The Rock USA festival in Oshkosh Wisconsin combines two
great things; rock music and Americans.

Now, if you combine those two things with two more great
things (cocktails & beer), you get an even livelier festival, which was the
case last night.

But the band and crew were working, so we didn’t get to
partake in the cocktail and beer portion.

But we all took part in dinner, so let’s delve into that
topic for a minute.

Generally, the band members eat several hours before a show,
and it’s usually something light.

Because the last thing a paying concert-goer wants to see is
William DuVall belching between songs or Mike Inez doubled over with stomach
cramps because they ate too much fettuccine alfredo 15 minutes before showtime.

But last night in Oshkosh was a little different.

The rules seemed to have gone out the window, and I was
seeing things pre-show that I haven’t seen before.

First of all, I don’t like to denigrate or insult anyone
when I write these things.

I’ve accidentally done it a few times in the past, and I
always regret it when I write something that might make someone feel bad.

So bearing that in mind, I’d just like to politely and
delicately say that catering at the gig left something to be desired.

Therefore, several band members made the brave/insane
decision to order their dinner from the food stands out on the festival grounds.

Anyone knows that if you’re looking for a delicious meal
that’s low in calories and high in healthiness, then head out to rock concert
and grab some food from a tent!

Want some meat on a stick?

Yes!

Craving deep fried anything?

Of course!

Looking to ingest 50 times the recommended daily allowance
of sodium?

Absolutely!

Well, the food vendors at any rock show in America have you
covered.

And unbelievably, I saw pre-show meals that consisted of
hamburgers, corn dogs, bratwursts, & French fries, and I even heard a rumor about a
deep fried Snickers bar floating around the dressing room.

This led me to fear that instead of people pumping their
fists in the air to Rooster during the encore, someone in the band would be
getting their stomach pumped onstage instead.

But somehow the band made it through the night with no
obvious signs of gastrointestinal distress.

There was a little bit of distress earlier in the evening at
the meet & greet however, as the fans were lined up, the band arrived, and
there was no photographer.

That gave some of Wisconsin’s most persistent mosquitos ample
time to start dive bombing band members, which wasn’t so fun.

And while we’re on the topic of meet & greets, let’s go
over the fine art of meeting a band member, in case the opportunity should
arise for you in the future.

First off, the band doesn’t really do meet & greets
anymore, but on rare occasions it’s contracted in to a specific gig, usually a
festival or casino.

Back when we used to run our own meet & greets, I gave a
little speech beforehand informing everyone of the rules and guidelines.

One of these guidelines revolved around the fact that Jerry Cantrell wears some
pretty big rings on his fingers.

Combine this with the fact that the occasional fan can
sometimes be a little overexcited to meet the band.

That’s when you see a person shake Jerry’s hand like they’re
milking a cow, and the result is never good.

So I began to inform the participants that it would be
easier if they just fist bumped Jerry instead of shaking his hand.

Fast forward to the festival in Cadott the day before
Oshkosh.

I passed this info onto the festival rep that was helping
with the meet & greet, and he passed it on to the fans.

This resulted in the most awkward procession of band/fan
interaction I’ve ever seen, because the people were obviously told to fist bump
everyone, not just Jerry.

So right from the start, the fans walked in for their photos
and were greeted by an outstretched hand ready to shake, and they would attempt
to fist bump it.

Time after time I witnessed band members getting their fingers punched by fans that were just doing what they were told.

Meanwhile, as this is going on, Jerry is continuing a
tradition he started years ago, which is to hand out guitar picks to the people
there.

This resulted in several fans punching guitar picks out of
Jerry’s hand onto the ground, and suddenly we’re writing our own sequel to
Spinal Tap.

And naturally, as we’re about halfway through the line of
people and folks are starting to forget the whole fist bump thing, a dude comes
through and crushes Jerry’s hand in a vice grip handshake.

So on the off chance that you happen to meet Jerry Cantrell
(or Mike, Sean, & William) in the future, remember that they’re fragile creatures
who use their porcelain fingers to make a living.

Go in gently, be prepared to receive a guitar pick, and if
you make it to the handshake phase, just let your hand go limp like you would
if you were being attacked by a bear.

The handshake version of playing dead will ensure a safe and enjoyable interaction for all
parties involved…

Rainier Fog

Available August 24