Our Southwest Flight landed without incident in Phoenix, Arizona and we were picked up in a van from the Cliff Castle Casino. The drive through the desert to Camp Verde took 90 minutes. The topography of Arizona is amazing. First we drove through flat desert country dotted with millions of Saguaro Cacti. They grow like trees across the desert floor. They are huge! The average size was well over 20 feet, some were 40 and 50 feet tall, with multiple arms that looked from a distance like guys being told to “stick ‘em up!” The Saguaro Cactus (Camegiea gigantean) is one of the defining plants of the Sonoran Desert. These amazing plants can live over 100 years.
As we drove up into the higher elevations of desert the cacti faded and only small shrubs grew. In fact, when you looked out of our hotel room windows it looked surprisingly like the pictures of the Martian surface taken by the Mars Rover. I certainly felt Martian. Thirty minutes later we were surrounded by Buttes- incredible table-top mountains were everywhere- looking like lost worlds.
We didn’t see a single building out there. It was utter desolation outside the windows. We were quite literally in the middle of nowhere. There was no cell phone coverage or internet, even at the hotel. “Wi-fi? What’s that? We ain’t got no Wi-Fi here.”
We ran into BERLIN with Terri Nunn in the lobby of the hotel and they were nice people. Terri still looks great after all these years. She was very friendly. We chatted for a few minutes than they went off to do their soundcheck.
We grabbed a quick lunch and went over to the Stargazer Pavilion for our sound check. The band was relaxed and ready to play and we couldn’t wait to get back on stage for the real show.
I ran into two of my biggest fans after the soundcheck. I won’t mention their names but they had a bunch of cool stuff. I signed a few album covers and a white Telecaster guitar. We made pleasant conversation for a while and then they offered to come back after the show and experience something they called “true religion” and let me tell you, they weren’t kidding. I GOT true religion after that.
We stuck around and watched SCANDAL featuring Patti Smyth and BERLIN featuring Terri Nunn. I told some of the guys in BERLIN about the times I played in West Berlin in Germany back in the 70’s when the Berlin wall was still up. I told them about CHECKPOINT CHARLIE- the most famous border crossing in the world. We visited the museum at CHECKPOINT CHARLIE and saw US and Russian Tanks with their huge main guns aimed at each other, except that these were real tanks, with live ammunition. It was literally the edge of the free world. I’ll never forget it. We played at the KANTE KINO with NINA HAGEN. It was one of the most bizarre shows I can remember. The Band BERLIN, it turns out, had never actually been to Berlin. But enough about Germany, lets talk about BERLIN, the band.
Ahh, it is so liberating to be on stage in front of thousands of people wearing skin tight black leather pants, thigh-high boots with six inch heels, and a plunging rhinestone blouse… oh wait, that was Terri Nunn- I wore my white shirt, black tie and vest.
After the show we all went and had a fabulous steak dinner at a place called Storytellers that was built like a cave. It was cool. This was an Indian Casino and all the décor had an Indian motif.
We all had a great time and I want to thank all the people up at Cliff Castle Casino for rolling out the red carpet for us. And for all the fans that showed up for the gig- thank you! We’ll be back as soon as we can.