July 25, 2008

Well, we just finished playing at the 42nd, I think, Montreux Jazz Festival. It was a very intense show, not just because the stage temperature was in the triple digits. As all Montreux gigs, the crowd was there to enjoy the music, and always with us. Claude (Funky Claude, as he signs some autographs, referring to the 'smoke on the water' lyrics) got up and sat in on our very last tune on his harmonica.

Earlier in the day, as we just arrived, I had a phone call from Steve Howe. Yes, THAT Steve Howe from 'Yes' and 'Asia'. We got to hang out and talk, and went together to Claude Nob's Chateau, way up the mountain that flanks Montreux. I am a fan of great views, and most of them seem to come from an airplane cockpit, or high on a hill. But Claude's place has the most incredible picture-postcard view I've ever seen from a private property, (Not including the Grand Canyon in this comparison, since it's not privately owned). Anyway, this is the place where he invites the performers, local friends, and dignitaries to visit before the nightime show begins. Steve Howe and I got to renew our acquaintance of several decades ago, and both got to try out Claude's guitar that was just sent to him by John McLaughlin. It was John's original Shakti guitar, with sympathetic strings mounted across the soundboard at an angle, a little bit like a sitar. It was acoustic, with heavily scalloped frets, to give a similar feel to the sitar.

Claude presented us with a book of the history of Montreux, filled with previously unpublished pictures of artists, candid shots, descriptions, etc. It is the heaviest book I've ever looked at, literally. It's in 4 volumes, weighing a total of 22 pounds, they said!

The shows have really been going good, we're trying some new things in the set list, and morale is very high. A few days ago, I met one of my long-known, very interesting guitarists, named Tommy Emmanuel. A wonderful guy, and hopefully, we'll get together sometime in the future, since I didn't make it in time for us to play together. Another old friend, that just keeps getting better, played right before us with an amazing performance, Andy Timmons. He's a very likeable, great player from Texas, (via Indiana, I think), doing a trio performance.

A couple of nights ago, I was able to hear Steve Lukather play with his solo band. He apparently decided to get the best players in town (L.A.) to tour with! Really good playing, from everyone. Steve is the master of building a solo, and every single thing he plays is musical, so it's a treat to hear him do his own thing. Wow, what a week this has been as far as hearing great players!

Well, I've got to get ready to pick up and travel, so I'll try to write some more later.

stevemorse.com 2008