In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the indie folk artist, Billy Keane, shares one of his stories from being on the road. You can check out the story below:
In my experience, it's not so much about recalling one crazy tour story or another - it's more that touring IS crazy, and therefore every moment seems to just be another link in the chain of surreal wackiness.
These days, touring with the waking dream is tame by compassion to when I was on the road with The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow. For a few years running we'd head out to the west coast for a couple weeks to run from LA or San Fran up to Seattle. I remember one of these trips more clearly than the others, which is shocking considering how much I was drinking at the time.
We started in LA, where I bought a blues junior at guitar center (I subsequently returned it for a full refund to a guitar center in Seattle after touring with it for two weeks, and that felt like a huge win at the time), and where my band locked me out of the Airbnb that first night. I had gotten back late after partying with some friends I hadn't seen in a while, to a dead-bolted door and no responses to my calls. Realizing I wasn't getting into the pad, we went back out and ended up at an impromptu burlesque photo shoot in a 24 hour diner. A day or two later in San Fran, our van window got busted out, literally in the load-in parking space outside the venue. Some gear, a computer, and much of our morale, was stolen. We passed through wildfires in northern Cali, and ended up in a raggedy motel with a Scottish folk band for a few days as we were both playing the Kate Wolf fest that weekend. The Scots had a handle of fireball (yes, you can buy handles of fireball) and we finished it over the course of several hours that first night ("Drink it, ye c*nt" was what the bagpiper kept shouting at me). We spent most of those few days singing and crying and laughing until the sun rose on our last morning in town.
That same tour we were in Bandon, Oregon for a few days, sponsored by some good friends who own a fantastic high end cable company. We ate heavy shrooms immediately upon getting into town, having forgotten about a factory tour we had been invited to go on that afternoon. It was a magical tour, indeed. Later that week, after 3 shows in Bandon in 3 days, we were up to Portland (which turned out to be one of the only normal-ish stops on the tour), but that normalcy was short-lived. Our final stop was pitched to us as a "hippy gathering" at a commune about an hour outside downtown Seattle. We arrived to see the welcome party - one dude standing on the side of the long dirt road - had his pants down around his ankles and was fully bent over, mooning us from an ever-shortening distance. I have no idea how long he was waiting there, but it became immediately clear that he thought we were someone else, once he saw the looks of appalled shock on our faces. Turns out, the "hippy commune" was actually a strange electro-psych inspired nudist gathering, with a decidedly angry bent to most of the other "acts" on the bill. I remember specifically a kind fellow with no legs shouting up at me from the ground, "hey, hey you! Pick me up and put me back in my chair". I did, as requested, and he jovially wheeled himself back off into the melee.
So, as I say, in my humble experience, tour is, generally, crazy. It takes effort to make it not so. Frankly, I feel lucky to have survived, mostly intact.