August 11, 2006
(part 1)

The whole summer tour has gone by so fast and furious that I haven't had even a moment to write, or when I did, the computer battery was dead. Lots of gigs, and lots of traveling. Beginning with the Monsters of Rock festival in England, we heard an immaculate set from Journey, and had Neal Schon sit in with us. I've known Neal mainly through my best friend, Jeff Watson, who is a multi talented shredding guitarist from Nightranger. Also, we got to play some more shows with Alice Cooper, and we just seemed to get along great and everyone enjoys their show so much, as much for the entertainment as the fact that they are all such cool people. On our last show with them, they invited me to sit in on their encore, which was fun, even if I didn't remember exactly when that weird chord came........but thanks for the great job of giving me the arrangement on the fly, Damien.

Along the way we had so many opening groups, also. They were universally good, as it should be. I was blown away with one of the groups doing perfect renditions of Beatles songs. Obviously, it's an age thing, but that was the music that brought electric guitar to a lot of us in my baby boomer age group. Lots of great guitarists, and I didn't get, or couldn't remember all their names. Getting up on stage to open a show, often without a sound check, is surely a trial by fire for any group, anywhere, and I wish them all the best. Incidentally, almost everyone believes that the band members have some knowledge or influence over who opens the shows, and it's not quite like that. The local promoter, mostly, fills those slots. Sometimes the manager is given the courtesy of approving the choice, but I can't remember a time when the band members did any of that, as a group, anyway.

Everywhere in Europe was hot this summer. Since I live in Florida, we normally wear jackets when we go into a restaurant or movie theater in the summer. The reason is that our air conditioning is so good that most employees working there set it a little too cold for the comfort of the people that are just sitting there, but is fine for the employees who are running around working. No self respecting manager would let his air conditioning unit be undersized to the point where they couldn't hang meat inside. Not so in Europe. Yes, they are more energy conscious in many ways, but the air conditioning is, in general, nowhere near the arctic standard that I'm used to. As a result, the whole summer seemed very hot to me, and I spent the whole summer in shorts and sandals, I think.

We were at Montreaux for the closing night, celebrating 40 years of the festival. As you know, Claude Nobs is mentioned in "Smoke on the Water", since the song details the burning down of the Montreaux casino as Zappa was playing there. Anyway, we ended our set this time with Claude playing harmonica and several other musicians joining us. I have to also relate the fact that one of the Dregs (or Dixie Dregs, at the time) albums, "Night of the Living Dregs" was made partly from the one take recordings that you get from playing at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Claude always had a knack for booking some unusual and varied groups, to which we were always grateful.

The biggest rush of the summer to me, was having my son, Kevin come out to join me on tour. I love his youthful exuberance and the fact that he is now playing guitar very well. For instance, I would groan at the prospect of a long bus journey, but having him there made it fun. He would say, "Dad! I can't belive how cool this bus is! You're so lucky that you get to travel like this!" He's right, of course, but in the 4th decade of traveling, one is likely to need some reminding about how even typical, boring, ground trips are amazing. I love to fly, though, anytime. He grew up being flown in my plane, so it's totally typical and boring to him to fly! Kevin's stepbrother, Jasper and Mark, share his exuberance for bus travel, but I haven't gotten them over to meet me on tour yet. At the last show before Kevin left, our manager suggested that he get up and play Smoke with us. So we did just that. He and I did a few fast riffs together in harmony, then started out the song. He even took the first half of the solo. Very impressive to me, since this was the first time he had ever played with a bass player and a drummer together, and his first gig! The sort of thing you would like to be at, to see your boy's first gig, and I got to be there!

The only really bad part of the tour was concerning our last gig. An outdoor show near Beirut. As you know by now, the bombing started during our last leg of Europe in July, and we weren't sure if we were going or not. After all, SARS, State Dept. travel warnings, and those kinds of things don't stop DP from going other places that are not always frequented by touring bands, so we thought we would still go. When the bombing and war continued, the gig was cancelled. I hope they can put the pieces back together for the music fans that just want to enjoy a rock and roll show, as we are a non political music group that plays for all human beings. Best wishes for a positive resolution. 2006