November 2006 - some final scenes from the M/G European tour.
A few last scenes from our final few days on this trip... this time I'll let the viewer imagine their own captions!

San Diego Airport homecoming

Boda Guitar a Pilar (club) in Italy



Fribourg, Switzerland


Antibes, France


November 20, 2006 -- Milano, Italy
It's our final day here and technically we're on our way to the last show. We left early though to go to a shopping mall for Jerry, so while he runs around the different stores, I'm sitting in a busy mall cafe. Sadly, no internet of course. Maybe just maybe the venue will have it.

Yesterday, we drove to Milan from Switzerland, but took all day to do it. We had one long detour as the GPS took us onto a road through the Alps that wound up being closed halfway towards where we needed to get. It could have been worse I guess, but we probably lost at least 45 minutes driving there, then back to another road. Strange too was that every little town we came across seemed completly closed, which made asking for better directions almost impossible. The scenery was pretty amazing though.

We also spent time at a great music store in Lugano called MDM (Mundo di Musica I think). We did a clinic there last year, and this year stopped mainly so Jerry could try to unload some old gear of his. While we were there though, the owner very graciously built a new power supply for me to replace the one I fried in Fribourg. I'll still have to get a new one for home, but at least for Europe trips I have one now.

At night, we went to dinner at Roger Salem's home (the man behind most of this tour for us). It was great to see his family again and nice to see where they live. After dinner Roger and Jerry went over tour finances while Roger's son Andrea did magic tricks for me (in Italian) and then played some of his piano lessons for me. I taught him "chopsticks" too which he has now added to his repertoire.


November 19, 2006 - Fribourg, Switzerland
We've made it to Switzerland for our second to last show, and surprisingly I haven't yet gotten online anywhere. There are wireless signals everywhere, but none that seem to allow wandering Americans in. With our last show and stop in Milano on Tuesday (where I've almost never gotten on), this might not get posted till I'm back in California. Hmmm...

Long drive today.. too long in fact for me. Beautiful trip through the Alps, but very windy at points and when we arrived after about 6.5 hours I found myself more than a little light headed and dazed. Dazed enough in fact I did something completely stupid while setting up and plugged some of my US voltage only gear directly into the Swiss power line. Ug.. amazingly of the two units that were connected, one seems to have escaped unscathed, but the other now apparently (and understandably) has a blown power supply. Not a huge issue as it's only about a $50 part, but.. the bass side of the Stick will be without effects for the last two shows it would seem. Time now to walk a few blocks in the rain from the hotel to the club for dinner.


November 18, 2006 - Antibes, France
I'm online, I'm online! It's been a real internet drought for us lately.. at least with getting online using our laptops. Amazing how hard it can be to come by in Italy. But.. we're in France now, and like somebody turning on a light switch, voila! Free WiFi in the hotel lobby.

Fun but unusual show last night in Reggio Emilia. Actually it was in a town outside the city which took me the navigator (and therefore us) on a bit of a detour first as I found the same street in the city itself, but the address proved to be a bank. The venue was a pretty amazing place. I'm not sure what the history was, but it appears to have maybe been an old train station at one point. In any case, there's a real train station motif, complete with rail cars used as the "backstage" area and part of the club, a ticket booth, and (very cool) a giant window serving as the stage's backdrop which looks out onto a set of rather heavily traveled train tracks. Seeing trains go by behind a group has to be one of the most interesting backdrops I've seen. Jerry and I played about an hour, then our friends "PG Time" (a Peter Gabriel Tribute Band) played for an hour. I sat in with them for Shock the Monkey, then Jerry sat in for several songs, including a duet of Don't Give Up, with lyrics sheet clutched tightly in hand.

After the show, the club turned into a disco. In fact, I think they asked both bands to cut things short so the disco could start. Of course this meant that many people who came just for the disco saw us, which in some ways was a good thing, but also meant there was an unusual amount of talking going on during both sets. Once the disco was up and running I took a few pics from the dark stage of the partying crowd. A few girls took note of the photography and started posing. My guess is they probably had no idea who I was and thought I was taking pictures for a wall of photos at the entrance of the club. But who knows.. maybe they'll discover themselves online here at ThosSounds news.

stage prep in R.E. (note train car dressing room in upper left)
part of the hall

Back of hall with another train car
Pre-show munchies Italian style

Backstage (car) with M/G and PG Time
What the crowd looked like for M/G's set

What the crowd turned into for the after show disco
Random happy to be photographed discoites


November 17, 2006 - Trieste, Italy
Very good show(s) last night in Trieste. There were actually two in the same place; a music school here in Trieste. It was a bit tricky to find as there are many tiny one way streets that change names frequently and actually the area the school is in is for pedestrians only. In the end, we wound up taking the GPS setup around by foot to find the street we needed.

The school has a small but wonderfully equipped studio (with plenty of things I wish I had at home!) We played in one of their larger recording rooms and the room sound was really quite good. Funny how hearing yourself clearly can help you play better. We had a great dinner between the shows in a local restaurant and I learned a few interesting facts about Trieste. Apparently it's only been part of Italy since 1954. Before that it was part of Austria for about 500 years, and at the end of the second world war was ina sort of limbo for awhile which had it for a time as part of Yugoslavia, and eventually had American and British Troops stationed here as a sort of peace keeping force. In any case, while it does still seem Italian the feel is noticeably different from even other northern cities like Milano. Still though.. I was awoken today by the sound of maybe a half dozen Italian construction workers just outside my window. (The "sound" being their chatter which was louder than their tools).

Trieste
Following signs... lots of signs

Our street at last!
Very well equipped Trieste studio

Clinic in Trieste


November 16, 2006 - Vedano al Lambro, Italy
We're back in Italy now after 5 days in Switzerland. Scanning down the page here, you might notice a much bigger gap in entries lately. It's been that kind of period. I think the Nov. 9 scheduling (2 gigs and a 7 hour drive on 4 hours sleep) took a lot out of both of us and the schedule has been busy enough that there was no real time to really recover lately. Today however is a day off finally and so, a chance to go through what few pictures I did take over the last several days.

Last night and the night before we did "clinics" in Italian music stores. Basically these are more or less like shorter concerts where we open things up for audience questions. Strangely in Milano, there was not one question about the Stick (I think it actually made Jerry happy). There were actual Stick players in Verona though so they had so many questions for me, he made them wait till the end.

Lucky Music clinic, Milano 11.13.06

Our last night of our several day Swiss stay was in a very small town called Muri. It was incredibly quiet and the "stage" area was probably one of the tightest we've ever set up on. I had a bench seat in front of and beside me which wound up being used to hold my monitor speaker. It was so close to the Stick itself that I think at one point I was actually getting some feedback through my effects processors (made stranger still by the fact that I was looping a part at the time!) Maybe something I'll have to mess with on purpose some day. Some of my pedals were also setup under the bench seat making my normal electronic juggling act a little more challenging than usual. I think the odds are pretty good that if we were to keep playing small places like this, someday I'll just fall over while reaching for pedals.

Muri (outside) 11.12.06
Muri (inside) 11.12.06

Our Swiss stay also included fun shows in Geneve, Jona and Basel. The venues in Basel and Jona were places we played last year, so it was nice to reconnect with some of the people there and it's always a bit "homey" to revisit a good venue. Geneve proved a key moment for me on this trip too as I found a laundromat (while on my last set of clean clothes!) I think I'm "almost" set with laundry for the duration of the trip now. We've had some great food on this trip (especially in Italy), but my dinner in Jona was the first moment I had to grab a camera. I ordered the "Gramma Burger" which turned out to be a large cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg. Good, but huge (sometimes you miss details ahead of time in translation).

Geneve (laundry day!) 11.12.06

"Gramma burger" in Jona 11.10.06

Culturium stage in Basel 11.09.06
Culturium after show 11.09.06


November 9, 2006 - A4 towards Milano and Basel
A highlight night last night in Schio. "Team Schio" (not their name, but then their group doesn't seem to have one) always do an incredible job of promotion and so we had a sold out turnout and a very enthusiastic crowd. The only dissapointing thing about the day was that the trip getting there took much longer than we thought (traffic for one) and we had to leave quite early this morning. They're such great people and good friends that it would have been nice to spend a little more time with them, but we did have a great (very late) dinner afterwards. Bed time: 2:30am. Rise and shine: 6:30. As I write, we are currently at a complete stop on the highway. I think I just saw a police car zip by. Today's adventures are scheduled to include two events, but given the travel time, this delay and the fact that we have to cross the border into Switzerland, there's a little worry we might not make it to the first one. We'll see..

Opening last night's show was a fun duo called Inventing Eve. Two twin sisters who were born in the UK, but raised in the US and now live near Venezia. They were a nice complement to our show.

Navigating in traffic to Basel
Part of "Team Schio" (Valerioa, Mara and Paolo at dinner)

An old section of the Schio Theatre (under reconstruction)
It's perfectly safe... really (my power connection for the evening)

Schiozians wait in the lobby...
...while "security" guards the top of the stairs

Jerry shakes sharp metal objects at the audience
Soundcheck for Inventing Eve


November 8, 2006 - Torino, Italy
A nice long morning at the hotel today before we leave for Schio (actually it's almost afternoon), so some time to go through more pictures and spend the remaining 15 minutes of online time bought from the hotel last night. Fun show last night in what is basically a disco in Torino. Our friend Marco who first brought us to Italy and now books the Tony Levin band here arranged this date for us and he always does a great job of things. I guess the Tony Levin Band played this same venue earlier this year, but it was before Jerry and I "joined" the tour as opener, so I'd actually never been there. Funky vibe with very dark lighting and a relatively small but enthusiastic crowd. One does appreciate hearing people yell "bravvvi!" after songs. Strange though was that the dressing room, located just behind the stage and near plenty of electrical happenings was flooded. One house crew person referred to the dressing room as "Venezia." What's even odder though is that Jerry said when TLB was here back in about May, it was flooded then too. Venezia indeed.

Disco!
The club is in Torino.. the dressing room: Venezia

The dark disco stage is set
Happy Torino-ites

hotel room with a view (pt 1)
hotel room with a view (pt 2)

Looking forward to a good show tonight in Schio where we've been told it's been sold out for over a week now. Our friends there have put on shows for Rachel Z and the Tony Levin Band (with us opening) in the past and I don't think they've ever had a show that hasn't sold out! They're really amazing with promotion! Some time ago while at one of their home's I saw a poster from a Rachel Z show they put together and thought maybe the great design had something to do with all their success. So back then I made my own version to see if it might work for us too. Here now from the archives, both poster versions. I wonder what they actually did for tonight?

Schio team poster for Rachel
my attempt for M/G



November 7, 2006 - Torino, Italy
We've made it to Torino after two nights in Milano and Lecco and with luck I'm about to actually get online and post this update. It still surprises me a bit how difficult it is to get online sometimes in Italy. We've been staying with our friend Paolo for two nights near Milano and he was complaining that in his area he doesn't even have the option to get high speed access because the community still has not put in any cabling that can do the job. I guess I'm just spoiled.

Two night ago we played in an amazing club in Milan called the Blue Note. My impression is that it is not related to the famous NYC club but that it is just modeled after it. It was one of the best set up venues of its size I've ever been to. Unfortunatley after two days of driving from Allaire my brain was a bit worn out and I think I made more than my usual quota of less than stellar moments, but it was still a good experience. Nice too was that one of the managers is actually a friend and former student of Bert Lams. We didn't have much time to chat, but found we knew many of the same people as he (Fabio) is a long time Guitar Craft practicioner. I've found you can pretty much always count on Crafties to be well organized and tidy and though I'm not sure how much of it was really due to Fabio personally, that definitely describes the Blue Note Milano!

Arrival at the Blue Note, Milano
The evening's drum selection

The stage is set...

Last night we did something of a clinic in a small music store in Lecco. I'd never been to Lecco before, but it was one of the most beautiful landscapes I've seen in Italy. The town seems to be wedged between some very high mountains and a lake. It was in general much calmer than any of the big cities and reminded me in a way of Encinitas, my home town. Not that Encinitas has lakes or mountains, but.. the lack of real traffic, nice scenery, relative ease in parking and a more laid back approach to life seem to be shared in common between the two places. Our friend Luca from the Metamorphosi Trio helped set up this performance and then sat in with us for several pieces on flugel horn which was great. He's a great player, or as Jerry kept announcing him "..the best living Italian trumpet player." (maybe a stretch.. but then I don't even know any other Italian trumpet players, so maybe not!). We first met Luca last year in Sweden when we played with him, Isildur's Bane, Mick Karn and several others at an event there called IB Expo '05. Luca also just played at IB Expo '06 along with one of this year's other guests Pat Mastelotto. It was fun hearing what they worked on together and to get little updates on many of our mutual friends.

Today for lunch... a "San Diego Wrap" (chicken) at a Burger King overlooking the A4 freeway enroute to Torino. Definitely not typical Italian fare, but a curious change. I'm guessing it's called a San Diego Wrap due to the tortilla and salsa. Strange... and strange too when your home is used to make something sound exotic...


November 4, 2006 - driving from Allaire, France to Cluny, France
We had a great experience the last few days in Allaire, France being part of an annual Stick seminar and "Tape Guitare" festival. After driving from Rome on wednesday, Jerry and I stayed with our friends JP and Christelle in Cluny. They are always amazing hosts and have become very good friends over the past few years. JP then came along with us to Allaire which was a big help since well.. my French is much worse than my Italian, which is worse than my Spanish which really isn't so great anyways.

"downtown" Allaire
First night gathering at an Allaire bar

strange bar bathroom (in the alley)

I'd actually heard of the Allaire event for a few years and seen many pictures of it on the internet. Friends of mine like Emmett Chapman and Greg Howard have been part of it in past years and spoken very highly of the level of presentation at the shows and the great enthusiasm of French Stickist in general. They weren't wrong at all. There are many great Stick players in France (I use the term "many" relatively of course) and as students they were very willing to listen and most importantly try things I presented.

A French Stick orchestra rehearses for Saturday's show
...tap tap tap

time for lunch
"to table!"

We played at the show last night too, and the organizers did an amazing job of transforming what is really a fairly simple community buidling into an elaborate environment for a show with about as big a lighting and fog rig as could be fit into the space. I don't think Jerry has ever been around so many Stick players for so long in his life.

The stage is set
famous film director JP and the "Tom cam"

During our time in Allaire, we stayed with a very nice couple named Gil and Odile. They have volunteered to host musicians from the festival in the past including my friends Emmett and his brother Dan, Greg Howard and Jim Lampi. They have an amazing home, very unlike anything one might see where I live, complete with a thatched roof and a great old fire place. It was fun staying with them, knowing that they knew so many friends of mine already. Their hospitality helped make the world feel a little closer together.

lovely house of Gil and Odile
JP and Gil plan the trip back to Cluny


October 31, 2006 - A1 north from Roma, Italy
Rome is burning! Rome is burning! Or at least I thought my rack was last night. Unbeknownst to me, the club's one and only little fog machine for the stage was setup directly behind my rack. Anyone who's read these tour pages in the past will know that getting all my equipment powered properly here in Europe has sometimes been a real challenge on past tours. I think I finally have a working solution, but last night on the first song of our second show when smoke started billowing out of my rack I feared the worst! The smoke was scented to be sweat though so that put my mind to ease because while fortunatley my rack has never actually been on fire, I don't think it would be a pleasant smell if it was. Trick or treat to be sure... and it's Halloween today! Well.. it would be back in the staes at least. Italy doesn't seem to have adopted it much though I get the feeling some corporations are pushing for it a bit.

AYUDO! AYUDO!
Nag's Head is almost ready for the show

PG Tribute's Fabio
PG guest Alice is armed for "Don't Give Up"

PG Tribute Band soundcheck

Last night's show was actually a double billing once again with our (I think I can now say) "old friends" the PG Tribute Band. Truly a great group of guys and it's always a pleasure to do shows with them. Jerry and I played first, then they came on and eventually had us (mostly Jerry) sit in on some pieces. Allesandro the bass player and I sort of shared roles on San Jacinto and Shock the Monkey which was great fun. We would trade off who was playing sections just with eye cues or sometimes just add little fills around each other's bass parts. The Grand finale was of course In Your Eyes where I switched personas and shared roles with guitar player Fabio. Great fun.. hope to seem them again soon!

During the day yesterday, I had my last chance to do some sightseeing in Rome. Only a few hours though as most of the day was spent on more business oriented things. Veronica, still our ever gracious hostess, lives in an amazingly central area, so in two hours time I managed to make quick walking visits to St Mary Maggiore (the only major basillica I'd not been to) then revisited the Colliseum and San Pietro en Vietrilo.

Saint Mary Maggiore
...and again

do I really need to say what this is?
interior: San Pietro en Vietrilo

Michelangelo's Moses


October 29, 2006 - Roma, Italy
"Thanks to its high standard of nutritional value, ice cream deserves to be considered one of the most relevant, and of course real foods. It is regarded as a complete food, able to put the eater in a good mood thanks also to the availability of many colours and flavours. As its nutritional value is so high, with a medium caloric intake of 200-250 calories per hectogram, ice cream, especially the cream based one, can both easily replace the traditional meal (and be enjoyed even by those who are a little bit overweight!!!), and complete other meals of the day. For example, in appetence cases (which can affect children, the elderly, the sick, etc) or even helping sportsmen: its utmost digestibility is in any case very much appreciated. In accordance with food hygiene provisions, as only pasteurized eggs are used, but also thanks to the use of high standards of ingredients, ice cream is a hygenically safe product....It has been said that ice cream's inventors were Italian who took it all around Europe."
- brochure from Palazzo Del Freddo, Giovanni Fassi. est. 1880






October 28, 2006 - Autostrade A1 towards Roma

We're driving back to Rome now after our first show last night in Napoli. We played in a very nice and somewhat surprisingly new feeling theatre. Surprising just in that most things in Italy seem to feel much older than this did. The show was arranged by our friend Lino who has a group called Osana. They played before us as did another local group. Though this was my first time hearing Osana, I guess the group has been performing in various incarnations for about thirty years. They sounded great. Both bands did vocal tunes with all the lyrics in Italian. We had a bit more of a language barrier here as there seemed to be fewer people that understood english than there are farther north. Despite not speaking much english though, the first band still started all their songs with "one two three four!" A universal truth it seems.

My friend Ted who I know from San Diego came last night with two of his friends. He's in the Navy and has been stationed here for two years. After the show, a group of us went to our hotel's cafe for a bit. Ted shared some amazing stories from his trips to Afghanistan and Iraq. It was very interesting to hear his personal opinions on both countries and their situations which seemed a bit different than what one might hear on TV in America, but was actually (to me anyways) a bit uplifting. Not that there's anything really uplifting about any of it, just that his view seemed a lighter shade of grey.

Doors are open
Osana on stage

this photo almost got me in trouble
(Napolians seem suspicious of cameras)
Lino and Jerry

after show with Ted and Lucia


October 26, 11:30pm - Roma, Italia
We arrived in Rome early in the morning local time. About all I was good for was to then crash out on the couch of Jerry's friend Veronica for a bit. Eventually we made it out to dinner AND what was quite possibly the best ice cream I've ever had. Veronica led us to a place that's been open since 1880. I'd describe it, but.. how do you really capture ice cream in words? Pretty amazing anyways. Just may have to visit again and take the camera along. The good news now is that I'm still feeling a bit tired.. hoping the long travel day means I go to bed at something akin to a normal hour just from the fatigue. We shall see.

view from Veronica's window
a bit of Veronica and her rooftop


October 25, 2006 - somewhere in the air over the west
I'm airborne now, and one hour into what is a day of probably 14 hours or so of flying to get from LA to Rome (via NY) for a Marotta/Griesgraber tour in Italy, Switzerland and France. A plane change in NY will also join me up with Jerry and we'll travel together from there. I had a major hassle at the airport this morning as Delta has apparently decided no musical instruments are allowed on board planes. I've been flying all over the US and Europe now for over seven years carrying the Stick onboard and did the same with electric guitars to school in Boston for years before that, all with no problems. But today the check in person warned me security wouldn't let me through with with it. I didn't believe her and tried anyways, and sure enough security sent me back to the ticket counter. From there I pleaded my case (literally) with a supervisor as the Stick is just ina soft case, not the flight case it should be in for check in. But.. no avail. They charged me $100 for an extra bag and topped it off by making me sign a waiver that if it gets damaged it's not their fault. Bravo Delta.

Happier times last Sunday as I got to play and hang out with some of my best musical friends and some of San Diego's finest players at "Guitar Extravaganza." Peter Pupping's company Guitar Sounds puts together this annual show which this year focused on their three new CD releases. One of them, "Troubadour's Table" I recorded for Peter and actually made a few cameos on, playing bass, Alto Stick and guitar. We were happy to see last week that one of San Diego's bigger papers, the North County Times gave it a great review (an "A") and specifically mentioned how well it was recorded. I guess all that money I've spent in recent years on high end gear is starting to pay off!

Fred Benedetti and Peter Sprague
hooray for guitar!

William Wilson, Peter Pupping (front) Jeff Basile, Fred Benedetti (back)


October 16, 2006 - Encinitas, CA
I made it back home in the wee hours of Sunday morning from the all too brief TLB tour, arriving basically in one piece, but apparently not without catching a virus guitarist Jesse was unwilling incubating in the back seat of our van all week. I'm sure I'm not the only one who got it. As Tony pointed out.. that's just life in a van! Jerry is staying here now and after a long morning of dealing with equipment, and a doctor visit for me, we finally started rehearsing a bit for our upcoming European tour in November. Lots that we want to get through yet, but I think we'll be in good shape for this one. It's a long one, touching down in Italy, Switzerland and France. The dates in some cases are still firming up, but the most recent info I have is on the schedules page.

Before I leave town though, I actually have one last big show coming up locally. This Sunday, I'll be playing at one of my favorite SD spots; the Belly Up. An old guitar teacher of mine puts on an annual show he calls "Guitar Extravaganza" once a year and invites some of the biggest and best from SD's music scene to participate. This year's lineup includes jazz great Peter Sprague, flamenco/classical master Fred Benedetti, Peter Pupping's own quartet and yours truly as a cameo'd guest. Also guesting will be drummer Kevin Koch from Fatt Burger. This should be a great afternoon of music, and one I'm looking forward to. For more on it, check out www.guitarsounds.com


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

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