Sunday, April 5, 2015

Ep. 8 with Shane McKillop of Gardens&Villa

Ep. 8 with Shane McKillop of Gardens&Villa

G3T returns after a years hiatus due to life circumstances, but we are STOKED to be back!! G3T sits down with Shane McKillop from the band Gardens & Villa. The talk about Bass gear, first guitars, Tour shenanigans and a bunch of other stuff..... Travel Safe! and watch for more upcoming episodes!! Follow us on "Twitter - @gtrtechtourtalk " - "Facebook - G3T Guitartechtourtalk " and SUBSCRIBE at the iTunes store....
Click here to listen: G3T_008_Shane_McKillop.m4a

EP. 7 with Producer/Musician Todd Hannigan

EP. 7 with Producer/Musician Todd Hannigan

We hang with Grammy award winning Musician, Producer, Brotheryn Recording Studio Owner, Film Scorer, Gnarly Surfer and Recording Engineer - Todd Hannigan! Find other podcasts at and Stitcher and the iTunes store!! Thanks! Travel Safe!
Click here to listen: G3T_007_Todd_Hannigan.m4a

EP. 6 with Rey Villalobos of House of Wolves

EP. 6 with Rey Villalobos of House of Wolves

Guest Rey Viilalobos is making his mark by touring in Europe while maintaining his base in Santa Barbara Ca. His music is more of a painting or cinematic landscape than the basic song format..... Rey and host - John Mooy - go way back, so the conversation is animated and touches on touring on trains, EU audiences and traveling without a cell phone! John was away on tour for awhile, so we apologize for the lag between shows...... Travel safe! Follow us on "Twitter - @gtrtechtourtalk " - "Facebook - G3T Guitartechtourtalk " and SUBSCRIBE at the iTunes store.....
Click here to listen: G3T_006_Rey_Villalobos.m4a

Ep. 5 with Guitarist Tony Pulizzi

Ep. 5 with Guitarist Tony Pulizzi

Welcome to Episode 5 of G3T with guitar virtuoso Tony Pulizzi! Tony's story of how he created his career in the music business is one that every aspiring guitarist should check out. Truly inspiring! From his work for two seasons on American Idol to touring the world with with Natalie Cole, Tony is a "Tone King" and is one of my personal favorite guitarists today.... Travel Safe!
Click here to listen: G3T_005_Tony_Pulizzi.m4a

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ep. 4 with Musician Nathan McEuen!!

Ep. 4 with Musician Nathan McEuen!!

Old friend Nathan Mcuen sits down and chats about growing up in a musical family, famous Dads, opening for John Denver and his new adventure with the voices of Mickey and Minnie Mouse!!
Click here to listen: G3T_004_Nathan_McEuen.m4a

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ep. 3 with Alastair Greene of the Alan Parsons Project!!

Ep. 3 with Alastair Greene of the Alan Parsons Project!! 

Join your host John Mooy with Alastair Greene - lead guitarist for the Alan Parsons Project and Alastair Greene band!
Click here to listen: 003_G3T_Alastair_Green.m4a

Ep. 2 With Kyle Nicolaides of Beware of Darkness!!

Ep 2 With Kyle Nicolaides of Beware of Darkness!!

Join host John Mooy with Kyle Nicolaides from the band Beware of Darkness! Kyle talks about touring Europe with Smashing Pumpkins and his 3 year quest to find the perfect bandmates. Enjoy and Travel Safe!

Ep. 1 with Musician Brett Dennen!

Ep. 1 with Musician Brett Dennen! 

Our first podcast is with the always entertaining Brett Dennen! Bret chats about touring on Cruise Ships, getting the right food while on tour and much more! Come on in! Your host John Mooy is a touring Guitar Tech, Tour Manager, Stage & Production manager, Artists Relations guy - or basically.... a Roadie with too many shows and miles traveled in the last countless number of years to remember..... Come hang out at his shop in Santa Barbara Ca. while he talks with Touring folk and repairs their guitars!! Follow us on Twitter - @guitartechtourtalk and SUBSCRIBE at the iTunes store!!
Listen here -  G3T_001_Brett_Dennen.m4a

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fret Filing Zen.....

Fret Dressing and crowning - There is something about doing this repair.... draping the file over the taped off fretboard and ever so lightly allowing the file to slowly scrape off the fretwires until all the wear marks are gone. It is a zen thing that I got to know and enjoy when I lived in Vail oh so long ago. I would tune ski's at the ski shop late into the night. Out the window, I'd watch the apres skiers walk by after too many schnapps at 10pm still in their ski boots, stumblingg and yelling in their Texan accents..... It was almost a meditation and I find that doing the same motion with a file on a guitar neck to be very similar. Just having the right tools and reshaping each fretwire back to a smooth, round and playable position is incredibly satisfying! I recently finished the guitar that Michael O'Neill plays while on tour with George Benson. This Yamaha guitar has over 1200 shows and at the very least 5 million miles in travel on it - NO exaggeration! The divots in each fretwire were NOT your typical wear from the normal D - G - C - Em chording, but were worn on every fret up to the 10th position! Michael is one of the best guitar players I have ever teched for and has played with everyone from Stevie Wonder, Ricky Lee Jones, The Crusaders and George for two decades. Not to mention he is a good guy with a big heart. But when he plays - he is all in - 100% Even at Soundcheck.... Total pro..... It is so satisfying to get this guitar ready for this years tour.... and to know that I got a zen moment with this incredible guitar.......


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Guitar Road Report - reintroduction et al......

I started doing this blog over a year ago, then promptly forgot about it and pushed it to the back of the dust bin in my head. In that time I have added another 500,000 miles to my frequent flyer status, done 200 more shows in every Continent but Antarctica and traveled around the Globe 3-4 more times. I shake my head in amazement that once again - Guitars - are the reason for this - plain and simple. So... allow me to reintroduce this blog and make a wholehearted attempt at resurrecting something that just barely got off the ground and within the first two posts saw quite a bit of traffic......  I have been a touring Guitar tech, Tour manager, Production Manager, Stage Manager, Sound Engineer, Audio Tech and Artist Relations representative for an accumulated 30+ years. But, mostly I have just been a guitar repairperson for the majority of it all. Too many years to think about really. So, this will be a blog about guitars, guitar related gear, tales from the road and from home..... this could go anywhere on a day to day basis..... Because of these beautiful pieces of wood, I get to travel all over the world and work with many of my musical heroes. I have been very fortunate to have worked with some of the greatest touring Crew people in the biz and continue to (even after all these years) meet and work with new upcoming, passionate Artists and Guitar enthusiasts. Join me for a (hopefully daily) look at what road life is like. What new and old gear I get to try and have tried, as well as the reasons why I do and or don't find them to my liking! I'll try to give my meager unabashed opinion on general music industry news and views.....But all in all I will try to just entertain and educate folks on what has been my passion since I was six years old staring at the TV and hearing John Lennon sing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on the Ed Sullivan Show that Sunday evening long ago.... So here's to many stories to tell and many more to come! 
Follow me (if you so desire) on Twitter - @coloradoxmoo or Instagram - JohnMooy
And please suggest topics and/or comments/questions about guitars and gear..... I love hearing about new and old gear so anything you may have to add (i.e. posting photos, giving a subjective critique, relating a guitar oriented story) is always appreciated and welcome. Is this a diversion from the crazy world we live in to the wonderful insulated escapism world of stringed wonders? You bet your sweet bippy it is!

Travel safe!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stage collapse and thoughts, and the Nathan Byrd memorial fund.........

  • A bit of info first - this is a LONG post - it may take 4-5 minutes to read....

  • Hi Everyone - I have been getting asked by pretty much everyone what my thoughts are on the recent catastrophic stage collapses that have been happening as of late. As many of you know, I have been working around stages for the better part of my adult life - and at this point at 50 yrs. - that's a while now! I have been in one complete collapse and one near collapse. The shotgun-like sound of bolts popping and whizzing past your head at skull crushing speeds, as well as hearing that sickening, creaking sound of aluminum and steel grinding, buckling and snapping in the structure overhead  is something I do not forget easily. Although it seems as if these structural failures have been happening a lot more lately, they actually do happen more often then most people know..... Last year there was a collapse in Canada that claimed one life. Peter Framptons stage last Summer. Last Winter a collapse in Brazil during a Guns N Roses tour. Cheap Trick's stage failure. This Summer the Flaming Lips Lighting rig collapsed due to severe winds and another that I actually forget the details about....... But until the Indiana tragedy, it all has gone barely unnoticed by the major media. This is something that is unfortunately, a thing that those that work on stages think about EVERY day that we work. As I have said before many times to my friends and family that want backstage passes - "The stage is a DANGEROUS place. I really don't want you back there"!! Besides what is hanging above you there is the stage power and cabling. There are road cases and many extremely heavy items that are not always locked down. It is dark and the pit falls are deadly - for instance - Ahmet Ertegun (one of the legendary and most respected record label owners and producers)  attended a Rolling Stones benefit concert at the Beacon Theatre for the Clinton Foundation. Prior to the show Ahmet was backstage when he tripped and fell, striking his head on the concrete floor. He died a couple of weeks later from the injuries. There have been countless instances of performers walking right off the edge of the stage - before/after and during a performance. I would be here all day telling you of the Stage Crew personnel that have fallen, been shocked, hit in the head from something falling out of the ceiling from previous shows (Bolts, tools, cigarette lighters etc.). This is only a few example as there are many instances of terrible injuries that happen on the "deck" during the course of a live production. But - the tragic stage failures over the past few weeks have many people asking me quite a few questions. Here are some answers - and I hope a few solutions to some of the issues that have been addressed........
  • So - first off... I am a backline guy. I am NOT a rigger. I am not a lighting guy. I do audio/sound occasionally. But mostly Guitar tech and Tour Manage. So - that being said here is my two cents on this.... I have lifted some of the following from conversations I have had on Facebook with experienced friends that are seasoned professionals for live productions - Riggers/Musicians/Lighting Directors and local stagehands - union and nonunion - (I support IATSE all the way so excuse any bias).  I worry a lot more about many other things then the stage falling - but I ALWAYS look up. Every time I come into a venue. Always.

  • A good friend and very famous touring Artist from the UK asked me ---  What's it going to take to make sure this is the last time this ever happens?

  • Answer - Bottom line - No one can absolutely guarantee that this will never happen again - no matter what we do. Shit happens. We can do our absolute best to prevent things like this from happening, but we mere mortals are NO MATCH for Mother Nature. I think it's about time we all recognize that....huh? A major problem is that there are NO consistent regulations or procedures that are set nationwide. YES - regulations!!! At this time, most of the portable stages are "self-regulated". Ski area Chairlifts and Carnival rides have incredible safety standards that are State and Federally mandated and overseen. The Colorado Transportation Safety board inspects every ski lift and area with a fine tooth comb. The Fair rides in Indiana held up to the blast of wind very well.  Even as well built as these staging companies build their stages, and with the talents and experience of the best riggers and lighting crews-in the business...... it is NO match for Mother nature!  When I hear thunder - I know it is time to go. And if I am the Tour Manager, my Artists do not take the stage - period. These stages are no match for Ma nature. Especially when you hang all that gear from the roof and it starts moving. I have held my bands from performing just because I heard thunder - It pissed off the promoter - but ask me if I care.....
  • My good friend Mike Davidson is a well respected rigger. I have trusted his roofs over my head MANY times and he is a great friend. Here is what he said to me......
  •  "Look at the size and weight of that backdrop and rig (Indiana show)......bands and production people are trying to hang their whole Arena touring show on these Temporary roofs. Save it for the arena shows! 120 K wash and 20 movers will work fine, it is a festival not an indoor venue that can handle it! These are major Arena touring bands doing arena production shows on portable stages. The production seems to be getting way out of hand for these Festival rigs. It is getting crazy".
  • I agree 100% - Truer words were never spoken!! Big praise to the Bands and Artists that want to give the fans some big production bang for the ticket price and put on the same show outdoors at State/County fairs that they do at indoor stadiums! But, performers that are able to fill Arenas with roofs that do not move and are not subjected to violent weather CANNOT be expected to hang the same amount of lighting, IMAG video screen(s), backdrops and audio Line-Array from the roofs of these non-permanent structures.  That was a LOT of gear hanging from the roof and once it got moving - forget it. The Audio gear alone turns into a wrecking ball once it gets swinging. Look at the video of the (IMAG) Video screen flapping in the wind like old laundry at the Belgium stage collapse. That thing is taller than your house and weighs up to 1200 pounds. Thats what my Toyota truck weighs....  Another important thing that everyone asks me about is the roof covering and backdrops. Here are my thoughts...... The stages that get built out there in the middle of a field or race-track are a GIANT sailing ship. They are completely unprotected from wind gusts. It has NOWHERE to go. 70 mile an hour winds hit it with up to 8000 lbs. per square inch pressure - or so I have been told by a hardened veteran Production Manager (correct me if I am wrong - please) - and no matter what air holes you have in it, or what type of porous capabilities it has - it moves and catches wind like the Santa Maria discovering America. Very Simple. If winds like that can propel Columbus across the seas in a ship that weighed tens of tons, what makes anyone think that winds like this won't move a stage? And I won't get started on the aerodynamic flow that happens when the wind gets underneath the canopy and turns the roof into a giant wing. You wonder how a fully loaded 747 gets off the ground? If the wind were able to un-weight the roof at all and lift it even a tiny bit, the unbalanced weight of what's hanging would have to cause movement. That canopy alone probably weighed in at a couple of hundred pounds and was flailing like a piece of paper. The Stage had to go somewhere - it did. It went down and sadly lives have been lost.
  • Another problem that must addressed is the evacuation process.  Evacuating the entire area well BEFORE the storm hits is a must. Promoters don't want to postpone or God forbid, cancel the show as they may lose BIG money.  The Summer storms in the US generally come from the West, traveling to the East. (As for the Belgian storm - I know EU weather patterns are very different so I am not sure how it would apply there.... ) They generally blow over in an hour or two. The storms predictability are almost always exact from the National Weather Service and NOAA. As a Tour manager, I have personally tracked storms via well before it hit the Venue. Hell - they do it with Nascar races on National TV almost every Sunday!! With the technology we have today this is a no brainer! During this time previous to a storm front entering the area,  I am positive that just evacuating people off the stage and audience floor area (or the area that would be affected by the stage having a catastrophic failure) 30 minutes before the storm hits and for the duration of the storm - once again - usually an hour or so - would eliminate the danger for audience and crew.  Once again, my feelings are - if you can hear thunder - evacuate the stage and crowd near the stage immediately!!  Postpone the show until the danger passes. Cancel if the storm does not pass after 2.5 hours. Period. "The Person in Charge" watches the radar in real time on their phone/computer via etc. and makes the call to either cancel or restart the gig........... If the stage DOES come down - nobody gets hurt!
  • Which leads me to this - who exactly IS "The Person in Charge"??!

  • Calling a show - or postponing or canceling a show should be the decision of SOMEONE? But who? The Stage manager? The Promoter? The Tour Manager? The Bands Production Manager? The touring crew? The Local crew? My answer - well read on..... 

  • A friend told me -  "It's a hard call to make that would effectively cancel a concert, but the process of calling it off if there's a likelihood of wind, or lightning taking a stage out.... 
  • It's hard to imagine, after this, any promoter wanting to be remembered as the one who argued with a technical crew saying - "sorry." It might be useful for performers like myself and others to take note and have a clause automatically added to all their live concerts allowing for last minute or on stage cancellation if their technical crew make the judgement on the day that to continue with the show would put lives at risk".

  • Another rather famous Musician friend said to me - "it's a matter that major managers and top promoters could quickly agree upon and any lawyer easily draft, a pro-forma, catch all clause that would be recognized as standard and required in all agreements, that prevents the situation ever happening again. Either artists or promoters are left to make the call. If the crew boss says the stage is unsafe, that really should be as good as a referee calling foul on a football pitch... and the decision of when to call an all clear, similarly decided".
  •  They are right. Except that leaving it for the Crew to decide to "call it" would leave them liable for any injuries or deaths.  Touring crew, like the Guitar Tech, Monitor Engineer and Front of House Engineer are the least paid of all the people on a tour. These guys are making about $1300.00 bucks a week and are the low men on the totem pole in the touring world. Who would protect them from being sued and losing everything they have? Most Performance contracts DO have the "ACT OF GOD" clause in it. But when it comes down to brass tacks -- by the time everyone gets done arguing about who is suing who if "the band does NOT go on", the stage has fallen and people are hurt. That is where my opinion takes purpose ---- 
  • I believe from the bottom of my heart that the Insurance companies that get paid to insure these things should have an on-site structural engineer to inspect and be responsible for making the call to postpone or cancel the show for ANY reason and be liable for what they insure!! At EVERY show!
  • If the Insurance company is going to insure it - then they'd better send an expert that is under their employ to sign off on it and then stick around to make sure things don't get screwed around with by some Production Manager or Lighting Director that wants to add - "just one more thing" to the roof or hang that video screen that they said during the advancing was only 1000 lbs - not 1800lbs. They should also require that no matter what is being hung from the sky - THE ROOF CAN BE RAISED AND LOWERED AT ALL TIMES!  Some of the backdrops, video screens and audio can prevent a roof from being dropped at will - this has to end.
  •   I feel the band's Tour manager should have the balls to say - "NO!! My Artist(s) are not taking the stage until everything is safe" and then walk - very far from the stage area - band and crew in tow. Also, the Stage Manager should be aware enough to say - "Storm coming in 30 minutes! Drop the Roof!" and the Promoter would take the opportunity to coordinate with his Security staff on an orderly and prompt evacuation of the Venue. Once again - if you can see the storm a brewin' and can hear the thunder - you may already be too late. 

  • But ultimately - I strongly feel that the insurance companies should be responsible and should provide the "experts". I would like to see the companies that are insuring make the final postponement call so THEY would be held responsible or Praised! - NOT US - the lowly Stage grunts! We (Tour manager, Stage Manager, Production Manager, Lighting Director, House Steward) could be a part of the decision and we could all walk off the stage if the Insurance guy is a complete tool - but I want the decisions and ultimate culpability to fall on the private insurer. Not the Stagehands that are there busting their butts making 10 bucks an hour.......   But that's my opinion - I may be wrong......
Jay P Norton - I.A.T.S.E. Local 82 Stagehand adds -  
I can input another spoke into the wheel, I think the need for the decision to make that call shouldn't lie with the insurance carriers, they as well as the other entities have a interest or should I say profit to protect. They don't want a big pay out either, so they may hold off the decision to the last minute. OR on the other hand, if the insurance provider is to be able to make the decisions pertaining to the safety and well being of a crew, then they (the insurance experts) should have to hold themselves to higher standards of training in our field, such as the Rigging and Electrician Certification programs that are available to us. We all do need to stand strong and move swiftly to come to some type of industry standards. 
  • So..... if PRIVATE insurance companies won't provide the Inspections that are now being demanded - WHO WILL!?
  • What agency in the good old USA is going to be the one to grab this one by the short hairs? After all - we are living in the "Everything must be de-regulated days" here in the U.S.A. 
  •  I.A.T.S.E ( International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) won't touch it - they are barely hanging on due to union busting and Venues going non-union. Department of Homeland Security (which is actually the responsible agency to oversee this stuff - really!) is non-existent for this type of inspection service as they don't have the "resources"- and the individual States - especially those with the new "we want Government out of our lives" mentality (like Indiana) don't want anything to do with it - and EVERY one of them shudder over the liability of it all! Lawyers are salivating here..... People vote for less Government until something like this happens and then they all say - "Shouldn't someone be inspecting these things?? Welcome to the deregulated world..... I think I hear the private Insurance Corporations slithering towards the door..... hear it? Ya KNOW you do! 
  • So - here is at least ONE solution that I have to hopefully prevent lives from being lost and injuries to be drastically cut UNTIL some type of structural change can be made to these outdoor stages- I mean we can all do the finger pointing, but let's start to try to figure SOMETHING out........ Here is what could start happening --- TODAY!

  • One of the biggest problems for promoters is this - How do you evacuate 10,000 people out of a venue and then get them back IN, not knowing if the guy coming through the gate actually bought a ticket or not and is now trying to snake into the show for free? --- 
  • EASY!!! 
  • You know those wrist bands that they give to you for all the different VIP areas and Beer gardens?  Institute a new ticketing policy where-by special wrist bands MUST be worn by all concert attendees so in the event of a weather related evacuation they may exit the venue to seek shelter.  With this wrist-band they may re-enter the concert grounds as it would act like a ticket and show proof that they had been in the venue prior to the evacuation and presented a valid ticket. This would NOT mean the audience member could come and go out of the Venue as they please for any other reason but an evacuation. You leave the Venue without the Evac order being called - goodbye!
  • As for audiences complaining about weather delays and/or wanting their money back due to a show that goes on late because of an evacuation - tough shit! Make sure via website, ticket agent postings, etc. that each ticket holder KNOWS that a show may be postponed up to 3 hours before cancellation with NO refund. I am positive that audience members would return to see the show as well - even if the show was to start 2 hours after it's scheduled time. As soon as it was safe to do so and the storm had passed then off you go - SHOWTIME!. And how would the audience know when they can return - Easy!! They log onto the Venues account on Twitter and Facebook to await notification. The Venue can also have an assigned instant messaging account and an automatic text that goes out - if they can do this in Egypt and change a Government I think Venues that have a whole seasons worth of shows could do this VERY easily. I know any Junior High School kid could set this all up in an hour. Mine could.

  • All in all - this has been a very sad time for those of us in this crazy business. I know so many incredibly wonderful and dedicated people in this business that put everything they have into "getting the show done".... If only HALF the musicians that play on these stages would begin to acknowledge and pay homage to what their crews do all day before they get there for sound check and after the show while they are partying I would drop to the floor in disbelief - I am VERY blessed to be a part of not one - but TWO touring Artists that treat the crew as peers and as professionals - I am so honored to work for them.....

  • I also HIGHLY recommend the following blog - VERY insightful and I agree with him 100%%.

  • But as Henry Rollins said ---

  • "Listen to the Stage Manager and get on stage when they tell you. No one has time for the rock star bullshit. None of the techs backstage care if you’re David Bowie or the milkman. When you act like a jerk, they are completely unimpressed with the infantile display that you might think comes with your dubious status. They were there hours before you building the stage, and they will be there after you leave tearing it down. They should get your salary and you should get theirs.
  • Thank you Henry - and thank your local and touring crews now and often!! - cause without us - you're just the radio.........


  • Please note the following --- and donate if you can!!!!!!

  • Nathan Byrd Memorial - 
  • Our stage Brother Nathan was the spot-op 
  • that was in the roof of the Indiana fair Stage collapse. 
  • He passes leaving 2 children and his nephew....
If you wish to make a donate to a fund for his kids - 

I.A.T.S.E. LOCAL 30                                                                                               ATTN:NATHAN BYRD FAMILY-(MUST SPECIFY)                                                                  1407 EAST RIVERSIDE DRIVE


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Travel Zen........

One of the things I enjoy most about my job as a Guitar Tech and Tour Manager is the travel - I am an airport junkie...... I admit it. I am the weird one I guess. Because I get there early – and I mean 2-3 hours early. I don’t mind security. I don’t mind the lines. I enjoy layovers. I don’t mind the people that are all hustling to get to wherever it is they are going to go even if they are new at it. In fact I find them all rather interesting. There is a zen thing that I try to get into starting at home. I leave VERY early. I breathe at the check-in counter and try to find some balance. I mantra this – “Move slowly and with purpose. Never hurry”. Going through TSA I have a game that I like to play – it’s called “Make the TSA Guard Smile”. Not laugh…. Just smile. It makes me feel somewhat subversive in a Ghandiesque sort of way. I have a rehearsed method of taking things in and out of my bags knowing full well what TSA will find that they have to have a “second look” at and expecting it to happen. I can put my shoes and all clothing back on in the time they look…. I like to find a place to wait that is across from my gate – generally an empty waiting area where I can observe my fellow passengers from afar and always find some amusement with the latest fashion trends that people are wearing…. Especially in LAX! Living in a beach town and being 50 yrs old I am definitely UNDER fashion minded, so the latest super tight Men’s T-shirts, Woman’s leggings, Hipster Hats and tats are always a source of wonderment and amusement! It must be hard to be that hip all the time….  Also, It usually happens (no matter where in the world I am) that I run into another fellow “Road Dawg”. It’s always the same conversation – Where you goin’? Who ya with? Great to see you! Travel Safe! – but there is a certain comfort when you run into someone you lived on a tour bus with for 3 months and then haven’t seen in 5 years that makes you feel part of a larger family of road warriors. It is always good to see Crew and Musicians in the airport - always. Getting on the plane I usually find myself standing next to someone who is thinking the same thing – almost never fails – and I always say with an air of knowing…. “Everyone rushing to get in the little metal tube. We’ll all get there at the same time”. Every time I have received a smile and a nod or the start of a nice chat with someone new. Usually it's a veteran traveler that has some great tips of their own personal do’s and don’ts of daily travel. 
Probably my only travel superstition is this - I ALWAYS stop at the entrance to the aircraft and knock firmly 3 times on the fuselage before stepping over the threshold and into the plane. Yes... I have received some looks and comments from flight personnel and the person in line behind me but I don't care.  Don’t know where this started – I just do it. It’s like my own “permission to come aboard” ritual. I ALWAYS smile at the flight attendant and ask them how they are and tell them my name. I usually get extra peanuts that way - WooHoo!
But, of all the things I enjoy most about traveling – especially on the international flights is this – solitude. It is a time in your life where all you can do is sit…. Sometimes for 18 hours. No wi-fi (yet), E mails, phone calls, etc. Just some vacant hours to sit and write, listen to all the new music that I never have time to listen to or (God forbid) watch the latest Jennifer Aniston and/or Adam Sandler movie. C’mon…. EVERY flight you take has one of their movies and if not them, it’s Matthew McConaughey and/or Kate Hudson doing their latest romantic nonsense. I have also recently started a photographic essay on shots from the window of the aircraft.... as seen above! It is this time on flights that I find I can really think about nothing. Zero. Right down to my own life being out of my own hands speeding through the sky at 38,000ft and 600mph. I have zero control. I must surrender. I have learned to think about nothing during this time and it is like a drug. Sleeping is even different. It is the complete opposite of suspended animation. Sleep without sleeping. Total awareness while sleeping…. Kinda TM actually but without the rest, quiet, or relaxation…..
All in all, I am always excited when I fly. I love the fact that this huge chunk of metal can even get off the ground and the fascination of it will never leave me. One of these days I’ll actually use all those frequent flyer miles. If I’m ever home long enough to plan a vacation – away from Santa Barbara….. right.
Have fun and travel safe!!  Moo

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Quest for Tone and other assorted ramblings......

Looking for the perfect tone, whether for electric and/or acoustic guitar has always been a mystery to me. I am always amused - especially at NAMM shows - when I hear people say -
"This sounds JUST like (fill in the blank here)"!! I guess it has always been and always will be the musical "Holy Grail". I have toured and worked with some Artists that don't spend ANY time with their techs - at all - and just expect the guitars to be perfect everyday (and then get PISSED when they are not!). They think that good tone just magically appears and happens in an instance. On the other hand, I have had the great opportunity to work with a few "Tone Masters" over the years and have seen just how much time and effort goes in to getting the perfect sound... which by the way is all relative due to one's own personal opinion and physical hearing loss etc....! (That's another blog!). Two people that come to mind is Jim Messina and Lloyd Baggs. Watching these two geniuses toil over the slightest nuance and feel of what they are playing or building is something everyone player and/or aspiring player should see. I recently spent time with Mr. Baggs comparing two pickups and two preamps. A-B'ing all of them - over and over - and what it came down to wasn't the technical aspect of each, i.e. frequencies/phasing/etc. as that had all been taken care of - but it came down to feeling. I finally looked at him and said "You know.... this combination of gear makes me FEEL like I want to play guitar all day....."   It was comfortable and I was wrapped in a big warm blanket of tone! On the other side -  in Electric world - I was fortunate to spend two days at the Fender factory with Mr. Messina in 2005 prepping for the Loggins and Messina Reunion tour. We must have tried 30 guitars and I can't even tell you how many amp combinations before we chose 4 guitars and a 3 amp combo system - 2 Fender Bassman amps (later switched to 3 Hot Rod deluxes across the board) handling Right and Left effects from the pedalboard and a center Hot Rod Deluxe that ALWAYS had the original straight guitar tone. This way the effects never changed the original tone - but could be swept up and through the original true unchanged tone of the guitar by a Pedal Steel guitar volume pedal that had 3 outputs on it..... It was AWESOME! The President of Fender and the entire staff poked their heads in, as did the great James Burton (who was there designing his pickup) to find out WHAT he was playing through..... Too much fun ensued when Jimmy and James sat and played together for the next 2 hours......  anyhoo...... back to tone.... I guess what I am saying is this.... if you don't sit down with your gear and actually spend time with it, you will end up like a few unnamed Artists I have had the misfortune of working with throwing your gear across the stage in frustration because "your gear sucks" and your tech is an "idiot". My response --- Your gear doesn't suck and your tech is smarter than you are ya boob!! You just need to sit with it and really get to know it..... I have turned down gigs with Artists that won't allow you to talk to them or look them in the eye..... what a load! If you don't talk to your tech about the tools you are working with and spend NO time with your gear, how the heck are you supposed to sound any good? So....... breathing again - breathing....... Sit and get to know your stuff. I have played heard some GREAT sound through some REALLY crappy gear only because time was spent. Lot's of time..... Have fun and Travel safe!!!      Moo