Up at 930, didn’t feel that rested, BUT I made a long workout out of my morning. Stretched and went for a short-ish run down some trails. Air is SO humid, no bugs luckily, but lots of overgrown plants and rocky uphill climbs. Catering didn’t open till 12 so I made a protein smoothie and had some fridge food (sweet potatos, avocado, cheese, spinach in a pita!!). Took a shower, BUT our dressing room was also closed until 12 SOO I wrote on my keyboard till lunch. Finally hooked up with Nathan and Steven right about then. Sandwich bar! Warmed up, little bit longer than yesterday- trying to ween back into doing long warmups after a super short one yesterday. Before soundcheck I went back to the bus and learned the jazz tune Emily on my MIDI keyboard while the bus driver drove to the hotel from two days ago to empty the poop tanks (yucckkkk). Got back and headed over to soundcheck. Again, it’s SO nice to have our own dressing room. I’m sure that won’t actually happen at every venue, or even the majority of them, but while it lasts it’s fantastic. Soundcheck was kinda short today- we played When the Saints onstage a bunch of times, jammed out- today the crew was encouraging us to play other tunes… from me they wanted to hear Feels so Good by Chuck Mangione hehe so I humored them. Pretty soon Wayne told us we were off the hook so I went back to the bus. The period today from 330 to 6 was loooong for me… I did a bunch of bits and bobs… I’m working through this time management class on lynda.com, starting this book “What to Listen for in Music” by Aaron Copland (it’s a little antiquated but it’s super cerebral so I’m down for it), and went for another walk because I just couldn’t keep myself satisfied doing a bunch of sitting. After dinner I played some pool with Nathan and Steven in the game room, and then I actually took a nap! Man I don’t do well with so much free time. I felt good, a little more energized, and really ready to have a solid show tonight. We got to our dressing room at 815 for the 915 show, everywhere we go the crew makes jokes at us in one way or another- we have different running gags with each person. With one of the FX guys (forget his name) he tells us to be quiet everywhere we go (“ayy you’re walking too loud whatya doin!”).. with that other guy who looks like Billy Bob Thornton I’m Harry Potter (Nathan is Lando Calrissian and Steve is Jonah Hill)… with Nate it’s always some form of outlandish banter and sarcastic insult trading. It was funny that the band didn’t get to sidestage until TWO minutes before we were set to start.. yeesh!
The show was AGAIN much better than yesterdays’. We were having a good time backstage singing along- having chairs back there tonight helped stop me from getting so tired of standing up. During Psycho (the song Tyler Fogerty, John’s son, sings on) we finally nailed the choreography we’d been talking about since Sunday- went awesome, got eyes from the crowd. New Orleans was probably our best, people in the crowd patted us on the shoulder, told us ‘thank you’- thought that was a fascinating gesture. John added the song with billy Gibbons back to the set since we were the closer and had a lot more time. When it was time to do Proud Mary- last song- I nailed the first notes really strong. It’s a tricky note for me- kinda at the height of my strong range on this shallow mouthpiece, but it was there and John dug it- he got in our faces and was smiling and groovin. That felt good. All while we were sitting backstage today I kept thinking how amazing it was that we’re ninteen and all these people in the band are in their thirties, forties, or fifties (well John is 73 and Shane is 27), and we practically have the same exact job (naturally they have more benefits and whatnot). I had the thought about what happens when I max out? Or when there’s nowhere further for me to go? At that point I thought about the diversity that the world has to offer in terms of experience, and that I want to open my mind to more new things- I’m much too often too scared to stray from my routine.
Back on topic (sorry it’s late), after the show there were more compliments thrown around- Jesse, a good friend of the three of us and one of my housemates for the Fall, lives in DC and came by the show tonight. Nathan got him a backstage pass and we hung out for a while after the show. Twas nice to see a familiar face. Back on the tour bus it was time for the tour stories to commence after I practiced for a half hour (I convinced Nate to let me take the back lounge from him hehe). 1230 AM is the only time for me to practice without overblowing my lips before the show. After that Nate told us some pretty messed up stories about touring with Marilyn Manson- I don’t really care to repeat them or remember them, but I’m grateful I don’t work for a musician like that. Everyone was sharing their goriest party stories, including Nathan and Steven, and I really didn’t have much of anything to add. Regardless, it was entertaining to listen to it all.
It’s 3:20 and we have left for South Carolina! Once there we have an off day and at 10 PM we drive down to Florida. I’m excited for that leg of the tour. I did some restaurant research- tomorrow I wanna get myself a healthy smoothie and a tofu bowl at places by the hotel. And spend the day practicing. Didn’t take any vlogs today, I think I’ll try to make up for it tomorrow. OK now it’s ma bedtime, my wrists are sore. Thanks again so much for reading you guys :)
Woo! Today was a really incredible day, yes probably even more so than yesterday. Writing at 11 PM it feels like two or three days went by over the span of today (that’s code for ‘get ready for a long blog post’). Woke up from my hotel in Vienna, Virginia ten minutes before my already early alarm, but used the time to shave, shower, and eat some decent hotel breakfast after I meditated. At 945 AM the bus took off and I worked on uploading the vlogs that I had taken the last week- that’s right.. it’s been a week since we left LA!! We arrived shortly at the Wolff Trap Performing Arts Center, this gazebo-style arena in the middle of a National Park. The center is actually RUN by the National Parks Service, and it’s an incredible facility. We parked in a parking lot surrounded entirely by nature- thick groves of trees, a few hiking trails, a big meadow, and the backstage entrance. Nathan and Steven took off early to go for a little walk and eat, while I just about finished editing the vlogs. After not too long (in line with my productive nature) I left to find the production office and ask for a room to warmup in. It always surprises me how Gina (production manager) and the team can take any ramshackle dressing room and make it a bustling office in a matter of an hour or less. She was in between phone calls and post-its when I asked for a room- got a spare dressing room to swipe. For today’s warmup, since I didn’t play trumpet yesterday whatsoever, I wanted to keep things light. I think that paid off really well throughout the day- after maybe twenty minutes of playing I felt good.. fresh, powerful.. that’s the point where I usually keep going and working on technique, but today there was no need. I checked out some Blood, Sweat & Tears on a whim, did some push-ups (the lack of structured exercise had been killing me, glad I made something work today). Played just a tad more, by that point it was really hot in that dressing room… came back to the bus and had a protein smoothie.. Steven was watching Edward Scissorhands on the bus TV. I hadn’t seen it before… yikes it’s a lot goofier than I thought it’d be. Finally got the vlogs rendered and chopped up, and we went to lunch right at 1. When we finished that, I decided that I would spend my afternoon composing, since we didn’t have soundcheck until 4. I was in such a beautiful place and had a lot of energy, and decided it’d be a good day to channel it into some creating. Spaced out my time by going on walks down the trails while listening to Esperanza Spalding (“Radio Song” off her album “Radio Music Society” is EXQUISITELY written and produced). I brought a big MIDI keyboard that I borrowed from a friend with me on the trip, and hooked it up to my laptop today to experiment looping some sounds and coming up with melodies. My goal is to write three or four tunes for a solo show, and to pick my favorite one for music video that I’ve already began planning. I’m trying to utilize a lot more of GarageBand’s patches and make some hipper stuff. At long last, it was soundcheck time!
By the entrance to backstage were these intricately balanced stones that looked incredible, like something out of a Zen Garden- apparently a roadie did it on his break… !?… backstage had some really interesting architecture, and downstairs by the green rooms was a full blown game room (ping pong, pool, video games, etc.) Ten or so dressing rooms… we were thinking we’d just have to find a random spot to chill until soundcheck started, but, to our surprise Gina came to us and said “GUYS! I have a room for you.. follow me.” It was like Christmas! We had our very own dressing room with a little sign on it and everything- we made a big deal out of it to say the least. Right next to the rest of the band. Gina’s really awesome- has the rocker attitude but very sweet and down-to-Earth. Soundcheck today was shorter- John was in a good mood after apparently last Sunday’s show being a bit of a mess. I think some monitors weren’t working, and we went over our time limit- so when John ran offstage before the last two songs everyone thought he was done, instead he was just planning to turn them into a surprise encore.
John gave us nothing but compliments- made a point to tell Nathan that his solo on Rock ’n Roll Girls last show was terrific. He’s a guy who isn’t afraid to say something when something’s wrong. He spends the first ten to twenty minutes of soundcheck every day walking around the empty arena with Wayne, the tour manager, just listening to Kenny hit the snare drum five million times. He wants to get the PERFECT sound… so he has Kenny swap out snares, move the mic, adjust where he hits it, until it’s right. Such a genius. Today he told Kenny, “you’re not hitting the snare in the same place every time- sometimes it has a little more meat than others”. It’s crazy to be able to hear that. So when he tells us we sound fantastic it makes us all giddy. On the other hand these parts are ultimately super duper easy hehe.
For the New Orleans bit today we have very little room- we had to walk in front of the first row of chairs right by the stage since there’s no divide anywhere else. In between we played a round of pool in the game room (yours truly was the grand champion, both games by technicality of their failure to call the 8-ball in the right pocket). Trying to think of more conversations I had throughout the day- I’ll add more as they come back.
Dinner tonight was definitely killing- quinoa cakes with butternut squash on top. Learned a bit about Nathan and Steven’s families. Nathan’s dad is an engineer, his older brother was a founding member of this music tech company called Steam.. biggest client right now is Billie Ocean… curious as to what they do. Steven’s sister is an opera singer, we were talking about the lack of work for young opera singers nowadays, almost more so than jazz. Left back to the bus so we could get ready for a lil bit. (oh my god I’ve already been blogging for half an hour jeesh). Did a little more writing and added tags and everything to the YouTube vlogs. Played at 730 today… getting ready in our own dressing room was pretty chill. Ryan Kinder, this young country artist, opened for us, and we could hear him through the room PA… we were back there dancing and singing and being so goofy. The routine of going stage left, hooking up our in-ears, plugging in our mics, and then standing around, has become second nature, but we’re still on eggshells around everyone. John wore this really awesome space jacket today at the show!!! I think the horns sounded tighter today than we ever have (except for this ONE part, but that’s not important).
Point of note during show- there’s a couple songs where little bursts of fire shoot out behind the drums- the drum tech who sits back there and does his monitor levels always stands up and leaves because it gets too hot. Kenny flipped him off mid-show cuz HIS back was getting the blunt force of the fire (haha). New Orleans bit felt good, the guy behind me with the bass drum bumped me and caught me off guard. The crowd ATE IT UP, and, as Wayne (stage manager) told us afterward rather bluntly- “it’s ok to be showboat-y if you nail the part!” Wayne’s an awesome guy- after the show he also told us some cool John stories. When they were last in Hawaii, John told Wayne he hadn’t been to Hawaii since 1972 to play. After his show he chugged a beer and loaded all his own gear and equipment himself…. No roadies or anything then. He’s a legend. He does a bit every show where he brings out the guitar and amp he played at Woodstock and gets a big rise from the crowd.
I’ve been deemed Harry Potter by the crew.. Alex asked me “does Gryffindor know you’re here?”, and “yo, some Snape guy was looking for you.” Watched a little ZZ Top (went out into the audience and got some hi-fives), and chatted with Nate (drum tech) a bit about how lucky we are that the people on this tour aren’t coke heads (like some tours he’s done in the past.. that’s really too bad). Pizza in the production office around 1030, played some more pool… and then it’s back in the back lounge to journal and hang some more. Man, everyone’s loosening up, we’re being honest about everything. Bob Fogerty (younger brother of John and tour manager) is on the bus with us now. I’ll see how this plays out! Hoping to go for a run tomorrow round some trails, I asked a guy where they might be. Still not sure, might do some more research as the night goes on. I’m pretty exhausted by now, definitely want to go to sleep.. think I might do that! Tomorrow will be our second show here in Vienna, nobody has to be anywhere until well after noon (and no load-in). GOODNIGHT!
I've assembled each day from the last week into a few videos, give em a watch if you'd like. Relatively dorky, largely just for the three of us and our families to remember the experience forever.
Check out all the vids here... my Weebly won't let me upload them individually to the website.
Memorial Day! And John’s birthday!
And first day of three in Virginia… day!! Already, I’m having a real nice time here. It’s overcast but the hotel is very pleasant- a bunch of little tan townhouse looking buildings sprawled out along hills and lots of nature. Shopping strip around the corner, made a trip to Walmart for essentials, did some cooking, felt like I was at home again! Some of the rooms weren’t ready till late, including Nathan’s, so I had to wait till 315 to meet up with Steve and Nate to head to the Metro station to visit DC. First thing we did was look for a place to eat outside of the L'Enfant Plaza station but everything was mostly closed for Memorial Day. Had to walk down a ways to some food trucks on the lawn across Capitol Hill. The architecture of the town was all very mid-20th century and stoney and gray. Some of the Smithsonian buildings were a little more Gothic but not by much. Got some Indian food (luckily I didn't get food poisoning), and we hit the Air and Space Museum first. I was so excited to see it!! Spent an hour there- looked through the Solar System exhibit upstairs that was so incredible, and then we saw Dark Universe in the Albert Einstein planetarium, this short film narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson that was also amazing, and so well written. We walked West down the lawn until we came to the World War II Memorial and took a rest. A solicitor then tried to get us to talk with him about the Bible.. they're everywhere I tell ya! Reflecting pool is pretty but really shallow- walked up to the Lincoln Memorial. Didn't realize it was solid marble that's pretty dope... reminded me of Night at the Museum. Checked out the Korean and the Vietnam memorials. Steven had a family friend who fought in Vietnam so we looked around for his name online and eventually he got a picture of it on the wall- the names aren't alphabetized which really surprised me for something with that many names on it. Lots of 8th graders running around on field trips with their school… pretty busy area! By that point we were pretty tired of walking, it was around 8:30 PM, so we picked a restaurant- Old Ebbit Grill just two blocks from the White House. We got in and it was a lot fancier than we anticipated. The rest of the crew was back at the hotel lobby watching the hockey game between the Vegas Knights and the Golden Capitals- we could’ve cared less, but most of the crew is from Vegas. The town reminded us a lot of the Financial District in LA, significantly less trashy but similar look and architecture. After Metro-ing back to Vienna we grabbed 24-hour Baskin Robbins and, because I was for some reason in charge of navigation, we walked around for nearly an hour going to two different “Tyson’s Corner Marriot” hotels before deciding to call an Uber to the real one. Ooooops. Ultimately it was a really relaxing day off, especially when we can not be concerned about time, or deadlines, or having to achieve certain things that day. It feels great to be free for a spell, and then coming back to the grind feels more natural and more enjoyable. Lookin forward to a great show tomorrow, also looking to compose a little bit. Listened to a lot of Esperanza Spalding the last few days, really digging the textures she creates.
We have to check out of the hotel tomorrow morning (Tuesday) around 915 AM, since tomorrow night we'll be staying on the bus again in between the two shows we have at the next venue.
Ok that’s enough for now.. good night! (PS sorry for the late post).
Woke up this morning having NO clue where I was once again- so fun! We’re inside a garage under the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. No sunshine today it looks like. I exercised for 35 minutes in the back lounge with a workout that wouldn’t shake the bus at all- that felt really great. As I was having my big nasty vegetable smoothie, Nathan texted and said that Gina had a room for us all to use to warmup in and learn Psycho for tonight. I went to Gina first to get confirmation on where it was, and she was a bit held up trying to help Bob (our tour manager) rent a car (apparently the one he rented yesterday never closed so he was stranded at Avis.. oops). Us horns finally got a multi-purpose room to use to warmup in that was really echo-ey. Warmed up and felt really good- practicing last night was a GREAT move! John’s son Tyler sings Psycho…. or, rather, he screams it. They’re a real talented family, it’s still pretty amazing that they can all perform together like this on a national tour. We choreographed some dance moves… so sit tight for those! Hope they go well at soundcheck tonight. We found some showers- this venue actually had three showers in a crew room that we could use at the same time hehe. Heard some clips of our last shows on Instagram- we sound pretty together! I don’t really come out very strong in the mix, and we could work on intonation. BUT it’s no fun to talk about our shortcomings.. we’re killing it. Will update after soundcheck.
Its 1130 after the show! We went to wait in our multi-purpose room for soundcheck- ZZ Top was running a little bit late which made us all kinda restless. Supposed to start at 4 PM, it was around 450 when we were finally able to get on stage. John wanted to run New Orleans in this venue- it’s a huge stadium! Ten thousand seats!! It helps not to think about it to be honest. We practiced the song maybe four times all the way through with the marching out into the aisles- it gets better every day. Wayne the stage manager is always there with us too- the hospitality at this venue (Morega Sun) is fantastic. That was about it for us at soundcheck- ohh we also played Psycho for them. After soundcheck we went to dinner and we chatted long with the bass player James. He is such a legend of this music- he’s played with so many people. We talked about how in high school he and a few friends would basically run their own tour operation out of their van and run around to different venues on the weekends. Fogerty’s one of his heroes, and to this day it’s still mind blowing to him. Quite inspiring. At one point he figured out that the traveling life is the life for him- that communicating to others through music is the most powerful feeling. It made me really think back to the feeling I get when I perform for others and made me so grateful that I’m in a place right now where I’m playing for thousands every single night!!
Prepped for the show, started on time, it went great for us! We slayed it! John turned the last two songs of the set into an encore and that made some things confused- Wayne kinda freaked out, we didn’t know if we’d be playing them at all. Apparently during ZZ Top’s set they did a tribute to John since his birthday is tomorrow! There’s a cake waiting for us on the tour bus too. I gotta be real though, as Proud Mary started and got going I was missing a lot of notes. I lost focus. I drifted mentally, and came in wrong on an entrance. I noticed Kenny the drummer give me a look and a smile and I felt worse. As soon as the show ended I had a tough time feeling pumped. BUT I decided I didn’t enjoy feeling that way. I decided I wanted to be positive instead. So.. I didn’t talk or think about myself at all. In the post-show briefing I asked everyone else about how they did, or how they felt, or what they’re thinking. Any talk about myself would’ve either been a problem, a complaint, or self-praise, none of which is really that valuable in the long run. So I complimented Steve on taking a phrase up an octave to support my sound, complimented Nathan on his solos. I got as involved as I could in external factors, and that brought joy to me. Pretty soon I forgot entirely about my mistakes. It’s crazy how effective that was for me at bringing my mood up and I have to keep that in mind if I ever feel overwhelmed by judgements of my own actions. Post-show today was spent entirely out and about and talking pretty much- didn’t do anything on my own except write this journal (even though now its 3 AM and I’m still sitting in the tour bus lounge). But it was super dope. Ate some food after the show, went to see some of ZZ Top- Billy and Dusty are much quieter rock stars than John interestingly enough. Less energy onstage. Waited for Steven in the bathroom (he told us not too but we weren’t sure hehe) and the line for the ZZ Top Meet and Great was right next to us- the three of them, as Bob said, are contractually obligated to provide meet and greats at every concert!! Back on the bus we listened to Maynard Ferguson and some jazz.
Gina had us run a bunch of errands tonight- we took everything from the band dressing rooms and took it to the bus- food, alcohol, drinks, etc., crazy amounts of stuff. It’s not stealing- it’s provided to us in the rider but just never used- ha! The band dressing room is FULL of workout equipment- probably for Kenny. Crazy. Last thing I really did was chill out in front of the buses with the crew while they talked, smoked, drank. It was nice to bond a bit, I’m having a lot of trouble with all the smoke though. At this point we’re leaving Connecticut and heading to Vienna, Virginia for our day off!!
Being underground all day was crazy- never saw any sun, don’t know what the venue looks like- spent the whole day either in an underground parking lot, a hallway, or a dressing room pretty much.
We’re basically in a state park right now. In New Joisey. It’s SOO humid outside I can barely go out there without sweating like a maniac. Slept like a baby, was up at 10 AM after eight hours of sleep. First move was to go find breakfast- they have some pretty great catering down the hill- omelette station, vegetable juicing, etc., and NUTELLA. My goal to go to the Target 2 miles away didn’t really work out too well- a thirty minute walk ain’t in the cards. Sooooo instead I tried to secure a warmup place. Everyone’s running around like mad, so I asked our production manager for a space to warmup in the morning. It ended up being up to me to find any old dressing room and take it until the band was ready to come- after only around 20 minutes, I was booted out into the bus.
Our soundcheck/rehearsal started at 2. They wanted to put us on in-ears when we walked out into the crowd, or for most of the show for that matter. So we have a radio pack in each pocket now- one to receive sound and the other to send it from our mic. John came out and announced that we’d be cutting the set down from 96 minutes to 75 minutes by shortening songs and removing some stuff. John struck me as a very wise band leader with the way he ran rehearsal today. He very specifically delegated a tempo to our drummer, knowing exactly what we wanted from the sound of the song. When he sings and plays his demeanor is one of absolute calmness, and almost of deep soul-searching. He puts his hands up in the air to stop the band and once called for everyone to “stop and just start together this time”. We ran New Orleans a lot, changing it up a bit so that we’re starting the song off stage and moving in a big circle around the crowd. Everyone’s calling for us to just ham it up, do horn tricks, spin around and interact with the audience, and kiss babies (not that one). Billie Gibbons was wearing his pajamas to rehearsal like a baller. At the show yesterday they had vegetables and a juicer for him- they had that for breakfast again today and I had one for lunch haha. I’m thinking the raw vegetable smoothies go over pretty well with a lot of those older cats.
Hoping the show goes well, it’s raining and thunder storming now (630).
Went for a long walk, listened to King Oliver, had some dinner (this catering service is pretty fantastic- veggie lasagna and veggie masala), walked some more, came back to the bus for a spell. Everyone’s energy was kinda low, too much anticipation. Around 830 we got dressed and went over to backstage to wait.
Before the show today I tried warming up a little with a harmon, it actually helped me I think. This crowd was more full than yesterday… ultimately, the show went great!! They did cut the set so that Long as I Can See the Light wasn’t there.
Two songs with Tyler Fogerty, two songs with Billy Gibbons, and four Bayou songs- as Jambalaya started we went to the corner of the middle row of people to wait. People were kinda staring at us, waving at us, shaking our hand, etc., before we had even started. Then New Orleans hit and we walked out into the middle- DIRECTLY down from the front of the stage. It looked pretty damn cool. When we started playing people turned toward us, pulled out their phones, pointed. When we started playing Saints it got really hype. A little too much possibly- this girl who was kind of young but likely drunk started dancing really close to me and twerking on me in time to the music… definite butt contact… very odd hahaha. The security actually wasn’t helpful in the slightest until one guard in a gray vest ushered the woman off of me finally. Then we march through the crowd all soloing together, and that was a lot of fun. Apparently people were grabbing Nathan’s shirt… again, we had no security. Our stage manager wasn’t there with us until the very end, which wasn’t what we had rehearsed, but all kinds of stuff went weird with today’s show apparently. Our guitar tech handed out the wrong guitar to John several times and messed him up, and some of the songs on his set list were out of order. At least that’s what I found out from talking to guys afterward. The show still went too long- John’s used to doing his Vegas show which is 2 full hours, but now he’s gotta condense it to 75 minutes. I practiced after the show and there was Mexican food on the bus. Our production manager Gina came by and told us to go to the bands’ dressing rooms and put all the beer we can find in a bag and bring it to the bus. Sounds like she was trying to sabotage us and get us in trouble or something! Anyway… I like this part of New Jersey a lot- lots of nature, really pretty, it’s been hot all day. Tonight we drive to Connecticut- if this is the routine I could really get used to it! I’m in my bunk- kinda situated awkwardly, we don’t have a lot of vertical room to even sit up. But I sleep like a baby. Doors in between bus zones are sound proof too. Tomorrow I start exercising again.. oh boy I need some of that.
THE SHOW IS TOODAY! Amazing day that reminded me how lucky I am to play trumpet all the time and let that take me places.
Regardless of how sometimes things can feel difficult, uncomfortable, tiring, or as if others are unhappy with your performance, a positive mindset makes an entire world of difference. I know that I'm here to do my best, and that if I wasn't qualified i wouldn't get the gig in the first place. I advise everyone who's ever doubted themselves or felt insufficient because of what other people tell them.. stop and realize that you do what you do... nobody else does... and if they did, they'd be in your shoes instead. Sure other people are always smarter, better looking, and more talented, but you're here and you're doing the job. So own it and be the best you can be!
Woke up feeling a little sleepy still, but the gym never fails to make me feel better even if it's 30 minutes. Today, however, I got a text from Nathan around 10 that the production office wanted us to meet at the events center at 1115 to load our luggage on the bus! This was a full two hours sooner than I expected, so I got a little bit rushed. Had some egg white omelettes and salad, then speed packed.. I have a bag that holds everything I'll need for the day and for once I'm on the bus so that I don't have to open my luggage. Made it down with everything, and went to go pick up the valve oil and replacement GOPRO charger that arrived early thankfully. The man managing the business center hadn't yet picked up the shipment even after telling me would! Anyway, they showed us the tour bus, it got me pretty excited honestly... full bunks, lounges, fridge, bathroom, TVs, etc. Set our stuff down in our bunks- rule number one for us was to not poop on the bus!! Agreed. There was a small amount of snacks in there- the fridge is stocked with yogurt and fruit and whatnot- excited to be able to grocery shop possibly hehe- there's a Target by our next stop in New Jersey.
We then split up a bit- Nathan and Steve went to eat and I went to get my packages (finally... it did mean having to brave the smoke filled casino again). Then warmed up on the bus- 'I was the only one there. I was having a little conundrum with the trumpet thang...needed a solid warmup to have the endurance for the day, but my lips were resisting the effort I was putting into range. Ultimately only got up to about a high B.
Went to get some food at the employee dining hall again- multiple small meals in the morning usually does me right. Call time was 115- the three of us met up and headed backstage. Backstage always has water and fruit and tea- basic hospitality stuff that always keeps the vibe comfortable. On tunes we don't play we sit stage left back by the sound guy- and we wait for the bandleader to call something that we play on. Oh and also I guess the cat is out of the bag about who I'm touring with- yep it's John Fogerty's band. John is a seriously inspiring man- he’s so full of energy and positive encouragement. The music still makes him giddy to this day- playing rock-n-roll for him is just as fresh and exciting as it was when he was in his early twenties. His voice is still strong, too.
We play on Travelin’ Band, the opener, and start the set right away after the band plays free on E for a while. That’s the easiest song. Next we play “Long as I Can See the Light”- lots of pads, Nathan has a solo. That song requires some focus on playing in tune that’s about it. Then it’s ‘New Orleans’… part of the bayou section of the show. That’s where we go out and walk through the full crowd in a circle playing ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’…. Whoa that was an experience. We march ‘kinda’ in time, but I’m just speed walking to keep up most of the time. During rehearsal, all of ZZ Top’s gear was in the way of the edge of the stage so we couldn’t really practice it- luckily it went smoothly at the show. Last song we do is Proud Mary… I really like playin that one! That’s our closer of the set. Soundcheck was pretty smooth- John wanted to add us in on another song, “Psycho”, but we opted to wait until next show to learn it.
After soundcheck it was around 430, and we had two hours to kill before we went to dinner. I’m excited to have a lot of free time to work on and think about music… keeping it structured is the real challenge. I’m keeping the goals pretty simple right now- my health and my performance are coming first until I get into a real good rhythm. After dinner we went back to the bus- I had a great chat with Dave the guitar tech about humanity’s likelihood of destroying themselves because of our history of cultural oppression to gain power and status. Before the show we were in limbo for quite a while- we didn’t really have a place to relax before playing. We stayed in a little space by the dressing rooms that ZZ Top were using, but someone quickly told us that we should move as soon as they finish playing. I was antsy sitting so much- listened to music and paced the building. Getting lots of encouragement from the rest of the crew though- and the band! They’re all chill with us even though they’re world famous- and that really makes it feel cool, like I’m one of them. Finally it was time around 935 to head to stage left, get our mics hooked up, and prep for the first tune. Before we started, Dusty Hill (yes.. theee Dusty Hill) came and introduced himself to us- he was a really nice guy, told us to have a great show!!! Venue was ALMOST sold out, but not all the way- 2400 or so people. John really impressed me with his stage presence. Wow does he know how to be a badass. Everyone’ dressed like rock stars, Kenny’s got his arms showing, Bob Malone has his vest on. For the first song there wasn’t a single bit of horns in our monitors!! Our mics were working but we couldn’t hear ourselves at all… got it fixed by the second song thankfully. It was a real entertaining show to watch, but I couldn’t help feeling a little lethargic back there, watching everyone else have a great time onstage and not really getting to participate for more than four songs. I know that it’s still remarkable that I’m there and I’m grateful for that. As I said before, our performance went well- my chops didn’t quite hold on for Proud Mary, but it’s been a long day and I can’t focus on the negatives especially when so much good is going on!! Playing ‘When the Saints’ in the crowd was so fun- we might use in-ear microphones next time so we can hear the band better. We finished the show 25 minutes late, and with that we were done! Felt really quick to be honest, but I was also very happy to get this first show done with and behind me. Now we can start the real grind- I’m sitting on the bus typing alone at 1 AM. Nate and Steve went to eat and the crew is tearing down until 4 or 5- that’s when we’ll drive off to the next stop. I’m excited for the tour bus life. Can’t believe I’ll still be here in five weeks. At this point I need to brush the teeth and head to sleep! I’m sure I’ll be woken up when the whole crew gets back, but we have curtains to pull across the bunks. OK.. let’s end this horrendously long post right now!
Happy Thursday evening! Day 3 of the tour, the day before our first show here in Atlantic City. Today was technically a day off- we were here around the hotel left to our own devices. What it turned into was a fascinating look into the teetering economy of a gambling town much like Las Vegas….
I was up around 9 local time to head to the gym, was pretty hungry again (all my meals lately have been so spread out it’s wild) so I had to cut it short. Turns out the breakfast at the employee cafe is not bad at all! They had eggs, sweet potatoes (luckily they really like their sweet potatoes here, I can’t leave without them), bacon (of which I didn’t partake but glad it’s an option), a pretty good kale salad… I put it all in pita bread with peanut butter. Don’t judge me! Got tea at Starbucks… I just haaaad to.
Next task of the morning… find a place to warm up! Went backstage to the Events Center.. today the other band in the bill was setting up their stage and sound checking (they’re really famous hehe). I bumped into their lighting director and asked him where I could blow a loud trumpet for forty-five minutes to warmup… it’s a big maze of hallways full of technical equipment so I figured some corner would do. Ultimately we found one of the board rooms where they hold big corporate meetings and I warmed up in there- very happy to have a place to be loud to myself. I’ve learned this semester that as a trumpet player I do best having a LOUD and strong warmup to prep for playing that way. Lots of teachers advocate the OPPOSITE but that just don’t work fo me. I spent about 55 minutes in total getting my chops ready- felt real good if not a little toooo good at the end. Could’ve done without going quite so hard. Ultimately this has to serve as both my practice time and my warmup time- so I gotta be sure to work on technique as well- range, tonguing, slurring, et cetera.
My warmup served me well, and the forms of the tunes are easy enough to reduce the tune to a couple of words (intro, 3 verses, chorus, ending, etc.). I still have a ways to go before I’m entirely satisfied with my range… but I’m keeping the thoughts POSITIVE! It’s fun rehearsing with them too. Nathan’s always scatting or singing- it’s infectious when he starts, we all join him.
Then before I ate I wanted to ask our tour manager about per diems.. we’re supposed to get some cash each day we’re here, but hadn’t gotten any yet- so we got that taken care of. Dealing with adults with these sensitive issues is tricky but very much worth it- it makes you look like you know what you’re talking about- especially coming from a kid.
Lunchtime at the dreaded employee cafeteria again (it was definitely less good but they had vegetarian chili so I’m happy), and then went to my room to work editing a transcription video that I shot at home last week. Tryin’ real hard to be productive and set clear, specific goals for myself. This blog is ALSO gettin really long good lawn. I’ll edit it I’m sure.
Went to hang with Nathan and Steven in their room and watch a bit of The Office and decide what to do… we opted for the boardwalk- only a $9 Uber away.
6 PM or so and we were being driven to the coast where the sun sets on the opposite side of the ocean than California (!). We spent almost 2 hours just walking up and down the pier and remarking at what we saw. Instantly it struck us as sad; cheap shops, psychics, junk food, every other building was for lease, the streets almost entirely empty, men standing outside trying to get us to go to a B grade comedy act tonight, and large, LOUD video billboards every ten feet it seemed. The over-commercialized nature of this place was irking me, but it was very nice to get some sunlight and get some walking in. We discovered that Nathan didn’t know that New Jersey was a state.. learn something new every day. Before long we wanted to leave- we walked to some really sketchy markets so I could get water and soap (for the drive ahead I need bar soap since we’ll be showering at venues… those stories will come soon I’m sure).
When we got back I could tell I was dehydrated, and my head hurt. Steven wanted to go to his room and do jumping jacks to revitalize himself, and Nathan went over to the bar… I went up to my room, thinking I’d practice, but ultimately I didn’t get much done. Shortly had dinner, basically the same food I had for lunch (but figured out how to get tea so that’s a plus!!!). For about an hour I felt really jaded and unproductive… did a little bit of yoga, drank lots of water, did practice for 45 minutes or so. Worked on stuff for the show, and a bit of this Ella Fitzgerald solo on “Bernie’s Tune”.. trying to sing every syllable just like her and then transfer it to trumpet.. so killing!!
I’ve been standing up while typing this blog… better to keep my blood flowing than to sit and fall deep into the computer. As of now I feel pretty good, if anything a bit hungry. I’m talking so much about health only because that’s been the thing I’m thinking about most the last few days… staying on top of my body is my number one priority- without that I won’t have the endurance to do this show. I think often about the other guys in the band we play in- the drummer in particular can go for HOURS without a break… I gotta get stronger!! But hey, all in good time.
OK, a lot to say for Day 3.. tomorrow we have soundcheck, hopefully I can get a little bit of exercising and composing in beforehand. Aiming for a less intense warmup but still 50 minutes or so. I SHALL be back tomorrow :) any questions or suggestions ?? Let me know!!!
Since having posted last it's been a pretty tiring and stressful 28 hours! I feel good, if only a little bit lethargic from 7 hours of sleep, but overall I'm pretty good shape.
WHERE did I leave off? Oh yeahhh ok our flight to Philly was delayed so that we didn't leave until 115, right before takeoff we met lots of the other guys on crew. Got on the plane- all got window seats toward the back of the plane. I was lookin to relax and get started with work when this old woman sat down next to me and started talking. She was wanting to be very friendly and talkative and I was happy to do so with her. But, over the course of the five hours, I learned about everything there was to learn about the woman- even things I really didn't want to learn. She's 82, but looks closer to 62 (she even told me a story of how she started dating a man twenty years younger than her who thought she was). She's very active in church- been a minister her whole life, and sees it as her life's purpose to convey the meaning of God to others. She has a big family below her, including 13 great-grandchildren, and 3 children in their 60s themselves. At one point she teared up and told me she wished I was her grandson... such a sweet lady. Her grandpa was a bootlegger during prohibition and her parents were both born in the Oklahoma territory and came to California during the 30s like Grapes of Wrath. She said she'd pray for my mom to take some time for herself for once (at my urging hehe). Did get a lot of random busy work done on the flight, was happy to get off the plane albeit hungry. We walked over to baggage claim and they switched the carousel three times that the bags would come out of. I was hanging in there, I wasn't angry or ravenous or anything- kept it all together. Had a real great chat with the guitar tech about Star Wars that was pretty funny. He actually liked Episodes 2 and 3 more than 1. Anywayyyyy, waiting for the bags I took out this MIDI keyboard that I took with me- I borrowed it from my bass player friend Rani who received it from Russ Ferrante- piano teacher at our school. Basically you plug it into a computer through an app like GarageBand and use your computer as speakers. This way I can write and arrange things while on the road real easy. Soon enough the bags got here and we got on the bus to Atlantic City- it was close to midnight local time. Listened to some Yellowjackets, read about this thing that Wynton Marsalis said about rap music- that it's worse for black society than statues of Robert E. Lee. Not gonna comment. Arrived at the hotel around 1- it feels exactly like Las Vegas. Creeps me out, but people spend so much money here.. which is ultimately working in my favor. They had a buffet waiting for us- decent food, not spectacular, in the employee dining area. Sat with Nathan and Steven- we finally got to talk a little bit about everything. The relationship I’ve had with them has always been strictly work-related… I show up, play my part, and leave onto the next thing.
Hopefully over the course of this trip we can bond a lot more, and I think things are already looking pretty positive. I went to sleep pretty soon afterward, right around 330 local time.
Morning I was up at 1030! Got to see the view outside which is neat- you can see the beach clearly. Interesting mix of old townhouses and casino skyscrapers in this town. I was pretty hungry but I went downstairs and exercised anyway- there’s a free “pump room” which is a pretty good-sized fitness center that I used for around 45 minutes. Afterward I was quite famished, but showered before meeting Nathan and Steven down there to head off to food. We were supposed to eat at this place for free, and eventually did but it took us forever to find it! It’s a cafe for employees, and it’s decent- not great vegetarian options- I’m trying to keep my compete protein in mind.
We grabbed our horns and met at the Events Center around 145, which is attached to the hotel- so we didn’t even have to go outside whatsoever. They were all still setting up the stage and lights- it’s this 2500 person ballroom! Waited around in our dressing room that we took over for a bit- writing our blog and warming up. We ran some of the charts- I know I’ll have to get them memorized shortly but that won’t be too difficult honestly. I’m a little concerned about my chops holding up- one of the tunes is a serious lip killer- especially for me since I’m not typically a lead player. At 330 they were finally ready for us, so we got our mics hooked up and sat around till the main act was ready.
The music isn’t too difficult aside from the range. There’s a part of the set where we walk through the audience while playing- honestly very excited for that one if I can remember how to march and play simultaneously. When the rest of the band was leaving (7 or so), the horns, drums, bass, and keys stayed to rehearse that little audience feature a bunch more times. Mental toughness is the name of the game for me today- if I crack then I’ll have it much harder. Just focusing on food, sleep, and exercise above all else. We finally got dinner at 9 and this noodle place, and now as I finish the blog I’m trying to get tea before I play cards with Nathan and Steven (no I refuse to gamble!!!).
First day WAS tiring, BUT I learned the importance of eating a big meal in the morning AND drinking a lot of water. I know all these things, but every once in a while they’re reinforced. A walk outside might also do me some good. Ok hopefully I’m not out too late now… tomorrow’s a day off for us! Check back in soon as the adventure shall CONTINUE.
Ok after trying to figure out which website service to use to start this I ultimately decided to just keep it simple, capitalize on my existing website with Weebly, and start a blog that I knew I wouldn't really be able to monetize or have too many extensive features with. Honestly I'm cool with that. Just looking for somewhere I can STORE and SHARE everything that I'll be thinking, doing, and seeing for the next two months and beyond.
I journal every night, around 10-15 minutes to store down all my thoughts and doings of that day, I've done so pretty consistently since January 1st. Moving to digital was the result of wanting a little more speed, some digital documentation, and more flexibility in terms of WHERE and WHEN I could journal. Plus, I wanted an easy way to share things I was doing with my parents and friends, rather than have to tell them the highlights of all my adventures and things.
To introduce my summer I will begin by giving some backstory. Only very brief, my attention span is too limited. Hopefully that doesn't become a recurring theme in my writing. I'll work on that. I'm a Jazz Studies major at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and have been playing trumpet for almost ten years. It's what I truly love to do and I'm committed to making it my career. I just finished my sophomore year, and this past semester I've been getting more heavily involved in USC's Popular Music program, as they are WORLD CLASS and KICKING ASS on all counts. Headed by Patrice Rushen, writer of "Forget-Me-Nots" and entertainment mogul/band-leader extraordinaire, the program has given me tremendous opportunity for growth and exposure over the past six months. With Nathan Collins, tenor sax, and Steve Robinson, trombone, I have been a staple of what has been come to known as the "Honorary Pop Horn Section", or, a bunch of Jazz majors playing on Pop concerts because we're nice guys (except Nathan, he formally switched to being a pop major).
In early April, my career took a veer to the left; a teacher gave us the chance to be a part of a major rock and roll artists' tour for the summer. Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to say who that is until after the tour is over, BUT I can say three letters. C. C. R.
Ok enough said... ultimately we freaked out and said yes and went to the guys' house to audition- a palace! We sent him videos first, paid to rent out a studio and record his music. We were ON, and about to tour the country on buses for two months. I'm still in awe that I'm 19 and can get to do something like this.
So that takes me to where we are now. I've been practicing the music on my new mouthpiece at home pretty hard the last week, drove back to LA Sunday, packed up my thangs, and am sitting at the airport now- waiting to fly to Philly to get everything underway. We'll drive from Philly straight to Atlantic City where we'll rehearse for two days before our first show Friday.
Our plane keeps getting delayed, so now it's looking like we won't arrive until close to 9:30 tonight, so looks like we get only about 6-7 hours of sleep before our 8 AM call time in the morning.
Did a 30 minute cardio exercise this morning (fitnessblender.com I'm a big fan of their videos), ate a burrito that I made at home Sunday (it was surprisingly still tasty), and some protein powder in soymilk, and met Nathan at study hall cafe. We called an Uber and drove through the city to meet Steven, check in bags, and get lunch (Lemonada I think was the name of the place, had this four salad plate that were all really tasty). Right now we have about 35 minutes before we board, so I'm gonna see if I can get some other work done and submit this first post to the world!