July 12th, 2015

Monaco Journal July 11: Caprese, Old Haunts and Santana

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 11: Caprese, Old Haunts and Santana

Yesterday was more like things are generally going to be with the day free until about dinner time. It began with a copious amount of sleep followed by a fresh Caprese Salad. As expected, it was tasty.

“Seriously dude, that olive oil is on point!” …are words that actually came out of my mouth yesterday. And I meant it. From my heart. And my stomach.

In the afternoon, Justin, Taylor and I headed west to rediscover much the rest of Monaco and revisit some of our favorite places to see if they were still standing. Harbor-side bistro with terrible food, expensive drinks and really fun wait staff? Check. Thai place with terrible service and awesome curry? Check. Kebab and pizza place with cheap, delicious eats and Taylor’s favorite counter girl? Check. Seems like we’re still OK.

We headed to the venue for dinner and the show. Dinner? Still good. I’m trying to learn the name for each new food as it’s introduced which is evidence of both the great variety of food we’re now getting and my lack of French language skills.

Our set went decently. I feel like we’re still at 90% performance-wise. The shows are good and we are playing well, but we haven’t quite settled into the groove yet. It’s a weird situation. It will come. The audience gave us the requisite polite head-nodding, toe-tapping and smattering of applause.

Mr. Santana was quite good. I’ve always liked some of the earliest stuff and even “Smooth” the first 10,000 times I heard it. Ian had heard the song but didn’t really know what a massive hit it was.

Kids these days!

I remember toodling around in the summer of 1999 in my 1987 Chrysler New Yorker (it talked! “The door is ajar”, etc.) and buying gas for less than a dollar a gallon. Good Lord, I’m old. I’m an unabashed Michelle Branch fan, so I liked “The Game of Love” too, although I don’t think he played that one. They closed the set with “Oye Como Va” which is always a fun one.

(looks around and whispers) I even liked the song he did with Chad Kroeger once I got past the voice.

All this to say that, although I like some Santana songs, I wasn’t expecting much. He’s not my favorite guitar player and there’s a lot of guitar playing when he’s around. But, like so many times before, when you see an artist in a live setting, things can change. They were great. His band is killer. So much percussion! The crew and band members we met were all really friendly and I think just pumped to talk to a bunch of Americans. We didn’t get to do more than give Carlos a wave as he came offstage and went straight to the dressing room. But we chatted with the singers and a couple of crew guys before heading home for the evening.

Santana the man-tana.

A photo posted by DJ Phillips (@djphillipsmusic) on

Today we play at the palace for the 10th anniversary of the Prince’s coronation opening for Robbie Williams!