So here I am, sat inside Manchester Airport about to take the most important journey of my life to date. The time is 6.15 on a typically rainy Manchester morning. Still, that doesn’t stop me from ordering a pint of Fosters. It’s a holiday, it’s the rule. And it also calms my nerves for what is going to be a ten hour flight.
Number one on The Bucket List is about to come to fruition and I’m burying my excitement levels until I arrive. America awaits. But not just any old America…..Road Trip America….and not just any old Road Trip America, but half of it will be spent with one of my favourite bands, Mohawk Radio. I still can’t quite believe it’s all happening. This is an Almost Famous moment for me given my invite on the trip was down to the journalistic side of me that has followed Mohawk Radio for three years. In fact, and bizarrely enough, today is three years to the day when we met. They are flying from T3 to North Carolina, and me and my trusty companion and girlfriend, Sue, are travelling from T1 to Vegas. What? It was the cheapest and most direct way to get to The States. The cost of Mohawks journey which consists of flights to North Carolina, then Arizona, then Texas, then LA, then Bermuda is way above my pay grade, which is why our trip only sees us with them for roughly half of it. Our trip is Vegas, then a drive to Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, then finally back to Vegas for the last night of a two week trip.
I’m secretly so happy that after shopping around for the best way to get there, Skyscanner threw up Vegas at a steal. All Sue has heard about for years is about my trip to Vegas and how wonderful it was six years ago when I went with my friends….so much so that I even wrote a book about it that is nearing completion. Vegas hasn’t been at the top of Sue’s priority list, she is more of a scenic and picturesque person, so it’s a good job Arizona is marked down for this trip too, probably top of her own Bucket List. She can’t believe that I’m getting her to Vegas, and to be honest I’m surprised too. I never expected to take her, but this trip, that was only booked nine weeks ago, means she has no choice because I booked and planned our side of it.
A picture message has just come through from Mia, lead singer of the band, and it shows them all drinking champagne. Rock n roll! As I said, it was three years ago since I met the band, consisting of Mia Page, James Gregory on lead guitar, Dave Quinn on drums, and Sean Frankland on bass. I’d like to point out that their manager Maddy Hunter is also with them this trip. Three years has flown by and who would’ve thought that meeting them on my first day at the radio as a guest on Paul Holloway’s show, which they also featured on, would lead to this. Mia told me that day they were playing a gig in Bolton in a couple of weeks. Considering how close it is to where I live I ventured down and was blown away. They were acoustic in the studio when I first met them, but they were full throttle live at The Blind Tiger. I reviewed that gig, the first of many, and I only had high praise for them. I knew they had something special even then.
As time went on we kept in touch and then another coincidence happened roughly a year after we first met. I had just started a contract at The Co-op in Manchester and on my second day, who do I see on the next bank of desks? Mia. It turns out the company she worked for at the time dealt with The Co-op and she was the liaison contact. She worked next door, which meant I had an ally in close proximity who thought the same way I did. We aired our frustrations with day to day office life when we both had outside interests we wanted to take into a full time profession. Mia with the band, and me as a writer. Lunch times were often spent dreaming and plotting on how we can both get to where we wanted to be.
Mia once said to me that there was a reason why we met at The Co-op, and she didn’t know why at that point. That reason became apparent when completely by chance I had a message from Dawn Moonan, a musical entrepreneur, who looked after a few bands. She asked if I was interested in hearing them. By this point Sonic Bandwagon had formed and Mohawk Radio were our first guests on the show. Me and Dawn spoke regularly and I asked her if she’d like me to send her any bands for consideration. I sent her Mohawk Radio and she instantly fell in love with them. It wasn’t long before she contacted them and the rest as they say was history. Dawn’s contacts ensured that Mohawk Radio were going to step up a level.
Although I didn’t do very much, I still feel proud that just name dropping them to Dawn resulted in a lot of good things for the band, which has led to this point, their mini American tour, which I was so humbled to be asked to come along for. Part of my deal was to document the trip, which is the reason for my first ever series of blog posts.
I cannot stress the importance of such a trip from a personal point of view and for the band. This could set the band on a path that leads to them being full time, professional musicians, and that is all anyone can ask for in this game these days.
For me, this trip is about so much. The blogging and updating of the tour is one of high importance. I mentioned ‘Almost Famous’ earlier, one of my favourite films of all time. This is my chance to emulate in some way my own version of that story, and will probably be the only time I have such a chance. I mentioned before about writing a book based on my experiences in Vegas the first time round. I am going to use this experience to write the sequel to that. Both books are fictitious with elements of truth, but who knows? Touring with a rock band could mean I don’t have to shift too far from the truth.
Finally, writing aside, this is something that has to be done when the opportunity arises. Me and Sue have saved and dieted for two months solid to help fund it. Life is not about working, paying bills, then dying. It’s about experiences and creating memories that will last forever. Yes it may cost a bit, but you can always earn money, you can’t always do something of this stature. There is a fear there, this is completely unknown territory for all of us, but you can’t live life with no regrets. This is what life is meant for!
For me and Sue it starts and ends in Vegas, but inbetween will be the real fun, the open road, the fulfilment of dreams, the weird and wonderful, the people we encounter, the culture, the scenery, and the music….oh this is all about the music….past and present! The music is important! It always has been, it always will be, and will be more so after this.
I do hope you’ll carry on reading these blogs when they are posted because this is a road trip born out of rock n roll. It could turn interesting very quickly! And it starts with 2 days in Vegas!