SameDiff BNL

Summer 2001 or I Spent My Summer Barenaked

By ED TOTH, Vertical Horizon — Tour Diary, October 2001.

I prefer Butt Ass Naked but then again they aren't called the ButtAssNaked Ladies. Though I did see them butt naked. More on that later.

Thanks for not asking for my head on a platter as I have been taking my time getting this latest update to the site. But you know, vacations to Hawaii, finishing a two year tour, coming home (what's that)?, and the madness of recent events have kept me away from such things. But now it's time to relive the events of last summer!

When I last left you we had done a gig with Jeff Buckley's ghost in Memphis. After that we all went home for a two week break which proved very nice as I got to see some fabulous music in the Boston area including shows by Emmylou Harris' guitar player Buddy Miller and his wife Julie, and one of my favorite drummers Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson) playing jazz! Just as I was thinking I'd like to play more jazz I was back on the road with my rock buddies! We did a handful of radio gigs on the West coast and then we had another week off! Rare for us during the summer but we knew we were going to be out for the next month and a half.

We armed up for the summer tour at one of our favorite theaters, The Blue Note in Colombia, MO. The theater is a really cool old vaudeville theater which was also used as a movie theater way back in the day! We had played there before and the response was great so we hoped for (and got) the same. Columbia is a pretty hip little college town. You can tell that it was probably an old west saloon type place in the 1800s complete with John Wayne and Walter Brennen type's shootin' up the place. A great warm up gig. I think we even played "Promise of Tomorrow" on this show. One of my favorite unrecorded (although I do have a recorded version of it. ha-ha!) VH tunes. This song along with "Famous" and "The Unchosen One" made appearances here and there during the summer.

Now it was time for BNL. And I will just get this out of the way right now. These guys and their crew are some of the nicest people that we have had the pleasure of working with on the road. The whole tour was relaxed and fun and everyone had a great time. The shenanigans started the first night in Darien Lakes, NY. I was reacquainting myself with Ed Robertson over a game of ping pong backstage.
VH Ed: "You any good?"
BNL ED: "I'm OK"
VH Ed: "We played a lot during the recording of EYW." (with a joking air of arrogance)
BNL Ed: "Cool"

He then preceded to kick my butt 21 to 7 or something like that. Worse off is that I was watching them perform that night and Ed decided to tell everyone about what had happened. Steven, watching me in the wings waved me out to be verbally put to shame in front of the audience. Note to self "Don't play anymore ping pong." Of course there was a sign in the crowd the next night that said "How's the ping pong going?"So all preceded smoothly for a couple of nights. Though I sensed Ed was out to get me when he pointed me out at the soundboards one night and had the crowd turn around and give me the finger!

We went through the Ohio Valley and then back east to Hartford. We all had our families at the Hartford show so that was a fun one for us. My high school music teacher was there too. We have always stayed in touch over the years and she was so important in my development as a musician that when we got our platinum record plaques I had one made for her. When I asked her where she hung it up in the house her 14 year old daughter replied "with all of the other platinum records." Cute.

Two nights in Boston was nice because I got to sleep at home and Boston is BNL's town so the audiences were large and loud. After the first night the bands and crews had a little get together backstage to just hang out and say hello. A very nice gesture indeed. We thought we would start taking a little revenge back on the boys by playing "Blame Canada" as our walk out music the first night.

Down through Pittsburgh and back to Camden where we got to meet Tenacious D. If you are not familiar with the D then you must seek them out. Jack Black needed to borrow a piece of gear so we said sure, if we can meet the guys. Great guys and they rocked the house in Camden. Jones Beach and NYC were next. (Not a big guest list town). This was great because we felt we played one of the best VH shows in a long time but we continued our pranks with the BNLadies. They left the stage after their first encore by moving in slow motion. It was very funny and looked cool on the Jumbotron. This night though they had a surprise in store for them. As they came off stage we came on and proceeded to fake fight them in slow motion. I was told that it looked hilarious on the big screen.

One of my favorite things about being in VH is sharing the excitement with my Dad. He is a guitar player who played in a very popular East Coast band of the sixties called The Windjammers. He has continued playing his whole life and we have played together numerous times and have even been in cover bands together. I always said to myself that if I ever "made it" I would have to have him onstage in front of thousands of people. I got a chance to do that at the PNC Arts Center in Jersey and it rocked! He came out and played Was Away with us and he and Matt played separate solos and then played together and it was really awesome. He even got reviewed in one of the local papers! Always a pleasure to have him onstage.

The tour moved South to DC and Virginia Beach. In Charlotte we played our opening number in front of a home made banner with the Van Halen logo spray painted on it. BNL's crew was behind this one. What we didn't know until after the gig was that they had Van Halen footage playing on the video screens out front for the first three tunes. No problem. We'll get them. Only three shows left though. Another note on this show. Kevin Hearn and I got into a mad competition of Ms. Pac Man. I mean we played this game all day. Going back and forth with the high score in the hundred thousand area, each taking about 30 to 40 minute games. We even held up bus call. At the end as I filmed Kevin's last effort (we had to go) I was telling him things like "Let it go," It's only a game" he preceded to turn, look into the camera and say "I'm really sorry Ed" and run out to the bus as I looked at the screen. He got it. By like 50 points. The next day I was standing next to him backstage and I leaned over and whispered, "My wrist hurts". "Mine too" he said.

Birmingham was smooth with no pranks. Although we did play a Rush song called "The Analog Kid" and dedicated it to our Canadian friends. We had had fun the whole tour playing Rush songs during soundcheck.(A frequent occurrence for us). Atlanta was next and we figured this would be the night to get them. We figured they had exhausted their pranks and were just going to let the last two shows go down without any high jinx! We didn't know what to do yet but they helped us decide. Midway through our set the boys showed up in towels dancing around the stage. They turned their backs to the audience and opened the towels and there they were, The Barenaked Ladies. After the shock wore off I got an idea as to how to get them. During "Million Dollars", the guys usually go into some type of improvised rant. We decided to steal the mic this night and score their previous dance performance. We made score cards with numbers on them and gave each guy a number corresponding to what they had to show us during their little towel dance number. hey played along and seemed to get a kick out of it. But I have to say this, when it comes to Nakedness all of those boys can walk proud!

Raleigh was the last show with BNL and was spent the usual way when you bond with a band. Number and e-mail exchanges, pictures, and hugs. And drinks too of course. The crew got us one last time by playing a Sound of Music video clip during the "Favorite Things" quote in "Wash Away". But is was a nice end to a great tour.

Back to NY for a WPLJ show. It was nice doing a show in a small club after doing amphitheater's all summer. Again we felt like it was a well played show for us and had tons of fun. Maybe because we knew we had another two weeks off.

So everyone went home for two weeks except for me. I went to Hawaii. I highly recommend it to everyone. Especially Kauai'. Go there and do a whole lot of nothing. Just make sure you go for two weeks. I actually spent my birthday in Hawaii and thanks to everyone who sent me wishes on the web and also to those of you who brought me gifts at the shows!

So back home after vacation and off for ten more days of the EYW extravaganza. Two years of touring all over the world and nothing but nice people along the way. We did a bunch of fairs in the Midwest ending in Duluth, MN. The highlight of this little swing was playing our first headlining show at an amphitheater in Detroit. It was incredible. I won't have any type of problem if we are to do more of those. We all just hugged and smiled and had a really great show that night.

So that was my Barenaked summer. I hope everyone else had a great summer. I have lists from the guys of things that we have been digging. ( I think I mentioned this in the last entry) I updated them to be current and will post those in a few days ( I swear!) and I'll also let you know what is on tap for us this fall.

See you soon,