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If you’ve been following along with this blog about my experience getting to perform in the UK and Iceland, you know that we’re up to the point where I’ve arrived in Manchester, England with my college friend Bill. But you still don’t know the whole story up to this point. You’ve been hearing everything solely from my point of view, and you might get the impression that I did all the heavy lifting in terms of preparation and planning. But there’s a entire other side to this saga. Hans, Jan, Nico and Yasmine, the musicians from Belgium who had agreed to be a part of this crazy plan were working hard and have their own adventure to tell.

I asked them if they’d be willing to contribute their experiences, and Hans agreed to write an account of things from their perspective. So, the next few entries in this blog will be the story of Bugsy Travels and the Ammo Boxes, a group of geocaching musicians who got wrangled into performing with some dude from the US whom they had never even met. Below is Hans’ first installment.

I’m just amazed that a drummer can read and write.

… sorry, couldn’t resist.

So dear readers, while Steve is solely conquering England, let’s go back in time a bit by the sheer magic of the written word  to a tiny little country in the middle of Europe by the name of Bugsy Travels Land (or maybe better known as Belgium  or Beer Land, that should work too).

(Flashback to 2018 …)

… where Jan and me were wondering a bit what to do with this one time only project turned into something a bit more called Bugsy Travels & the Ammoboxes. You see two years earlier we had formed this group at the initiative of Peter Van Daele, who wanted to play some geocaching related music at an event in Gent with other geocaching musicians. To our surprise, the three of us got on very well from the first rehearsal (we didn’t know each other at all) and this one time only show was received very well by the attending cachers. We thought it would be a shame not to go on with it as we had had a lot of fun playing together and altering classic rock songs to geocaching songs with our goofy lyrics. The next years we played at several Mega events in Belgium where again both our Belgian friends and foreign cachers enjoyed our geocaching sets. However, in 2018, Peter had to make a tough decision and call it quits as he was in too many bands and lacked time. The end of the Bugsies?

Yasmine joins the band

Luckily no, I knew this fantastic bass player Yasmine who had been a colleague and dear friend of mine for over 20 years now. She joined our band to replace Peter and again it sounded great and the vibe amongst the three of us was great too. But … we had no shows on the agenda anymore and as Steve has already described in his parts in this series, it is indeed a bit of a challenge to focus on doing geocaching music shows AND to get to actually play somewhere too.

So what were we to do with the band, we were a bit in doubt.  Then somewhere late 2018, by chance, I saw this Facebook post passing by on my screen mentioning a Geocaching concert by The Travel Bugs at Geocoinfest in Manchester the following year. In a whim I reacted to the post and suggested having a double bill with two bands: The Travel bugs and Bugsy Travels & The Ammoboxes!

Little did I know that somewhere in Estonia Jon-Paul Barr must have shouted “EUREKA!!!!” at a rather unacceptable volume as I had just presented him the solution to his “real” band problem … In nanoseconds I got a FB message from Jon-Paul asking for more info on our band and how much we would charge for a gig . Holy guacamole! What had I just set in motion ?!? 

I turned over to my wife and said: “Euh honey, I might just have scored us a gig in the UK …”. I don’t literally recall her initial reaction but it must have been something in the lines of “Yeah right, and I am the Queen Mum!”. The reaction of Jan and Yasmine was something alike as you can imagine because, really, us on a road trip to Manchester?!?  Pigs will fly, Bugsy! But it turned out in Estonia they have a way of making pigs fly as Jon-Paul Barr was dead-serious about getting us there.

During a Skype call with Jon-Paul and Ian Ledger to discuss some practical things, a “tiny little request” popped up: as it turned out The Travel Bugs band wasn’t really a band but a one man project by Steve Weeks. So for this to be a real Travel bugs concert they were kind of a few  Travel Bugs short and as we were coming over to play anyway … “Why don’t you guys be Steve’s live band to play his show?” Jon-Paul asked.

(Rather huge dramatic pause)

Euh, so euh, … I was lost for words.

How does one prepare something like that ?!? I tried to explain to both Jon-Paul and Ian that it wasn’t as easy as they made it sound. It’s not like you just pop in a CD and hit ‘play’, is it? And as Steve lives at the other end of the globe  itmakes rehearsing together a tad impossible (Unless I were the owner of the USS Enterprise. Then I could ask Scotty to beam us up). So how were we going to assure that the result would sound good ? I really didn’t have the foggiest idea how we could ever pull that off. Seeing the disappointment on their faces (I did after all just torpedo their cherished Eureka moment) I promised to check Steve’s music out and ask the rest of the band what they thought of this seemingly impossible request.

Would we get the job done ? And how ?!?

( Play ‘Theme from Mission Impossible’, fade out …)


PREVIOUS: Chapter 9: Road Trip

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