Bert Lams / Tom Griesgraber - East Coast Tour
August 2011 through PA, OH, KY, WV, MD and Hurricane Irene (!)

August 29, 2011 - Mechanicsburg, PA
Bags are packed, heavy gear is shipped. Tomorrow morning, we'll be off to the airport early for me to start the trek west (Bert follows a few days later). I'm looking forward to a few days at home and then of course our shows up the west coast. We start off in nice fashion this coming Saturday, opening for Craig Chaquico (of Starship) in San Juan Capistrano (discount tickets available here), then head north from there all the way to Spokane eventually. It'll be great introducing some of our new pieces along the way... hope to see many of you out there!

August 28, 2011 - Mechanicsburg, PA
We've made it back to our starting point again (Bert's house), but not without a little adventure last night. We played at a private party for a small group of friends just outside Philadelphia. This was actually the first show booked for this tour and I was happy we could still do it. But, while we were there, hurricane Irene came in stronger. When we were packed up and ready to go to the hotel, our hosts told us to wait, as a tornado warning had just been issued for their town! All the guests came down to the basement, where we'd played and watched the local news. When it was almost time for the warning to expire, we headed out. I'll confess I drove quite slow and often down the middle of the road, trying to avoid any large pockets of water or downed tree bits. It was a bit hard to see and a little nervous, but we made it. This morning's drive was still quite wet, but much much lighter and easier going. Bert's yard suffered about four downed trees, but luckily nothing came near the house! Tomorrow will be pack and ship day for me, and hen Tuesday morning I head home with Bert heading out on Friday to pick up with shows on the west coast.

you'd never know there was a hurricane outside
final east coast show setup (with furry supervision)
and later... surveying the battlefield at home

August 27, 2011 - Malvern, PA
Thanks to Hurricane Irene, tonight is now going to be our last show for the east coast leg of this trip. We were suppossed to head to Virginia tomorrow, but things are looking too iffy there with the weather. We'll miss playing in Leesbrug tomorrow and seeing our friends Ben, Chada and Patrick. Hopefully we can make it back there soon! We left Easton, MD fairly early this morning and drove north through rain most of the day. For much of the trip, we had lighter colored skies ahead of us and seriously dark skies behind as it seems we were riding in the outer bands of the hurricane the whole way.

escaping the hurricane
luckily, Bert found snacks for it!

August 26, Easton, MD
Today was something of a surreal experience. I woke up early and got to work right away assessing what was wrong with our power amp. Fortunately it didn't take long to find a wire that had broken internally (an easy fix!) Then I was off and running to a local Radio Shack to buy a soldering iron and supplies to fix it, but... the store never opened! Everyone in the area was preparing for the approach of hurricane Irene. I had to drive 30 minutes more to find another Radio Shack that was open. The repair fortunately took far less time than just finding the supplies!

Later, we headed to the next stop on the tour which happened to be closer to the coast. As we drove east towards Easton, MD residents of much of the area were heading west past us to get out of the path of the hurricane! We were assured by all our local friends that we weren't headed towards any dangerous areas, but it was still an odd feeling driving the "wrong way" towards a hurricane! Our show was hosted by our friends Jim and Pam in a living room of a great house whose first sections were built over 150 years ago. The living room had a great intimate sound to it that worked very well with our system and I think we played very well with it. Afterwards, we got to know their new golden retriever puppy (and took turns keeping him off the dining room table!) and had some great chats about everything from the weather to marketing theories with Jim and Pam as well as Harry and Jeanne who drove down for the night as well. Much fun.. hope to do it again soon!

fortunately we're not actually going to Ocean City
(the road towards Easton, MD and Hurricane Irene!)

but in the end, a great intimate show in Easton!

August 25, 2011 - Frederick, MD
Tonight we played in a great converted barn. It was a wonderful spot for a show, although we did have a technical challenge in that my power amp (what makes the speakers "go") quit before the show on one side. Meaning, we were down to a half powered mono speaker system. Fortunatley our "local promoter" Harry is well connected to musicians in the area and a few who were coming to the show anyways brought some gear for us to use for the evening. Things worked out well and the show wound up being one of the more interesting ones musically I think.
our stage for the evening
here come the guests

not a bad green room...

August 24, 2011 - Mechanicsburg, PA
Tonight was the "home town" show for Bert as we played only minutes from his home. His wife Carrie had busied herself probably most of the day making appetizers and snacks and we somehow managed to pile several trays of food into the car along with the three of us and all the gear. The setting was a wonderful outdoor deck beside a converted barn, tucked in among a pool and rows and rows of apple trees. A nice surprise for me was seeing our friends Rick and Adrienne who drove up several hours from the Philadelphia area to see us on Rick's birthday! As we were playing outside, and started somewhat later in the evening, the setting got progressively darker as the set went on. It got to be a little bit of a challenge musically, but definitely added to the vibe of the evening in a nice way. I definitely love my glow in the dark Stick fret markers though!

Our great outdoor barn setting in Mechanicsburg, PA
(photo by Joanne Cassaro)

August 23, 2011 - Charleston, WV
We started the morning way down in Lexington, KY after a day off there on Monday. It was a long drive north, and a strange day all over the east coast as they had a very rare earthquake! (We didn't feel it being too far south I guess). Tonight was a happy return to one of our "mainstays" in this part of the country though; the home of Dave and Debbis Dickens in the Charleston area. If my math is right, this was about the fourth trip that Dave has organized something for us, and one of the special things for all of us tonight I think was that we could see the results of his annual fearless persistence paying off. there were quite a few more people present this year and I had several people come up to me afterwards with comments along the lines of, "...last year was so great, I had to come back and bring a friend" or, "... Dave's been inviting me every year and I finally made it. Next year I want to help promote!" Fantastic! Word of mouth really is the best promo we have, so if you're reading this and want to assist two bald string players, tell a friend ;-) Also special tonight; Dave had his first musical performance in front of an audience, playing bass with his music teacher Phil Washington, a great jazz guitarist. Bert and I were both remembering our first performances years ago.. it's not easy! Later in the evening, as guests were filtering out, one of Dave's friends called back through the front door "Dave... you always said there'd be an earthquake if you ever performed in public!"

introduction time
Dave and Phil start things off

a closeup of the action

August 22, 2011 - Frankfort, KY
We had a great show last night in one of our favorite places to play; The Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe. I think this was our third time here? This has to be one of the best "coffeeshops" in the country for live music. They've done a lot of work to tune the acoustics in the room, have a very nice sound system, and can even do live multi-track recordings, video and webcasting. The owners are wonderful people and we have a number of great friends in the area which always contributes to a really fun evening. It all inspired me to probably get a bit more long winded on the microphone between pieces, but most seemed to be ok with that. We did two sets, probably playing longer than we have yet on this tour.

a happy place to visit

intermission time for the Stick
...and for the guitarist

owner Mary thanks the audience
and then the performers :)

August 21, 2011 - Louisville, KY
Last night we played at our friend Tyler's beer store in Louisville. Tyler used to tour with CGT as their sound guy but now he and his girlfriend are doing amazingly well running two business, one a beer store and the other a bar/restaurant also specializing in high end beers. He told me this morning that he regularly stocks about 400 types of beer! It was a bit of a wild scene last night as we played on a back patio to a group of fans and the newly curious. An art show was going on at the next building over too which also featured some fire dancers at one point. We had to take a break for them to do their act, then did a second set. It was a hot, sweaty, southern style Saturday night!

Set #1 - The "daylight" set
(photo by Jim Storm)

halftime at Louisville Beer store
fire! (part of our "halftime entertainment")

A fun bit of Louisville art: a hydraulic system is creating a slow motion car crash in front of this restaurant. Three months and counting!

August 19, 2011 - Columbus, OH
Brian Lucey was our host tonight in Columbus. He's a great mastering engineer with a great new place that worked out quite well for a concert. Brian is super sensitive to sounds in his environment so everything in his place, from the angle of the walls to the air conditioning system and ducts were chosen or tuned to make the space nice acoustically. Our audience seemed to pick up on this almost intuitively, and I think this was one of the most attentive and "listening" audiences we've had in awhile. As performers, that allows us to instinctively play with dynamics more, make soft sections even softer, pauses a bit longer, etc. It was great. Brian also did a super short opening number for us (I can't really call it a set!) on guitar that could have been longer for my tastes.

August 18, 2011 - Pittsburgh, PA
Tonight we once again played at a great venue called Cefalo's in Pittsburgh. It's actually an old Presbyterian church that was converted to great venue for concerts. Stick player Dave Brosky has lined up many events there over the years, both for Bert and I, as well as a Stick night and once with CGT. He's a great player too, quite different from myself as he likes to do primarily "classic" songs from jazz and rock but with a great energetic approach. Last night Dave and his friend Mike opened for us as the group "Stick 2 It!" It was my first time hearing Dave with any sort of group setting and it was very cool. Mike is an excellent sax player and also added some nice percussion work while Dave was in the forefront with the Stick.

Bert's new bunk buddy

August 17, 2011 - Greensburg, PA
Our first show of this trip was a special one for me. Greensburg is home to most of my mother's family, and for many years we used to visit for a month at a time during the summer. It always feels great for me to reconnect with my family and it's always very nostalgic to see many of the places there that really haven't changed too much over the years. This was the first time Bert and I have actually played right in Greensburg which meant that it was easier for more of the family to be there. My cousin Carol hosted a houseconcert and we had a great time. We tried two of the new pieces and both went reasonably well.. more to come on that!

August 14, 2011 - Mechanicsburg, PA
Hard to believe it's been four months since I last updated the news page, but there it is... it's been a wild four months! May saw me getting reaquainted with home and working on the final tracks for the new album with Bert Lams and myself. June and July? Well they went towards about 35 shows locally (mostly at the SD fair), then (!) getting my tonsils out!.. and finally working for Berklee College of Music's summer program in LA. And now here we are in mid August.. The biggest news is that all of the tracks for the new Bert Lams/Tom Griesgraber album are now completed and off to mixing and mastering. Whew! This one has been a heck of a process. We wound up writing and recording way more than an album's worth of material and then whittling it down to the best pieces or at least the ones that fit together the best as an album. I'm quite excited about it as I feel like we not only have a lot of good material, but there is really no weak spot or "filler" in the bunch!

Today I flew to Harrisburg, and am now at Bert's home in nearby Mechanicsburg. We'll be rehearsing for two days and then doing about two weeks of shows around the east coast.. then we fly west and do about two weeks up the west coast. We'll be attempting several of the new pieces from the upcoming album for the first time one these trips which is exciting.... both in a good way and a nervous way, as some of them are quite tricky! It's going to be great to see them come to life though.

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