Despite a two-year delay and an entire ocean, The Travel Bugs were able to get together once again for a full band performance. The band members from Bugsy Travels & the Ammo Boxes joined me onstage at the Geocaching 20th anniversary celebration in Seattle for a live performance.
Annie, one of the wonderful Groundspeak lackeys happened to be in attendance at the dual Travel Bugs/Ammo Boxes gig in 2019 at GeoCoinfest in Manchester, UK and approached the bands about performing at the upcoming mega to celebrate 20 years of geocaching. It was just the beginning of an idea, but the seed was planted. The musicians from Belgium and I kept in touch and kept dreaming about the day we could get together and perform again.
As the gig started to become a reality, travel arrangements were made and rehearsals scheduled, but just as the excitement was building... BAM! ...COVID showed up and dashed all those plans. But geocachers are nothing if not persistent. Even though air travel, hotel rooms and rentals cars had to be cancelled, the dream lived on, and the bands and Groundspeak continued to try and make this unique concert happen.
The celebration was initially delayed until 2021, but it was just too soon. Borders weren't completely opened, and everyone was still a little skittish about travelling. And things needed to be opened back up if this event was going to be epic enough to commenorate two decades of geocaching. So it got delayed again until 2022, and we all kept our fingers crossed. The third time around we got a little bit of luck. The event was on!
Once again, the band members made travel arrangements and rented equipment (You can't exactly carry a drum set on an international flight). The trick then became "practicing" together. You see, there was the small problem of the Atlantic Ocean which was in between me, in Colorado and the Ammo Boxes, who live in various parts of Belgium.
But we had been in this situation before, so we began to practice virtually with wach other, making audio files of rehearsals and sharing them. It isn't the most optimal way to practice, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. A further complication came when Nico, the rhytmn guitarist for The Ammo Boxes, reailzed that he wasn't going to be able to reschedule his trip to the US. Jan asked me if I'd be willing to sit in with their band on guitar and even lead vocals in a couple of cases. This was the perfect opportunity for me to repay the favor by supporting them.
Hans, Jan and Peter all made it over to the US and took the opportunity to vacation at little bit. Hans visited me in Colorado, and he, his wife Inge and I roadtripped out to the Mingo cache where we actually set up a small drum set and performed at the site (video to follow soon). Once everyone got to Seattle, we got to spend some time catching up and meeting each others' families. It was good to see those guys again. We even got a backstage tour of the Groundspeak Headquarters by our lackey/hero Annie!
But then the real work began. Rented equipment had to be picked up. Schedules and transportation had to be coordinated, and we needed to rehearse. Jan had reserved a rehearsal room for us the evening before, but when we arrived, the place had been sold! We had to make do with practicing acoustically (and quietly) in Jan's Air BnB. Once again it looked like we were going to have to perform cold.
The day of the event, we all arrived and were please to see a very large stage with a super professional crew. We sound checked and then went off to enjoy the event. I got to meet many of the cachers who had backed my Kickstarter campaign for a new single. I was very glad that I got to say thanks in person. I won't go into the event as there are lots of accounts, but let's just say it was pretty epic. The gang at Groundspeak really knocked it outta the park!
Then it was time for the actual show. I started solo on acoustic guitar and gradually added the other musicians to the mix so they could get a good introduction. I remember what a big deal it was for me to play in Manchester, and I wanted their experience in the US to be memorable. I debuted the song "Mingo Bound" which I had written for our road trip earlier in the week. Eventually the whole band was onstage, and we rocked it out for about 45 minutes.
Then it was time for the second set. I donned a Bugsy Travels t-shirt and officially morphed into an Ammo Box. I was very honored to fill in for Nico, and being a lead singer without a guitar was a new experience for me. I tried to do my best David Bowie. The show ended with the Groundspeak staff onstage singing with Jan. It was a blast!
Later that evening we all went out for dinner to celebrate the fact that we had pulled it off and say our goodbyes. It was a wonderful experience and we all said we hoped we could do it again sometime.
I want to give a huge thanks to the people who helped make this happen, including Bryan, Annie at the staff at Groundspeak, the staff of Gilly Wagon, all the cachers who supported my fundraising efforts by buying the world tour geocoins, everyone who took the time to say "Hi" and offer words of encouragement and especially Hans, Jan and Peter. This could not have happened without everyone's help, and we absolutely can not wait to do it again someday!.