dj​phillips

July 14th, 2015

Monaco Journal July 13: Groceries, Over-loud kick drum, Steve Cropper & Eddie Floyd

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 13: Groceries, Over-loud kick drum, Steve Cropper & Eddie Floyd

You would think that the day after meeting royalty and opening for Robbie Williams would be a step down, but not so much.

It started innocently enough with a grocery trip to replenish the mostly-working refrigerator and get copious amounts of coffee. There was less drama at the register this time since I had smaller bills. (They really really really don’t like breaking bills larger than 5 here.)

At the venue, we had dinner and started the show. There was some sort of cake-related event where there were presentations and such, so the timing was a little different, but otherwise things went well. At one point during our set, we were told that the kick drum was too loud which is an interesting note. “Can’t they just turn it down?” offered Ross. Ol' “Thunderfoot” McReynolds just doesn’t know the power he wields, I guess. They rolled us off on the moving stage to make room for another brief presentation before we were due to come back on to play a few more songs.

During this brief break, we got to meet absolute musical legends Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd. If you’re not sure who those guys are, Eddie Floyd is an incredible singer responsible for the song “Knock On Wood” which he actually wrote with Cropper. Steve Cropper is a giant of a guitarist responsible for tons of iconic rhythm parts in countless Stax tunes along with the rest of Booker T and the MGs. He’s probably best known though as one of the guitarists for the Blues Brothers Band.

That’s why they are in Monaco, for a guest spot in the Blues Brothers show that is here this week. I kept my cool as we chatted. It’s always good to have Taylor around because he actually asks to take pictures instead of pretending like he’s not geeking out like I was trying to do.



After meeting those guys we had to go back on for a few minutes which was a little weird (when they opened the curtains again to reveal the same band as before I could see visible confusion on the guests' faces, but they quickly returned to polite indifference) but it went well.

The Blues Brothers show is cool. Filled with all my favorite tunes, good singers, a good band, dancers, the works. I’m excited to watch it again at the end of the week to see how the show has morphed!

July 13th, 2015

Monaco Journal July 12: Palace Gig, Robbie Williams and Hangin' with the Royals

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 12: Palace Gig, Robbie Williams and Hangin' with the Royals

Well.

Yesterday was an interesting day.

We went up to Monaco-Ville and the Prince’s Palace to soundcheck in the afternoon… like ya do.



After a blazingly hot and lengthy but otherwise good soundcheck, we hung out in the palace garage which had been converted into production offices, dressing rooms and a green room. We filled the time by chatting with some of the production crew and eating dinner before our set.

A couple of hours later we went onstage and played a pretty blistering set (if I do say so) and ended with 3 songs backing up Angie, the local pop singer. The audience was great and it was one of those nice reminders that we are pretty good when people can hear us! Supposedly, we’ll be able to get some video of the performance eventually, so I’ll share some of it if that actually comes to pass!

After us, UK artist Lemar came out and rocked the house. He has a really tight band and we were enjoying the set, but we had to round everybody up and head backstage. Because… well… the Prince and Princess of Monaco wanted to meet us.

OK, well… they wanted to meet Robbie Williams and we were also performing, so by proxy we got to take pictures with them and chat for a second. It was really cool. With the help of some good-humored production people, we almost had Courtney convinced that she had to do a full bow and kiss the Prince’s ring. But she caught on. The Prince and Princess were incredibly nice and normal-seeming. It helped that they both speak English fluently, so there wasn’t the presence of that herky-jerky conversation that comes with our lack of French comprehension.

Robbie Williams' show was incredible. Badass band. Amazing singer/dancers. And Robbie was really funny. He spent a good portion of the set mugging for cameras and making jokes about the people in the balconies of their apartments overlooking the proceedings. I also discovered my new favorite Robbie Williams song. Plus Robbie had a special message of encouragement for me.


I’ll try, Robbie!

After the concert we got little wristbands that allowed us into a afterparty in the Palace Garden where we pretended like we belonged amongst the high-rollers and literal royalty around the serene pool and lush gardens. Everyone was actually quite nice. There were tasty drinks served to us by friendly staff and some bitchin' finger foods that I stuffed into my face at an alarming rate. No one seemed to mind.

I didn’t snap any good pictures, but Courtney got a great one.

princess GRACE KELLY’S pool. this day was b a n a n a s & i’ll never forget it.

A photo posted by Courtney Jaye (@tropicalijaye) on



The party wound down after about an hour and we headed home, wondering what the hell just happened.

This week is the Blues Brothers tribute show. Apparently Steve Cropper is actually going to be around, so I may be freaking out for a while.

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!

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?

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.