Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).
OK, so I’m really behind on this blog so I’m going to do a Tarantino-style backwards catch up starting with last night.
August 7th, 2014
Last night was Neil Young! We ended up not getting to open for him, so we were pretty bummed about that. I know it’s difficult to feel sorry for us, so I’ll move on. We did go to the show though!
Afterwards some folks went to the casino to definitely earn money but I opted for Netflix and a sandwich in my hotel room. ROCK STAR LIFE 4EVS.
August 6th, 2014
One of first records I ever heard where the guitar player was playing so fast that it sounded like an acoustic guitar machine gun was a Gipsy Kings greatest hit collection with this song “Djobi Djoba” on it, which is my favorite of theirs.
I was pretty excited for the show.
It’s indescribable to get the opportunity to be around music that had such a profound effect on me growing up and learning how to be a performer. Speaking of…
August 5th, 2014
Bryan Adams' “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” was the first song I ever sang in public (and one of my first encounters with the use of a somewhat superfluous parenthetical in a song title). Our music teacher in 4th grade allowed us to bring in a cassette tape to sing over as a combo show-and-tell and performance practice thing. My first memory of this experience is a classmate (Jamie?) getting reprimanded for singing “Cold Hearted Snake” by Paula Abdul because it was too evocative of the devil. (This is a Christ-ee-an school, young lady!) The second is singing this warbling over top of Bryan Adams' gruff-yet-smooth delivery of this monster hit from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack. (My pal Kev was in that. Remember him?)
We didn’t get to meet Bryan Adams because the Princess was around and security was tight. Another sentence I never thought I would ever type. His piano player, Gary, was very nice though! This guy can still DELIVER. It was pretty amazing to hear someone just nail everything vocally. Sometimes a person is over-hyped. Sometimes they have their era and then they lose some skill or passion. And sometimes you’re lucky enough to witness someone who is just incredibly skilled and has maintained that skill throughout their long and storied career and it’s an absolute pleasure to watch.
August 4th, 2014
Status Quo was supposed to be on Monday, but they ended up dropping out due to illness. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!
I do not remember what I did on this day but I’m sure it was incredible.
August 3rd, 2014
Sunday was a planned day off so Ian, Taylor and I ventured over to the village of Èze! We took the short train ride to the Èze-sur-mer stop and then the looooooooong hike up the Chemin de Nietzsche (Nietzsche trail - he spent a good deal of time in Èze toward the latter part of his writing career) to the village and chateau up top. It was sweaty and a bit arduous but I made it and didn’t even die once. And Èze is remarkable to witness. I can see why my pals Friedrich and our U2 pals like it so much.
We walked around a bit before grabbing some delicious crepes at a little restaurant built into the chateau (the whole place was teaming with shops, restaurants, a cathedral and even a hotel) and heading back down. We had planned to hike to La Turbie and then back down to Monaco from there but decided we were too tired for that crap after the long hike up.
Later than night we caught Begin Again (or New York Melody as it’s called here) at the amazing Open Air Theater here in Monaco. The movie was decent but the setting was incredible!
August 2nd, 2014
We opened for Boy George on Saturday and it was one of the most receptive audiences yet! A couple of kids even threw roses at me after I took a solo (throwing roses and twirling napkins is how the Monegasque tend to show their approval)!
Boy George was great and called the audience’s throwing-of-roses technique “posh violence.”
August 1st, 2014
Last Friday was the Red Cross benefit gala and the first time we got to really let loose and be a dance band! Diana Krall was the headliner and her and the band were absolutely amazing. There was some announce-y award-y business then Krall’s set, a crazy fireworks display and then we got to get ‘em grooving as the after party!
We were told that once the Prince left the room everyone would clear out and that was mostly right. But we got them dancing quite a bit at the beginning and it was nice to have people listen and get to play to our strengths a little bit.
I missed out on meeting Ms. Krall but some of the guys got to say hello!
Days 30 & 31
July 30-31, 2014
Our last double-day off of the trip was July 30-31 so Taylor, Justin and I rented a small apartment in Nice and spent our “weekend” there. Lots of walking, eating, exploring and a quick boat trip to Cannes!
July 29th, 2014
I only knew about Paolo Conte through “Via Con Me”, a song that I used to play in a band with my friend Chad “Chillow” Willow back in our Minnesota/North Dakota days. I’ve always loved the song (and playing it!) but I didn’t know much else about Paolo.
He and his band were absolutely incredible. Everything was meticulously arranged and sounded perfect. It harkened back to a big band era in a way that I’ve rarely seen done so well. I am a new Paolo fan for sure.
July 28th, 2014
The show was a bit cheesy for my tastes, but there is absolutely no denying Mr. Anka’s oeuvre! Really cool to see the people who wrote and/or performed such legendary songs in the flesh!
NEXT: Texas, Julio Iglesias and a return to chronological format!