Wrentham Band Goes on Tour with Jeff Kinney
From left, Peter Tuohy, Flynn Duffy, and Tommy Dalton on tour as Löded Diper.
By Grace Allen
Three Wrentham residents had the experience of a lifetime last month when their band travelled with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” author Jeff Kinney to help promote his new book, “Diper Överlöde.”
Kinney, who is also the owner of the Plainville bookstore An Unlikely Story, held a contest to choose a garage band to go on tour with him. Tom Dalton, Flynn Duffy, and Peter Touhy submitted a video of their band, Reservations at 8, and were chosen over 45 other bands.
“It was pretty cool,” said Dalton, who along with his friends is a King Philip High School graduate and a student at UMass Amherst. Dalton plays bass guitar, Tuohy is on vocals and guitar, and Duffy is the band’s drummer.
“Diper Överlöde” is the seventeenth book in the Wimpy Kid series. Greg Heffley, the central character in the series, is a middle-schooler who illustrates daily life in his diary. In “Diper Överlöde,” Greg tags along with his older brother Rodrick’s band Löded Diper as it goes on tour.
The Wrentham band, performing the role of Löded Diper for the tour, traveled to twelve cities in October and November, playing classic rock in front of family audiences as large as 1,000 people.
“That was something that was totally new to us,” said Duffy. “Our biggest gigs before this would be in my backyard, for friends. We went from 0 to 100 right off the bat. We’d be on the stage and say to each other, how could we ever go back after this? We’re never going to play at house parties again! It was so much fun.”
Dalton said his favorite venue was in Louisville, Kentucky. The band took the stage in Memorial Auditorium, which has hosted numerous musicians over the years, including Aerosmith, Rush, Alice Cooper, Jimmy Buffett, and Billy Joel.
“That was a cool experience, being on the same stage where all these great bands played,” said Dalton. “And then we got to go into the dressing room, and it was like wow, so many famous musicians sat on this couch.”
The three UMass students—Dalton and Tuohy are sophomores, Duffy is a freshman—said Kinney emphasized they had to keep up with their studies while on tour. Because there was a lot of travel and hotel downtime, the three said they managed to stay on top of schoolwork despite the hectic schedule.
“Every single day he’d check in with us,” said Touhy of Kinney. “He wanted to make sure we were doing OK and ready for what was next, ready at 100%.”
“He’s a great guy and exactly how you think he is,” offered Duffy. “He was everything we expected, plus some. We got to know him and got close to him. Just a great person to be around.”
Dalton added, “Jeff was very concerned with how everyone on the tour was feeling and wanted to make sure you were having a good time. And if you weren’t, he’d try to make it better somehow.”
The three musicians said they grew up reading Kinney’s books, which made the touring experience even more special.
Kinney, in an email, said picking the Wrentham college kids to go on tour turned out to be the right choice.
“We knew we were taking some risks,” Kinney wrote. “These guys needed to be able to act as well as perform as musicians on an ambitious tour that took us through twelve cities. But when we met them in person, we knew they were perfect for the job. They were incredibly enthusiastic about going on tour and knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On tour, the guys were total pros. They embraced everything we threw at them. We worked together to change the show a little each night to perfect it. The guys were funny and convincing as actors, and terrific as musicians. They were the stars of the show and brought a ton of energy to the tour.”
The three college students say the experience has made them even more committed to their music as they continue their studies at UMass. Tuohy is studying building construction technology and Duffy is majoring in mechanical engineering. Dalton is currently undecided.
Dalton, who notes the band members would like to develop their own original music in the future, says they discovered that the tour life is intense and hectic, traveling to a new city for a performance every day. Learning that reality was in itself a practical education for the young musicians.
“It was a lot to handle,” he said. “I love being with these guys but being together constantly at such a fast pace was a bit of a struggle. But it was 100% worth it. We started playing together in middle school and didn’t take it too seriously. When we started having fun with it, we did start to take it seriously. I guess this is where it’s led us.”
Added Duffy, “Now we know what it’s like to play at these types of venues, and we learned we want to play more and play bigger. It was very inspirational, the whole trip.”
To learn more about the group, as well as their tour with Jeff Kinney, follow them on Instagram at reservationsat8.