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You’re Either On The Bus Or Off The Bus

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Phil Weiss, The Helsman
Phil Weiss, The Helsman

Greetings, all! I am The Helmsman, drummer of Star People. It has been requested of me to share a memory from the early days of the band. Although there are many to choose from, the first night of our very first national tour jumps to mind.

We started the tour in NYC, our hometown.

NOTE: Post-show tequila MAY have played a role in the following tale.

Our tour bus would be arriving sometime during the show and waiting outside the venue, where we planned on departing I believe to Philadelphia for a performance the next day. We would be on the road for three weeks following that first night in NYC. As our NYC show ended, I remember the band excitedly going outside to check out the tour bus and meet the driver. We had some time to kill while our crew broke down our equipment. We spent the time hanging out in the bus, of course, and claiming our bunks and getting settled and doing some post-show band things. (See NOTE.) There was a bodega a few yards from where the bus was parked. Most of us had scurried out and picked up last-minute snacks for our trip to Phillie. I, however, waited until the last minute to visit the bodega. I ran in, gathered some goodies, and left the bodega to find… .no bus. Gone. Without me.

I remember not being able to process the information immediately. It couldn't be! They couldn't have left without me! Maybe he just changed parking spots! How did they not do a headcount!” I want to say this is about 1998, Randy can confirm the year. I did not own a cell phone yet. No way to call anyone on the bus to say, “By the way, did you notice I'm not on the #@!$%& bus”??? As I was standing on Hudson Street, stunned into silence with my mind racing, (I had convinced myself that they had assumed I was in my bunk sleeping, curtain closed, and would not discover I was missing until they arrived in Philly), I heard Randy's voice calling, “PHIL… PHIL”!!

I thought I had gone mad and was having an auditory hallucination. Indeed it was Randy, running down Hudson Street calling my name. The band realized a few minutes after the bus pulled away that I was not present. As Randy and I walked briskly to the bus a few blocks away, my head not exactly held high, Randy said, “Phil, this is not one of your finer moments”. Indeed Randy, indeed.

Star People c.1998 on tour to Philly… with Phil.
Bob, Phil, Paul, George, Scott, Bill, Ray, and Randy, finally, all on the bus.

Randy here…

I just want to add the little detail that the bus had stopped about 10 feet from the ENTRANCE to the Holland Tunnel! We expected the police to chase us away at any minute… as in, through the TUNNEL with no DRUMMER. I LOVE that we went into “Little Rascals” mode IMMEDIATELY after entering the “professional musician” arena. More to come…


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