Tourblog (6) – gig one: De Reehorst – Ede (NL)

The first gig of the tour!  It is going to be great!!

The gig went great, it was very late until I was in bed, like 04:00 am….. To tired right now (the day after the second gig in Zaandam, 03:20 am) to write anything more, so I will catch up tomorrow!
sleep tight!
OK…. It is quite some days later now, and we have done 4 gigs now. I am very sorry for not writing the blog, but I did not had the time or energy to do so. But now it is Thuesday, October 28, and I am sitting in my livingroom, in the sun, enjoying a new CD by female jazz singer and bass player Esperanza Spalding. Also enjoying a nice brunch with some great sandwiches. We have a few days off, before we will play two gigs in Germany.
Ok, the gig at De Reehorst.
Man, that day was just crazy, but I loved it! The whole day we where playing, tweaking, rehearsing, tweaking more, and finally around 4 pm we had it all in the pocket. So it was time to relax. For the band that is. I had to set up the sound and lights for the aftershow, and had a lot to do for the other gigs. After Domino’s Pizza delivered 30 pizza’s! We all had diner, and a lot of laughs. Man, this crew and band together is just one big bag of jokes and funny moments.
We had a support act before we had to play. This was Nuclear Playground. And they stole the show!! They really did. Man, they are good. You can see a bit over here of the show they did in Ede:

Nuclear Playground

This was the last song of the 30 minute set they played, and the audience probably really liked it: they sold over 60 CD’s that night. I think we will hear much more from these guys!
When we hit the stage there where over 300 to 350 people in the audience. It was so much fun to see all those familiar faces, and to see so much friends in the audience. I think the band played great, and the sound was great also. That is one of the things that we hear after every show, that Alco did a great job on the sound. So we where very happy.
I was so curious how people would react on the set list. I, personally love this set, is it so much fun to play these songs, and I could see that you all where enjoying it also 😉
After the show, and during the small break we had the band Green November playing. These are friends of mine, and I recorded and produced there debut album. It was a nice atmosphere, talking with all these friends and fans, having some nice live music being played, it really felt nice there.
Friend and great help Mattias Vanderhoeven made some beautiful pictures, so after the tour I will update my picture page, with some new pictures of the tour.
I met with the French Inner Circle friend, better known as Hylika, and he gave me a big box. He said that he has red my blog from the 17th about me enjoying a great wine. So he gave me this box with 4 great wines from his area, and a bottle of Calvados. Together with two really smelly, but oh, so good tasting french cheeses, and a big can full with French cookies. What a treat! Now that is something to come home to after the tour. 😉 Hey Hylika, thanks man! Jessica and I are going to enjoy this!!
But then came the after-after show. The breaking down of the gear and sound system. A lot of work…. man…. We all were sooo tired after the gig (band AND crew, as we worked all week to get it all done), so with the last strength in us we digged in to the PA and gear. Around 03:30 am we crawled out of the venue to our homes. I was in bed at 04:00 am. And we had to be at De Kade at noon, so you can imagine that we did not have much sleep at all.
BUT…. it was worth it. We can look back on a great first gig, so very satisfied I fell asleep…

Tourblog (5) – rehearsal day three and other great happenings

Today was the third day of the rehearsals in the theater. well….. sort of…

A good rehearsal is always depending on certain aspects. Material to play, a focussed group of musicians,  a good work-environment etc. And no distractions. And there it is, where it can go wrong. When gear fails you, or when you need to make to many phone calls, or…. when you are getting two boxes of goodies…. It can all distract you from the rehearsal. Well. Luckily it did not distract us to much, but sometimes you need to have some time invested in your gear. Failing drumheads where one of my distractions for instance, and I think everyone had one or more today. But still, the playing was great.
Well, the goodie boxes I got today where from Vater Drumsticks and Rode Microphones. I have an endorsement with Vater Drumsticks, and they made me a signature drumstick. Yesterday I got these sticks, and they look cool, but more importantly: they play great. I have two wood types: hickory and maple. Depending on the song, I take the hickory (louder songs) or the maple (softer songs). The box was loaded with sticks and some nice t-shirts and stuff. Only 5 minutes after the Vater box was delivered, they brought me another box that was delivered at the theater. This one is from Rode. The box contained a few great sounding microphones we will use during this tour. That is just so much fun, to play and sing through these great sounding mics.
After the rehearsals that went from 10:00 am to like 19:00 (with a lot of breaks, phone calls, goodie boxes ;), and other stuff). Alco came in at 19:00 and started to build the main sound system. I think it will sound great in this theater. The mixing desk he is using s a top notch digital mixing desk (Venue) from Digidesign (the market leader in studio hardware and software (Protools). In the evening we where soundchecking and it sounded great. There was a natural flutter echo problem at certain points in the theater, but it seems that it is a design flaw of the theater. But luckily you wont hear that if you are sitting in the theater.
Well as I write this it is like 08:00 am of the first concert day. A long, long day ahead and so much to do…
So I’m singing off right now, and hope to see a lot of you tonight, or at one of the gigs. I can’t wait!


Tourblog (4) – rehearsal day two

Today was the second day of the rehearsals in the theater. Neal came in, and we had a blast!

Today we started a little later ‘cause Neal would come in around noon, so I gave the band a free morning to relax a bit. I did not do that, I had to do a lot of tour managing stuff, so that was also good to take care of.
Neal arrived around noon, and after lunch we set his gear up. For this tour we have a few new gear-things. For example Neal will use a CME VX7 master keyboard. This is a good master keyboard, without any sounds, as Neal is getting all of his sounds out of his Apple Macbook Pro with Mainstage (that is a part of Logic, and holds all of his sounds). Actually Neal, Henk and Jessica are using Mainstage. We got some killer Mellotron and Moog samples, that sound really good! WE NEED MORE MELLOTRON!!! 😉 So after installing the new keyboard, Berry (the guitartech for this tour) came and helped setting up the guitar rig of Neal.
Finally when all the correct sounds where dialed in, we started to play. ‘Cant say which song, but it rocked straight away! It felt really good to play with Neal again, and there was a vibe to it, I have not yet felt before. The band really locked with Neal, and you can hear that this is to fourth time we play with Neal. It is maturing, and that feels really great. It is really not a session-band anymore. We are getting more and more in the ‘band-zone’. But hey, that is how I experienced it., from where I sit: the best seat in the building! 😉 By the way, did I tell you that the set list is a killer one? Hehehe… 🙂
Can’t wait to play this music when you are all there! Hope to see you soon on one of the gigs.
Tomorrow we will continue rehearsing the material, so I need to be fresh. So I will sign off now, and greet you all!
Until the next time!


Tourblog (2) – more preperations

pppfffff…. there is so much to do in so little time….
but finally I now have some time for some great music and a nice glass of wine…

…. and to write a blog.

At this moment we are few days before the start of the full band rehearsals, this coming Monday. Yesterday we played with the band (without Neal of course) through the set one more time, and timed it. If we play all the material we have prepared for the main set, we will have in almost 3,5 hours of music. IT’S A LOT!!!! Man, but it is also soooo much fun to play this music. You will love this collection of Neal’s greatest! We won’t play it all on one night, as we will try to alternate the sets as much as possible. But that is also up to you. If you really want us to play more, just scream and whistle us back on that stage 😉

So most of the things are ready, and I just opened a nice bottle of wine, put on some great music (the Cd ‘Erotic Cakes’ of the amazing British guitar player Guthrie Govan.
Anyways Tonight I am checking the payments of the tickets sold for the warm-up gig here in Ede. Just finished a conversation with someone of the theater. This Sunday we will start setting up and preparing the monitor system.

That’s maybe nice to tell you more about our monitoring system. Since like 2006 I started using the AVIOM system, a personal monitoring system, which lets the player make his own mix out of 16 channels or sub-mixes the sound guy provides. Very ideal, full control, and great sound.
Many times the sound in the hall it self is very loud, because of the screamingly loud monitors and amps on stage. And it makes it very hard for the sound guy to make something beautiful out of it. So with that in mind, just to make the sound for you guys the best as possible, we all go with in-ear monitoring, through this AVIOM system.
This time will be also the debut of Elisa’s new battle axe. He has an endorsement with De Gier Guitars, a custom guitar builder here in The Netherlands, that are making beautiful guitar and bass guitars. We have an extra guitar for Neal to try and use during this tour.

Unfortunately I will not bring my whole double-bass-gongdrum-octoban-drummonster with me. Normally I have to friends of mine that help me as my drumtech with setting up and breaking down the kit, as I am also the tour manager, and have a lot of things to take care off before and after the shows. They both are called Ruben, so not to be mistaken we have Kruben and Sruben. Kruben is in South Afrika and Sruben is not available all the time because of his busy job. Luckilly he will be at some of the gigs. But for the most part I have to do it myself, and that’s why I bring just a part of my kit with me this time. Don’t worry, when I say small… most of the people still are like… man… what a big kit 😉 But still this set-up right now is much more flexible and easier to drag along.
Tomorrow will be the day of last shopping (I need a bigger cowbell, a guiro (which song will that be…. 🙂 ) and some new small cymbals, as I broke my self made cheap-ass Stagg stacks (a combination of a mini-china on top of a splash). They cost almost nothing, but are broken easily.

So all is well in tour-prepare-land, and while Jessica is away doing a concert somewhere in The Netherlands, I will take a zip of my wine, and maybe watch a movie.

Talk to you later! Proost!


Tourblog (3) – rehearsal day one

Today was the first day of the rehearsals in the theater. It started with setting up all the gear, and making sounds etc.
Actually yesterday I started setting up the monitoring part of the sound system with Alco, our sound technician. Today we finished that and when Wilco, Henk and Elisa came in, we set up all the instruments. The rest of the day we spend with getting the right sounds, and playing through the hardest parts of the set. The theater sounds great, and it is a great place to see a prog concert, if you ask me 😉
Wanna see where you can sit on Thursday?

Tomorrow Neal will arrive, so then we will start rehearsing with him somewhere in the afternoon.
Well a ton of things to take care of tonight, so I better hurry up, more to follow tomorrow.