September 22, 2005

I'm in the New York area the day after the anniversary of 9/11. I'm about 20 hours into this trip for various reasons, but I'm headed home for a few days. I just got the mark of the Devil when I checked in for my last flight, a domestic flight. The mark of the Devil in this case is not 666, but SSSS, which means take every single thing out of my bags and the extended and more personalized metal detector search. All in all, it's no big deal, since they are supposedly random, but it did just happen to coincide with the fact that I didn't have my frequent flyer number in for that different domestic carrier, and it was a one way flight. Learn from this: every time you fly one way without a frequent traveler number entered with your reservation, you stand a good chance of getting the mark of the beast, also.

I still can't make sense of the Manhattan skyline without the twin towers, and everybody was commenting about that on the plane, also.

The gig I just did was wonderful. It was the Blues Festival in Hell, Norway. Yes, I just came from Hell, and just happened to receive the mark of the Beast from the computer. There's lots and lots of one-liners available when you do this gig, which is actually right next to the Trondheim airport, but the little area is actually called Hell. Which means something like "luck" in an old dialect of their language. Scandanavians have lots of words that are normal to them, but would make us laugh if they pronounced them the same way we would. But, I'm getting off the track. This was the Hell Blues Festival, and it was great. Knut made it happen for myself, Van Romaine, and Dave LaRue to come over to play our set one night, then organize a variety of guest performers the next night. We were sort of like Dave Letterman's band, backing up each guest, and throwing in a few solos along the way. Also, we did a matinee show/question and answer session by request.

I heard some amazing players at that festival, which was much more broad than blues, only. Sort of like the way the Montreaux Jazz Festival has a tremendous variety of acts, such as the Dregs, or Deep Purple, as well some official jazz groups. In fact, every single guest we performed with was impressive. Barawan, the double hand tapping guitarist from Bali, blew everyone away with his musical talent on top of tremendous technique. A Norwegian violinist named Ola Kvernberg (from memory, forgive my spelling, reminded me of Mark O'Connor the way he could smoothly shred over anything. Other locals, Peter, a fine vocalist, and Knut, his guitarist, went to the trouble of making a complete chart of the tune they selected, leaving out no detail of the arrangement. Peer Gynt came out dressed like you would imagine a Peer Gynt marionette to look like, with colorful folk style clothing, then did a great version of "Oh Well" by the earlier Fleetwood Mac. He smiled as he played, and the audience just loved him, since he was very good! John Nichols, who played in Beth Hart's band, helped us out by delivering 4 authentic, American style blues standards with a slippery, relaxed feel that had everybody smiling. Miller Anderson, who plays with Spencer Davis, played and sang his very tasteful style of blues selections, also. To top off the surprises to the audience, we had two 14 year old guys, Simon and Magnus, sing and play organ on "Highway Star". We had time to run through it during sound check and I tried to shorten the arrangement to leave out the guitar solo, but Simon called me on it.....we ended up doing it the full version, even though I was getting a little concerned with a fairly high percentage of guitar solos. They were so cool under pressure at the gig, that I couldn't stop complimenting them at how well they did. And, lest I forget, Beth Hart and Sam Brown's concerts were very well received and full of personality.

Of course, Van and Dave were their typical amazing selves, pulling off all the arrangements with just a hint before of what was happening in most cases. And during our normal set, played even better than the last time I heard them.

Now, it seems like an eternity, but only a week back, with Purple, I was jamming with Warren, the guitarist from Government Mule, Allman Bros., Phil Lesh,........and more, probably. Warren is one of those super high quality players that just can't put together a bad solo, no matter what. Smooth, and very naturally paced, he really knows how to play the guitar, including slide. And sing. His band sounded great, too! Also, in Germany, we had a visit by Deep Purple's producer, Michael Bradford. He is a very talented guy, and didn't hesitate when I suggested joining us for a couple of tunes on guitar, although his principal instrument is bass. Music talent comes through with the best ones always finding a way to make the audience smile with any instrument, anytime.

stevemorse.com 2005