San Francisco- “Riders” – Hotel Utah – March 23, 1999

The Hotel Utah was built in 1908 as a saloon and hotel. It is small and intimate like playing in the belly of a whale. Backstage, someone mysterious had sent me a bouquet of wildflowers with no name attached. Whoever you are, thank you so much.  

I took advantage of a fully stocked rider to sample an assortment of medicinal teas; echinacea, throat coat, gypsy cold care, and ginger lemon.  A rider is a band’s list of backstage needs a venue agrees to provide.  A rider is sent before a gig, along with a contract agreeing to fees, times, and dates and an aditional stage plot marking the location of monitors, mic stands, cables, and players on stage.  A venue usually tries hard to accommodate rider requests but sometimes they’re so ridiculous they become notorious.  Infamously:

  • Van Halen requested NO brown M&Ms backstage.
  • Elton John had two dressing rooms on his rider and
  • Iggy Pop once requested seven dwarves, a Bob Hope impersonator, Grolsch beer, and two bottles of red wine, “preferably something we’ve heard of but still can’t pronounce.”

Though the tea was delicious, it did little to soothe my undeniable lyangitis.  In the mirror, my eyes were bloodshot and glassy from sneezing.  Talking was too painful so I tied some loose yarn around my neck, strapped a notepad to it, and took a vow of silence until showtime, communicating between the lines in bold letters to my band. 

The owner of Hotel Utah looked skeptical, wondering if I could fulfill my end of the contract and perhaps regretting having bought all those expensive teas for me.  But haha!  Dr. Theater came through and while I admit, not all my high notes came out smelling like roses, I managed to get through the night before returning to vocal abstinence and passing little notes to my band.

Notes on the way back to the hotel…

Reader interactions

2 Replies to “San Francisco- “Riders” – Hotel Utah – March 23, 1999”

  1. Albert A. Adams April 3, 2024 at 11:56 am

    Love the 3×5 note book, Sally! I’ve been using the Weathermax notepad for years, and love to look back at my old ones to see what had been important enough to make note of. Your notes give a crisp snap shot of what was going on during this tour back in ’99. If it had of been in cursive, you would have lost half your audience.

    1. Hey Albert,
      I was silent a lot that tour and it’s pretty funny to read back through all the interactions. Didn’t want to bore everyone so I just picked out the most relevant. Good to know others dig the 3×5 sized pads. They’re not everyones cup of tea.

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