33 Days: Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream. by Bill See (Lulu; available as a Kindle and Nook Book download)
Bill See’s account of a band on the run has its moments but… If L.A.’s Divine Weeks was chosen as one of the best bands in the mega city by the hallowed Los Angeles Times in 1987, one has to wonder why its four members (George, Bill, Raj and Dave) decided they needed to make a tour of the Pacific Northwest, Canada and the mid-west to southern United States to prove their worth. If you believe See’s words, it was not for a lack of ego: “Sometimes you can tell the crowd wants it… you have to understand something. We really do believe we’re operating on a totally different plane than other bands… we’re completely full of ourselves…”
Well, you can see videos of Divine Weeks on You Tube and judge for yourself. To my eyes and ears, this was a decent band for the time (the late 80s), but nothing special – not great nor horrible, and on a par with what you’d see in a typical Sacramento club during this era. Was Divine Weeks on the same plane as, say, Jane’s Addiction? Absolutely not. (Personal disclosure: I was not a fan of Jane’s music, but their musicianship was beyond question.)
What 33 Days does offer is a glimpse of what life is like on the road for a struggling traveling band. In itself that’s an interesting tale, but See detracts from it by spending a bit more time than is necessary telling us about his off-and-on relationship with quasi-girlfriend Mary. It proves to be both distracting and tiring.
The best moment in the narrative is when See explains, early on, the power of music. “Ever since I’ve known music, I’ve felt that my life could be lifted up by it.” This is admirable but the egocentric prospective winds up making this a band biography that is less than the sum of its parts. This reader came to feel as if only truly got to know two members of the band – the Paul McCartney-like Bill and the George Harrison-like Raj. It felt, in the end, as if something was missing.
A review copy was provided by the author.