July 11th, 2015

Monaco Journal July 9-10, 2015: Soundcheck, Groceries, Calogero, More Soundcheck and Gad Elmaleh

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 9: Soundcheck, Waiting, Groceries & Calogero.

Yesterday and the day before are starting to blend together, but I know we got groceries in there somewhere. The closest grocery is a smaller market version of a giant European chain of hypermarkets called Carrefour. This was my preferred grocery store of last year, so it was nice to shop for food somewhere familiar. Other than a little hassling over the size of our bills (the French really don’t like to break large bills for you… even like a 10 euro bill…) and a hot, weighty walk back, it went off without a hitch.

A few hours later, we had lunch at the venue and it was a revelation. Our meals last year were passable and sometimes even delicious, but generally speaking they were not always the best. It was enough that some in our group didn’t even want to try to eat there most of the time. We were in the basement of the venue where there were unexplained smells and a somewhat dank atmosphere. All of this is not to complain, because… hey… free food but rather to highlight the contrast between that and what we have this year which is phenomenal.

We are now in the “Artist Catering” where we get a gourmet buffet of delectable choices in a room with an incredible view of the Mediterranean.

I couldn’t stop grinning throughout the whole first meal.

After coming down from the lunch high, we began to set up our stage for the summer. We could only go so far, though, before we were chased away due to the main act’s band and lights needing time to set up. July 9’s show would be a stand-up show, meaning there would be a general admission concert crowd standing there just to watch the show and not for dinner. This meant that the good news was that we were going to get to crank up, play loud and actually have people listen to what we were playing. The bad news was that we had to wait for the headline act and its crew to finish setting up everything and going through their light and video program before we could get onstage with our second backline set up. (“Backline” is the equipment that has been provided for us. So, drumset, amps, keyboards, etc.)

So, we sat around and soaked up the internet for a few hours before finally getting to soundcheck. Dinner afterwards was just as tasty as lunch (and with different stuff!). We then got ready for the show!

The audience was semi-charmed by our performance (we were the opening act, after all) and it was nice to get to play a show at full show volume. Calogero was a good Euro pop show with a tight band and a really cool light and video show. I didn’t get a good picture or video of it, so you’ll just have to trust me.

July 10: More Soundcheck & Gad Elmaleh

A little oeufs avec lardons on the seaside balcony? Don’t mind if I do!

Breakfast made in our kitchen!

After breakfast, the fellas went on their own grocery adventure while I worked on the evening’s set list. We went in for lunch again and then had a rehearsal with a singer named Angie with whom we’ll be playing a few song’s at Sunday’s show. At that show we’ll be doing our own set as well opening for Robbie Williams celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Prince’s coronation at the Palace.

Remember when I just type those words?

Anyway, rehearsal was fine and then there was a lot more hurry-up-and-wait as we tried to soundcheck the moving side stage where we’ll be spending the duration of the summer. We finally got everything checked and it was time to clear the stage and get ready for the show. I’m on in-ear monitors this year, so everything is sounding a lot better. We generally have to play at a low volume (while the guests eat), so getting the mix sounding good is really difficult. But with in-ears I can crank it up as loud as I want and it sounds great!

Before last night’s show

The show went well. The audience was more like we got used to last year– polite, reserved and vaguely interested. And we played well!

We stuck around for a few minutes of Gad Elmaleh’s set, but jokes in French don’t really do much for me for some reason.

We hung out at the Youth Camp (aka Ross & Ian’s apartment) for a little while after the show and then crashed. Tonight we open for Santana! What?