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Backstage with Baldy

Rio De Janeiro – September 19th

As the official manservant and full time minion to Alice In Chains, I’ve had the good fortune to be on the receiving end of some cool perks over the years.

Another one happened last night, and I’m not talking about the free Rock In Rio flip flops we were given.

I’m talking about a police escort to the gig.

I’ve been involved in three police escorts in my life.

One when I was working for Elton John and we were late getting to a show in Florida, one when I was 15 years old and a crafty police officer deduced that three teenagers in a car on a country road at 7:00 P.M. must be up to no good, and once last night, as Alice In Chains was escorted to the Rock In Rio Festival.

Two of those three were pretty cool.

I don’t know how many of you out there have ever had a proper police escort, but it’s a nice way to get around in crowded rush hour Brazilian traffic.

(It’s not such a great way to go to the Latah County Sheriff’s office in Moscow Idaho though)

We stayed on the beach in Copacabana, and the festival site was a good hour away at best, and word coming in to the hotel was that with a combination of rush hour and festival traffic, it could take as much as 2 ½ hours to get to the site.

That’s when someone somewhere had the good sense to call in the cops.

We had eight policemen on motorcycles leading us from the hotel to the Rock In Rio festival site, and it was a sight to behold.

We took a two-lane highway most of the way, and these cops would dart ahead of us, slice a path down the middle of the lanes, and we’d scoot through.

At certain points they halted traffic altogether and cleared a lane for us, so there were times when we were zipping down a cleared lane for a quarter mile before we caught back up to the traffic.

It was a precision operation, and it helped slice about an hour off of our travel time.

The only downside?

An hour and 20 minutes of multiple motorcycle police sirens was more than enough to bring on a major headache.

But we got to the aspirin a lot quicker, so it was a good trade off.

A police escort also has a way of going to your head and making you feel important.

I suppose if it was commonplace in your life, you might feel a little bit better than everyone else, and even start acting like a big shot.

This is probably why so many politicians are assholes.

Another thing that can make you feel like a big shot is having 85,000 people scream your name and jump up and down.

That happened last night when Alice took the stage, and it was awesome.

We knew the crowd would be huge, and we knew the crowd would be great, but there’s nothing quite like being in the middle of it.

It was an amazing start to this South American trek, and I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks of headline shows holds in store.

My first police escort was unintended and unwanted all those years ago, and led to a really bad night that I’d like to forget (even though I was innocent of any wrongdoing).

Last night’s escort was just the beginning of what turned out to be one of the most unforgettable nights this band has had in quite a while.

I think there are two valuable lessons to be taken from today’s write-up:

Don’t get caught in a car on a back-country road outside of Moscow Idaho with friends who are smoking weed out of an old coffee can.

Do come to Brazil for the Rock In Rio festival.

And get a police escort if you can.

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Backstage with Baldy

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