But Not to Those Who Travel

But for a good-natured and sweet-scented woman to sit the groggy and grumbling beast down, a 3am wake up call would have surely left me foggy and a little wound up all through the long trip to Monaco from Portland. A couple of mimosas and scattered stolen pecks on the cheek, who cared that the sun was nowhere to be found above, I was ready to take on the sky another day.

About seventeen hours later, Trish and I found ourselves in Nice, greeted by a black-clad woman holding up a hand-written sign saying Vannelli. (and with two n’s, what do you know) We snaked along the French Riviera until we arrived at the Roquebrune in Cap Martin, just a few miles south of Monaco. It seemed to me a rather average hotel dug into the rocks and wedged hillside. But once inside, that all changed—a king could not have asked for a more sumptuous gastronomic bounty or a more genial legion of doting matrons who took care of their guests like motherless children. Trish and I spent six long, hot days time adjusting while walking along calm green shores, sipping peach daiquiris, then squeezing tight into a sun bed for one, getting in a bit of pulp while exchanging appraisals of passing yachts. There were those nagging distractions of topless women who would stroll by, having two distinct looks in their eyes. One was: “Pfff! I don’t care what you think, Calvinist!” The other was: “Hey pilgrim, what do you think?” Though I confess to a few snoops here and there, I happily kept my eye mostly trained on the book in hand—defiant ultra-bronzed, elderly hippies sporting bare racks seemed all too much to absorb compared to a simple murder story.

On the seventh day we moved to the Hermitage in Monte Carlo. I have always had this morbid curiosity about hotel suites and how much folks need to shell out for what is usually supplied to me by promoters. In this case the hopped-up wallpaper and double bidets would set back the average man (if we can call him such) 2,600 euros a night—so said the small placard on the door. “Must be that second bidet,” I reckoned.

The Dutch band had just arrived from Holland. We set up and rehearsed all that afternoon. I slowly began to emerge from vacation mode and find my stage legs.

There is always something to discover, to overcome or to capture, even with songs you’ve performed for many years. Of course, new arrangements help fend off the boredom and actually inspire me to keep hitting the stage, but on the night of the show, at the Sporting in Monte Carlo, I had two major fiery hoops to jump through. One was the fact that our show was to begin at midnight. The Monicans, I reckon, are all-nighters—a bit hard to be prancing about during an encore at 1:30 in the morning from my point of view. But the bigger obstacle was something far more pernicious, over and above dumb. By accident, I had overdosed on some spicy herbs meant for singers and singed my chords. Took about a week to heal, but in the meantime I was this close to adding Maggie May to my set. The high point of the night was Karel’s piano solo in Black Cars—Bill Evans with nipple rings and leather chaps.

Tricia and I, along with a hundred and fifty or so brothers in arms, sat—no, liquefied patiently on the tarmac for nearly three hours in ninety-degree heat while waiting for the aircraft to take off from Nice to Stockholm. We touched down just in time to make rehearsals with Robert Wells and his Rhapsody in Rock band of merry souls, about twenty-five or so. What a pleasant surprise it was to hear them all so ready, willing and fine-tuned. From the first minute of rehearsals in Stockholm to the closing moments of the show in Dalhhalla, (a gigantic out-of-commission stone quarry and magnificent place to hold a concert, three hours north of Stockholm) the whole Swedish adventure could be chocked up as, ‘a good one’. Hats off to the crew and technical advisors for just about reading my mind.

Well, there we were again, back at Arlanda waiting to be pointed in any general direction that led back to America, when the announcement came that our plane would be leaving two hours later than scheduled. We were finally nestled into our own private little leather digs, bracing ourselves for the twenty-hour travel day ahead, when the captain announced that the high frequency radio was broken and Lord knew when they could fix the thing— and not an electrician for miles. Some part of you wants to scream out, “Just take off, will you! You must know the road like the back of your hand by now!” But of course, all you do is try your best to keep a stiff upper lip and be a shining example of a well-seasoned traveler to all the summer vacationers who look as if they’ll never see Kansas again.

The cabin room’s air was charged and thick with dark thoughts when, at last, five hours later, we pushed back from the gate and made for the runway. Anger and relief are a strange muddle. One quiets the other while the one being silenced barbs the other, so that in the end you’re left smiling, quietly buzzing and whirring in your seat with a short circuit in your nervous system. Naturally, getting in five hours later than planned, we missed every possible connection to Portland from New York. As if sitting for thirteen hours in that flying heap of metal blowing second-hand air wasn’t enough, now we’d have to find a hotel, any hotel to sleep the night before we could get on another one to Portland.

I marvel at how easily we can turn from well-mannered John Does who never use anything but skim milk in their coffee, into frantic, foul-mouthed mobs ready to torch the place. Suddenly all you could see at terminal three at JFK was a sea of angry, sweaty faces shouting, “Hey, you *&^%$%^*!!!I was here first!”

We finally got our marching orders from Delta. We were to spend the night at the Doubletree and leave on the 7pm flight the next day. After being pushed and shoved out of the way, then trampled on by a herd of stampeding out-of-towners attempting to board the hotel shuttle, Tricia and I decided to pass on the complimentary ride and cab it, only to find ourselves with an unlicensed cabbie, fresh from Pakistan that hadn’t a clue as to how to get to the Doubletree—presumably fine, providing you’re still parked at the stand, haggling about price and what not, but not so cool when you suddenly realize he has no idea where he’s going in the thick of New York traffic. It reminds me of a trip long ago to Zermaat, Switzerland, as the anxious pilot in the bucking Piper Cup caught in a snow storm finally turned to me and smiled real big, while he prodded his pointed index earthward to a barely visible blot between two giant peaks in the Alps—such was the same with Mohammed Kamal as he happily pointed to the neon Doubletree sign in the dark distance.

How a less than average room could mean so much more than a twenty-six-hundred-dollar suite at the Hermitage with Little Mary Sunshine wallpaper and double bidets, is what ran through my mind, as I set our bags down in the pungent carpet-cleaner-scented room. Realizing there had been only a limited number of rooms available that night, counting all the surrounding hotels, anger was once more mellowed by relief.

On the next day, steeling ourselves for a long day’s wait for our seven o’clock flight at JFK, upon checking in I was reminded of a certain God in his Heaven when two seats suddenly became available on the 3pm flight to Portland.

Get more stories like these in Gino’s Book Stardust in the Sand.

10 Comments
  1. What a story. Sounds like the both of you need(needed) a vacation from your vacation! A couldn’t help from laughing at times with your truthfullness of the world of traveling at times. We have been delayed several times leaving the U.S. and relate with you, but this beats all stories above all. We just hope that you have enjoyed life somehow within your busy schedule. Sometimes, doing exactly NOTHING, perhaps pampering yourself with relaxation is more peaceful than anything. Touring for us fans is what you enjoy and we are evermore Thankful. So in essence to that, just know that with all the traveling mishaps and sometimes wanting to yell out with all your might, which we all know you have the Voice to do so; just remember you are so well adored.
    Sincere Love and Luck to you Both,
    We cherish Stardust in the Sand and all the stories,
    Thanks for giving us insight on your journey all these years.
    Melissa, Joe / N.Texas

  2. I was baking cookies for my husband who has been in the hospital since June 30th. TV was on and a movie called “Mother Ghost” was playing. I wasn’t paying any attention to the movie until…I heard a beautiful song. I recognized immediately that it was Gino singing “Just a Motion Away”. The most beautiful and incredible voice in the world. I don’t understand why you aren’t recognized with The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan,and all the greats. Since 1975 you have been my favorite singer.

  3. Brilliantly written… Even though I was born only three years after Gino. I can trace my lifelong musical adventure to a small New Mexico town in my paternal grandmothers “add-on” porch/bedroom/flytrap with my first suitcase Rhodes listening to New fix for 76 and dreaming… Most of my life has been in contemporary Christian music. I think my Gino and Joe influences kept me a tad off radar in most of those circles… small sacrifice… Now that I have reached a place where the creative side has been re-born with a fury, I say Thank you Gino… I take one look at this cookie-cutter, “death-by-autotune” age biased business and boldly declare…. If Gino can do it … so can I! You never sounded better!

  4. Gino, Please do a show in Toronto. Soon!! It’d be great to see you at a venue such as Koerner Hall. You’ve got fans here. C’mon over to Ontario! “The Last Dance” and “The Great Divide” are fantastic pieces of music. Sep. 10, 2010

  5. Hi Gino,

    Thank you for Stardust In The Sand; re-recording some of your wonderful music was a brilliant idea and to then including The Best and Beyond cd with book was a nice touch. It has been an enjoyable listen and read; it currently on its own tour of my family and friends!

    Regards
    Keith

  6. Gino,

    Could not be more wrong. Back in 1996, when the first blogs about you appeared, I stated that it was going to be very hard, even for yourself, to create a another song, so heart felt, that could possibly rival Keep on Walking…it took a while, and not many people seem to notice -perhaps because you sing it in Italian- but Il Viaggio, is your breathtaking masterpiece. Keep on walking Gino…aldila’ delle montagne.

    Federico

  7. Dearest Gino,

    This is a letter about you Gino, coming to my home after your concert along with
    Joe, your band and parents. You heard of the news concerning my mother’s
    suicide 30 days after my daddy died. Allow me to remind you how you, Joe, band
    members and your family and I met….I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia USA and
    in the 70’s you started to come to Norfolk, Virginia for your concerts. The
    local contact for your concert knew of my intense affection and respect for your
    music, before you ever thought of Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia. I must admit
    this to you, but I use to go to this one record shop and buy out your albums in
    order to introduce my friends and family to you and Joe. When people and friends
    had not heard of you, I pulled out an album and gave it to them. You all
    arrived at the Norfolk, Virginia USA airport and there I was with the local
    contact to help greet you. I was telling myself to act professional at all
    times. In which I did. Every year during your Norfolk, Virginia concerts, I
    was always professional and respectful to you all.

    But, here comes the “crescendo” of this letter. Your last concert in Norfolk,
    Virginia USA was in April of 1979. A month earlier, before your April concert,
    my WONDERFUL daddy had died of a heart attack. My father’s name was Gaston
    Trudel…..Yes, originally from Montreal as I am. The death of my father was
    traumatizing for me. I was and still am a clone of his antics, and proud of it.
    :O) I simply could not handle his death. His death was after both of my
    sisters had passed away. But, getting back to my father; precisely 30 days
    after my father died, my daughter, Kimberly at the age of 11 years old walked
    in to my mother’s bedroom and found my mother dead along with a suicide note.
    Needless to say, our lives changed dramatically. Yes, just within 30 days my
    mother committed suicide after my daddy died. After all of the tragedies I felt
    so alone and so dead. My entire family wiped out except for my daughter.
    Knowing your concert was coming right after my mother’s suicide was horrible for
    me…I believe your concert was roughly one week after my mother committed
    suicide, but I simply could NOT attend your concert nor help you all out if you
    needed rides anywhere. I was in a “walking coma” mode. The night of your
    concert, I wanted to be alone with my daughter. Kimberly crawled in bed with me
    understanding my dilemma….I had not slept for over a month by this time…but
    around midnight my phone rang, and it was a friend of mine letting me know that
    she told YOU what had happened to me and why I wasn’t involved with you all
    during this concert….Nancy told me that YOU wanted to know if you could stop
    by my home to console me. Gino, you will NEVER EVER know how your graciousness
    affected me. The genuine sorrow and sympathy that exuded from you and your
    family’s heart has been with me for all these years and NEVER forgotten. I can
    not find the words to tell you how your visit gave me so much “hope”……and I
    was SO honored to meet your wonderful parents for the very first time!!! Your
    presence lightened the grief for the moment. The generosity from you all has
    always humbled me….I recognized from your actions that your heart was bigger
    then your voice could ever be….Kimberly and I desperately needed that….I
    will always be grateful until the day I die. Kimberly and I were the recipients
    of your kindness and concerns.

    After your visit, I am ashamed though to admit I did indeed become a “walking
    coma” for too many years and yes decades…..after both of my sister’s death,
    then my parents deaths within 30 days, I became intensely sad….I felt I had
    died too. The best medicine for me during these many years of sorrow was your
    music. It brought me life, and great memories.

    Believe me, if I had the money I would be on a plane to see you perform and to
    personally thank you for coming to my apartment with your family and band to
    console me after your concert……but it is not in “the cards”…I simply
    wanted you to know that my own passion and respect for your growth for both
    you, Joe and family continues on. I have “shed thousands and thousands of
    tears”….Your music helped me so much through it….Your music was better than
    any medication any doctor could give me.

    I have met so many wonderful people in my walk on this earth…as you have
    too….but, the best gift I ever received and will always remember and cherish
    is the gift of compassion and caring from you and your family coming to see me
    after your concert to console me….I can not thank you enough….your
    compassionate visit is an imprint in my heart. And no one can ever take that
    away….I do want to see you in concert. That would actually be my only wish.
    I have often told my husband and girlfriends, that if I am on my death bed, to
    make sure they play your songs to me….They know how serious I am about that.

    Briefly, I will remind you that during the years you visited my area, I took you
    to the emergency room, took you to a mall, helped with a torn pair of pants,
    your band came to my apartment and we danced and sang to your music. Your
    manager had called me prior to your next concert for me to prepare a
    Thanksgiving Dinner at a Restaurant for you and your band. We had a wonderful
    Thanksgiving feast at a lovely restaurant. I always made sure I would NOT ask
    for photos because I wanted you to feel comfortable and I did not want to be
    intrusive. Yes, I have regretted my thoughtfulness. :O) During the Mall
    visit, a Record Store found out you were there, and they started to play your
    album, POWERFUL PEOPLE….you asked me if we could go to the record shop and you
    thanked them for playing your record. They were thrilled, and you were kind to
    spend time with them. Your politeness is so transparent, which is a good thing.
    I personally witnessed it. And will always be grateful until the day I die.

    You have taught me to never underestimate the power of passion…that’s what
    your visit brought to me over 30 years ago….I have so much more I would like
    to say, but I hope I have conveyed my sincere appreciation. Of course I would
    much rather thank you once again in person.

    I want you and your dear brothers, (I do not believe I met Ross) to know that
    you and your family always have a place to stay if you are ever in Virginia
    Beach, Virginia. We are not the Four Seasons, but our sheets are clean. Plus
    we have a very handsome dog by the name of Max!!! Just that in itself is worth
    coming over!!! :O)

    I really do not want to end this letter….but, I know I must.
    Jackie Trudel-Lane

  8. What a story! You know, it reminded me of that movie The Out-Of-Towners with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis (OH MY GAAAAAARRDD!!!)Too funny! It’s such a long hike across the States, isn’t it; even longer when the hospitality and transport has you comparing notes and you ened up wondering, why in the heck you left in the first place! Although, who would say ‘no’ to Monaco,; like you the only thing I’d say that to is the 2600 big ones they wanted for the hotel room (and they couldn’t have known a man was coming or they wouldn’t have given you one with double bidets). The cuties on the beach? Hmm, yeah, I’d prob’ly sneak a look too (what’s not to ogle in Monaco). Next time I’d ditch the spiced herbs, phew!! You doing Maggie May?? Thank God. Actually your trip sounds like the European one I took in 1984…wow, you talk about plane delays…if ti don’t happen in the States, Lord knows it don’t happen anywhere! Thank God you got the 3pm or you’d probably still be taking about it!!

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story!

    Love Jacqui xx

  9. Happy Birthday to you my friend. You are a life long hero and an on going inspiration in my life every day

  10. Gino, I received your Live in LA DVD and can’t get enough! My self and my wife of 31 yrs saw you once in 1979 in Charleston ,WV in 1979. (Im almost 53 now..I was 17 at the time) and I’ve been hooked ever since. I told my wife yesterday you are on my bucket list. Just keep doing what you are doing.

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