow’s challenge now lurks less than ten hours away. I’m sure we’ll have more fun stories for you in a day or so.