July 11th, 2015

Monaco Journal July 7-8, 2015: Travel Day(s), Tip Top & Lenny Kravitz

Well, friends, I am in Monaco until the middle of August. I’m back for a 2nd year, performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Santana, Sting, George Benson, George Ezra, Anastacia, Enrique Iglesias and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Courtney Jaye (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Ross McReynolds (drums, percussion). Follow me on Instagram or Twitter for more timely posts.

July 7/8: Travel Day(s), Tip Top & Lenny Kravitz

I was more prepared to leave for this trip than I have been for anything in a long time. I had a list. I was pretty much packed the day before we left (despite having a late afternoon flight). We were well-rehearsed. We met in plenty of time to get to the airport and still have a couple of hours to spare.

…then I forgot my pedalboard (full of my guitar effects… one of the two things I absolutely couldn’t afford to forget— the second being my guitar). We met at Justin’s where my pedalboard was in the trailer (from the previous weekend’s gig). I would just grab it on the way out. Except I didn’t. After realizing this at the airport, our dear friend Mike drove me all the way back to Justin’s to get it. Well done, douche. Thanks, Mike.

After the harried start, things went pretty smoothly. I don’t remember much about the first flight, which means I probably slept. The fitful, stuffy sleep of a brief flight to Atlanta, with me casually glancing around after jerking awake to see if anyone noticed my inevitable snoring. They didn’t notice. We’re cool.

We had a few hours in the Atlanta airport so we had dinner, charged our various devices and made our final stateside calls.

The flight to Paris was generally uneventful – I watched Avengers: Age of Ultron (still decent), What We Do in the Shadows (amazing) and a random sampling of TV shows. I read a little bit of Ben Lerner’s 10:04, but not enough to have much of an impression of it yet. I’ll keep you posted.

We only had about 40 minutes at the Paris airport before our flight to Nice, so we were a little concerned about getting there in time. We disembarked and rushed our way over to Customs. We were close to the front of the line, but the line didn’t move an inch (I suppose I should say millimeter…). The French have many admirable qualities, but clear and timely communication is not one of them. After the unexplained decision to let zero people through Customs for 30 minutes or so, the now quite large line finally started to move. We needn’t have worried since our flight to Nice ended up leaving a little late anyway. Pas de problème.

Do we look worried?

We arrived in Nice to our driver (!) holding a sign for us (!!) and helping us with our luggage (!!!). On our way out of the front door, someone recognized Justin and asked him for a picture! It was surreal and awesome. We aren’t sure what they recognized him from but they said his name, so it wasn’t a mistake or anything. We kept berating Justin with questions about it, but he neglected to survey the superfans with where they knew him from. He just went with it. Pro move.

After the drive from Nice, we settled into our homes for the next few weeks. Last year we were in a nice hotel which had useful amenities like daily breakfast and a pool. But it made for a sometimes difficult extended stay with very little space and no ability to cook food. This year, we are in two-bedroom apartments (replete with real kitchens and ocean-view balconies!) just outside of Monaco in Beausoleil, France. Despite technically being out of the country, we are actually closer to the venue where we’ll be performing. The delightful Courtney Jaye is my flatmate for the duration. So far she’s pleasant and extraordinarily clean. I doubt much will change on that front, but I will see if she wants to guest post later on to air her roommate grievances about me. Justin is rooming with Taylor a floor above. Ian and Ross are four floors down.

The view from our balcony!

That evening we stopped by Tip Top, our favorite haunt from last year and had some tasty pizza. Our pals Sebastien and Claude were there and remembered us! We then walked down to the venue to catch the Lenny Kravitz show.

first stop for this summer in Monaco…TIP TOP!!!

A photo posted by @taylorujones on

The crew at Tip Top

Lenny Kravitz was good, if a little jammy for my taste (several 10-15 minute tunes). I caught a little of “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”, one of my all-time favorite LK songs.

Did y'all know Cinna sings musics?

A video posted by DJ Phillips (@djphillipsmusic) on

Taylor and I stayed until the end of the show and tried to catch him afterwards backstage, but he was a bit hurried and upset about something. This is not necessarily a knock against him, everybody runs into problems and gets annoyed at their jobs from time to time. Regardless, it wasn’t the time for a chat with a stranger.

We took the winding, uphill walk back home and cashed it in for the day. The rest would be sound and much needed.