July 27th, 2015

Monaco Journal July 24-26: Èze, Sting and Memories of the Wild West

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 24-25: Èze, Sting and Memories of the Wild West

Another couple of INSANE days!

On Friday, Ross, Ian, Taylor and I decided to take the big hike up to the village of Éze and the cool château there much like we did last year. It’s the kind of hike where you tell local people that you did it and they say “Why would you do that?” I had some of the same thoughts climbing the trail in the 90ºF heat. But hike it we did! And “fun” wouldn’t be the word I’d use to describe it, but I’m glad I did it.

Checking out the château was very cool though. And it was good to revisit some of the beautiful vistas on the way up.

Had to climb a lot of stairs for this shot. Sigh, the sacrifices we make for Instagram.

A photo posted by DJ Phillips (@djphillipsmusic) on

We got back with plenty of time to take showers, throw our sweaty clothes in the garbage and rest for a bit before Courtney, Taylor and I went back to the Open Air Cinema to see Ant-Man. I had been told it was middling, but I actually loved it. Paul Rudd is great. Plus they had a French Droopy cartoon before the movie, and who can argue with that?

A video posted by @taylorujones on

Saturday was one of the craziest days so far. Sting was the headliner. Sting is one of my favorite artists of all time and he is Justin’s FOR REAL favorite artist of all time. We cover probably half a dozen Sting/Police songs regularly and he even had a Police cover band at one point. Needless to say, this was a big deal to us.

The even was a big deal all-around too as it was the annual Red Cross Ball hosted by the Prince and Princess. Lots of big-wigs people presumably with big big wallets. The evening began with everyone sauntering into the venue in their fanciest gowns and tuxedos to the amazing sounds of New Orleans' Swamp Donkeys. They created an fun and appropriately Gatsby-esque atmosphere as the guests entered the hall.

Before we went on, we got the chance to say hello to Sting and pose for pictures. He was nice and accommodating and even wondered aloud why we didn’t have any songs of his on our set list when he took it from Courtney’s hand (if only he knew).

We went on a while after and did our thing. The crowd was fairly receptive and started dancing when the Prince and Princess came to the floor to dance to “God Only Knows”. It was a fun, trippy experience as we tried to balance our desire to keep people dancing (it’s what we do!) with the instructions from off-stage to keep it mellow and get people to sit back down. We just kind of kept playing until they closed the curtain. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Then– fireworks!

We didn’t get to watch the fireworks because we were busy behind the curtain tearing down our stage. Normally we can keep things up each night, but DJ duo Cassius was scheduled to use our stage later in the evening after Sting played.

We caught most of Sting’s set from the side stage where his tech crew was kind enough to allow us to stand. He and his band did a no-frills set of classic tunes with a simple production set up. It was awesome.

Taylor captured me and Justin jamming to “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”

every little thing she does is magic

A video posted by @taylorujones on

After the set we got to say “good job” and shake Sting’s hand one more time as he left. I missed the rest of the band (who were all smokin' good) but I did get to say that I enjoyed the set to Vinnie Colaiuta, Sting’s drummer and one of the best of all-time. Among other things, he is responsible for the odd meter beats on Sting’s album Ten Summoner’s Tales and he is a legend. Very cool.

After the event, we were all feeling excited so we headed down to Tip Top where some crew members joined us to hang out and chat. We see those guys every day, but it’s nice to actually sit down and get to know them a little bit beyond “Hello” “How are you?” and the other 4 things I know how to say in French. Luckily, their English is 1000 better than my French so we could have real discussions and laughs.

We didn’t get to Tip Top until late and we stayed their for a good while, so today I just took it easy while some others went to the beach.

It’s hard not feel a bit reflective and nostalgic these last few days as parts of my life are reaching new, exciting eras while others are facing dramatic upheaval. As I’m here enjoying my time, I’m also missing a family reunion in Ohio and the 50th anniversary and Cast Reunion of the show in North Dakota where I played guitar for nine years.

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That patch had a lot of soul in it.

It’s hard to complain about “working” in South France instead of playing 100 nights a row in North Dakota, but I also absolutely loved my time there and the people I worked with. I miss them daily and I’m sad that I can’t celebrate the remarkable accomplishment of putting on that show for half a century with them. Congratulations, friends!

Next up we have a couple more days off, so who knows what’s going to happen!