January 18, 2006
I know it's been a long time since I've written anything, but this is the first moment where there is a lull in the amount urgent things to deal with. Many personal trials have happened, both with close friends and close family, so I have a greater appreciation for some of the simpler things in life. But then comes the tour schedule, and it's back out on the road I find myself.
Last night was our first official night of the "Rapture" tour. We played about 6 tunes from the album. While some of the endings were, uh, quite spontaneous, overall it felt great. Great response from the audience, but then again, we were not playing to strangers, this was really a group of hard core fans that made up the audience. A great way to start the tour.
There seems to be more lights, screens and stuff backstage than I can remember ever seeing, so the show will look and sound good from out front, I expect. Our sound and light guys really feel the music and are doing fantastic. I have a new stage rig put together by my guitar tech, Michael. Michael is a hardworking, logical German, and is one of the few guys in the world that could follow Skoots, (who recently retired from touring). Michael put together my whole rig with ENGL, a German company, and there is an enthusiasm that I find amazing in both he and the amplifier company. On top of that, I was pleased to find that my new Y2D guitar from Ernie Ball/Musicman sounds perfect with the rig. Technically, the best part for me is that I can turn down the guitar, go to the middle pickup position, and get a very clean sound, turn it up, go to position 1 or 5 and get the fat sound anytime without having to switch amp settings. However, I do get to program a number of amp settings, so now there's no excuses ....
Band is doing fine, playing great, as I expected. Since we're just starting out, I don't have any stories to tell yet, but I can mention a great jam session/gig I did just a little bit ago.
Biff Baby's All Stars........was the name of the band that Sterling Ball, (runs Ernie Ball and Musicman, son of Ernie Ball) used whenever he played for a party with Albert Lee on guitar. I got to be a part of most of the early Biff Baby's gigs, so we had a repertoire of regular rock and roll standards. Steve Lukather and Albert have done lots of these together, also. So, just a few weeks ago, we got together and this party with nothing but seasoned pros. We had such a great time, playing to just friends with no stress about the show at all. I had the great fortune of having my sons, Kevin, (learning very fast on the guitar) and Jasper at the gig with me. They got to see all these absolutely natural soloists play, especially important to a guitarist in front of Albert Lee and Steve Lukather on a great night!
Last month, I was with family in the hospital, reluctantly unable to leave to go to Europe for some television shows. Our manager came up with a clever idea of asking Michael Bradford, our producer for the last two albums, to fill in for me. He can play any instrument, is super sharp, and would have no problem. Since he produced the album and has perfect pitch, he would have no problem figuring out the guitar parts. Micheal looks different from me, of course, since he is much bigger and black skinned and shaved head. So, showing his sense of humor during one of the band interviews, he introduced himself as "Ritchie Moreblack". So, thanks, Michael, for filling in for me. I can't recall ever having that happen in a group in 4 decades, having a sub!
See you on tour now!
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