Sunday September 13, 2009 - San Diego, CA
We've spent the past week working pretty diligently on our studio album together. On Tuesday Ben Moore, a great local engineer came over to help us with the setup. Bert was keen to try to essentially use our live setup for some of the pieces, since we'd just played in that sonic setting for three weeks. It was a bit of a challenge, the question being how can we hear ourselves from the live sound system without that sound influencing the mics on Bert's guitar. In the end I think Ben helped figure out a way to do it that was surprisingly good. Our approach was then to use this "live" setup for pieces that felt like maybe they wanted that "feel" and use a more conventional studio setup (with headphones) for pieces that seemed to work best that way.

Today we ent back to the real "live" world for one more show; an art evcnt called Artwalk On The Bay in downtown San Diego. Gorgeous setting, and I really enjoyed playing for the crowds of art enthusiasts.

out of the studio and out of doors
what the really cheap seats saw

Sunday September 6, 2009 - Sedona, AZ
Today we had another long drive and what Bert keeps referring to as our final show of the tour (though actually there's one more in San Diego next weekend). It was our second visit to Sedona, AZ (the first about a year ago) and the place is of course as stunning as ever. We played outdoors at our friend Ken's home and the setting was just ideal. Bright stars overhead, a beautiful red rock home and garden and a quiet atmosphere. Great!
Stuck in Traffic in Sedona (really, we were!)
Sedona House concert

Saturday Sept. 5, 2009 - Santa Fe, NM
a quick drive through tour of Santa Fe

Tonight we played in Santa Fe, NM. We had a fantastic write up in the local paper but unfortunately there was also a major event happening downtown at the same time that probably drew a lot of the attention away. But we still had fun, met some nice people and got to go to a late dinner downtown at a place called the Atomic Cafe. I ordered the "Atomic Pie" which was basically Frito chips covered in very spicy chili with onions and lots of Santa Fe green chilis. Here's the bizarre part... somehow I managed to get a bit of chili into my eye! I guess it must have been on my finger or something, but wow... not recommended for good times. The burning stopped after maybe 30 minutes where I just looked overly emotional.

Friday Sept 4, 2009 - Denver, CO
A relatively short drive today from Boulder to Denver. We're staying and playing at the "Plus Gallery"; a modern art gallery right downtown. Karen and Ivar are old friends of CGT and it was a great setting for us. They were helped with promotion and such by Rob M. too who created some really nice promotional materials. Visual art and the music we do definitely go together! I also had a chance to reconnect with my friend Lorne Bregitzer who went to Berklee the same time I did. Lorne is a fantastic audio engineer and was very helpful when I first started setting up my own studio a long long time ago. It was fun to learn he's now a published author as well (check out "Secrets of Recording") Thanks to Lorne we also played in the morning at the University of Colorado, Denver where he teaches recording. It was a great recital hall with a lot of very curious students. I was happy that they were not only curious about our instruments, but also the music we do and recoginzed it as being something a bit unusual on a musical level.

the Plus Gallery is ready for us! (audience view)
... and musicians' view

I remembered to take a pic of the audience! (just post encore)

my shower in Denver, (with a nice view of downtown!)

Kings Recital Hall (CU Denver)

Monday Sept. 1, 2009 - Erie (Boulder), CO
Today started what is sort of the last "leg" of the tour. The first leg was marked by only a few long drives (discounting my solo trip from San Diego to Austin of course). But for the last few, we have hours to drive every day between shows. Yesterday we made the trek from Kansas City to Boulder, CO where today we played in a great little club house. The show was hosted by Bert's longtime friends Jon, Bonnie and Elaine and also featured guitarist Michael de Lalla opening with a solo acoustic guitar set that was quite nice. After the concert we went back to Jon's home and he put on Tom Waitts' version of "Waltzing Matilda" which prompted me to play Emmett Chapman's version of it for Jon. Jon is a serious lover of unusual music and fell in love with Emmett's album right away which was fun.

the room is ready (Boulder, CO)
guitarists talk shop

The road to Colorado (I took about 410 pics trying to catch the lightning.. nope)

Sunday August 30 - Kansas City, MO
Our second night of two in the Kansas City area tonight. During the day we made a quick (one hour) tour of the downtown World War I Museum. I'm not sure what the connection is to Kasas City, but this is apparently the US' main memorial for the War. I came away feeling a little more informed about the history of the war, but as confused as ever as to how it ever really happened.

walking to the WWI museum
view from the tower

part of one exhibit

This evening.. something significantly more cheerful, a lovely outdoor house concert. People came with folding chairs, positioned in a semi circle around us in a nice big backyard lawn area surrounded by trees. Actually trees and tree climbing was part of the pre show fun. It got a little dark at the end of the show, but was still ok. Playing the trickier pieces is always a bit more scary when you can't see what you're doing! ;-)

nice woodsy setting for our MO concert
working towards the best view for the show

Saturday Aug. 29, 2009 - Kansas City, MO
Tonight was the first of two nights we're playing in the Kansas City area. It's a great area, but rather confusing geographically as it seemed we were staying right on the border between Kansas and Missouri. Anytime we drove anywhere I had no idea what state we were in. The show tonight was very well organised by Stephen and Jennifer and complete with lanards and (a first for us I think) beers custom brewed/bottled for the event!

Bert Lams: photographer
What the fuss was about.. custom brewed beer for the show!

Friday Aug. 28, 2009 - Wichita, KS
I've stolen another photo from Bert's diary at Once again I was apparently too distracted to get many pics.. probably from the extra gear stuff again. But I did take one of Bert in his quarters for the night. Tonight's show was put together in large part by Brian White, an old CGT fan/friend and was in a great little room with a very attentive audience. We had some extra time upon arrival and played a bit with speaker placement which was a good thing. A funny little half wall was probably sucking up a lot of the sound where we first placed things. Sometimes a little change makes a big difference! We've become experts now at helping to rearrange living rooms for the best possible sound and visuals! ;-)

Bert and friends

live in Wichita! (photo stolen from Bert's diary at

Thursday Aug. 27, 2009 - Oklahoma City, OK
The things I'm taking pictures of seem to be getting more and more random. In fact I almost didn't take any today! Probably because I was either driving or, once we were at the venue and set up, I was playing with my other new toys; a little portable recording setup and a video camera! Of course that stuff is quite a bit harder to go through and sort, upload, etc.. so for today so far just words mostly (and one really dirty car window picture of downtown Oklahoma City as we drove by!).

driving to downtown OK City

The show tonight was in a venue called The Blue Door, pretty close to downtown Oklahoma City. I'd actually been there once before opening for CGT many years ago. It's a wildly funky place, but the owner is dedicated to just booking "good music." The plain concrete slab floor has a giant crack in it and folding chairs for the audience to sit in. One side of the building is actually held upright with external support beams and the other leans inward a bit. But... he gets a lot of well know musicians coming through because he's a great host for them! We were told they'll be doing some work on the building soon... but not too much. Just enough to keep it "safe."

Wednesday Aug. 26 - Dallas, TX
Tonight was our final show in Texas for this trip. Appropriately enough, it was a living room concert, with a giant "TEXAS" sign right above us and some fantasic BBQ after the show (which included something that was a first for me; beans with sausages and jalapenos!) April and her family took great care of us.

more TX barbeque! (beans with sausage and jalapenos!)
last night in Texas (Dallas)

Wednesday Aug. 26, I-35N towards Dallas, TX
Bert is behind the wheel.. so I have a little time to catch up on e-mail and photos and such. After 10 days, we've now finished off our run of shows in Austin and Houston. Pretty amazing really.. typically on tours you wind up driving maybe 2-6 hours a day and playing the same night. The fact that we got to spend over a week in one city is a real benefit to the house concert format. Yesterday we had lunch with Pat Mastelotto and Michael Bernier who are working on the new Stickmen record at Pat's house. We got a quick sneak preview of some of the pieces which are pretty wild. It was fun to see Pat's place finally too.

Pat's happy place
The $600 piano

sheet music... Pat style

Earlier we all ate lunch at the Salt Lick, a BBQ restaurant near where we were staying. Acually for Bert and I it was our third time there over the course of the last week. The menu is more or less a choice between whether you want just one plate of meat or all you can eat "family style." I tried that one day.. but didn't give too impressive a performance. So I reverted to just a plate today.

The Salt Lick BBQ at work

And finally at night, we had our last show in Austin (of 8!) at the Cactus Cafe. Suzanne Olsen joined us for two pieces again and many of our friends we'd seen throughout the week came again. It was neat to see the venue as I've heard several stories about it. A great way to close out our Austin visit!

The stage is set (Cactus Cafe, Austin)

Monday Aug. 24, Austin, TX
We're back in Austin for a few more days after one night and two shows in Houston. Since the second show was in the afternoon on Sunday, we opted to drive back to our friend Bruce's in Austin that night to be set and ready for the next few days. Having stayed at Bruce's for several days last week it really is strating to feel a bit like "home" now. Though.. we did find a dead critter in the garage this morning that made us cringe (and run for our cameras!):

garage visitor...

Tonight we played another show hosted by the Oleson family, this time in the home of Suzanne's grandparents. The had a nice old home that worked very well for us and it was great to hear Suzanne open again. She'll be sitting in with us one more time tongight at the Cactus Cafe.

a quick soundcheck rehearsal

Yesterday we spent the day in Houston, with Bert and I joining the masses for a "tax free" shopping weekend at a giant mall. Apparently it's something Texas does to help people out with back to school shopping. Then, we did a small show for some good friends, hosted by Tim and Tamy. I actually missed getting any photos, but Tamy had a brand new camera and was quite busy with it during our performance. I'll have to see if I can steal some photos!

in Houston (photo by Tamy, posted by Bert, stolen by Tom)
(again from Tamy, stolen from Bert's diary at:

Saturday Aug. 22, 2009 - Houston, TX
We had a great show tonight at the "Oxford Hall" in Houston, thanks in large part to our friend Ricardo who helped set it up, promote it, and did a great opening set. The venue was actually built by its owner behind his house and I guess is used for all sorts of local events. For us it was a nice intimate space and we had a very generous audience. Afterwards we went out to a late dinner with Ricardo and had some good Mexican food.

Bert welcomes everyone to Oxford Hall

Ricardo Rodriguez opens at Oxford Hall

Two other guys play at Oxford Hall

This morning we say goodbye to Bruce who has been hosting us since we arrived here in Austin. Though we'll be back next week for a few more days here, Bruce will actually be out of town. He took ridiculously good care of us, letting us use his home, his car, his equipment and making (more than once) elaborate breakfast. We'll miss seeing him again when we (again) use his house next week! Bye Bruce, thanks!

another fantastic "Bruce-fast"
one last photo op with Bruce

Friday Aug 21, 2009 - Austin, TX
Last night we played at the home of Stick Player "Stokes" in Jonestown, TX. Definitely one of the most remote homes we've been to, but a great home. We got a little lost on the way there as the final stretch of the drive was on totally unpaved "roads" and the gps took us past the property. We finally hit a stretch where the car was sliding out a little and the "road" ahead was looking even less hospitable so we made a phone call to sort things out and I did a very very slow U-turn. The show itself was great with a very welcoming group of people mostly from the families church I think. I missed getting a picture of one of the home's more unique features; a firepole sliding from a loft down to the main room!

...reallly doesn't look like the right road anymore

there it is!

Thursday Aug 20, 2009 - Austin, TX
We played outdoors tonight which proved to be a little bit of a challenge for my gear. But, I got it all running after a little glitch early on and things went smoothly from there. The setting was basically an outdoor party in a large backyard and the audience was a bit more vocal than we often have in living rooms, but it was fun. Somehow by the end we'd gotten so loud that Bert's guitar started feeding back.. but the audience made us play two encores, so by the end we were winging it a bit and the feedback actually worked in a strange sort of "Hendrix" way. Our host Lanny said he actually hosts groups in his yard during South by South West, a large music festival held in Austin every year. Wild!

before the show...

...and during

Wednesday Aug 19, 2009 - Austin, TX
Tonight we played a house concert at some new friends' home in the northern part of Austin. Suzanne Olson, a great local mandolin player and current Berklee student joined us for a few pieces and did a nice opening set which was a fun twist. It was also fun for me to chat Berklee with her a bit, especially since just afew weeks ago I was helping the school out with their Berklee in LA program. Suzanne will also be joining us next week for a few shows which will be fun. After the show, I got to "geek out" a little on some fun vintage music gear. Our host actually owns one of the original Moog pedal bass synths, something I've heard on records from groups like Genesis and the Police for years, but.. my first time getting to try one out in person!

Tuesday Aug 18, 2009 - Austin, TX
We had our third show tonight at the home of some great CGT fans/friends. They actually had a whole display case set up with CGT CDs for everyone to admire. I have to think though that they just had that set up for our visit.. but maybe it's really like that all the time? Hmmm.. They also had some really nice collections of rocks, gems and meteor fragments and (shhh) a secret room in the house that among other things stored a very very old Gibson mandolin. Very nice!

The stage is set is the CD display!

Monday August 17, 2009 - Austin, TX
This morning started with a trip to the local Toyota service center as we discovered a strange grinding noise coming from one of my wheels last night. Boo. So, the morning was eaten up a bit by that plus lunch, camera shopping, etc.. but there's still time! We've been rehearshing and refining a new piece every morning, which has been made easier by staying in one house with our friend Bruce. Bert and I had a laugh today as we were busy smacking out some loud odd rhythms in my little headphone/laptop setup and Bruce soundly snored away contendly behind us (probably just catching up from his long day as brisket maker and show host the day before).

Music to snore by ;-)

Tonight we played at the home of Paul Murray, a long time guitar craft player. He and a friend did an opening set that mixed bits of "league-ish" instrumentals along with a Tears for Fears cover (vocal!) and a Beatles song for a very nice ecclectic mix. At the end of our set, they joined us and we did two pieces together, Miserlou the old surf guitar classic and one of Bert's old league compositions; Asturias.

The stage is set at the Murray household
An encore with more and more guitars!

Sunday August 16, 2009 - Austin, TX
Bert Lams and I had our first show of about a three week south west tour tonight. Our friend Bruce did an amazing job of organizing for us. He owns a giant "smoker" that he actually tows behind his car. He had to get up at 4am, and tow it to the church where we were playing and then started cooking the brisket for the event. Needless to say with that level of commitment by the chef, dinner was awesome. Bert and I are working in another new piece at the moment which had its debut. It went ok I think, but I still feel like it wants to evolve and develop a bit more.

show #1 in Austin
(photo probably by Bruce, stolen from Bert's diary at
(again, probably by Bruce, definitely stolen by Tom from )

Bruce's smoker (at rest)

Want more Tom stories and trivia? Check out the website archives for past tour diaries.

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