March, 2001

Last night we played at the Formula 1 track in Malaysia where the race finished just hours earlier. If you ever want to see a civilized, but exotically different place, try Malaysia. It's not expensive, in fact, we saw many European tourists in town on buying sprees of equipment and software. The software is not recommended, though, due to the apparent feeling that non-counterfeited CDs are not going to sell. Like many of the places we are playing on this trip, I have signed almost exclusively pirated CDs for the fans that I have met. Some Countries just do not see the possibility of copyright infringment as a consideration, much like our Napster ideology is sending many recording musicians back to their day gigs....

Australia was great, as usual. It still reminds me of the U.S.that we see in the pre-violent movies. Clean, polite, businesslike, predictable, they have a great set up, at least to my transient experience. I'm up about 35,000 ft on my way to Hong Kong, finally able to use my computer. Some days ago, I loaded an Australian disk that contained software to use the internet time that I had pre-paid when I purchased it. In case you don't know, using the internet out of your home Country is surcharged 6-10 dollars an hour plus many times that for the privilege of using the phone in the hotel, normally. So, this was a good deal, and more interestingly, promised high speed access, to boot.

Speaking of boot, that's the last time my computer would......After relieving my credit card of some more value, Microsoft talked me through a fix that put the computer in an endless loop that was even more frustrating. I began considering the restore cd that I had managed to remember to carry. All I would lose would be all the recording stuff, all the 1,842 e mail messages that I hadn't had time to deal with other than to read them, all the recording software, the outboard analog to digital converter, the audio editor, the travel info like access phone numbers,.........just some of the stuff that I would lose. So the quest continued to fix the thing. I employed more experts who were surprised at the machine's behavior, but could only suggest reinstalling Windows. So, I just needed to find a Windows program that wasn't imbedded with OEM formatting. It's a long story, but I ended up with a new formatted hard drive. The point for describing all of that was: If you sent E mail saying, "I know your web site says you can't answer the E mail, but just for me could you do it including answering the following questions or sending picks to the following addresses......." Then you now know that it's impossible even if I ever could abandon my abbreviated sleep time for typing and doing mailings.

However, the main thing that I have gotten from all the e mail input has been a refreshing and positive push to keep on touring and playing. I really want to thank every one who has taken the time to send a message to this one human solely to give encouragement or to share enthusiasm. It has resulted in some inscrutable foreign language messages, also, as well as some sent in various foreign fonts that don't translate to our American/English defaults on our E mail servers.

Lots of letters are questions about touring. I'll give the latest rumor, which is, we're going to do the first part of a U.S. Tour with Lynyrd Skynyrd, hopefully, with Ted Nugent opening also. We actively campaigned with the promotion company involved to get that lineup, and chances are good that it will be finalized. I'm told that it will start the first part of June and be about 4-5 weeks. So, finally, we're playing the U.S., and with old friends, too. Routing? I only know that we're supposed to be in Chicago, and we're doing these outdoor sheds that are most popular in the northern half of the Country. Equipment questions are all over the place, but involve describing the rig that I use live. I'm attaching a little drawing that I made to show how the setup is, typically. On this tour, we are changing Continents or flying huge distances, so I often will be playing through speaker cabinets that I've never used before. It's strange to have a different sound every night, but every stage sounds totally different, anyway, right? Still, it'd be nice to have the same cabinets......

24 hours later........ On my way to Japan. The gig in Hong Kong was surprisingly well received and they were reportedly one of the most demonstrative audiences ever seen in that city. Meaning, they stood up and had a good time instead of just sitting and worrying about getting shot if they showed emotion. Actually, for me the only clue that we were in a Communist governed place was when I tried to bring my guitar in the airport. There was a group of very excited guards as I showed up at the official entrance without some sort of permit from the airline. Problem was, I couldn't understand what they were asking for, and they thought I was being a dissident or something....We eventually got is straightened out by producing the one thing that many Countries thrive on, extra paperwork and forms. Whenever you travel away from home, you can be firm and somewhat insistent, but always have patience and be polite. It often helps to imagine how someone would be treated entering the US who couldn't speak the language and wanted some non-standard treatment.

Now, here in Japan, we will be reverting from our latest band set to the Live at Royal Albert Hall show. That is, with the Tokyo Symphony playing Jon's concerto and guest spots with Ronny Dio. So now all I have to do is review the, I don't have the music....I should be able to remember an hour's worth of cues, right? While Japanese Customs was going through my stuff, I don't remember even seeing a CD of the Albert Hall gig to review....So I'm going to rehearse mentally, in a meditative state, to try to recall the whole concerto to keep from wasting anybody's time at our one rehearsal. Hey wait a minute....with a Napster download at 1400 bps on a noisy hotel phone line,I could have it on my computer by the end of the week for less than a thousand dollars...

Speaking of Customs in Japan, they were very polite, and it was actually funny. Funny, after you get over the fact that you're the only one that has to throw suitcases up on the table of doom for inspection. The funny part was that the man opened a blue book that had pictures of syringes, cocaine chopped into lines, joints and big Ganja leafs, cartoon drawings of Penthouse magazine covers, drawings of handguns, explosive charges, and went through everything first to make sure that I denied having any of these contraband items. Then, the idea is to find those things in order to simplify the legal proceedings. Years ago, Japan was making a name for themselves busting very famous singers, so they honestly believe that musicians must be carrying something interesting. Actually, that still seems to be the feeling in the U.S., where all the other band or crew members go to great lengths to make sure they're not in line with me as I attempt to enter my home Country. That guitar sure paints a pretty airtight circumstantial case of guilty until absolutely proven innocent in some places. But, like I said, this guy was so polite that it didn't really feel too weird to be totally picked out of the crowd. Some of the Latin Countries have a fair system of random search: you press a button and every, say, 8th person who gets a red light instead of a green one is spot checked on one piece of luggage. Problem with that is that it is impartial, and apparently takes away some of the telepathic skills that are being honed in some other places.

Ever wonder why many of our electronic devices have specs that go from 100-117 volts? Or from 100-240 volts? It's not because our power dips down to 100 volts, it's because Japan runs a steady 100 volts for their common power. So, when we play gigs, I wonder if we're going to have a voltage leveling device to actually increase the line voltage, or just live with it. Tube amps are pretty sensitive to voltage, by my ears, and we've had some weird gigs where the stuff just sounds weak and strange. Alternatively, we've had some very short sound checks where the stage voltage was 480 volts. Very short. Well, just once when a local stage hand made a boo boo. Actually, Skoots, my guitar tech, is great about checking the voltages and everything, but we've found that things often change as the gig actually starts. Another Japanese story involves the time I was here with Albert Lee and Biff Baby's All Stars. We did a rehearsal in a room and unplugged and left everything where it was after a little rehearsing. The local road crew took pictures of the equipment and drove it to the first gig. When we got there, they were carefully studying the pictures and arranging the random pattern of the guitar cords on the stage floor to match the photo exactly. Exactly the same. All musicians that travel here can tell more about the legends of how careful and hard working the local crews are here. 2001