Style & Culture
Thu May 15 2014 14:25:39 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Jerry Fitzpatrick, 56, an entertainment bus operator from Benton, Ark., on driving Dave Matthews's tour bus, as told to A.J. Baime:
I've driven buses for over 100 tours, from Aerosmith to Barney the purple dinosaur. As much as a Hells Angel loves his Harley, I love driving buses.
This summer will be my 14th with Dave Matthews. We'll have about 15 semi-trucks and 12 buses and cover about 30,000 miles in four months. The bus I'm operating is a Prevost H3-45. My job is to drive it, fix it, clean it, and navigate.
The motto in the entertainment business is: Early is on time, and on time is late. I've been on every Interstate, down innumerable small-town roads. I know the traffic patterns of every city. I'm familiar with America and how to get around it. The trick is to be prepared. I use a Mac and mapping programs for the iPhone to monitor weather and traffic, and I have a trucker's Rand McNally road atlas.
Most of the driving is at night. When the entertainers are doing their thing, I'm in the hotel. When they're done, we're heading for the next town. The goal is to drive as smoothly as possible. You don't want your passengers getting thrown around, and you don't want their drinks spilling. The bus is like their home, only there are wheels and we're rolling.