Joe D'Urso

Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Open Road Tour

Joe D'Urso and Stone Caravan have been selected as the House Band for the Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Open Road Tour. The tour celebrates the iconic American motorcycle with tour dates throughout the United States, as well as Mexico, Australia, Japan, Spain and Germany. Over 100,000 people will attend each show, bringing D'Urso's Americana roots rock to well over a million people around the world.

Coming off a successful European tour, and acclaim from critics and fans for his latest CD release, "rock and roll station," D'Urso's indie ethic is paying off. Over five years of hard work, touring, recording and providing his time and energy to causes such as World Hunger Year (WHY), have sealed his reputation as an energetic and altruistic performer.

The Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Open Road Tour will have two legs. The 2002 tour dates, in North America, are:

  • Atlanta, Atlanta Motor Speedway (July 20-21)
  • Northeast U.S., venue TBA (August 16-18)
  • Los Angeles, California Speedway (September 6-8)
  • Toronto, Molson Park (September 27-29)
  • Dallas, Texas Motor Speedway (October 25-27)
  • Mexico City, venue TBA (November 22-24)

In 2003, the tour will go international, visiting the following cities:

  • Sydney (March 14-16)
  • Tokyo (April 25-27)
  • Barcelona (June 27-29)
  • Munich (July 25-27)

The tour will conclude with a four-day celebration back in the United States, hitting Milwaukee from August 28-31. Each show will cover 25 acres with over 50 exhibits and attractions for both riders and non-riders alike.

More information about the tour, as well as tickets, can be found on www.harley-davidson.com. Joe D'Urso and Stone Caravan's official web site can be found at www.jdcaravan.com.

Chorus and Verse caught up with Joe shortly after the tour was announced, and asked him about his plans for the next year, and the feeling of anticipation of hitting the open road to perform for over one million people around the world.

What led to your participation in the Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Tour, and how did the people at Harley-Davidson contact you to be the house band for the tour? What have they been like to work with so far?

What led to my participation in the tour was that one of my co-managers (Bob Benjamin) had contacted House of Blues Concerts, who are in charge of booking talent for the tour, and Bob was asking about my participation in the Northeast Event, which will take place from August 16-18. After Bob spoke with HOB, I called HOB the next day and had a nice small chat and they called back Bob the next day and asked if I would be interested in being the House Band for the Open Road Tour. Not quite sure what I said in the conversation but it must have been good!

House of Blues and Harley Davidson have been a pleasure to work with to this point and I don't see that changing throughout the tour.

The tour will cover North America, Europe and Asia, from July 2002 through August 2003. How are you and the band preparing for such an exhausting tour schedule in front of so many fans?

Because of the size of the production of this tour, there will be three to four weeks off in between each stop, which take place on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as they will need that time to set up, tear down and move the whole production. This allows us the choice of booking additional shows after each stop or heading back home to the Rockland/North Jersey area. Myself and the guys in Stone Caravan are getting mentally prepared for the tour as there will be so many great artists performing each day.

You've been performing for a long time for many people, but 100,000-person crowds have to be intimating for any performer. Any idea what it's going to be like playing for that many people at one time? Any thoughts on what that first show in Atlanta is going to feel like?

I guess the answer to both questions is ... No!! I have never stood before that many people but I can imagine that the adrenaline rush will be a blast! I have seen videos where the camera looks out from stage onto a stadium-size audience and can visually imagine what it will look like but I won't have a real clue until the first show in Atlanta, which I expect will be a big party, but also a time when everyone is feeling out how the tour will run.

How long will the sets be for each show? Are any other bands going to be playing? What else will there be for people to do and see?

I believe each of our sets will be around 45 to 60 minutes with anywhere from one to three sets a day. Plus, I have written a show for Harley called "Thunder," which is a 30-minute, seven-song production that will play twice a day. So, there may be days when myself and Stone Caravan are on stage six or seven times playing our music and music that I have written for this event.

There will be a lot of bands, big bands, but I can't say any names as Harley and House of Blues will be making that announcement soon. I can say, though, that the bill in Atlanta is Tim McGraw, Blues Traveler, Allison Krauss, Ted Nugent, Journey, Travis Tritt, Steel Pulse, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, JD&SC and others.

Plus there will be a Theater, vintage Harleys, Bike Demo's and lots of other stuff going on.

Any cities on the tour that you're especially looking forward to seeing? Is it strange at all that an American institution like Harley-Davidson would be presenting "Americana Roots Rock" in Tokyo, Barcelona and Munich?

No, I think it makes perfect sense as I think Harley is a world-wide phenomenon. Kinda like Fender guitars. They cut through the social fabric of a lot of different societies around the world. I am looking forward to performing in all the foreign locations. Even though I have performed in 21 countries I haven't had the opportunity to perform in Australia, Japan, Germany and Spain so this will give me a chance to broaden my horizons and see those cultures in action.

Not sure if any "local" artists from those countries will be performing but I would love to see some.

How do you feel the exposure of being involved with Harley-Davidson and playing for so many people around the world will benefit your career? How will Harley-Davidson be promoting the shows? Have any other opportunities or projects, such as a live CD or video of the tour, been discussed?

The exposure is great, no doubt about it. It allows me to play my music in areas where I wouldn't normally get a chance to and hopefully it will allow myself and Stone Caravan to return to these place and tour afterwards.

Not sure exactly what plans Harley has for the a live CD and video though I do know they will be recording the shows and I have had talks with them about making a separate CD of the "Thunder" show that I wrote for them.

I think a lot of ideas will get thrown around once we get the first show in Atlanta rolling.

Will the tour affect any of the other projects you've been working on, such as the World Hunger Year (WHY) events?

I certainly hope so as I have been trying to figure out ways to get World Hunger Year involved. We are still figuring that out, but I know that just by playing for that many people we should be able to make more people aware of WHY and the great job that they do. Myself and WHY have put 3 dates on hold in November for 3 HUNGERTHON concerts: New York City, Asbury Park and Rockland County.

I am hoping to draft a few of the performers on the Harley Tour into the WHY world. (Laughs.)

How does the past year, with the great critical acclaim for your latest CD, successful tours of Europe, your selection for the Harley-Davidson event, and the birth of your son, make you feel, both as a person and a performer?

I feel very fortunate especially in the aftermath on 9/11 when everyone really was shaken up and took stock of their lives. The balance of my life, especially with the birth of Guthrie, has always been trying to maintain a balance between home/family and music/traveling. It feels good knowing that the music has been well-received without the backing of a huge record company and without massive radio play. As an independent artist, there are more obstacles to climb, but the two even playing fields that still exist are Songwriting and Performing Live. Now, the size and type of venue can drastically change because of the involvement of a big record label and radio, but the core of who you are as a performer and a writer doesn't.

To me, that is what music fans and people who are interested in "real" music can easily identify and I hope to meet more of them on this Open Road Tour and for years to come.

[ Website: www.jdcaravan.com ]

Matt Mrowicki
Matt Mrowicki founded Chorus and Verse in 2001. He is a rock star designer and technologist, Internet professional, content creator, and entrepreneur specializing in web development, IT consulting, branding, social media and online marketing. www.imprtech.com
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