February, 2004

I'm a little past the midway point of our Deep Purple North American tour. The trip has gone surprisingly well, especially considering the touring climate in the USA. Since these places would predominately be sit-down venues, we were able to plan to play the entire Machine Head album, a classic to just about everybody. We've been starting out by including 4 or 5 songs from our new album, "Bananas", mixed with some touring staples, and then concluding with the Machine Head set.

In San Francisco, Joe Satriani sat in with us. In case you don't follow every single thing the band has ever done, you may not know that Joe played guitar for Deep Purple just before I joined. So, him sitting in is always a natural. And natural he is, playing my extra guitar through my amp rig, he had no trouble becoming fluid and extremely musical. It's always a treat to be around somebody as inspiring as he. Also, that same day I got to hang out with one of my best friend guitarists, Jeff Watson, who is touring with Night Ranger as well as doing his own projects. Jeff is extremely talented musically, but when we hang out together, the spotlight is often on his extraordinary comedic talents, as we spend a good time laughing about this business we are in.

In Galveston, some of the NASA astronauts and families of the Columbia STS107 disaster attended our concert. We shared some fine moments of greeting, conversation, and exchanging some momentos. Outside, though, was the most partying crowd. It was their Mardi Gras festival, outdoors, with everyone drinking and standing. It was a sad decision to not play "Contact Lost", but in view of the party going on, we felt it would be an invitation to hecklers, etc. to actually play it. In a large outdoor space like that, spread over several blocks, it's impossible to get everyone's attention, and especially to get them to come to nearly complete silence for a couple of minutes..........which is what actually happens at all the indoor shows. Also, at Galveston, was the tradition of throwing the Mardi Gras beads onstage.

Some of those beads are large, and pretty heavy. If they were to say, hit a guitar player right in the face, bruising his eyes, it could make him love the tradition a bit less, though. This guitarist did notice, however, that at the end of the set, when the lights weren't exclusively in my eyes, I could actually catch most of them as they whipped through the air. Did anybody see that movie where the band plays behind the chicken wire onstage..........

We've been sampling flying commercially during this tour, and I'm more determined than ever to get these guys in a private or chartered plane. America West has just become the first U.S. airline to refuse to let me take my guitar onboard. In it's small carry on case, with the shorter headstock, it will fit in the smallest commuter plane overhead. They said it's not a matter of whether it will fit, it's the fact that musical instruments, "especially guitars" are suddenly not allowed on their airline. Lots of love filled the air as I calmly asked to speak to the Captain.............who was getting an FAA jump seat observer, sort of like having the big boss watch every move you make. So, the Captain's response was to play it by the book. My guitar, serial number one, went into the baggage hold in a soft gig bag. For the first and last time.

Thanks to all the people who have attended these gigs, and made this a generally sold out tour. This means that we will come back later this year to do more gigs in the USA as a result. Remind me to check my itinerary to look at what airlines we're flying.

stevemorse.com 2004