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Steve JW Roberts  

Touring with Lee Kernaghan [2000 - 2010]

... an excerpt from my journal.

Seeing as we have sort travel times and as I have much planning to do in front of my laptop, I thought I'd share a few of the experiences from the other side of the table and give you a bit of an insite to what happened backstage on this final tour for the year.

Chilling poolside in Ubud

DUBBO 27th May
What a day. Lee just got back in from meetings in Sydney and Brisbane and then we are off again heading to Dubbo. But first there was another meeting. This time a CMAA Board meeting of which Lee is secretary. So we catch an early flight to Sydney, pick up a hire car and zip into the city. 5 hours later we had to leave to meet our flight out to Dubbo. Tore back to the airport and dropped off the hire car just in time to check in at REX. We were charged almost $200 excess baggage, Lee has his guitar case, stage clothes, hat and his personal baggage. I feel we had a bad day at the checkin counter because normally the guitars get through no problems, so we headed down to the gate not sure if we could actually put on a show, because Lee's luggage may be still in Sydney. We got straight on the flight and I asked the captain if he had done his load sheet and he let me know all our bags had gotten on. Stress relieved, we settled in for our one hour flight to Dubbo. Time to work on tonights set list. Lee looked over last tours and songs that he had performed, pondered that a little, ran over how the songs would link in his head and just before we landed came up with a set for tonights show. Picking up another hire car we went to the accomodation so Lee could have a bit of a rest before he had to go on. Meanwhile I had to go into the venue find out the best way for Lee to get to the stage, where he was going to do the signings, liase with my Tour Manager 'Dibbsy' to have security informed of what we were doing and so they knew what we wanted. Ensuring the crew and band were catered for in our rider I started making phone calls to arrange meet and greets with competition winners, sponsors, venue guests and the finally the outback club members. After setting times I headed back to the hotel to pic up Lee and bring him back to the venue, The Dubbo RSL, for the show. After all the pre show, and the Noll Brothers had entertained for 45 minutes, Lee headed up the stairs and walked out on stage to screams and applause from the country crowd. After the show and a few little drinks, I brought backstage competition winners and sponsors to meet Lee before we went out to sign. Right up the front in PRIORITY position were a dozen members of the outback club with other fans queuing to see behind. We met Yvonne and her family, Jodi and hers, Garth was there taking pix for you again, Rachel had rung earlier to see if her two little boys could meet Lee, they were there, Jessica, Aron, Lynn, Chris and Angie. Our Western Magazine winners Alan and Marrian Pearson. Glenn, Lynn Sally and Lucy. Peter and his boys and a line of fans of whos names I can never remember. Thats why I zip down the line when we come out giving every one name tags. A special shout out to Mick and Goughie, from the Yarrabin Disabled Group who rolled up in their wheelchairs to meet Lee. Once the last was signed and a quick debreif with the crew and back to the hotel and off to bed.

PARKES 28th May
Up and out at around 10 this morning for the hour drive to Parkes. We checked in to the hotel just as the band arrived. Lee suggested they had a little time jamming and running song ideas in the suite. It was time for a quick trip down to the Subway for a healthy fix and then back to the hotel so Lee could regenerate for tonights show as I am a litte concerned about a small cough he has developed. On our way back Lee suggested calling the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Pauls and offering, through them, free tickets to tonights show to families that might not be so fortunate, battlers having a go and finding it hard, those struggling from day to day. So I have been on the phone again this afternoon arranging that that happens. Calling the venue, and having names left at the ticket box. SO now I am about to head down to the venue start all over again and prepare for another rockin Lee Kernaghan show.

Back at the hotel getting ready for the show. I am going to recomend Lee does not sign tonight. I would like to see him well so he can put on a ripper show for the rest of the gigs. I'd prefer he miss one night signing to be good for the rest.

Straight after the show it was straight back to the hotel to allow Lee to fight this potential cold. So a good nights sleep should help this. I then went back to the venue. Then Noll Brothers Adam & Damian were signing for the fans and they had an 'extra' special signing towards the end. Thanks to Garth who came to the last few gigs taking pictures that he will be sharing with you shortly, and thanks for the bottles of port. Lee and I will be cracking them open on saturday night thats for sure. Leaving the venue much as the crew started to load the truck, I had the munchies. DO you think I could find anything open? I ended up pulling up behind an undercover policeman doing inspections on trucks. He was most helpful in suggesting a roadhouse down the road a little. So after getting my healthy (not) supper it was back to the hotel once again to contemplate tomorrow.

Chilling poolside in Ubud

ORANGE 29th May
Up early again to head into town to get Lee and I some breakfast before heading over to Orange for the gig at the Ex-Services Club. On the way it was good to see roadworks to upgrade the old country roads that were being pummelled by the trucks that use them so much. In to Orange in time for a great chinese lunch. Our hunger fully satisfied, a stop off at Landers Music, before heading up to to check in to our hotel. Tracy [TLW80] was on her way to travel with us for the rest of the tour, however in phone calls from her, she told me of the issues she was having in actually getting to Orange. Detirmination won in the end, with a very happy voice on the phone elating, "I am here! Finally!" I then got to work on the phone setting up the evenings meet and greets before meeting up with Tracey and heading down to the club for a bit of reconisence. After our crew had everything set up and sound check done, back to the hotel for a quick bite, get ready and take Lee down for the concert. A meet and greet with fanclub members Claire and Carla, and Western Magazine competition winners James and Beryl. James brought his green Bass guitar to be signed. Then it was show time. Lee gave a shout out to a young 19 year old, Ellie Middleton. Ellie has a tumor and had to miss the show. She was so upset so when Kim from WIN TV heard she contact us to see if Lee could give her a phone call before the show. Ellie was overjoyed that Lee had taken time to speak to her. After the show I 'again' took Lee straight back to our hotel for an early night so he can completely be over the cold he had earlier this week. Back to the gig again to wind down with the crew, before having a snack and heading to bed myself.

From all the feedback we have had so far, tonight looks like being huge. Up and out nice and early. Again a stop off at local cafe for our cafine fix. Lee pretty much spent most of the trip on the phone with interviews. Our office had me pick up a rather large collection of cd's and posters for Lee to sign while we were out on tour. This afternoon was our opportunity to do this. A few hours later the floor of Lee's suite was covered with about 500 signed Deni Ute Muster posters, a heap of cd slicks and promotional photos. As we used a gold paint pen to do this, time has to be allowed to let them dry. Lee has avoided catching that cold that was bugging him earlier, so he will be at full strength and fully recharged for tonights show. Tracy and I then headed down to Bathurst Panthers to do the preshow setup. I called all the fanclub members coming tonight to arrange them to meet up with Tracy at the interval so she could let them know the details for the meeting and greeting. A quick survey of the venue, a chat with security, and all the plans for tonights show were in place. Back to the hotel to get ready. Just in time to have Debbie and her mate Ellie arrive from Singleton. Debbie is our club president Ashleigh's mate. Ashleigh will be joining us for the last show of the tour tomorrow in Mudgee. It was around 8pm, just as the show was begining, when Deb and Ellie arrived. So a 7 and a half minute change for the girls saw them jumping in a cab and heading down to the show just ahead of Lee and I. When we rolled up the Noll Brothers, Adam and Damian, had the crowd well and truly ready to rock .. the show Tracy and I arranged the fans before I brought Lee out. Have to shout out to Michelle, Colleen & Sabrina, Anne and Helen, Rachel, Tim, Alica and a special happy 21st to Stacey. It was great to put your faces to the online names we see. Oh and I also would like to thank our awesome 'Cunnamulla Fella' dancers, Jess, Nicki and my favourite Jamie, for shaking it for Lee in the show. We will see you tonight in Mudgee. Would you believe Lee and I walked out of the room as they turned out the lights. Yeah, the crew had packed up all the pa, the loaders had pushed it down to the truck. There was literally no one left. So we headed back to the hotel for a well earnt nights sleep.

MUDGEE 31st May
Same morning routine. He had a couple from last night come to the hotel to have their ute signed by Lee. Off we went then heading north to Mudgee. Leaving the band and crew to have their golden arch breakfast, we left them in our dust and got to Mudgee just before lunch. A spot of shopping at the local bottleshop to pick up supplies for tonights aftershow party. Lunch time snuck up on us so we popped over to our favourite Mudgee cafe 'Eltons'. A sensational feed yet again then up the street to the Parklands Resort. Checkin in and over to the auditorium to check the setup, meet with the manager Chris, check out ticket sales so far, let security know what we needed then off to the spa. We had been joined by Outback Club president, Ashleigh. So ... joined with Debbie, Ellie and Tracy we had quite an entourage, and they were all in the spa. So I felt obliged to stop by and say hullo.. lol .. After the girls decided they were done, they cooked arranged the crews bbq dinner. Tracy got into the cooking and treated the boys to a right feast. Stomachs full it was time to put on the last show of the year. Tonight was the last time Lee would be touring til after the release of his next album toward the end of January next year. The show did rock. The 1000 strong fans showed that a country crowd know how to party. After, Lee again came out and signed. A special shout out to my favourite Cunnamulla Fella dancer Nikki. I think she just about had everything she wore signed, hat, shirt, boots, socks and jeans .. lol. After wrapping up the signing, the venue cleared and the truck packed it was time to party on. No doubt you have heard the saying what happens on the road, stays on the road. I am going to envoke that 13th emendment and just say that we all had a great fairwell party. It finished up back in the hotel suites way in to the early am'.

Awaking bright and early, however rather lethargically, we left a little late and had a pretty speey trip over to Dubbo to catch our flight to sydney to meet our flights back home. But there was a catch. Lees bags went on the next flight but he was one the flight after. So some rather rushed calls to supervisors saw Lee running through the airport to get to the gate to get on the flight just as they closed the doors and headed north. As for Brendan and I, our flight had been cancelled. The flight was fully booked so the ariling had a bit of a job gettin everyone on new aircraft. Brendan managed to get on the next one and I had a relaxing afternoon in the lounge before getting the special treatment, last on the aircraft and into seat 1A. They autta cancel my fights home more often. lol..

So there you have it. My tour diary of the last Lee Kernaghan tour for the year. Hope you get a bit of an insite to what happens, and how busy we are behind the scenes.

I would like to acknowledge Lee's band and crew. Together they have worked so hard so your Lee concert experience is the best in the country.

The touring entourage was;
Dave Wilkins - Guitar and vocals [ex Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunts]
Brendan Radford - Accoustic & electric guitar
Jake Lardot - Lead Guitarist
Chris Haigh - Bass Guitar
Mitch Farmer - Drums
Lawrie Minson - Guitar, steel harp & banjo
Yahn O'Donnell- Stage Manager
Dave Henderson - Monitors
Bonza - Guitar tech
Mark Hayes - Lighting director
Damian Young - Front of House, Production Manager
Michael Dibbs - Tour Manager
Steve Roberts - Lee's PA
Simon Lakeman - Tour Cordinator
Steven White - Lee's Manager ...
and all the local crew and loaders in each town.

Thanks to Tracy [TLW80] for coming along on the tour and being Lee's assistant's assistant. It was so much less ciaotic to have you along to help me out, even if it was your holiday.

I would also like to say thank you so much to the fans that came up and said g'day. It was great to meet those of you who are new and those who have been Lee fans for a while. Without you, Lee sells real estate and I wouldnt have this great job. A job where I travel all over this massive country with Lee meeting so many beautiful people. Look forward to seeing you again next year.



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