opening for the California Guitar Trio
Cross Country Tour May/June 2003

Tues June 17, Encinitas, CA

Home again now after a whirlwind of traveling and activities. Last Wed, I had my final show of the CGT tour, and it proved to be one of the most memorable as they invited me onstage during their encore and the four of us improvised a piece together. There were definitely some nice moments. Before we began I had the thought that it might be fun to start with Paul and I looping... or doing something more textural than "note" based. We did some of this on the last tour. I never had a chance to suggest it to him though, but the first sounds that were made were I think Paul and Hideyo doing some gorgeous volume swells. Not the approach I'd been thinking of, but definitely the mood. The club had a great video recording/editing setup and captured the whole show. We were all impressed by the quality, and hopefully something of it may show up somewhere.... someday.

After the show, we got lost in Pittsburgh for a bit, but finally made it back to the hotel. CGT unloaded their things, and then the van was all mine to take and get back to Salt Lake City. I went to sleep, but woke up before my alarm and kept thinking about the drive ahead, so.. I just started it early (about 7am I think). My first stop was Cleveland to pick up my dad who'd graciously flown out from Sacramento just to help with the drive (thanks dad!) Roughly 30 hours over two days and we were in Salt Lake by Fri night. On Sat morning I flew home to San Diego. Getting home around 1 I immediatley unpacked and tested all my gear, and then was off to play two shows.

Once again I had a great time being "out" with CGT.. and hope to do it again sometime!

Bert on the way to Pittsburgh buying fried Pork skins and coffee. Is this the same guy who does Yoga at every rest stop? Hmmm... ;-)

Mon June 9, Louisville, KY

We're slowly waking up, and tending to business details this morning after the show last night at the Rudyard Kipling in Louisville. CGT are discussing travel details for their upcoming festival trips to Quebec and Japan.

Yesterday had not only a show, but also a free clinic from CGT at the Rudyard Kipling. They set up the attendees in a circle and ran through some circulation exercises and "common pulse" rhythmic playing in 5. Not everyone had instruments, so some people just clapped. Myself and Nick, a local Stick player had our instruments out, but with no amps around we were banging away on them to try to get some acoustic sound out. When more people clapped, I just gave up and clapped. I had a lot of fun with this. It's been awhile since I got to be part of a circle, and even though this one was a little odd with clappers and unplugged Sticks competing with the guitars it was still great.

Sun June 8, Indianapolis, IN

Fun show last night at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis. The theatre was fairly small, but packed. Bert took some time backstage to experiment with new stage clothes.

The show was put together by a couple named Jamey and Sara who have helped with many CGT shows in the past. Jamey is actually a very good guitar player himself, and Sara is a drummer (with a full set of electronic drums). I also had a chance to say hello to Brad and Sara, two "crafties" I met last year at a course in Santa Barbara. They both drove long distances to see the show. I think Sara probably has the honor of having seen more CGT shows than anyone anywhere. I wonder if I can count all the shows I've done with them? I "might" be able to give her some competition now!

In the morning we woke to find the city streets closed off and a bicycle race going on.

Hideyo has recently been sharing his navigating duties with a little yellow friend who generally sits on the dashboard against the windshield. Hideyo told me today that "he" (the little friend) needs to see more of the states. Sometimes he migrates around the van, but usually he's on the dashboard facing forward. I caught him turning around to peek at us though.

Sat June 7, Ann Arbor Michigan
Great show last night! A sold out crowd of probably 400 or so came to the Ark. They were so enthusiastic that I didn't even get through the intro to my first piece before they started clapping, and everytime the piece came to any sort of resolution they started clapping again. Fun! I actually sold out of CDs before CGT even took the stage. While they were doing their set I went wondering around the streets of Ann Arbor looking for our van so I could get some more CDs, but since the parking lot behind the venue was closed, I had no idea where the van was and never did find it. I passed out business cards the rest of the night, and hope some of the people will order CDs later because there were still a LOT of people that wanted them.

Had a chance to chat for a bit with Glenn Poorman and his wife. Glenn is a local Stick plaer and the webmaster for Stick Enterprises. Very nice people! I also got to talk a little bit with the CGT merch volunteers (Don and his wife). Don was on the Santa Barbara Guitar Craft course I was at last year. It's amazing to me how nice everyone in both Guitar Craft and the Stick community are.

Only downside of the night was that my camera's batteries died. Time to recharge!

Fri June 6, Hwy 15, Ohio

We're driving to Ann Arbor, MI today, and everyone seems to be in a good mood. Yesterday was a bit tough, we had another long drive (about 8 hours) and arrived in town with only about 45 minutes before soundcheck. I know I really felt it at the show. With just a short opening set every night, I'm doing pieces I know well enough I could probably pull them off half asleep, but little things can go wrong, especially on sections with improvisation. I find when my mind is tired, I often times don't connect ideas as well on the fly. I also felt a bit tired physically yesterday. Fortunatley last night the crowd at the Thirsty Ear was very excited for us to be there. It may sound like a cliche, but it really helped! Their energy helped wake me up and I think things went off rather well.

With a shorter drive today, we all got to sleep in (yay!) We just heard that the show tonight is sold out too, so everyone is feeling pretty upbeat.

Th June 6, St Louis, MO

Last night's show was in a place called Blueberry Hill. I was curious to see it since I knew it was a spot where CGT had played with Tony Levin's Band some time ago (in fact a recording of them playing together that night ended up on Tony's live CD "Double Espresso.")

Lunch yesterday was interesting. I was driving and pulled off the hwy to look for a place.. when Paul started saying "there! there! pizza.. that guy over there!" I had no idea what he meant at first. Turns out Little Caesars had two trucks parked in a vacant lot and were cooking and selling pizzas to people passing by. So, for a few dollars, we got two pizzas and ate standing around the van in a motel's parking lot. The pizza was good, but this definitley wins the award for strangest meal so far.

Wed June 4, Hwy 70 east, Kansas
Back in the van and heading out of Kansas now. Hotels have all become a bit blurry. Bert and I ended up in rooms next door to each other last night, but were laughing this morning coming back from breakfast that we couldn't really remember where the rooms were. Was it last night that they were next to each other? What floor? Hmmm.. Of course two days ago I left the hotel for an hour or so.. and when I came back, couldn't remember the room number (they don't put them on the key cards).... I knew some of the digits.. like 15?2 .. I actually resorted to quietly trying my key card in a few rooms before remembering it was 1562. I guess I should just keep the key card envelope which "does" have the number with me.

Last night's show was in a place called the Jazzhaus. It was a change of pace for this trip, being a club (as opposed to the performing arts centers and theatres we've mainly been playing). The audience was a bit smaller, but VERY enthusiastic. The dressing room was a little interesting though as it had windows that looked out onto the street and no window shades that I could find. It made changing clothes a little different.

Tue June 3, Hwy 70, Kansas

We've been on the road for about 6.5 hours now, since 6:30am with probably 3 or more hours to go today till we get to Lawrence. Today is the longest drive of the trip at about 10 hours and with a show tonight we don't have too much time to spare. Paul is driving now, Hideyo and Bert are watching DVDs on their laptops, and I just finished changing strings on my Stick (nice having a skinny instrument and being able to pull that off in the van as we drive).

Last night we played in Colorado Springs, a show that was promoted largely by some "Crafties" (Guitar Craft-ers) who also gave an acoustic opening set. I didn't catch all of their set as I was back stage getting ready for mine, but what I heard sounded quite polished and together. The strangest part of the evening for me came towards the end of my set, when my entire rack of preamps, fxs, etc suddenly switched off then back on again causing me to completely loose sound on stage. The sound just cut out, and when I turned around to look at the rack, I knew it was an electrical problem as I saw all the gear going through startup routines. Fortunatley it was only off for a second, and as soon as it was back on, I jumped right back in and with one hand playing, used the other hand to get some setings readjusted. Turns out the extension cord the sound crew had let me use was falling out of the wall while I was playing. Guess I'm just lucky it didn't come completely out! Oh well.. I made a joke of it and nobody seemed to be disturbed at all.

Sun June 1, Boulder, CO

The picture on the left is actually of Vail, CO on our way to Boulder. It's amazing to me the difference of scenery we've seen in just a few days. Last night we played in the boulder Theatre. Great venue! They had not only a wonderful sound system, but a multiperson crew to run it who were totally on top of things. This was probably the first time in the tour I've had monitors adjusted just for me. Normally once they're set up for CGT, they just stay set that way, but the Theatre not only ran them in stereo for me (CGT like mono), but even moved them between our sets so we could both have them in a good position. It really sounded great on stage!

A great part of coming to this area for me is that one of my best friends from my Berklee days lives here. Lorne Bregitzer is a recording engineer in town, and I'll be staying with him while we're here. He's done a lot of work since we graduated, and several high profile projects, including one that got him a platinum album. When he was giving me a tour of his new house last night he was quick to point to the album on the wall saying "got one of those? well... keep working!" (he loves to boast, but only for fun.)

Fri May 30, Grand Junction, CO

We arrived at the venue today for an outdoor show to find a very threatening sky and something of a windstorm blowing dust and a light rain around. All that plus lightning in the distance and I was pretty worried about the weather holding for us. It did though.. in fact it turned into something really magical. There was an amazing series of cliffs all around us, and by the time CGT took the stage there was a great sunset taking place to the side of the stage with lightning in the distance. I think this had to be probably the best outdoor setting I've ever had for a show. Another great crowd tonight too and some great food provided by the winery we were at.

Th May 29, Salt Lake City, UT

Tanks greeted us at the venue tonight. No, really! The theatre was on the grounds of what used to be an army base. I think it was actually an old military theatre that has been renovated in recent years. Great stage and venue and a great turnout. Paul got swamped with details on the way into town. Nothing like playing in your hometown I guess. For me it's an often enough occurence, but for the CGT it's maybe only once a year, so for Paul especially it meant a lot of phone calls. I can remember Bert having a similair situation when we played in LA last March.

I felt I played pretty well tonight, but cut out part of Jungle (intentionally for set length). When I walked backstage, Hideyo asked if there had been a problem with it. I hope that's what he heard (my edit) and not that there was something else wrong! A second opener started the night off; Jeff Bradford who was the singer in Paul's first band many years ago. He gave a great set of pop/rock music to start things off.

Wed May 28, 11:45pm, Boise, ID

"You're not too far from can still go back" Paul jokingly told me as we packed up from this show. We're back on the road to the hotel now after the show and dinner. Strange night. I think there were all of about 8 people in the audience. We must have had at least 20 times that last night. For me I sold enough CDs to almost pay for my hotel room.. but a money loosing day. What happened? Hard to say.. none of us have ever played in Boise before, so it's hard to have any sense of what is possible. It sounds like the college we were at may have been too far away from the center of town for a lot of people. Still... we had fun and the people in attendance were appreciative. It was funny for me to see Paul perform in just a t-shirt, and Bert still get dressed up. Tonight also had another opener, Ned Evertt who did an interesting set of solo fretless guitar over looped backgrounds. His guitar had a glass fingerboard, and a built in sustainer pickup. Pretty cool. Another long drive tomorrow it sounds like.

Wed May 28, 10:30am

Freeways and more freeways. Today is one of the longer driving days of a trip with a lot of long driving days. 7.5 hours or so from Spokane to Boise. The day started with a stop at a computer store so Hideyo could buy a new digital camera and Bert parking the van (not without some effort) in a compact space (actualy two of them at once). Some great scenery on the road today.

Tue May 27, Spokane, OR

Today we completed the drive from Port Angeles to Spokane having stayed overnight just outside Seattle. Part of the drive involved taking a ferry from Kingston. My first time on a car ferry actually. Although it was only about a 25 min ride, as soon as we were onboard, everyone hurried to the cafeteria. I wish planes could be more like this.. food when you want it... space to move around... your choice of seats. Fun. As I stood by myself on the forward deck of the ferry, looking out at the water something hit me in the back. I looked around and saw Paul standing on the deck above me laughing with a bag of gummy bears. I laughed and then yelled "security" as Paul reassured the people around him that he knew me.

Nice show tonight in Spokane. Neither CGT nor I had ever played there before so no one really knew what to expect. It was a great performing arts center though. Oddly they didn't seem to have much in the way of staff at the event. I think I only saw our sound person Brian (great sound!) and the show's promoter. I ended up selling CDs for both myself and CGT after my set, but I had an akward moment while CGT was playing. I stepped through a glass door in the lobby where I could quietly make a phone call but still watch the CD table only to have the door lock behind me! With no one in the lobby I ran around to a back door that had been unlocked earlier. It was locked as well... so for maybe 20-30 mins I was stuck outside on the street watching for anyone from the audience to maybe come out from the hall. Finally I saw a man returning to the hall from the bathroom and managed to get him to let me back in. Strange...reminded me of a time I got locked in bathroom at Jerry Marotta's studio with no one around and had to climb out the window into some snow banks. The door handle was old and had decided to break on me as I went in... does this stuff happen to everyone?

Today's show also included a visit from Paul's brother-in-law Scott who together with his friend Steve is filming CGT for a documentary. They followed us around backstage, onstage and even some in the van. I felt a little like I was now a cast member of Spinal Tap or maybe in an episode of Cops, but it was fun. Their plan is to film the next two nights as well and probably some future CGT dates too.

Sun/Mon May 25,26, Port Angeles, WA

On Sunday I got a ride from Portland to Port Angeles from Louis (one of the Stick players from the seminar). He has this great BMW M3 that he actually takes out on tracks and drives with a club. I got to hear all about various components and his experiences driving 120mph+ on the tracks. He actually had a racing style harness as a seatbelt. Although he's very safety conscious, and quite law abiding (he actually works as a fireman) there were a few moments when he let the car do it's thing. The best was passing people on two lane roads. I always hate doing that (swerving into the oncoming traffic lane), but in this car it was effortless. We'd accelerate from 60 to about 90 in what felt like 2 or 3 seconds, pass who we needed to pass, and then be safely back to 60 in a matter of moments.

Great shows for both myself and CGT both days in Port Angeles. It's a small town, but an amazing number of people show up to the festival we were playing at, giving us full houses for all our shows.

The festival coordinated for me to stay with a wonderful couple named Cathy and Gunner. I was a little worried about the accomodations when I saw this bathroom outside though (kidding ;) They had a great house and not only provided a room Sunday night and breakfast on Monday, but even helped me get to both my shows on Monday. Frankly I'm not sure how I would have done it without them! Thanks!

May 24, Yamhill, OR

Today I gave a Stick eminar for seven players from Oregon and Washington. Only one of them (Qua, the host) had ever been to a seminar I'd done before, so it was fun to have basically a completely new group of people. With 8 Sticks amplified and 6 hours of talking above them, it didn't take too long for me to start loosing my voice. It's a challenge as a teacher to work with a group like this that ranged from a person who'd never touched a Stick before to a few people who'd been playing for many years, but I had a good time and it seemed everyone took some good things away from it. Stick players are a good breed. There never seems to be much competition at these events, and everyone is always easy to get along with. Thanks for a fun day everyone!

May 22-23, Portland, OR

The 22nd saw our first show in downtown Portland. Pretty nice room called Lola's at the Crystal Ballroom. I later learned that the owners of this venue own a whole chain of restaurants and music venues. Apparently they buy up old buildings in cities and convert them into modern restaurants and clubs. I felt as though I played everything fast tonight. It's funny. I'm used to doing much longer solo shows than what I do as an opener, but somehow doing a short set really changes the feel of performing. I guess it's just a question of needing to be into the heart of the set from the word "go" and be able to get your point across in just a few pieces.

After the show I got a ride from Qua, a Stick player who lives about an hour outside Portland. Qua organized a Stick seminar for me to teach at his home on the 24th.

May 18-21, Salt Lake City, UT and Portland, OR

The trip this time started for me with a plane flight to Salt Lake City. Paul Richards had rented a large (larger than normal for CGT) van for the trip there and to get things rolling he and I drove it to Portland on the 19th. The big downside for me on the 11 hour drive was getting a speeding ticket. Yuck. We'd been driving through Idaho with 75 mph speed limits but crossed into Oregon where the speed limit dropped to 65. I wasn't paying attention to the change and got stopped. Oops.

The 20th and 21st were rehersal days for CGT. We stayed at a great hotel in downtown Portland, with rooms that included full kitchens, and free breakfast. My friend Howard from Spotted Peccary was in town too, as their artist Erik Wollo had played there a few days before. We went out to dinner both nights, including a trip to a hidden Sushi place called Sabaro. By hidden I mean it had no signs outside, or even it's name on the door. Just a plain door (solid) that I guess you just had to know about. I missed taking my camera to that one. The pieces were about three times as big as anything I've ever seen. My friend Emily who lives in Portland went along too and later referred to it as the Costco of Sushi.