Opening for the League of Crafty Guitarists
April 2004

Fri April 16 - San Diego, CA
Dizzy's new neighbor
LCG at Dizzy's

Baseball. Really the theme for the evening. Just last week, the Padre's started their season at the new Petco park in downtown San Diego. Unfortunatley for the music community here, Petco is literally right across the street from Dizzy's, one of my favorite venues in town. This means blocked streets with police barricades, increased traffic, and generally just more hassle. We also had to start the show late; 10pm. All in all though, the end result didn't feel that different from many other shows I've done there. I've been pretty worried about Dizzy's future, but I think it's going to be fine once we all get used to it. The ballpark definitley added some noise, but as we were setting up and soundchecking it really seemed like it wasn't loud enough to be too disruptive to a show. In fact, a club of some sort next door was louder.

I felt proud to be doing this show tonight. When the League started playing, I stood in the back of the room and listened for a bit. So precise! As they played I was fascinated to see so many right hands picking in perfect synchronization. The visual alone was amazing. I had quite a few friends there tonight too, some who are great musicians themselves, and I was happy to see them looking really absorbed in the performance. We played Hope again and Curt asked me to basically play as much as I wanted on it. It felt great onstage. I tried to construct what I was doing so that the piece sort of alternated between "Tom moments" and a circulation that comes in once in awhile. I did some textural things, some more soloistic things and finally some bass notes. I laughed to myself during the soloistic bits. As I was making up melodies I was trying to anticipate the chord changes but a few times I arrived exactly 2 beats early thanks to the odd time signature of the piece. Not a train wreck by any means, and in fact hardly noticeable to anyone but me probably but it just made me smile since the League are SO good with unusual countings.

A quick parting tonight as they had a long late drive back to Long Beach. I shook hands with Chris, Curt, Tony, John, Bob, Taylor, Igor, Colin, Travis and Sandra and they were off (see I got all their names down!) Sad to see them go of course, and I hope to get to do more with them in the future!

Thu April 15 - Huntington Beach, CA
Bob, Tony and Igor
LCG at the Liquid Den

Today's show was actually the last to be booked of the LCG tour. We struggled a bit filling the date, but I eventually found a League/King Crimson fan named Lob who books for the "Liquid Den". It's basically a beer bar, and probably stands as the rowdiest and dingiest place on the League's tour. Ironically at the end of the night Chris told me they made more money here than at the WOW hall in OR (due to WOW's big operating expenses). They had it all tonight though, including a drunk hispanic guy who kept yelling things like "You guys are great!" and "Cut it up!!!" Tonight we tried an experiment that Curt, Chris and I had talked about since Goleta; I sat in with the League on "Hope." I think the only released recording of this composition is on a CD called theRobert Fripp String Quintet which includes Robert on electric guitar, the California Guitar Trio on acoustics and Trey Gunn on Stick. Ahh... there's the connection! Big shoes to fill for me and I was definitley winging it having never played the song and never rehearsed it with the League, but... everyone seemed to enjoy the collaboration and Curt suggested we do it again tomorrow.

After the show, I followed the League back to Mark Perry's house where they're staying. I've known Mark for several years now, and have heard about his house often as CGT stay there when they're in town as well. I'd never been there before though. Great place! A 1903 (?) built home that was actually some sort of boarding house. Quite large and wonderfully restored by Mark and his wife. Domino's catered the evening after which Mark gave me a tour. We wound up in his studio/computer room and got into exploring his record collection. Unbelievable! He had probably hundreds of Peter Gabriel and King Crimson recordings.. with all kinds of obscure things I didn't know existed. Time flew by and I suddenly realized it was 1:30am and I was planning on driving back to Encinitas. I got home at 3am, but it was worth it.

Wed April 14 - Los Angeles, CA
Curt, Sandra and Igor backstage at Genghis
onstage at Genghis

Having actually driven to LA last night I had no real driving to do today and found myself with an open schedule during the day. I decided to have fun with it and wound up hanging out for a bit at Stick Enterprises before meeting my Berklee-alum buddy Emily at her work for lunch and a tour. She works in a great business called Riptide Music that does music licensing and composing for all kinds of TV, movie and video game spots. It was fun to get to see them work for a bit and at Emily's prompting I gave them a brief Stick intro. It's funny how many different ways music can be approached or thought of. LA has a wealth of talented writers, arrangers, etc who specialize in writing music to support "something." It's a concept I never really think of in my own music. I seem to try to just write music for music's sake, and worry about trying to figure out how to sell it afterwards. Who knows, maybe someday I'll get a chance to try things from the other side!

The show tonight was one that I was probably most worried about... simply because it was in "LA." There's a real tendency towards focusing on the raw numbers in LA (such as how many people show up). It doesn't matter how good the music is or how original, or even matter that your audience is willing to pay a higher ticket price (at all of $10) than every other act a venue normally has. All that matters is how many people paid to get in. Since I actually helped book this show and the next two, I was feeling the pressure a bit. In the end though we met our quota. Emmett and Yuta Chapman came to the show tonight which was a very pleasant surprise. It was a treat to sit next to Emmett while the League played and hear his take on everything they were doing. Some of my favorite comments included, "They're playing in 13!" (on the first piece), "It's so precise it sounds like a Scottish Band!" and "It's kind of creepy!" (jokingly in refrence to the fact that everyone but Chris was wearing all black).

Tues April 13 - Canoga Park, CA
Welcome to the Mercury (please use the back door)
Too big for the Mercury stage!

Just a short sprint for me this time and not a full tour, but I'm quite happy to be joining the Leage of Crafty Guitarists for the next few days. I feel a little like I'm playing hookey from getting my new album done to be here, but.. I love what the League does and couldn't resist joining them for at least the S. CA. dates of their tour.

The League is represented on this tour by Curt Golden (director), Tony Geballe, Bob Williams, Sandra Prow, John (?), Chris Gibson, Travis Metcalf, Igor Abuladze and Colin (?) as well as Taylor (?) helping with sound and staging. As you can see I'm struggling with names... a little, but I'm making it a personal goal to know everyone's before the next few days are over!

The show last night in goleta at the Mercury Lounge went pretty well. I think there were maybe 40 people or so in the audience, but for the Mercury that feels like a pretty full house. It's a fun place with a wonderful owner and unique "retro" vibe. They actually lock the front door during performances since the stage is in the front. I was a little nervous coming into my set. I've been working hard on artwork, editing, mixing, etc for the new CD the past few weeks and haven't had much time actually on the Stick. I realized during soundcheck I couldn't remember part of a bass line to a piece I often play. Eek! I worked it out before the show though and in the end did I think a fair to good set.

The League were very good. They really did justice to some of the tougher "classic" League compositions. There's some new pieces floating around too and a couple of them really caught my attention. They all seem to be having a blast on the trip. All 10 of them are driving in two mini vans and are sometimes crammed into as few as 3 hotel rooms (!). Chris made the comment to me that if they weren't all Guitar Craft folks it would probably never work. I can believe it. There's a discipline and focus and "extended tolerance" training that seems to come with Guitar Craft.
Sandra tallies merch
Taylor and Travis prepare 9 DI boxes (!)