Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Occult or "Satanic" Symbols on our site,videos and lyrics

Everyone is entitled to religious freedom in the United States, after all that is really one of the primary reasons this country was ultimately formed and founded upon for future principle and practice. Having stated that, for all of you who are curious, worried, concerned, unnerved or otherwise interested in the nature of the symbols, lyrics, and themes presented in my youtube videos, music, websites and merchandise, I would like to take this time to explain them, since I did put them there, I feel anyone who is willing to listen is entitled to an answer as to why.

In the intro to my you tube videos and on my website http://wwww.jasonricci.com you see the pentagram, and the all seeing eye as well. These are two very popular symbols. The problem with symbols of course is they are quite literally symbolic… But symbolic of what? Well that answer depends upon who you are, what research you have done or not done, what belief systems you have and what culture you were raised in, and on and on. The same symbol can have multiple varying meanings to many different people. For example: in Hinduism the controversial swastika is nothing more than a good luck symbol representing a sense of spiritual well being while for many others it symbolizes the dreaded disempowering ideals of fascism and the rise of the Nazi Party. Both are of course accurate. The Hindu interpretation is older but for many has been redefined quite forcefully.

For me and others like and unlike me the pentagram is also a powerful symbol. It in no way represents for me a dedication to evil the Devil the Demonic or a belonging to any secret group like the Illuminati, Freemasonry, or any other ancient and/or organized magickal lodges. I do believe the Freemasons and other secret orders to be groups greatly misunderstood and YES I have seen, read, heard, and discussed literally hundreds of the conspiracy theories etc. I challenge you all as a side note to always be checking the content, presented as indisputable fact, for yourself with simple tools such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, etymology, google searches etc. You will be surprised how many fall short within minutes, paragraphs or frames of anything resembling truth. They are designed to unnerve, scare and suede you just the way they often depict their accusers!

The Pentagram represent the number five, an immensely powerful number to man. There are five elements:

1.) Ether, (Aether) or Spirit as it is also called
2.) Earth
3.) Water
4.) Air
5.) Fire

There are as well, five senses:

1.) Touch,
2.) Taste,
3.) Smell,
4.) Sight,
5.) Hearing,

We have five limbs on our body counting the head and Da Vinci's “Vitruvian Man” forms the out line of the pentagram in his out stretched position. We have five toes, five fingers and the list goes on the more you study it with amazing implications in astronomy, mathematics, religion, science and more.

The pentagram drawn right side up (center point up), as depicted on my website and in most my videos and in my youtube video intros, glorifies the power of spirit over matter, the mind over body and the will of God. Equally to myself and probably many others it simultaneously depicts mans natural union with God as created in his image. Further more the top triangle predicts and evokes the divine potential of man and the inevitability of us to rise to all great heights inconceivable to even ourselves. Alas that great moment of being, in which we become without realization, as we are to be, and the true nature of God as I understand is not one that can or is to be ever understood by man, but one that is to be actualized in transformation.

The Pentagram, traditionally by most all occultists, is a symbol of protection from evil not the invitation or representation of!

Open without the circle it represents an individuals confidence, knowledge, curiosity, and evocation for all that is of its elements and the understanding further there of and beyond.

A pentagram closed within a circle (the circle being a symbol of God and the power of infinite wisdom i.e. the circle of life, timeless continuum of energy, and the womb itself) enclose the magickal star protecting and encompassing man within himself and his world shielding him from harm and evil.

I hope this helped you to better understand my intentions concerning the pentagram. I try to wish none of you, nor no man, woman, child or animal any harm ever and if I should ever this symbol is not a representation of that lowered state of consciousness. The pentagram is for me inspires curious and powerful implications as well as scientific and Magickal properties, if nothing else perhaps some of you may feel some relief as you can surely see I have at least thought this symbols meaning through both spiritually and intellectually.

Now: The all-seeing eye! The dreaded and horrid greedy Masonic symbol as depicted on the dollar bill elsewhere! The evil eye, the Illuminati, the Bilderberg group, Madonna’s jacket etc… the list goes on just surf youtube for a minute.
This is an ancient and powerful symbol larger than any one group, going back nearly as long as man himself has had the ability, need, or want to explore the nature of consciousness and spirituality. The eye itself has a powerful effect on the subconscious and has thus been used by many religions, businesses, and cultures to provoke reaction.

The particular “eye” used in my youtube video intros and elsewhere is the ancient "Eye of Horus" from Egyptian mythology. The "Wedjat" or “Wadjet” (meaning: whole) as it is called in Egyptology is often, like the pentagram used as a symbol of protection from evil rather than the promotion of it. The Wadjet also tells the tale of Horus (associated with Ra) in his holy battle with Seth or Set in which his left eye was torn out and he was restored a new one by Thoth also implying the receipt of a third eye or all seeing eye. The eye additionally in Egypt was a symbol of the sun as Horus’s other eye represented the moon. The sun a star, and source of life, wonder and itself appearing as a great eye in the sky. The Egyptians ascribed many more meanings to this symbol and even used it as a six part measuring system and again like the pentagram assigned to it the five senses with a sixth additional sense being thought.

To me personally aside from Egyptology the Eye of Horus represents the all powerful, naturally neutral form of God itself/himself/herself. The eye that sees all and judges not! That which is above as is below. That which is beyond good and beyond evil, that which is neither light nor dark, the sun or moon, the day or night, the good and evil nature of man as he is, the supreme non duality and undisputable oneness of all, that that simply is and is not to be called by name.

I hope that clears things up a little bit.

I will tell you now and admit for the first time I am an occultist. I do study the occult in its many forms and practices. The word occult means secret or hidden, nothing more. I can speak from most definite experience when I say quite humbly that there are many things in this world both ancient and new that rightfully deserve the protective veil of secrecy. A secret should not imply evil or good in and of itself, and not all secrets contain mal intent. In fact many secrets are formed and organized to protect the keeper from the obvious mal intent and misunderstanding of other’s who are commonly so quick to judge, punish, discredit and kill without investigation, study or reason. Many secrets are also in place to preserve the nature of very sensitive and powerful content the world and perhaps others in our immediate life may not be ready or most often WILLING to understand. Both in our personal lives, and in our beliefs it is often a good idea to proverbially bite our tongues. We all know it can be sensitive to discuss politics or religion at dinner with company. The old saying those who know don't tell and those who tell don't know is very close to me and very true in my experience and nature. As I share the meanings of these symbols with you I hold much back for myself alone and those close to me. Most everything I have written here can be easily uncovered with simple scholastic research. In short I only wish to carry on my life hurting none, helping many, and studying the true, philosophy, psychology, science, and nature of myself as I may find it to be. Magick to me is the truest and highest form of philosophy and psychology combined with the will to combine ones own will with that which is greater and to interact both passively and directly with the highest form of ourselves. I may drop hints (symbols, words, clothing, colors, quotes, spellings, etc.) to spark curiosity and for my own empowerment, protection and appreciation but also to aid in the hope of meeting other like-minded individuals, with whom I may some day converse, confide, debate, and share with.

I have no wishes to the rule the world! I do not perform black magick. My Freemason friends are some of the best people I know. I have no membership or actual knowledge in any conspiracies or organized secret societies. I’m not so ignorant to the natures of man that I believe naively that our government has the people’s entire and sole best interest at heart! Yet most realities lie between perceptions, so equally I also do not believe our government has our sole demise planned as well! I know for fact that much of the government and many people involved within it are truly trying to help. I am neither a democrat nor a republican. I see positive and negative belief systems and patterns on both sides. At heart I am more or less a utopian anarchist who believes the will of man and god will one day align in a time in which each man and woman will govern themselves and the world will be at peace with itself, as each man and woman has become at peace within themselves. The ole' Michael Jackson Man in the Mirror formula! I will not address answer or entertain any theories here regarding occultists ruling the world, reptilian domination plots, Freemasonry or other popular urban legends with only small portions of fact and little to no actual evidence. I like good stories too and am thoroughly engaged, inspired, intrigued and excited by such musings, but I try hard and check my facts before trading in my position in society for a straight jacket.

It is true there are many spiritual, demonic, angelic, reptilian, and down right evil related themes, lyric and symbols depicted in or on our records, websites, stickers, and music that I help to write with New Blood. I have had many paranormal and powerful spiritual experiences, I often write about and use poetry and music as one way to attempt to work through the very difficult, challenging, esoteric and often frightening nature of these occurrences. I was brought up Christian (Catholic AND Episcopal) and I often choose to associate and ascribe Christian ideas within the popular, common and mostly well understood frame work that has become modern Christianity for the most part. I have no interest in furthering the motives, missions, or agenda of the dark Forces or the devil with these depictions. I do not see the dark the same way many others do. It is in nature very difficult to see in the dark at all. Additionally one can of course become blinded by light as well. I see the yin and the yang as necessary components of a larger paradigm. Like in blues music: Our songs come from actual experience some times good, often (especially within blues music) bad by singing of these dark times, hard luck, and our losses: We merge the hardship and destruction of our pasts with the positive creation of art and the simultaneous celebration of realization, deliverance, arrival, understanding and the tragic beauty of now! It is the alchemy of evil and good together which creates the perfect tragedy, which is our bittersweet and precious existence.

Having Said that: The demonic/evil symbols or lyrics that appear in our music, covers, and elsewhere are nothing more than symbols of what I know to be part of myself/ourselves like it or not. They are ingrained psychological necessities that depict the nature of my being. They are part of my mind and convenient and established images chocked full of power and meaning by the viewers and listeners own mind. They are nothing but mindful, psychological, outward projections of my consciousness and unconsciousness being, unto music and elsewhere for the ultimate purpose of communication and beyond.

Take the inverted Pentagram, This image is rarely seen in my work, videos, or music however it has indeed appeared and may further yet need be depicted in my future for this reason alone:

As I described earlier the five-sided star (pentagram) with its central point pointing upwards represents sprit/god/goddess/ether/whatever you like over the now lower four sides depicting matter. Reversed (“upside down”) this symbol implies the opposite pinning matter above spirit. Inverted the man or woman's legs are spread above the head (as drawn in Da Vinci's “Vitruvian Man”) the star could symbolize their lust for the temporal and physical as the genitals are above the their head. The other two legs pointing upwards symbolizing the lower more physical elements of earth and fire also above, lower still the more ethereal element of water and air and finally at the bottom the most divine! I don't believe there is a human being on earth, who has not once, at some point in their lives metaphorically turned this star upside down. I depict and present this image to you as nothing more than this at this point in my life. There are of course many who define this symbol differently for varying reasons and agendas.

In music as many of you know I do my best not to stand in judgment. I try so hard to see where others are RIGHT not where my mind may tell me they falter! I want to see all art as perfect. Many play and sing with great technical, virtuosic, and intellectual ability yet they may fail to convey their heart and soul yet still many others choose to play strongly from their emotions with great strength and sincerity and they too fail to reach others efficiently and hold their interest with new ideas and study. No way is right or wrong. They are tools. All is to be studied. Both paths are to be walked and taken to their excessive extremes! Both methods are right and both are wrong. The true and perfect nature of divine art lies again in the alchemy or magickal combination of both mind and heart, intellect and soul. This is when the musician says they were not playing the music it was coming through them. This is when the goose bumps on the audience’s arms stand up! The combination of intellect, heart, bad times good times, darkness light, experience, innocence, love, hate, joy, sadness, Male, Female, animal, human, God and the Devil, Heaven and Earth!


Blessed Be!
Jason Ricci

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Harp Gear HG 50

The Harp Gear HG 50



Jason Ricci signs with Harp Gear Harmonica Amplifiers!

As many of you know I have been offered many different ’Boutique’ amp
endorsements over the past five years. Without mentioning any names I can
say all of those amps were beautiful, well made virtual works of art, both
visually stunning and great sounding in their own right. However, even
though all these wonderful amps were offered to me for free or next to no
charge, I just couldn’t get behind any of them (fine as they are) as none
seemed to suit my particular needs the way my old Fender Bassman I nick
named the ’Egyptian’ did. I tried many times with many different models to
get that ’Tone’ I had with that old Fender. Fender did not consider me a
worthy endorsement decision and would not offer me even the slightest
discount on their amps or repair service despite the fact that I was
obviously and inadvertently selling many Fender Bassmans for them each year.
I really wanted to get behind a small ’Boutique’ company and back the little
guy but no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t find an amp I liked by
anyone that sounded better than that old Fender, until now...
My friend Brian Purdy has been making small ’Boutique’ harmonica amps for
years now under the name ’Harp Gear’. I loved all those little amps and so
did hundreds of other players although due to their small size, the volume
of our band, and my dependence on that one tone from the ’Egyptian’ I just
couldn’t find a practical use for a Harp Gear amp outside the recording
studio and smaller gigs. The Popularity of Brian Purdy’s smaller amps took
off and players pro and am alike could be seen everywhere with those little
monsters. Eventually almost all the other ’Boutique’ amp builders took
notice and followed suit in an attempt to sell a smaller harp Gear style
amp. After that move Brian Purdy came back with the H.G. 50. A 4/10? 50 watt
harmonica beast the size of a Fender Bassman but very different. I had been
hesitant to try any Bassman style ’Boutique’ amp as I had tried many in the
past only to be disappointed and return to the real thing (which was
actually not made as well but sounded better), but Brian assured me this was
not another point to point wired Bassman mimic. Additionally I was also
worried about our friendship should I not like this amp as he told me the
amp was built with me in mind. He brought the amp to a gig in Florida and
before I plugged in I told him; ’No matter how good it sounds I’m not using
it on the gig.’ I plugged in and after two or three minutes of knob tweaking
I was wondering not if it was ’as good’ as my Fender but exactly how much
BETTER it was. I played the next two nights on the HG 50 and then gladly
signed an endorsement deal with Harp gear! I have never been happier with my
sound, the HG 50 has everything my old beloved Fender had with a more
balanced, clear, natural, and fuller sound! The H.G. 50 amp has quickly
become an extension of me and I feel as close to in love with an inanimate
object as a person can be. Stay tuned for our new you tube video coming out
soon advertising the H.G. 50! Thank you Brian Purdy and harp Gear for doing
the impossible and making THE BEST sounding and BEST looking and BEST ever
HAND MADE harmonica amp ever!!!www.harpgear.com"


Thursday, January 15, 2009

"Stay In College" (guide to proactive, mid level, success in the music business for most bands)

Voted by Blues Wax Magazine: "article of the year"


(A brief guide to proactive, mid level, success in the music business for most bands)
By Jason Ricci

I informed harmonica legend Mark Hummel 15 years ago that I was intending on quitting college and trying to be a professional harmonica player. After I told him the news I asked him rather pretentiously as only a pot smoking, long haired, eighteen year old can: "How do I get where your at?" I wasn't asking about his harp playing, I was asking about the business. He looked down at me and in a sort of concerned, sympathetic maybe even sad way said: "Stay in College." It wasn't the answer I wanted at all but it was the right one. Because in short, if you're going to do this, you're going to do it... If not you won't. It's very simple really, people like to complicate it (especially me) and that's what this whole article is about sort of. So When Mark said to me: "Stay in College" he really just gave me the best, safest and shortest answer for me to later ignore if I should choose to do so and I did. This is my answer to that same question. Please keep in mind that through out this written lengthy, complex formula for musical success, all I'm really saying is: "STAY IN COLLEGE!"

I know a lot of players more musically talented than myself who have failed or are failing at making a living playing music while I enjoy the fruits of some form of success. Likewise everyone knows all the pop stars "they love to hate" that don't deserve their sudden commercial success and wonder how they could do so well while so much raw talent goes unnoticed! Everywhere you go you hear stories about the guy in town who plays JUST like Eric Clapton, or the woman who is a combination of Janis and Bonnie Raitt. Usually they're between 30 to 50 years old. Often and more lately it's the "prodigy/virtuoso nine year old who's better than S.R.V.. All of these characters haunt every city our band travels too and all of these enigmas for whatever reason never got that "Big Break" that they so deserve! Some of our audience members talk about these people or bands as if they have already died with this sad reverence and tragic mystique. The musician/band in question is almost never there were told because their so fed up with the business that they stay home most the time and never come out to see other bands but when they do...WATCH OUT! Because they'll blow you off the stage! "There ARE actually those who never get their due" for no good reason, some times it has to do with their art/music being too ahead of their time or their audience too small but more often it has to do with drugs, booze, a problematic personality, a romantically involved woman or a man, or most often a general and genuine problem with laziness/complacency. Contrary to popular belief this business is NOT "Money for nothing and chicks for free" It's a lot of hard work. Most of those musicians who don't totally suck and some who do will actually succeed on some level in the music business for some time if they really want it and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve that success. The truth is most are not willing to give up the comforts of home, the comforts of being able to pay for a home, many will not give up their drugs and booze for their music they simply love the drugs more whether they admit this to themselves or not. Many will not end a marriage that challenges or threatens their dream, many will enter into relationships that do just that while they are just starting to achieve success. Those who really want to make it will not need to read this but will read it any way but they will succeed with or without this or any other tutorial! Those who will fail in this business will read this and still fail at a career in music, then they and their friends will place blame all over the musical map for this. Jealousy, anger, doubt and fear will infect their lives and the lives of those around them. Unless they truly are that one rare "Misunderstood genius" or are truly mentally or physically ill or taking care of some one who is or all of the above no one should have any one to blame other than themselves.

Sadly sometime in the early eighties or sooner the big record label's formula of the built in booking agency, manager, publicist, and artist development team became less than profitable and started adapting to the times. Bastards. Gone are the days of the record company dispatched talent scout who traverses the small coffee shops and bars of America in search of the eccentric, but poignant heroin addicted, unknown, lyricist/whatever, who with some grooming, ear training, management, methadone, the right band and most importantly money, maybe, might possibly, perhaps, could turn a profit for the label after a few albums aimed at the right demographic, while in the mean time and for the sake of art of course they perform "real music" at a profit loss for the record label. Can we blame them? The Music business is a business, just like a roofing company or a golf course. Would you hire a person like the guy described above to work for you? There are some very fucked up things about the music business that I can't change but I can change how I approach them because that is all I can do. This piece of writing is an attempt of mine to share with you all, especially the musicians amongst you, what I have learned along the way...I'm as you probably know NOT a big star, or a millionaire...but I do own my own home, van, tour all over the world, have a record deal, a booking agency, some P.R. people and pay my three band members a weekly salary that hopefully soon will increase. In short I make my living playing music (harmonica no less) while simultaneously advancing my "name/career" hopefully ensuring a somewhat stable future. Am I lucky? Yes! Did I ever meet a talent scout? No? No one ever handed me anything, not even a single gig, I had to work to get every harmonica lick, lyric, band member, gig, booking agent, manager, publicist, record label, the band and I ever had or didn't! I've been at/after this business full time for fifteen years now mostly very seriously. I have been playing for twenty years. My buddy Dan Gage says: "It' not years it's hours," that's true for everything! I have made a lot of mistakes and have coveted some piss poor u7attitudes and belief systems based in fear and jealousy along the way. I'm here to tell you how I did it, I don't have all the answers and much of this business REALLY is "Who you know" and being in the "Right place at the right time!" I hate to burst the bong bubbles of all you local guitar/harmonica champs sitting at home on Saturday watching Stevie Ray or Kim Wilson on Austin City Limits but unfortunately and fortunately (depending on your outlook) most of this music biz is just plain hard WORK!

Before we go much further I should make a list of things you SHOULD NOT DO if you want to be taken seriously by the industry for the length of a John Popper harp riff this in some cases will include a very important and intimidating word SACRIFICE.

1.) Don't become addicted to or do any hard drugs or maybe if your the band leader ANY drugs! Nobody, not a booking agent, not a club, not a record company wants the liability of you not showing up, not being able to perform, being difficult, or much more dying on their hands! The 60's and 70's are gone, very rarely does any one in our industry knowingly invest in addicts or alcoholics any more! It's not wise for them no matter how good you play/sing/write. Those days are gone. If Janis Joplin, or Jimi Hendrix were just breaking the scene here in 2007 they probably wouldn't get signed just based on their substance abuse. This goes obviously much further than just your potential investors. You will not be capable (I know first hand!) of expending the necessary time, energy and sober thought into your career if you are inebriated, trying to score all the time, going to jail, dope sick, hung over, etc. Most rock stars these days and some of ole', that die of addiction related causes developed their addictions after they had won/earned their place already. If you think this might be your problem get help. I did.... I ended up doing a year in jail over all that stuff. Music is the least of your problems if you're hooked on anything serious. I'm now Nine years clean and sober and my life is great.
2.) Don't be an asshole! Don't tell clubs, festivals, labels, managers or anyone your better than their favorite or best selling acts or even that you don't like them. This is all about you not them! Don't threaten people or give ultimatums, don't lie about how many people you can put in the club if you can't. Don't tell booking agents your better than anyone or everyone on their roster...They don't care and your probably not. It's not ALL about music a lot of it has to do with how effectively you can sell/bring your music to people! Don't be competitive with other bands. Don't pester people; however, do be persistent. Don't name drop too much especially if you don't really know that person all that well or at all! Just be honest and be nice. You catch more bees with honey.
3.) Do not marry young or marry someone who does not want you to play music for a living! If you do and you want a music career more than a husband or wife get a divorce so you don't hate them forever and blame them for your failures/lost dreams. Leaving home a lot is a big part of this job especially the first 5 years maybe rest of your life! Not making much money is to be expected in most cases, operating at a loss is par for the course as well. Do you have some one in your life that will support your dreams of becoming a star on some level while you are away 319 days a year and making very little sometimes losing money? I do... his name is Brady.... I'm lucky, but if Brady weren't here I would have done it alone because I want this no matter what. I Thank God and him here for his support along the way! Music as a career hasn't been easy for Brady and I or almost any couple we know! Many fulltime musicians rack up past marriages like booking agencies and ex-drummers. It's a constant game of give and take.... Sacrifice music for love, sacrifice love for music...It helps if the one you love/marry has their own dream to keep them occupied while your gone which naturally comes with experiences of their own so they can empathize with your plight and motives. Also don't have kids if you can't afford them on a musician's salary. If you already have them, love them, stay home more and consider waiting till their grown for your career in music.
4.) Don't expect your friends that have "Made it" to help you to the top! It's impossible for them on more levels than they probably have time to tell you about! Once you take your own steps out the door you'll start to understand why. If I write this clearly enough by the time your done reading this you'll realize a little more as well. It is good to know people and have famous friends but it is hardly a ticket to the top of any genre of music. I can put in all the good words in the world to my record company for my friends but if their not touring, selling records, and generally being proactive in their own careers it will mean NOTHING and could even HURT ME!

Below are some additional excuses the band and I hear frequently from musicians and their friends and family. If you continue reading I will later dismiss these excuses or solve most of these. Some of these may be valid but again fall under the heading of "sacrifice" and/or how bad you want this.

1.) My band members all have regular jobs and won't leave town. (Solution later)
2.) My Wife/Husband/Boy/Girlfriend won't let me. (Solved earlier)
2.) The clubs won't pay me enough to leave town. I can make more at home. (Solution Later)
3.) I just need a decent recording first. (You might not unless you really suck. Musicians are often perfectionists who will split hairs over a recording or a tune for years or more until it's entirely outdated and antiquated.)
4.) Gas prices are too high. (They can be. Tough it out till it does not matter.)
5.) I need to move to the RIGHT city, where do I move? (I hear this one a lot. This is mostly a myth. It just helps if you don't live in some state where you have to drive through the same towns every time you leave in order to get anywhere such as any peninsula like Florida or Maine. The Northwest can be tough as well. The more directions you can go when leaving town the more easy and profitable your future touring will be because you wont have to skip over markets that just booked you last week or last month and can't have you back just so soon. It can be a plus to live some where like L.A., New York or any big city as there are often more players to choose from but it's not necessary. There are amazing players everywhere. You may be one! In Big cities local gigs are harder to get and pay less. If you plan your tours right you can have four or more players in your band from all over the country! There is no city with a self-supporting GREAT blues scene, or a GREAT punk scene, what have you. Make it happen on the road. That's what the labels want and what you'll probably have to do at some time to make a name for yourself or the possibility of any steadily growing amount of money.)
6.) There's not enough clubs. (So far there is for most of us driven enough to drive. Get creative look at those touring guides! Steal gigs and tour ideas off of other people's websites. Call and ask around. Stop complaining, just get on the road after a few trips you'll get some new gigs and some private parties as well! If your going to be off a night any way open for another band, play somewhere that's never had a band before for less money than usual or for the "Door". Sad but true in my experience this is what it takes the first year or more out. It's hard and it may break you, your band and your bank account a few or more times before success. Eventually you will have to stop selling yourself short you will know when this time is upon you because you will be able to get the prices and clubs you want in many cases without asking.)
7.) I'm too old. (This may apply in the pop world but most other genres, rock included, don't weigh as heavily on an artists age or image as you may think, I could name a few but lets not. It helps in any genre of music to look good. Make the most of what you have to separate yourself from your audience. You don't have to be fancy, punk, slick, or sexy but it helps to be memorable and have a presence. Do it your own way. Get jiggy wit it.)
8.) I don't have a van. (This is a legit but temporary problem, you will have to find a way to get one or at least a Good S.U.V. with a trailer.)
9.) I don't have a booking agency/agent. (You don't need one and probably won't get one till you've proven your profitability, reliability and rockability first on your own! Read on, much more coming on this.)
10.) I need a record deal first. (Record deals these days even on a major label can mean nothing. They don't generally do whatever you're thinking they do for you.... from fame and fortune to just simply gigs a lot/most all this shit is up to you. Of course a deal can help tons it has and will for us, but have you done all you can while your waiting for your contract to be faxed?) See below!
11.) The side man complaint: No one will hire me to go on tour. (Here's your game plan: Go to jams, make business cards, keep practicing, try to sit in with well known bands without being too pushy, check the papers, the net, email bands, get a demo CD together, stay in touch with the industry: who's quitting? who got fired? etc. Call, mail, and email: labels, booking agencies and management companies and let them know your available if a band needs some one...Learn to sing and front a band and start your own band if your tired of waiting to get a job.)
12.) I have a mental illness or a physical disability. (This is a legitimate reason I know of for blaming your musical failure on! This IS truly tragic and often very, very sad and painful to watch. For the actual person it must be unbearable. Ironically many of these folks have great attitudes and find something else fulfilling to do with their lives for pleasure and money while still playing out on weekends and actually really do BLOW AWAY MANY OF THE NATIONAL ACTS. I have met a few beautiful musicians incapacitated and unable to tour because of mental or physical illness and my heart goes out to them!
13.) I have kids. Another valid and legit reason to put your music career on the back burner for a while or at least get advice outside this forum. If you don't have a double income household with one parent that can spend time with the kid/ kids just wait! Perfect your craft in the mean time and pursue something more stable than a music career. One of the most intelligent and talented performers and people I know is doing just this now. Her name is Gina Fox and she's not only smart and talented but wise and loving enough to care for her child and accept with dignity, responsibility and grace her former decision to have him. She would probably be a star now had it turned out different but I have no doubt she'll be rocking in two years when he turns eighteen. The kid's cool too cause his Mom knows what's up. Go Mike!


This was the single most important/miserable/frustrating/empowering thing I have ever learned about most of this business. Here is a list of people who for the most part don't want you until you don't really need them:

1.) Record labels
2.) Booking Agents
3.) Managers
4.) Festivals/clubs

Let me explain: Again this is a business... What business wants to invest their time and money into a product that has little or no proven monetary return? What label wants to spend thousands or millions of dollars on an artist that no one has heard of that hasn't sold any records on their own, that has no track record of real touring yet? Well you may be thinking of a few that have, do, or will...They do exist but only for one in a million artists. You may offer me now the classic Brittany Spears equation or whatever and you would be RIGHT to do so however this is not trying to solve your problem. If you want to be the next Brittany forget everything I have said and stop reading cause you'll probably just have to meet the right person at the right time, but if you want to be the next Jason Ricci or even better the next Stevie Ray or Dave Mathews listen up I have some ideas you should consider!
We all know much of today's music has little sincerity, little substance, little originality and in some cases very few actually played not programmed musical instruments...True. Get over it... People say, "We're going to SEE a band tonight not HEAR one". Most people think/thought Brittney looked good...Most pop stars look good. It's just a fact. Giant Record companies today can literally place almost any good looking person/people in the spotlight and with the right amount of money and timing market this person overnight as a hit until within weeks they often are. It is not the record company's fault. True they usually dispose of the said star in a year or two in favor of some newer model who's voice and/or look resembles that of whatever rival artist's single is trend setting the 1 slot on the Billboard charts, but it is done in a simple supply and demand fashion every day. The pop charts are usually just a conveyer belt of virtual prefabricated market proven cliché's disguised as melody's, lyrics and beats that the average person can listen to while talking on their cell phone and following their G.P.S. navigation system to work. What music is cool... is whatever they tell us is cool and if we buy it we tell them back: "You were right!" So lets stop blaming them and get proactive in our own lives for a minute. Speaking of "proactive" in the truly eloquent words of P. Diddy from the Proactive Acne Cream commercial let us: " Moisturize our situation." Get out there and sell some records, be sure you keep track and can prove how many you sold too! Even small numbers (Thousands) will impress small and some larger Record companies out there, they want to make money, if you can prove to them that good music will make money all the better but most of the time that burden lies on you. Dave Mathews, Phish, and Blues Traveler had thousands of fans, gigs and sold records under their belts before they ever had a solid deal in a lawyer's office. Don't expect God or Sony to answer your Major Label prayers overnight based on the fact that you've been doing this fifty years, or that your only 19 years old and play better than Stevie Ray, or that everyone at the local open mic in Kalamazoo, Michigan tells you your so much better than whatever person they heard on the radio! "Faith without works is dead" and you'll need both where your going. Excuses are usually just excuses, you will need gigs though...here's how to get them.



You're going to have to make some sacrifices. You will not get the money the big bands at those clubs get your 1st, 5th or sometimes 20th time in the door if you don't get people out. In the biz we call it "Asses in Seats." You will have to make the best CD you can with whatever budget you have, put it in a folder with an 8/10" photo and any press/awards you have managed to get so far and mail them to all the clubs in your target tour area. Then you will have to call the club on the right day.... KNOW THE CLUB OWNERS NAME! Their are various magazines/books/websites out their that have radio/TV/club/festival/press info in them for every state in the U.S., some even tell you the capacity of the club, type of music usually booked, and time to call. Get those! Once you get the Club owner on the phone...don't be insulted if he has never heard of you or has not listened to your music! You may have to call at the right time every Tuesday for 6 months or more and send multiple press kits before they ever even listen to your CD! Their not arrogant (most aren't), just busy and there are thousands of you compared to hundreds, if that, of them. Be patient, persistent, polite etc. You may have to find another venue in the same town who will book you, then approach the better club later after you have built an audience. Again, name-dropping will get you know where. What good is it to the club if you are best buds with Walter Trout if no one has ever heard of you? If you really ARE best buds with a band that does well at the club call them up and ask them to put in a good word for you. I have a few friends I help out this way all the time because they help themselves. You're not asking for the world or even the gig just for your friend to say: "That dude can play!" Still your money will be low at first. You will have to take this money and like it for a while until your better known. As you do better be sure you up your money appropriately so you don't get stuck at that price or deter actual booking agencies from becoming interested in you! Remember this excuse from earlier: "My band members all have regular jobs and won't leave town". Book the gigs first then find the players. This way you have money to offer them instead of far-fetched plans and dreams. Why should any one hop in a van with you and leave their Husband, Wife, job, cat, dog or ferret behind without some kind of pay agreement? If the club asks you "Is the same band you have on the CD you sent?" You lie and say yes and explain after the gig or you can say "mostly" if you can match even one guy. I don't usually condone dishonesty ever but we don't ask club owners what waitresses they've hired or if they have the same bartender as last time do we? Find the best players you can. Reliable nice guys are often better than talented difficult ones. Some day if you're blessed you may find talented, nice, reliable guys! If you got the gigs the players will come...Generally the better the money your making the better your band. You may have to find some kids with not a whole lot going on to back you up as your buddy Joe who plays bass like George Porter isn't likely to give up his dentist gig to go make 350.00 a week with you the first year till you guys hit it big (500.00 a week). You hire whom you can until the right players fall in place and if someone leaves you keep going. There's an amazing amount of bands looking for great players out there that are actually working and vice versa. Be one! It helps to book the bigger money gigs, whatever those may be, FIRST then the smaller ones. We call the big dates (festivals, private parties, high paying clubs on weekends etc.) "Anchor dates" get those first then do your best to fill in the weekdays or empty slots. You may have to stay with friends/fans, drive overnight or sleep in shitty hotels along the way some of your band members will quit because of this eventually, don't give up, there's more guys out there, but do your best to "Keep Your Boys Happy". On some tours or in the beginning of your bands formation, it is not uncommon and should be expected that after gas, hotels, and van repairs that your sidemen will actually make MORE money than you the band leader! Your pay off is your name on the marquee, in the papers on the record cover, in the ads etc. Eventually you will earn more if not much more than them. You are building a reputation and making your name nationally this is more important than money in the long run as it actually translates to money. Additionally this is really just job security as you can quit playing for five years then come back and many folks will remember you. This is not as easy a task for a sidemen. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE BOSS WHEN IT COMES TO MONEY! Tell your boys what you will pay them ahead of time, so you won't argue later, if there is extra and you can afford it give them more or buy them dinner etc do it. Do not let your biz be a democracy! Everything else can be, but not the money! So pick up the phone.... Keep track of who you called, how many times and when. Don't get discouraged, be patient and persistent let the clubs know how much you love them and how cool they are. You need them more than they need you. Expect to put in eight hours or more a day on the phone and computer. It's smart when you start planning to put your band on the road to sock a way a bunch of money. Booking, managing, and promoting your band in the beginning and later is a full time job. If you already have a day gig, save money then quit it. Treat your new job (Booking, managing, and promoting your band) like your old one (get up early etc.) and go to work. It may take you three to six months to book a year worth of tours and you'll still be filling in the gaps along the way while driving from gig to gig! Starting to understand that word "sacrifice" yet? Most of your favorite working bands went through some form if not this exact formula long before they ever had a booking agent handling them full time. Some people have trust funds, or money coming from somewhere, or their Dad or Mom was or is a famous musician or record label employee/A&R person and they bypass this road. Good for them, I want to know I earned my place.

-Booking Agents


After you get your band on the road and making money all by yourself, all the (well, a few) booking agents you sent your package to and bugged to help book you will suddenly and magically start calling, and emailing out of the wood work! Why? Because you don't need them now! Because now you are competing with them for money! The agents are trying to book their bands in the clubs and finding out you already have the date! After an agency/agent has called a few clubs a few times and found out you are playing there over and over you will gain their attention a little. You will really get their attention a lot when they find out you are making as much or more money than some, most or all their artists! So why would you even hire these guys? Two words: Mental Health! The guys will lighten your load hopefully! If they are talented they will book you in more places than you have been able to do yourself for more money. Ultimately if this is the case you will work less for more money, enjoy better travel routing, no longer have to send posters and contracts yourself, and be able to focus more on your music and life outside; which is how all this shit started any way right?



So now you got the band on the road, maybe you got an agent or two working for you...You find yourself playing the same old clubs over and over to the same crowds maybe a little bigger here or there, maybe a little more money here or there but basically, your tired and feel your spinning your wheels. Your friends at home are saying "Hey I make more than you playing weekends and doing acoustic shit during the week, subbing out for so and so and giving lessons" and they're right! What happened to that "Making a name" part of this equation? Well first it takes time, second you WILL plateau here and they're and third here's the "who you know part": The manager. The Manager knows the labels, the P.R. people and the booking agents. They will help you now to work smarter instead of harder since you have proven you can do the latter. The manager wants you because you are a tested worthwhile artistic and more importantly financial investment, so why don't you need them? You don't need them because you already have everything in place that matters to attract the investor's (record label, agency etc.) interest, you want not NEED them because it saves you time (NOT MONEY) in getting your foot in the door! Believe it or not many record labels are actually pretty out of touch/clueless to who is doing well, making money, selling records, touring etc. You have already written them a million times politely explaining this but the manager's name and word comes with some clout and experience. Managers can be great and they can be terrible! Obviously some kind of pro bono agreement is the best road here; the second best would be a small percentage, say 5% to 10% of the bands total earnings (Yours ultimately, not the sidemen). After you get the manager they can be a wonderful and effective liaison between you the label, the agency, between your band and you or the world at large. They can also help guide the record company, agent and you to make much smarter decisions concerning your music, money, time and travel. If you do not have a label or a booking agency, lots of gigs or a band yet, you really have no need at all for a manager at all as they have nothing to manage for you. We currently have no management. Many successful bands do not! It all comes down to how well you know your business, how much time you have and how good are your people skills.
So to wrap things up I hope you have learned: "NOBODY WANTS YOU UNTIL YOU DON"T NEED THEM!" I hope you have seen how this can be a wonderful and empowering thing as well! When you take control no one can ever say no to your career which most people will until you do. The "next time someone says: "I don't like your CD." You can ask them:" Do you like money?" They may still not want you but someone else will. ART IS SUBJECTIVE TO PEOPLE, MONEY ISN'T! Don't let them tell you what to play! What is cool! What sells! Play your own music, whatever that is! If your band rocks than learn to rock at selling it so you don't have to wait for that "Golden Opportunity", "The Brass Ring", or that "Right Place at the Right Time crap!" Make it happen at least in the mean time until you meet that one dude willing to put enough money into you to guarantee your undeserved, overnight, commercial success. Keep your integrity, learn the business, it's mostly logic and common sense with a vague sense of reality. There are a lot of thieves and sharks out there too! Don't get excited by big sounding offers, this is so hard! Do read carefully or have a lawyer friend explain things to you so you know just exactly how you are getting fucked.
In closing I would like to say SUCCESS IS AS SUBJECTIVE AS ART IS! What do you want from this business? If you want to play heavy metal style amplified nose flute with a polka band and crossover to the pop charts so you can do a duet with 50 cent on the tonight show, you might have to wait until the pop charts cater to heavy metal style amplified nose flute with polka bands. If you just want to play heavy metal style amplified nose flute with a polka band and make a buck here and there you can probably do so using the formula I gave you in this article. It is sad that sincere, soulful and intelligent music rarely makes lots of money and that is a fact. But most sincere, soulful and intelligent musicians realize this somewhere a long the yellow brick road and come to terms with the fact that they would rather play great music than make great money. I believe there will always be an audience for sincere, soulful intelligent music and thus there will always be some money...just often not enough of it. This is why we end up holding benefits for great players with long careers and influences that stretch decades or centuries beyond their lives, just to raise money for their medical bills or funerals. I have known a few players like that and I can tell you they wouldn't have done it any other way. The reward that comes with doing what you want with your life, the way you want to do it, far surpass the rewards that money and commercial success can offer however nice. I believe you can take those rewards to the NEXT life with you unlike the money however nice. For me my first real success was when my hero's told me they liked my music and playing, and I knew they meant it. I really succeeded the day I woke up and didn't care if they liked it or not!

Honorable mention goes to the bands I know off the top of my head that currently could have written this article and more:
*Mark Hummel
*Nick Moss and the Flip Tops
*Motor City Josh and the Big Three
*Shawn Kellerman Band
*Jimmy Lloyd Rea and the Switch Masters

Wednesday, January 14, 2009



Jason Ricci

Hello Everyone
This is the long lost sexy Rocker writing from home in Nashville once again at last. So much has happened since last I wrote that I'm overwhelmed at the task of reporting it here or on my site. Incredible internal and external battles have been lost and won on and off the road, with the music business in general and within my own life and that of my band and their immediate relationships concerning all of the above. In short...Shit happens, it happened to us, change is inevitable, wonderful and sometimes difficult here's the news. This will take days to write, Im not kidding:

First I quit smoking earlier today cause I'm sick and I want to live a long time and thought now I might try because after having been through all what I am going to attempt to describe to you all here, I feel I can do anything now. Smoking is one of my favorite things. It's going to suck writing this without a smoke. I love to smoke when I'm writing.

That was the statement that came from the people that help bring us to you. Those people have never been to Europe before. They called me like a year ago/9 months said "your going to Europe"...I was like cool..."Who's our Road Manager" (I said this because I went to Belgium before to play with like ten years ago.) They responded by saying " Road Manager??? You don't need a Road Manager...EVEYONE OVER THERE SPEAKS ENGLISH" I don't think I really have to say a lot more on how things ended up but I will. I really just want to totally vent the same way Nostradamus or that guy who predicted MT St Helens eruption would have...But It would end up being really unprofessional and not as funny as I would have liked it to be but again here it is anyway in all its unprofessional glory. If I was smoking right now I could do it well and it would rock nuts, here goes.

So any way, We get some one in Europe to drive us around speak French and all that, take care of finding adaptors, Super Reverbs, Bassmans, food, all that kind of stuff. We will call this person "The amphibian" to protect the not so innocent. It's all set up like months before were supposed to leave so we think. The amphibian runs into some problems with the promoters in Europe and our people in the states and for a while everyone hates everyone. I'm in the middle trying to defend my people from the amphibian and vice versa no ones really all right here or all wrong the amphibian has some valid points, so do my folks I'm just trying to get them to get along...Kind of...The other part of this story is every time I get frustrated with this process I just start yelling I'm not f-ing going!!!! F*@this etc. Cancel every thing. So that was mainly my role in everything. Just chilling and criticizing everything then yelling I'm not going later. In reflection this sounds kind of lame cause Europe had some great moments and I had nothing to do with getting over there... I just sat at home and made fun of people and in a way I'm still doing that. But Stuff was whack from the start I knew it would be ahead of time and that's all I wanted to say...then and Now.

So months pass, gigs get booked, we get our passports (not easy) moved around, our agent fights with the amphibian, promoters complain, etc....Bottom line were going...things should be reasonably cool. We have some one to watch our backs there (The Amphibian) and everything should be fine as far as first trips to Europe go.

The Amphibian calls two days before the bands plane leaves and says he needs a plane ticket from Ireland to Belgium in order to be there. I don't have the money. He's pissed...he says he e-mailed me and all my folks like a thousand time about this a long time ago and we ignored him and all this crap. I don't doubt him at the time, but Brady looks hard using a word search with his name, "plane ticket" and "travel can't find any of these e-mails any where. I ask him to send me the e-mail where he explained this to us again if he can find it he does.

The only part of the e-mail that says anything about Ireland or travel or anything reads" I will be returning from France to Ireland after your tour, this will be very expensive". I call the Amphibian and tell him "No offence but that doesn't say shit about you needing a ticket... but why don't you try and come any way buy the ticket yourself, cause I don't have the money, (At the time Brady's eye looked like he was Rocky Balboa from some sort of infection and we couldn't even afford a Dr's visit) and I'm sure later we will make enough of the CD's to pay for it...I CAN'T guarantee this but lets try I need you and I can Guarantee you the initial money I promised you for the tour of course. We spoke a couple more times and basically the last thing he said was that some how I was going to pay for the work he had done already, he wasn't coming, and good luck etc. So the amphibian wants to sue... So now my new Job the day before I leave is to try and find a ride from the airport in Belgium to the first hotel for the Blues festival. I'm pissed, tired, don't want to go and fed up with everything. I'm not excited about explaining to my guys why we are standing in the rain in Brussels Belgium and don't have a ride to our first gig even.
I call my agent Threaten to cancel a few more times, yell, scream, the whole deal...next thing I know the festival promoter Pierre calls me and tells me he spoke with the agent and we got a ride. Done deal the agent got us a ride...But only for one day, for one gig, we got three gigs and ten days. I have to agree to get on the plane and hope it all works out. It does, but it doesn't, here's the rest of the story.

We arrive in Brussels after a 12-hour flight. I see Bobby Rush and his tour manager, introduce myself to them and tag along closely. Bobby's tour manager speaks a few languages, so I'm cool. We make it through customs and find the tour bus.... We were a little nervous going through customs cause we had a lot of Heroin...just kidding we were afraid they were going to tax us on each CD we had cause they do that type of crap thats what all that duty free stuffs about. Bobby and a few other bands all get on the tour bus. No one can believe were without a road manager in Europe. Jaws just drop, and looks of pity abound. I feel justified but now angrier then ever. We get to the hotel eat Salami, ham, cheese and stuff (Breakfast in Belgium is assortment of cold cuts on a plate). I go to sleep in this little ass bed...Shawn called them the Japan rooms cause everything was way smaller. All the TV channels were in French and Flemish...some German...It's all like real negative stuff about how we (The US) is this evil, Nazi, Global imperialistic force again I feel justified but angry. I go to sleep listening to French TV.

When I wake up it's like 8:00 pm there 6 hours ahead of NYC so I'm all messed up. I look around the hotel no ones anywhere.... Im starving again but I'm out in the country in the middle of nowhere. I just walk out side down this country ass road until I see this restaurant. I have no money (11 US dollars). I walk in wearing My leather jacket (It's cold) The jackets got all these Ramones patches and band pins and safety pins and chains and all hung all over it. This place is a really nice restaurant and all these families just start staring at vibing and me me. So I walk out and it starts raining. I stand there in the rain for a minute and decide to go back in. This time the French host comes up to me and of course I can't speak French but this time I see bobby Rush all styling at this table with Steak and potatoes and wine and all this food. This Kid ushers me over, Its Mathew Skoller, he's wicked nice and offers me a seat at his table. Before I know it I'm eating steak and his bass player gives me a couple of crappy Indonesian cigars that I'm grateful for. He can't believe I don't have a road manager. I tell him the whole story about our agent and the amphibian...I have a full stomach I go home to the hotel feeling better I practice harmonica, the harmonica has a French accent, I'm not kidding it's annoying...I hope my harp doesn't retain the accent for the festival or permanently...I watch crappy heterosexual soft porn on TV then go to sleep again.

The next day a bus comes to get us to take us to the festival we ride over with Bobby's band...The band likes me a lot and rename me "Satan's Little Sister". I dig the nickname and think about calling our next record that for a while...actually they didn't rename me that until after we played, but any way.

I walk around the festival get some CD"s I've been looking for at the merch table (Delay "Heavy Rotation. And Nick Curran's first independent CD). Some accessories: a bracelet and stuff. I had to have them put it aside cause I have no money ...remember...good but I got it later after I got paid which was a chore and took two hours of me walking around in mud, rain, and wind.

I look at the Bassman it has a solid-state rectifier. I convince them to steal a 5u4 from another rig, they do, and I feel better about life. The show goes great, it rained a lot but we were all under a tent We sold more CD's then all the other bands combined, I get paid and start talking to the promoter Pierre) about how to get to Antwerp for our next gig.

So the promoter hooks up a ride from the club owner Jan. Jan has to borrow a van from his buddy's band and drive an hour to get us. He shows up the next day it's all-good, he's way cool, very funny. Jan Speaks ok English better than my Flemish, knows a lot of bands, tells some good stories etc.... His club is called the Cross Roads It's downtown Antwerp I dig it. We get there; check into our hotel that is nice, but is like 6 floors up this spiral staircase...Steve Johnson would not have made it. By the way Maki sounded good. The room has the Japan beds again and oh yeah there's no phone. I change realize I left three of my favorite shirts in Brussels, bitch about that for a bit and head to the club to set up. Ok also you have to realize everyone in Belgium dresses like me. I'm so bummed! My style is so played out in Europe I plan to go shopping the next day as soon as the sun comes up.

At the Club there are no power transformers for my wireless I was told these thing cost like a thousand dollars in the states but later I find it's a lot more like thirty. I have no cord and no High to low impedance plug so the Bassman at the club is pretty much useless, on 12 it as loud as my rig on 3, except the tone sucks...oh yeah it has a solid state rectifier too. I find it odd that a country that's blues artists spend so much time trying to mimic American blues bands music, to the point of it being an almost classical type interpretation, no improve etc...that these same folks would try and mimic our gear...maybe some of them do, but not to many I met while I was there. So the rig sucks I can't use it. Yan hauls out this little champ I plug straight in, no pedals, put it through the PA, it has no bottom, sounds like a muted trumpet in the hands of Johnny Winter. This will be fine for tonight. Everyone loves the gig except the band and I, but we put our hearts into it. Usually mean it when we play and though I hate it when sound and shit like that is messed up, when you mean it people get that and respond no matter where theyre from. It's real different over there as far as the audiences go because they're like ultra respectful! The Bartenders and waitresses/waiters won't even take drink orders in between songs so there's this silence after the applause and everyone just digs you for a minute. I Wasnt sure though if they were though so I just started another song real quick like, just in case they hated me. They all just sit there and study. Like watching a movie or reading a book or something, real chill like that, in a way it's the deal, in a way it's not...it's not blues, and definitely not Rock and Roll, I think they think its art. Weirdoes.

So after the show I call my agents younger brother...this guy is the one who set this whole deal up actually. He's like 19 years old maybe a year or two older...any way I'm asking how the hell I'm supposed to get from Antwerp to France for the Harmonica Su Cher festival...he has no idea suggests renting a car etc., I ask him the same question I asked his older brother in the states. "What's the French word for stop?" He's says: "I don't know" I tell him I don't either. I hang up the phone after being mean for a minute then realize this kid is so green it's useless getting mad, I had to apologize later and still got in trouble with his boss later. I know I can't drive...I know I'm on My own, I know The town I'm going to is 8 hours away. The Club owner Jan (pronounced: YAN)((Should of said that earlier)) convinces me to rent the hotel rooms for another day, chill in Antwerp with the band and come to a harmonica event at his club the next night until he can make some calls and try and rent us a van and a driver to get us to our gig in France. Some of you may be reading this adventure story still and be thinking this sounds alright and kind of cool and all but I'm the boss and these guys (My Band) WILL look at me real crazy if things don't go right...Plus all these gigs sent us deposits for the plane tickets over there, so if we don't show we get sued...just like that...well maybe our agent gets sued but apparently he's not really that worried cause his younger brother is "ON IT". So I get back to the hotel walk a couple of blocks in the cold and rain to this store, buy smokes and find a pay phone a few blocks from there. I can't figure out the phone, it won't let me call the states even with the card. I get pissed hang up the phone, think about drinking, go back to the hotel sit on my Japan bed...NO TV, NO PHONE, NO COMPUTER...AMERICAN HELL.

The next morning I awake at 5:00 am go down stairs the guy at the desk speaks perfect English. I like him a lot. Right from the start me and this guy understand each other. Hes like 60...use to play music and all that jazz...Im like Yeah yeah... Then later he hears me practicing and asks me afterwards if I was getting those half tones by over blowing. I was like What!!! He was wacky, too cool. He was maybe my hero for a few days. I drink coffee and smoke cigarettes indoors you can do that there still) and tell him the story. I'm supposed to me Jan at 12:00 in the lobby for an up date on his progress concerning the rental van and the driver. Some of you over sea travelers may be saying to your selves..." Silly American why not just take a train to France".

First off.... Before we go any further with the story, I have to blow up a few myths/urban legends right now that people say all the time and I'm sick of.

1.) Everyone over there speaks English.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if they do most often they wont. And if you don't at least attempt the indigenous language when starting conversation it's considered rude...not so different here is it.

2.) You can take a train anywhere in Europe for around ten bucks.

Total bullshit. I know a bunch of you have heard this one too right? It was going to be at least 800.00 Euros for the band and I to take a train to Paris we had to pick up the CD'S at Fed ex...How the hell do we navigate our ignorant us asses from the train station to Fed Ex in Downtown Paris any way (Where the CD's are...hopefully and not at the Amphibians house) Then we have to get back to the train station with all our luggage, the CD's hopefully, and pay again to take this mythical 10 dollar train to the town of the Fest, which by the way doesn't go directly there and no taxis from the town it does go to, to the fest...getting the idea.

3.) (NOT Euro related) BUT...." You can get any type of food in NYC at any time.
Total lie perpetrated probably by New Yorkers who know better and want to justify there intolerable rat race, and New York-centric misconceptions with some kind of promise of amazing convenience and big city grandeur. The truth: If you have a lot of money you might could find some chicken wing-bar food buried in Red hook...Example: If your on the upper west side you could catch a cab, get to some restaurant some one told you about, and maybe pick one thing off the menu that their still serving. After it's over, you spent 50 dollars...(not unlike what we did to get any kind of food everywhere in Europe after 7:00 PM). True story: I couldn't even get dominoes to deliver a pizza at 11:00 pm to a hotel directly across from Madison Square garden on a Saturday in January last year. When I went to the front desk and asked them where do I get some food, the lady looked at me like I was crazy and said Its almost midnight! New York food myth blown up.

(More random pet peeves)

4.) Every state in the US loves to make the joke that it's state bird is the mosquito. News flash guys, every state has this joke and the post card and thinks it's wicked funny and original too.

5.) In every state they also say, with a giddy tone in their voices: "If you don't like the weather in FL wait a minute" A ha Ha Ha! Or: "If you don't like the weather in (insert any and every state here) wait a minute"!!! A hah ha ha! Every place says this and thinks its their own personal little joke...its not, and I'm sick of it...weather changes drastically everywhere folks...sorry...And mosquitoes live a lot of places too.

Ok that's over with. Sorry had to get that out in public finally. Back to Euro hell. Jan doesn't show at 12:00 I want to go shopping but can't I have to wait (Poor me). He eventually calls and lets me know its all good we got a ride to Harmonica Su Cher and a probably a driver but it's going to cost me like 500-600 Euros for the whole deal. It's a better deal than that 5 dollar train anywhere in Euro so I gratefully accept and proceed shopping, drinking the best espresso and eating croissants and stuff like that. I buy Brady tons of Belgian chocolate. That Night I drop by the Cross Roads café for the harp show. Bill Barrett is there, he's way cool, and Im into him and his ideas about music he doesnt care what any one thinks and plays very exciting and strange/unique chromatic. He's a really nice person and his wife Marie and I hit off and hang out in the bar till way to late. Did I mention that I skate boarded to the bar? Well most of the way...lots of cobblestone. No its not a good thing but I was glad I had the board. This place really far away from the hotel and I have know Idea how I found it. Buck weed, our bass player, had been M.I.A. For the whole day was at the bar...he had obtained "Herbal supplements that days, as well as an ungodly blood-alcohol limit. He was funny though. Buck doesnt get drunk that often. When he does he gets real emotional, but sincere emotional and says some nice things and mean things about people, places and things you were never sure how he felt about cause the kid doesnt really talk that much. We undertook our walk back to the hotel together. We got really lost and it took us nearly two hours to get back but I heard a ton of great stories about Buck's adventures on his own that day in Antwerp. I can't relay all of them but I will tell you the highlights included a potentially physical altercation with some Tunisians in a bar, 7 different personal apartment/flats visits, lots of illegal activity, ancient swords and weapons, bizarre people who rode bikes from country to country to deliver contra band and a lot of compliment on Buck/the bands performance the night prior which was good to hear cause we all felt we played like ferret poop.

We got back to the hotel I called Brady for the first time in four days. He was worried; it was great to talk to him for a dollar a minute I would have paid fifty.
The next morning our ride arrived at 8:00 AM on time! We all piled into this van. I'm trying to remember our drivers name.... Bart...yeah. So Bart speaks English well. I confirm that the van is free of illegal contraband and we take off in search of France and our supposed hotel that awaits us courtesy of harmonica Su Cher. We drive for an hour or so then come to the border of France and Belgium. Now we had been told earlier another Myth about Europe.

Myth .. 6.) You can drive over any border in Eastern Europe without passing through customs or being detained.

So there we are pulled over on the side of the road in France having the van searched by soldiers with guns and all, who are all sounding really pissed off and suspicious. Bart tells them were famous American musicians so they really start giving us a hard time. They keep asking us over and over are there any drugs in the van...We keep saying no. They keep taking our passports, giving them back then taking them again, over and over, finally they find Tommy our merchandise mans prescription medication for epilepsy. Theyre certain it's ecstasy and take the bottle and T-dub (Tommy) to the back of the van/out of site for questioning. Ten minutes later and lots of angry French sounding words, T-dub and his medication are back in the van. They reluctantly let us pass into France. Welcome.

Were on our way to Paris. It has been confirmed (We Think) by Fed Ex (Didn't speak English) that our CD's (which we paid 500.00 dollars to ship to the Amphibians Father's house in France) are actually, thanks to our efforts, in the hands of a Fed Ex in Paris. We got the address and were going to get them. We need the money for the discs. Tommy paid for them and they are his only source of income on the trip. He had bought his own ticket over there. We have one gig left for him to make his money back.

Driving into Paris was insane! People just run out on foot in front of cars all the time, By the way later on our last day of the whole trip we saw a little girl get hit by a car in Brussels. There's no lanes, no blinkers, everyone goes 65 mph through the city, all the cars have dents in them, its nuts. I can't imagine us driving through this place ourselves like some people wanted us to do. We find the fed EX (Thanks Map Quest) and park like three blocks away. Bart helps us translate to the Fed Ex people and we find out that the CD's are not in Paris, Not at Fed Ex, but in the south of France some eight hours away from Paris and even further away from The town Harmonica Su Cher is being held in.

So T- Dub just emotionally collapses, just gives up entirely except for creative and graphic ideas he verbalizes about destroying the Amphibian. T-Dub crawls into the back of the van, which is closed of by a wall. He climbs back there with all the suitcases, harmonicas, guitars, and skateboards and everything just lies on the floor and goes to sleep for the rest of the journey. From that point on despite some fortunate events for T-dub it was all down hill for him. He hated the food any way and that was the start of the end the CDs were just the straw.

So it's supposed to be an 8-hour drive to Savinua (something like that wherever the festival is) we had already been driving like 8 hours when I suggest we call Christopher Miner the promoter of the festival. Bart is opposed to this Idea. He knows France well, used to be a truck driver and IS NOT LOST. So four more hours later were at a gas station asking directions from the attendant, still not calling Christoph. Cool. After Bart gets back in the van he relays to us that the attendant had told him that the hotel were going to is not a hotel at all really but more of a...."how do you say.... REFUGEE CAMP!"

We drive for another hour into I turn into an asshole and demand we pull over and call Christoph. Ten minutes later Bart, The Band and me the asshole are meeting Christoph at his friends house laughing, eating and talking about the upcoming week. All in all, the journey from Belgium to France cost me over a thousand dollars and at least two years off my already diminishing life span. Just as well.

So we pile all our stuff into two tiny cars and head to the REFUGEE CAMP. Now the Refugee camp... and that nickname has become a big joke now. Christoph thinks it's hilarious and has assured us that the location is not a hotel but sort of a YMCA like establishment that is very comfortable. We arrive. We are led past a desk, down some stairs, all looking very abandoned, yet clean, and into a room that contains sixteen or so bunk beds and a communal shower area. It's very late, Very Cold, There are some insects, not many, enough though, no towels, no soap were tired we go to bed, we don't complain, we don't care, we know it sucks, no one has to say anything we know were pissed were going to sleep.

The next morning I awake to absolute chaos. There are French people everywhere, very excited, there is a lot of urgency in the air I am told to get up and come quickly. The back of my throat hurts and my lungs burn...I have no tooth paste. I put my clothes on from the night before and pile into a car and we head into that town I can't spell or pronounce.

I forgot to tell yall... The night prior to this Christoph had brought us to house briefly before the refugee camp. At his house we ate and discussed more thoroughly the week ahead. He played French songs with this great chromatic playing friend of his for us, he sang, he was sexy. What he told us sounded so relaxing and fun, he even told us he would be lending us his blue van so we could come and go from the Refugee camp to town as we please as the Camp was at least a mile or so from town where all the food, cigarettes, coffee etc. were....

So we find out over the course of that week that the van is not going to be left in our possession...food is provided at the refuge camp...but we have to walk/hitch a ride into town. Not too bad right? Stay tuned.

I arrive in the town I can't spell for the first time with the band. It's beautiful and quaint...Too Quaint" as Christoph describes it. It's on a river (Su Cher) and is filled with castle-like and genuine castles, cobblestones, bars, coffee and antique shops and houses older than our country. We were brought to the concert hall witch is gorgeous, immense and perfect for such an event. I'm impressed. The sound company is unloading and I'm told a bassman will arrive shortly for me to test. Christoph leaves taking with him Shawn Starsky to go fetch more equipment. Shawn was a champ the whole trip, never bitching, totally cool. Christoph relays to me that he will be back in a couple of hours or so to get us and bring us back to the Refugee Camp. I go exploring with the rest of the band. We find coffee, cigarettes, beer and all kinds of little shops immediately but after they had closed for a government imposed mandatory two-hour lunch break. Leaving us on foot in this tiny town where no one speaks English, everyone looks at us crazy, and nothing is open. People are strange. When youre a stranger. Faces look ugly. When your alone- Jim Morrison

I'm feeling more sick every minute and return to the concert hall to find the Bassman (Amplifier) and it's owner there. He doesn't know who I am or that the Bassman is for me and speaks no English...his name is Julian. I look at the rig and the tube configuration it's just about perfect minus the green Jensens, which are fine for Europe considering what I had been playing through prior to this. I ask to try the amp and am told sternly "NO!", not by Julian who doesn't know what I'm saying, but by the sound company present who may or may not have known what I was saying. The reasons for my denial are unclear to me. So I put four folding chairs together in the back of the hall, lie down listening to French sound checking, and cough and sneeze myself to sleep for a few hours.
I awake on my own and make my way outside and down the main road where I find the Maki, Buck weed and T-dub enjoying beers with the locals. I soon meet some of the other performers mainly Bare Foot Iano from Australia and some of the fans/mediators of the festival. At last I am in the company of people who speak English again. I explain my misery concerning transportation, The refugee Camp, no towels, insects, my health etc, and I am instantly, that moment, and thus forward treated with kid gloves, and viewed as the arrogant, American, difficult diva/fag.
I'm fairly use to this treatment, perhaps because I do display these character defects fairly often, but I've attempted to relay the facts from our/my point of view up to this point and hope my remaining readers are feeling some empathy for the band and myself.
Bare foot Iano is wild. He's got on 80's Hawaiian clam digger pants (Remember Jam's) and a cowboy hat with an open shirtless leather vest and yes he's bare foot. He's funny as hell and instantly I kind of like him. My real friend ship though comes later from my buddy "Sonny Side Bob" also known as Robert pronounced ho-bear. Bob is terrific. He speaks seven languages is a well-studied harp player has lots of chops good loud tone ( acoustic!) and a great sense of humor. He gives me a ride back to the refuge camp where he is staying as well and we stay up all night talking about everything. He tells me all the stories about how he went to all these black juke joints and Mississippi and all. I' had been to some of them too...were busting up, he tells me " I don't Fuck with the Bothers" I'm rolling...now he's terrific. I love him I teach him some triplet licks and how to bend over blows...he knows everyone, all the harp players...alive dead and in between, he's a quick study to the point where I actually don't want to show him any more. I give up we stay up way to late till some of the other artists arrive back at camp and an impromptu Jam ensues with Bare Foot on guitar, harp players taking turns and a trombonist. The trombone puts an end to the jam as the Refugee camp owners scream at us to stop then slams the door. We all go to bed ...before I lie down I go to the bathroom/ showers there are still no towels, it's still cold, there are still some bugs, the music's over for the night I cough up a little blood then go to sleep with an extra blanket and the taste of iron in my mouth.

That night I awake several times with a terrible flu like symptoms I have only ever experienced, with this much severity, maybe once in my life. The cold air burns the inside of my lungs and it feels as though a baseball has been lodged in the back of my throat. I try repeatedly to swallow it, but it's my throat not a baseball. I know I'm real sick and fear for my performance, dreading also a week in the Refugee camp with no heat, no TV, no English all that shit Americans like.
I awake the next morning to the same chaos of French urgency. We are being told we must switch rooms immediately...I argue and explain my condition to christoph. He's genuinely concerned and we make arrangements to late that day bring me to a Doctor friend of his in a town not far away. We switch rooms to a better more private location in the camp where there is one room with two Japan style about a foot apart. The room is maybe 8 feet long and six feet wide...I'm happy. The other room is a five-bed room with one single Japan bed and two bunks. My room is the one with two bed it has a private shower, Toilet and sink...I also get towels and take my first available shower in three days. Christoph picks me up later and we head to the doctors office. Christoph use to be a nurse...he knows medical people. It's some knifed of French Holiday Like French Easter translated resurrection so I get luck with christoph's medical clout and I see a doctor whose office is in a back room in her house. She's wonderful and has a warm smile, No English, but I feel better in the presence of help. I'm told I have bronchitis and am prescribed some antibiotics; dissolvable stuff and throat lozenges form the pharmacy, which opens for Christoph only that day! Lucky me. No that wasn't sarcastic. Christoph was the best to me. On the second day there I saw this poster in another pharmacy that had all these crazy species of domestic cats on them with little French names under each one. It totally knocked me out but they wouldnt sell it because it was a prom for some cat food or something. Any way I told christoph about it...he goes into the place and two minutes later I have a poster that says Races DE Chats.
I take my meds, and ride with christoph back to town. That night we go to a jam held at a small bar that resembled " The Slaughtered lamb"... was it? Anyway the Bar from the movie an American Were wolf in London. That movie would later come into significance much more again in my adventures...stay tuned sole reader. The jam is Barefoot Ian playing guitar, Buck Weed playing piano (He Plays everything) and various harmonica players. It's completely acoustic. I try to buy a beer for Bob (Sonny Side) It takes a while...Shawn is trying to pick up French girls, Maki is making progress with one from Venezuela that obviously speaks Spanish and Im trying not to cough on people and look happy. There's a film crew there from a Big Time local TV station (The town has like 300 residents) theyre filming and interviewing people about the harp fest it's all very merry. I meet Ben Bouman and from Marble amps and Slidell Harmonicas as well as some other great people and just as I'm blending in I'm asked buy Bare Foot to sit in. I played my first note then a hand comes from behind and some what violently, definitely urgently yanks me back two feet. I nearly loose my balance and as I'm trying to figure out whom to punch the camera guy yells at Bare foot to stop playing so he can film the piano player (BUCK). We were playing music...in a bar...they stopped us to get a shot of Buck and laid hands on me in the most rude and confrontational manner possible. I was appalled...Shit...I'm the damn headliner here...I didn't even want to play in this rustic werewolf dump any way. Later. I find a seat and describe the scenario to my immediate neighbors Bob and Katarina (a good friend of Christoph's) again I am the ungrateful, over reactive, Diva/fag. Fine I already told you I was use to it...doesn't mean I like it. So here's the kicker: right as I settle down and get involved with an unrelated topic of conversation with Bob, the French TV producer interrupts us and asks in English if I would return to the stage and play again so they could get a shot of me! I ask him if he's familiar with the term circus? He is, he assures me. I then ask him if he would like me to do flips or juggle like a good American monkey. He gets the point and leaves without further incident.

That night the best jam took place outside the bar in the cold with four harp players...Ben Bouman, Sonny side a another guy who's name I forgot and myself. It was a one- chord train jam that lasted ten minutes and ten different tempos...the cameras missed it, the audience was us, it was pure, it was perfect, it was music for the sake of music.

I feel the need to now let you know that some very great people will be left out of this story despite my best efforts...chronologically events will be blurred and documented wrong and I will not care enough to go back and change them I am taking that liberty with this piece...by the way this is the seventh day of me attempting to write this piece and more will be reveled about these seven days and the hurdles the themselves have brought. In short I started smoking two days ago and despite my health deteriorating back to very sick again... I feel much better.
My down time in Europe was filled by a great book I was reading for the second time some ten years later by an author named Dennis Genpo. It was a very comical and thought provoking Zen excursion called the "Eye never sleeps". I would get occasional peace from this book and in general felt capable of dealing with the events at hand thanks to the philosophies I was learning again. Dennis Genpo has a great way of westernizing Zen thought. I was less self conscious of my outwardly perceived "negative" image and felt rather complete and unashamed of my American delusion and diva-esque label as a result of this book all the while making an effort not to let my emotions dictate to much of my behavior. I failed mostly but not as bad as I would have minus the book.

The festival began on Thursday and Sonny side and I rode down into town past musicians hoofing it back to camp in time for dinner. I saw the distance home and determined in my head that the walk home/ to town would not be that bad if I had no ride.

Each day held two performances by two separate bands. I will tell you only about the performances I liked. I will say however that the diversity in musical styles was so eclectic and wonderfully rare that little to no competition existed between performers and the music remained like it or not always fresh and exciting.

The First band of Harmonica Su Cher was my favorite. They were sort of a avante gaurde jazz ensemble that included guitar, double bass, trombone and harmonica. All the players played percussion on there instruments. The trombone tapped its slide. The bass slapped the strings and beat on the body, the guitar stroked muted strings and the harmonica player (Chromatic) played the washboard on his super 64 chromatic using metal guitar finger picks against the raised Hohner script and bells and pearls attached to the harp. They were amazing. Technically, emotionally and spiritually moving!
The other band played after them.
After the performance another jam was scheduled in a different bar across the street. The hosting band was a group of bohemian spinal tap like blues guys that were all from different countries ranging from Madagascar to Austria. I don't think any of their first languages were French, I know they spoke no English other than Stevie Ray Vaughn Lyrics. Buck weed became big fans of these guys and immediately attached himself to them for the rest of the trip. They had something in common with Buck that transcended language and brain cells.

So I'm feeling really sick, can't stop coughing, and Im starting to sweat despite the cold temperatures. Bob wants me to jam at the bar. I hear the tone of the wireless mic played through the Pa and decide my health is more important for once. I try to procure a ride back to the Refugee camp but despite my best efforts over the next thirty minutes end up having to face the fact that if I want to leave then I'll have to walk. I'm not fazed and think it might be enjoyable. What follows next is funny: If you called me that week I was in Europe you would have gotten a message from me proclaiming my exit from the music biz and entrance into the field of crypto zoology

After reaching the end of town witch took ten minutes I found myself next to the river at the last street light and end of the sidewalk. Before me lay a dark stretch of road. When I say dark I mean pitch black, you have to understand how black it was. The trees formed a canopy over the highway blocking out any moonlight or starlight from the sky. Both sides of the road had thick woods following them the right being thinner because of the river but impenetrable darkness despite its width. On the left hand side of the road there was the last building of town which stood alone and ominous an old solid stone tomb like structure with one window only on the side about two stories up in the middle, very awkward. It looked to old to be inhabited and not the type of shelter you would expect any one to live in any way. More like an old fort or something. The One window it had faced me and it flashed on and off with white light dancing behind a sheet draped from the inside. It was so wrong, so stereotypically haunted and a foreboding warning that the road ahead would hold other numerous natural and super natural occurrences that may kill me or at best leave me with the story I tell you now.

I thought to myself about how recently I had been not so secretly wishing for death or at least a hospital vacation and decided this trek into darkness was a necessary testimonial of the truth of my words, so I didn't go back to town and get a ride...I walked past the window and into the black, dark, cold silent road. A birth canal into a new world. Transformation. Death maybe.

As I walked away from the last streetlight the darkness completely digested me. It was so dark I could not even see the yellow lines in the center of the road just under my feet. I walked in the center of the road away from the woods on either side without fear of traffic, as there was a higher chance of being run over by horse and buggy than a motor vehicle.

I judged the gradual curves in the road not by the invisible lines under me but from the sand on either side of the road which I could see just enough as it was wider than the lines and lighter in color. I approached a large object on my right hand side. Just as I got close enough (about four feet) able to tell that it was a small camper pulled off to the side of the road. Some one inside the camper started banging violently on thin metal walls of the truck. I jumped a foot, picked up my pace and in ten steps the camper was silent and behind me to dark to see any more. My heart raced faster. I forgot about my cold as adrenalin took over and I began to sing a song off of the second Big Brother and the Holding Company record, self titled, witch featured the first appearance of Port Author Texas's little rocker Janis Joplin. The song was "All is loneliness" and it felt apropos and kept my mind off of the fear while providing a histrionic, and challenging (for me) vocal part. I stopped singing for a second to remember the lyrics when I heard what some of you will doubt. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrr! A f..cng Growl!!!! From the woods a god damn, stinking growl. Here is where American Werewolf in London comes back into my story. I had even thought of the scene while commencing the walk back to camp through the dark and now just like in the movie, just like the first werewolf scene I hear the growl, only it's darker, and in the movie there was two people together walking, and this is not a movie. Is the growl real? I heard it. It was close, just beyond the tree line of the forest on the left hand side of the road. I slowed my pace for fear it was not a Werewolf or my imagination, but a real dog, waiting to attack should I show fear and run like prey. I started to sing again and wondered when the woods would end. Occasionally I looked behind me, it was too dark and made things worse like you hear about when looking down from a great height. I stopped singing again and at the same forgotten lyric I heard after a second of silence the deep angry growl slightly closer and certainly directed at me. It was maybe 100 yards from the place I heard it first. I was being followed, stalked, preyed upon. Finally without warning because of the darkness the canopy overhead ended and the woods cleared on my left where the beast was. I knew from my drive I was close to the road on my right I would need to turn at to go maybe 200 yards to the refugee Camp. It was still so dark that I actually walked past the road on the right by ten feet before seeing the woods on my right appear again and realizing I had just passed it. I found the road and as I made my was up hill 50 or so feet I could make out the side wall of the camp the lights were off but I was almost back and the growling and my singing had stopped entirely for at least ten minutes. Up the drive way and to the door I relaxed until I reached to open the business like glass doors of the camp and my hand pulled the cold metal door grip in vain. It was locked! I knocked rang the bell, yelled and pounded on windows all around the front of the building until I remembered the two doors behind the building that wouldn't lock. They were the doors that were attached to the first room we had stayed in with the communal showers and sixteen beds. They could not be locked from the outside, I had been giving an ancient looking skeleton key to lock them, and had tried earlier in the week to do so and was worried for our guitars and stuff, however even once locked they would pull open any way with the slightest effort. I made my way back down the driveway and into the back gravel parking lot to try. The darkness was back and I could barely see the doors. I tried pulling them open but they were now dead bolted from the inside I yelled very loudly the word "F*CK!" after that the silence was louder than ever before and from that silence I heard once more the growl. This time there were two growls instead of one long one like: GRRRRRRRRR......Grrrrr the second slightly softer and more contemplative. I wanted to cry. I ran this time not worrying about imitating prey. I was prey. I jolted to the front of the building where there was slightly more light, Rang the bell, pounded on the door and finally collapsed out front of the camp, my back against the locked glass I was thinking of breaking. It started to rain. I heard the growl one more time and almost didn't care as the rain fell on my head and leather jacket. I was sick, and afraid and alone in the foreign countryside of France. I was pissed that a few nights earlier they had shut our jam session down for volume but couldnt be bothered to wake up for all my yelling, pounding and doorbell ringing. No one cared about me. No one would believe me. No one could ever know what I was feeling at that moment. After thirty or so minutes a car pulled up to the camp and I knew I was not alone any more and would probably not be eaten alive. So that's the wolf story. Im going to have to wrap this up a little quicker here.

Finally after some rest and relaxation we got a great sound check. I did some fun teaching seminars with Sonny side as my translator, had a great lunch with Dave Fertig and his wife, and got to hang out with Ben Bouman some more. That Night at the show The Band and I together feel we had one of very best performances ever if not the best. We heard this was recorded off the board and though I don't really ever like board tapes I'm still sort of anxious to hear this one. The next day, thanks to Christoph and his friends, we were set up with a ride back to Brussels it cost significantly less than our ride down to France but still managed to drain the last of our funds/profits. The ride was long but we were all happy to be going home. We got to Brussels checked into a hotel and crashed after taking a cab into to town to get some very hard to find food at 11:00 pm. The next day we awoke Maki had already boarded a shuttle to the airport (He was leaving a day before us) so Buck, T-dub, Shawn and I decided to go into Brussels. I have been asked not to really tell a lot about that day so I won't. The guys crashed one last time in Belgium, one last time in Japan beds and I watched Spanish TV all night too excited to sleep and with no alarm clock and no available wake up call I was not going to miss that plane home to Brady.

The next morning we got to the Plane, and flew home to the good ole U.S. of A. On the plane ride home a 12-hour and a six-hour lay over, I didnt smoke just chewed nicorette gum thats what gave me the big idea to quit. So there was more believe it or not I left out a whole mess of things but no one probably read this far any way all the way through unless they were looking for their name. Sorry man.

Recent updates since being home.

Good News

1.) I quit smoking for a week.

2.) Brady and I moved into our new house, which we painted together and had a wonderful time being together even with all the stressed out event you will read about later.

3.) I got a few studio sessions at home which brought me some much needed cash and had fun doing them.

4.) Brady is real close to finishing an even better, more interactive website for the band. Coming soon!

5.) McDonalds again.

Bad News.

1.) My cold got worse when I got back forcing me to cancel three shows plus other developments caused me to miss my Harp seminar in Atlanta.

2.) We have sunk three thousand dollars into our Van over the last month and upon arriving home found it necessary to fix the Catalytic converter, the breaks, and get a tune up this was another 2,000.00$ It also took way more time than expected causing more gig cancellations. The van is still not really road ready but were leaving anyway. After 1,500 shows over the last five years I have missed 9 which has as I'm learning given me the reputation of UNDEPENDABLE!

3.) I went back to smoking after a week.

4.) Moving sucks obviously.