When Toad the Wet Sprocket rolls into Napa for its Saturday, May 3 show at the Uptown Theatre, the band will be looking for a good massage, a golf course and perhaps a bottle of Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon waiting for them in the concert hall’s green room.
“I have always loved Heitz Cabernet,” said Dean Dinning, the band’s bassist. “I could have it every day.”
Dinning and his bandmates Glen Phillips, Todd Nichols and Randy Guss are launching a spring and summer tour to promote their “New Constellation” CD as well as the 25th anniversary of the band’s first album. They will play 50 dates around the U.S. in a hectic four months, opening for Counting Crows for some of those shows and being the headline act for others, such as at the Uptown. (For more tour dates and places, see the band's website.)
When you’re going that hard for that long, you need to grab moments of relaxation whenever you can, said Dinning. “My favorite way to relax when on the road is definitely a good, professional massage,” he said. “Sometimes we will call in a therapist to set up a table in a room backstage and work on everybody. It really makes up for sleeping—or not sleeping, if you’re on the New Jersey Turnpike—in a cramped bunk on a tour bus every night. We also bring our golf clubs out with us in case we feel like hitting the links before a show.”
And don’t forget the wine. Besides the Heitz, Dinning is partial to Frog’s Leap Chardonnay. “Seriously,” he said, “their Chardonnay was one of the first things I used to splurge on at restaurants in my twenties.”
Dinning’s and Toad’s splurging days began in the 1990s when the California-based alternative rock band—named after a Monty Python skit—broke through with hits such as “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean,” selling more than four million records. They broke up toward the end of that decade and played together off and on in the years that followed. Then in 2013, powered by a Kickstarter campaign that raised $260,000, the foursome released “New Constellation,” their first studio album in 16 years.
Toad is notable not only for its longevity in the music business but also for the fact that all four of its original members—lead vocalist and guitarist Phillips, who also plays and records as a solo artist, lead guitarist Nichols, drummer Guss, and Dinning—are still together 25 years after their first gig as teenagers. Being together that long, they’ve shared plenty of experiences, including a memorable moment for Dinning in wine country.
“One of my most memorable experiences was one of my first times in Napa, running out of money, and going out to a very crowded restaurant and trying to order a single glass of wine because that was all I could afford,” he recalled. “The cheapest glass of red I could find was $16, so I asked the sommelier what they had for around $8. She replied, ‘Half a glass.’ I ended up splitting a glass with a friend.”
The Uptown Theatre is at 1350 Third Street in Napa. Tickets for Toad the Wet Sprocket are $37 and $47. Alt-rockers Tommy and the High Pilots will open for them. Doors open at 7 p.m. The Uptown Theatre’s website has more information on ordering tickets and other details.