Opening for the California Guitar Trio
September 2003

Mon September 22, 3pm - Houston Intercontinental Airport, TX

The van is back... everybody but me is home, and I've got about two hours till my flight. Tyler and I drove the van back from Atlanta to Houston yesterday... or rather he drove and I rode. Tyler had a "date" set up in Houston, with a waitress from the Mucky Duck he met when we played there, so he was highly motivated to get there. Motivated enough to drive the whole thing since well.. he has no fear of tickets it seems. We stopped for lunch in New Orleans. It was a little out of our way actually, but neither one of us had ever been there, so it was a fun little break.

One of these days, I have to find a better way for traveling with all my equipment. I'm a little jealous of CGT, who seem to have it down to a science. Seems like every trip I do I have to do something different to get everything "there and back." Basically, I just have too much stuff for check-in. Because I've now got show(s) with Michael Manring a few days after I get back, I found a UPS store this morning, and shipped all my clothes from the trip home, while using my suitcase to hold all the extra gear. I was lucky to have the two cases come in under 140 lbs, and am hoping everything makes it home securely. Getting ready this morning, I looked like a bit of a "bag lady" leaving the hotel.

High Maintenance Tom

On saturday, CGT had a show with John Scofield in Atlanta. Since CGT was basically the opening act, there was no room for me on the bill and I just did merch for them. The bad part of this was that the lobby, where the CDs were set up was also one of the designated smoking areas. Ug! After a few hours in heavy smoke, my throat started hurting, and still doesn't quite feel right. The good part of being out there though was that I got to hear a lobby performance for the League of Crafty Guitarists. The "League" was actually started by Robert Fripp back in the 80s, and originally included all three of the CGT. Paul said the last time he heard a League performance was in 1991, but there's currently a level three Guitar Craft course going on in Atlanta, and two weeks in, Curt Golden the director has dubbed the group the "League." It was great to hear this new league perform. It's one thing to hear 15 or more guitar players on a CD, but listening in stereo through two speakers is nothing compared to standing in the middle of the group and having them play all around you. Maybe if this new league continues long enough they could do a recording in surround sound!

It was great having another chance to tour with CGT. Hopefully we can do it again sometime next year!

Fri September 19, 11:32 am - route 81S, VA
We're racing now... Hideyo's map tells us we have about 3.5 hours to go on the drive today, and we've got exactly 3.5 hours to do it in. Today CGT is playing at a showcase event for booking agents. They have only 15 minutes to play and try to interest people in booking them. Not a good gig o be late to, so... we're flying.

We left the hotel at 7am this morning to allow some extra time on the drive. On the way though, CGT realized they were very near the Claymont Mansion and Barn where the very first Guitar Craft courses were held. Sounding a bit nostalgic, they decided it was worth it to make a short side trip. Unfortunately on our way there, we encountered a large fallen tree ensnared in power lines blocking the road. We tried to find a way around, but eventually had to back track for several miles. Continuing on, we eventually came to another road that Paul and Hideyo recognized as leading to Claymont, so we took it. More downed trees, and a cracked, teetering phone tower wouldn't stop us this time though.. even to the point of Bert getting out of the van to bend a fallen tree back while I quickly drove past. Since I was driving through all this, I didn't get any pictures, but much of it was filmed for possible inclusion on the CGT documentary, and the curious may find pictures at (I've now "borrowed" two of Bert's pictures from The CGT diary pages reset every once in awhile, and these pictures were too good, so I grabbed them to "store" here. They're a little smaller here, so if you want "full size", for the moment you can see them at

Fallen Tree and Power Lines blocking our route
(photo "borrowed" from Bert Lams' diary at
Claymont Court
(photo "borrowed" from Bert Lams' diary at

Tyler is driving now, which means we'll make about the best time we can. He's used to driving large delivery trucks, so this van is nothing to him. No time to even sit and eat today, so we grabbed burgers at a Wendy's take out, and were back on the road. A bit scary for a little while with a heavy rain, wind, the driver busy eating, and of course the pressure to go faster. Things have cleared up a bit now though, so hopefully we'll have no more issues. Nap time.

SRO's booth at PAE showcase (CGT's agency)

Thu September 17, 2:45pm - hotel in Fredrick, MD
Just back from lunch. The gig tonight is now canceled due to the hurricane, so we're now hunkered down in our hotel... and I'm still watching the weather channel..

Thu September 17, 11:30am - hotel in Fredrick, MD

We're waiting.... waiting and watching today, hopelessly addicted to the Weather Channel. Hurricane Isabel has hit land on the east coast.. and while things are just gray and stormy here in Fredrick, we're scheduled to play in Annapolis tonight... about 100 miles in the direction of a hurricane that's already heading towards us. The venue there told Paul last night that as long as we can get there and they still have power, the show is on. Hmm... So.. we're watching and waiting.

Tyler is sick now. Not fun for him of course, but it has me wondering if (sharing a room with him) I may get it too. Maybe it's just all his late nights catching up with him?

Last nights show in Fredrick was an unusual, but fun one. I believe it was actually done as a bit of a fundraiser for a sort of rehab center (not sure on my facts there). In any case, it was done in a big church, with a small stage placed in front of the pews and a little PA system cobbled together. Tyler and I spent a lot of time rewiring the system during CGT's soundcheck. When we started, it was mono, with a ground hum, and a lot of distortion. After some effort, it was stereo, with no hum and no distortion. The "tech heads" may find this interesting.. (the rest of you can skip ahead) The original system was a line mixer, with one channel of it's main outs plugged into a PA head's aux in (the head just serving as a power amp). It had been plugged together with an XLR to TRS cable going from the mixer into a mono (TS) jack on the head (ground hum). Eventually we wound up using the power amp section of my bass head (onstage) to drive the two mains, while still leaving Tyler in control with the mixer in the back of the church. Why am I writing all the details? I was just happy that we figured out such a better setup... like beating a strange puzzle.

The crowd last night had some really hardcore CGT fans, but a lot of new people as well. Some people were buying like 4 and 5 CGT discs at a time. One man even bought four copies of First Decade. Gifts I'm guessing.. and a great idea!

All Saints Episcopal - Fredrick, MD
Hideyo says "Time to go" - (dinner in Fredrick)

Tuesday September 16 - Juniata College
Juniata Guest House
Sound Check at Juniata

Mon September 15, 10:28pm - Juniata College Science Building, Huntingdon, PA
What a place! We made it to Juniata College around 6:30, and I've been loving it ever since. As a child I spent a lot of time every year in Greensburg, PA not far from here, and the general look of the place really reminds me of it. The college, or what I've seen of it is beautiful. It rained some today, and while the skies are clear, the ground is still damp, and the campus lights are reflecting in the moisture.

Chad, the arts coordinator and promoter from the college met us when we arrived. He showed us around the college guest house where we're staying, and then took us out to dinner. All of the accommodations are great. It's really reminding me of some of my relative's homes in Greensburg. After dinner, CGT and I followed Chad over to the college's new science building, where at the moment we're all spread around an upstairs student lounge with our laptops plugged in for internet access. Students are spread about studying, but don't seem too alarmed at the four of us being here.

It sounds like the show tomorrow will have several hundred people, and I'm very excited about it. It's so nice to be part of a program where everything is well coordinated and people are genuinely interested in the "art" of what we do.

Juniata College Guesthouse view
"Computer Geek Trio???"

Last night's show in Covinton was very nice as well. A fairly small audience, but they were very appreciative, and the room, sound system, and staff were great too. CGT revised their setlist a bit and I thought the new order worked very well. Paul has also been messing with some wild delay/filter effects on his parts in Kan-Non Power, and I think he really found the best places in the piece to use them last night. So.. we've hit a very nice stretch in the tour. This morning though, Paul heard some dubious news that a hurricane might intersect with our show plans in Annapolis this Th. Yikes! We'll be keeping an eye on that to be sure!

CGT unplugged at Jack Quinn's

The opener's "Backstage" area in Covington

Mon September 15, 3:02pm - east 470, OH

...bounce..... bounce....... bounce

Sun September 14, 10:40am - 80E, IL
Bouncing along in the back of the van again, on our way to Cincinatti. Last night's show in Chicago went very well, despite some major stress when we arrived for soundcheck. Walking into the venue, we found a rock band onstage rehearsing/soundchecking! Turns out while we thought our show started at 8, the club actually had it down as 7, with a "late show" starting after ours. I don't get how these things happen, but as an opener it's especially frustrating when you learn your set is going to be over before the time you've been telling people it's going to start. I guess I need to do what some of my musician friends do and add a "please call ahead to confirm" disclaimer to e-mails and promo materials. This one was especially weird to me though as Tyler has been calling ahead to venues to confirm things and whoever he talked to at the club even told him 8pm.

All whining aside though, it was a good show afterall, and most of the audience seemed to know the show started at 7, or at least came early enough to catch most of my set. CGT spent some time relearning their piece "Scramble" before the show, and ended up playing it as an unplugged piece at the end of the night. I'd never heard them do this one live before, but was happy to now as it's been a favorite of mine for awhile. The first CGT disc I ever bought was Rocks the West which starts out with Scramble, and I've played that for a lot of friends and students to try to get them into CGT.

Chicago traffic
CGT at Schuba's - Chicago

Fri September 12, 10:15am - Chicago, IL
How I spent the day off... in the morning I caught up on some business at home, and lined up a few new events I'm very happy about. First, Agent 22 is now set to open for Michael Manring in San Diego on Sept 25. Then in Nov, I'll now be teaching at two Stick seminars, one in Michigan and the following weekend, one in San Jose. I put details on all of this on the news page here.

Around noon, Paul, Bert and I went to lunch. We spent a fair deal of time driving around till we actually found an area with a few restaurants. On the way back, I had my first big mishap of the trip. Pulling into our hotel's parking lot I managed to scrape the front passenger door on a little yellow post. What can I say... big van.. narrow entrance, and a pole that was low enough to not be visible from the driver's seat. Oh well.... hopefully this is why we have insurance. And in my own defense, judging from the picture below, I'm not the first one to ever scrape these poles!

In the evening I had my first Yoga experience, which proved very good at getting my mind off scrapes in van doors, insurance, and little yellow poles. Paul and Bert have been practicing Bikram Yoga for some time now, actually I think Paul has been doing it longer, and Bert started this version back in March when CGT was in San Diego. One thing that makes Bikram different I guess is that they heat the room.. to roughly 100 degrees! So for 90 minutes I tried to follow along and figure out what everybody was doing, and sweated as much as I can remember in recent memory. I confirmed the fact that I'm not a flexibly built person, but it felt good to be doing something physical, and I'll probably look into it more when I get home. Hopefully we'll go again on this trip too.

Poles of Doom

Wed September 10, 10:30pm - Chicago, IL
A drive day today, and tonight a much needed chance to get some laundry done. Tomorrow is our one real day off this trip. It's funny how even though I love these tours, I seem to always be grateful when a day off rolls around. Too much of anything can make you happy for a break I guess.

The last two nights, we've had some great venues in Wichita, KS and Omaha, NE. In Wichita; a wonderful old theatre. Some of us (myself included) seemed to feel going in that having a few hundred people in a venue that seats 1300 (according to a hotel tour book) would feel awkward, but it really didn't. The audience congregated in the middle floor sections, and to me it didn't matter that the sides and balcony were sparse. I think this audience might just take the prize for "best listeners" on this trip too. I've been starting my sets most nights with a piece that has an improvised solo in the middle. This audience knew exactly what was going on, and clapped for the solo. Sometimes in jazz settings, when people clap for every solo that goes by it seems forced to me, but this audience was just ready to clap for anything and everything they liked. They clapped once again on the next piece, when I had gotten some loops built up. Fun!

Tuesday night found us in Omaha, NE at a club called the Music Box. The sound system here was very very good. I was saddened to hear at the end of the night though that the club was closing down soon. Too bad, it was a nice listening space. One of the employees said it was basically a matter of rising costs, including the cost of insurance. Apparently since the "Great White" club tragedy, the Music Box's insurance jumped from about $30k a year to $60k. Ouch.

CGT onstage at the Music Box

Tyler and I got the "Big Room" in KS
Leaving Kansas

CGT soundcheck in KS
happy Bert in van

Sun September 7 - 11:25pm - Oklahoma City, OK
A study in immediatley after I post about not taking many pictures, I start taking them everywhere. It's funny how once you do, you start noticing things everywhere "to" take pictures of. I had a lyric writing teacher at Berklee who used to recommend that we spend 10 mins.. no more, no less... writing every morning about an object. Once you start doing that, you find your senses are much more in tune to things to write about all day. But I digress....

Hotel in Dallas

Venue in Oklahoma City (more contrasts)

It seems like on every one of the CGT tours I've been a part of, there's always one night that stands out as the "intimate" night. So far, tonight was it on this tour. The guys did a great job of really connecting with the audience though, even to the point of Paul opening the show to questions from the audience. At the end of the night, they once again moved into the crowd to do an unplugged song. I love this part. It was perfect for this setting, and really felt like the audience got something special. I wish I could do that on Stick... unfortunately for people to hear an unplugged Stick, they'd have to have their ears a few inches from the fretboard!

CGT "unplugged"
My "moonlighting" job

Sun September 7 - Oklahoma City, OK
I've not been quite as active at taking pictures so far this tour, but I'm going to try to keep the camera a little closer at hand now. Last night we played in Dallas, at a small club. With only an office as a backstage area, Bert, Hideyo and myself carefully arranged ourselves and our instruments to fit in the room, while Paul left to go to a store down the street. CGT did something great at the end of the show. At the end of the night as they started to make their way off stage, the audience was still giving them a standing ovation, so the guy made their way to a central point in the room, and played Melrose Ave unplugged. I've heard them do unamplified somgs in shows before, and it really pulls the audience in. A bit of surprise, mixed with a need for everyone to be really quiet really pulls people's attention back to the group.

Tyler volunteered to drive the van first today, and in fact brought us the whole way from Dallas. Thanks Tyler! I've been on "first shift" everyday, and it was nice to have a "day off." Tyler has probably gotten more out of the "trip" side of things than anyone. He seems to have boundless energy to go out with friends after shows. Since we're sharing hotel rooms for this trip, I get to "keep tabs" on when he comes in. The latest night was so late, he would have actually been late for the start of the free breakfast at today's hotel! Go Tyler!

Sat September 6 - Austin, TX
The Mucky Duck "dressing room"
Soundcheck at One World Theatre

Two shows down now. Actually, three shows over two nights. Our first night in Houston was great. A small venue compared to many that CGT play, but filled with a lot of very enthusiastic and happy people. The "backstage" area was actually just a little side room, open to the public. It made things like warming up, changing clothes, etc. a little different. It was also my first night as official CGT merch man. It makes for a lot of work in an evening, as I have to run off stage after my set and setup shop, but I'm happy to do it. I enjoy getting to talk to people, and answer their questions.

Last night we played in Austin at a fantastic theatre called One World. It was a very nice place to play, and we actually did two shows. After my set, my MIDI pedals always get pulled back to give Bert more room. Since all my gear had worked fine for the first show, I just pulled the pedals back out for the second and didn't really double-check all the settings. Oops! I had a "near train wreck" in the second show because the output volume of my looper was still at zero from the first show. I went to start some loops, and nothing came out! I didn't figure out what was going on till later, but improvised a new section to a song. The good news was that nobody seemed to notice anything was wrong. Phew!

One World had their own merch person which meant I got to enjoy both CGT shows, although I felt a little embarrassed by what they were charging for my CDs. King Crimson and CGT drummer Pat Mastelotto and his friend/tech Bill Munyon came by the show. I'd actually met Pat a few years ago, but it was great to "meet" him again and talk for a bit with both of them. Off to Dallas!

Th September 4 - Route 10, TX
We're back! I'm happy to be back out with CGT once again for this tour. Today is our first full day, and I'm bouncing along in the back of the van on our way from Austin to Houston for the first show tonight. Yesterday I flew from San Diego to Houston and met up with Tyler who is along with us this time to help with sound and road managing. We picked up the van and drove to Austin to meet up with CGT.

We had a nice dinner last night with Bruce who is a good friend of CGT and has let us use his house in Austin. He took us to a restaurant that specializes in "trailer park" food. My favorite was the "Frito Pie" appetizer, which was basically a large bag of fritos cut open, with chili, cheese and jalapenos poured over them. The silver Frito's bag still underneath it all really made it though.