Touring with Talent: My Maiden Voyage as a Roadie-Manager

Every good story starts somewhere, and although Facebook might seem a bit clichéd, this is where this story also starts.  I never met Chad Jubber in person before 9 January when I picked him up from Cape Town International  Airport.  This was the day we were embarking on an almost-month-long national tour to promote his debut EP ‘Fool’ which was released in September 2017.

Although I have never met his physical form I was confident that I knew him – both as a friend and as the insanely talented artist I was so honoured to be managing. Nonetheless, I took a friend to the airport with me for moral support.  I’m a bit skittish by nature and wanted to avoid any airport unpleasantries due to a brief nervous breakdown.  Cue Chad’s arrival and like in a scene from a Danielle Steel novel, all fears disintegrated into a pleasant nothingness.  Chad was exactly how I pictured him, albeit a lot taller than the 1.5m he repeatedly told me he was sporting.

Our first day’s travels didn’t take us very far. We stopped in Beaufort West at a quaint little bed and breakfast for the night and Chad has his first run-in with some newly-found fans.  So it might only have been two middle-aged ladies and a waiter but they fell in love with his beautiful voice and sparkling persona as soon as he sat down at the table with them. That is what Chad does, he compels people, draws them into his beautiful world and disarms them with his charm and talent.

Days 2 and 3 involved a lot of travelling – firstly to Bloem and then onwards to Pietermaritzburg.  Chad sang at random intervals in the car and my toes curled each and every time. I don’t think he has any idea just how good he is. I left Maritzburg under a cloud of rancid uncertainty in April 2017 and saying I was hesitant to return is a slight understatement.  We were being hosted by the Gardiner’s and from the moment I set foot in their lovely house, it felt like I was home.  I have been a fan of Matt Gardiner, who is an amazingly talented artist as well, for a while and subsequently befriended most of the family on Facebook (most of my real-life friendships originated on social media).  Chad and I were treated like part of the family and a lot of laughter was shared with Malcolm, Jenni, Kate and their extended family.  It’s moments like these spent with special people that will remain in my heart forever.

Seeing Chad perform live for the first time was a very emotional affair for me and I ugly-cried at least 3 times.  Maybe it was the adrenaline that was pumping through my veins but I still maintain that the tequila at the restaurant was broken.  Even in the prime of my night-clubbing days I couldn’t drink more than 5 shots and remain in an upright position.

Saturday, 13 January was tough as Chad had a gig at the Shongweni Farmer’s Market and I was pretending to be in a bad mood. I have been planning a surprise birthday party for Chad for months and the big day had finally arrived. Chad was under the impression that he was performing at a wedding that night and I even made him dress up for the occasion. His friends and family were all in on it and I had to try my best not to blow our cover as Chad’s already-clouded mood went from bad to worse during the course of the day. When Shannon, his younger brother, asked for a lift from Wartburg (where the party was being held) to Maritzburg for a ‘jol’ I thought Chad was going to have a fit. Needless to say, after walking into the hotel bar and seeing exactly what was planned in his honor he felt like a bit of a tool – and rightly so. This was a very special occasion for me as well (and it wasn’t even my birthday) as I got to meet Chad’s beautiful mom Eva and his friends and family for the very first time. 

The next couple of days passed at the speed of light with Chad gigging yet again in Maritzburg before we moved on to the South Coast for a performance at a glorious spot right on Ramsgate main beach.  If you are looking for the best pizza in KZN you have to pop into the Blue Lagoon Cocktail Deck – the food and service had me smiling for days afterwards.

After Margate we headed out to Port Elizabeth. We were on the road for close to 13 hours and Chad accused me more than once of trying to kill us.  PE was not what I expected. It’s a pretty city with a strange vibe. If Bloemfontein and Durban had to birth a child this would be it.  The highlight of this stop was definitely meeting my long-standing Facebook (yes, again) friend Reinhardt in person. I am very happy to report that he is as miserable and brilliantly insane in real life as he is on social media. Getting to meet and watch Alex Cavan perform live was also terribly cool. Alex is one of those guys you can’t help but like and I hope to see him take the music industry by storm alongside Chad.

The morning after Chad’s PE gig we headed for Wilderness.  The Garden Route took my breath away and I think we both fell in love with a treasure of a backpackers called Fairy Knowe. I knew even just from talking to her via email that Didi would become one of my favorite people in the world, and she did. Everything about our stay here was magical. The people we met here were as magical as the natural beauty of the area and included a pair of dragon hunters, a French barman, a crazy-talented banjo player and a musician who deserves to grace the biggest stages in the world (yes Dave, I’m pointing at you). 

Our 2-night stayed wasn’t nearly long enough and we decided before even leaving that we will be returning soon (Garden Route Tour coming May 2018). Amongst my Wilderness memories are the approximately 150 mosquito bites that are only now starting to disappear from my legs and feet. I have never itched this much in my life and I think Chad will agree that the mozzies in the Western Cape are savage!

My map-reading skills let us down a tad and we had to travel back towards Port Elizabeth for Chad’s performance at Surf Café in Plett (another gorgeous venue with a small yet supportive crowd and superb Mexican grub).  This was also Chad’s last official performance of the tour as our Cape Town venue pulled out due to unforeseen personal circumstances. 

Instead of heading straight to Cape Town we decided to spend a night aboard the Santo’s Express in Mossel Bay. Although the compartment was minute the views were spectacular and we got to meet more social media friends in person. Marietjie and her husband Danie are truly the salts of the earth. They also have extremely good taste in eateries and directed us to the breathtaking Delfino’s for supper. There was a touch of magic in the air that night and I can still sense it, even when just looking at the photos of the beautiful sunset.

The road from Mossel Bay took us to Cape Town and an interesting backpacker’s in Pinelands.  If you told me 3 months ago that I would be sharing a room, let alone a bathroom, with strangers I would have given you my best Jack Nicholson laugh. But here I was, in my third backpackers of the tour and thoroughly enjoying myself.  Cape Town was an interesting stop.  Chad and I slept on the pavement outside the Century City Conference Centre with a bunch of Idols hopefuls just so that I could take some photos for a future feature (thank you Irvin for my Idols media pass – I love you plenty). Our last two days were spent filming a documentary and sleeping at Tanner and Toni’s where Chad provided hours of endless entertainment.

The day before Chad was flying back to JHB and I was returning to Saldanha was one of the hardest of my life. The ‘last’ of everything was materializing before my eyes and I had to swallow a gigantic lump in my throat more than once.  We officially ended Fool Tour 2018 with breakfast at the airport – at Wimpy of all places (Chad has somewhat of a Wimpy obsession) and I snuck away to the ladies’ to shed a tear in private. When the time came for him to board I gave him a hug and walked away – I wasn’t going to be the girl who stood bawling her eyes out as her favourite friend took the sky.  I didn’t drive home straight away but rather sat and waited at a nearby petrol station for his plane to leave. This time I allowed the tears to pour freely down my cheeks, much to the delight of a snooty tweenager sitting in the back of daddy’s brand-new BMW.

I have been home for a week and I still feel lost. I am no longer used to waking up in the same place every day. I miss the music, the laughter, the addictive feeling of being carefree.  If I could pack the car and do the same tour again I would in a heartbeat.  Each and every person I met on this journey, every place visited, every memory imprinted in my heart forever, contributed to the best 22 days of my life. Could I have embarked on this journey with anyone else? Definitely not.  Chad trusted me with his career and I trusted him with my insanity – it worked out great for the both of us.  Do  I miss my friend? More than you could ever imagine but in 50 or so days I will once again be fetching him at the airport – this time for a Splashy Fen adventure.

Life is too short to waste time worrying about things you have no control over. Make every moment count. Live. Dream. Love. And spend a lot of time road-tripping with friends who bring out the best in you!

PS – Although I had my snazzy hi-tech camera with me I took most of our random photos with my phone and have left them mostly unedited. You need to see what I saw, feel what I felt (with the exception of the black and white Fairy Knowe photo that is)

Author: Justine Bishop

Untamed, outspoken and just a little bit crazy.

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