BWW Blog: Christian Whelan of Broadway-Bound FLASHDANCE - To Drive or Not to Drive?
I bought a toyota Prius in 2005. It was a sleek looking black hybrid with some nice perks on the inside. The onboard computer is pretty cool. When I offer a ride to people, at least the ones that have never been in a Prius, they're fascinated by the LED display that shows the transfer of power from the electric motor to the gas engine. It also shows how many Kilowatts are generated as the car drives. The most remarkable aspect of the Prius, however, is the AMAZING gas mileage. I still kick myself for not getting the onboard GPS function. Especially since I've made the educated decision to drive, yet another tour.
The tour IT usually turns up in an e-mail a day or two after the job offer. The sheet usually shows these cities & venues in a jumble with dates next to em and a few TBD's thrown in.
As I pull up google maps and start the arduous task of calculating the miles between each venue. Then I check the map route and see how much time that drive will take. Then I usually call a friend or my agent, "hey.. I'm thinking of driving this National tour. What do you think?" There's always a pause... Someone invariably blurts out, "You're Crazy!"
So, I'm crazy. And, driving a tour can be really fun. Unless there's no internet! Arrrrgggg... Or, worse, no NPR! So, I noticed some new behavior. And, I've done this on occasion without really thinking about it. I found myself following a Greyhound or Peter Pan bus down the Highway and I hitch hike the WiFi signal from the Motor Coach. I know it sounds dumb. But along with the Siri function, I can make wifi or Skype calls on the road and have access to full internet. (NPR is on the internet.) So many of the cell providers don't have coverage or data in many areas of the country (Oops, there goes Pandora). Or, the Around Me App that tells you how close you are to gas stations, ATM's, food (Rats..bye FaceBook). There's something to be said for being able to down load data on the low down at 75mph.
I developed this list of, what the hell is the best way to make it to the next city. I check the weather for travel advisories, as well as the route options. I preplan the checkout date and time in conjunction with the travel time, in order to access the checkin time at the next Hotel. Those pesky snow and ice storms can really mess with your mojo. Unfortunately those few logistics only work out realistically if Mother Nature likes you and your little plan. The LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRE tour had a jump from Detroit, MI to Tempe, AZ. 2200 miles of unfiltered America from Northeast to Southwest. I thought that I'd just drive awhile, stop for the night, and finish the next day. Then the weather channel predicted this crazy snow storm that was due to hit Flagstaff in 36 hours. The likes of 8' of snow. I realized that Flagstaff was on my route and choosing a different one through Texas was an additional 600 miles. Needless to say, I did the whole dam thing in one shot. 29 hours! And the last 4 of those hours in a blinding white out, (except for an AZ Trooper in front of me) going through Flagstaff. I'm not gonna be doing that again.
I mean, how many times can you drive through St. Louis on a 8 month tour? The answer was 8 times on LHOTP tour. 6 times through Chicago. 5 times through Denver. And, all through the South... there are a lot of people on the radio that claim to know alot about Jesus. Those Bible Belt radio stations are sometimes Bose clear. I used to text a friend of mine in St. Louis every time I crossed from Missouri to Illinois or visa versa. We never talked just, "hey driving thru!". He'd respond, "Don't text and Drive, Oprah's watching". The LHOTP tour was around 26 cities over 8 months. I crisscrossed 48,000 miles across the USA and Canada. MAMMA MIA! last year was 76 cities in 11 months. I must havecoughed up the crazy, cause I only drove the West coast cities with MM.
Driving the FLASHDANCE tour has been a real kick. We're playing Tampa, FL this week, which is the 8th of a 23 city tour. I've only logged 8,000 miles so far. And, winter has been left behind. But, there's an amazing freedom that comes with driving on tour. I've become a little addicted to it. Coming and going, when you like and where you like. Meeting some really cool folks at a rest stop. Or, conversation in a diner. The excitement of a new venue and the thrill of knowing the theatre will be packed when you play there. Telling people that you're in town with a new show. Getting the opportunity to see all these great theaters and knowing you'll be seeing the country on the way to the next one. It's a good life on the road. I think I'll drive.
Eat Your heart out Tracy Chapman
LuLu Driving Clothes
Dragster with no WiFi
Straz Center for Arts, Tampa FL
From This Author Guest Blogger: Christian Whelan