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Hello everybody! I recently heard of  a player that had a journal page on their website that told some behind the scenes info for his fans. I found it very interesting and mentioned the idea to Cord my friend and web master , little did I know that he would put a “Journal” section on my site. So , with that I will attempt to share some info, thoughts and challenges of being a surviving professional musician, engineer, son and Dad. Hopefully you will enjoy it and I will be able to keep it somewhat current. God Bless, Gary

I just returned to Florida after a very challenging tour called “Trolling for Mermaids.” As you know, I play with Jim Morris and the Big Bamboo Band. My duties are to maintain , set up, engineer the mains and monitors and play lead guitar. As Jim has progressed, his sound system has evolved from a powered 8 chnl .mixer to a 32 chnl Allen and Heath gl 3300. That’s a big difference. The Allen and Heath was originally obtained for and used in the studio on the last release “Freaky  Tiki  Faces.” .It is such a clean and warm console that we decided to take it on the road. That meant we needed cases and a manufacturer that we met in Idaho offered a really good deal on 2 16 spc shock mounted racks and a road package for the console. On top of that we recently switched to “in ear “monitors. Let the challenges begin. 

We were scheduled to depart Wed August 19 in the evening. Knowing that we were going to record a live album, Jim added several songs to learn and I tried to prepare all the gear and my guitar rig for the tour. This was a good thing. I really needed something to focus on since Trevor , my son, just went back to Texas after an incredible summer vacation with me. I was missing him really bad. We are very close. Any way my Guitar was in bad shape. First , the source had to be good. The Guitar Guru around here is Ross Tiegan. Expensive, yes, worth every penny. He cleaned, tweaked ,adjusted , set the action intonation and filed the frets. That’s the 3rd set of frets by the way. Man ! It has never felt so nice, played so easily or sounded so good. My Strat was reborn! Thanks Ross…

Next , I had worn out every pedal, effect etc. and it was time to correct that. What is a guitar player without a good tone? Well there are thousands of devices out there and you can spend a fortune, I tried mail order but no luck with credit. I’m used to that. The closest store with any selection of gear  is 45 miles from here. A few quarts of oil and a lot of gas in the old Ford van along with a prayer I set out to get new tools.
Mission accomplished. For ease of familiararity and cost effectiveness I replaced all effects with Boss. A stereo chorus for sweetness, a compressor for chickin pickin , a delay for doubling etc. and a re-issue Ibanez tube screamer.I already had a power supply and only needed jumper cables from pedal to pedal.. That purchase reminded me of the last time I invested in  new tools. L.A. Cal. 1989.Stuff just wears out.

 It was getting old and sloppy , putting pedals together in a mess on the floor.My good friend Richie is a world class engineer and also a master carpenter. He agreed to design and build a pedal board/case. Man did he? It has never been so easy and quick to set up. Thanks Rich

Meanwhile I am practicing the new material every chance I got and declined work at Db sound to free up more time to prepare for the tour. With my rig ready it was time to put the wireless monitors together, learn how to mix them and have them ready for rehearsal on Tues night.

The board was freed up in the studio because we used it at the cd release party earlier this year. All I needed was the case, racks and a few cables. I soldered a drum snake and racked the ears for rehearsal .The case still wasn’t here and time was running thin. We rehearsed and everyone was liking the ears but Joey didn’t care for them. They do have less bottom end, to help him out I planned on one wedge monitor for the tour. To do that required taking along a wedge eq and another power amp. Whatever it takes.

Wed., the cases finally arrived so I put the pa together. About 14 hrs worth of racking ,adjusting, and patching. As I finished the manual part of it, it was time to check it out. Wouldn’t you know it, the eta power supply fried. Ouch ! Gotta have power so I took the Furman power supply out of the studio rack and thank God it worked. Oh yeah did I mention we were going to record on the Mackie digital recorder.? How would that work, how would we patch it and what preamp would we use for Jim’s vocal?? Where would we get external hard drives and what rack would it go in for transport? Are the engineers in Toledo prepared for the recording? The Manly of course and a trusty old skb rack would suffice. Jim racked the stuff and it road on the bus instead of the trailer. No contact with Prodigy sound yet. O.K It was midnight and the trailer loading commenced.

We were off ! Yippeee On The Road Again.

The first gig was for Pirates of The Piedmont Parrot Head Club at Chiefs Wings & Firewater in Greenville S.C. We arrived around noon , checked in the hotel, and headed straight to the venue across the street. What nice people, cudos for the sweet tea and wings! Highly recommend the place. The main concern in my mind was “Is this new P.A. and in ear monitors going to work,& Did I wire it right ,and will I be able to set it up??” Thank God! It came together very quickly and sounded good. Everyone pitches in and sometimes we run a little late but not this time. Really good team work made it easy. The only thing was the poor electricity which idled around 100 volts instead of 120. Gear just doesn’t operate  properly without good clean power. Especially my Mesa Boogie amp. God saw to it that I played o.k. I really dug the ear monitors. They tend to make you feel a little isolated but they cut the stage volume down 70%.A little added reverb sure softened the sound in the ears. Jim seemed happy with his mix and I took pride in setting them up. The crowd was great and the show went well. It was interesting to meet and see some of Jims college buddies. His lifestyle seems to be more “youthful” than their corperate ways. Many dear fans/ friends were there from previous shows. It’s kind of like family. The night ended around 2 a.m. and we tore everything down and loaded up for the next one. Back to the hotel by 4 a.m. and departed for Columbia S.C. @ 8:30 a.m.  that’s  a whole 4 & ½ hrs of relaxation. Wow!

We made it on time to the bus and I put new strings on. That is a daily ritual. For whatever reason I have been breaking a lot of hi e strings and always at the same spot. I didn’t need to break a string especially while recording and furthermore I only have one guitar on stage, no spare to quickly switch to. Needless to say I can usually replace the string in about a verse and chorus and finish the song. It’s just a real downer for the show and feel. I failed to mention how happy I am with the pedalboard. It has never been so easy to set up or load out. Things were looking good and we were right on schedule
for the next gig. 

--- Until next time... Gary

Off to Columbia S.C. to perform at Jillians... Actually outside at The Parrot Palooza concert/ festival. The last band to perform was The Land Sharks. We were first on sight, so we set up for sound check. I was glad that we didn’t have to provide sound, only backline. That meant we still had to unload the trailer to get to the drums and my guitar amp. The sound company was great. Wayne engineered monitors and Dave took care of the front of house. I really enjoyed playing on that stage and Wayne and I got along great. Lot of joking etc. Caribean Cowboys opened the show. Man that guy had a good tone. Claimed it was the Boss blues driver pedal. Anyway they played well and were nice people. The Land Sharks went on after us. A bit of ‘tension’ in the air during set up and sound check , mostly because of stage real estate , poor planning etc. Any player knows that when there are multiple acts on a stage they MUST ALL WORK TOGETHER! Give and take you know , all equal, besides I didn’t see Clapton any where around , however one guy did play with his teeth. Oh well, anyway the crowd slowly grew and we had a good time. The club Jillians is fantastic, can't say enough about the manager Myron, the green room and the beauty of their staff. Even got a Corona t-shirt out of the deal. Unfortunately beer was $3 each. Stan the man got up and played percussion with all three bands. He did that with Jimmy Buffett they say. Kind of ‘Famous’ and a real good guy. Joey rode with our good friend Bob Weiner in his Buick marked “Save The Mermaids”... We loaded up in the bus and headed off to Florence S.C. to stay the night. Thanks to everyone in Columbia and congratulations to George and Debra Johnson who are gaining a new Daughter in law by way of Brian getting married or is it Kyle? Ha Ha I always call them the wrong name but they treat me good all the same. God Bless.

    After spending the night at a familiar Red Roof Inn in Florence it was time to head to one of my favorite places. Richmond VA.,  for the Stars on the Water event! I believe it was my 4th , anyway Cindy and the parrotheads always treat us great and cover all the details. Running right on schedule we were alarmed to hear traffic honking as they passed. This either meant we really were famous and our cover was blown or something else was wrong. Blown , you bet, except it was a tire on the trailer. Ouch, that cost a couple of good hours, as we did not have a lug wrench. Dave Lapio set out to get one at the auto parts store. I asked everyone around for one and none fit. One nice old horse trader even wasted his socket wrench trying to loosen the lug nuts. There are good people out there. Dave returned and we changed the tire and got back on the road. 
   There is always a party at Stars and everyone likes to visit. I stayed focused on unloading the trailer and setting up since we were already late. As always God did us good and we started pretty close to on time. It was really cool hearing audience members commenting on the sound with terms like Clarity and Seperation. That is the ultimate compliment especially while playing lead guitar. Everyone had a great time and the band was getting tighter and better. Some of the contests were interesting, the food was great , the beer and jello shots were plentiful the crowd PERFECT and accommodations excellent!
Thanks Richmond Y'ALL ROCK! We finished load out at 3:30 a.m. My amp was very troublesome , had to change pre-amp tubes and re configure the power amp section. Anyway it and the p.a. worked well . We did a 5 song encore and socialized till 5 a.m. Thanks to Bill for the pictures of Trevor and I. Depart to Philadelphia 6 hrs later at 11 am. On The Road Again……………..

 The trip to Philly was pleasant and we arrived in plenty of time. My main reason for excitement was the people and the fact that production was provided. Thanks to the people but what should have taken 1 hr to set up took 3 ½ hrs and we ended up having to use our own ear monitors with a less than desirable , weathered outdoor system. Running late, I put my tubes in the Boogie and fired it up. Whap! BLOWN FUSE! First one in 10 years. Sunny Jim White had played prior to us and offered his Line 6 Pod for me to use to get by. As he unpacked it for me the club manager gave me a fuse. The first set was really rough, however the crowd said it sounded great out front after about 4 songs. I Love the people that come to that venue. A common practice is for the fans to call on their cell phones to allow friends unable to come to hear us play. A dear friend Patrice had hers on. The show ended and we were getting ready for an encore . I asked Patrice to call my Mom. She did and we played “Rock Star School”.After we finished I got on for a minute and sent my love as she encouraged the performance.Edie even got on the phone with her for a bit. I thanked and hugged everyone , loaded the gear and it was time for food. Theres only one thing to eat in Philly, right? CHEESESTEAK! Thanks to Jim and Mary Borger we were escorted to Pats downtown. Mannnn a real highlight of the tour. One thing s for sure , you better know how to order.Philly wit wit.? Yeah what he said. Kind of like the soup nazi on Seinfield. Anyway we stayed at a nice hotel close by and were to leave the next morning to stay with Craig and Rita up in Jersey. We finally had a couple of days to rest.

As we were leaving town we stopped at a music store to pick up some extra hard drives for the recording deck that we would use in Toledo. In the parking lot I wrote out some bills and prepared some mail, input lists etc. Jims cell phone rang and it was for me. It was Ed , my roommate in Fla.He said that my ex fiancé called and something was wrong with my Mom and was on her way to the hospital. I freaked!Called Debbie and she said that Mom had a stroke. OH! Apparantly she had laid there since Friday and this was Monday morning. I cant tell you the devistation. The Plot thickens and the show must go on…………

         Gotta move way ahead real quick . I’m leaving to perform at MOTM in Key West for a week. That is in a couple of minutes. I bid you all good vibes and hope to catch up when I return.

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