Its pretty much a guarantee when one is touring that sooner or later things will not go well. It could be a timing issue such as a blown tire enroute, a missed plane connection, or even a venue scheduling issue where in one only gets 25% of the time normally needed for load in and sound check. It might be that a series of thunderstorms comes through, and leaves the venue, as well as any backup venue without power. It could be a medical issue such as having a speaker bin land on ones foot, slicing ones hand open on a par can, pain meds from a pulled tooth causing a majorly fuzzy brain, or perhaps last nights corn dog was on the roller grill for 20 hours instead of two. It could be a mental issue too… a close relative or touring member passes away or is serioulsy injured. A engagement breaks up, or someones marriage falls on hard times, or even the reverse… someone on tour gets engaged, and now their head is only half in the game.
Most any of the above factors, situational, medical, or emotional will interfere with even the most dedicated musicians ability to perform at some point. Thus, knowing such can/will happen, a contingency plan is in order… Obviously, one can’t formulate a plan for every possible situation, but most certainly having a few paths laid out ahead of time can make a crazy time a whole lot less stressful at a minimum, and in a lot of cases will avoid the really bad situation of having to cancel a show entirely.
Granted, some of these issues should seemingly fall into the domain of the road manager… and a top notch road manager is worth multiples of their weight in gold. On the other hand, few bands can afford a good road manager, much less a top notch one, and some end up recruiting a band members relatives, or groupies who have never done such before, and others skip the role entirely and sort of wing the whole deal. Ultimately though, no matter how good the road manager is, there can be situations where multiple things go wrong at once, and the workload is far more than even the best road manager can handle, or even delegate. This is where the whole group needs to come together as a team, rather than sitting back and saying, “not my problem, I’m just here to make music”.
Over the next few posts I’m going to present a few game plans and such which have saved me, and the groups I’ve been with over the years a whole multitude of headaches, and even saved a few shows from cancellation. For many, such may seem like a whole lot of overkill… and if nothing goes wrong, they would be correct. On the other hand, nearly all of these can be done well before going on tour, and at little to no cost. In other words, this is a case where the bass player can put in a nominal time investment upfront, and when everything is going wrong, and folks are going crazy, the bass player can uphold the long standing stereotype that bass players never get rattled. 🙂