20, 2003 JOURNAL ENTRY
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
22, 2003 JOURNAL ENTRY
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.
23, 2003 JOURNAL ENTRY
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……………..
28, 2003 JOURNAL ENTRY
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.