TV Flashback – The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

The end of august always reminds me of a significant moments in my career – August 31st 2012 – the date that the Dunwells made our US network Television debut on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. What most people do not realise is that we very nearly didn’t make the show….

We were in the middle of a major summer US tour at the time, and on August 30th were due to play the Belly Up in Aspen (one of my favourite venues!)  – however a few days before, we got notification that the Tonight Show wanted us to appear. So unfortunately we had to cancel the Aspen show in order to fly to LA for the taping. However it was agreed that we could still play our Telluride show on August 29th, as long as we were on the flight from Denver the next day at 5pm.

The show in Telluride was awesome, and after the show we headed down the mountain into town for some drinks. Myself, Jonny Lamb and our tour manager  Jody were always last to leave the party, and we decided to take the last Gondola back to Mountain Village where our hotel was situated. About half way up the mountain, the Gondola suddenly grinded to a halt and the carriage was plunged into darkness. Apparently the Gondola operator had not realised there will still passengers onboard, and had turned in for the night! After some panic and shouting, we managed to use our cellphone lights to attract attention of the guard and he restarted the machinery and brought us back to base!

The next morning we had agreed that since it was a 6 hour drive to Denver we would leave at 9am. Plenty of time right?! What we hadn’t estimated was the RIDICULOUS RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC when we hit Denver! BIG MISTAKE! A few hours into the journey, our GPS updated to tell us  we would arrive at the airport at 4.30pm – and our flight was at 5! If we missed the flight, there were no other available flights out of Denver till the morning which meant the Tonight show would have cancelled our performance!

This meant we had to make up time on the road – not easy when you’re driving a large van with trailer full of gear up and down ravines through the rocky mountains! The brakes on the van were getting spongy, and we needed fuel/rest stops. We calculated that we could take a 5 minute stop – and everything was worked out to pit-stop precision! Jody refuelled, Rob got food, Jonny got Cigarettes… We arrived at the airport with minutes to spare, sprinted to the gate, getting there just as they were calling final boarding. The site of 5 English musicians huffing and puffing must have been amusing for the other passengers! But needless to say we made it to Los Angeles – and I think the performance we delivered the next day (of a song I’d written around a fire in Nashville the previous year) was possibly one of our finest! Let me know if you agree!

Peace and Love