March 5, 2008

This trip was supposed to be all in Central and South America, which would be the first time a Deep Purple trip would begin for me with less than the usual 15-25 hours of travel. I was, therefore, not too surprised to find out that a gig IN Moscow was added to the front of this trip. Oh well........... Many hours later, I arrived in Moscow and we ended up going to the Kremlin for the gig! This was unusual to do a televised show at the Kremlin, I thought, with all the security that was involved, but that's exactly the way it came down. Since the backstage was actually way offstage, I only got to hear Tina Turner sing through the monitors in the dressing room, but she still sounds great.

The first time I met the majority of Deep Purple, I was in Mexico, shaking hands in the dressing room before we did a quick run through of the set before my first gig with them. 14 years ago, and many, many tours ago, it still brings back memories to go there. As an American who doesn't live in a bordering state to Mexico, I find the food is quite a bit different in the heart of Mexico than what we normally get in America at a Mexican food restaurant. It's good, though! Everything was very pleasant in Mexico, with the usual gracious people that we would find all through Central and South America.

On our arrival to one of the Brazilian shows, we found out that our equipment didn't make the long journey with layover that we had taken. It wouldn't be there in time for the show, so we got try some more rental stuff. They even found a local Brazilian player that had a whammy bar version of my signature guitar for me to borrow. That was something I sure wasn't expecting, so the gig was different but not bad at all, although we found that the Hammond organ was in a slightly different tuning as the generator outside had a subtley different frequency, just enough to make for some grimacing moments between Don and I. We were relieved to get back to our own equipment with a phase regulator for the organ, also.

Our rides to and from the airport and the gig assured me, once again, that there's a better chance of me kicking the bucket on a wild airport drive than of old age at home. Although the drives were very exciting, there proved to be a lot of patience by the public in general for all sorts of things. Things like: never, ever signalling a lane change, passing from the shoulder of the road, going completely off road to get around a slowdown, cutting people off, blocking, running lights, and more. The bottom line is that amidst chaos, the people remain civil to one another, during driving events that would be perceived as punishable by justifiable homicide on an L.A. freeway.

Also, while I was struggling to find some Spanish or Portugese words, the folks in the town shops consistently showed patience and gracious hospitality. Most everything I tried to eat tasted good, except for one incredibly salty pizza, but I once again watched as my overly generous supply of Imodium began to get used up throughout the tour. Not as bad as the first time through, but it still does happen to me and some of the group....

Flights in some Countries have been delayed in a very scary, relaxed way for multiple hours, but as I'm typing this, we're on a LAN Chile flight that is right on time. Flight attendants are universally patient, also, even when accidentally showing up in the wrong boarding group when it is called out in a distorted speaker in Spanish. I know most of the numbers when they speak it slow and clear, but not when it's spoken 100 miles per hour through a distortion pedal.

We have to have passports to work. In the USA, I apply for considerable dollars extra, an expedited passport with extra pages. I have seen ALL of my empty pages used up on this trip, as they literally thumb through the entire book to find an empty page to put a stamp on, bypassing all of the partially used pages that could easily fit that stamp. The rest of this trip still has some more visas to be put in, and I have to get a new passport now. Problem is, if a gig comes up while my passport is being processed in government land, I can't go. I still don't know why I can't have a duplicate to cover me while the replacement is being slowly processed by the government. Imagine if whenever you drove your car, every state you pass into could remove part of your drivers license, until at some point that you can't predict, you can't drive anymore and have to sit for 2 weeks after spending a day in line at some government office. If it affected more people, enough to have a big voting presence, it would definitely be different. End of rant.

The land is beautiful below me, and I see the attraction of this part of Argentina, especially for ranching and farming. We have a show tonight, our second one in Buenos Aires, so I better start filling out the endless forms for entering the Country, including a special form for having a cell phone, asking for it's year, model, and description, including accessories in order to not be guilty of smuggling!

One last thing....this should be understood without saying, but I'll say it. Deep Purple plays music to people that want to hear us. As a group, we all agree that there should be no political message or endorsement of the band, expressed or implied. I personally will take the ever unpopular pro-American stance, but there are different opinions within the band and crew. In other words, if we play some place, we're playing for the fans and whoever wants to hear it, not for any strategic publicity or political end.

Enough of this. It's soon time to head for Ecuador! Volcanoes? Check! Floods? Check! Brink of war? Check! But the real question is, "When do we start?" See you soon! 2008