On tour with The California Guitar Trio - page 2
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Nov 20, 2004 - last show in South Carolina
Nov 20, 2004 - I 85N, South Carolina
Today I drove the wrong way on a freeway for the first time and even used an onramp as an offramp. Tyler is driving now and I'm glad for it. We left Atlanta at 9:30 this morning to head to Charlotte with a stop in Greenville, SC to do a radio show taping. I had the first driving shift and on the way we hit a terrible traffic jam. Both northbound lanes were completely stopped. After a time people started getting out of their cars and walking along the freeway to try and see what was going on. Paul climbed on to the roof of the van to get a better view and people started coming over to him to ask what he could see which was nothing but parked cars in either direction. After a few minutes and some quick GPS mapping from Hideyo we decided that we had to do something if we were to have any chance of getting to the taping on time, soo.... with spurring from CGT I turned the van around and drove the wrong way along the shoulder till getting off at the next onramp!
With a little extra gas we made it to the taping with just enough time to setup and go. Paul was kind enough to ask all the organizers if I could be included and so I would up doing 2 pieces with CGT and a solo piece. It was a great show! The taping actually took place at a place called Horizon Records which is part record store, part cafe with a little stage and PA. A local radio host came in and with a sound tech recorded the show. Afterwards we signed CDs and ate lunch quickly before getting back in the van and rushing along our way to Charlotte. Tyler is driving, everyone else is asleep and I think it's time for me to join them!
Nov 19, 2004 - Atlanta, GA
Great show last night here in Atlanta! Just a fun one for me all the way around which I felt like I needed after the night before. CGT had a great show in Birmingham then, but the University made a last minute decision that they didn't want an opening act. Apparently they had some sort of welcome message recorded for the audience that ended with "now please welcome the CGT!" ... which I guess would have been weird to then have a Stick player walk on after. So... CGT let me play a solo piece in their set and we did Punta Patri together. It was a great theatre and audience, but.. the change of plans left me feeling a bit like an unwelcome visitor while playing.
Last night cleared the air for me though.. great audience, small but cozy venue. There was some weirdness with the monitors during my set in that they cut out once or twice. I even kind of stumbled a bit in one piece because of it, but it didn't kill the great vibe of the show. The highlight for me was sitting in with CGT on their encore forr "Red Iguana." I've been working on translating some of the tricky guitar parts in that to Stick largely just because I was fascinated by them and wanted to know what the heck they were. But last night we played the piece together for the first time. I was really trying to keep my mind one step ahead of my fingers so I'd remember what was coming up but it actually turned out pretty well. I'm glad we have at least one more show to do so we can hopefully do that again!
Nov 12, 2004 - Charlottesville, VA
To insure that I actually have something to sell at the remaining CGT shows, I've taken matters into my own hands and now have a limited edition version of "A Whisper in the Thunder" for sale. The disc features the same music as the standard CDs, copied straight from the final masters of the album. Artwork and the track list are printed directly on the disc face. To make it a little more special, I've also included a bonus track not found on the album; the piece "Don't Look Back" recorded live at the Sutter Creek Theatre earlier on this tour. This disc is limited to 200 copies, and all come individually numbered. I'll have them at all remaining shows on this tour, or until they run out. If there are any left after the tour and there's a request for them, I may place them for sale on the site, once the tour is done.
As for the tour, we've had a few great nights and a few slower ones recently. One great stop was a few days ago at the XM radio headquarters in Washington D.C. They taped a live performance of CGT with myself sitting in on a few pieces and doing one solo piece. Their facility was absolutely amazing. They send out 150 channels of radio programming all across the continetal US via two (soon to be 3) satellites. They have something like 85 production studios plus 2 performance rooms. We played in the bigger performance room which I was told came with about a $10 million price tag. Sounds like a lot till you compare it to the cost of the sattelites which I'm told cost about $100 million each. As I said.. great facility!
Nov 6, 2004 - Phillidelphia, PA
Tonight's show brought us back to our normal lineup of CGT + TG. Actually I should say tonight's "shows" as we did two in the same venue; a first for this tour. Playing two shows is interesting. I find that if I repeat pieces between them, either the second performance lacks the energy of the first because I'm sort of "done" with the piece for the night, "or" it comes off as more polished because I've sort of practiced the piece. In my solo set tonight it was definitely (and fortunately) the latter. It's a challenge as an opener to really be at your peak in a short set but I felt in the second set like I had had a chance to work myself into the show more, almost as if I was just doing one longer set.
Paul asked me on the way back to the hotel if I had had any weird moments tonight, saying that small things always seem to go wrong at this venue. Welll.... during Punta Patri with CGT there was definitely strangeness going on for me. I use 5 volume pedals onstage and 4 of them look identical, but do very different things. As we started the piece, I suddenly found that I couldn't lower the volume of some loops I had going. Since my pedals had gotten moved before CGT's set, my first thought was that the pedals were placed in the wrong order, so... I tried the other 3 look alikes... no luck but I "did" manage to mess up the bass and melody volumes a little. Finally I gave up and knelt to lower the loop volume by hand. It was only then that I noticed when my pedals got moved, two of them had come unplugged. Ahhhhh.... relatively smooth sailing from there.
Nov 4, 2004 - I 90 MA
My trip to MA would not have been complete without a visit to Berklee College of music, my old school. I actually hadn't been back there since I graduated, which was many years ago now. It was really incredible to walk the old familair streets and hallways again and I'm glad I made the effort to go both Tues night and Wed morning. Hideyo who actually went to Berklee maybe 10 years before I did made his own trip the day before I arrived from Woodstock. The place has changed a lot since I was there, but mostly it remains the same. Tues night was a bit chaotic as I had to pick Paul and Bert up at the airport and John Kerry had an election night event going on right near Berklee. Wed. likewise gave me only a few hours before I had to meet up with CGT and head to soundcheck, but.. between the two trips I manged to see most of my friends I still know there, check out a few moments of some student jams, recordings and recitals, check out a new Berklee building that they were just starting to work on when I left and even make time for pizza and a little shopping in some favorite old places. Too much to see and not nearly enough time though. Several of my Berklee friends made it to the show in Lowell which was great. Hopefully my travels will take me back towards Boston again soon.
October 30, 2004 - Jerville (Woodstock, NY)
One of the things I enjoy a lot about touring is getting to spend time in places that were at one time a sort of "second home." When I rolled into Woodstock, there was definitley a sense of homecoming for me, especially since the town changes so little over time. In fact when I stopped for dinner in one of the local restaurants, two of the people eating there had actually been in there the last time I was in town! Since I'm staying at the studio, and no one generally "lives" here, my first stop in town was actually the grocery store. Jerry's wife joked to me over the phone that I was a "wise man" for it and that any food there was probably what was left from my last visit. Well... no surprise really, but on opening the cupboard, I found a box of oatmeal still there, not just from my last visit, but one of my first visits.... two years ago! (It was subsequently disposed of after being photographed).
Oct 27, 2004 - I 80S towards Cleveland
We've had three shows since my last post as well as about a 16 hour drive day. I've been wildly busy doing much of that driving and dealing with business issues in between shows so.. not much posting. The good news/bad news of late is that I've gotten critically low in my supply of CDs, both here in the van and at home. So, I've been getting friends at home to ship everything we can spare from there to me and trying to get discs reordered as well. FedEx managed to mess up a shipment too, and delivered a box 3 days late, which in the middle of the tour meant we were now several states away. Hopefully that box will be catching up with me today.
The last three shows have all been great, with near capacity crowds and wonderfully welcoming audiences. Last night saw us at the Ark in Ann Arbor, MI which is just about the only venue on this tour I've played at before. CGT and I had a fantastic show there about a year ago, and last night was no different. The venue is pretty amazing. Although it holds 400 people, it is arranged in such a way that it doesn't loose a sense of intimacy. Having two nights in MI also gave me the chance to visit some with Stick player Glenn Poorman and his wife Rasa. Glenn is a great guy and a very musical player. We seem to share a lot of musical values in common, so it's always nice to catch up with him.
Oct 22, 2004 - I 380N towards MN
There was an unusually high number of people in the audience last night that actually knew what a Stick was. Some came from the Stick e-mail lists, some were just CGT/Tony Levin fans and several surprisingly were from VA, home of Stick player Greg Howard. For reasons no one could explain it seems there's been some kind of migration of music lovers from VA to Cedar rapids, IA. Strange.
October 21, 2004 - Cedar Rapids, IA
We've checked into the day's hotel after a few nights in the little town of Creston. I had a very enjoyable time in Creston thanks to the hospitality and nice atmosphere of performing for/working with the Southwest Community College Music Department. They've got a great program going there from the looks of things.
On our second day there, Paul and Bert led a Guitar Craft syle workshop with two different classes; one a guitar ensemble and the other an improv workshop. In both cases they had everyone arrange themselves in a circle, but it was the second group that really made for an unusual circle. In Guitar Craft, circles are of course "Guitar Circles," here it was a "guitar, vocalist, grand piano, vibes, Chapman Stick, upright bass, electric bass circle!" Probably a first. We'd played together nonstop for a long time and the music to me sounded something like a cross between the League of Crafty Guitarists and the Miles Davis' classic jazz fusion album "Bitches' Brew" which led Paul and I to later title the group "The League of Crafty Bitches."
October 19, 2004 - I 80 towards Creston, IA
The page of diaries for this trip was getting too long, so I've started a new one and moved the first few weeks to their own page.
Tyler and I have been driving for days. Literally. After our show in Evertt, WA last Sat night, it fell on Tyler and I to drive the van to Creston, IA (about 30 hours). We got a rather late start on Sun unfortunately, which kind of pushed all our times back a bit, pulling in to Billings, MT at 3am. Yesterday we spent another 12 hours or so and made it to Lincoln, NE by about 1:31am. Today however should only be about a 3-4 hour drive, so.. the biggest driving job of the tour is just about over.
The show last Sat in Everett was amazing. Wonderful theatre, great audience and just a lot of fun. It started with Paul and I spending our free time before the show working out arrangements of funny old TV and movie theme songs. The show itself was so much fun that I was actually laughing on stage while sitting in with CGT (mainly at a funny clanking sound I made at the end of a piece that was so good it actually even got a chuckle from Hideyo!) The highlight of the evening for me, as it usually is, was getting to play a few pieces with the Trio. Hideyo and Bert were playing up a storm in Cosmo Calypso. I eventually wind up playing a rhythmic bass part against a rhythmic loop of Paul's. Hideyo and Bert were playing such amazing lines that I kept wanting to just listen to them and had to keep refocusing my attention on the (much quieter) loop to stay with it. Eventually I just shut my eyes to "listen better" and kept playing with a big smile on my face.
Want more Tom stories and trivia? Check out the website archives for past tour diaries.
Want more Tom stories and trivia? Check out the website archives for past tour diaries.