Friday Dec 30, 2005 - Encinitas, CA
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Once again another long period between updates, but with good excuses. I finally made it back to San Diego on Dec 18, and have spent the days in question doing a few local shows, a lot of last minute Christmas preparations and generally trying to "decompress" from the tour. I couldn't leave off on the tour diary though without telling the tale of our week in Sweden with Isildur's Bane. What an amazing group of people and an amazing concept!

Isildur's Bane (or IB for short) have been around for many many years in different configurations. Most recently they seem to be performing mainly as a about a seven piece group with drums, percussion, bass, two guitars, keys and cello, plus a regularly appearing guest vocalist. On their own they already have a huge range of tonalities and musical possibilities, but.. the past few years, they've been doing something they call "IB Expo" where they bring in other musicians to collaborate with. This time around the guests were Marotta/Griesgraber (USA), Mick Karn (UK) and two members of the Metamorphasi Trio (Italy).

The rehearsal room
all we need is Stick

I have to confess I wasn't really familiar with any of the other musicians before we arrived, but was very quickly blown away by the level of talent present. Monday night, Thomas, IB's "Agent" (one man business whirlwind) outlined the plan for the show. Equal sets were giving to (in order): IB, Mick Karn, Marotta/Griesgraber, Metamorphasi, and Sounds of Eternity (something of an IB side group). The core of IB, with M/G, Mick Karn and the Metamorphosi "duo" spent 3 days working on each other's material till various people were contributing to various sets. One highlight for me was doing my piece "Jungle" and on the second half, suddenly having the normal Stick and drum arrangement grow to incorporate electric guitar, classical guitar, fretless bass, electronic drums, percussion, ambient vocals, synth textures and flugelhorn. Wow! On paper it may read like overkill, but in reality everyone was careful to not be too greedy musically and the result was just amazing. Something like a rock orchestra!

Thomas helps plan the show

Hanging in a local music store.. possibly the only instrument we're missing: a saw!
(comes with gig bag)

I could go on for pages about everyone's contributions, but being a Stick player (or something of a guitar, bass, synth player) I probably spent most of my free time checking out and getting inspired by all of the guitar, bass and synth work going on. One highlight for me was getting to join in on one of Mick Karn's pieces called (I think) Twitchy. He has a wildly original style on fretless bass. On his own pieces the bass parts at once seem to work as both the bass line (grounding things) and the main melodic line. Definitely unique. People generally think of the Stick as a bass, probably since it does get used that way in bands a lot. In fact, I've noticed in Europe many people call the instrument a "Stick bass." I'm not quite sure where they're get that name, but of course when you have someone like Mick Karn playing, bass notes are the last thing on my mind. I picked up on a funky little guitar part from the recording of his piece that almost sounded like a guitar sample or something. I wound up layered a guitar sound and synth sound to try to achieve the same effect, turned off the bass strings and was off!

Mariette and Mick rehearse

A few more guitar and synth highlights... I really enjoyed hearing Mats Johansson (IB keys), Jonas Christophs (IB guitar) and Christian Saggese (Metamorphasi classical guitar). Christian is a frightening musician. Metamorphasi Trio work a lot as an improv group, and are aided greatly by the fact that Christian has both a fantastic technique on guitar and perfect pitch (the ability to recognize notes by name when you hear them). The classical guitar has a lot of subtle variations in tone and timbre that can be used almost the way an electric guitarist might use effects pedals. I thought going in to things that having a classical guitar mixed in with a rock band might be a bit strange, but Christian really made it work, in part because he seems able to play anything at all and in part because he's so adept at getting different tones out of his instrument all with his fingers. I had a lot of fun improvising in the show with him. Mats Johansson is one of the long time backbone members of IB and the band really seems to feature his writing. He had an array of amazing keyboard textures and loops that I would be quite hard pressed to describe, but are actually interesting to listen to just on their own. Pretty much the opposite technological extreme from Christian's classical guitar! Perhaps filling the middle ground between the two of them in terms of technology was Jonas on electric guitar. He has a great musical sense of when to be "textural" but is also a great soloist when the time calls for it. He had a great tone due in part to some crazy customized Fender amp that somebody had added a 2 or 3 channels to and a bunch of extra knobs. Very nice.

Getting the stage ready (pics 1-3)
The final stage

Like I said, I could go on and on about everyone that was involved.. but hopefully the pictures will fill in a bit more of the story. But my thanks to Mats, Thomas, Klas, Jonas, Mariette, Gicken, Kjell, Linnea, Christof, Christian, Mick, Jerry, Luca and anyone else I'm forgetting for such a memorable week! Hope we can do it again!

and afterwards... a party!

Sunday Dec 11, 2005, 2:42pm - Route E6, Sweden
Has it really been ten days since I last updated this page? Yikes! I guess it has. Our scheduled pace has slowed a bit and apparently my updates did to follow suit. Obviously a lot happened in the last ten days..

The day after our show in Colmar, we drove back to the Zurich area to meet up again with our friends Oli and Dominique. It was really nice to see them again. Dominique arranged for us to play at the school where she teaches to about 70 4th graders (about 10 years old I think). They went completely wild, and Jerry even let every single one of them play his drum set briefly. They didn't let us go without asking for autographs, in fact some of them would get us to sign something and then get back in line to ask us to sign something else. Good thing we bought new pens! After school let out, we visited a huge local mall with Dominique and she helped me to find a book store that actually had an english section.

future drummers

at Dominique's school

Christmas in Dom.'s class
and at the mall

On Saturday, we were back in the van for a huge drive from Zurich to Rome, eventually arriving to stay with our friend Virna Splendore, a great Italian Stickist. Virna has a small apartment, so the kitchen actually became Jerry's bedroom which he found rather amusing. On Sunday, we did a recording session in Rome with with a singer named Alice Pelle. Our friend Andrea Ruta from the PG Tribute band plays drums with her and had introduced us to her on our first trip back in March. She has a great voice and very good piano skills and writes songs that while basically "pop" songs have a bit of an adventerous musical twist to them. So.. to help make things adventerous the session was organized with 2 drummers (Andrea and Jerry), guitar, bass, voice and piano and of course Chapman Stick. I often describe the Stick to people by saying its something like a hybrid of guitar, bass and keyboard, so going into the session with all three of those instruments present I really wasn't sure what I would wind up doing. An Italian arranger/producer was there helping things along. He'd never heard the Stick before, but once he started to realize what all was possible with it, the band arrangement started to feature the Stick more and more and I wound up playing a bunch of different ideas. It'll be curious to see what they end up using in the mix!

recording with Alice at Trafalgar studios in Rome

Monday was a day off, and after a late morning lounging around Virna's I took off by myself to re-visit St Peter's at the Vatican. I was hoping to see how they decorate it for Christmas, but it seemed they were only starting to put things together. Work crews were busy both inside and out with what could only be called construction projects. The square was set up with hundreds and hundreds of chairs and a large canopy was at the front steps where they must be planning on doing some masses. Inside the basillica was as breathtaking as ever. It's hard to put into words what it feels like in there, but there is definitely a "vibe" about the place. A good friend of mine back home once told me he loves Christmas because it feels like the world slows down; people are nicer to each other and take a break for the day and the world feels more simple and peaceful. I thought of that while in the basillica and realized that's how it seems to feel to me there. Artwork and music from many centuries mingles with traditions and stories from four millenia and visitors from all over the world can be heard speaking in an uncountable number of languages. In the basement, I saw for the first time the tomb of Pope John Paul II who was still alive when we were here in March. It was right among dozens of tombs from other popes throughout the ages, including St Peter himself from nearly 2000 years ago. Somehow the whole of St Peter's seems to bring life into perspective for me a bit.. who we are, who we were and perhaps who we should try to be. I doubt I'll ever tire of visiting it.
back 1/2 of St Peter's square

inside St Peter's

The facade of St Peter's

On Wed Dec 7, we did a big show with many of our friends in an Italian city called Porto San Giorgio, a few hours outside Rome. Andrea Ruta had helped set it up, and we were happy to have the PG Tribute Band, Alice Pelle and Splendore all share the night with us. It was a fun way to end the Italian portion of this trip, with so many of our good friends performing with us.

PG Tribute band get ready
aftershow pizza at 2:30am (is Carlo sleeping?)

Last Fri (Dec 9) we had to wake up very early to return drums to Yamaha, return our van and catch a flight to Copenhagen. Everything went as planned thankfully, but SAS Airlines killed us with an insane overweight baggage fee of 450 euros (roughly $540 US) for the short flight. Ouch. I'm already very careful about weight when I fly. For this trip, I tried so hard to keep weight down that I even made sure to only bring half a tube of toothpaste and half a stick of deodorant, but SAS's weight limit was so small (10KG) that I guess if we ever fly with them again I'll have to wear all my clothes at once.

Once we hit the ground in Copenhagen, we rented another van and drove north through Denmark and Sweden into Norway to visit our good friend Erik Wøllo. We stayed with Erik and his family for two nights, visited the historical area of the town he lives in and spent a fair amount of time listening to music he's been working on. I've been a fan of Erik's work for awhile now as he and I both have albums on the label Spotted Peccary. He has a wonderful sense for timbre and tone and is an excellent guitarst and keyboard player and I found it fascinating to get to learn about the instruments and some of the recording techniques he's been using lately.

sightseeing in the rain with Erik and Jerry

old section of the old city in Fredrikstad
inside a pub in the old city

walking near Erik's home
Erik's 10 string classical
and his soprano classical

...yeah but can he play Stick?

And (finally) that brings us back to today, (Sunday Dec 11 if you've fogotten by now). We're currently driving south from Norway through Sweden to a town called Malmö where we will be working for the rest of our trip.

Thursday Dec 1, 2005, 6:55pm - Colmar, France
After a long day of driving, we've made it to France. A quick setup at the venue, and now we've made our way to the hotel for a an hour or so to relax. It's amazing how short these moments are on the road. Today marks the end of our ultra-busy schedule though as our next stop won't be till Dec 4 in Rome where we'll be recording with an artist named Alice (pronounced roughly: ah-lee-chay).

Jerry was a trooper today and drove the whole way. I'm embarassed to admit it, but despite all the time I spend "playing" a Stick, my skills at driving with one are so rusty as to be hazardous. I learned to do it about 16 years ago, but just haven't been around a manual transmission car since. Somehow European roads and highways just haven't seemed the place to brush up yet. Our biggest adventure of the day was getting a speeding ticket in Switzerland. A bad thing of course, but fortunatley not very expensive, and I can at least say it was interesting to see how they did it. Apparently, a camera must have snapped our picture heading out of a tunnel. A few kilometers down the road, the police coraled the two lanes into one and then a whole team of maybe 8 or 10 officers were waiting, license numbers and fine amounts ready to go. The way they were pulling out just certain cars, I first thought they must be looking for something or someone, and when they pulled us over all I could think was.. oh no.. customs again!

Thursday Dec 1, 2005, 10:35am - driving from Carpi to Colmar
Carpi Diem! Ok.. I know that's not really the saying. It's December now though and somehow that makes me happy. Christmas is coming and I'll always be a fan of it. At home, I'm sure shopping centers are getting more and more hectic, homes more and more decorated.... here too although it does have a different feel. Maybe I could describe it as being a little more subdued? In any case, while it feels a little strange for me to be away at this time of year, I "am" enjoying seeing a glimpse of what this part of the world looks like before Christmas. Next week we'll be in and out of Rome a bit, and I'm hoping to revisit the Vatican and see what goes on there this time of year. It's funny.. the first Marotta/Griesgraber trip to Europe this year had us here till about a week before Easter. Now, we'll be here till about a week or so before Christmas.

But I digress... yesterday M/G invaded Carpi, a small but beautiful town in Italy. It reminded me some of other smaller Italian cities we've been to like Prato and Schio. The center of town has an amazing piazza with a huge Duomo (church). Unfortunatley I didn't get a chance to visit it. In the evening we did a clinc at a drum shop just outside the city to a great response. In fact.. it seemed they didn't want us to leave, but eventually we went dashing off through the rain to a theatre in the center of the piazza. What an amazing contrast of venue to the night before. Both were great places, but nothing could better illustrate the range of venues we play than to go from a small classy but smoky cafe one night to a big theatre the next. Jerry described the theatre as being a little "surreal" and I'd have to agree. They had bright lights on us and absolutely no lights on the audience. That meant we couldn't see anything when we looked out but a pitch black void. It was also incredibly quiet in the theatre, and the room was obviously designed to allow an audience to hear everything from the stage. It felt like when Jerry and I would whisper to each other between songs that what we were trying to say privately to each other was echoing out across the big black void. When the lights finally came up at the end though there was a nice room full of smiling faces.

And now.. a drive from Italy, all the way across Switzerland to France.... then back tomorrow!

Carpi theatre outside
Carpi theatre inside

piazza in Carpi
Fist up indeed! (hotel room in Carpi)

Wednesday Nov 30, 2005, 11:45am - Route A1, Italy
Soho (Lugano) stage

We're back in Italy again for the day, heading to Carpi after several days in Switzerland. A lot has been happening of course. Last night we had our last Switzerland show in Lugano at a club called Soho. This was in the home area of our promoter Roger, so it seemed like he had a lot of friends there. It also seemed like they all really wanted to make the most of the show and the night. Roger and Paulo recorded the show (as always), another friend had a video camera, and at least three of them were taking still photos as well. The sound company had also brought in a bunch of remote controlled lights and one or maybe two fog machines. In a big club all of this activity would have been hardly noticeable, but the Soho is not a very big club. In fact, the stage area was narrow enough that I had to set up a bit in front of Jerry (instead of beside him like normal) and with all the cameramen running around in front of us I actually worried a bit about the people who had come to see the show. A few times the cameramen came onto the stage area with us and I'm sure they must have been obscurring the view of the audience. The club was also very smokey, mainly from cigarettes, but also of course the fog machines. During setup I actually had to run outside several times feeling like I couldn't breathe. Sadly all the activity to capture the show on tape and film (and the smoke) actually distracted us on stage and took away from the show. Things went ok, but it was definitely not our best show ever. I think Jerry even dropped his sticks once (something he "never" does). All in all, I found myself thinking several times about my experiences in and around Guitar Craft, where there is so much emphasis placed on respecting a performance. In the end, I guess performances are always fragile things, too easy to pull away from, even when people have good intentions.


Last Friday, we played at a nice little venu called Zak in Jona (fairly close to Zurich). Great people, and a really nice little PA system. The speakers were actually Bag Ends like I use at home, so it was comforting to hear something a bit familair after always hearing the sound of my instrument change a bit from night to night to night. Our friend Jessica who helped us a lot with promotion for this tour came to the show as well since she lives in Zurich. We had dinner with her at a nearby restaurant and let her order a traditional Swiss meal. I have to say it was definitely different from anything I think I've had before. I've forgotten the name of it, but it was basically potatoe slices with cheese and some sort of pickle slices. Unusual to me, but good. Snow had fallen for about a day, and as we walked back to the venue, I was really impressed with how pretty the town was at night, sith new snow, a quiet stream and lots of white christmas lights. Afterwards, we stayed with our new friends Oli and Dominique who have a beautiful home just outside Zurich (complete with hi-speed wireless internet and a big salt water fish tank.)

Jona by day
Jona by night

Jessica eyes Jerry's new camera

Oli, Dominique and their watery friends
Oli and Dom's view

Saturday we found ourselves in Biel/Bienne. When we arrived at our hotel, I came out of the elevator by myself and managed to startle a French woman just around a corner... only to then realize it was our good friends Christelle and JP from Cluny, France. JP had e-mailed me saying they were going to drive to this show (5 hours for them!) but with all the business and fatigue it had actually slipped my mind. We spent a good deal of time with them before the show and the next morning and it was great as always to see them. The show itself went pretty well for us, but unfortunatley was a pretty disappointing event for the organizers I think. We were actually playing on the second day of a two day festival. They had a total of maybe 5 or 6 groups each day, but told us that they really hadn't had many people there either day. Too bad, it was a great location, and some good groups as well. Hopefully they can keep the event going and growing.

On Sunday, we played in another festival, this time in Gersau, right on a large lake amid the alps. We had a bit of a funny time finding everything. Following my GPS system as always, we'd driven for a few hours and were obviously getting close. We pulled off the highway, made a left turn... and ran straight into a snowed in ferry dock. I guess in the springtime, the ferry would have saved us about 35 kilometers, but.. it obviously wasn't going anywhere, so we were off again on the long route. I had also come to realize that the address we had for the festival was actually a PO Box. Obviously we probably weren't actually playing ina post office, but not having any other information, we decided to head to the hotel first and maybe make some phone calls to sort it out. When we got to the hotel and walked in, a woman recognized us as "Tom and Jerry" immediatley and showed us to our rooms. Jerry asked if she knew where the venue was and she promised to take us there. Once we had dropped off our bags in our rooms, she then took us downstairs, through the restaurant to a larger room we suddenly realized "was" the venue! Funny.. but also a great feeling. It was amazing to get to play in a room that not only had an amazing view of the alps and the lake, but was also just downstairs from our rooms. Great great audience for the show too. We actually had to do 3 encores, and ran out of material to play. Jerry suggested that we just repeat something, so we did 77 Times for the second time in the night.

road to Gersau
Gersau hotel view

Friday Nov 25, 2005, 1:28pm - Gottard Tunnel, Switzerland
We're heading north again, to the Zurich area. It's been snowing today on the highway and that's actually been a cause for concern for a few days now, as Roger (our insatiable, unstoppable promoter) realized a few days ago that our rental van seems to have summer tires on it. We stopped at the rental agency before we left Milan today and they gave us some chains, but the big question has been whether or not we would be allowed to pass through the tunnel we're now in. Well.. as I write this, we've now made it through. Traffic is of course quite slow though.

Thursday Nov 24, 2005, 4:15pm - Chiasso, Switzerland
A busier day today than most, and if you've read some of the stories below that should mean something extra to you. We started the day in Milano, then drove to Switzerland where we did a brief radio interview. From there it was off to a music store to set up for a clinic, and now with all of my gear set up at the store, we've just driven an hour to the club to do what set up we can for tonight's show. Nothing much for me to do with all my gear an hour away, but Jerry is doing a quick drum set up and sound check before we drive back to the music store... after which it'll be back to the club... and then to completely round out the day, back to Milano to spend the night. Confused? You're not alone...

Wednesday Nov 23, 2005, 12:10pm - driving from Schio to Milano, Italy
Marco is driving us back to Milano where we hope to have time to do laundry before a music store clinic. In Italy, it seems now they've banned smoking indoors, but in Switzerland people still do like crazy. Since all my clothes are shut up in a suitcase all the time, everything now smells like smoke. Not being a smoker, I'm looking forward to trying to remedy that situation.

un show last night in Padova. Jerry and I have made some good friends in this area from our three trips here this year, so it was great to see them again, and great to hear a few of them make music together in the Peter Gabriel tribute band "PG Time." The show was organized by an American living in the area named Chris Boulet who is also the organizer of some crazy non-stop live jams. In the past he's put together events that ran 33 1/3 hours, 45 hours, 78 hours (all times based on record speeds... which I hope I've typed correctly here seeing as I'm from generation "CD"). Now he's looking to just do 100 hour events, with different musicians coming and going, but the music never stopping. Pat Mastelotto and Tony Levin were involved (separately) with different event, and now if we can arrange it, Jerry and I might be involved with the next one. I can only imagine....

in Schio once again

Tuesday Nov 22, 2005, 3:30pm - Padova, Italy
We've arrived at the club for tonight's show several hours early. So, we're waiting for a phone call and sorting out what to in the meantime till anyone gets here.

Last night was a fun drum clinic at a big music store in Verona. More questions from the audience than at any clinic so far, so Jerry was really in his element telling stories, jokes, giving advice and so on. Afterwards a nice dinner with the owner of the store. He himself ordered some sort of pasta with shredded or possibly grated horse meat throughout. Jerry and I both tasted it, but I can't say it was for me. Seemed to have a very strong taste, and definitely didn't "like chicken."

Marco Parisi is back with us for a few days and doing most of the driving. It's great to see him again and nice to have a driver who knows his way around. Thanks to our GPS setup, we haven't really gotten lost at all, but with Marco driving, it gives me (the navigator) more time to relax in the car. Although... when he gets a phone call, since he's Italian he has to talk with at least one hand.

So it's one hand to hold the phone, one to talk, and no hands on the wheel!

only an Italian (pt 2)

Castello Suave (on the way to Padova)

church of San Antonio in Padova
dinner menu in Padova (handwritten!)

Sunday Nov 20, 2005 - Le Cintra Cafe - Fribourg, Switzerland
Jerry and I are at tonight's venue and have managed to get online thanks to their wireless internet setup. We're also eating and waiting a bit as it appears we have an opening act tonight. Some friends of our promoter showed up while we were setting up and had apparently worked it out to play. Nice people, most of them from the US actually I think. I'm looking forward to hearing them.

On our way to the cafe today, we stopped for lunch and sight seeing in a small mountain town called Greyere. It seemed like a fairly "touristy" area, but with good reason. It had a nice old castle of sorts, with a beautiful view, and an charming little town inside the walls, complete with street vendors, bagpipe players and... seemingly out of place.. Aliens! Apparently the town has a museum dedicated to the work of the artist who designed the alien monsters for the classic sci-fi movie "Alien." Neat to see some statues around, but it seemed more people were interested in the fondue.

center of Gruyere
"Siiiilent Night"

view from Gruyere


I just managed to get caught up with photos/diaries from the past few days below. More as I get to it, but right now... spaghetti is waiting!

Saturday Nov 19, 2005 - Route A12, Switzerland
Jerry and I are driving from Basel to Vevey at the moment and some nice long stretches of freeway have given me a chance to sort through photos from the past few days.
drum clinic in Vevey

Catching up... we've had two great shows now, plus a drum clinic and radio show, all in the last 3 days. We've been criss-crossing all over Switzerland, with a brief trip into France as well. Fortunatley, we haven't had any more border issues, though we also haven't gotten any better resolution to our first experience either.

In Lafayet, France we played at a great venue called Repaire de L'Ours, which I think is translated something like the Bears' den. I really enjoyed meeting the owners and was really impressed with how they've put it together. As I understand it, three young friends, probably all just in their 20's bought an old restaurant that was originally a theatre. One was a chef, one a waitress, and two play in a band together. They redid the interior with a lot of nice woodwork all themselves, and carved several large bear statues out of wood as well. It made the venue feel special to me to know how much work they had done themselves. Unfortunatley we ran into a problem with the electricity in the building. Somehow anytime I plugged in a special (and new!) power strip I have with me, the breakers would blow and half the venue would go dark. Not good. Raphael from the venue and I took a quick trip into town trying to find a solution. Eventually I managed to get 6 out of 8 pieces of gear I have with me powered without using the strip. So.. we did the show without me using any of my synth gear, which was a bit different of course, but still a good night.

repaire de L'Ours
view in Le Fayet

repaire interior

After we dropped off most of the equipment at the venue, we rushed off to do a radio show in Switzerland. A bit crazy for scheduling as it meant driving maybe 90 minutes each way before the show at the club, but people told us it would be worth the effort. The station itself was amazing. The radio show had us plus two other groups performing for an hour, and it looked like they had several studios to broadcast from, plus a full backline setup (guitar amps, bass amps, drums and so on). With all of our gear at the venue, I wound up using a guitar amp/bass amp setup for the show; pretty unusual for me as I normally run things in a very different way, but.. fun for a change and since we just did two pieces nobody but me would probably know the difference. We spoke through a translator and Jerry wound up retelling the infamous Peter Gabriel tour story where the entire band was arrested as terrorists in Switzerland, only to prove hours later that they were musicians by singing a barbershop quartet for the police (for details... ask Jerry.. or read Tony Levin's book).

radio show with Gerard Sutter
on the air in Switzerland

load in at Basel
more load in

Basel was beautiful. We arrived very early for load in so we took a quick walk around the town. I'm still trying to understand how people cope with having three (or is it four?) official languages in a country that it seems like you can drive across in maybe 4 or 5 hours. Basel was all Swiss-German. Our previous trips to Italy and France have me accumulating (slowly) a vocabulary there, but German.. yikes.. not yet. Jerry jokingly told me on a way to a restaurant bathroom which word meant "men"... and since there were no pictures at all.. I actually kind of needed it.

Playing at the venue in Basel (Culturium) was great too. One of the owners was actually a graduate of Berklee (the music college I went to in Boston). Although we were there at very different periods, it was great to sort of reminisce about the place and its people a bit. They really went all out on the sound too, bringing in cases and cases and then more cases of rented PA gear. They even had a full amp setup for me, just like I have at home, but I just used the normal "flying Stick player" setup I have with me. The audience was fantastic; atentive, respectful, but very enthusiastic. Merci! or I mean.. errr... danka??

Basel by night
and the following morning

Basel hotel

Thursday Nov 17, 2:45am - Geneva, Switzerland
The apparent late arrival of jet lag has me feeling a bit too awake tonight, so.. here I am updating the site. Insane day today. Jerry and I had our first real European road trip by ourselves, driving from Milan to Geneva. Fortunatley my CGT inspired GPS setup got us from door to door without a flaw. Unfortunatley, the Swiss goverment decided we needed to pay them about 1350 suisse francs (roughly $1025 US) to enter their country. Apparently two Americans with piles of "stuff" in the back of a rented Italian mini-van was enough to raise suspicions and they pulled us over and made us completely unload the van. We had a bunch of paperwork ready to explain all of our drums, amplifiers, electronics and the van, but before they actually pulled us over, we didn't think to mention the CDs we had with us. Pnce we knew they were interested in them, we brought every box to their attention, but by then it was apparently too late. They made up their minds we were trying to hide them from them, and slapped us with the huge fine and duty for the CDs. Ouch. It was quite difficult of course for us to really explain who and what we are when neither of us speak the language. Since arriving in Geneva, some friends here (who speak better english than the border guards) have offered to call them tomorrow and better explain things. Hopefully something can be worked out. We have to cross that border several more times in the upcoming weeks, so hopefully we won't have that experience each time!

On a brighter note, we had a great clinic at a shop called Music Arts in Geneva. Very very nice owners and an attentive crowd. It was advertised as a drum clinic, so I suspect the audience was mainly drummers, who had many questions for Jerry about his experiences recording with Peter Gabriel and David Sylvian. Afterwards, a very nice Italian dinner across the street from the shop.

Tuesday Nov 15, 2005 - Milan, Italy
Jerry Marotta and I have made it to Milan for the start of our month long European adventure. So far we managed to pick up a rental car, meet up with our friend Marco and pick up drums and speakers at Yamaha. The original plan was to drive to Geneva, but five of our six checked bags on the flights today didn't follow us all the way to Italy. Last night at JFK in New York as we checked the bags in, I watched my equipment drift slowly out of view on a long conveyor belt and actually wondered if I would see it again. But now we are headed back to the Milan airport several hours after arrival to pick them up and are going to just stay in Milan for the night. It is great to see Marco again, and good to have him with us for the night since this is his town and he is now in the driver's seat for the night which makes things much easier for us.

Kingston, NY

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

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