opening for the California Guitar Trio
West Coast Tour March 2003
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Friday March 7

What if we did a show and nobody showed up? Actually that's just a picture of soundcheck in Santa Cruz. Nobody showing up was definitley not a problem here. The promoter Rick (3R) did a great job. It's always great to have somebody in town doing the legwork to make a show really happen. Tonight was also fun for me as I had lots of friends show up.

Backstage I found someone (Paul?) had labeled four water bottles as P, T, B and H... good idea!.. of course then my mind started to think about it.. what if the lids got switched.. or.. since the writing was 1/2 on a price tag, what if the tags (soaking wet) rubbed off. I tried mine just to check..and the T ended up looking something like 1/2 an H. Yeah ok.. maybe I had some free time on my hands tonight.

Bert had suggested before the show that I play "that fast piece you played in San Diego." I really wasn't sure which piece he meant, but after asking some SD friend's figured out it was probably a new one called There and Back Again. I added it to the set tonight and told the crowd it was something of a request from Bert. When I went backstage afterwards Bert was warming up and immediatley asked "what were you saying about me?" I guess he'd heard his name and nothing else and wondered what the heck I was up to.

Saturday March 8

I didn't know what to expect today. Honestly, my expectations were pretty low. This was billed as a house concert, and was a last minute addition to the tour. Paul had told me that a friend of theirs was setting it up, and that we might not be able to sell CDs. Actually about the only reason I had for doing it with those criteria was that I was already staying in town anyways and didn't have anything else to do really! Well... all I can say is I was wonderfully surprised to have this night turn out to be one of the best of the tour (if not THE best!). Chris Florkowski did a spectacular job in setting it up. Not only did we have one of the biggest turnouts of this trip, but also some of the best food. She even printed up special tickets for everyone.

Some of our backstage niceities and... hmmm.. I noticed early on Paul and I had a similair choice in shoe for this tour. Maybe if we'd thought ahead we could have gotten some sort of endorsment.

Sunday March 9

No that's not a school kid's rendering... it's actually official CGT artwork with heads by Bert and bodies/instruments from Paul I believe (the welcome message was there when we arrived). Tonight's show was actually a fund raiser for the Sacramento Adventist Academy's music program. GREAT backstage accomodations, with everything from Odwalla fruit smoothies to pitas, croissants, sandwich fixings, desserts.. mmmmmm.... The school told us they'd sold 300 tickets for a room that holds 200 people, guessing not everyone would show up. Apparently they were right. There were no empty seats, but there certainley weren't 100 people looking for seats. Simply great treatment here. Wish every show could be like these last two!

Monday March 10

Surprise! I got added to the "show" today. This event was always listed as a private clinic, and CGTs agent said just they'd be doing it. But... it turned out to be a presentation for about 400 students (K-12) and after the concert the night before, everyone figured why not have Tom do something too? Paul said I should just do one short song.. so I started thinking about all my pieces.. wondering what best shows off the Stick in 4 minutes or less. Finally it was If's Jam.. some "fingerpicked" sounding opening chords... a big synth section.. then a funky bass line complete with "guitar" solo... a lot of Stick territory covered in about 3 minutes. My equipment behaved itself pretty well, but the improv section was a bit rough. Small wonder when it's probably one of the hardest things I do on Stick and I haven't played the song in maybe a month. Didn't think about that. In any event, it wasn't "bad".. and the kids loved it. One young boy even made it a point during Paul's group Q&A session to blurt out "that guy with the Stick plays good!" Ahh... if only all audiences were so easy :)

I drove to my dad's later in the day. Although it's pretty out of the way from our upcoming shows, it's a good enough excuse to see him. The scenery where he lives is amazing. Among the things he does, my dad actually has a small piece of land where he raises some ducks and geese. At one point he had as many as 250 or so, but I think it's down to about half that now. Still... it's more birds in one place than I usually see!

Tuesday/Wednesday March 11 and 12
I thought last night (Mill Valley) would be a fun show and I wasn't wrong. I had a bunch of friends and family show up, some driving as much as two and a half hours to get there. Ususally I worry when friends and family come. Of course they know what they're getting into with "my" shows, but in this case I was introducing a bunch of people to their first CGT experience. I felt pretty confident they'd like the group, but what surprised me was how much they liked them. My dad who came was still talking about the show in glowing terms this morning. If anything they had "too much" fun, with one of my dad's friends shouting out "play Beethoven's fifth!" several times during the show. I cringed at the back of the hall knowing a) the guys aren't big on requests and b) shouting mid concert is not exactly the normal listening experience most CGT fans seem to look for.

Afterwards, we had a small birthday party for Bert. Happy Birthday Bert! The party atmosphere was thanks largely (again!) to Chris Florkowski who bought a carrot cake complete with a frosting message and baked an apple pie with Bert's name poked in the top. As I was about to take a picture of the cake, Bert shouted "no no no.. that picture's for MY diary!" Sooo... here instead we have the apple pie (which I liked better anyways :) Thanks (again) Chris!

Someone reminded me at one point that this club was also the scene of a funny story from a member of CGTs fan group Pathways (on yahoo). Apparently some time ago they'd come to this club with an underaged friend. Despite Bert even going so far as to put them on the guest list, the club made them listen to the show from the basement (complete with it's pipes, posters, stickers, etc as seen here).

Tonight we're playing in Redway, CA. From what I've seen it looks like the entire town stretches for maybe a mile along highway 101. Gorgeous scenery with redwoods all around, but I wonder what the show will be like tonight? We're all staying in the same inn. I got here before them and haven't seen them yet, but I see their van in the parking lot now. I don't know what rooms they're in.. but it looks like the motel only has twelve total, so it shouldn't be too hard to find them! I wonder if tonight will be one of the night's Bert trashes his hotel room (as Paul keeps asking crowds)?

Thursday March 13

Strange show last night at the Redwood pub. Quite a different experience playing for a crowd of 20-30 when I've gotten used to much more than that with these shows (spoiled already!). It was interesting though. When CGT started playing I expected them to do a shorter set, and not really give 100%. After all, out of the 25 people there, half weren't even there for music, but were hanging out at the bar or playing pool. A few songs into their set though something amazing happened. All I can say is I suddenly felt very very proud of CGT, and proud to be associated with them. When they hit Beethoven's ninth, everybody.. EVERYbody in the place suddenly became very aware that they were listening to some really talented musicians. I even heard one of the pool players remark "man.. I need take lessons from these guys!" After the Beethoven, CGT launched into a surf guitar tune and the whole crowd was right with them, moving instantly from the "ooo ahhh" of Beethoven to laughing and dancing (surf style of course). I knew when the set got to Bohemian Rhapsody it would be all over.. and it was.. boisterous singing (yelling?) of the lyrics from the whole room... truly a pub experience. CGT simply rock. A classical school crowd one night, a distracted bar crowd the next, and they win them all over!

Friday March 14

and..... we're back to big venues! WOW hall is great. Paul and I have been setting up some loops before the shows to give the audience something to listen to. Tonight we actually did it together (rather than one of us just adding to the others parts). I actually maxed out the memory on my looper, and had to stop and delete some files, which was a downer.. but nonetheless I rebuilt some things and we had a nice "soundtrack" for people as they came in. Tonight was probably the best sound system of the tour. Always a plus...

We had an eight hour drive (in the rain!) to get here today, with me in my car following the CGT tour van. By the time my set was done, my energy was gone. I went into the green room, made some Tea and closed my eyes while still enjoying CGT's performance. I wouldn't recommend it all the thime, but what a great way to hear a show! I was free to get up, move around, eat fruit, make tea, etc.. without distrubing anyone and all while hearing the group clearly.

Friday March 14, Saturday March 15

Last night was technically my last night on the tour. From there CGT was to go to Seattle to do some shows with various groups from the Seattle Guitar Circle. The Circle has a house there they use for everything from rehearsals to in-house performances. I'd been wanting to see it since attending a Guitar Craft Course last year, and had never been to Seattle, so... I decided to make the drive to Seattle to at least see the shows. Once we got up there though CGT came up with the plan that they could squeeze me in between the opening acts and their set just to do one song. The Steve Ball Road Show opened the show the show the first night and the Atomic Chamber Ensemble opened the second night. The house seats about 50 people, and it was packed (and warm!) both nights.

On Saturday, while the Atomic Chamber Ensemble was playing, Bert was changing clothes in the dressing room. Some figure they started playing made him start leaping around the room dressed in just his socks, underwear and a shirt. I seem to remember high leg kicks.. and a bouncing leaping style.. but I think the rest I'm blocking out ;) Paul commented that he was worried Bert was going to continue out into the performance space, but I told him not to worry, that we could just tell everyone Bert did it because he's Belgian.

Saturday I also had an opportunity to be a tourist in Seattle. It was fun, but I later learned that I missed going to the Experience Music Project. I'd heard of it, thought it was just a venue (Jimmy Patton from Agent 22 had performed there during his Guitarmageddon competition) but later found out it also has some great music museum. Ooops! Next time I guess.

Sunday and Monday I drove 20 hours from Seattle back to San Diego. Exhausting, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was great being on this trip with CGT, and I hope to do something with them again soon!