Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Damon Johnson

There is a bond that happens between musicians occasionally that transends age, sex, history and religion.  And that is what Steve will always have with Damon Johnson.

It could have been awkward, would the veteran come back in to upset the apple cart?

But instead there came a magic and I will miss watching that magic on the shows between Steve and Damon, two good people, two great players, mutual respect on both sides.  

How can I feel happy and sad at the same time? Well, happy because Damon is moving on to join his dream and sad because he will be so greatly missed.

We all love you Damon, you are an awesome guy and an awesome player.

Time to move on and look forward to what lies ahead with eager anticipation, watch this space.

Pic taken by me in Clakson, Michigan on the last show with Damon.

pic by Casey Page (Billings Gazette)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And the earth moved!

Lots to catch up on, but I have to tell you about last Tuesday!

Firstly I should explain how Steve came to have a contact lens on the end of his finger the day the earth shook.

With the help of Dr Randy McLaughlin, who is a Professor of Ophthalmology at Ohio State University, Steve has been able to wear contact lenses onstage.
This means he can see the neck of the guitar and the tape fret markers a little better although beyond that is still difficult.

With a new prescription for glasses to combine with the lenses we hope he will have slightly better vision for distance and reading.
This is not a miracle cure as he still lives with damaged optic nerves from the Pigmentary Glaucoma; there are still many blind spots, as well as cloudy or blurred areas.
But it does help and we are eternally grateful to Randy for his expertise, faith and friendship  and to the boss for bringing Randy into our lives.

The lenses are difficult for Steve to put in and take out, as he cannot see his fingers, the mirror or the lens on the end of his finger. But, each day he works at getting them in and out with as little fuss as possible.

So, there we were in Scranton, Pennsylvania for a couple of days including a day off. It was the night of the show, Tuesday August 23rd 2011, Steve had a shower and before he got dressed we began the process of putting in the first lens. He had it on the end of his finger and I was helping guide his finger to his eye when suddenly the walls in the bathroom began to rock! After the first few seconds Steve said, “I think we are having an earthquake”, I thought, “no, no, no, there must be a very fat person upstairs doing the conga”. We are not in California, how can there be an earthquake?
The walls kept rocking backwards and forwards as my completely naked man and I stood in the bathroom of the hotel, six floors up. The contact lens on the end of his finger waiting to find a home on his eye!

I thought it lasted at least 2 minutes but Steve assures me that it only lasted about 25 seconds. He is an old hand at earthquakes having lived in LA for 30 years but I on the other hand found the whole thing very disconcerting to say the least! How dare a whole building, probably built in the 40’s, rock backwards and forwards like a house of cards!

Just a little reminder that us mortals are borrowing this time from Mother Earth and she occasionally shows us that she is in charge.
I thank her and God that it was not worse, we were able to get that lens in and continue with our day.
I was pretty freaked out but my lovely husband was neither shaken or stirred.

Photo by Cari Paige

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back on the road

We spent a couple of weeks back in Nashville; time to get a ton of washing done and slip back into our normal daily routine. 
We lead an extremely quiet life at home. Steve cooks a big breakfast every morning then after checking his email he will work on music on and off the rest of the day.
We did manage to fit in some of our walks to the store, the trail near us runs almost parallel to the main road but it winds along the edge of a golf course and you quickly feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Time to reflect on the last twelve weeks of the tour, some of it seemed like a dream already. 

The US leg was only going to be three weeks away so the packing could be downsized, we really went mad and actually got things down to two small carry on sized main cases.
Now, I am out here on the road and running out of things to wear, ha ha so much for that plan!

First show was Billings Montana, not a large venue but important for everybody; band and crew all needing to get back into gear. The audience was great and a good night was had by all.

This leg was going to be all bus travel, we would be criss crossing the East Coast and Mid West.
I already knew I would have some trouble sleeping on the bus from the last time so this time I was ready with various strategies to deal with it.
I eventually decided that Melatonin was a good way to go although I have a stronger alternative if things get out of hand. Being overtired is not good on a busy show day, we all depend on each other to be on the case and so far this leg things are way better (:

On the subject of depending on each other I want to give a little mention about Steve's guitar tech Brian. He has worked hard to find ways to help my man deal with the various problems that crop up with being partially sighted in a live situation . It takes ingenuity to find strategies for a problem that is out of the norm for any tech and he is doing a fantastic job, I thank him for that.

Steve with Brian

Next up Buffalo Chip and a whole bunch of Harley Motorbikes and leather!

When I woke up in my bunk the next day I had no idea what a change of scenery would unfold in front of me outside. We were in Sturgis, South Dakota and it was simply stunning.
Miles of trees and huge jutting rocks, it reminded me of the grandness of Sedona in AZ, a place we would move to if we ever won the lottery!

We were also surrounded by motorbikes of every color and size you can imagine. All lovingly cared for by their owners and admired by their fellow owners. There were leather clad peeps everywhere! Again, all shapes, sizes, colors and functions.

Steve and I were hungry for some breakfast so we walked across the grass from the hotel lodge to the restaurant. As we passed by the bikes and owners we almost wanted to hop on one and ride off into the distance. That's what they could do, just take off and glide their way through the beautiful open landscape.    

Exactly at the same time that we walked in through the front door, another couple were doing the same thing and that morning we were lucky enough to make two new friends. 

Dave and Sue each have their own Harley motorbikes, Dave has that weathered biker look, almost like he was carved from the surrounding scenery, very tanned with sparkling eyes and an easy smile. Sue is warm, open and easy to talk to.

After having breakfast together we went to look at their Harley's; they were magnificent, with a glittered finish on the paint work, they were more like moving works of art.
Dave offered to take Steve for a ride down through the ravine, this was a thrill for someone who has always dreamed of owning and riding a Harley but who has had to come to terms with the fact that this would be impossible with such poor sight.

However, Steve does intend to own one someday and says he will park it in the living room, yay!

When they came back 15 minutes later it was my turn. Oh my goodness what an experience! The power of that bike was awesome. Dave wound his way down through the rocks alongside a small river, it was a thrill as he did a couple of bursts of high speed. The wind seemed to press my face flat, the engine roared and  I envied the freedom the two of them must feel when they go traveling.

Ironic that Steve and I were in awe of them as they rode around the country on these amazing machines and in turn they were in awe of us as we travelled around in our own sort of machine, albeit a rock band!

They came to the show that night, we were very happy to return the favor of giving them an experience they did not expect, but for us, that day was unforgettable. 

Dave, Steve and Sue

After the show

Saturday, August 13, 2011

La La Land and Seymour Duncan

Steve and I stopped off in Los Angeles before going home to Nashville at the end of the last leg of the AC tour.
We had a couple of important things to do, one was to meet up with a record label and the other was to go see Seymour Duncan the legendary guitar pick up guru.
We deliberately planned the record label meeting at the Village Coffee Shop at the top of Beachwood Drive in Hollywood right underneath the Hollywood sign.
We used to live on that road and wanted to walk past our old apartment. It holds many memories for us including the recording of Steve's wonderful album 'Hymns For Guitar' which was done right there in the living room.

The next trip was Santa Barbara on a train to Seymour Duncan's factory, I love American trains, they are double deckers and we sat upstairs as we wound our way up the beautiful coastline, relaxed after the grueling ten weeks on the road.

Seymour and his staff made us so welcome, Steve was in his element, catching up on the progress of his beloved custom Gretsch guitars which were having new pick ups placed so they could be back on the tour for the next leg.

Seymour and Steve