Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Steve, Satch and Jason

The benefit concert was held at a club called Slims in downtown San Francisco, not a big place and I think they had to turn a few people away in the end as the line stretched around the block.
There were about 650 people in the room, downstairs were dressing rooms for all the different musicians who were there to lend their support to Jason.

I was not sure what to expect, Steve and I are not metal guitar/shredder aficionados so all I knew was that there would be loud music and maybe lots of leather!
What I found were a whole bunch of musicians who showed such affection for their friend, long hair abounded and so did the love.  They were all so good at what they do, fast playing, dexterity and excitement.

Most of the night was taken up with full bands apart from Marty Friedman who had flown in from Japan for the gig, so he used a backing track but played so well and with such intensity and feeling that you forgot there was not a band up there with him. A gentle and generous man with a mane of black curly hair who had travelled such a huge distance to support his old recording mate Jason.

When we were introduced I said "Hello, can I have your hair" he laughed and said "Hello, can I have your accent".

I knew Jason wanted Steve to play but we were not sure how or when that might happen. Steve would need a band behind him and he had told Dave Lopez the organizer that the best way to go was to do a blues, but who with?

The night started around 9pm, the line up of music just got better and better, I was looking forward to the last couple of guys, Richie Kotzen and the great Joe Satriani. Steve and I normally go to bed at 9pm, so you can imagine us sitting in a crowd for three hours past bed time. Enjoying the night but gradually falling asleep in the dark.

I was beginning to think Steve would not get to play, if that was so I was sorry for Jason more than anything, Steve was his normal pragmatic self, saying he was just happy to be there and to have spent time with his old buddy. 
He had sat clutching one of Jason's guitars in a case all night but maybe it was doomed to stay in there. 

Around midnight, Terry, one of Jason’s loyal and lovely friends who had been so helpful to us on our visit appeared at my side. He shouted in my ear " Joe Satriani has asked Steve to play a blues with him, do you think Steve will be up for that?" My prayers had been answered; Steve might get to play after all! I turned to Steve "Do you know Satriani?" "No" says Steve, "Well he has asked you to join him onstage for a number". 

As it turned out Joe was sat quietly in the dark watching from the side, just a few feet from us, an unassuming, small man who hid his huge onstage persona perfectly in the crowd.
Terry guided Steve over to speak to Joe and it was decided they would do a Jeff Beck song called 'Going Down', Steve had played it before, thirty years ago!!

It was my job then to find out how Steve would get onstage and plug in, a job normally sorted out by tour crew given his blindness.
I found Joe on the stairs leading down to the dressing rooms and introduced myself. I explained that Steve was nearly blind, he had no idea, few people do but he was grateful to know the situation.

Terry helped me locate the stage manager and then in turn Joe's guitar tech who was amazing and took control of the situation. 
We found ourselves onstage at the back where we waited for the three songs before Steve went on to join Joe and his extraordinary bass player and drummer.

It was like a wall of sound! Steve says he felt a musical kick in the ass and realized he had to just hold on tight till the train stopped. What a tight band! Joe was so generous and respectful, he beamed from ear to ear as he and Steve traded licks.

Steve does not realize just how many people including Joe Satriani have followed his career and admire his work. 

They brought the house down, the crowd went mad and Steve looked so happy to be there.
It was a truly amazing experience, everything; San Francisco, Haight Ashbury, Jason and his wonderful family and friends and finally a night of music not to be forgotten for a man not to be forgotten.

The film crew captured the whole thing so I will look forward to that!

Here is my view of the stage:

Middle pic by Kris Claerhout

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