A BASS PLAYER'S WILD WEEK IN LA LA LAND
Recording Session with Steven Seagal - January 26, 1999
Got a call, just two days ago, to play on a record with Steven Seagal. (Yes, the actor.) Since I only had tonight free here, 5pm found me at the studio setting up. Turns out he's quite a good guitarist, and a very nice guy. He'll be singing on the record, but I didn't get to hear any vocals. Excellent rhythm section too, including Jim Keltner on drums and Mike Landau on guitar. Played a song co-written by Leon Russell. Too bad for me that I won't be able to be on much of the album. (The session was also filmed.)
In the next studio, producer Rupert Hine was mixing an album -- we'd worked together on Stevie Nicks' album, and a group I was once in, called "Spin 1ne 2wo".
Induction into Hollywood's 'Rock Walk of Fame' - January 27, 1999
Arrived at Hollywood Guitar Center with my friend Mark who had come in from Detroit (and kindly took photos all day) in time to meet the other bass players to be inducted into the "Hollywood's Rock walk" -- and what a group it was: Tim Bogert, Stanley Clark, Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham, Billy Sheehan, and Leland Sklar. We all had such a good time being together, nobody cared about the objective: each putting our hand prints into a prepared concrete mix to be added to the sidewalk outside. Many photos were taken, many hands were muddied, much fun was had by all. Posthumous awards were given to Jamie Jamerson and Jaco Pastorius, and accepted by their family members.
I hadn't realized I would be required to give a speech to the audience assembled outside. After a few of the other bassists had been introduced and spoken, my turn came. Here is what I said: "It is problematic, in the context of a selected rock and roll elitism, to respond appropriately to the non-musical, functionary roll which seems to be expected in the event of a manual pavement monument. Nevertheless, an optimistic view of the situation provides a platform for a somewhat less problematic appoach to the necessity applied here..." That's not really what I said. What I really said was something like this: "Thank you. I’m honored to be in the company of these great bass players." (January 27, 1999)
NAMM Show/Los Angeles - January 28, 1999
The first day of NAMM. After describing it on this page as noisy and exhausting, I have to retreat on my comments - the L.A. convention isn't as chaotic as it was in the smaller Anaheim venue -- and with more room, the noise isn't as overpowering. Anyway, I saw lots of instruments and friends. Best news for me was finding that Music Man has slightly changed the pickups of their new basses to have (even) more low end. It's something I'd requested, never thinking it'd actually get done. There is also a second, piezo pickup on the new basses. Now, I've got to GET ME ONE! (I wonder if they've thrown out the paint from my "Barbie Flesh" bass -- that one was a prototype, and the color was so unpopular they never used it again.) A more popular item at their booth was the bright "Ernie Ball" VW they’d brought in. I couldn't resist a photo with it. Walking around, I bumped into pals Waddy Wachtel, Bobby Martin, Joe Beesmer, Dave Amato, and the California Guitar Trio (later, as I was about to leave the building, I heard a distant strain of Beethoven's Fifth, on guitars. Had to be them, and of course, it was.) It's getting tough writing diaries at 2am, so I am updating now, at about 8pm, and will go out later to see "Stick Night" at an L.A. club, and report on that tomorrow. (January 28, 1999)
More NAMM Show & STICK NIGHT - January 29, 1999
Day 4 of the week was another NAMM day. First, though, last night's Stick Night at club La Ve Lee in Studio City. I saw performances on the Chapman Stick by Tom Griesgraber, Don Shiff (who also played the new NS Stick,) Steve Adelson, Third Door Down, Vance Gloster, Bob Culbertson, and Greg Howard. Others played, including Emmet Chapman (inventor of the Stick) but these were all I could catch. I was struck, as everyone is who sees a lineup like that, with how diverse are the styles and techniques of Stick players nowadays -- there is much to be learned on this, still relatively new instrument, and no better way than by seeing what others are doing on it. I also ruminated on how gratified Emmet must feel, seeing the wide range of music players are bringing to his instrument.
Todays NAMM show was more hustling about - a lot more people there, and more expected for the weekend. I bumped into more friends, including Anton Fig of the Letterman band, Dave Amato of REO (with whom I'd toured w. the Richie Samborra band) and I got to meet Jack Casady, and look at his signature model Gibson bass. (But the photo of us is real blurry -- darn, why does my camera do that to me sometimes?!!) I ventured back to Music Man to get more playing time in on the new pickups they're putting in the Sting Ray model. Killer low end. I can't wait to get one into a studio. Spent some time with my friends at Trace Elliot lining up amps for tomorrow's show with Liquid Tension. It all sounds like an easy day, but in fact I was so tired from the pace that I passed on seeing Billy Sheehan's NIACIN band, and took the night off. (He'll be playing tomw. night and I might catch his show before my own.) COMING TOMORROW: More NAMM, and at 1am, the Liquid Tension show as the closing act of Sabian Drums' "Drums Along Hollywood" concert. (January 29, 1999)
More NAMM Show & SABIAN DRUMS SHOW - January 31, 1999
Those of you who are musicians won't be surprised by the less than methodical events of Saturday -- others usually think that shows go like clockwork - you set up, you play. The event of the day was Sabian Drums presenting a night of drummer-oriented bands, including Liquid Tension with Mike Portnoy. Because we were scheduled to be the last act (going on at 1am) we had the first soundcheck - 11 in the morning. Hours later, at 2:30, with the sound still not adjusted, and John and Mike late for an appearance at the NAMM show, we finished up the soundcheck and all ran over to the show. It was the weekend, and NAMM was quite crowded and noisy. As before, I ran into some friends and checked out equipment. I returned at midnight for the 1am concert. We waited... and waited... finally at 1:40 in the morning, as Liquid Tension went on the stage, the stage manager told us we could play only a half hour (we'd planned an hour show.) We went onstage, readjusting our set to be shorter, and as we began the first piece, the guitar amp and pedals self-destructed. Throughout the show, John Petrucci had to keep working on his equipment, while trying to play. I'm sure he was grateful when, at 2:15, it ended. Not that the show was all bad - but we had spent 3 hours trying to prepare the sound for a half hour show, and the equipment failed us!
Sunday, without a lot of sleep, back to normal NAMM visiting, with no concert appearance for me. I've learned that when it rains here, things slow down on the freeways a lot. Still, less traffic this Sunday than any day so far. At the show, I got some more time with the new Music Man bass, ran into Steve Hunter, guitarist back on the first Gabriel album and tour. Met with John Petrucci for a mutual interview with Christine from Music News Network. Then, the high point of the whole week so far: my buddy Rick Marotta had me over for some pasta - aglia e olio con peperoncino. That's living!
COMING TOMORROW, the Liquid Tension show (more than a half hour this time!) at the Roxy in L.A. (January 31, 1999)
At The Roxy - February 1, 1999
Monday, February 1st - Los Angeles
The Roxy on Sunset -- I've played there with Peter Gabriel, with King Crimson, Tim Finn, and others. Tonight Liquid Tension Experiment moved onto the famed stage and did our best show yet. (Couldn't help be better than the disasterous set last Saturday night.) After soundcheck, I had strolled across the drive to the Rainbow Grill - site of many a rock band hanging out - for some dinner. I recalled eating a Thanksgiving dinner there while on the road with Peter Gabriel long ago - how strange a meal it was, much of the band English, and not having a Thanksgiving tradition, and the others trying to enjoy it on the road, when it's really about being home. A friend, Jeff, happened to come by the restaurant, and told me about the review he's writing on the Deja Vrooom DVD for his home theater magazine. As to the show, perhaps because it was our last - or maybe due to the sound problems Saturday, but we played very well this time, and the audience was super. My only disappointment was my digital camera -- lots of the photos I took (including one of Mike Portnoy, during our 'duo' section when I was supposed to be playing) didn't come out. Maybe I'm overusing the thing! Biggest loss was the shot of the enthusiastic audience. Take my word for it, the place was rocking!
And so comes to a close this very busy, very diverse week. It's been a gas -
Steven Seagal's album, the Hollywood RockWalk event, the Crimson "Deja Vrooom"
DVD release party, the NAMM show, two Liquid Tension shows, and let's not
forget my pal Rick's pasta! Getting home will be very nice - I've got a couple
of weeks off now, then back to L.A. to start rehearsing for an upcoming tour