In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, South African pop-rock singer-songwriter, Jesse Clegg, talks about one of his crazy moments from touring. You can check out the feature, after the break.
A couple of years ago we were on a long acoustic tour across South Africa. We were doing about 40 shows around the country and some of the gigs were in very small towns that didn’t have proper a venue or had never really hosted an event before. But because it was an intimate acoustic show and the “promoters” were psyched to try to make it work, we tried to stop in as many towns as we could on our way to the bigger cities.
One of the shows was in the middle of the Karoo desert in a tiny town, I don’t even remember the name. When we got to the venue, the owner came running out to our car in a drunken panic. He told us that the production company had canceled on them at the last minute. There was nothing at the venue. No stage, no lights, no speakers and the gig was sold out. People would be arriving in a few hours.
Luckily he had managed to borrow some old speakers from a friend but there was still no stage. He told us he had a plan – we could just play the show in his tree house with everyone sitting under the tree below us. He pointed to the highest tree in the area and at the top there was a small wooden platform precariously nailed in place. There was so little time that we actually tried to make this work. We climbed up this rope ladder, hoisted up the kick drum and guitars, set up the pedals and ran extension cords down to the tree. It was a nightmare – we were trying to sound check and there would be a gust of wind that would make the whole tree sway and our pedal boards would start sliding away from us. I nearly fell off the platform in the middle of one of the songs – it was insane.
After some tense moments, we climbed down and told him that we needed a new plan. The owner went away and came back with two other guys and a ton of wood. They actually built a stage in under an hour with wood planks and nails. It was pretty rickety but it worked out and the gig was actually awesome. We ended up playing in that town again the following year and the stage was still there.