Monday, May 9, 2011

Review - 33 Days: Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream by Bill See

Title: 33 Days:  Touring in a Van. Sleeping on Floors. Chasing a Dream (Amazon)
Author: Bill See
Publisher: Lulu
Release Date: 2011
Pages: 275
Genre: Autobiography
Source: Author

For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead. (Goodreads)

Kim’s take –

As a music and autobiography lover, this book was right up my alley. And it did not disappoint! Bill See has a talent for writing and his style is easy to read and follow. His book turned out to be very inspiring and encouraging for those who have a dream but hesitate to take a step into the unknown to follow that dream. What will happen if you don’t take that chance? And what will happen if you do?

In the summer of ’87, Bill and his fellow band members have become well known around LA with their indie band, Divine Weeks. They have determined that the time has come for them to spread their wings and see if they can make the big time. They know they will never have this chance again. Following in the footsteps of their favorite Indie bands, they embark on a 33 day tour into Canada and around the U.S. in a rented van.

For the next 33 days, Bill gives you a first person account of what it is like not knowing where you will sleep that night, playing you heart out to a nearly empty venue, and hoping for the kindness of strangers. They are on their own for the first time in their lives. Each venue and city they play a gig in becomes a learning experience for them. They play in dive bars and clubs more often than not, run into owners who try to get away with not paying or docking their pay, and spend some time in seedy motels.

They do radio interviews, including one with a lunatic DJ in Canada, and a cable TV spot in St Louis. Anything to gain hype to fill the clubs they are playing. It is very obvious throughout the book that the band members believe in their music and talent and are dedicated to their mission. There are many hilarious moments and just as many disappointments along the way.

As the days go by, each of the guys learns more about themselves and what is ultimately important to them. Bill had a very chaotic upbringing with a mother hung up on drugs and alcohol. He never knew his father and was ultimately raised in a house with his mother, grandparents, and aunt. Music became an escape from his crazy life at home. Not surprisingly, his family was not supportive of his musical dreams. Bits of interesting and touching information from his life turn up throughout the book which gives you an even better insight into why Bill feels he must take the chance now or give up his dream.    
Raj, who is the bands talented Indian guitar player, quickly became one of my favorites. The band faces their first eye-opening experience of the discrimination Raj has endured throughout his life for having brown skin. The trip itself is very hard on Raj. His Indian heritage dictates that he is not to leave his family, especially when they are in need. Somehow Raj forces himself to go on the tour and seems to battle daily with the guilt of his decision. I really felt sorry for him.

Bill does a great job with his descriptions which enables you to feel as if you know and can see the people and places he is experiencing. The book also ended my favorite way. Bill lets you know what happened to each of the band members and where their lives have taken them. I hate being left to wonder what eventually happened to everyone!

I thought the book was great and if Bill See were to write anything in the future, I would be sure to check it out. He has the talent to pull a reader in and keep their attention. You can’t ask for better than that!  

Kim’s Rating


  1. I've never been much of an autobiography lover... But this does look fun!

  2. ^I second what Bookish Brunette said. I'm not really into biographies, but I this certainly looks like something a bit different, which is always a good thing! Thanks for the review.

    Came from the CEP

  3. Wow.. that sounds like a pretty exciting life this group had. As the others said above, I usually don't read this sort of thing, but I do enjoy music related stories...
    Thanks for the review.

  4. Glad to see this is a decent read. I'm not much of an autobiography fan either, but this does sound somewhat interesting.

    ALSO, I love the where are they now bits that some books tack on at the end.

  5. I rarely read an autobiography, unless it's really interesting and this one looks interesting.

  6. I'm here from the Comment Exchange!:D
    And wow, this cover looks really scary:/
    But the book sounds very interesting I don't think I've ever read a Autobiography!