Bert Lams / Tom Griesgraber west coast tour
September 2011

September 12, 2011 - Menlo Park, CA
After about a month more or less on the road, today was our final show of this tour in a great backyard setting hosted by our friend Natasha, a dancer and dance instructor in the Bay area. It's always nice playing outdoors although I did have to fight off some mosquitos tonight. There were quite a few musician friends and dancer friends in the audience which helped lead to a very appreciative and attentive audience and a nice way to wrap things up for now. Tomorrow morning Bert flies home and I'll start the relatively short (compared to some tours!) drive home.

storytime with Bert in Menlo Park

September 11, 2011 - Upper Lake, CA
Tonight we played once again in what's become one of our favorite California stops; the Tallman hotel in Upperlake, CA. Upperlake is one of the little towns surrounding Clear Lake; the largest freshwater lake contained in California. The owners of the Tallman have done an amazing job of restoring and recreating some historical buildings in the town and we play in what is something of a meeting room next to an old hotel and saloon. The decor is great and goes well with Bert's boots! The audiences are always great too, and it's customary with their concert series to also have the audience and artists engage with questions and answers which is fun and makes for a nice rapport.

soundcheck at the Tallman
...and a bit later

September 10, 2011 - Livermore (Oakland), CA
Today we once again woke up pre-dawn to drive maybe 90 minutes to the airport and then fly back to Oakland. The show was a first for the two of us; a live web cast from the new office of CGT's webmasters XO Pandora. They have a great new space complete with multiple HD camera and a great concept to use their live stream as something like a "cable access" TV channel where they can bring in everything from music (like us!) to maybe local chefs, local politics, news or basically anything that seems interesting. Fun! Bert and I had fun goofing with teh camera a bit before the webcast and then played to a small audience of invited guests and who knows how many more virtual ones.

ready for the live webcast
...with a few invited guests for a special atmosphere

September 9, 2011 - Colville, WA
Today we woke up very early to drive an hour or so to the Oakland airport, and then fly to Washington. I think I slept maybe three hours... but was excited to make the trek and play in a town I'd never been to before. Landing in WA, we then drove an hour or so to check out the venue (a theatre at a local college), and test the soundsystem. While I messed with wires and speaker placement, Bert well... the picture says it all. Let's just say he made enough full spectrum umm.. sound.. for me to help dial things in with the PA! Afterwards we had a brief time to rest and see a tiny tiny bit of the area then back to the college (pausing to check out some local snacks along the way!) Our promoter Maureen and her husband took fantastic care of everything and made all the extra effort of travelling well worth it. I hope we can visit again soon!

Bert considers a change of career path

there's always time for local delicacies

storytime in Colville, WA

September 7, 2011 - Santa Rosa, CA
Last night we were the guests once again of our good friends Nancy and Larry in Santa Rosa. Nancy is an excellent flute player and we have done several concerts with her in the past. This time, she invited another friend of hers to play cello with her and to close the show Bert did an arrangement of the Beatles' "Blackbird" with her. It was great! Bert did an amazing job of translating McCartney's classic guitar figure into his guitar's 5ths tuning. Not an easy task, but he made it look simple! In the morning, we had a rather crazy leaving at something like 4am to drive an hour or so to the Oakland airport and a flight to Washington. Once again I felt grateful to have Nancy and Larry as hosts because preparing for this trek meant taking over their living room with our baggage as we re-packed for the flight. It's a messy business flying with about 100lbs of fragile instruments and gear, but they were happy to accomodate and help! Thanks guys :)

Beatles via cello and guitar
early morning airport commute

September 6, 2011 - Buellton, CA
Truly fun show tonight in the little town of Buellton, CA which seems to be best known for having been featured in the movie Sideways (something I have to look up and see now!) Apparently we actually stayed in the hotel featured in the movie. We played nearby in a relatively new local brewery. At first I thought it might be a little funky, especially when we showed up and one of the giant beer vats had just overflowed onto the floor where we were to set up. But our promoter Phil did a really amazing job of spreading the word and gathered a great audience for a Tuesday night! He and his friend Issac also did a great job of making things into more of a concert "vibe" and I think it all contributed to one of the strongest shows musically that we'v had on this trip. At least.. the audience demanded about three encores which was great. We'll definitely plan to stop here again in the future!

at home among the kegs
Fig. Mtn. listens in

warmup time "backstage"

Afterwards we went out to dinner with our friends Jeff and Allison (who also hosted the show in Goleta). The only place that was open late was a wildly decorated western restaurant called AJ Spurs. Great food, but way too much of it. We ordered just two meals between the four of us and still maybe barely dented half of it. As we were leaving, Bert got to talking to the manager and eventually gave him a CD as he said he was looking for live music. I'm not sure we fit with the Patsy Cline type vibe and we'd have to both relocate to Buellton to make the weekly gig, but... maybe?

Bert made new friends
I did too

September 5, 2011 - San Marino (Pasadena), CA
Great setting tonight at the home of our friend Steve G.'s mom Wendy. She has an amazing backyard that has worked great for a concert twice now. Amazingly, Steve told us when we arrived that the first time we'd played there was exactly three years ago (to the day!) Wild. We were happy to have quite a few LA friends make it to the show and Steve played a nice singer/songwriter set opening for us. During his second song a big spider made its way down a strand of web from a tree overhead right in front of his face and he stopped mid-song in alarm. It went back up the tree after some excitement, only to then go up and down several times during the first few pieces Bert and I did. Personally I just thought it added to our stage show.

Steve opens the show under cover of a great tree and spiders
Two guys get ready to go on

story time with Bert

September 4, 2011 - Goleta, CA
Today started the one stretch on this whole tour where the routing was a little unusual. We drove north to Goleta which is up around Santa Barbara and then back to LA after the show. Fortunately the show was in the afternoon and was in an amazing locale in a home right on the coast. Our new friends Jeff and Allison hosted the show as a benefit concert for their daughters' school and gathered a nice group of friends and school teachers as an audience. Afterwards we had fun with Allison and Jeff trying out the Stick in turns.

spot the
real Stick
player (or the loony)

September 3, 2011 - San Juan Capistrano, CA
After a few days "off" at home, we were back and at it tonight, playing at one of my favorite local venues The Coachhouse, and opening for guitar great Craig Chaquico. The venue granted us an hour long set (unusual for an "opener") which was great and we were able to connect with a host of new folks. Craig's set was entertaining as well. He played solo, but often with backing tracks and used an interesting MIDI instrument that somewhat resembled a Therimin, but able to trigger any type of tones from MIDI. Hmmmmm.......

The Coachhouse "Grafitti room" backstage
Craig Chaquico entertains

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