The Captains Blog
CHAPTER ONE: THE GATHERING.
The long and twisted pirates tale:
Most of you have always asked how many pirates have come and go? The tale is as long as a whale, but I'll go through it as best as my old brain will remember.
Sep.2003. Back in the Day the Capn wasnt a Capn at all, but a budding 33 yr old drummer named Christian playing in 2 bands (an Acoustic Rock band Called "The Melanie Susuras Band" and a R&B band called "Impaired Judgement".) he was also running 2 open mics and added a third. The local paper the Canyon Courier in Evergreen, CO. decided to write a story on him. One person Christopher Shelby saw the article and showed up with his guitar. Imagine if you will a 6'tall skinny Ginger with coke bottle glasses and Dreadlocks to his shoulders wearing a denim jacket with Nirvana pins all over. So, of course i thought this kid was gonna do all grunge rock. Instead, he belted out Pirate, shanty and drinking songs the like Christian never heard before. But he loved it and asked the kid to come back next week. This started months of them playing together, much to the nasty comments by other musicians who hated his gravelly rough voice, But Christian dug it and eventually Shelby (22) brought out his roomates who played Cello (Angela Kimber, 23) and bass (Dave LaMothe, 22) and thus was born the Potcheen Folk Band.
CHAPTER TWO: Year One.
One open mic night at Cactus Jacks in Evergreen, Dave and Shelby walked in with their instruments and said. "We got a name!" I said "OK, what is it?." They replied Poaching Folk bands. I started laughing. "thats hilarious poaching folk singers, i can do a lot of cool art for that!" They said no "the PO-CHEEN Folk Band". The explained that Potcheen is the original whiskey moonshine made up in the hills in Ireland from Potatoes and in Gaelic it means "little clay pot", which they used (way before metal pans was developed).
The band was learning more songs each week. Mostly traditional celtic or pirate songs that Shelby knew. Shelby's father had committed suicide when he was but 16. this devastated him and the kid turned to a small stint with Heroin. This really messed the kid up. His Uncle kinda pulled him under his wing and introduced him to Irish music. Needless to say it probably saved his life. He delved into the culture picked up a guitar and learned every song he could.
When i met him he already knew all the songs by heart, he just was'nt a strong guitar player and he strummed so hard that he broke strings constantly.
Dave LaMothe was a son of a very impressive geologist that worked for the USGS. at the time i met him he lived in his parents basement. Turns out he went to a really nice high school and dealt drugs to all the jocks and claimed to make over 60k and blew it all on parties and trips and other dump purchases. When i met him all three were going to Red Rock Community College. Dave was a solid bassist and a witty guy. Unfortunately he also though himself smarter than everyone, especially me. Now i graduated from Florida Tech, School of Science & Engineering from a near Ivy league level school, yet he felt that my learning was ancient and he knew more from the one semester of basic science courses he took. obviously very frustrating to someone with 6 yrs of college and 8 years of field work. But this would build over time.
Angela Kimber was the Cellist, at the time she was dating Dave and she too enjoyed partying as most 20-ish kids do. Almost too much.. ok way too much. The girl would never carry her own cello in, set up or help out at all, and she liked to explode at Dave all the time for inconsequential Bs, especially during practices. But she was a damn good cellist. Probably could have went to Classical training in College. But its all Ego And Entitlement in the music industry.
Having played in bands since i was their age, I learned what worked and what didnt inside a band. Already an artist, I became the band graphic artist that made the logos, album artwork, show posters, designed the website as well as Booking, management and deFacto band leader.
As i had my own business, a house a wife and two kids, i was more organized (not much) but i was the responsible one, crafted the message and got us out there into the Denver music scene.
Chapter Three: Breaking into the Scene
2004 was the year that The Potcheen Folk Band (PFB) - ugh always hated that name, too damn long and it pigeon holed us to every club I contacted as a Folk Band. The makeup was Drums/percussion, Electric Bass, Cello and acoustic guitar. So half acoustic/half electric. and we mixed it up playing Celtic Traditional (Irish & Scottish) Folk (Aussie and Brit). American Punk, and pirate songs. I had to re-arrange many songs because the trad songs are the same things over and over and over again. Being a percussionist, i wanted us to have our own signature than all the other Celtic bands out there. so I inserted breaks and changes and sped everything up a lot. it resulted in the band being very High Energy. "High Energy Celtic Pirate-Punk Folk Rock" is how we described it. In the beginning we played some private house parties which was nothing more than beer bashes, many ending with all out fights including a Gang-lang brawl of over 100 mexicans and White pride retards out in the street as we were loading our gear. Then the cops come yadda yadda yadda.
AS i had many contacts from being in Rock, Jam, blues and Acoustic bands I was able to pull favors to get us some gigs. But the gigs that paid were the full 2-4 hr shows and they wanted a draw. Unless it was local, the college kids that knew us would'nt venture farther than a few blocks or bus or taxi ride home distance. Face it they were all broke. So i remembered a band from my home town in Norther Jersey that rented several buses to ship their friends into NYC for a gig so they could fill the room.. BRILLIANT. so Dave went with me and I flew us out to NJ, drove up to CT. and bought a used charter bus.. I named her Grace O'Malley. Like an idiot, never driven anything quite so large except a moving truck, 3 years earlier. we bought it without getting her checked out. Just the word of the bus broker who put the deal together. Then we had to drive around in a nearby church parking lot to practice before we braved the highway back to Rush hour around the biggest Metro area in the World. We got her back to Colorado 4 days later and started decorating the inside with any crap we could find. Then we announced that we would start bringing our fans to shows for a $5 gas donation. at 55 seats, we made more on the coach than we did at the gig. and we had an instant, captive audience and free roadies to boot.
The only downside was being the responsible one for drunks and drugged out kids and cleaning up messes in and out of the bus. Even one time having to redress a girl who had sex with her equally tanked BF (who left the bus and forgot her) and she passed out in the back half naked. She woke up as i got the last button fastened. she was out of it.. Whew! The next day was cleaning up sticky floors from spilt drinks, food, vomit and yes, the bathroom with drunks that missed the Toilet.. fun fun fun
But one day, the editor of the Backbeat section of the Westword heard of the bus. and asked to ride along for a story. I was like FUCK YEAH!! so Dave Hererra. met up with us as we left Denver for Nederland. Now this bus was built in 1983, so it was already 20 years old at the time. It had no gas gauge as it was owned by a touring company that topped it off each day and had set routes. So, Dave was laughing as we had to shine flashlights into the tank to check our gas before we went up the Canyon. Needless to say, the show went well but ended with one drunk fan being ejected so he stumbled into a trailer park with drunk rednecks (he was mexican) and got into a fight, that followed him back to the tourbus, which resulted in 10 wasted Redneck Trailer trash morons thinking they were gonna take on 35 guys from our party. Antics ensued but no punches were thrown. we made it back to Denver and a story was published that launched the band in the Denver Music Scene.
Next thing you know we were the "NEW FRESH MEAT" and we were playing shows all over. Rock Clubs, Irish Pubs, Hippie Bars, Metal Shows, Festivals, weddings, private parties but I wanted to tour!
Chapter 4: On The Road
First we had to get Grace registered as an RV, which meant, taking out 80% of the seats and making a "kitchen" then we could drive without a CDL or insuring it as a commercial vehicle. Then we added bunks, a tv, stereo, a giant cooler and anything extra we could find at garage sales . From every show, my portion went back into the band, So lighting, PA, the bus.. I paid for it all, yet I never took an extra dime.
We painted the bus using an commercial exterior paint from Home Depot, i built the bunks of dimensional lumber and plywood, but built them to withstand the vibrations of a V-8 Detroit Diesel for thousands of miles. (keep in mind, i know NOTHING about engines. so yeah i bought a 20 yr old 55,000 lb battleship that got 5-8 mpg.. smart)
Our first tour. Colorado- Vegas-California-Vegas-Colorado.. A bunch of shitty non paying punk bars and the Viper Room in LA. we had a blast but so did my pockets. if it was not for merchandise sales, we would'nt have eaten.
So Denver and Colorado is a freaking Island surrounded by plains and desert. to make any major city is an 8 hr trip each way. (Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Albequerque, Jackson Hole) 18 to Vegas. 22 to Los Angeles. 17 to Chicago. 30 to NY. So having a vehicle with a 180 gallon tank that gets 3mph going up hill to 8 on the hwy. A full tank is about $5-600 A FILL UP. when the Gas prices hiked it was $1000 a fill up. So You need "ANCHOR" gigs. those are the weddings, festivals or 2-3 night runs at a club that will get you minimum $2500 t0 $4K just to cover gas and expenses.
~~~~~~ BANG!! Did Something just break?...... FUCK!
And when a mechanical event occurred.. usually in the middle of the Arizona, Utah or Wyoming badlands... we got creative. We were lucky to get home many times. Especially when everyone looks to you and you know DICK about engines. Happy to say ive either had folks i could ask on the phone or one guy that grew up fixing cars.. either way it was enough to get us patched and to the nearest service station. But each tire the bus is $600. an oil change $450 anything else is $190 hr labor plus parts.. DONT GET ME STARTED ON PARTS.. They say a boat is a hole in the water you throw money into.. A tourbus is a hole in the asphalt. :P
** but touring, you always Bring tools, and extra coolant, oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, paper towels, degreaser, and anything else just in case. ** getting AAA membership (unless your a total idiot) is a must. especially the added RV coverage. towing for a car is expensive, towing a bus..HA! dont get me started.
**** Food, Toiletries, proper clothes:
Living in Colorado, everyone knows the weather can go from Paradise to Hell in 5 minutes. so BE PREPARED!!