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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men, or Touring in the Age of Covid

It was a dark and stormy night when Spilly Cave, and his merry band of brothers, Phill Cave, Animal Wolf, a.k.a., Michael Klein, and Logan Bedard, set off on a big adventure, full of hope and excitement and ready to rip heads open with tasty jams. Touring bands number one rule is always to stay healthy, stay on the road and keep playing shows… But alas, the stars do not always align and sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men do not always come to fruition.



After months of careful planning, money saving, and moving around life plans and work plans, Spilly Cave's Big Bad Tour began with a BANG! in New York City at Pianos in Manhattan. It is very difficult to find a place for an 18 passenger van to park on the street in New York City, but we overcome obstacles every day and fit in where we can. The venue was beautiful, it is an old piano store that still has the original sign out front. You enter and walk through a quaint bar into the back room, where a large stage and 150 capacity music venue lies in wait. The opening band for the night was a band called Thesaurus Rex, a very theatrical art rock indie band that was born and raised in New York City. I have seen very few bands that had their own theme song, (admittedly, these guys were the first and only) but they crushed it, it seems like they were singing directly to the spirit of art school dropouts with tongue in cheek lyrics and social commentary on the state of life and art in New York City. It was the lead singer and guitarist Calvin Rezen’s birthday, and he brought a party and rocked that room. Spilly Cave brought the energy and finished off the evening playing songs from Billy‘s self titled first album, SPILLY CAVE. The band was on point, even on fire, you could say.



Early the next morning, we got up and got on the road to Boston. After Billy and his band had played the Royale back in June with a band called Lovejoy, the production company get2TheGig Boston reached out and offered them a show at a wonderful venue called Deep Cuts. Sometimes, the stars align perfectly, and in this case they definitely did. Shout out to get2TheGig for bringing the band up to Boston. The opener was a gentleman called Mattias from Florida that plays in a rock band made up of students from Berkelee School of Music. They played a few covers and a bunch of original songs, a solid performance all around. With the aesthetic of a true rocker, Mattias threw down. With a smaller and more intimate crowd, Spilly Cave took the stage, and true to form, made every person in that room feel like the concert was put on specifically for them. Billy emphasized a different aspect of his performance a bit by really playing up the borderline standup comic side of his act. He was telling stories, shredding the guitar, and dropping knowledge in between songs. The band played flawlessly, really knocking the song “Motel 3+3” out of the park, with each individual band member ripping insane solos as they rounded the bases. After the show was over, and everyone departed after a few meet and greets, the band had to hit the road and drive 8 hours all the way back to the lovely and legendary Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.



We slept in our beds that night (morning), and we woke up early in the afternoon and got on the old dusty trail cruising down to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Driving into Pittsburgh is a breathtaking experience with so many bridges and so many beautiful sights to see. What a lovely city. This show in Pittsburgh, at the infamous Mr. Smalls Funhouse, was tops. It was the first of two shows that Spilly Cave was playing with a wonderfully energetic and goofy band from Los Angeles called The Toxhards. An act of God (aka Casey Donovan the Toxhards drummer reaching out) allowed for the Pittsburgh show to be booked exactly when we needed it, and with the addition of a Philadelphia show, this magically turned into the perfect first four leg run of Spilly‘s first headlining tour.



The first band to grace the stage in Pittsburgh was a band called Strawberry Launch from New York City. Three very cool women and a very nice gentleman drummer comprised the band. Strawberry Launch knocked everyone's socks off with their combination of vocal talent, stage presence and ethereal lyricism. Following Strawberry Launch, Spilly Cave played and slayed. The energy in the room was high and the amount of heads in the room were multitudinous, making for a dense crowd of excited Pittsburghers for the co-headliners. This show had the best version of “Red, White and Blue Me (RWB)” I have seen yet. The kids loved it, it may have radicalized a few of them, but only to live, laugh and love. The Toxhards took the stage with an intense energy, another very theatrical band that has gone viral on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok many times. Their song “Aengus the Prize Winning Hog,” is known far and across the land as a ballad of the people. With a frenetic stage presence, and the switching of instruments between band members, this was one of the most fun bands I have ever seen in my life. Mixing in strange covers, but doing them justice in their own style, and introducing the audience to their very catchy and very original songs, the night ended on a high note when The Toxhards pulled out a Grateful Dead cover to everyone's great surprise. At the end of the night the vibes were immaculate as we coasted out of Pittsburgh, back on the road home for a much needed day off.



The following morning, our day of rest over, we then again all piled in the van and hit the road, sailing down to Philadelphia. The day started out with beautiful weather, but then ominously became a bit more foggy and overcast. Phill, the lead guitarist in Spilly Cave, Billy’s beloved brother, came down with a mysterious illness. The vapors of a long past evil pestilence seeped out of the ground and into the nostrils of this poor soul. He slept the entire way to the show, and then continued to sleep through both opening band sets, which were loud as hell. Something was not right, but he did tough it out and play the show. This was the beginning of the end.


The Philadelphia show took place at the only female owned venue in the city, The Fire. This was one of the most fun shows on the tour, hands down. This would be the second of two shows that we did with The Toxhards. There were also two other very insanely talented bands on the lineup. The first band was fronted by a great and beautiful homey named Ajay. His sultry singing, and beautiful guitar playing overcame technical difficulties for him to start off the night in the most vibey way possible. He set the stage for the next band to come on; New Jersey’s own, Over the Counter. This band was composed of many accomplished and extremely talented musicians. Their energy was unmatched and their set was very good. It was jammy, it was jazzy, it was rocky, and it was extremely impressive to witness.



Following Over the Counter, The Toxhards did their thing and slapped everybody in the face sonically in the most loving and caring way possible. After the show the scene was hectic, the bar was alive and Phill was still feeling very ill. We had to get the boy home as quickly as possible.



We had two days to rest, and then it was on the road to Chicago, which was going to be a two day drive. The day after Philadelphia, Phill Cave woke up and delivered the bad news, he had taken a Covid test and had tested positive. This threw a bit of a wrench in our plans. We had discussed doing the show as a trio without Phill, but every song was written for two guitars and needed Phill’s power. We also had discussed Billy doing solo acoustic sets and just sending him with one other person, but that is not the way that we sold the shows to the venues. The very tough decision was made to cancel. We were all gearing up for the next leg and preparing to drive all the way out to Kansas City, Missouri. But alas, another individual came down with Covid. So that was two of the possible five individuals that were going to make the trip.

Thus began the great cancellation. We canceled Chicago, we canceled Kansas City, Missouri. It was discussed going to Nashville to play the show, but the day that the band was supposed to leave, the alternator went out on the van, further delaying and throwing another wrench in an already twisted plan. Therefore, we had to cancel Nashville, and the discussions were in about whether we should cancel Charlotte, North Carolina or not as well.

As I was one of the ones who came down with Covid, yet not a supremely integral member of the group (tour manager), the decision was made to press on without me. Not being at the Charlotte show, I cannot speak to how it went. I do know that the opening band, Barefoot Modern, played a great set from all accounts the venue, The Evening Muse, was a very gracious and happy host. That is all I can say about that show. Unfortunately due to more car difficulties, we also had to cancel Atlanta, Georgia as well.

This only left Washington, D.C. at The Pour House, and the hometown throwdown at the Stage on Herr in the legendary Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center. Still being in recovery from Covid, I did not attend the Pour House show, so I can not report exactly on how this one went, but from all accounts, it was another good one.

I can, however, speak on the show at Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center. With a great turn out, the first opener, Matt Mitchell, all the way from Spokane, Washington, played a beautiful acoustic set to open the evening, touches of John Prine shined through and melded with his own individuality to create some atmospheric and reflective acoustic music. After he left the stage to much applause, the next opener, hometown homie Ajay, once again, graced the stage. A professional performer, he and his band kindly made the trip all the way up to Harrisburg from Philadelphia. He further warmed up the audience with his sexy R&B fire and blew a couple of minds in the process. Then it came time for the main event.

Spilly Cave took the stage, Billy had asked a special guest to set up on stage and play viedo games on the projector, making for a perfectly appropriate backdrop. This special guest was none other than William Cave the 4th, Billy's father. A ripping set followed, as the show was on halloween weekend there were many costumes on the floor, witches and ghosts and goblins swirling around in the ethereal light of the Stage on Herr, which brought the Spilly Cave headlining tour to a wicked end.

Many lessons were learned, many souls were moved and many songs were played. In the age of covid, please be sure to stay safe, mask up and keep yourself distanced from the masses as best you can, so as to not come down with a downer of an illness like covid. Even the best laid plans of mice and men can come unraveled by a tiny virus, but this is the risk we run when as a touring band in the age of covid.


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