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Archive for the ‘Sturgis’ Category

Dwight York Does Sturgis 2011

Nine daily dispatches in this made-for-YouTube documentary. In other words, if you’ve been following my adventure, you’ve seen them already, but not like this. Instead of nine short video dispatches, the reports are woven together to make this one short film.

Dispatches from Sturgis for Laughspin

To clear my head and strengthen my body, I’ve taken a little vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. My days have been spent learning video editing, writing and hiking. It’s my way of gearing up for the start of  the 71st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I have shows this weekend in Spearfish and Whitewood. Sunday I check into the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground. The “best party anywhere” starts Friday, August 5.


So It Begins Again

Today my summer’s grand adventure begins. As soon as I publish this post, I hit the road. I have a fifteen hour drive ahead of me. I’m on my way to Hardin, MT where I’ll be attending a wedding. Sunday I set up camp in the Black Hills, south of Deadwood, to relax and work on my video editing skills. Next weekend (thanks to my friend Steve Heinbaugh, Black Hills Comedy), I have shows in nearby Spearfish and Whitewood. August 1st I check into the Legendary Buffalo Chip Campground. The “best party anywhere” starts August 5.

I’ve put a lot of effort into making this year’s Buffalo Chip Comedy Club a success. My goal is to prove that stand-up comedy can be a cool addition to that big biker party mix. I also plan on producing some kick-ass funny video reports and blog posts. The Buffalo Chip has provided me with all I asked for — joke contest to get guests and swimsuit models involved and a sexy talented comedy club hostess to help promote and emcee the show. Plus we’ve added a few guest comics to the line-up.

I leave today full of hope and optimism. That’s a good but rare thing for this old road comic. Keeping a positive attitude is the single greatest obstacle I face in my effort to stay alive in this brutal business. It’s hard not to get discouraged; easy to get consumed with bitterness. I’ve battled through the ups and downs in my career. The triumphs have been sweet; the set-backs many.

Dogged determination and a refusal to give up is what’s kept me going all these years and is the theme of today’s blog post. I’m publishing another excerpt of my mini-memoir: The Big Risk. It was about my 2009 adventure at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally; Buffalo Chip Campground. That was the year Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fell off the mainstage. “Dream On” had been my theme song since I booked myself at the Buffalo Chip months before. The next day it seemed that my dream had died.

From The Big Risk. Copyright 2009 by Dwight York. All rights reserved.

The hours after watching Stephen Tyler fall off the stage were miserable for me. I stumbled around the mud soaked field and stared at the spot where the rock icon hit the ground. I didn’t feel like drinking. It didn’t seem appropriate to party or to try and elevate my mood. In my crazy disappointed paranoid self-defeatist state of mind, I blamed myself for the accident and narcissistically thought others would too. “You brought bad luck upon the campground,” the voices in my head screamed. I felt like the guy at the bar who’s blamed for their football team’s loss because until he walked in, they were winning.

Self-pity is never pretty and it’s especially ugly on me. The next day I had my first ugly set; the pickle licking judges giving me the thumbs down. Though I had reason to blame the audience; it didn’t make me feel any better to have an excuse. I felt like my big break was slipping away and that I had just one more chance to turn my luck around. I pinned that hope on getting one more shot on the main-stage. This time for one of the week’s biggest concerts – Tesla and Hinder. According to the campground’s web site, I was scheduled to do a fifteen minute set that night; though that was no guarantee. At lunch that afternoon, Matt (the concert promoter’s assistant) explained that the line-up hadn’t been decided yet. But that he’d call and let me know.

After the pickle-licking drubbing, I went back to my tent to wait for my phone to ring. It was early in the evening but I laid my slogged-out, dead-tired body down. I kept my boots on just in case; but hope was fading as the hour was getting late. I placed my phone next to my pillow, closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep. Half-dreaming, I heard Tesla begin to play. That gave finality to what I’d been dreading all day. The online schedule had me opening for them. Depression added to exhaustion and I fell fast asleep. About twenty minutes into Tesla’s set my phone woke me up. It was the campground’s media director, Michael Sanborn, “Did you know you’re scheduled on the main stage?” As it turned out, Matt had been calling, but had a wrong number. Startled awake, I asked Sanborn how soon I was needed backstage and he said, “right now.” What he meant was that I had time, but that I had better hurry. What I heard in my panicked head was that I had only minutes. Though I’d saved one clean pair of jeans and a brand new T-shirt for this occasion, I left on my mud splattered clothes and I raced out of my tent. The infield was packed and I had to push and shove and cajole my way across the amphitheater. I was soaked in sweat and looking a mess when I spotted Matt who was waiting for me at the backstage door. He told me to relax. I had thirty minutes before taking the stage. I could’ve died of relief. He had somebody get me a towel.


You can follow this year’s adventure as it unfolds online. All the details about where to find my reports (besides right here) will be posted next week.

Me and Woody: Bike Builders

My other favorite story about my 2010 adventure at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally didn’t involve any bad ass bikers or beautiful bikini models or famous bands in concert. It was about doing something kind for kids. The amusing part of the story is that I didn’t know I was volunteering to help anybody. I thought I was tagging along with the owner of the Buffalo Chip to cool off and be entertained.

It was a Sunday afternoon in August and it was a scorcher. Normally on a hot day during the rally I’d be dressed in a tank top, shorts and tennis shoes. But on this particular afternoon, Pee Wee Herman and the Funny or Die crew were filming at the campground. I thought it’d be best to be dressed how I think I look best on camera. Just in case. That meant I was wearing jeans, shirt with a collar, cowboy boots and plenty of perspiration. I was sitting in the shade when I saw Woody (Rod Woodruff) approach. I could tell he didn’t have time to stop. He motioned for me to follow. As I caught up he said, “Let’s build some bikes.” I thought, “Cool. We’re going to watch custom choppers being built.”

Woody made straight for the air conditioned Michael Lichter Building. I assumed that was our destination. It was an ideal place to build custom choppers. Not only was it cool inside, but  a celebrity fundraising event was taking place there that night. Famous people like Pee Wee Herman and Lorenzo Lomas and Rupert from Survivor were scheduled to attend. But we did not stop inside. We were merely taking a short-cut. I followed Woody in the front door and right out the back and then onto to a field where a handful of people were gathered under the hot sun. A truck had just been unloaded. At first I didn’t know what the large cardboard cartons contained. Turns out Schwinn had donated sixty bicycles to the Kids and Chrome Foundation to benefit the Black Hills Children Home Society. They were being given to residents at the foster home for battered and abused children. It was children’s bicycles that were being built. Woody and I were there to help.

An event had been scheduled for that afternoon called The Biker Buddy Build-Off. The purpose of this publicized event was to attract volunteers to donate a few hours of their time to assemble bikes. Each volunteer was to be rewarded with a T-shirt and an invitation to the celebrity fund-raiser. That should have drawn a crowd. But the event attracted only a handful of volunteers and by the time we arrived most of the bikes were still in their boxes and the hour was getting late. The organizers needed the bicycles assembled in time for the party that evening (great photo op). Woody went right to work. I watched him put together one bicycle to see how it was done (see photo below). Then I found a set of tools and got to work myself.

I put together a lot of bikes that afternoon. It was miserable working under the hot sun. There were times when I thought I might pass out from heat exhaustion. But I kept working and didn’t collapse and felt elated when that last bike was assembled. Nothing feels better than helping a child in need. Plus we finished by the deadline which was a triumph. Not only because of the charity event, but because I had a show to do too. Unfortunately I didn’t have time for a shower and a change of clothes. Good thing I was dressed cool for comedy.

Woody is taking out his first bicycle. I am regretting drinking too many beers the previous night.

Tour Dates
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