Monday, April 18, 2011

33 Days: Touring In A Van. Sleeping On Floors. Chasing A Dream. by Bill See

For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead.
As a musician myself, I am always interested on the hardships my fellow music-makers endure for their art, which is why this book appealed to me. Besides having a great premise for all kinds of strange things to happen (guys touring in a teeny tiny van for a month? Yes, bound to be outrageous), it promised to a unique view into an indie band’s first official tour.
I enjoyed this book. It’s not nearly as goofy as I thought it would be, but in this case that’s a good thing. From one member’s guilt at leaving his family behind to tour, to a penny-pinching club owner who refused to pay the band the twenty measly dollars he owed them, we as the readers are plunged into the world of music that we don’t see every day.
There are issues, of course, with the writing itself. Some playing with tenses that confused matters instead of making them more interesting and a few grammatical issues, but nothing that would send you running for your smelling salts.

It is a fun read, sometimes edging on melancholic (in a good way) that reveals so much about the music industry as well as the dedicated musicians who dare to step up and play.

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