Join us as Ivan & Alyosha tell you a crazy story from touring.

(photo credit: Chona Kasinger)

In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, Tim Wilson, of the folk rock duo, Ivan & Alyosha, shares one of his stories from being on the road. You can check out the story below:

We were on the road several years ago in the midst of a really busy tour, we were having a blast, but no one was making any money, we were all exhausted, and we had one day off in New York that we were all looking forward to. As fate would have it, we were asked to perform a stripped-down acoustic set on that day off at an event in Times Square. And they were gonna pay us! It turns out it was a launch party for a collaboration between the Tribeca Film Festival, the Grandchildren of Nelson Mandela, Kweku and Ndaba Mandela, and Robert De Niro. A video tribute to the late Nelson Mandela that we would be lending our song “Running For Cover” to the premiere of in Times Square at Midnight the night of the party. We were freaking out, as you can imagine. We couldn’t believe it! All sorts of possibilities started running through our heads of what the night would be like and how our lives would be forever changed because of this amazing opportunity. Who all would we meet? We were definitely going to hang with De Niro, as well as other celebrities, and become best buds with Nelson Mandela’s Grandson’s, of course.

And so, with all sorts of insane expectations for the evening, we load in, sound-check, get some dinner and wait for the magic to happen. The night was beautiful and amazing, but very hectic and a bit of a blur. There was a presentation at the beginning of the party, and we got to meet Kweku and Ndaba and take some pictures with them. They were absolutely lovely, and Kweku was an I&A fan; turns out that’s how we got the gig. Robert De Niro said a few words as well. The room was deafening, and you could hardly hear what was happening. All sorts of beautiful people chatting and drinking, looking for an interaction with the Mandelas or a glimpse of De Niro. It’s a bit of a chaotic scene. De Niro’s done with his speech, he made his way through the crowd nodding and saying hello, surrounded by security and those in his party. And just like that, he is gone, no hang-time, no meeting Bobby, no “Hey you guys sounded great tonight,” from one of the most famous actors on the planet who we thought we were going to party with. De Niro has left the building, ladies and gentlemen. 

We were all like, “Bummer!” But no time to dwell on the disappointment of only seeing De Niro from across the room, it's now I&A’s time to shine. We got our cue that we were up, and it was time to play our set. An acoustic set in a crowded, chaotic hotel ballroom at a Tribeca Film Festival launch party. A launch party hosted by Robert De Niro, who just left. We start playing, and the room erupts with conversation, to the point where it’s hard to even hear ourselves play. Our monitors are useless, and I can’t even hear myself sing. Our manager is visibly frustrated. We’re frustrated. It’s a total bust. Everyone at the party proceeded to talk over every song we play in our entire set. What was supposed to be our finest moment turned into a massive flop. We played our set, accepted defeat, and moved on with the rest of the evening, a little disoriented but trying to be good sports. 

We head into Times Square just before midnight to play “Running For Cover” for the premiere of the tribute. There were paparazzi everywhere, more chaos and confusion, but maybe by now we had accepted the crazy evening for what it is and started to enjoy ourselves, a little, at least. Oh, and it’s raining too. Paparazzi, rain, Times Square, Police on horseback, enormous television screens everywhere. Chaos. Very few from the party joined us outside. They're watching from a patio at the hotel where the party was. We sang “Running For Cover,” the tribute was amazing, and the evening was redeemed for the most part. Now we’re exhausted; it’s late, after 1:00 am. We load out and head to the after-party at some club on the Lower East Side. We were told we would be "on the list." We were not on the list. We wait for a while to get in. We’re finally in. The music is so insanely loud that we can’t hear ourselves think. Still, it’s a good time. We debrief. We try to have fun, but we’re spent. We get a little bit more time with Kweku; he’s super kind and thanked us for being a part of the night. We left around 3 am, and were waiting for our car, and so is Jerry Bruckheimer. He’s alone, and I found that odd. He seemed tired. We’re tired too, exhausted. We make our way back to our Managers house in Montclair, NJ, most likely needing to wake up early the next day and get back on the road for more shows.

I’ll never forget that night. It was an incredible opportunity that I’ll always be thankful for! But I think it taught me a valuable lesson that sometimes the things we think will be the best or greatest opportunities and moments turn out not to be. Similarly, great opportunities, success, relationships, and creative collaboration often come when we least expect it, when our expectations are low or we’re not trying to control every process or outcome, in the unplanned, unhurried moments.

Keep up with Ivan & Alyosha on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and their website.