On tour with The California Guitar Trio - page 2

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Nov 21, 2004 - home via Atlanta!
The Big White Van goes home!

Nov 20, 2004 - last show in South Carolina

Nov 20, 2004 - I 85N, South Carolina

on the air
Paul is up!

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
Only one show left! Wow.. it hasn't really sunk in yet as there's still a ton of work to do with getting things sent home, returning the van, getting to the airport, etc. I suspect in a few days it's going to feel really odd not to be climbing into the van for another drive.

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
Long time with no diary update! I'm afraid my "free time" as of late has been taken up with manufacturing issues. My new CD has sold out just about everywhere you could hope to find it. A good problem to have, but.. still a problem. Unfortunately there was some sort of miscommunication between the label and the duplicator as well, and whereas we should have had new copies in hand by now, they're still being made! To make matters even more interesting, I'm also now out of the first Agent 22 CD and have only about 100 left of the live Agent 22 CD. For the moment, I've shut down the ThosSounds store page until we actually have something to sell! There are links there to the few places that I believe still have a few discs in stock (but no one has many!).

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.

Brief performance stop at William and Mary College, VA

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!

Entrance to the XM Radio Performance Space
Soundcheck - XM Radio

XM Performance Studio Control Room
150 Channels, 2 dishes

One of the 85 or so XM Channel Studios
Where joysticks control satellites

Nov 6, 2004 - Phillidelphia, PA
The last two nights with Jerry and Tony were really something special. I've spent a lot of time with Jerry and CGT separately in recent years but this was the first time we were all in the same place at the same time. It was really a treat and I hope this group can be together again sometime soon!

Onstage in Pawling, NY
JM tries to take a little CGT home

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.

Backstage in Philli

Nov 4, 2004 - I 90 MA
After several days off including a fun Halloween night in Woodstock, we're back, "and" with greater numbers. Last night was the first of three shows we're doing with Jerry Marotta and Tony Levin. While we were getting ready for the show it really struck me what a great group this is. Having Tony and Jerry around not only means having two amazing musicians, but also two fun guys to be around. I'm really looking forward to the next two nights! The highlight of the evening is an easy one; playing with the "super group" of CGT + JM + TL + me! We did CGT's Punta Patri and Cosmo Calypso with everyone. When it's just CGT and I doing these pieces, I'm quick to dive into the bass range of the Stick, but when you have one of the world's greatest bass players also playing.. well.. tonight I got to spend more time as a sort of "guitar/piano/synth player." It's one of the unique things about the Stick that when you're not playing solo and trying to do everything at once, you have a lot of choices on "who" you are... bass player? guitar player? keyboard player? Fun!

CGT + TL + JM rehearsal in Lowell, 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.

Friend Becky and the Berklee student activities office

An "old home"

Woodstock Halloween Taxi
Iron Chef Jerry

October 30, 2004 - Jerville (Woodstock, NY)
After a long solo drive to get here, I've been enjoying some pretty low key days at Jerry Marotta's Jersville Studios in Woodstock. E-mail, some DVD movies, a few phone interviews and in general more R&R time than I've had in a long time. There's some talk of course about future plans for our as of yet unreleased group album and I hope to push things ahead a bit on that. Jerry and Tony Levin will be joining CGT and I when things pick up again next week, which should be fantastic.

a favorite spot behind Jersville

CGT van arrives at Jersville
local trasportation

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).
ancient oats

Oct 27, 2004 - I 80S towards Cleveland
We're in the van on our way to what I guess could be called the last show of the first leg of this tour. Tomorrow Paul, Bert and Tyler all fly home for 5 days while Hideyo will be staying in Cleveland and Boston and I'll be taking the van and heading to Jerry Marotta's studio in Woodstock. I actually haven't been to Woodstock for a little while now so I'm looking forward to this "side trip," and a chance to be in Woodstock for Halloween. I was there for it once before and had a lot of fun. Everyone in the town essentially gets together in the small "downtown" area and kids trick or treat at all the shops since homes are too remote for it.

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 little box that could (and finally made it!)

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
Back in the van after a fun show in an artsy venue and a night at a big plush downtown IA hotel. The venue really stood out for some of its art displays. Apparently they use the space as much for art exhibits, plays and movies as they do for music. Bert started the evening with some solo Bach again to great audience response.

Bert makes the ladies swoon
Tractors blockade our hotel for an IA appearance of VP Cheney

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.

my ducks in a row (photo: Bert)
The League of Crafty Bunnies

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.
fascinating to a San Diego native
The League of Crafty Bitches

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.
hotel pool party - Lincoln, NE

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.

Everett Auditorium opens its doors
Ferry ride enroute to Evertt, WA

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.

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