We set off early on Friday 16th January, driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. The truck was loaded to almost full capacity, it’s amazing how much stuff you need to travel with when you have a baby onboard!
Our first port of call was Uncle G’s house (Graham Bonnet), we drove to North L.A. County and picked him up and added his guitar and suitcase to the now full truck. Graham sat in the back seat of the truck and entertained Skye, singing to her and keeping her occupied. Graham looked well and was in his usual high spirits, although he had a cough/cold that was slowly developing.
The 50 mile drive from Graham’s to Anaheim was a nightmare… The shitty traffic on the shitty 5 freeway through Los Angeles was at a complete standstill, crawling along at a snail’s pace then stopping every few feet. What should have been a 50 minute drive turned into a 5 1/2 hour epic… Skye soon got bored and fed up of being in her baby car seat and decided to turn the rest of the journey into a screaming tantrum fest… Just what we didn’t need! The weather was nice though, a balmy 89F.
We arrived in Anaheim, but due to roadworks on the freeway, the turn off we needed was unavailable (and not sign posted!! >:-/) so we of course got lost… Two sets of bad directions later from drive-thru’s, we finally arrived at Graham’s hotel and got him checked in. We then went on a quest to locate our hotel and once we had, it was time to unload the truck and relax for all of one hour before the guys came over to run through the NAMM set list.
We quickly ran through the songs, trying to be as quiet as possible to not disturb the neighbors. Laughter and impromptu bursts into Elvis’ ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and Buddy Holly’s ‘It’s So Easy’ quickly made us forget about the gruelling day we’d all had. It was nice to spend time with the guys, it was a shame Kevin Valentine couldn’t make it that night, although we saw him the following day.
Left to right: Me, Graham, Eric Ragno and Tim Luce.
Myself, Shawna and Skye arrived at the NAMM show on Saturday 17th and were met by Fishman’s Marketing Director and Artist Relations manager Chris DeMaria at the main entrance. Despite being run off his feet, Chris was super helpful and easliy one of the best people I’ve ever met representing a musical equipment company at a trade show. Graham, Tim, Eric and Kevin were already at the Fishman booth. Kevin explained that the drum pads he’d borrowed from Roland weren’t going to work for the performance due to their size and the amount of time required to get them set up. This was sad news, as we were all looking forward to playing together, and as a result of the lack of drums I decided to drop ‘Ritual’ (Entranced (2007)) from the set list as I didn’t think it would sound right the way we’d arranged it for the show. Kevin stayed throughout the performance though, and my daughter Skye fell in love with him :-)
The guys: (left to right) Graham Bonnet, Kevin Valentine, Eric Ragno, me and Tim Luce.
We had a short soundcheck, but there was so much noise (as usual!) at the NAMM show it was hard to hear our mix and sound. Graham wasn’t very well as the cough and cold had developed overnight and the NAMM ‘noise police’ were constantly checking the booths (during our performance we were told to turn the volume down)… But despite this, we all enjoyed the performance and everyone thought that the Fishman Aura pedals and amps were amazing! (My nylon strung guitar shown in the photos and videos is going to Fishman’s HQ in Massachusetts in a couple of weeks’ time to have Aura Imaging technology fitted directly into it, they’re going to create custom auras of the actual guitar for me so I’ll get the best possible amplified sound - very cool!)
Seconds before the show started…
Side view of the stage.
The songs we played were (in order): 1. ‘It’s All Over Now Baby Blue’ by Bob Dylan, and covered by Graham on his first solo album, 2. ‘Desert Song’ - MSG, 3. ‘Will You Be Home Tonight’ - Alcatrazz and 4. ‘Love’s No Friend’ - Rainbow.
‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’
‘Will You Be Home Tonight’
Eric & Graham
L.A. based music video director Karpis Maksudian was at the show with TV hostess Alicia Gentile who interviewed us afterwards. Seymour Duncan was there too, he was such a nice guy. Larry Fishman was very cool also; all the Fishman people were exceptionally nice.
Post show - Left to right: Graham, Chris DeMaria, Seymour Duncan, me and Eric.
Me & Karpis Maksudian.
Me, Graham, Shawna and Skye stayed together at the show, and went downstairs into Hall E to visit Nick Campling, inventor and owner of the wonderful G7th Performance Capo that both Graham and I use.
Graham, me & Skye with Nick Campling (center).
At around 4pm we left the convention center with Graham and went back to our hotel room. Skye was very tired and needed a nap. Shawna had been on her feet all day, acting as photographer, baby handler and spokeswoman for the band, she looked tired and needed to rest. Graham and I jumped back into the truck and went out for dinner at an Italian Restaurant not far from the convention center, we later took a takeaway from the same restaurant back to Shawna then I drove Graham back to his hotel.
On Sunday, Tim dropped Graham off at our hotel and the two of us loaded the truck. The traffic back to Graham’s house in North L.A. was great as it was Sunday afternoon, it only took us 50 minutes to get there. We stopped for burgers and tacos with Graham then dropped him off at home. The journey back to Vegas was pretty good, the Pearblossom Highway was as picturesque as always and traffic was good all the way through. It took us four hours (with two stops) to get from Graham’s to our place, we got back home at 7pm.