Todd Rundgren, Gandhi and El Chapo

On May 13th the Orchestra returned to the Arcada Theater in St. Charles IL, one of our favorite places to play. We planned to arrive on the 12th, when Todd Rundgren was playing the same venue. Orchestra keyboardist/singer Eric Troyer has worked with Todd numerous times over the years, and he agreed to introduce me to the man who wrote "Hello It's Me" and "Couldn't I Just Tell You", who produced Grand Funk's We're An American Band and XTC's Skylarking, and on and on. I was excited. I'd once heard that Todd liked my version of  "There Goes My Inspiration" which appeared on For The Love of Todd: A Tribute To Todd Rundgren, and so of course I fancied the idea of him remembering my name, blah fanboy blah!

But, alas, this scrap of a set list, found onstage as we set up our gear on the 13th, was as close as I got to meeting Todd. Thanks to American and United Airlines, I arrived in Chicago four hours late and Eric arrived nine hours later than scheduled…when Todd's bus was already rolling to the next gig. Wanhh, wanhhh.

I didn't get to meet Todd, but I did check out this truck, parked in front of the Arcada the next day. Pine tree eyelashes always cheer me up.
The dressing rooms of the Arcada feature unique items such as this bassdelier hanging in my dressing room...
…and the decorative wall hangings made from my stage shirts.

Playing at the Arcada also means getting reacquainted with our very enthusiastic fan Emily Elizabeth De Vita. Here she is arriving for a photo op with the band. Emily can get just a wee bit excited, you see, and tends to emit a mix of screams, exclamations and sobs all at once... 
…but when she calms down she's really a lovely friend. I think her Dad, far right, turned her on to ELO music. He obviously did an exceptional job.

Here we are the next day, on our way to a show in Cincinnati. This is not a photo of the fun rock life, it's just something The Orchestra has done more times than I can remember: pile out of an anonymous van and unload our stuff onto the curb of an airport. Whether we're in Chicago, Santiago, Madrid, Moscow…THIS part is the same.
Chicago from the air. I'm a sucker for iconic skylines.

I saw this contraption in the airport. The chief selling point is that you'll never lose it. I think it could be the next big thing. It's called an immobile phone.
Here's another scene on infinite repeat in Orchestra world: setting up our gear. Along with the local back line companies who supply much of the equipment, we arrive early before a show to get things in order. We used to transport loads of our own gear and travel with a crew of helpers, but no longer.  We've managed to structure our stage needs in such a way that our setup is relatively simple and we can do most of it ourselves. Notice the two stage hands at left. 
The venue for our show at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati featured quotes from notable people in history. When I saw Gandhi's words "…lose yourself in the service of others" I thought, "Well that's easy: become a parent."
A week after Cincinnati, the band travelled to Culiacan, Sinaloa state, in Mexico. It's about 800 miles south of the US Border. It's a lovely, un-touristy city of about 850,000 people, located on the convergence of several rivers and a mere half hour from beautiful Pacific Ocean beaches. The food is amazing and the people were accommodating, friendly and excited to see us. Here's the view from my hotel room.

When I heard we were going to Sinaloa state, I thought it sounded familiar so I did a quick search online. I discovered that Culiacan is the favored home of Mexico's narco traffic kingpins such as the recently re-captured drug lord El Chapo. ​Who would want to live in such a place? As you can see in the photo below, the entire populace lives in fear of drug crime.

El Chapo goes to Sears?
In the lovely 90 degree morning heat, we set up our gear at one end of the host university's soccer field.

The string section prepares to dazzle. L-R: Mik Kaminski, Louis Clark Jr, Louis Clark Sr.

On keyboards, synths and vocals: Sir Eric Troyer.


The sección rítmica: Gordon Townsend on drums, and (filling in for Glen Burtnik) Dave Phenicie on bass and vocals.


The next day's paper (The Sinaloa Sun) proclaims "The Orchestra: the music never gets old."  Nope, but the musicians do.

A couple of native Culiacanians were kind enough to take me and Orchestra monitor man/brother-in-law Jaime O'Connell out for a beer or three in a cool little area of downtown. Thank you Michelle and Israel!  When we walked into the joint, Black Sabbath was blaring from the speakers. Yes! All too soon, though, the music devolved to the Beibs.
I liked this doorway in downtown Culiacan.

This is a pedestrian walkway beneath a city street overpass. Both cross one of the town's ubiquitous rivers.


Thanks for sticking with me all the way to the end! 





 

10 comments

  • Peter Poulides

    Peter Poulides Dallas

    Nicely done, PH!

    Nicely done, PH!

  • Jonathan

    Jonathan Florida

    Hey Parth! I have visited Culiacan several times to view tomatoes and peppers. It is a large production area. I am sorry I have not had a chance to learn the "town". Culiacan is also known as the "City of Legs". Are short skirts are still in Vogue in Culiacan? Rock on! Jonathan

    Hey Parth! I have visited Culiacan several times to view tomatoes and peppers. It is a large production area.
    I am sorry I have not had a chance to learn the "town". Culiacan is also known as the "City of Legs". Are short skirts are still in Vogue in Culiacan?
    Rock on!
    Jonathan

  • Barbara W

    Barbara W Yorkshire, England

    Hi, Hux .... I am so conditioned by the book of face that I was wishing I could like, or love, all the photos and captions above ... :))

    Hi, Hux .... I am so conditioned by the book of face that I was wishing I could like, or love, all the photos and captions above ... smile)

  • HCrabtree

    HCrabtree

    Great photos as usual. Unnerved to learn there is a fan nuttier than I, but we're a harmless, good kinda nutty! Awaiting your arrival in JAX this autumn!

    Great photos as usual. Unnerved to learn there is a fan nuttier than I, but we're a harmless, good kinda nutty! Awaiting your arrival in JAX this autumn!

  • Hux's Top Secret Tech Guy

    Hux's Top Secret Tech Guy

    Great pics, Hux, but I am concerned you are doing yourself a disservice by playing through off-the-shelf stage gear rather than that finely tuned Fender Blues Jr. in your private collection.

    Great pics, Hux, but I am concerned you are doing yourself a disservice by playing through off-the-shelf stage gear rather than that finely tuned Fender Blues Jr. in your private collection.

  • Christopher

    Christopher Switzerland

    I just saw Jeff Lynne's ELO last month in Zürich. That was the first big "arena" concert of my life. I was amazed by the show. Fantastic singing and playing all around. The "after show" was watching the army of people that swarmed in right after the show to pack up the equipment and move it on to the next city. It is nice The Orchestra can get it done by themselves because I would fear coming up with the payroll for that army.

    I just saw Jeff Lynne's ELO last month in Zürich. That was the first big "arena" concert of my life. I was amazed by the show. Fantastic singing and playing all around. The "after show" was watching the army of people that swarmed in right after the show to pack up the equipment and move it on to the next city. It is nice The Orchestra can get it done by themselves because I would fear coming up with the payroll for that army.

  • Jeff C

    Jeff C Cheltenham, England.

    Top Bloggage as always Hux. Was lucky enough to see Todd play live here in be UK a couple of years ago touring his 2013 album 'State'. Sorry you guys missed him. Musical hero of mine too.

    Top Bloggage as always Hux. Was lucky enough to see Todd play live here in be UK a couple of years ago touring his 2013 album 'State'. Sorry you guys missed him. Musical hero of mine too.

  • Larry

    Larry Swartz Creek, MI

    Thank you for the photos sir. My wife and I have vacationed at Walt Disney World during the Flower and Garden Festival every year for the past 10 years. Ever since we saw The Orchestra, some time ago, we plan our stay around your concert dates. This year was the first time I can remember The Orchestra closing with Roll Over Beethoven .... WOW it was really great. Nine sets however are just not enough. Thanks again for the great music.

    Thank you for the photos sir. My wife and I have vacationed at Walt Disney World during the Flower and Garden Festival every year for the past 10 years. Ever since we saw The Orchestra, some time ago, we plan our stay around your concert dates. This year was the first time I can remember The Orchestra closing with Roll Over Beethoven .... WOW it was really great. Nine sets however are just not enough. Thanks again for the great music.

  • Tom G

    Tom G Red Wing, Mn.

    Great pictures. Keep them coming. When are you coming back to Minnesota ?

    Great pictures. Keep them coming. When are you coming back to Minnesota ?

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