Ah, The Bus. That constantly rumbling behemoth parked in the alley behind yet another arena, club, or retrofitted movie theater in middle America. A vehicle that becomes your safe Home within hours of first stepping aboard.
Someone you’ve never met becomes the person who keeps you comfortable and safe, driving through the night to get you to the next town. Meet Paul, an Aussie with extensive knowledge on everything from Religion to Philosophy to Music to Diesel Mechanics. Tyrone, always smiling, no matter what. Robbie, who pulls over to get a Starbucks coffee so it’s waiting for me when I get up. Joe, a Bass Player with Merle Haggard. Todd (‘Biggun‘), a former Professional Wrestler. Robert, the Oreo cookie fanatic who has pulled everyone from Sugarland to Justin Bieber.
In the front lounge, 1 or 2 large screen TVs, arranged so viewing from either side is comfortable. Surround sound. Leather couches along the sides. Kitchenette, coffee maker, refrigerator, cooler, bathroom (#1 ONLY. NO Paper). If you’re lucky, a Slide-Out section which increases the width by 2 feet. It may not seem like much but it’s high living. Guests may be permitted to visit the front lounge before or after a show, but the bunk house door will be closed. The inner sanctum. They’ll almost never be invited to the back lounge. It’s near showtime, folks. Time to GO. Some never seem to get it.
Your bunk (coffin) is a welcomed cocoon; close the curtain and you’re shut off from the world. I prefer it to any Hyatt Regency. Driver-side/back/top for me. A bit more sway up there, but after a lifetime of sailing and sleeping aboard boats, I love it. Because it’s over 6 feet long, there’s room for my small day bag at my feet. iPhone and iPad chargers plug in near my head. Coffee mug, mouthwash, antacids, and a bottle of water squeeze between the mattress and bulkhead. The TV/DVD player is used by some but mine rarely gets turned on. My bunk is for sleeping during those long overnight runs, under the thick, warm quilt.
Empty bunks become “Junk Bunks” or, in our case, “Bass Bunks”. We have 16 Basses, a Guitar, a Trombone, my 2 Trumpets and a Cello on the VWB Tour.
The back lounge/office is the Tour Manager’s lair. Another, albeit smaller, TV. Surround sound, cooler, comfortable couches, closets to hang my show shirts. My favorite place for a nap during the shorter morning runs to the next city.
Transportation. Cocoon. Safe Haven. Home, away from HOME.
Ah, The Bus.