Friday, August 5, 2011
33 Days: Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream.
Publisher's Summary. For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Los Angeles indie rock band Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. No soundman, no roadies, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. 33 Days captures the essence of what it is to be 22 and chase a dream, back to a time in life when dreams don’t have boundaries, when everything is possible. The tour is one of those now or never experiences. Take a shot at making the band work or leave it all behind and go your separate ways. Every one of us has that moment where we have to decide to either live our dreams or give up and regret it for the rest of our lives. 33 Days touches that part of us. 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.
We busted out of class had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three minute record than we ever learned in school . . . .
Well maybe we could cut someplace of our own
With these drums and these guitars.
No Surrender by Bruce Springsteen
Dreams -- nearly everyone has a few (or a bushel) -- but few take the chance to turn a dream into more than just pretty thinking. In 33 Days: Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream, author/musician Bill See shares his memories from the summer of 1987 when his band, Divine Weeks, embarked on their first tour.
Divine Weeks was a critically-noted L.A. indie band that had just released its first album and was on the cusp of something more. With high hopes and little funds, See and his band mates (Raj Makwana, George Edmondson, and Dave Smerdzinski) set out on a 33 day do-it-yourself tour performing in small venues and outright dives, sleeping on floors and surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
33 Days, however, is much, much, more than a nostalgic rehash of one band’s 80’s road trip. Rather it is about taking chances, triumphing over familial dysfunction, maintaining relationships under adverse circumstances, and measuring one’s life with more than just coffee spoons. In fact, 33 Days reads like a quest novel, with each band member facing a personal challenge while trying to maintain a united force as a group. Especially compelling is Raj’s story of being torn between his band family and his immigrant bio family.
See succinctly captures the memoir’s heart in this passage:
We really do believe we’re operating on a totally different plane than other bands. I know its crazy, and we’re completely full of ourselves, but we do. We know music can’t change the world, but music changed our world, and it could change theirs [the audience’s]. It’s not even like we’re trying to convince anyone our music can change their world. We’re just trying to show people we feel reborn doing what we’re meant to do. So let your dreams take hold and watch what can happen. Take that idea and pass it along to anyone else you know that’s dying out there and too scared to move their feet.
“Doing what you’re meant to do” sounds easy, but in truth is incredibly difficult. And added to this mix were the materialistic/conformist times (Personal digression: During the mid-80’s at my large university a few students erected an anti-apartheid hut on campus as a protest against the South African government which at that time was still segregationist. It lasted less than a week before being vandalized.) and the lack of family support some members experienced, then the journey seems almost Herculean!
33 Days is an incredible story that I wish I had lived, but reading it is the next best thing! Take a chance, hop in the van and enjoy the ride!
Review copy provided courtesy of the author.