September 16, 2006

Actually, as I'm writing this, I'm not really on the road, but at home. When a musician is at home, however, there is still practicing, fixing wiring on things in the studio, phone calls, getting endless passport photos for foreign visas, filling out lots of forms, going to fedex to send out my one and only passport so that I can work for 2 hours in some other country, answering a hundred (3500 more to go) e mails, writing more music, mixing a near finished project, computer problems, kids to and from school, cutting back everything that grows outside, maintenance of everything on the I don't exactly think of it as 'time off' like most people do. Still, I do manage to spend a little time with my family and get up in air where all is beautiful.

Something incredible that happened on our last trip came about in Monaco. John McLaughlin, first of all, has been a huge influence on the Dregs and myself. In the 80's I was able to tour with John, Al Dimeola, and Paco de Lucia in an all acoustic show. I have also had many occasions to hear John play with Mahavishnu, One Truth Band, Shakti, and solo. He is the guy that put together the jazz adventurousness with the rock and roll energy that became Mahavishnu Orchestra. Anyway, he contacted me and asked if we could get together when I came into town. It just so happened that we were getting there just in time to have dinner at his place with his family, and that my wife, Janine, would be with me. Well, he turned out to be a great cook along with his wife, and we had a super visit. He got me a copy of a new book written about Mahavishnu, and I was amused to see quotes from myself about John and band. Also, it was interesting to see our Dregs violinist, Jerry Goodman, describe his life and times during the Mahavishnu period. To this day, we often still have a Mahavishnu cover tune in the Dregs set to recognize the landmark that John and his whole band had over our music world.

While in Monaco, we got to also do something which is usually not possible. We rented a scooter/motorcycle to cruise around. Since we had multiple days in one place, with only one interview scheduled, it suddenly became possible to do some sightseeing. The cliffs on the South of France and Monte Carlo area are fun to look off of, although some of the kamikaze driving made me long for the predictable slow driving of my home town at times. People in France are very cool toward American tourists that try to make a convoluted sentence or two in French. They smile, and then usually speak some English, making it easy! I used to dream about having my real street bike in a road case on the truck and just driving it nearly every day, but then I would remember what time the equipment has to be unloaded and packed up every day........Which reminds me of a story.

I was doing a guitar seminar for Ernie Ball during our SMB tour with Rush. It was afternoon, and the show was that evening. People were asking me questions in a music store. They were seated facing me, I was on a little stage that faced them and the big storefront window on the main street. One guy asked what Neil Peart was like, (the drummer from Rush). I recalled how he rode his bicycle from Chicago to Milwaukee just the other day on this tour instead of riding the tour bus. And I continued, "And there he goes right now, riding down the main street". Everybody laughed, but it was true. Neil had just ridden by on his bike, putting on a few miles before the show. As hard as I tried to convince them that it was true, the more they laughed. I gave up and then played another music example........

I just talked to our Deep Purple manager, Bruce Payne, and also my manager, Frank Solomon. DP is doing lots of gigs this fall, and we're looking at doing the Dregs/SMB tour for a little while in January stateside. I really don't know for sure if that's possible with all the scheduling commitments from the other guys, but that's the very latest in the possibilities.

Janine and I took my son and his friend to see Poison and Cinderella recently. The two guitar playing teens were absolutely having the time of their lives. They loved the show, and played air guitar or kept time with one fist in the air the whole time. It is fantastic to see the unbridled energy that rock and roll gives to fans that really love it. I enjoyed seeing one more show from the seats out front, I always learn something from it, and sure do like seeing people smile at a show just because of something that is played or sung! 2006