The Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp That Almost Never Happened (for me)

It is night after the last show of an amazing 4 show run that for me started in Phoenix just 5 days ago.

you see, I’m a winner. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself (and others) this week.

I won a contest. And by now we all know which one, so I’ll stfu about it and start making with the story telling.

Before I go into it, though, I need to get these out of the way.

To those who said I should get Kip as a counselor if possible because he seems (or is) a nice guy-I didn’t get Kip. And yes, he is a very nice guy who genuinely cares that the campers are having the full-on rock experience (minus the sex and drugs part, of course).

Also, ian-i did actually meet Bruce Kulick the last day. Well, not exactly meet. somehow he never quite made it to me, but whaterver. he seems nice, but after watching us play a song that we’d just learned as a band not 2 hours before told us we needed to tighten things up in this spot and watch the changes in that spot. And yes…he was right, but dude…lighten up. Some of the guys in the room might have looked up to you and would have just enjoyed a smile and an ‘attaboy’ from their guitar hero. But I didn’t really meet him..and so yeah.

I really apologize. This is going to be kind of freewriting for a while because things are just
jumbled in my head and while we DID have wi-fi on the bus, typing on the N800 on a daily basis wasn’t always my top concern (mostly it was sleep or just chilling on the way to the next town).

So…ok…that leads me to rock myth #3718:You can see the world and get to go all these neat cities.

Um. No. Well, partial credit. You DO get to go to a lot of cities, but it took two stops to realize that the inside of the bus didn’t change from one city to the next. The three feet from the bus door to the hotel lobby looked about the same in all four of the cities I was in and the bus to the backstage area was also about the same in each city (the back of a building is the back of a building, doesnt matter what city its in).

So…BZZZZT. Thanks for playing. If tonight wasn’t the last show, I’d probably be looking for a reason to bail. I don’t know how these guys did it for 14 weeks… or, as Gilby Clarke told me, for two years when he was with GnR. TWO YEARS? eff that. No wonder rockstars need to
anethetize themselves after each show. Yikes.

OK. Before I go much further, I need to get this off my chest…I’m not pointing fingers at anyone on this, because everyone gave me PLENTY of chances to ask questions before I got on the plane last thurs (and if I had KNOWN what questions to ask, that would have been cool), but…f**k.

Communication between LiveNation and me and RockCamp and me and LiveNation, in regards to someone winning the grand prize in a NATIONAL sweepstakes just sucked.

I mean I pretty much get ‘you’ll fly in….someone with the camp will get with you, get you situated on the bus…locked in with the tour, blah blah…’ and then not give any numbers or anything like that of people I can contact at 11pm in Phoenix when I’m freakin the heck out (not to mention HUNGRY) is just silly. Not to mention that I wasn’t even booked AT THE SAME HOTEL as the camp…so I didn’t even have that ‘random run into someone in the lobby’ chance.

Also…something else that kind of griped me….the FULL details of what my ‘Rock Camp’ portion of the prize entailed were never really spelled out to me. So, I have to look like some douchebag when I ask…‘hey, do I get the t-shirts?’ No, but you can buy them for $20/each.

OK. ‘Hey, do I get the per diem for dinners?‘ No, but we’ll have light snacks for you at the venues and we provide breakfast (continental) and lunch (boxed). (*-see footnote)

OK…cool. ‘Can you send someone to come get me at the hotel and take me to the rehearsal space?’ No. You’ll need to get a cab…but it shouldn’t be that far.

Um. OK.

Let me just put this all in perspective for everyone reading this. It was at THIS point. At 8:07AM on Friday August 22 that I was in my hotel room, on the phone to my wife, in f**king tears because I didn’t know what the fuck to do. I was sick,feverish. I felt like shit. I just spent $25 the night before on a friggin’ cheeseburger. I had spent the entire day before traveling. I had gotten no word from anyone at Rock Camp. I had gotten no word from anyone at LiveNation. I had no phone numbers. I had $23 in my pocket and we had shit for money in our checking account by this point. So to all of you that say I should have just sucked it up because I won the grand prize….f-you. NO ONE should have to feel like less than a person just because they had their name pulled out of a hat. And that’s what I felt like. All the way across the country…no one to turn to. No way to get in touch with these people. And I felt abandoned.

Not very rock and roll.

I was going through all of the scenarios that would work for just getting back on the plane and going home. Hell, I had the guitar. Shit was fine. I was FINALLY able to get in touch with someone at the studios where the camp was taking place that day…and thankfully they were able to track down Courtney. Who promptly told me to not worry, things were going to be fine. Just grab a cab and head over. OH…and it would be my responsibility to get from the hotels to to the camp rehearsal spaces every day (**-see footnote). I was a little pissy at that, but I was honestly so fucking beat down by this point that I just went along with it.

Here I am…the winner of their contest. Their Contest. They don’t fucking care. At least that’s the tone I got on the phone.

So, I’m sure that Courtney probably hated me that first morning (I think she warmed up to me by the last day).

And another thing…is it too much to ask that somewhere along the way make a fucking big deal out of the fact that I won a national contest for fucksakes? OK, maybe not a BIG deal…but some kind of deal? Or at least acknowledge that there WAS a winner to the contest?

I mean…really. This was a VERY big deal to me and my family and friends that were rooting me on. And I almost felt like I had to keep it a secret or something. I show up at the camp the first morning (after spending my last $23 to get there) and they don’t even have a nametag for me? I’m sorry…that’s just shitty.

And then I get told ‘just watch what you’re saying….a lot of people around here paid a lot of money to do this camp.’ Excuse me? So? I won. They had the same chance I did to win. And I bet you half of them entered. But thanks…thanks for adding to the shame of winning. Effing Brilliant.

It wasn’t until the last day when I met David Fishof face to face that I ACTUALLY felt like someone in the group was happy for me. He introduced me to his wife (i think that’s who it was)as our BLOGGER. And told me how happy he was when he found out the contest winner was a ‘blogger.’

Nobody from Guitar Center proper ever contacted me at any of the cities to congratulate me.

No one from LiveNation ever came up to me and congratulated me at any of the cities. About the closest thing to any of that (other than the Fishof face to face) was my bandmate Andy, in Vegas who was the manager of the guitar Center in Vegas getting his picture taken with me and telling me he’s going to submit it to the national managers newsletter. And after I told him about the lackluster welcome I got in my local store he said…”if you ever need anything, call me (in vegas, mind you) and I’ll make sure it gets to columbus and they take care of you.”

Fuck yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.

And yes, really, I know it’s a gift. And I know it’s a blessing. But it’s not free. I’m into this thing a couple hundred $ more than we planned on, not to mention next april when Uncle Sam wants his cut (that alone will be close to half of what the REAL 5-day vip packages cost).

And I won. Anyone who entered had the same odds I did. I just got lucky.

So, Dave, Zak, Samantha, LiveNation, GuitarCenter…if you’re taking notes and you do this whole ‘contest’ thing with LiveNation again in the future…just overload the winner with information (and throw in a t-shirt…they shouldn’t feel ashamed that they won…seriously).

OK. That’s out of the way now. I can go back to what was amazing about the camp (and by the way, all that shit that took so many paragraphs to write really didn’t occupy any one part of my brain for very long).

It was just a bit odd to me how some things were handled and that I felt like I had to pay since I won and didn’t have the big money required for most others to do this (although, in each city I was in, there was somone I met who’d won the daycamp off of a radio station contest or something like that).

Here’s the f***ed up thing. The people that won radio contests or whatever in each of the cities DID get the full perks with the package they won (t-shirts, epiphone guitar that could be signed by the artists, whatever). So…I don’t know if there was just some shit that got lost in the shuffle between LiveNation and RockCamp…but that seemed a bit odd.

Look…and I know it’s not about singling one person out in front of the camp, but maybe a little private meet and greet with the counselors when the winner comes on board would be cool…’hey fellas, this is the lad that won the GRAND PRIZE in our NATIONAL contest.’

Shit. I said I was done with that. Sorry. I got the trip. I got the Slash Epiphone Les Paul. I got the $500 GuitarCenter gift card. I get that I got a lot from this contest. I do.

Thing is, folks, I’m not just bitching to bitch. I hope they DO more contests like this and give other people chances like I had. Because it really was a blessing in SO many ways. And I NEVER could have done this otherwise.

But I also know that David Fishof will read these and take them to heart, so that if it is done again in the future, the NEXT winner really WILL get the rockstar treatment from day one and not have to freak out on the first day and try to figure out if there’s anyway they can just go home and forget about the whole thing.

..because, yes it would have been a HUGE mistake…but as bad as I was feeling that first morning, I would have gladly gotten on a plane home that very first day and fucked off the whole thing if the option was there.

And I would have missed out on so many wonderful things, true, but I would have not have felt ashamed to have won the Grand Prize, either.

Yes, I was able to turn things around, but damn. that first morning was rough. It was a lot more stressful than it should have EVER been. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t all self-induced.

Thank God I had Dave Ellefson and Gilby that first day. They made me feel so welcome there that I just knew I had to ride this thing out and see where it came up. And thank God for one of the other VIPs, Nathan. He became a good friend to me on this tour.

But I won’t lie. I was seriously trying to figure out a way to bail on ‘the tour’ all the way up until the actual show at the Marquee. After that, of course, I was hooked. And things were relatively cool and I could experience the actual camp.

OK. Let’s get the paperwork out of the way. For the actual one Day Camps…

Dave Ellefson. Co-counselor: Gilby Clarke
Band “The HeebeeBeeGees”
Set: Paranoid, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Shot Down in Flames
Camp Highlight: impromptu blues jam with me on Blues Harmonica, Dave on Bass, Gilby on vox and guitbox.

Counselor: Gilby Clarke
Band “No Name, No Fame”
Set: Get Back, Rebel Rebel, Honkey Tonk Women
Highlight: Playing “Sweet Child of Mine” with Gilby Clark.

San Francisco
Glenn Hughes
Band: “Brooke and the Ball Busters”
Set: Sunshine of your Love, Spooky, I Hate Myself for Loving You
Highlight: TIE. Getting one on one guitar help from Glenn/Being interviewed for a local radio show.

Counselor: Glenn Hughes
Band: Rodeho #5 (ro day ho number five)
Set: Sunshine of your Love, Spooky, I Hate Myself for Loving You
Highlight: Meeting David Fishof and seeing him genuinely pleased to finally meet ‘his blogger.’

The website for the Rock Camp touts all these special guests stopping by. I have a feeling thats really more for the 5-day camps. But we still had a few-

Special Guests:
Phoenix-none that I knew of

Vegas-The drummer for the Cult

San Fran-none that I recognized (although there was one dude at the Fillmore that Elliot Easton was talking to that looked REALLY familiar, but f**k if I could place it).

L.A.-Mickey Dolenz, Kenny Aranoff,David Fishof

All of the above was written after the final show at the House of Blues in L.A. this past Tuesday.

There are a lot more thoughts floating in my head about the whole camp that will be puked out on these pages in the coming (hours), days. But for now, I need to go shower some of the road off of me and try to get back in to my ‘normal’ life.


*I found out when I got back that I WAS supposed to at least get the per diem as part of the package. I emailed Zak. We’ll see what’s up with that.

**They did wind up providing transportation from the hotels to the rehearsal space. Don’t know if that’s because I was a prick about it or not, don’t care. Just glad they did it 🙂

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