Thursday, May 28, 2009

'Ello 'Enry!

So Memorial Day was a good long weekend with my family. Buff, Olivia and I welcomed a new member to our family, Henry, a great (English?) Lab. He’s fitting in just perfectly. General Sterling Price, our aged and perpetually irritated cat has no comment but it is an uneasy truce!

Friday, May 15, 2009

How to create special glasses to look at the sun.

A snapshot of life on the road finds us all piled up in a single motel room, watching a General George S Patton Jr. marathon on the History Channel. Since I’m currently reading a book about Patton, I am neglecting to tell the guys that we’ve already seen this episode earlier today…I don’t think they really care. For a guy who hates off days, this tour has had more than it’s fair share (7!!) Even Marshal commented today at sound check that it felt weird to actually be playing! At least we do 5 shows in a row starting today and then home! Lunch today at the diner in Tilton was surreal. I bet Buffy $100.00 that she couldn’t guess what I had for lunch and she guessed it immediately (hotdogs). I now owe her $100.00. How could she have known?!!?
Random thoughts from today that lead nowhere; I changed the working title of the new record today, I’m curious to hear how my friend Chris Duarte’s gig at the Tugboat in Steamboat Springs goes considering we got yelled at for 2 days about volume at that same gig and Chris plays pretty loud, I just read a face book entry from a popular guitarist who was complaining about his 18 hour BUS ride and how it just sucks the life out of him, I then read that entry to my band who are no strangers to 20 hour VAN rides (playing a gig first then driving 20 hours and then playing another gig before finding a bed) they thought he was very funny and very sad. I seem to have plenty of clean clothes left in my suitcase, but I wonder if I have enough to finish the tour without doing laundry? It’s a really beautiful day outside and I am thankful for that. I feel sorry for people who are pissed off and negative all the time, I have bouts of that from time to time and when it’s over I’m ashamed and embarrassed to be so blessed and manage to forget it to feel sorry for myself. I doubt if the people that I’m referring to will read that and realize that I’m referring to them! For 3 days we were frequenting an independent coffee shop in Rockland ME. They offered a different organic coffee each day. One day the coffee of the day was called Organic Mexican…I was required to order a large Mexican. The next day, it was Organic Ethiopian… I was required to order a large Ethiopian. I felt very international but very uncomfortable. At least at Starbucks you are ordering a Grande Pike or a Grande Komodo Dragon which sounds very exotic and not quite so “18th century slave trader”! Yes, I could have ordered a small Mexican or a small Ethiopian but I find them less stimulating or satisfying. They also had great cookies. So far on this tour, I’ve read On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey C. Ward and now I’m reading Gen. Patton by Stanley P. Hirshson. I bought a hard back copy of Alana Nash’s book about Colonel Tom Parker yesterday for $3.00 so that will probably be next. Colonel Parker was never in the military, he wasn’t an American citizen, he WAS supposedly an illegal alien, he enjoyed elephants and he managed the entire career of Elvis Presley which, by the way, was only really 20 years long! That might be an interesting argument for immigration; If Colonel Parker had been deported before guiding Elvis’ career, might we have never had rock and roll?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If you are going to eat corned beef in NYC, you are going to pay...oh yes, you are going to pay!

So it’s no secret that my major musical influence is Jimi Hendrix. He’s my “Big Bang”. My Elvis…actually, Elvis is my Elvis, but you get the idea. So we’re in New York City to play a gig at The Ace of Clubs. What’s that you say? Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad, apparently no one else has either! Anyway, we get through playing the gig and we’re hanging out with Chuck MF Lanza, the MF Mafia’s prime minister of our Northeastern Operations. We decide to go over to Electric Lady Studios to touch the door. Yes I am that “fan boy” about Jimi!) Just in case you don’t know, (and if you do, just bear with me or feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph!)In 1970, Jimi Hendrix wanted to build a night club in NYC as a place to hang out and jam with his musician friends. This turned into deciding to put a small studio in the back of the club and then finally deciding to build the most state of the art studio in the world. 13 months of construction later, the grand opening of the studio was held on August 26, 1970. Hendrix recorded his last studio recording there and left the country fro his final European tour. He died on September 18, 1970. Given his transient lifestyle for most of his career, Electric Lady was as much of a home as he ever had and as such it’s the Hendrix version of Graceland!
We get to the studio, in the pouring rain at midnight. I mean pouring rain! Biblical rain! The front door is actually a false front and then the original door in just inside (the one I wanted to touch!) We open the door and start shooting pictures when a voice comes over the intercom; “Can I help you?” Someone’s inside! Richard answers, “We just want to come in a get a photo.” No dice. “You can take all the pictures you want…from outside.” Once I realize that someone’s home, I decide that the only acceptable end to the evening is a look inside. After 30 futile minutes of begging and cajoling and shameless name dropping (most of it accurate…most of it…) we decide to call it a night and go to the hotel. Those of you that know me well know that giving up isn’t something I’m particularly good at, so my night was spent formulating my strategy for getting in! I asked CMFL to use his contacts (he has many) and I would hit mine and between the two of us we should be able to find some kind of way inside. Yes I realize in the grand scheme of things this seems like a lot of effort for something so …so…ehh! Anyway, it’s a challenge and as I said before, I don’t do ‘give up’ very well. I won’t name drop in this part of the narrative, but CMFL reached out to the likable manager of a very famous guitarist. A person who has spent a lot of time recording in Electric Lady and should be able to pull off a private tour. “Good luck” was the response from this person (who’s identity I cannot reveal!) “You won’t get in.” Now the gauntlet has been dropped! Telling me I can’t do something is like calling Marty McFly a chicken! (You know what movie I’m referring to!). I call a record label owner in Nashville that I’ve worked with in the past (name withheld to treat all participants equally…even though HE was able to come through better than the manager for the famous guitarist, from the 1970’s rock band…I can’t tell!!!) Lo and behold, we get an invitation from the studio manager (super nice guy! From Tennessee!! Lee Foster! His name is on the website, so figure it’ ok to say his name since he was so gracious.) We go back to the studio with CMFL and the SHB in full force and get to see studio A, the wall mural in the hallway and both restrooms, all still in the original condition from when Jimi was here! Because of a recording session, we couldn’t do more than just peek our heads into the studio, but it was enough for me…for now! The original plaque bearing the name of the studio, the VIBE!!! The list of musicians that have recorded in this place is endless. Billy Idol, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, even famous 1970’s rock band KISS, whose original guitarist was ACE FREHLEY! It's an endless list to be sure. I was so awestruck by finally getting the chance to check out a place that I’ve always wanted to see. I just wish Buff had been with me (of course, I know my baby, she would have been looking at me going, “yeah babe, that’s nice.” and thinking, “How much longer are we going to have to be here?”) Now I’ve got to figure out how to record there…hmmmmm.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Why you always pack long pants.

One week into the North East leg of the tour and things are going good. Except of course that no one here got the memo that winter is over!!! 41 degrees today and rain! We’ve had some really great shows, especially in some of the new areas like Mount Airy NC (birthplace of the Andy Griffith Show & home of Snappy Lunch and the greatest pork chop sandwich in the world!)). I could do without the land of toll booths. In DC, we went (at 11:00pm) to see the White House. My first time ever in 20 years of touring! We walked around the entire perimeter and Milburn got yelled at by the White House police for his “street gymnastics”, apparently not a welcome addition to the stately environs of our nation’s capitol! We also, earlier in the day visited the graveside of Roy Buchanan, one of the best guitarists I’ve ever heard (no you can’t find his grave without asking, so don’t bother trying.). Really enjoyed the gig at Bangkok Blues and hope we get invited back! This is a great job to have, I highly recommend it! Our needs are simple; electricity (to power Tim Obrien’s monstrous red beauty of course), room to set up and just stand back! Tonight is Red Bank NJ and it’s Cinco de Mayo so, even though it’s an acoustic show (…shhhhh…), gird your collective loins Jersey! Special thanks to Andy Jones for a stellar new fret job on #1! (I will call you soon to brag Andy, I promise!)
Tour Fuel (so far): Jeff Beck @ Ronnie Scott’s DVD, Motley Crue (Shout at the Devil and Dr. Feelgood), Aerosmith’s first record, Miles Davis’ Tribute To Jack Johnson (the boxer not the surfer), Jane’s Addiction DVD, Frank’s Pizza, Doyle Bramhall II live at the Great Wall Of China, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Krazy Glue, always Jimi, and the ‘bucks of course (yeah caffeine!!!) I am living on Starbuck’s oatmeal and dreams at the moment!