On October 17th, 1988 the Colorblind James Experience landed at Heathrow Airport outside London, England ready to begin their first of three European tours. We were met by our tour manager, Kevin Hunter, holding up a loose-leaf sheet of paper with the band's name written in ballpoint pen. Right out of Spinal Tap.
The band was Chuck, John Ebert on trombone, Ken Frank on bass, Jimmy Mac on drums, Dave McIntire on sax and clarinet, and me. We were joined by fellow Rochesterian Carl Goedt who although hired as a soundman, acted also as roadie, stage manager and muscle.
He was well over 6 feet tall and 300lbs and for all the world look like he belonged with a chapter of the Hell's Angels. I met him for the first time at the airport in Toronto and I remember either thinking or at least feeling "OK. This is serious. We're a real band and this is really happening..."
Carl has to be one of the kindest souls I ever met and one of the most hard working. For the duration of the tour, he voiced his affection and concern for his 70+ mother back in Rochester. She was often responsible for putting together crews for Carl when big acts came through town (he put together the stages, the scaffolding and whatnot) His mother would be busy overhauling a Harley while he was gone.
What I remember about the flight was how we taped together three Fender guitar cases with duct tape so it could be checked as one item. Also, Ken was playing an amazing Ernie Ball acoustic bass that was the size of a Pinto. He had a case custom built for it that someday may suit me for a coffin.
We were ragtag, completely unprepared for what was to transpire, but so ready at the same time. For me it was complete vertigo: exhilaration and fear, all at once.