Workshop Time

I had a great time hosting a workshop for The Havering Saxophonics this week. The Saxophone Choir is open to anyone who plays the saxophone regardless of age or ability. The only criteria to join  is to "love to play the saxophone". The first part of the workshop was mainly myself talking about sound and technique. In the second half we worked on soloing and a Joe Zawinul tune called Mercy, Mercy, Mercy . I was amazed by the standard and keeness to play. Workshops / Masterclasses are something I have never thought abut doing but I may start to look into them as I really enjoyed it. If you live near the group (It's in Upminster) you can contact John on  info@thehaveringsaxophonics.

Tour Blog - Atlanta

The final gig was in Atlanta where the weather could not have felt any different. The heat in Las Vegas was like having a hair dryer bow in your face all the time. The temperature in Atlanta was like standing in a steamy shower room. If I had to choose it would be the former, Atlanta's weather was exhausting.  Above are pictures of the fab group Wang Chung who were on the same bill. I really enjoyed the're set plus they were lovely people. As you can see the venue was yet again a lovely open air amphitheatre.

Above and below are some of the friends I made on the tour. Below is ABC's sound engineer Herman Leijte (we don't normally hold hands I made him!) Herman was an amazing sound engineer who made sure band sounded great out front but he also made sure our monitors sounded great. He was able to pick out frequencies within each of our monitors by calling out numbers that applied to that frequency. Herman was from Australia but had lived in America for many years he was great fun to be around but he also worked very hard. Talking of which above on the right is a picture of our driver Sam. He too worked so hard and yet was always really upbeat. The above middle picture was of Gavin Menzies our guitar tech. he too did a great job and was really fun. As I said before this was the last gig on the tour which ended in a wicked party followed by a very hung over flight home but it was all worth it.

Tour Blog - Las Vegas

Las Vegas Baby! Well ........ it was interesting!. I've never been before but I always thought, why would you go somewhere in the middle of a desert to see the Eiffel Tower or a copy of an Italian styled building?. I soon realised it's not about that. People that go to Vegas go to gamble and live in a make believe world for as long as they can afford it. We were playing at a beautiful  new hotel called the M Resort. After the gig we were given a couple of days off so as you can see from the picture below I made use of the pool area!.The picture at the bottom is of me doing somme practice in the hotel, it's not very interesting and I don't know why I've included it but there we go! The next and last gig was in Atlanta which mean't we relaxed in LV  and then got a 'Red Eye' flight to Atlanta.

I always wondered why the flights were called  red eye flights in films. The simple reason is, if you fly from the west coast at night let's say leaving LV at 10pm and arrive on the east coast in Atlanta your watch needs to be taken forward so you're losing hours. The flight was about five hours plus you lose about 5 hours. This means you arrive on the east coast and it's early morning. Meaning unless you slept on the plane you will, like I did, have red eyes. Below you can see my blurring shot of a very early Atlanta airport. I also include a shot (I need to get out more!) of this rapid charger which I saw in LV airport. It has an adaptor for laptops, phones, ipods etc. If you need to charge up quick you pay a small amount and plug in, so clever!

Tour Blog - Mountain Winery Saratoga

This was our view from the dressing room, if you can't get inspired by that then your in trouble! We were playing a venue that used to be a Winery above the very wealthy  and iconically named 'Silicone valley'. This venue has got to be my favourite, it's not the biggest or well known but it was so beautiful. The picture underneath this is not so beautiful but it had to be included. One of the guys working as an usher had a black eye. I had to get this shot with him, he said he wanted a copy of it as he's collecting shots of himself with the black eye with different people. He even had an email address, black-eye-guy@....!

Tour Blog - Los Angeles

So your thinking why is there a picture of a desert and a toilet? The scenery really started to change on the west coast, driving through the desert was amazing, it's just so big! We headed out of Salt Lake to Los Angeles where we were plaing the Gibson Amphitheatre. This is an famous venue in LA the pictures inside the venue showed why. Some seroius people have played there. However I seemed more impressed with the dressing rooms, hence the picture of the dressing room toilet! Also below you can see the canteen in the venue was design in the style of an old 50's cafe.

Below and above are pictures of Andy Carr who played bass on the tour and Steve who was our drum tech. I had to include this picture as Andy actually went out of his way to keep me out of the shot! I also had to show you the red grand in the dressing room, very bling! Driving across America was very interesting to me. We stopped at a huge truck stop where the drivers could plug into the aircon on site so they could switch their trucks off. You can see this with the bottom picture, the yellow shoots are the air con and power supplies. I also loved the sign at the truck stop cafe asking the drivers to at least wear shirts and shoes.

Tour Blog - Salt Lake City

For the next part of the tour we had a week off which meant you could stay in the US or fly home. I decided on returning home which meant flying which I hate doing. The down side of arriving from the UK was the jet lag. Salt Lake is 8 hours behind us so by the time we were due to play at 10.30pm the real time in my body was 6.30am I felt horrid hence the feeling sorry for myself pic and the the very dodgy picture of the tour manager Dave and myself, we look wierd! The upside was the place had great shops so I had a wander. The pic below shows the retro tape player urban outfitters were selling. It's scary as these were being sold when I was 10! Driving out of Salt Lake the next day I was blown away by the desert which went on for hours and hours.

Tour Blog - Detroit and Toronto

The above photo is of the band Cutting Crew who are performing on the same bill. We were playing at the Meadow Brook Music Festival just outside of Detroit. Cutting Crew are a great live band with some wonderfull musicians. I really enjoyed checking their set at yet another beautiful open air venue. The pics below are of the gig we played in Toronto. We were playing their as part of the gay pride event which was  huge!. Having entered Canada with no trouble from the border control the weather really turned nasty. As you can see from the photo's the rain was pouring onto the stage hence me have to cover my Sax in plastic. However later in the day when we were due to go on the weather improved lots and it turned out to be fun!

Tour Blog - Chicago

Ok ok I know it's scary and yet the photo next to it is beautiful so forgive me. The reson for the contrast is your looking at the drum tech Steve up on the left. It was the singer from Berlin's birthday. At one point she has people from the audience join her on stage. Steve decided he would do so only wearing a towl wrapped around him in the style of an adult nappy. Very funny but you had to be there otherwise he just looks very scary. The picture to the right was taken that afternoon when I went into Chicago to explore. I was in an old book shop which was 4 storey's high and was so beautiful I had to take a picture.It's strange with America because the minute you arrivein a town it has it's own style or feel. So different from the last. Chicago felt like Boston. It's an old town which I like, the rail service was built after most of the buildings so it has to be elevated through the city as you can see from the picture below.

Here is a picture of the drummer Pete and guitarist Matt, I think I'm getting on their nerves now as I keep insiting on that 'tourist shot' wherever I go. I also keep making members of the band try on my 'geek chic' glasses, hence Pete's turn in the picture below. As you can see it did get to some members of the crew who decided to tape me up in sound check! The gig went really well (still no picks sorry!) The day finished with Pete and I sharing a large Pizza which as you can see was LARGE!

Tour Blog - Grand Rapids

We played a good gig but there is nothing else to say as the day was overcast for me by the passing of Jackson.

chicago 2

Tour Blog - Wolf Trap

The next gig was at the Wolf Trap Amphitheater near Vienna. It's one of the largest wooden structures in America. As you can see from the pictures it's stunning. I managed to get a couple of cool pictures from the sound check and from my walking around and exploring. The cheaper tickets are at the top where people can bring a picnic. I think this is cooler than sitting in the actual theatre.

Below is a pic of the guitarist Matt Backer, at this point as you can see we all had our cameras out. There's also a cool shot taken from a Sax point of view and me standing behind the keyboard with blurred hands, believe they don't play that fast!.The gig was really fun as I've never played outside before at such a huge venue.

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