July 24, 2005
(part 1)

I'm sitting here nearly 8 miles above the Earth, traveling to more concerts. I can certainly say that this is the only time I've found to write this note. It's been some of the busiest time I can ever remember, one tour leg connected to another by a series of days spent racing the clock from one thing to another.

In the last few weeks, I can remember jamming with Leslie West onstage, with the guitarists from April Wine, saying hello to Brian Adams, and performing two shows in one day in two different countries.

First, our tour with Mountain was a big deal for me, since one of the big influences on Major Impacts I, (one of my solo/Steve Morse Band albums on Magna Carta) was based on the sound of Mountain. He still sings "Never in my Life" with that same growling tone that he always did. His phrasing on Mississippi Queen helped form the basis of my library of great guitar licks. While jamming with him onstage, I was just grinning from ear to ear because he's one of those guitarists that can't seem to make a single bad phrase. Meaty, economical, and tasteful. Rich Williams from Kansas always sounded like he was influenced by the same man since Rich always played with those same qualities.

We ended up being able to play on "Live 8" by virtue of some excellent planning. Our managers got together with Ryan Aviation in Rockford, Illinois, and got us a big enough jet to bring us to Canada, then back to the U.S. for our next scheduled date.....the same day. The skeleton crew that came with us had their hands full trying to set up equipment they'd never seen before with no sound check, and a sound man who would do his best from the front without working with us before. In the spirit of the event, everyone at the Toronto show would be having similar conditions, so the key was to focus on the positive message of the event, and not stress about the things that might not be perfect soundwise.

One funny moment happened when we walked onstage, with Ian Gillan in his traditional barefoot mode. Within seconds, he was dancing up a storm and flew off to the side of the stage, only to emerge back in sight with some shoes on. I understood better when I felt my shoes start to melt their rubber soles. The stage was outside, dark colored, no wind, and perfectly situated to make a solar oven.........so the surface of the stage scorching his feet caused the sudden need to dance.

Musical highlights for me were just being able to hear some great artists play. I knew Randy Bachman's music from his hits with Bachman Turner Overdrive, but I wasn't prepared for how well he sang and played. I'm a big Bryan Adams fan, so I watched his set and said hello with a big smile on my face. He always sounds fantastic.

Perhaps the biggest deal for me personally was a conversation I had with Mick Mars from Motley Crue. You see, my son got seriously interested in the guitar for almost the last year. Motley Crue is his favorite band, and one guitar solo in particular had been an inspiration to him. I got a chance to talk to Mick and tell him that he was an inspiration to my son. Mick listened with genuine surprise as I retold the conversation where my son told his stepbrother how great it made him feel whenever he heard that solo. For me to see him graciously dig up some picks (without being asked or anything) to give to my son and his friends made me a big fan, too. I wish I had a handy supply of picks to give to every single person that has children who like our music. They always seem to get given out within minutes at every gig, though. Well, I'll be sending this out when I get on the internet, and have another report right after it, since we're jumping right in to the gigs tomorrow.

stevemorse.com 2005