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What's on the Island

How to Survive on the Road

by Dino Gisiano (of the band Honey Child)

Saturday was the third show in a row that week. We were finishing our workweek in Flagstaff. We were playing a lot less at the moment because we were right in the middle of recording our next album. We had just gotten back from a mini-tour of the Midwest though. We finished up on my birthday at the House of Blues in Chicago. Everyone in the band was quietly gearing up as we traveled Route 17 North.

How many times had we made this trip? Often enough to know which exists had diesel fuel and which ones had a fine assortment of microwaveable delicacies that wouldn't send you bowels into arrest if consumed. So many people move to the Valley every year, I wonder how many leave. It's easy to get in. Most likely, if you drive from anywhere east of here you end up on the 40 cruising into Flag. Then it's downhill to the Valley of the sun. If your car, truck, van, whatever, is on its last legs by the time you get to Flag, you realize when you get to Phoenix your trapped. "How the hell am I going to climb back out of here?" The climb from Cottonwood to Flagstaff will certainly chew up and spit out only the best-maintained engines and transmissions. But I digress.

I'm lying in the back half-sleeping, floating in and out, reading what appears to be Kurt Vonneget's last novel. Survival on the road Rule # 1. READ. You will either go insane, or the rest of the guys in the band will hurt you if you don't find something to occupy your mind. A good book, a bad book, it doesn't matter, just read. It can bring on sleep like nothing else, it can make you forget you gotta take a piss when there is no stopping for 2 more hours, and it's the only way to gear down. I can't remember if I had just finished one of Kurt's rants or was sitting naked in the middle of a sandbox with Ben Stein and a chick I dated in New York whose head was replaced by a deposit only ATM machine when I heard Joe yell "LOOK OUT!" Then BAM.

I jumped up, looked back, and saw our trailer caring EVERYTHING bouncing and skidding away from us. Now at this point I believe I yelled something to Joe to the effect "What the sex-act did you sex act just do you orifice!" The van piloted by Joe skidded to the side of the road.

"He sex-act slammed into us." Joes said as we all jumped out of the van. Survival on the road Rule # 2. TRUST. You have to believe that everyone in the band is going to carry out whatever responsibility they are given with the same level of care as you. If you and then the rest of the band don't trust one guy, things will get ugly quick. Possible resolution might be leaving his ass at closed bus station in Montrose, Colorado with his bags in his hand and no money for a bus ticket back to Phoenix. That's a whole other story though, but you get the picture. So everyone at this point takes Joe's word as gospel and interprets it to mean "I didn't do anything wrong, someone else not in the BAND past tense sex-act up"

Musicians are not right. We are deranged human beings, who for the most part value everything in the world below the music. At least the struggling kind does, that's what myself and the rest of the guys in band are anyway. I can't comment on Jennifer Lopez, No Doubt and Brittany they might. Maybe. We all run down our trailer never once taking the 9 seconds to check to see if we're bleeding, broken or bruised, that comes later.

The trailer is definitely pass tense sex-act. It is compressed to about 1/3 it's length and the yoke in the front where it attaches to the Van is sticking straight up like the front of a A-frame house. This isn't good. Just down the road is a white truck with a nicely compressed front end. Survival on the road Rules #3 and #4. Work as a team, and have a cell phone.

"Joe go check on that guy, and someone call the cops, and then call the club and tell them we might not make the gig." Someone says. You get the picture I'll spare ya the rant. Flash forward about 45 minutes.

Our Native American friend who felt the needed to try and drive THROUGH us on his way to Flagstaff has vanished into the wilderness with a bag full of something. At a minimum he is drunk out of his mind. We figure he is setting free the evidence. Everyone is ok. Heather's got a good size egg growing on the back left quadrant of her head but she feels all right, we are keeping an eye on her just the same. The cops arrive and we greet them with our story and our papers. License, registration and proof of insurance. Survival on the road Rule #5. If you can't afford to travel legally stay the fuck home. I can tell you from experience no one will give a bunch of hack musicians a break if you get stopped and you ain't got your excrement together.

After about a 20-minute conversation and background check the scene turns very Fox's America's Most Bizarre Accidents. A police helicopter is hovering about 30 feet above me just off the road and 3 cops are scouring the woods with 9 mm machine guns. You see our Native American friend hasn't come out yet. We are thirty miles from a Circle K and I think our little defendant may be just thirsty enough to walk. With all this excitement going on we figure, now's a good time to check the gear. We tear the doors off the trailer, which takes some doing seeing that they're pushed in about 6 feet, and start surveying the damage.

Survival on the road Rule #6. Get road cases for everything. About 2 months ago my dream amp had arrived. It took 6 months to get. A small company outside of Chicago had built it for me, an exact replica of a 1958 Fender Bandmaster. This thing had changed my playing. Like all really good musical gear will do, I had rediscovered my instrument. After only two months with this thing I was a better player. Now I'm looking at what used to be the amp. Since I had spent all of my "extra" cash (nobody in my line of work really has extra cash) on this thing I hadn't yet got a road case for it. And sure enough it was literally cut in half by a dolly moving at about 40 mph. You see we were going about 60, and the cops figured based on the impact damage that our Native American friend was doing about 100 mph, so you get a net of 40 mph. Pretty neat how that works. Joes congas are all cracked, Greg's drum hardware is nothing more than really shinny twisted pieces of metal, and Heather percussion instruments are reduced to a bag of dust. That's just the obvious stuff, days later we will find once we start testing stuff that pretty much the whole bag is toast, but I'll spare you the details.

Survival on the road Rule #7. Think. This one is really the most important and should really be #1, but for dramatic effect it works best here. Those needle in a haystack kind of scenarios start to approach pitchfork size. So you better be sure. Sure about everything. And then something's gonna happen and you get past-tense sex-act. You will forget something. In our case, our insurance won't cover the trailer and contents.

We caught a break though. The first in 4 years. Our Native American friend just happened to be a career criminal with his own set of Survival on the road Rules. He had just got out of jail and celebrated by buying himself a new truck. Rule # 1. Buy from a dealer, you get a warranty. Rule #2. Finance when able. You never know how your criminaling will pay month to month. So don't blow your "savings" in one shot. Make sure you can cover your expenses for those slow periods. As a result, by law he needed to carry full coverage. So our life was covered under his policy. Is it just me or is there irony in that last sentence? Whew.

I'm sure there are more rules in his manual, just as in ours, but neither is relevant to the story. In then end no one in my world was hurt, and that's the most import thing. Our Native American friend may be dead in the woods for all I know, but see he's not in my world. He's got a day pass that he is currently abusing, and soon enough he'll be gone. And as for the need to share this with you, that's for to decide. For those fellow troubadours out there, you ain't learned a thing if you've done this for very long. So I hope I at least this gave you a good laugh. For those of you who's involvement in music is nothing more than pressing the presets on your car radio or calling up the local radio station to try and win Dixie Chick's tickets here's what you hope you get. I know us "arteests" can be somewhat difficult to understand. Next Friday, open the local entertainment rag and find an independent band to go and see. Chances are real good the band WILL make it to the show, and you'll have a very special opportunity. You'll see a group of people hopefully on a stage, but those in the know, know there aren't to many stages left in your town. The people you see will not be right in the head and they'll look like they don't get enough sun. But they will tell you their life story, entertain you a little, and most likely piss you off a little. Grab a day pass. You've got nothing to loose.

Or you can go wait an hour for a table at Red Lobster, I could give an excrement, I know where I'll be.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dino Gisiano is the lead guitarist for the band Honey Child ( . They have recently relocated from Arizona to the North Carolina area where they are a new album "Taller"

Dino has begun writing a column for Fender Guitar's on line newsletter 60 Cycle Hum. His column is called Open D and you can read it, as well as some of his other rants, by going to his page






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