In the UK it would be impossible for one of my shows to be arranged between a venue and a producer without me knowing about it and agreeing to it. You'd think that would be obvious wouldn't you ... after all, it's me that actually has to do it. Unfortunately that lesson has taken my American producers some time to learn.
Before this tour started I discovered that they had sold 8 shows a week to venues. It's nice to know that the demand was there but it's also not possible for me to perform this particular show that often. If you haven't seen it, it probably sounds like I'm moaning because, surely, it's just talking right? But it isn't really. It's a really physical show, it feels like going to the gym every night, and there are several sustained rants of blood, guts and fury that tear my throat apart each night.
I spend a lot of time between shows taking medicines to help my voice recover from the damage the last show did before then repeating, and worsening, the damage that night. For this reason I've never relished doing the show twice in one day and would want to avoid it whenever possible. Sadly my American producers had sold two-show-days several times to venues without bothering to ask me if it was okay. It must be tempting as a salesman to sell as much as you can to people... especially if you're not the person who's actually going to have to do it.
Most of these situations were resolved before the tour started but there were a few places where that wasn't really an option and Gainesville was one of those. Most of the venues on this tour are taking the show for a week or two which offers some flexibility... but Gainesville had booked 3 shows in 2 days. I did a 7.30 show on Tuesday while on Wednesday there was a 7.30 and a 10pm show... which gave me a 30 minute break before starting again. Twenty minutes in I was in pain and this morning I can't really talk much. If I had a show tonight I think I'd be forced to cancel it... but I haven't, more on that later.
What makes this all the more frustrating is that I don't think the late show should have gone ahead at all. I looked in the local listings papers and none of them mentioned that the late show even existed. The 7.30 show was there but not the 10pm. If one paper hadn't listed it, it would look like an error on their part but when all three of the local papers haven't listed a show it seems more likely that the venue haven't sent them the correct information. And it was reflected in the ticket sales.
On Tuesday we'd sold 4 tickets for the late show on Wednesday. By Wednesday that had doubled. Woo hoo. By show time it was around 18 people. It's as if a wealthy fool had booked that late show especially for him and his friends and insisted that information about its existence shouldn't leak out into the public domain.
Amazingly, it went well... although not as well as either of the two early shows had gone. But this morning I'm in pain, I can't talk and it hurts when I swallow and I have to wonder whether or not it was worth it. Of course the audience who turned up deserved a show... but shouldn't the venue have some responsibility in this situation also? Why buy a show into your venue and then not try to sell it to the public?
This afternoon I was supposed to be flying to Fort Lauderdale for shows tonight through Sunday but as Hurricane Wilma is also thinking of heading there this weekend, the venue and the producers have decided in their wisdom that it's unwise for us to go there and the shows have been cancelled. I've never had a show cancelled because of a hurricane before. How exciting. I hope it doesn't wreak too much havoc, mind.
Incidentally, if they name these things alphabetically, how did we get so quickly from Katrina, via Rita, to Wilma wihout hearing much about hurricanes L, M, N, O, P, Q, S, T, U and V?
We're staying put in Gainesville for another day while we work out a Plan B. I'll spend today being silent and sampling the various lozenges available in the various pharmacies in the hope that one of them can work magical restorative powers for my voice.