So I’m that little chick that’s been lucky enough to play bongos with The Wag for over a year. For those of you Jersey peeps that don’t frequent coffee shops, music festivals, or local live shows, The Wag is an upbeat rock/pop/blues band that’s been rocking the area for almost twenty years! In all that time, they’d never taken their wonderful original music and choice covers overseas…until May 2015!
Bass guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and band manager, Brian Ostering, had always dreamed of taking The Wag on tour in another country. Perhaps circumstances just weren’t right or the day jobs were simply too demanding, but for whatever reason, he decided this was the year to make history!
On Saturday May 23rd, 2015, The Wag, consisting of Brian Ostering (bass guitar, lead vocals), Alicia Van Sant (lead vocals, percussion), Don Lee (guitar, lead vocals) and me, Arielle Strauss (bongos) packed our suitcases, squished into a van, and found ourselves at Newark Airport boarding a swanky Virgin Atlantic red eye to London, UK.
Talk about jet lag! No one really slept on the plane, except for me, of course. Everyone was starving and we had to check into our hotel, The Rising Sun, pick up the guitar rentals, and then make our way to the first of four gigs on our tour, Dirty Dicks pub, established in the 18th century, making this London’s oldest pub…ever.
The trek there was brutal. Brian’s bass case was steel and heavy as all get-out, my heels were a poor choice in footwear for walking, and everyone was exhausted. By the time we got there, we couldn’t believe we had to now play a two-hour gig for our first audience outside the USA. What on earth were we thinking?
But BOY were we surprised at the reception. Not only did the venue fill up, oh no. They were whooping, cheering, laughing at all of Donnie’s jokes. What a welcome from our first British audience! Plus we got to play a few songs with Norda Mullen, the flautist of the Moody Blues! When all of us were ready to collapse at the start of the gig, two hours later, none of us wanted the night to end. It was pure awesomeness!
Our second gig, at Karamel, a vegan pub, was just as thrilling, but even more so for one reason. At the end of our hour-long set, during which several audience members actually got up to dance, a woman approached me to tell me that her friend was never into bands or going crazy over music until he saw us that night. She said she’d never seen him light up like that before and that we’d helped him, in her words, “fall in love with music for the first time in his life.” That’s when I was reminded this is why we “Wag,” to coin a phrase. It’s not just about exploring different areas of the world together, be it in Jersey or abroad. It’s not just about getting to know each other on our down time. It’s not about playing the songs the way people have heard a million times. And of course, it’s NEVER about money. Ever. It’s about having a blast, giving people joy, and expressing ourselves in a way we can only do through music. Our time in London taught us so much about real teamwork, letting go of stress and fatigue to get into the groove, and even saying good-bye to the wonderful friends and fans we made on our journey. Thank you, Londoners from us four in The Wag! You can be sure we’ll be back for round two!