Once a month-ish, Jeremy Mackinder, the bassist of Whitey Morgan and the 78s, checks in with us to regale a tale from the road …
So, a lot of things happened in July. From opening for Skynyrd at one of the venues I always dreamed of playing; Pine Knob in Clarkston, Michigan (it will never be DTE Energy Music Theater in my head), to travelling overseas for the first time in my life and everything in between.
There's been some great shows over here, we have one last one in France before heading back to U.S. soil. Some of the highlights included playing at a prison for the first time and being backing band for songwriter Chip Taylor for a few nights.
We were scheduled to do three shows with Chip, the last two at the Down on the Farm festival in Halden, Norway. While we were at the hotel preparing to head over to the festival, the bombing in downtown Oslo occurred. By the time we had left for the show, the death toll was very small (I believe only one or two at that point) and there was a small flash about some shooting going on in Norway as well (and the two incidents at that point were not considered related). Rumors at the festival itself began swirling around, and it was obvious that this was becoming a huge deal.
By the time we had finished playing and gotten back to the hotel, the facts were pretty well laid out, and come morning, the second day of the festival had been cancelled and you could see the shock on the hotel staff's faces as Norway's tragedy was written all over them.
Chip quickly organized the bands in the hotel and started laying the groundwork for a concert that evening asking the bands to prepare something appropriate to perform at the event. Everyone got involved, without question and were happy to contribute their efforts to bring something to the community that evening.
What started as a small event at a church was quickly moved to the concert hall at the community center and really became something special. Whitey played a few of his grandfather's favorite gospel numbers accompanied by Brett Robinson and we backed up Chip once again and every band played a few songs throughout the night to a packed house of grateful Norwegians. Chip wrote a song that day about the events that had occurred and he finished the concert with it beautifully. He's a hero to a lot of people over here—and a class act. They love him and for good reason. Do yourself a favor and invest a few minutes in Googling him, you will be glad you did.
Post show, it was brought to the attention that a few of the teenage survivors of the island shooting had been in attendance and it was a visibly moving scene as they embraced each other and Chip and their other friends that were nearby.
This has been a great trip. A great month. Many dreams were realized, many new accomplishments and thrills. So what?
I'll never mix politics and music. I'm absolutely against it. What happened that night, there was no political or social comment. It was emotional and powerful and it made everything else that happened on the trip pale in comparison. I'll have lots of memories, good and bad—but the look on those survivors faces after that concert—that's a memory that will be forever burned in my brain.