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July 3rd - July 5th - July 7th - July 9th - July 10th
July 11th - July 12th - July 13th - July 14th - July 15th - July 16th - July 17th
July 18th - July 19th - July 20th - July 21st - July 22nd - July 23rd - July 24th
July 25th - July 26th - July 27th - July 30th - July 31st
August 1st - August 2nd - August 3rd - Epilogue


July 3rd - Holmdel, NJ
The first day of Ozzfest began with a scream from Adam Sewell of Monster Voodoo Machine on the second stage at high noon. Power chords and intense vocals greeted the 17,000+ crowd as they made their way into the PNC Arts Center. The weather couldn't be better: Severe-clear blue sky with temperatures in the 80's.

Life of Agony started off the action on the mainstage at around 1:30pm. Whitfield Crane, a longtime Ozzy/Sabbath fan, pounced on the mike and gave it up to the fans for an early start to a long day of rock & roll.

Sevendust was next on the mainstage, followed by Coal Chamber and Soulfly. By the time Limp Bizkit hit the stage at 5:30pm, people were pumped up and rocking full-force. A few dozen fans started into thrashing in an impromptu pit in the lawn above the seats. Fred, Wesley, John, Sam and DJ Lethal were accompanied onstage by 30-foot tall toilet. Spice Girl dolls were disposed of properly here, along with a few other symbols of annoyance. For the last song of the set, Fred invited a few dozen women from the audience onstage to join him in singing George Michael's "Faith".

The stage didn't stay empty for long. Longtime metal favorites Megadeth kept things rocking on the mainstage, followed by another favorite, Motorhead, on the second stage. The mysterious and theatrical Tool was next on mainstage, giving the fans another dose of pure adrenaline. They would soon need it.

As the sun dropped below the horizon, a legion of faithful flowed into the mainstage seats and onto the lawn for the final act of the evening. The namesake of the festival, a living legend on tour.

The house lights dropped at 9:30pm. A roar erupted from the crowd as the darkness surrounded them. The large video screen above the stage began the intro...with samples from Hanson and The Spice Girls as a harsh, sarcastic contrast to the upcoming set. The fans were ready. The crew was ready. Security was ready. Thousands of gallons of water were ready. The band was ready. And now...Ozzy was ready.

The black curtain fell, and a fifty-foot tall silhouette of the Ozzman projected onto a white curtain, towered above the audience as the intro music blasted the crowd. Ozzy was ready.

The white curtain falls and Ozzy takes the stage, pushing his way through the wave of sound coming from the army of waiting fans. Joe Holmes backs him up with his axe, Mike Bordin gets ready for business behind the drum kit, and Robert Trujillo takes up station stage right. Robert wastes no time blasting back at the crowd with the opening chords to "Believer". Ozzy takes the mike at last, bathed in the ultra bright light from the spots. The Ozzman has arrived!

As the set continues, six water nozzles high above the stage shower the crowd with fresh water. For those in the front rows, Ozzy has a special treat: A hand-held water cannon that he uses to soak waiting fans. After a hot day of rock & roll, nobody seems to mind...

The set continues with "I Don't Know", "Bark at the Moon", the Sabbath classic "War Pigs", "Desire", "Goodbye to Romance", and "No More Tears". Ozzy stirs up the crowd and leads them in a chant directed to anyone who criticizes Ozzy...I'll let you guess the words...then powers straight into "Suicide Solution". "I Don't want to Change the World" is next, followed by "Mr. Crowley", "Flying High Again" and "I Just Want You". The fans want more and he gives them more, with a killer Sabbath medley, "Crazy Train" and "Mama I'm Coming Home". With the water tanks and the crowd both nearly drained, Ozzy sends them home with "Paranoid", punctuated by a snowstorm of confetti.

Ozzfest has begun! Stay tuned!


July 5th - Holmdel, NJ
I arrived at the venue around 9am for the second day of Ozzfest. The speaker stacks were already alive with the familiar noises of a sound check in progress: "Raaaahhh! Chuuueeeeccckk! Yeahhhhhhh! Onneeeee---twooooo!" Miscellaneous guitar riffs and drum thuds accompanied these simple vocals. Music and the voice of Billy Anderson, the Ozzfest tour DJ, soon replaced the sound check melody. Billy cranks out tunes between sets on the main stage to keep the crowd awake. With literally hundreds of CDs by his side, Billy covers everything a heavy-metal rocker could want to hear. No chance for the ears to rest at Ozzfest.

I took a walk over to the second stage to get ready for Ultraspank. I noticed that the ground was saturated from a series of rain showers the night before. With soft ground from the previous night, the forecast for Ozzfest was easy: Mud-covered fans before the night was through.

Ultraspank cranked up at high noon on the second stage. Peter, Neil, Jerry, Daniel and Gorman shook the dust off of the speakers for the first set of the day. It didn't take long for the fans to pack the lawn in front of the stage. After their set, Monster Voodoo Machine opened up over on the main stage.

I headed backstage to send some pictures to the web site. After working on the web site for awhile, I headed out to the main stage to catch the end of Coal Chamber's set. The seats in the auditorium were filling up now, and as predicted there were several muddy fans scattered about the lawn areas.

Sevendust followed Coal Chamber on the main stage, with Mr. Whitherspoon declaring "We are Sevendust! I'm not gonna lie to ya..." over the speakers. John, Morgan and Vince ripped through their set in no time, leaving a hot stage and a hyped audience for Soulfly to entertain.

Over on second stage, Incubus cranked up at 5:00pm. A surprise tee shirt and tape giveaway before the set pleased the fans and gave security a bit of a headache as several folks leaped for the goodies over the railing. No injuries and no hard feelings, the fans settled in as DJ Chris Kilmore scratched and soothed the crowd into the set.

Back on main stage, Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine showed the crowd why Megadeth has been around for awhile. Gentle notes from his acoustic, followed by equally killer notes in the next song on the electric. Marty Friedman on lead, David Ellefson on Bass, and Jimmy Degrasso and drums rounded out the lineup.

Around 9pm, I made my way to the "pit" in the front of the stage to get ready for Ozzy's set. The security guards...most of whom had worked the Friday show...were ready with rain ponchos. My camera gear was wrapped in plastic. A few fans asked about the raingear and were warned about the water nozzles and Ozzy's water hose and buckets of water.

Ozzy's show is always an intense experience, and this one was no exception. Joe Holmes worked the crowd from the right side of the stage and gave the lucky fans in the front row a close-up view of his work. Mike Bordin set the pace from the back drum riser, as Ozzy's figure towered over the audience on the big screen above his head. I moved from the center area of the pit to the right side, trying to keep low. Ozzy spotted the move and hit my left side squarely with a bucket of cold water. The water felt good after a hot afternoon of rock & roll. The set ended with Paranoid and a shower of confetti. Ozzy finished the show by telling the crowd that they'd better be safe and get home safely or he was going to come back and "kick their asses".

After the show, I spotted Tony Dennis, Ozzy's assistant, heading out of the dressing room. "Good show?" I asked. "Very good show," he replied.

The load-out began as soon as the house lights came up. As the buses were loaded with after-show food (a generous supply of Chinese food), the crew packed the multi-ton production into road cases for the journey north. I'm on the bus with the video guys, who finished the load-out around 2am. Food was devoured in record time as everyone slowed down at the end of a busy day. Post-show conversation about weird people in the audience, challenging technical problems, and people and places in the past slowed as the last bits of energy drained from the crew. I hit my bunk at around 2am, and woke up the next morning at 10:30am in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn just south of Boston.


July 7th - Mansfield, MA
I woke up the morning of the show to the loud clanging of the hotel phone. Amazingly, a real person was on the other end telling me it was 6am. After a day off, re-entry into the world of early-rising came a bit slow. We're here for a couple of more days, so I don't have the morning hassle of checking out of the hotel.

In the lobby, several members of the crew are waiting for the bus ride to the venue. Conversation is light and everyone is in a good mood. For the most part, everyone is well rested and enjoying the beautiful New England scenery on the ride over to Great Woods. The entire Great Woods venue is landscaped and in harmony with the surrounding countryside. If you have to spend three long days putting on a rock & roll show, it's nice to have pretty surroundings.

After setting up my equipment backstage, I head over to the second stage area to catch The Melvins, the first band of the day. The second stage is set up at the front of a nice lawn with trees and wood chips on the grass. Roger 'Buzz' Osbourne introduces the band and starts another day of Ozzfest.

The Melvins have a refreshing sound. Dale Crover on drums sets the pace for the band. The Melvins have an intense, purposeful rhythm with relative long songs and killer guitar riffs. Kevin Rutmanis on bass rounds out the low end of the sound.

Kilgore is up next on second stage as a thin layer of clouds moves in over the area. Kilgore frontman Jay Burns welcomes the crowd to "...a rolling heavy-metal summer camp...and Ozzy Osbourne is the head camp counselor." Steve Johnson on bass, Mike Pelletier on guitar, and Bill Sotherland on drums rock the crowd, as more people are drawn from the Neverland pavillion onto the lawn in front of the speakers.

After Kilgore I needed a break, so I wandered to the Neverland area to find a bite to eat, check out the crowd and some of the booths. Lots of interesting stuff in Neverland. There are a few booths with "Guess your age or weight" challenges with Ozzfest CDs as the prize. Balloon popping booths, a good selection of food, and the infamous Trojan condom booth. Need some leather or chains? How about some new piercing hardware? Getting tired of wearing your tee shirt and want to cover yourself with paint instead? It's all there. It's a great place to hang out and people-watch, even after all of your cash is gone.

After a pita sandwich and a drink, I head back over to second stage for System of a Down. It was my first time listening to these guys, and it was pretty amazing. Lead singer Serj Tankian challenges the crowd to "take apart the CIA" and to work on some of the big problems modern society has to offer. From nuclear power to government abuse, System of a Down makes you think. All set to killer music from Daron Maiakian on lead, John Dolmayan on drums and Shavo Odadjian on bass. Make sure you have plenty of stamps and envelopes on hand so you can write your representatives in government after the show. Believe me, you'll want to.

The clouds were getting a bit thicker by late afternoon, and the threat of rain was increasing. The lights were turned on a bit early on the second stage as Snot began their set. Lead singer Lynn Strait likes to get up close and personal with Snot's audience. He wastes no time in taking the wireless mic into the pit, slapping hands and greeting the crowd. Mikey Doling and Mike Smith make up the dual guitar attack. Jamie Miller on drums and John 'Tumor' Fanestock on bass round out the rhythm section. The Snot audience is intense and faithful, as Lynn proves by diving into them multiple times for a bit of crowd surfing.

The second stage day comes to a close with the long time rockers of Motorhead. Lemmy, Mikkey Dee and Philip crank out "Love for Sale" and several other classic Motorhead favorites. The lawn is packed, the lights are on, and the crowd is hyped.

After my day at second stage, I'm pretty worn out. I head backstage to upload some pictures and down some catered water. Outside of Ozzy's dressing room, Joe Holmes is warming up for a long night of rock with the Ozzman. John Sinclair, Ozzy's keyboardist, is there as well. He's a computer buff, so we talk a bit about Macintoshes and the Internet. Then they both head back to the dressing room for the final pre-show prep.

Even though it's my third Ozzy show from the pit area, I always see something different. The differences in venues make changes inevitable. Butch Allen, the Ozzfest lighting designer and director, keeps tweaking the show for new and different effects. The opening show video is always entertaining, with Ozzy hanging out in Hanson and Spice Girls videos.

The crowd at Great Woods is awesome tonight. Lots of energy from the crowd pushes Ozzy and the band through the set. A few females in the crowd decide to cool off by shedding excess clothing, and Ozzy responds by hosing them down with the water gun. I'm shooting pictures in the pit as always, with a plastic bag covering the camera gear. It's all part of the show. Going to an Ozzy show and complaining about getting wet is like going to the beach and complaining about sand in your shoes.

Usually I'm able to duck beneath the stage before getting hosed by Ozzy, but tonight there would be no such mercy. Ozzy spots me as I perform my normal duck-and-cover maneuver. Walking to the edge of the stage to get a good shot, Ozzy uncorks the water gun on my head for about ten seconds. After I surface, I see Ozzy grinning at me through my soaked eyewear.

The water came out of my ears pretty quickly, so I didn't miss much of the killer set in progress. By the time Paranoid finished the set, I was wet, tired, and extremely happy. It was an awesome show.

Even though we have another show on the 9th, the crew had to load out. The stage was needed for another heavy metal powerhouse not associated with Ozzfest. The Spice Girls were due on stage tomorrow night, and they needed plenty of room.


July 9th - Mansfield, MA
We had a day off between shows at Great Woods. I spent the day looking for a shopping mall that might have a Zip drive for my laptop. Later that evening, a group of us went to dinner in Boston at the Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in America. The entire band was there, along with Ozzy and his family. I sat at Ozzy's table, along with four others from the crew. It was a fun time. Everyone was in good spirits, and the rustic historical atmosphere created an excellent conversation mood. By the time dinner was over, we were all pretty stuffed and talked out.

The ride back to the hotel in Mansfield was quiet and uneventful. We watched the last part of "Liar, Liar" on the VCR in the bus, and watched the cars roll by on the rain soaked highway. It's interesting to watch other cars as they pass a large tour bus such as the one we're riding on. They're totally unmarked and have tinted windows, giving them that mysterious "hey a famous person is in here" look. Inside, they're as nice as you can make a bus. I'll have pictures shortly...

The second gig at Great Woods ended with a blast of confetti and a bow from Ozzy & the band. The stay in Mansfield was a success by all accounts. Great venue, great weather, sell-out crowds, no major problems. The local crews were very helpful and attentive. All in all, a very class act.

The load-out began soon after the house lights came up. It was going to be a little tough. The Ozzfest show travels in six trailers. The loading dock at Great Woods only holds two trucks at a time. Even so, load-out was completed in record time - just under two hours. I helped load cases and trusses and then piled onto the bus. The rest of my bus mates jumped on board, and we set off to Philadelphia, munching on Thai food and talking until 4am.


July 10th - Cherry Hill, NJ
I woke up a few hours later in the parking lot of the Hilton in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. One by one, we rolled out of our bunks and plodded up to the front of the bus to collect our room keys and head inside. Nobody talks much in the morning. I don't think anyone wants to turn their brain on enough to talk, because it might make it harder to sleep later.

I think the folks at the Hilton used my room for spare parts or something. It was missing a set of closet doors, and the air conditioning squealed like Ned Beatty in 'Deliverance'. The sanitary voice at the front desk informed me that they didn't have any extra rooms right now, but they'd move me as soon as possible. So I put in some earplugs and fell asleep.

We had a day off, so a group of us went into Atlantic City for fun. The weather was beautiful. It was nice to get out for awhile. One of the people in our group had a boyfriend working for the Roger Daltry tour, which was playing at the Trump Marina. We had some lunch at the hotel, then lost money in the casino for a few hours before heading back to Cherry Hill.

Unfortunately, we couldn't seem to find Cherry Hill and ended up in the projects in Camden. After a 45 minute detour, we made it back to the hotel at around 1am.

We're looking at two back-to-back shows over the weekend. This means we won't see a hotel for two days. I packed accordingly, and managed to get to sleep around 2am after the party in the room next door ended. When the phone rang at 7:15am for my wake-up call, I was fairly well rested and ready for another day of rock & roll.


July 11th - Camden, NJ
The gig in New Jersey on the 11th was yet another successful stop in the Ozzfest journey. I caught most of the main stage acts, with a few stops over to the picturesque second stage area...right along the waterfront. Megadeth was in great form, and Ozzy was spectacular as always.

The New Jersey crowd was "spirited" to say the least. Lots of moshing in the pits and a few security hassles made for a lively day at Ozzfest. No major problems, but definitely different than the rest of the tour thus far.

Backstage before Ozzy's set, I ran into Dave Lee, the guitar technician for Joe Holmes, the guitar player in Ozzy's band. Dave ran down the specifics on Joe's guitar configuration. For those of you into guitar playing, here are the stats...

Joe plays with a Hot Licks size 10 copper pick. The copper pick wears the strings out in a hurry, so Dave Lee ends up changing the strings on his main guitar after every gig. In addition, Joe has a second guitar tuned differently for use on "No More Tears". The "No More Tears" guitar gets a new set of strings every other gig. Joe likes D'Adarrio strings and Jackson J80 pickups (NOT ceramics). He has a total of seven guitars on tour, all classic 70's Fender Stratocasters. I asked Joe about this, and he said he tends to be a traditionalist when it comes to equipment. Tube amps, 70's guitars, and he uses a wired setup instead of the more modern wireless rigs.

MTV was on hand for the New Jersey show. They have a new show titled "Fanatic", where they search the US for the ultimate fan of a particular artist and then arrange a surprise meeting with that artist. They found the ultimate Ozzy fan in a 17-year-old girl from Florida. Katie Tress was pulled from the ocean and placed on an airplane to New Jersey to meet Ozzy Osbourne. She saw the show from the front, then went backstage to meet Ozzy. "This is over the top," she said, referring to her meeting with Ozzy. I'll post dates and times for the MTV show as soon as I get them.

We loaded up for the journey to Pennsylvania immediately following the show. I popped into a dressing room for a quick shower, then headed back to the bus for some Indian food and sleep.


July 12th - Burgettstown, PA
I woke up around 10am outside of the Coca-Cola Starlake Amphitheater in Burgettstown.

I was still pretty groggy when I went into catering for a quick breakfast. Some of the band members from System of a Down were there as well. We talked a bit about their main stage appearance scheduled for this morning. Afterwards, I left them to their breakfast and headed back to the trailer to work on the web site.

I popped out for lunch around 1pm and took a walk around the venue. Incubus was on second stage pleasing the crowd under the bright sunny sky. Folks were having a good time in the NeverNeverland area as well.

Around 4pm I went out for another walk and ran into John Sinclair, the mostly unseen but always heard keyboard player for Ozzy. John is into using computers with his keyboards, and he'd heard that I had some experience in troubleshooting. We headed over to the band bus to take a look at his Macintosh. I spent a couple of hours with him working on his Mac. Joe Holmes and Robert Trujillo popped in before the show, and the three chatted a little while before heading back to the dressing room. After we finished working on his Mac, John and I grabbed a bite to eat. He's an interesting fellow. He's been working with Ozzy for over thirteen years. Ozzy's music is not known for major keyboard parts, but there are significant contributions throughout his catalogue. Favorites such as Mr. Crowley and No More Tears would be incomplete without keyboards, and John knocks them out every night from just offstage.

After dinner, John left to warm up with the band while I made one last trip around the venue before getting ready for Ozzy's show. Tool was just finishing up on the main stage, and the audience was really pumped. Very few seats were empty when the lights came up just before Ozzy's set.

Ozzy's show went off without a hitch, heating up the cool night air with some hard driving rock & roll. His wife and manager Sharon watched from offstage, as well as the rest of the Osbourne family. By the time the show was finished, everyone was looking forward to loading out and heading for Akron, for a day off and a hotel.


July 13th - Akron, OH
The day off in Akron was a nice break after the back-to-back shows over the weekend. We stayed at a Hilton which was built out of old grain silos. A neat concept, but it gave the entire hotel a creepy feeling. All rounded corners and lots of open space. I spent most of the day in my room catching up on some web site stuff. A group of us decided to venture out for dinner around 7pm. We went to a rather unremarkable steak place a few blocks from the hotel. They failed at shrimp cocktails, salad and bread. The steak was only marginal. We didn't try desert.


July 14th - Akron, OH
Tuesday morning was another show day. The air was already a sickeningly thick texture by the time we reached "The Rubber Bowl" at 10:30am. A light overcast gave the sky a dull yellow color, and the haze made everything look slightly out of focus. Lines of fans made their way up the hot asphalt road to the venue as we piled out of the nice, air-conditioned bus into the heat. The stage was set up on scaffolding at the front of the stadium. The area in front of the stage was already half full.

I worked on web stuff in a cramped, hot office / locker room / toilet beneath the stadium until noon. Then I found Butch Allen, the lighting designer / director, and asked him some questions about the Ozzfest lighting setup. Check out the interview section later on this week for the interview.

Coal Chamber took the main stage at 3:20pm. The area in front of the stage was a solid wall of people, making the entire section into a large mosh pit. I took pictures from the camera platform at the front of the stage. The light breeze pushed a humid cloud of sweaty air over the stage. The Coal Chamber band members soaked themselves in cool water frequently to survive the stifling heat. Security found a few water hoses and used them to spray the crowd in an effort to keep them cool.

Backstage near catering, the heat was taking its toll on the fans. Several fans were already in the EMS tent behind the stadium, being rehydrated and having their vitals checked. 40 to 50 fans would visit the tent before it was all over, most suffering from heat exhaustion. A few moshing injuries, but not as many as you might expect.

I caught Motorhead on second stage at 7:30pm. Lemmy and the boys blasted their way through "Orgasmatron" among others. Their set finished up festivities on the second stage. Tool finished up the pre-Ozzy activities on the main stage as the sun set on the dusty Rubber Bowl.

Ozzy hit the stage at 9:15pm, with the low bass chords of "Believer" rattling the rafters. The stadium seating arrangement gave fans a clear view of the stage and projection screens. Many of the fans chose to pack themselves into the area directly in front of the stage.

The first blast of water from the six water nozzles came early in the first song, giving the crowd a needed break from the heat. Ozzy punched through the hits one right after the other, his voice showing no hint of being affected by the heat. Like most of his fans, he was soaking wet, both from his own sweat and water from the water cannons.

The show ended with "Paranoid" and the signature blast from the confetti cannons. The breeze blew the confetti back onto the stage area, showering Ozzy and the band. During load-out, confetti continued to drift down on the crew from the top of the stage.

After the show and load-out, we jumped onto the buses for a six-hour ride to Indianapolis. Italian was the bus food selection today. The following day was going to be a load-in day, so most of the folks on my bus headed off to sleep early. I stayed up with a few folks and watched "Jerry McGuire" on the VCR, then went to bed around 5am.


July 15th - Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis, Indiana. Home of the Indy 500, among other things. We arrived at the Sheraton early in the afternoon, with boxes of stale pasta sitting in the kitchen area on the bus. One by one, each of us realized we weren't moving and woke up.

The folks at the Sheraton were not yet ready for our arrival. So we wandered around the area near the Fashion Mall, invading Borders bookstore and a Bruegger's Bagel shop. We must have been an odd site...six busloads of sleepy-looking people with laminated badges around our necks, all wanting coffee and bagels.

Back in the lobby of the Sheraton, Steve Varga was handing out room keys. Steve is the tour equivalent of a camp counselor. He takes care of lots of important details on the tour: Laundry, call sheets, which tell people where and when to be places, hotel rooms, bus food, etc. He's a very popular guy. And very humorous.

I took my key and headed upstairs for a shower and a quick nap. Afterwards, I met up with a friend of mine who made the two-hour trek from Louisville, my hometown. It was nice to see her. It was also a little odd, because she was the first familiar person I'd seen in quite sometime who didn't have a laminated backstage pass.


July 16th - Indianapolis, IN
The next morning we loaded up in the buses and headed out to Deer Creek Music Center for the next gig. The heat and humidity were pretty intense, but that didn't stop us from having yet another sold-out show. The concession area was doing a huge business on that day, and the crowd wandered over to NeverNeverland afterwards to browse the booths and carnival. The Ozzfest tattoo artist was having a good day, as was the airbrush skin-painting guy.

The seats around main stage were packed by the time Tool took the stage at 8pm. The lawn behind the seats was packed as well. Some of the folks in the grass area decided that it would be fun to transplant some sod to the stage. So they decided to start throwing it above the heads of the crowd. This was definitely the tackiest and most dangerous thing that has happened on the tour thus far. Sod is pretty dense, so when it bounces off an audio console, camera person or security guard, it causes damage. Security started trolling the crowd, trying to clear things up as quickly as possible.

Tool kept playing, seemingly oblivious to the sod stuff. If anything, they played louder and better, determined to overpower any disturbance with some powerful rock & roll. It seemed to work, because things calmed down as they continued through their killer set, complemented by cool lighting and screen effects.

The sun goes down and it's time for another Ozzy show. I take up station in the pit at the front of the stage, ready for another night of cool picks and hot tunes from Ozzy. I always look forward to this part of the show. I've been in the pit for every Ozzy set on the tour, and it's always a treat. Being close enough to the stage to hear the monitors on the stage is definitely the place to be. I can understand why people go to great lengths to get front-row seats.

From the audience, I hear someone yelling my name. I look around and see absolutely no one that I recognize. Finally, someone in the front row waves me over and says, "Dave - you're the guy doing the web site stuff, right?" We talk for a bit about the show and the web site, all the while I'm feeling really weird. He was a nice guy and everything, but it's the first time I'd had someone that I don't know flag me down like that. Weird.

The show starts differently this time. Immediately after lights out, Ozzy treats the crowd to a 2-minute burst of water from the nozzles above the stage. The crowd is thankful. It's been hot, and this is great relief. The opening video begins, and more water follows. Ozzy's shadow looms over the crowd as Ozzy says hello for the first time tonight. The curtain falls and Ozzy steps up to the mike, with the opening chords of "Believer" rattling the seats. Part of the curtain gets caught in some rigging at the top of the stage on the left side, and a stagehand quickly climbs up a ladder to free it.

After going to several shows in a row, I've developed a bit of a feel for the energy level of the audience. It's a sixth-sense sort of thing...something to do with the noise coming from the audience, or the way the audience reacts to Ozzy's insistent demands for more hands in the air and applause. On this night, the audience was really pumped. Each "Let me see your f***ing hands!" scream from Ozzy was greeted by a pressure wave of applause and screams. This drives Ozzy even harder, and the whole process repeats. This also drives Robert, Joe and Mike, who rip through their solos with manic intensity, pausing at places to get more reaction from the crowd.

"Mama, I'm coming home" and "Paranoid" finished out the evening in grand style. Confetti covered the wet and tired audience as Ozzy once again threatened to "kick some ass" if people didn't make it home safely. Wet confetti and water, along with a few large chunks of sod remained on the seats at Deer Creek as Ozzfest came to a close. As the traffic made it's way out of Noblesville, Ozzy and the band headed backstage to cool off and unwind.

Tonight was the night I would meet Ozzy one-on-one for an interview. Backstage is always crazy after a show, with reporters, contest winners and pizza delivery guys packing the hallways around the dressing rooms. I waited with Minidisc recorder in hand in the hallway outside of Ozzy's dressing room. Finally the craziness dies down, and I head into Ozzy's dressing room with Sharon and Tony Dennis, Ozzy's assistant. Sharon introduces me to Ozzy. Ozzy tells Sharon, "I saw this guy rocking by the stage tonight...he knows some of the words better than I do!"

Ozzy is in his post-show outfit, still a little wet from a quick shower. He snacks on some tuna while we talk. I'm glad I had a recorder, because Ozzy is very talkative tonight. The pace of the conversation would have easily overloaded my notepad.

It was pretty interesting conversation. There were several moments where I had one of those "out-of-body" views and saw myself sitting here on the couch, chatting with a living legend of rock & roll. Ozzy's very easy to talk to, so it's not hard to lapse into a relaxed conversation with him. Then I hear him referring to other famous musicians by first name and as "good guys", and I realize that I'm really talking to the guy on the album cover. It was a pretty neat experience. I'll be writing up the interview and posting it on the web site over the weekend.

After the interview, I end up back on the bus to be greeted by boxes of "flat bread" (as Angelo Bartolome, our Jumbotron guy calls pizza) and a bunch of sweaty lighting and video guys. They give me a bit of razzing for not helping with the load-out this time, and I tell them that I was interviewing Ozzy and they razz me even more. So I eat some pizza and have a beer while the rest of the guys head over to the showers, some still holding slices of pizza as they go. I'm restless, so I wander outside, looking for conversation. Shadowy figures in the headlights of the big Provost tour buses. Snippets of conversation over the noise of the engines and the sounds of the last trusses being loaded onto the trucks. The smell of diesel and grease. These are the sensations outside of the bus at 2am. I chat with Pat Paulson, the guy responsible for the video feed to the audience. A few pieces of equipment were damaged tonight by sod and some crowd-induced liquids. He's a little upset, but he's also been through worse, so he doesn't let it bother him too much. On a tour this size, it's to be expected.

I make my way back to the bus as the rest of my bus mates make it back from the showers one at a time. Finally "we're a bus" is called. Randy Rose, our bus driver, locks the doors and heads us out to the interstate for the 12-hour drive to Somerset, Wisconsin, the site of our next gig. Most of the crew goes to sleep early in the drive, because tomorrow is a load-in day and they have to be working as soon as we arrive. Brian Schwartz, one of the guys on my bus, picked up a six-string acoustic at NeverNeverland today. He's very proud of it, and he strums some of his favorite chords before leaving the guitar with Ron Crume and heading off to bed. Ron started playing guitar only a few months ago. But since he works lighting for rock shows for a living, he's been around a lot of guitar players. He works his way through Pink Floyd's classic "Wish you were here", as Randy chats on the CB and the bus heads west to the next gig.


July 17th - Somerset, WI
I wake up from the drive as we pull into a truckstop for fuel. I run inside for a cup of coffee and an apple danish. The other buses are there as well, taking on fuel. Several folks have wandered out of their bunks as well. It was an odd contrast...a bunch of large rock & roll tour buses mixed in with rows of hard core semi trucks. Black tee shirts and shorts meet blue jeans and wallets with chains. But both groups had that "road look" about them, even though from totally different experiences.

Back on the bus for the remaining hour drive to Somerset. We head to the venue immediately to drop off people to start with set-up. This venue is going to be different. The stage is portable and constructed in the middle of a field. Rows of portable toilets form a barricade at the top of a ridge. A single two-lane road feeds the facility. This is the facility where the Warped and Ozzfest tours collide for a rock & roll critical mass. Jennifer Perry borrows my shoes (hers being buried in her luggage) and heads out to check out the venue. Jennifer is the "Tour Terminator", which means she has the power to make just about any decision involving the tour. She returns and we talk about the setup a bit. Soon the bus is rolling to St. Paul, and a Holiday Inn awaits for our day off.

Not a whole lot to do at the Holiday Inn except sleep, work on the computer, and eat at the restaurant in the lobby. There's a karaoke bar in the lobby as well. Some of the crew participate in a late night session and then head to bed. It's the last hotel we'll see for two days, so folks are taking full advantage of the situation.

July 18th - Somerset, WI
The next morning, I catch the 9am shuttle to the venue. The ride from St. Paul to Somerset takes about an hour. Traffic is already backed up, and we pass by the empty "drive-thru church" at a slow crawl.

It's a bit difficult to work in this venue. Limited space backstage. Showers are limited. And on this stop, we collide with the Warped tour for a huge music extravaganza. It's hot and dusty by noon, and NeverNeverland is wall-to-wall with people browsing through the booths.

I make it over to the Warped stage area and catch a few good bands. The Warped tour has several simultaneous bands and a skateboard tube. It'll be hard for people to decide which bands to watch during this long day.

The sunshine disappears around 1pm, and rain sets in over the venue. Muddy faces soon pop up in the crowd, as impromptu mud fights break out throughout the crowd in front of main stage. The stage arrangement for Ozzfest is interesting this time. The main stage and second stage are right next to each other. This means the crowd doesn't really need to move to catch both sets of bands. Both bands enjoy huge crowds as a result.

Backstage, Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit gets started on a large tattoo on his back. He takes a break to go onstage for his set before resuming. The tattoo doesn't seem to impact his performance, however. He jumps and taunts the audience with energy and intensity, and the crowd responds accordingly. No toilet on this gig, however. Logistics with the venue prevented the large commode from making it onstage.

I catch Incubus between rain showers, and magically the sun comes out during one of their songs. The guys from Incubus are in great form today, even though a speaker problem keeps the sound a little closer than normal to the stage. By now, the entire main stage area is packed wall-to-wall with people. It's still hot, even after the rain showers.

Ozzy came on at 9pm, treating the audience to yet another stellar performance. Toilet paper and sandals seem to be the projectiles of choice for this gig, although none hit Ozzy. A concrete barricade delimits the front line of the audience. As fans surf over the heads of the audience, security takes them off the side of the stage, slipping on the mud-covered lawn in the process. Ozzy uses the water nozzles frequently, cooling off the crowd and making more mud. A few folks in the rear of the crowd build a small bonfire, which can be seen from the stage. Venue personnel quickly extinguish it.

Ozzy finishes his set with Paranoid, and the confetti coats the soaking wet crowd, as fireworks light up the sky. Ozzy and the band watch the fireworks through the clouds of confetti. Afterwards, the band takes its traditional linked-arms bow and says goodnight.

The crowd lingers well after the lights are down. I talk to a couple of people in the audience before heading backstage. "Man, I would go to the hospital ten times to see Ozzy," one guy tells me as he hangs over the barricade with a dazed look on his face. He's about 18, and you can tell he means it.

Load out happens in a hurry. Thunderstorms in the area threaten to make the stage a dangerous place to be. The dancing lightning bolts in the sky add a surreal backdrop to the teardown in progress. The traffic jam is incredible. Cars wait for hours to make it down the narrow two-lane road to the interstate. After the stage is torn down, we wait in our bus for an hour while the traffic clears. Once underway, it's a slow ride behind several other buses and trucks. Pizza and subs are on the bus, and we eat them while watching the people outside of the bus. Brian and Ron try to tune up Brian's new guitar, while the rest of the crew heads off to bed. I try to keep my eyes open and fail, and head back to the bunk for a night of sleep on the road. It's a 6-hour drive to our next gig in East Troy, Wisconsin, and we'll be starting early.


July 19th - East Troy, WI
I woke up fairly late on Sunday. For a minute, I thought we'd parked in the wrong place. All I could see were golf carts, golf greens and country club buildings. As the morning crud left my eyes, they identified a ski lift installed on one of the mountains. All very cool, but where's the venue? And why don't I hear the bass rumblings of the sound checks in progress? Why no "Yeeeeeeeaaaaahhhh....Haaaaalllllo" echoing through my fillings as John Roden checks the monitors?

Because the venue is a half mile away up a hill. This is Alpine Valley music center, our next stop on the crazy train called Ozzfest.

I step out of the bus into the steamy heat with my trusty Eastpak backpack full of hardware digging into my shoulder. I locate a road up to the venue and head towards it across the dusty gravel lot. I join up with a few random band members and crew as we make the hike. The road slices right through the middle of a golf course. It's an interesting tee-shirted, tattooed and pierced folks with laminated badges around their necks walking by a bunch of rich guys in golf shirts and shorts teeing off for 18 holes. By the time they finish their round of golf, Ozzfest will be blasting out rock and roll to thousands.

It is nothing but hot backstage. Catering was oddly configured this time. Totally outdoors, the seating area was set up on a wood deck, which was directly over the barbecue area. Smoke billowed through the slats and blanketed diners as they ate.

I picked up a little lunch, then headed back to the bus to work on transcribing my Ozzy interview. I have well over a half an hour of recorded material with Ozzy, all of it good. It's tough to edit, because there's a lot of good stuff.

By four o'clock, I'm feeling a little brain fried and head back up to the venue. I make the long hike up the hill to meet a couple of friends who have come to the show. Things are insanely packed and very hot. It takes me about twenty minutes to make it from backstage to the front ticket area. Miraculously, I locate my friends with little trouble. I show them around for a little while, then head backstage to upload some pictures.

The backstage area is snug at this venue. Due to the hilly landscape, everything must be accessed via stairs. Ozzy's dressing room is tucked under the main stage. During the band sets, the ceiling rattles with the low-end notes.

It's busy backstage after Tool finishes their set. A documentary film crew has been hanging around for the past few days, with cameras pointed at anyone and everyone involved in the production. Ozzy and Sharon hired them mid-tour to document parts of Ozzfest. It was interesting seeing a new group of faces added mid-tour. At this point in the tour, I was familiar with just about everyone on the crew, so the new folks really stood out. They were getting adjusted as well, getting a crash course in everything and anything Ozzfest.

After uploading pictures, I load up my camera gear for another night of Ozzy pictures. The pit at the front of the stage is very tight...barely room for the camera operators and the security guards. I find a hole between two guards and set up for the show. The audience is very close that a couple of folks peel the stick-on "" label off of my back. A few others tap me on the shoulder, asking for backstage access.

The video ends and the black curtain falls, and Ozzy says hello to the crowd with a high powered scream as his shadow towers over the audience. Then the white curtain tries to fall. It gets caught right in the middle, blocking Ozzy from sight of the audience. Robert starts pounding out the opening chords to "Believer", as Ozzy takes the mike and moves around the curtain. A couple of stagehands grab the curtain and try to yank it down, but it's stuck. Bill Boyd, a lighting technician, scrambles across the truss suspended 50 feet above the stage. He leans out over the truss and unhooks the curtain, as Ozzy and the band work their way through Believer.

During "Bark at the Moon", a fan body-surfs his way onto stage and puts his arm around Ozzy, dancing as security moves to escort him from the stage. Ozzy decides to let the guy sing with him, and lets him scream "I Don't Know" to the packed house. The fan stays with Ozzy for a minute or two, and then exits the stage, totally blown away by the experience.

The water starts to flow and cools down the crowd as Ozzy makes his way through a killer set. The documentary film crew is there, and Ozzy drags the camera guys out onstage for some close-up shots. Offstage near the monitor console, the documentary producers watch the action. Without warning, one of the producers suffers some sort of seizure and falls to the ground. EMS techs and crew move to help him. He recovers after a few minutes, and the EMS folks help him out the backstage door.

I take some shots from stage left, watching the faces in the crowd as they rock to Ozzy's music. One of my favorite songs from the set - No More Tears - begins, the stage glowing in purple. I take a bit of time for myself and watch the music unfold, as Ozzy talks through the final lyrics before the bridge..."'s just a hand in the bush...", and backs away from the mic with a two-handed kiss to the crowd. Strong purple down light highlights Ozzy's features. Ozzy theatrically points his left arm towards Joe Holmes, and snaps his right hand like a magician at the exact moment that the guitar solo starts with a heavy thud from Mike's kick drum. Ozzy leans back and air guitars for a moment while Joe wails through the guitar part and the lights go crazy, mirroring the energy from the fans holding their cigarette lighters in the darkness. I watch the rest of the song, enjoying the music and the experience.

As the last song begins, Dale "Opie" Skjerseth sets up for the confetti blast. There are several nozzles above the stage that will shoot confetti deep into the audience. The nozzles are controlled by a foot pedal that Opie will activate when the final notes of Paranoid fades. He connects the cable and arms the system, placing it on the ground and steering people away from it as they walk nearby. The song ends and he hits the switch, and the crowd is covered with confetti. Larger air-driven confetti horns in the seating area blow even more confetti onto the audience as Ozzy and the band take their final bows and head backstage for a well-earned cool down and rest.

Pizza and hoagies are in the bus for the post load-out munchies. By the time the lighting guys make it back to the bus, the food has lost all of its heat. The two cheese pizzas are eaten reluctantly. The hoagies go mostly uneaten, the cold mayo being the turn-off ingredient. A multi-ingredient pizza with broccoli also remains uneaten. Broccoli and pizza just don't mix. Not with this crew...

A few beers are consumed, and conversation revolves around the guy who had the seizure onstage and the incredible heat. Everyone is looking forward to the day off tomorrow in Columbus. Most of the crew piles into bunks fairly early. I stay up late and chat with Tom Thomson, the lighting crew chief. Randy the bus driver chimes in occasionally, totally awake. He's been sleeping while we've been rocking, so we're in good hands as we make our way southeast to Ohio. Ron and I fade pretty quickly. Soon we join our comrades in the darkened bunk room of the bus.


July 20th - Columbus, OH
As the bus pulled off the highway into a truck stop twenty miles outside of Columbus, Ohio, my body registered the change in rhythm and brought my brain and eyes into service. I slipped out of the bunk and walked to the front of the bus. There, in broad daylight, I saw an amazing sight: Lighting guys, completely awake and having breakfast. It's an amazing sight, because they normally sleep really late on off days, or are gone really early on show days. Either way, I rarely see them in the morning.

After a quick danish and coffee, we're back on the road for the short drive into downtown Columbus. It's around 10am, and we've lost an hour on the journey. We're staying at the Adam's Mark hotel, right in the middle of the business district. We pile out of the buses on a busy street bristling with office workers scurrying to their jobs in the surrounding high rises. A chef makes omelets to order in the lobby of the hotel, as a line of rock & rollers forms at the check-in. "Pretty interesting contrast...a bunch of tattooed and pierced rock and roll folks mixed with a bunch of suit-and-tie people," I say to one of the crew in line with me. "I'm not sure which is scarier," he replies.

The day off in Columbus was uneventful. I visited a shopping mall with Dayon Valdez, a guy who works on the NeverNeverland stuff for Ozzfest. We bumped in to Jennifer Perry and Craig Baker, who were in search of CD players, speakers and headphones. We commandeered a cab and drove fifteen minutes to a Circuit City on the other side of town. The folks at the Circuit City were having problems figuring out how to find portable CD players in their stockroom, so after 15 minutes of watching a Laurel & Hardy demonstration, we left. We had convinced our cab driver to stick around, and he agreed to drive us over to Best Buy (a tour sponsor).

We walked in to Best Buy and saw something kind of neat: An Ozzfest display and hanging sign, with all of the artists displayed. It was pretty weird seeing that sign. It reminded me that this was a big deal, that bunches of people are going to see this show. We found our CD player and speakers and headed out to the parking lot.

I wanted to pick up a GPS from Wal-Mart. It was next door, so we conned our cab driver into waiting for us a little longer. I'd been obsessed with picking up a GPS with mapping capability a few days earlier. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe I needed it for mind candy. Luckily, Wal-Mart had the unit, and we headed back to the hotel. Becky, Dayon and I had a pretty mediocre dinner in the hotel restaurant before calling it a night.


July 21st - Columbus, OH
Tuesday was show day. I piled in to the 8:30am bus to the venue along with several of the usual suspects. Everyone commented on the weird noise that seemed to resonate through the hotel. We determined that it was some sound coming from the elevator. Everyone heard it, no matter what floor.

The Polaris Amphitheater is a gorgeous facility. Last year, things became a bit ugly when Ozzy cancelled his set due to an illness. The crowd was understandably upset and went out of control for awhile. The folks on the crew who had been here before were a little tense and distracted with the memories. A few wry jokes were made ("So it looks like they've repaired the fence since last year") to try to break the tension. Everyone wanted to give the folks in Columbus a great show to make up for last year.

I set my gear up backstage and worked on the site for awhile. The gates opened around 11am, and the crowd started to fill the venue. It was a hot and humid day, so the folks at Polaris set up misting showers to cool the crowd down.

I headed over to the main stage and watched Sevendust. I love watching Lajon and the guys rip through their set. The crowd was a little thin because it was early, but more folks gathered as they heard the sounds coming from the main stage. After a break backstage for some water, I went over to second stage to check out Life of Agony. Lead singer Whitfield Crane coaxed the hot crowd closer to the stage as he climbed the stage supports for a birds-eye view.

Some folks on the web site had specifically requested pictures of Limp Bizkit and their toilet, so I set up for their set on the main stage. Fred Durst emerged from the toilet surrounded by steam, perching on it for a few seconds as their opening theme song played. Fred gets really personal with the audience, taking the wireless microphone all the way to the back where the pits were formed. Sod was flying as he stirred up the crowd. Limp Bizkit was in the house once again.

I went back to the trailer to work on the images and to wait for Ozzy's set. I could hear Tool playing in the background as I worked. Many people have asked why I don't have pictures of Tool on the site. Tool likes to handle that sort of thing themselves, so they requested that I don't take pictures of their concert set.

I decided for a slightly different angle for Ozzy's set, so I climbed up a ladder located stage left for a high view of the show. It was a really good position to watch the start of the show. I worked my way down to the stage after "No More Tears" finished. Joe and Robert were particularly energized during their solo, with Robert doing his "Flying Bass" routine...spinning quickly with the bass hanging from his neck.

As Paranoid came to a close, the confetti cannons above the stage fired prematurely due to a mechanical malfunction. Ozzy rolled with it, turning on the water cannons to add to the chaos. At the end of the show, Sid Pryce and his assistants turned on the large confetti nozzles, which showered the crowd for several minutes. I chatted with some of the crowd as they left. Everyone was very pleased with the performance. All in all, a very good show.

I drop my gear in the bus and grab my fingerless gloves to help with load-out. Load-out is a finely orchestrated movement of people and heavy equipment. Large trusses are suspended above the stage by an extremely strong chain motor system. Lighting equipment and set pieces are bolted to the trusses for the show. When they come down, the taller set pieces must be removed as the trusses are lowered. I'm helping with the set pieces, which are large and cumbersome. They're held together with supposedly removable pins inserted into hinges. The pins on a few of the pieces don't want to come out, delaying the process. After a few minutes, we remove a couple of large sections intact and move them out to the loading dock so the truss can be lowered. Even with some of the difficulties, the load-out is accomplished in record time: One hour, seventeen minutes.

As load-out finishes, a thunderstorm begins, soaking the sweaty crew piling into the buses. I find an empty shower back stage and clean up before the four hour drive to Detroit. Soap washes a day of rock & roll crud down the drain.

Chinese food is waiting on the bus, along with the normal selection of beverages. I'm one of the last people on to our bus, but there's no hurry. Even though the load-out was completed quickly, the hotel will not have our rooms ready by the time we arrive at 6am. So departure is leisurely.

We get on the road and head north to Auburn Hills, Michigan for our date with a Holiday Inn and a day off. Since we'll be sleeping late, most of the crew stays up late. We chat about the next gig, the various fans who decided to go topless, sod throwing, technical problems and catering. Bill Boyd likes to ride in the front stairway of the bus. Brian is teaching Ron a song on the guitar. I'm playing with my new GPS and watching the thunderstorm on the horizon. Randy and I talk about how television is a useless pastime. Thus endeth another day on the Ozzfest tour.

July 22nd - Auburn Hills, MI
I wake up in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn in Auburn Hills. Most of my bus mates have already vanished into the hotel. I unload my bags and head into the lobby, with my hair still whacked out from my sleeping on the bus. The folks at the hotel are kind and give me a room quickly, probably feeling sorry for this poor young man with frazzled hair.

The day off is relaxing. Rain showers blanket the area, cooling things off and removing some of the humidity. I sleep most of the day and work on the web site some. Interestingly enough, I have this immense craving for junk food. McDonald's is across the street, and I order the #3 value meal. I run in to one of the sound guys and tell him about my cravings. He says he hasn't eaten McDonald's in three months. It's interesting, because I thought I would be eating junk food all the time on this tour. Instead, almost all of meals are catered or hotel-style food. So junk food is actually a treat. How sick is that?

For dinner, I meet Becky and Dayon in the lobby. Dayon shares my desire for junk food and has spotted a Taco Bell down the road. We head down the road to the Taco Bell and order up some fat grams. The Taco Bell has a fancy trashcan, complete with a speaker and a voice that talks to you.

After dinner, we walk back to the hotel and see a wonderful sunset. A persistent rainbow hangs around to the east just behind the hotel. Becky and Dayon are interested in seeing the web site. We're all talking about getting tattoos, and Becky and Dayon want to research designs on the web. We hang out in my room for an hour or so, looking at tattoos and the Ozzfest web site. Eventually, they head off to their separate rooms, and I pack my bags for the next morning.


July 23rd - Clarkston, MI
Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan, just outside of Detroit is our next gig. I meet up with the usual group of people taking the last bus to the venue at 8:30am. It is an absolutely perfect day - clear blue skies and mild temperatures. No orange juice or coffee is available on this bus, so diet cokes, water and the occasional cookie are consumed for breakfast. Several USA Today's with "Compliments of Holiday Inn" stickers on the front page are scattered around the bus. Jennifer borrows the sports section from mine and sits in the front seat. Kyle and Lee are chatting, and Bill Greer is taking a nap in the back. Business as usual as another day of rock & roll begins.

One of my continuing battles is finding a place to set up my gear for doing the Internet stuff. Although my requirements seem pretty simple - power, a phone line and a place to sit - these can be fairly rare items backstage. Usually, only seven phone lines are brought in for our show - 5 voice lines and 2 fax lines. These lines are shared between the tour managers, band members and road crew. Depending on the venue, space can be a problem. I usually squeeze in somewhere in the tour management office, but no such luck this time. The space we're using is an unused dressing room, and it barely holds four people and the equipment used by those folks. The production office is similarly occupied. Ozzy's dressing room usually stays unoccupied until the early afternoon, so I ask Martha Heckman, Ozzy's wardrobe and dressing room coordinator if I can set up. She's very agreeable and points me to an unused corner of the room. I work on the web site awhile while she sets up the dressing room.

I finish web stuff around 1pm, and Bill Greer borrows the phone line to make some calls. Bill is an interesting guy. He is charged with the extremely important job of maintaining security for the tour. Each venue provides it's own security team, but Bill is the guy who tells them what to do. I've come to know Bill quite well, because he's the one who makes sure I can get everywhere I need to go. Bill is on the front lines when it comes to dealing with any crowd issues. On this day, he still has a red cut under his right eye caused by a rock thrown at him during one of our earlier shows. Although his job can be rough, he's an extremely easygoing and fair person. Today, he's making advance calls to the security managers at our remaining gigs, giving them the low-down on Ozzfest.

I head over to second stage to catch Monster Voodoo Machine. These guys have been back together for about a year now, and they love the Detroit crowd. The crowd loves them as well. As Adam Sewell leans into the crowd for some in-your-face crowd vocals, a woman in the crowd grabs a big handful of his butt. Security moves her hand away, but she continues to grab his butt and leg. Adam keeps singing and eventually hops back on stage, the woman in the crowd continuing to smile as he sings.

After their set, I head back to the production office for meal tickets. Catering is pretty good at this venue, although it's hard to top the catering we had at Polaris Amphitheater. Do-it-yourself tacos are on the menu today. They also have a frozen yogurt machine, which I take full advantage of after my meal.

The weather is great and everyone is taking full advantage of it. Some of the guys from Tool, along with some of the crew are in the back parking lot playing 3-on-3 basketball. Just like street ball, the game has to stop occasionally for a golf cart or tour bus moving through the lane.

Back in the production office, Dave Mustaine from Megadeth is making some calls and chatting with folks. He says hi, and we talk a little about the Internet. He disappears into the Megadeth dressing room down the hall to get ready for their set.

I head out front for the Megadeth set. Security is a little confused about my presence, but we come to terms and I shoot their set from the pit in front of the stage. Dave, Marty, David and Jimmy put on yet another great show for the crowd at Pine Knob.

Ozzy and the band have arrived backstage, and I run into Joe Holmes warming up. You'll hardly ever see Joe without his guitar before a show. He likes to loosen up the strings on his guitars before each show, so you'll see him wandering through the backstage area, playing one of his guitars while talking to people. Joe and I talk a little while about the pictures I've been taking. I see him every show day, looking up from the pit into his back lit and hair covered face as he rips through a song.

Ozzy comes out of the dressing room and exchanges greetings with several people. The members of Megadeth are waiting to go onstage, and Ozzy talks with them as they wait. Afterwards, Ozzy heads back to the dressing room, with two of his children running in behind him.

After Megadeth finishes, the rapid set change begins as Tool's set is built in less than 30 minutes. Tool uses a set of special projectors and a curved projection screen to project images during their show. Setting this up in 30 minutes is tricky. The frame for the screen is installed and suspended above the stage during the earlier acts. It's lowered and attached to the rest of the equipment for Tool's set. Afterwards, it is "flown" again to the rafters, where it will remain until load-out.

After Tool's set, I set up to take pictures for Ozzy's show. The venue has a nice set of "catwalks" - suspended walkways used by stagehands to access lighting and rigging equipment in the ceiling. I decide to climb up into the catwalks to take pictures. The view from the catwalk is excellent. I look down on the audience as I wait for the show to begin. Several people spot me and wave, and I wave back at them. I talk a little with a spotlight operator as he gets ready for the show. He has a perfect, unrestricted view of the show from his perch. Even on this cool night, he has two fans set up to keep cool during the show.

The house lights go down and Ozzy's opening video starts. A roar rises from the crowd below as everyone settles in for the last act. A cloudy haze forms above the audience, from various tobacco and other smokable substances. The video ends and the lights come up, and another show has officially begun.

I shoot pictures from various points along the catwalk. It's a great place to watch the show. The sound is excellent, and you have a great view of everything. I watch as the water nozzles are turned on for the first time, showering the crowd. I move behind the spotlight operator and see what he sees: a solid column of white light covering Robert Trujillo as he performs his low-end acoustobatics on stage.

I stay up in the catwalks for about half of the show. Just before "No More Tears", I climb down the ladder to stage level, amazed at how cool it is on stage compared to the catwalk. To my right behind the dimmer rack, Ron Crume, Bill Boyd, Tod Metz and Tom Thomson keep an eye on the light grid, fixing any trouble that might occur during the show. Behind them, hidden behind the stage-right speaker stack, John Sinclair works through the synthesizer part to "No More Tears".

For the last two songs, I take up position behind Mike Bordin's drum riser, being careful not to slip on any of the numerous discarded drumsticks behind the riser. Mike hops off of the riser at the end of the set, and I feel a tap on my Zamboni hat as he leaps over me. He comes back after a few minutes for the encore.

As the show ends and the confetti cannons erupt once again, I shoot pictures from behind the drum riser. Offstage, the crew has already started tearing down equipment. As the band of four take a bow, I take my last picture of the evening from behind them, their figures almost totally obscured by confetti.

Afterwards, I stash my camera gear backstage and trade it for my audio recording gear. I have another interview scheduled with Ozzy this evening. Tony Dennis, his assistant, has me wait outside while Ozzy showers and then meets a few people after the show. Sharon Osbourne comes by and we talk a bit before I go in to interview Ozzy again.

Ozzy is relaxing on the couch when I come in. The now ever-present video documentary crew is there, hiding quietly in the corner. The room is different than when I was there eight hours ago doing my Internet stuff. Or maybe it's just that glow that you see when someone like Ozzy is in the room. Either way, I try to stay focused on the task at hand, interviewing a rock and roll legend.

After the interview, I take a very casual walk back to the bus, enjoying the cool night air. Ozzy is one of the most approachable and friendly celebrities you'll ever want to meet. Even so, it's hard for me to put aside the fact that I'm talking to a rock and roll icon. My head is still a little foggy from the interview. The sounds of load-out behind me. The rumble from the Provost buses idling nearby. The sound of a few fans still hanging around the venue, yelling and screaming into the night air. I still have enough energy to smile as I open the door to the bus and head inside. Bus food awaits, and a drive to St. Louis for another show.


July 24th - St. Louis, MO
We made it to St. Louis in record time. I woke up around 10am in the parking lot of a Sheraton hotel. It was another one of those culture clash moments...a group of people in shorts with a layer of rock & roll crud on their bodies standing in line with a bunch of business people checking out for their afternoon flights home. The hotel rooms weren't ready yet, so I set up the laptop in the lobby until my room was ready. It was a short delay, and I was soon on the elevator to the eighth floor and room 816.

This room was actually the best one I've stayed in so far. Cobblestone floors in the bathroom, along with a shower that had really good water pressure. I started a pot of complimentary Starbucks coffee in my complimentary Mr. Coffee coffee maker, then laid out my gear on the bed. I'm getting into a pretty good rhythm with the hotel thing. I unpack everything from the previous night's camera, floppy, spare batteries, laptop and accessories, plastic bags (waterproofing from OzzyBlasts), earplugs, etc. I then unpack the next day's clothes and file the dirties in a plastic bag. Then I jump online to update the web site.

I decide to make some phone calls home. I call my friend Rob, who just became a pilot for TWA. His girlfriend answers at his home. As fate would have it, Rob is in St. Louis to do some paperwork at TWA. We arrange a meet. Rob used to be a drummer, so I grab a pair of souvenir Mike Bordin drumsticks and head for the airport shuttle bus.

I hop off of the shuttle bus and head inside. Rob is waiting on the other side of the metal detectors, visible due to his distinctive pilot uniform. I give him the drum sticks and we grab a bite to eat. I show him my laminated Ozzfest pass and he shows me his TWA ID card. It was very cool seeing Rob this way. Rob has always wanted to be a pilot, and he was now just starting his dream job. I have wanted to tour with Ozzy Osbourne for a long time, and here I was. Two friends meeting up in the middle of seeing our dreams come true.

Rob has to catch the 3:05pm Southwest flight back to our hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. I walk him to the gate and we say goodbye. I know I'll see him in a couple of weeks, and we'll share war stories while drinking coffee at Barnes & Noble with the rest of our friends.

I stare at the jet way for a long time. At the other end is a plane that will take Rob back to where I started in less than an hour. My path will be less direct. From St. Louis, we will drive to Kansas City, then down to Orlando, West Palm Beach, Raleigh-Durham then Washington, DC.

I head back to the hotel in the shuttle bus. A few sprinkles of rain hit the windshield. I head back to my room and give Brian Schwartz a call and make plans for dinner. I take a quick nap, then meet Brian in the lobby for dinner.

After dinner, we meet up with several of our road show companions in the hotel bar. A couple of the bus drivers are there, as well as a few of the video guys. We have a few drinks and then head off to our separate rooms.


July 25th - St. Louis, MO
The Riverport Amphitheatre is a good facility for a gig. Wide loading docks and good catering make it a pleasant place to stay. They have an awesome collection of celebrity pictures on the wall. Ozzy is there, along with just about every rock star you can imagine. It's going to be a hot day today, with some showers in the afternoon. I pull up the regional radar picture and weather forecast on the laptop. I pass the info on to Opie, who needs to know such things.

I shoot some video of System of a Down and Ultraspank. I meet up with Lynn Strait, the lead singer of Snot, for an interview. Lynn takes me to the back lounge of their bus and we hang out for awhile. Lynn is a great guy and has really funny stories from the road. Look for my interview with him in the interview section.

After interviewing Lynn, I head backstage to get ready for the Ozzy show. The documentary crew is rapidly wearing on the patience of everyone. I feel sorry for them, because they have a job to do, and their job requires a lot of equipment which is unavoidably intrusive. Most people don't like having three people hovering around them, bumping into tables and other people with their heavy equipment.

I'm really getting into taking pictures from the catwalks, so I find the ladder backstage and head skyward for another set of pictures. This catwalk is not configured for pictures as well as the last gig. However, it provides access to the roof, which is a novelty. I take a walk out onto the roof just before the set, looking out at all of the people in the lawn area.

The house lights drop and the video begins. I watch Ozzy position himself in front of the spotlight onstage, ready to do his shadow dance. The video finishes and we wait for the announcer recording to play, but nothing comes out. After a few seconds of silence, the curtain drops and Ozzy appears, and another show begins.

I climb down from the catwalk after a few songs and work my way around to stage left behind the monitor mixing console. Each of the band members has a set of speakers, called "monitors", set up in front of their playing position. Each set of speakers has a different mix depending on individual preference. For instance, Joe Holmes has a lot of guitar and less drums and bass, while Ozzy has another combination of instruments and vocals. Monitors are very important, because the band members use them to hear what they're playing and what everyone else is playing. It's also very tricky, because microphones have a tendency to feed back (make a loud squealing noise) if they pick up their own sound from the speakers. Filtering must be done to keep this from happening. John Roden controls the mix for the Ozzy band from a console beside the stage. The monitor mix is totally separate from the "house" mix, which feeds the large speakers at the front of the house. The house mix is designed to keep the audience happy. This mix is controlled from a console usually located in the middle of the audience, right next to the lighting console.

I'm really enjoying the concert tonight, and it's over before I'm ready. Ozzy and the band take their bows in front of a wet, confetti-covered audience. They head backstage for showers, food and meetings with various folks before climbing on the bus for the short drive to Kansas City. I help load some cases on to the trucks, then head back to my bus for some Indian food and sleep.


July 26th - Kansas City, MO
I wake up around 9am in the parking lot of the venue. I'm really surprised that I slept all the way through. Normally, the lighting and video guys wake me up when they leave for their early morning call. I gather my equipment and head inside, looking for my office for the day.

It has been raining all night in Kansas City. It's still raining as I run across the parking lot to the stage area. I talk with a few of my bus mates and find out that power was out in the venue until a few hours ago. No hot showers were available until just a few minutes ago. Perfect timing.

The band dressing room will be my home today, so I set up my laptop to upload some pictures. Ozzy is due here a little early today, so his dressing room will be unavailable. Jennifer pops in to use the shower in the band dressing room. Showers become valuable commodities on back-to-back days. I head back to the bus to get my shower gear.

Jennifer is finished by the time I return, so I take a quick shower while the pictures are uploading. Afterwards, I head over to catering for some lunch. A few of the members of Incubus are there, and I wave to them as I receive my tacos from the catering folks.

It's still raining intermittently by the time I finish lunch. I head back to the dressing room to work on the web site a little more. A few folks come by and peek over my shoulder at the new pictures. After a couple of hours, I pack up my gear and head out front to catch Limp Bizkit's set.

The mud throwing is in full swing by the time I get to the pit in front of the main stage. The huge toilet is in place as the Rocky theme plays while Fred and the band emerge. The band cranks into the first song as mud flies over the heads of the crowd. I catch a mud ball in the hip from one volley. Fred leaves the stage for the second song, walking through the crowd with the wireless microphone, guarded by a half a dozen security guards.

At the end of the second song, Fred gets the crowd really fired up. I take the opportunity to leave the pit for the backstage area. A group of fans rush to the front of the crowd, causing some chaos for the rest of their set. The set finishes and the band leaves the stage. The large toilet now has a dozen mud balls clinging to it, giving it a realistic finish.

Megadeth and Tool work through their set, then Ozzy takes the stage at 9:30pm. I spend a few minutes in the pit in the front of the stage, and miraculously manage to avoid getting wet. The rest of the time is spent stage left.

The end of a very wet day comes when the confetti cannons go off once again, signaling the end of another show. I'm flying to Orlando in the morning instead of taking the bus. I help out with load-out, then make my way back to the bus to pack my things. Several of us have decided to spend the money to fly to Orlando. I find the van taking us to the hotel for a few hours sleep before our flight. A few boxes of ribs are thrown into the van and are shared between us as we make our way to the hotel. I'm very tired, and I'm looking forward to a few hours sleep before the journey to Orlando.


July 27th - Orlando, FL
I arrived in Orlando around 12pm. A friend of mine met me at the airport, and after a painful delay waiting for bags, we went for some lunch. I was very hungry and very tired from the previous evening, so the beef tips and rice tasted good. My friend dropped me at my hotel. I picked up a package containing my 35mm camera gear, then went to sleep for a few hours. After my nap, I showered and met my friend for dinner.

After dinner, I headed back to my hotel and ran into Steve Varga on the way to my room. Steve was heading out to meet some folks for drinks, so I tagged along. We caught a cab and traveled three blocks to a nightclub area in downtown Orlando. Even though it was Monday, things were pretty hopping. We checked out a few places and could not locate our friends, so we picked a spot and had a drink.

Steve's an interesting guy to talk to. He's been doing rock & roll for a long time. He started off in a few bands, then hooked up with Ozzfest a year or so ago. "I can't imagine doing anything else," he says, as he takes a drink from his Long Island tea. I finish my Corona . Then we head back out into the street, in search of a cab for a ride back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel, several people are in the hotel bar. I hang out with them for a little while, then head up to my room. I repack my suitcases and go to sleep, ready for another day of rock & roll.

July 29th - Orlando, FL
Maybe it was the air in the hotel. Or maybe it was the bus air. Or maybe it was space aliens. Whatever it was, several of us wound up with colds after our stay in Orlando. I felt mine immediately after waking up for the show. Runny nose, aching joints, watery eyes. Yep, a cold, plain and simple. I had one Tylenol Sinus caplet in my bag, so I downed this before meeting up with other folks in the lobby. Many others are sniffing and complaining about cold-like symptoms as well. Weird.

Central Florida fairgrounds was already busy with pre-show activities by the time we arrived at 10am. A humid haze blurs everything around. The stages are set up in the middle of a field, while several trailers and buildings are located under cover across a gravel road. When the door to the bus opens, a blast of sauna air hits me in the face as I descend the stairs. I'm already feeling the effects of the cold, so I try to take it easy as I look for a place to set up my laptop.

I find a place in one of the offices and set up my stuff. I decide to try some food, so I head outside to catering, which is set up on a concrete slab underneath the open roof structure that covers everything. Something about food in the open on a hot day makes it not look too good. I pick out something with colors that I like and try to eat the meal. I gave up half way through and headed back to the office.

After a few hours of working on the laptop, my head was a little dizzy. I decided to venture out and try to take some pictures. I ran into Katie Tress, the person who was picked by MTV's Fanatic! program to meet Ozzy a few gigs back. We'd been trading e-mail back and forth, so it was neat to see her in person. We chatted a bit and I showed her and her friend around backstage for awhile. Afterwards, I headed out to take pictures of Coal Chamber, who was performing on the main stage.

The hour or so outside was enough to turn my sniffles into a full-fledged cold. I headed back to the bus to lie down for a little while and save my energy for the Ozzy show tonight.

Having a cold in the summer is no fun at all. It's weird feeling cold chills when the temperature is 95 degrees. I made it back to the bus and found that a couple of my bus mates also had the sniffles. A classic Florida afternoon downpour added to the misery. I curled up in my bunk with tissue in hand, hoping the cold would go away.

No such luck. I woke up in about the same shape that I was in before. I went to the production office to see if the runner had returned with the cold supplies I'd ordered. Thankfully, there was a bottle of vitamin C and a box of Tylenol cold pills waiting for me. The box of Tylenol looked like it had been through a small war, but the seals were intact so I took one. After about an hour, I felt a bit of relief, at least enough to get me through the show.

I decided to stay out of the pit during Ozzy's set, figuring that getting soaked with water would not be a good idea. I took some shots from either side of the stage, then moved to take some shots from the crowd. As I was leaving the stage, Tony Dennis, Ozzy's assistant urgently flagged me down. There was an equipment problem onstage, and Opie would be the one to fix it. I ran over to the bus compound and miraculously found Opie amongst the shadowy figures. Opie and I ran back to the stage to see what was wrong. A computer that controlled part of the show was having problems. Opie knew my computer background, so he had me work with the folks backstage to rectify the problem. The humidity was causing the trackpad to behave erratically. Drying it off helped. I ran back over to the office area to get dry towels to help keep it dry the rest of the night.

After the computer problem was solved, I moved back to the crowd to set up for the end of the show. Pyro Pete was going to be putting on a fireworks display at the end of the show, and I wanted to be ready for it. So as Ozzy and the band finished Paranoid, the confetti cannons went off, as well as hundreds of fireworks, lighting up the Orlando sky.

Afterwards, I made my way through the crowd to the backstage area. I headed back to the office area and packed up my gear, then headed back to the bus. I put up my equipment, changed into my bus clothes, and waited for the rest of the gang to arrive.

Bus food came after about an hour, so I played "Bus Mom" and put away the food and drinks. Four pizzas were delivered. The lighting guys always finish last on our bus, and they were a little upset last time when they jumped onto the bus and found little food left. So I took my sharpie and marked "Save 1/2 for the lighting guys" on each box, as a humorous reminder. Randy arrived first, then the video crew, then the lighting guys. They gave me some ribbing for not participating in the load-in, but after they saw that I was really not feeling good, they eased up. I had a slice of pizza and went to bed, sincerely hoping the overnight ride would cure my cold.


July 30th - West Palm Beach, FL
It didn't, of course. We arrived in West Palm Beach early for the show. I slept as long as I could on the bus, then headed inside to find a place to set up my laptop again.

The offices were cramped at this venue, so I decided to do as much work as I could on the bus, which was parked a short distance away. I hadn't showered since the previous day, so I found my man Steve and retrieved a clean towel, then headed to the band dressing room for a shower. The shower cleared my head enough to let me find catering, which was pretty miserable.

I headed out to scope out the venue and had a bit of a dizzy spell walking around backstage. This was not good. Being near heavy set pieces and machinery is incompatible with dizziness. So I decided that the best angle was to stay in the bus and try to clear my head some before this evening. It was always important to shoot Ozzy's set, and I wanted to be ready.

Back on the bus, my head cleared a bit. So to be at least somewhat productive, I decided to transcribe some interviews I'd taped a few days earlier. Lynn Strait of Snot had given me about 30 minutes of great material, which takes awhile to transcribe. I also had an Ozzy interview, as well as an interview from our Lighting Designer, Butch Allen. I set up at the table in the front of the bus, and went to work.

A few hours passed, and my head started fogging again. I took a couple of Tylenol and crashed out in my bunk for a little while. Damn! I haven't had a cold in at least six months. Why would I happen to catch one now? It just wasn't fair! I resolved to work my way through this and at least be semi-functional by tonight. I hadn't missed an Ozzy show yet, and I wasn't about to start tonight.

I decided to try catering again in the early afternoon. For some reason, the folks at this venue had decided to try to pack these huge round tables into a very small room and then try to squeeze chairs in between. About five tables fit in the too many, actually. Because the quarters were so cramped, you ended up with a table with five people right next to an almost empty table. The end result is that a space that probably could have held 25 people actually held around 10. Weird.

Maybe I was just not in the mood to eat, or maybe I was grumpy about my situation. In any event, the dinner food tasted awful to me as well. I headed back to the bus to finish my transcribing. I bundled everything up and decided to beg for a phone line in the production office.

Opie and Steve were there, along with six or seven other folks, including Jennifer. Almost everyone in the room had a cold. Steve talked about his cold, and said that he went to the doctor for a vitamin shot to help out. He said he's also on some antibiotics. I set my laptop up on the copier and stole the fax machine phone line (with permission, of course) for a few minutes so I could upload my files. After I was done, Jennifer jumped on AOL to check out some of her stuff. By the end of the half-hour, I was really ready to get out of the stuffy room and back to the bus.

I crashed out in my bunk again and rested until I heard Tool go onstage. I got up and checked my equipment for the Ozzy show. The dizziness was gone, but my nose had adopted the "Don't worry...we'll make more" philosophy towards the stuff coming out. I packed an additional handful of tissue, popped another couple of Tylenol, and headed towards the stage.

I ran into Katie and her friends again. West Palm Beach was her home, and she'd decided to go to both the Orlando and West Palm shows. I spoke a little with them and then took up position in the pit in front of the stage. I decided to risk getting wet this time, even though it probably wasn't the smartest idea.

The sky behind the ridge above the venue was picture-perfect. Palm tree silhouettes in front of a pink and blue sky. Absolutely beautiful. This brightened my mood somewhat, and by the time the Ozzy video finished and Ozzy came onstage, I was in pretty good shape.

I managed to avoid most of the water, although some of the other camera people weren't as lucky. It's always amusing to see a new photographer in the pit that hasn't been to the show before. They don't know that they need to provide a minimal target when Ozzy picks up the water hose, so they stand there and take pictures until they get hit with water. I try to warn them if I can, but some don't show up until after the show starts.

I make my way to the back of the crowd to take some wide shots. The show is really cooking. One of the best performances in the tour, in my opinion. There's a certain magic that happens between Ozzy and the audience sometimes. It doesn't happen each time, but when it does it's amazing.

I head backstage to take some shots behind Mike's drum riser, and he spits water at me as always. He's very good and almost never hits me, but just close enough to be teasing. He's a great guy and is amazing to watch play up close. His feet are constantly in motion, propelling him off of the seat before crashing back down again. I think Mike could play without his stool without too much difficulty.

I hide behind Joe's speaker stacks as they head into Suicide Solution. Joe likes to come back to the speakers during this song and listen to the feedback up close, and I want a shot. He grins at me through the mesh on the set piece as he kneels in front of the speakers, then he jumps up and runs around the stage, joining Robert who is doing the same.

The show ends with the traditional confetti blast, and another Ozzy performance goes into the books. The confetti blows back onstage, obscuring the band from the fans. Load out begins as soon as the band leaves the stage. I take a few crowd shots from the edge of the stage before heading back to the bus.

On the way back to the bus, the much-talked-about end of tour party is in full swing. I pop my head in to check it out. I've been sworn to secrecy about the party, but let's just say that it was pretty awesome. I don't spend much time there, because my energy reserve is about tapped out. I head back to the bus and play bus mom again, packing away the food when it arrives. Soon the crew is back on board, fresh from the showers, and we head out to Raleigh, North Carolina, our next destination.


July 31st - Raleigh, NC
I manage to sleep most of the way to Raleigh. I'm still sneezing and coughing up a storm, but it feels like I might be making a little progress. We show up in the parking lot of the Four Points Sheraton at around 1pm. I need to ship a bunch of stuff back to Louisville, so I unpack all of my boxes and equipment cases and load them into the lobby. Tod Metz looks at my pile of stuff and suggests that I invest in one big suitcase. I'm a little too weary to laugh much. I commandeer a luggage cart and take my stuff upstairs.

I'm still feeling pretty awful. It's a major accomplishment for me to get all of my things sorted out and into boxes ready for shipping home. I head back down to the lobby with four boxes and catch a cab to a shipping place, where I spend $100 shipping stuff home. It's worth every penny, because it eliminates the amount of stuff I need to carry with me on the plane.

Afterwards, I head to the mall across from the hotel for a bite to eat. Ruby Tuesday's is there, and I have a burger and a salad. I can't taste much due to my sinus congestion, so I finish quickly and hope that some nutritional benefit came from the meal. I head out into the mall and head directly for a drugstore that I know is in this mall.

I knew the drugstore was here, because I'd spent a year of my life in Raleigh. I interned here in college. This was the biggest mall in the area, so I spent a lot of time here. It was really weird walking back into it after ten years and knowing that there was a drugstore there. I even knew where it was. I headed back to the cold and flu aisle, sneezing all the way. I picked out the most intense-sounding product I could find (Tavist-D), along with some Halls lozenges.

I walked back to the hotel and ran into Syd in the lobby. He was going to buy a computer and wanted to know if I could come along with him to help. I really felt bad about not going, but Syd didn't have a cold and I would have felt horrible if he'd picked one up for me. Plus, I was really pushing my limits as far as upright time goes, so I apologized and headed upstairs.

I took my medicine and jumped in bed for a bit of a nap. After waking, I went through the images from the night before and uploaded them to the web site. I was feeling better, well enough to tackle updating the tour diary. So I started writing with the TV on in the background.

By 10pm, I'd finished most of my work, so I ordered some room service. $25 for a plate of pasta and some salad. It was hot, and tasty, so I didn't mind.


August 1st - Raleigh, NC
I woke the next morning feeling pretty good! No more runaway sniffles. A bit of sinus discomfort, but nothing I couldn't handle. I took a shower, packed my bags and headed downstairs for the ride to the venue.

I snagged a danish and coffee on my way out to the bus. The usual suspects were onboard. This was the second to the last gig, and everyone was already talking about their flights home. I tried not to think about it on this morning, because I hadn't quite figured out how I felt about the tour ending.

As we made our way to Walnut Creek, my mind was jarred by familiar images outside the window. It had been ten years earlier that I'd driven the 648 miles from Louisville, Kentucky to this city for my first taste of living on my own. I remember that isolated feeling when my parents left. The door to the apartment closed, and I was left to take care of myself for the first time. I wonder what my parents would think if they were alive and knew of my current adventure in Raleigh? I'm sure they would get a kick out of it...

The weather on this day couldn't have been better. Blue skies, mild temperatures. I jumped off of the bus and dropped my equipment, then took a walk around the venue. The load-in was almost finished. I watched my bus mate Brian Schwartz lock down a Jumbotron from thirty feet above the stage. Brian's official title is "accounting intern", but he's been helping out on load-in and load-out as well. He's a good guy.

I head over to the second stage to catch Monster Voodoo Machine. It felt good to feel good again, and good to be out in the nice sun. Due to some confusion about gate-opening times, the gates were opened a half hour late, which meant the second stage area was barely populated. The music started ten minutes late just to give the crowd a chance to build. The guys in MVM didn't seem to mind, and put on a terrific show. By the time their set was finished, the second stage area was packed.

I headed back over to the main stage area to catch a bite to eat. Catering was passable, and many of the bands were eating lunch before their sets. I grabbed a sandwich and a diet coke and headed back to my bus to relax before the next band came on.

Angelo was in the bus watching TV. He was watching auto racing on TV. Angelo is an interesting character. He's the Jumbotron engineer for this tour. He is totally responsible for the operation and safe transportation of the huge Jumbotron TV screen which is suspended at the back of the stage during performances. The Jumbo is expensive, heavy and picky. Angelo has been doing Jumbotron work for many years. He has many big-name gigs to his credit: Van Halen, The Rolling Stones, NASCAR racing. I've never seen Angelo get upset or excited. However, I have seen him extremely busy.

After lunch, I head backstage and see Sevendust getting ready for their set. Lajon is in a back corridor doing stretching exercises. The set change is almost complete, so I walk down to the pit in front of the stage to get ready to take pictures. The main stage seats are about half full. Billy the DJ introduces Sevendust, and they begin their set.

I take a few pictures of the band from the pit, then head up onstage for some side shots. After I have a disk full of images, I head back to the offices to transfer them to the laptop. Jane and Kevin are there, as well as Jennifer. Jane and Kevin are responsible for the financial part of the tour. They start early in the morning and continue past the last song, making sure everyone gets paid and all of the numbers match.

It's cramped space, so I don't stay in there very long. After I finish doing the transfer, I head backstage to hang out and wait for the next act.

I manage to take pictures of every main stage band. After Megadeth finishes, I head over to catering for dinner and to relax. Tool doesn't allow photographers during their performance, so I make it a point to stay away from the stage during their set. After dinner, I hang out at the bus a little more, trying to absorb it all one more time. It's hard to believe that it's all going to be over in a day.

Tool finishes and I head to the pit with a fresh set of batteries and a bag full of floppies for my Mavica. The crowd is good tonight. No major incidents of throwing sod or anything else. Just a nice crowd ready to rock and roll. The lights go down and the video begins, and another Ozzy show is underway. The curtain drops and Ozzy screams at the crowd for the very first time as the seats rumble from the beginning notes of Believer.

As I shoot pictures from the pit, I keep thinking to myself that I could never get tired of it. Sure it's the same songs and the same artists. But it is a whole lot of fun taking pictures of these guys. And it's a real rush hearing music that I love and have grown up with being played each night, live. It's neat seeing these guys that I talk to backstage perform. I'm sure I would eventually get tired of it, but on the 17th show, I wasn't tired of it yet.

The show ends and I take a few last shots of the confetti covered crowd, then head back to the bus to drop my gear. I try to help with load-out a little, but I'm still feeling a little funky from my cold. So I head back to the bus and play bus mom some more before bus food arrives.

The crew arrives in a couple of hours, and we head down the road for our last gig in Bristow, VA. It's a pretty short ride - 5 hours. I decide to stay up and watch the road go by for awhile. I grab a drink from the cooler and take a seat in the captain's chair next to the driver. Randy is busy negotiating the bus through the Raleigh area. We chat during lulls in the CB chatter between buses. I'm enjoying seeing vaguely familiar sights outside the window as we make our way out of Raleigh. Randy and I talk about computers and Global Positioning Systems for awhile, then the CB chatter picks up again. Burt, the driver for bus 2, is in a particularly chatty mood tonight, so I stay quiet and listen, and watch the road go by.

I begin to get a bit sleepy, so I finish my beer and get ready to go to bed. I ask Randy if he needs anything before I go, and he requests some leftover chicken wings and a Mountain Dew. I bring them to him and turn out the lights, and climb into my bunk for my last snooze of the trip.


August 2nd - Bristow, VA
I woke up around 9am in the parking lot of the Nissan Pavilion. The bus was empty except for Randy and myself. Randy and another bus driver were talking in the front lounge. I talked with them for a few minutes, then grabbed a change of clothes and my shower kit from my suitcase and headed inside. I found an empty shower in the Ozzy band dressing room.

As I took my shower, I decided that on this day, I was going to shoot almost totally behind the scene pictures. Pick up a few of the faces of the crew for a section on the web site. I also decided to be a little selfish and take time to enjoy the day. I always get emotional at endings like this, and it was going to take a great deal of strength to maintain composure during all of this.

So after I was squeaky clean from my shower, I repacked my things into my suitcase and headed out to soak up some of the mood. I stood onstage and listened to the sounds of a big rock & roll machine coming to life. Good ol' John Roden doing is "Ahhhhh...oneeeee....teeewwwww" monitor checks (Q: Why do sound guys only count to two? A: Because on three you have to lift something.). Greg Price testing out the main sound system with some Peter Gabriel. The JumboTron being locked into place and hoisted above the stage. The last truss being hauled up. The guitar techs at their boxes, wiping down the guitars. Tuning them. Restringing or repairing them. I really, really loved this stuff. It was so damn cool watching all of this come together and being a part of it.

As I crossed paths with people, I started shaking hands and getting business cards and contact information. Jennifer Perry put together a contact sheet with most people's information, so I snagged one from production. Although the mood was light and there was a sense of finality in the air, everyone paid particular attention to their jobs. Nobody wanted to screw up on the last day of the gig.

I caught the last part of Coal Chamber's set. In true Jimi Hendrix fashion, they busted up a guitar and set it on fire at the end of their set. They also destroyed some of their set pieces: large stuffed animals and other oversized toys. The stuffing in the animals spewed out onto the stage and the audience, creating a winter wonderland that stagehands had to remove before the next act.

Most of the acts ended up with members of other bands onstage. Limp Bizkit went out in expected fashion, with Fred leading the audience into a chair destroying frenzy. Members of Soulfly and System of a Down sat on the edge of the enormous toilet for one last time.

I started getting choked up as the afternoon wore on. Jane and Jennifer received flowers in the management office. For most of the tour, I had been talking to Jane about getting a tattoo on my left ankle. Jane had a small island scene on her ankle, which looked really cool. She'd had hers done during the last Ozzfest tour, and although her boyfriend wasn't wild about it, she still liked it. Becky was also talking about getting a tattoo. Jane gave everyone in the office little end-of-tour gifts. For Becky and I, she said she'd buy us each a tattoo if we wanted one.

So around 7pm, I went back to the office and met Becky, and we headed over to Mel's tattoo booth. Becky was still hedging because she hadn't settled on an appropriate design. I already had mine picked out, so I went first. I showed Mel a sample, and he sketched it by hand onto a piece of transfer paper. He showed it to me and I approved it. I wanted it on my left inside calf. So I propped my leg up and showed Mel the location. He shaved it, then applied some Speed Stick to my leg to do the transfer. Once the transfer was applied and positioned correctly, he began the needlework.

Becky watched and took a few pictures as Mel worked on my leg. It didn't hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would. It felt like being scratched by a cat. One of Mel's co-workers was busy performing a lip piercing next to me. I tried not to watch, but I caught glimpses of the procedure and decided that face tackle was not for me. I could do the tattoo thing, but not piercings. Well, at least not on this tour.

At the end of ten minutes, it was done. Permanently etched into my skin was a one and one half inch high symbol: The commercial AT sign, or "@".

Mel bandaged my tattoo and sent me on my way with a care instruction card and a tube of ointment. Becky wimped out because she couldn't find a good symbol. I looked at my tattoo through the transparent wrap Mel had placed on it and smiled. This was pretty cool. I liked it.

I showed my new addition to several of my friends backstage. Many of them needed a few minutes to understand the significance of the symbol. Others got it right away. Butch Allen, our lighting designer/director, told me that now that I was "Inked Up" that I'd need to go for some "tackle" (the slang term for body piercings). I told him that it wasn't very likely. But then again, five years ago the idea of getting a tattoo wasn't likely, either.

I went back to the office to show Jane my new tattoo. Sharon Osbourne was in the office as well, and everyone got a kick out of my new addition. I thanked Jane for the gift, then headed out to the stage to get ready for Ozzy's last Ozzfest 98 show.

I made it to the pit and high-fived Peter Twill as I made my way past his camera position. I made it to the other side and repeated the macho gesture with Tom Fenno, the other camera operator. These guys were on my bus as well, and it was cool working with them each night in the pit. Tom and I agreed to take souvenir pictures of each other during tonight's show. Then we settled in to the business at hand...

The house lights went down and the video began. I couldn't see a screen from my position, which was typical. It didn't matter. I knew the video by heart by now. I knew that it was five minutes long, and I knew the various bridge points. As the first few seconds of the video played, my eyes swelled up a bit. This was it. The last show. If I played my cards right, ate my vegetables and didn't stay out too late, I might get an opportunity to do this again. But there would never be another "first" Ozzfest, nor would there ever be another Ozzfest 98.

The curtain dropped and Ozzy screamed hello to the crowd. The backstage areas were packed with people watching the last show. Band members, family members, crew. I took pictures from the pit and sat through my last water dousing before heading into the crowd for some long shots. I watched Butch and Greg work through their last show at the light & sound consoles. Lots of folks in the front-of-house pit as well this evening.

I went backstage and took some pictures from either side of the set. Ozzy became a little feisty and shot a blast of water towards the crowd on stage left, dousing some electronics and causing a temporary panic from the crew and spectators. I made my way behind the drum riser to take some pictures there. Mike threw a drumstick over his head in my general direction, landing harmlessly a few feet away as he gave me an over the shoulder grin. At the next blackout, I scurried to stage right, grabbing the drumstick for a souvenir as I went.

I shot no pictures during my favorite song "No More Tears". I watched it from stage right as Ozzy was bathed in purple light from above during the bridge, and called Joe Holmes into play with a wizardly spell casting motion. I air-guitared the last part of the guitar solo along with Whitfield Crane, who was also standing nearby. "I love that stuff!", I screamed at him as we both smiled.

I looked around at everything as the songs played around me, heading towards Paranoid and the last song of the tour. I saw Tom Thomson kneeling behind the drum riser, waiting to fetch a floor light after it was finished. I looked at Tony Dennis and Bob Thompson in position stage left. I saw Opie in the wings checking to make sure the path was clear for Ozzy to exit. Bill Greer on stage left, making sure everything was secure. Jennifer watching the show from behind Dave Lee, who is at the guitar tech position stage left. John Roden behind the monitor console, his default smile glowing in the wash lights. Peter Twill and Tom Fenno in the pit on the minicams. Chris 'Feelie' Gott hiding out behind the speaker stacks, waiting to water the drummer. Craig Baker at the bass tech position stage left. Ron Crume and Tod Metz behind the dimmer banks. And the unseen keyboardist John Sinclair, tucked in behind the stage left monitor stacks, with his usual two diet cokes sitting on top of a road case nearby. And beyond the shadows, the glow of faces in the audience, some animated, some not. Some clothed, others semi-naked. Hand-written signs offering Ozzy and the band everything from praise to sexual favors. Damn it, I was gonna miss all of this. This was a lot of fun.

"Mama, I'm coming home" ended, and Ozzy called onstage band members and family to sing the last song of the tour. Band members from just about every band at Ozzfest came onstage as Ozzy and the band dove into Paranoid. Even Maynard, the lead singer from Tool was there, dressed in drag and showing cleavage. Billy the DJ managed to get the water hose and sprayed Ozzy briefly with it. Ozzy of course retaliated and sprayed just about everyone onstage. I even went onstage briefly to photograph some of the mayhem, getting clear just as the song ended and the confetti cannons fired one last time. Ozzy thanked the crowd and everyone as the confetti blew back onstage, covering everyone. The house lights came up, and "Changes" began to play, the sentimental song being the traditional "walk-out" music for all of Ozzy's concerts. Celebration began behind me as I looked out into the audience as they slowly drained away, covered in confetti. Before long, the seats were empty, and it was finally over.

Backstage, the celebration began. Hugs were exchanged, cigars lit, tears flowed. The hallways were packed with band members, family members, crew members and just about every other member you can think of. Ozzy and the band went to the dressing room to chill. Billy and I ended up in the dressing room with them for awhile. I listened to Ozzy talk about Frank Zappa with Mike Bordin. Ozzy had been to Frank's house before he died, and had experienced some interesting times there. It was neat hearing him talk about Frank, another one of my favorite musicians. Mike Bordin dove into the appetizer tray and tossed bite-sized carrots about, with several ending up in his mouth. Joe and John listened to Ozzy talk about Frank as well. This little moment lasted for a few minutes before various assistants and family members came in, and things became busy again. I took this opportunity to leave the dressing room, sensing that it was getting too busy to stay.

I headed back out into the hallway and said goodbye to a couple of guys I knew from Snot and System of a Down. I'd really enjoyed getting to know the bands during the tour. So many faces and talents. I couldn't help but wonder which, if any, of these bands were going to make it big in the years to come. It would be neat to look back and think, "I knew them when they weren't so big..."

Just beside the loading dock, the crew buses were parked and slowly filling with people as things drew to a close. Hugs and handshakes. Business cards. Compliments. I said farewell to Martha Heckman and Greg Price, and shook hands with Butch. Butch was heading home for the first time since May. He was hurting from a nasty series of adverse antibiotic reactions he'd recently experienced while trying to be "cured" for something on the tour. The skin rashes were calming down some, but his legs were still dotted with red spots. Being sick on the road is no fun.

I landed in our bus and talked with Randy for awhile as the festivities continued outside. I spent a little time working through the details of my departure the next day. Then I went back out to watch the load-out one last time.

As I wandered backstage, I came upon Ozzy, heading down a hallway towards the door. It was rare to have a solo face-to-face encounter with him, because these days he was usually pursued mercilessly by a documentary camera crew. But there he was, by himself, heading towards me. He held out his hand and said, "Thanks a lot for the work you've done," as we passed. I said you're welcome, and thanked him for the opportunity. He headed out the door, and that was the last I saw of him.

The tear down was almost complete. The final cases were being loaded onto the trailers. Many of the crew had headed back to their buses. We had a short ride to the airport Holiday Inn, then a few hours of sleep before early flights home the next morning.

Our bus was one of the last to leave. The headlights came on, Randy threw it into reverse, and we backed away from the loading dock. The residue of our show was still there...bits of confetti, bottles and cans, wads of gaffer's tape. A roadie closed the last door on the loading dock, closing the view to the main auditorium. The bus turned towards the road, and we headed away from the venue towards the Holiday Inn.

I checked my bunk one last time and packed a few missed items into my bag. We all drank a few beers and munched on some sandwiches provided by our friend Steve Varga. We turned in our bus keys to Randy and talked about our flights home the next morning. Soon we were at the hotel, and we said goodbye to Randy for the last time. You get to know your bus driver when you do something like this. It was sad to say goodbye.

We all piled into the lobby at the Holiday Inn and received our room keys quickly. Jennifer was there and was handing them out. This hotel was very strange in that it had a second floor but no elevators. So everyone struggled with their luggage up the stairs to the second floor rooms. I found my room and unloaded some of my stuff and rested for a few minutes. I headed back into the hall looking for a party that Billy said would be happening in his room. I didn't find anything, so I headed back to my room. I ran into Bill Boyd, resplendent in his shorts and socks, standing at the coke machine. I told him that it was good to work with him, and he returned the compliment. He complimented me on being a good "new guy", and said that since I'd already done the tattoo thing, they'd have to come up with something else for me next time around.

I made it back to my room and took a shower before settling in for bed. I packed my bags for the last time and put in a wake up call for 5:45am. That would give me just over two hours of sleep. A shuttle bus was leaving for the airport at 6:30am, and I wanted to be on it.


August 3rd - Bristow, VA
Seemingly as soon as my head hit the pillow, the phone rang telling me it was time to get up. I resisted the urge to go back to sleep. I jumped up and put on my clothes, then headed downstairs. A few familiar faces were at the front desk waiting to check out at the same time. Billy, Greg and Martha were there, as was Butch Allen. We all piled into the shuttle bus for the ride to the airport.

We piled out of the bus and said our final good-byes and made our ways to our various airlines. I had my laptop, a small bag on wheels, and my new electric guitar. Carrying the guitar made me look like a musician, although I didn't yet know how to play. I'd promised Joe Holmes and Dave Lee that I'd know a few things when I came back next year. I hope I can keep the promise.

As I headed for the gate, I spotted Mike Bordin in the ticketing line. We exchanged good-byes, and Mike told me how much he liked working with me, and I told him truthfully that it was very cool watching him play. He's a really nice guy. We shook hands before heading our separate ways in the airport.

I made it to the gate with plenty of time to spare. I opted for a McBreakfast and found a seat in the waiting area. I noticed the familiar face of Mike Allison waiting as well. Mike was headed home to Wisconsin for a break before heading out with Clapton. We talked briefly and then fell back into our own thoughts. Soon the flight was ready to board, and I was on my way to the very familiar O'Hare International Airport.

I had a couple of hours to kill at O'Hare. My day job carried me to the West Coast frequently, and always on United. So I was very familiar with O'Hare's terminal C. I followed through with my longstanding tradition of eating lunch at the Terminal C McDonald's, then made it to the gate for my flight to Louisville.

I was one of the first people onboard the plane, the benefits of being a frequent flyer. I dropped my laptop bag in seat 4E, then wandered towards the back of the plane to look for a place to stash my guitar. Near the rear of the plane, a teenage kid was already seated. He was sporting a Limp Bizkit tee shirt and a dog collar. Thirty days ago, this outfit would have generated a reaction. But now, I barely noticed. He noticed the Ozzfest '98 logo on the back of my tee shirt and said, "Hey, did you go to Ozzfest?". I told him, "Yep. I worked it.". "Cool!", he said. "I was at the concert about a week ago, in Kansas City!". "Neat!", I replied. I was getting anxious to find a place for my guitar, so I headed up front and found a spot. I thought about the encounter with the kid. What are the odds, I wondered? Maybe I should buy some lottery tickets.

I dug into my bag and found a Joe Holmes Ozzfest '98 guitar pick. I made my way back to the kid and gave it to him. "Cool! Thanks!", he said. "You're welcome!", I said. Then I flew home to Louisville.


August 7th - Louisville, KY
It's been four days since I hopped on United 1541 at gate C17 at Dulles and headed west to Louisville. I've spent the last few days readjusting my sleep patterns and getting reacquainted with my cat Sydney. Sydney doesn't understand rock & roll. He understands companionship. And just as he missed me for the past month, I find myself missing the group of people I left behind in Washington.

It's an amazing experience, this rock & roll touring thing. A small community sprouts out of the ground and converges on Holmdel, New Jersey, the starting point for the tour. We pile into buses and trucks and take a bunch of music, magic & fun with us across the country. Then we dissipate like a lazy summer cloud. What's left behind are ringing ears, smiling faces, and lots and lots of confetti. And this time, we have pictures and notes detailing at least part of the experience, preserved here on the web site. These web pages will remain, along with our personal memories, until the next Ozzfest community forms.

For me, it's been a wonderful experience. I have scores of memories tucked away in my head from this journey. Many of them I've shared with you through the web site. Others will stay buried in my brain, ready to come out during a night of story telling with friends over beer and pizza.

So long from Ozzfest '98! See you next year!