Hey, I've Got and Idea! Let's Drive All Night!

Clear skies and dry roads make the final five hours to Denver seem like a breeze and we roll into the Mile High City with time to spare. The Historic Paramount Theater, in the heart of downtown, is typical of many previous venues - a rustic but well decorated performance hall. After making a run at the catering room for dinner, we get set up and actually have time to sound check by running through two songs.

There's One of These Every Five Miles in Kansas

Inside the Historic Paramount Theater

Show time and our set goes really well - possibly the best of the 18 nights. We pull the audience in with the first few tunes and Ned swoons them with Hallelujah. We finish them off with Sons and Daughters. Twice my left stick gets caught underneath my left crash cymbal, threatening to bounce it out of my hand. My now infamous Ninja-like reflexes keep disaster at bay. At the CD signing in the lobby we're complimented with comments like "tight," "really big," and "you guys rock!" These are the things that make it worth the effort.

After the Show - Malcolm, Dave and Ned - Before the Drive

Speaking of effort, like nearly all nights, we end the night by getting in the van and driving. Our plan is to drive to the Salt Lake City area, sleep, and finish the drive home the next day. However, not far west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, we drive into glassy-iced roads, fog and then snow. Here's the deal: southern Wyoming has an elevation of about 6,500 feet and Interstate 80 is notorious for closing due due winter storms. In fact, there are barricades about every 30 miles poised to swoop down accompanied by signs stating "Exit here when lights are flashing." Our fear is being caught halfway across the state in a storm and not getting out until early spring. So, at 3:00 a.m., we decide to push through. As day breaks we cross into Utah after passing about a dozen semi-trucks skidded off the road (someone's not getting their Christmas presents on time) along with a few cars.

At 9:30 we arrive at Ogden, Utah, and, to celebrate our successful passage, we take a break for breakfast before piling back in the van for the final 4.5 hours to Boise. At 4:00 p.m., we're unloading the van. We've been awake, more or less, for 30 hours and we're beat.

After 27 days on the road, we've driven 11,000 miles. That's an average of 407 miles each day. That's kind of like driving from Boise to Portland every day and then playing a 30-minute set. Would we do it again? Sure, why not? And we WILL in two weeks - starting in Seattle on January 8 and ending in Houston on the 20th... ten more shows with Ned, Malcolm, Dave, Burt along with Joe and his gang.

So join up again to TOUR ALONG WITH TODD in the new year. Until then... Happy Holidays!

Winding Down

First, let me add the I learned Art actually did some drumming for Dylan during his ten year tenure and also at a time was in charge of auditioning musicians for him...

OK, on with the new post....

Ahhhh, sleeping in! And laundry facilities to boot! Add a good cup of coffee and that's just about a perfect day on the road. After a late hotel check-out and a quick drive to the venue I have time to attempt Christmas shopping. I know WHAT I'm looking for and have hope the massive Macy's across the street will meet my needs. I am mistaken... I walk in from the cold and am greeted by all of humanity, but they're well dressed and in the holiday spirit. This store is eight floors of shopping love... and I'm pretty sure they have a large warehouse somewhere just to store the Christmas decorations during the off season. After escaping Macy's I move on to Sears and deduce all Sears' shoppers are at Macy's. I head back to the venue, empty handed...

The Chicago Theater is an ornate concert hall built in the 1920s and is said to be the first movie/vaudeville theater in the United States. It was saved from demolition a few years back and today serves as an anchor entertainment facility in the heart of Chicago. Indeed, Jerry Seinfeld took the stage of the 3,600 capacity hall the night before our show.

The Concert Poster Outside the Chicago Theater

The Catering Line

It's show time and the hall is nearly full as we make our way down the three flights of stairs to the stage. The stairways are a who's who of autographs and at times, pop art. Who knows if Joel Grey's signature for Cabaret is authentic... maybe, maybe not... but you can rest assured OUR signatures are the real deal.

A Sample of the Prolific Artwork/Grafitti in the Chicago Theater's Hallways

Playing goes well again. Ned's pedal board isn't working and forces some adjustments on his part, but the audience doesn't know or care as we quickly move through our seven songs. While leaving stage I succumb to a request from the front row for a drum stick... it helped that the request came from a young woman (though not as lovely as Natalie).

After signing CDs in the lobby we get packed up and depart the Windy City on our way to the Uptown Theater in Kansas City. At 4:00 a.m. we stop at a Days Inn for the night, well positioned for an easy drive to the venue.

Up at the crack of noon and in the van at 1:00 p.m. We arrive Kansas City in relative balmy weather and get set for our next to last show for this leg of the tour. Our set goes really well and we have a few folks who give us a standing ovation as we leave the stage. That feels pretty damn good... And we sell and sign at least 20 CDs post-set... with comments about being "tight" and "full of energy.  That's how we like it.

The Audience at Kansas City

And now... another late night drive. This time halfway across Kansas on our way to Denver.

Check back for new photos to recent posts and a new post...

Going Industrial

The night at the Strathmore seems sooo long ago. However, I do remember we were well received and were greeted by a line of concert goers after our performance to sign CDs. We had an official roped-off area for the signing... I keep reminding myself not to get used to it.

As goes tradition, we end the night by driving... this time 4 hours north to the Pittsburgh area and another Econo Lodge - halfway to tomorrows concert in Detroit.

It's easy to forget, but there remains an industrial belt along the southern shores of the Great Lakes - and this is especially apparent along Lake Erie. I've never passed by a steel mill. Besides being a massive facility with steam and smoke and piles of raw ingredients waiting to be consumed, there's an equally sized power production facility right next door. I can only imagine this panorama at the industry's peak.

The night's performance at the Fillmore Detroit goes really well. Detroit has long been associated with Rock music... and the local audience certainly fills its role as a rock loving crowd... and Ned signed a bunch of CDs.

The Fillmore Detroit


Malcolm Staying Healthy with a Fruit Smoothie

Friday night's show at the House of Blues in Cleveland goes well too... Earlier in the day we received a Twitter request from a local Ned fan asking us to play Red Red Room. Sure enough, Ned acknowledged the request and the guy was in the audience... and yes, we played Red Red Room..

Malcolm, Jeff and Ned Surveying Cleveland's House of Blues Backstage Grafitti

Today while driving to Chicago I see more of the Rust Belt... and a bit of downtown Chicago as we arrive at the Hampton Inn... our second real hotel of the tour...

Tonight was the tour's official party... to which we were invited. It was a casual affair at an Italian restaurant a short cab ride away. The food was remarkable, but no more than the 2005 vintage Cabernet and olive oil pressed yesterday at Mick Bridgen's Sonoma, CA. vineyard/orchard (Mick is Joe's manager). Had I not known, this could have been a party for nearly anyone... 20 or so mostly middle-aged men - only two with really long hair - and a lone woman (Lindsey) hamming it up. Yet the people at the table have been in the Rock business for decades. Across from me sits Arthur, Jeff's drum technician... mild mannered, with short white hair, in his late 50's perhaps. Art's the person who makes Jeff's life easier by setting drums up, tearing them down, and a bunch of associated stuff in between. Art's done a lot; early on as a member of Bob Dylan's small road team, then work with iconic rock promoter Bill Graham, the band Jefferson Starship and many others. He also worked as a videographer for 60 Minutes from 2000-2002. And that's just Art... similar histories are seated around the table.

All Around Nice Guy - Arthur - Jeff's Drum Technician

A Tale of Two Cities

The weather's working in our favor... it's rainy and relatively warm. This is a good thing as just days earlier the forecast for the Montreal region was snow and more snow. We depart the Econo Lodge in Burlington and make the border crossing without incident an hour later, although this time we had to exit the van and sit inside the building for 30 minutes while they run our passports... I think they just want to see if any of us gets nervous/anxious. Another hour and we're swooping into Montreal and the Metropolis concert hall. I've always liked Montreal and while this is my first winter visit, I still enjoy the general atmosphere (or I guess I should say, "ambiance" with an accent, n'est-ce pas?

The venue is a beehive of activity as the video crew is on site to record Joe's performance for a DVD... in HD and 3D. As we're now used to, we have time to set-up and do a quick line check before vacating the stage. Dinner and pre-show warm ups done, we go on at 8:00. Tonight's crowd is already in the mood and our job is easy. The stage and hall sound is superb and we thoroughly enjoy our time.

The Camera Crew Prepares to Record the Show

A Peek Inside the Recording Truck - Recording in HD and 3D

We stay long enough to take in most of Joe's set before driving back to Burlington. The rain is heavy and persistent and is complimented by ground fog. Man-o-man we're happy it's not 10 degrees colder. With our final border crossing accomplished with ease, we roll into the Burlington Econo Lodge at 2:00 a.m. only to find our room key cards no longer work... a minor inconvenience that's remedied in 10 minutes or so.

Four hours later we're slogging our way out of bed, packing up and getting ready to drive the six hours to New York City. Our concern is simple: we want to time our drive into the heart of the city to avoid traffic problems as much as possible. The travel gods are on our side as we slide into Times Square where both the venue and our hotel are located. Sandra Prow - long time friend and supporter of Ned - has managed to arrange rooms at the Hilton Times Square... our first real hotel of the tour... and we love it. A big shout out to Sandra for making this happen! The venue - the Best Buy Theater - is just a short block away. Times Square is an odd and amazing site, even in the cold of winter. The police presence in the Square area is heavy... squad cars, vans, foot officers. This is apparently a result of the thwarted car bomb attempt last year. It's probably the safest place in the city today.

Our View from the 42nd Floor of the Hilton Times Square

Times Square's Tasteful Advertising

Both Monday and Tuesday night audiences are a little tough. Unlike most nights, many concert goers are still arriving at the venue when we hit the stage. Still, by the time we are halfway through our set the audience is warming up to us and seem genuinely enthusiastic at the end.

After Monday's show we take time to relax, go to a nearby club for drinks/music and then to a restaurant for a midnight meal. After Tuesday's show we're not so lucky... we have to pack-up and drive south. At 4:00 a.m. we check-in to another Econo Lodge just outside Bethesda, Maryland. And I've picked-up the sniffles... not a surprising development given our schedule the past few weeks. I'm drinking orange juice at every opportunity.

Tonight we play at Bethesda's Strathmore Music Center - a top of the line concert hall in every way. For us, it's nice just to be at the venue with time to relax and decompress - in Simon speak, that's "chillax," and it's a good thing because the final week of this portion of the tour is relentless.

A Few Photos

A quick post to share this link with photos from the first show of the tour in Atlanta...  http://www.thebackstagebeat.com/2010/12/joe-satriani-center-stage/

More tour blogging soon!

The Blur Begins

Wow, Pittsburgh seems like such a long time ago. Venues are blending one into the next... Let's see.... Oh I remember! Our dressing room was ancient and sparse. Down the hall was a shower and toilet but no sink to wash hands. Joe and his crew had somewhat better accommodations and catering was an all plastic affair - plastic plates, cutlery, table "cloths" and cups - in a small cramped room. Still, the steamed vegetables and rice were the welcomed favorite for me. The concert hall was another classic beauty and was fun to play on although it wasn't my best night... kind of off here and there. What's one to do? Drive to the next city, of course. And that we did...

As has been our common practice to date, we drove a couple hours and landed at a Sleep Inn just south of Cleveland, about half-way between Pittsburgh to Cincinnati, at 4:00 a.m. Quickly learning to work the system, I request a wake-up call for 9:00 so I can take advantage of the complimentary breakfast and then go back to sleep until our late check-out time at 1:00. The waffles were worth being woke up.

The venue in Cincinnati is a modern concert hall with top-notch facilities throughout. The loading bay is inside the building, the dressing rooms are nicely appointed and catering has quite a spread. Even our dressing room has been outfitted with a tray of cold cuts, cheeses, a 12-pack of Stella-Artois, bananas and cans of tuna fish (I'll explain the tuna fish in another writing).

The show went quite well but what we heard and what the audience heard for at least the first two tunes varied. Here's the deal: At virtually all venues, the support band's sound is mixed by the local sound engineer and NOT the sound person with the headlining act. This is problematic because the local sound person has just a few minutes during our sound check to become acquainted with the headlining act's sound board. Are you with me so far?... OK, so this means that we're at the mercy of the local person's ability to quickly get in sync with the sound board or we stand a chance of sounding like crap. On the other hand, the sound WE hear on stage is mixed by the headlining act's stage monitor engineer, so WE hear one mix and the AUDIENCE hears another mix. As it turns out this night, the audience was treated to an "odd" house mix heavy with hi-hat and light on Ned's guitar and vocals for a bit. Apparently it got sorted out in the end.

My View from the Stage in Cincinatti
(note: drums are not blue... stage lighting is at work here)

On Stage Warming the Audience Up in Cincinnati

With bags packed, we TRY to get a jump on the night’s drive but to no avail. The van’s batteries are dead. It couldn’t have happened in a better place: in the drive-in loading bays. A quick call to AAA and Bert has the van working again.

AAA to the Rescue!

From Cincinnati we drive north seven hours where, after braving lake effects, middle-of-the-night, snow showers, we land at Judy’s Motel in Buffalo. Judy has a nice house next to her motel and we’re pretty sure that’s where the profits are spent. The room rates a 4 on Todd’s Dive Scale due to the lack luster and musty accommodations, bare-bones cable TV and the fact the shower has no shower curtain… a certain formula for a mess… and the mess does ensue in floods.

Look Ma! No Shower Curtain!

After 3.5 hours of sleep, we’re up and on our way to Toronto. We fear the border crossing simply because we’re a band in a van. Bands have morbid tales of time spent at border crossings as the gendarmes go through every bag, case and piece of equipment. Luckily, we breeze through. Funny story: Dave approached the gate and inadvertently drove through the stop sign asking you to wait until waved to approach. The border guard asks Dave, “Where are you from?” Dave replies, “Idaho.” The border guard asks, “Do they have stop signs in Idaho?” 

The Toronto concert is at Massey Hall… a first class facility and the catering was to die for. The show went well and afterward, we met a couple of Malcolm’s friends: Corky Laing, the drummer for the band “Mountain.” (recall the tune “Mississippi Queen”) as well as Eric Schenkman, the guitarist for the Spin Doctors. Nice folks… but after a visit we have to go… first back across the border and then back to another comforting night at Judy’s.

From left to right: Malcolm, Corky Laing, Taffy, Sarah, Eric Schenlman and Ned

By 9:00 a.m. we’re back on the road traveling across upper New York on our way to Boston. Beautiful countryside even in winter’s subdued colors.

Boston’s House of Blues was predictably nice… maybe not the best catering, but good.

NOTE: By now you get the sense that the quality of any day is judged in part by the quality of the catering… the only real food we see each day.

The crew is very helpful in making us feel welcomed as does the crowd. Each night we’re playing more and more as an ensemble and audiences respond. Tonight, Ned kills ‘em with his “Moon Shadow” guitar solo during Cohen’s “Hallejulah.”

Boston's House of Blues and Fenway Park

Joe and Company Doing Their Thing

After the show,  pack up and start the eight hour drive to Philadelphia. Our stop this evening/morning is the Econo Lodge somewhere about halfway. It’s clean, well priced and offers breakfast. Even though it’s 4:00 a.m., I make the decision to ask for a wake-up call at 9:30 in order to make myself a waffle at the complimentary breakfast bar… after that it’s back to sleep.

Traffic is a pain in Stamford, CT. and again when bypassing Manhattan. Still, we get to the venue in time to set-up and to do a line check. The show was good and the crew was very helpful. Catering? It ranked an 8.

At Midnight we begin the now too common all-night drive. This time it’s north to Burlington VT and another Econo Lodge. The rooms are a bit old, but there’s free wi-fi, in-house laundry facilities AND an Italian restaurant next door. More importantly, we forced the overnight drive for one reason: Sleep…  I slept from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., got up and did laundry, ate and will soon sleep again – for a WHOLE NIGHT!

Tomorrow we make the two-hour drive w/border crossing to MontrĂ©al and the show at the Metropolis…

Onward - Into the Cold North

The show in Clearwater Fl. is at the Ruth Eckerd Hall. It's a really top-notch facility. The dressing rooms are pimp, catering's great and security if funny... In order to mingle with the crowd between our set and Joe's, Ned and I have to be escorted to the lobby where we (well, mostly Ned) sign sleeves of newly purchased Ned Evett "Afraid 4U" CDs. Our escort, a perfectly nice young man, stands watch until we're done and then escorts us back. Based on all of the autographed photos of big name performers who have graced the hall's stage (including Joe), I think they're used to maintaining a higher level of security than might be needed for us.

The Crowd Filtering into Ruth Eckerd Hall - Clearwater, Florida

Packed-up by 12:30 a.m., we drive north for three hours to Starke, FL., where we settle in for some rest. Before heading north we take a bit of time to do laundry and actually relax in the 70 degree Florida sun. Alas, all good things come to an end... By midnight we're somewhere in the West Virginian mountains driving through a raging snowstorm. By 3:00 a.m. our stop for the evening at Summersville, W. Va. is at hand. It's nice to see the sign of the Sleep Inn come along. A few more hours on the road and we arrive Pittsburg for Monday night's show.

Sunday Afternoon - Laundry and Changing Guitar Strings in Florida Sunshine

Along the way I've had time to do the numbers and have concluded that fully one-half of all Americans are employed as truck drivers, fast-food employees or work in the hotel/motel business. The infrastructure built to support our ability to drive and move consumables is enormous. Homogeneous and enormous.

The shift from relative warmth to cold was anticipated but is a shock all the same. Luckily the van is equipped with heat and comfy blankets. A myriad of movies to watch keep Ned, Malcolm and I occupied for hours at a time.

Monday's night's performance went well. Each night on stage goes by so fast - just six tunes and that's it... hit it, hit it hard. Warming up before playing is mandatory. And nearly every night after performing and doing our lobby meet and greet, I take time to call Natalie. Unlike past tours, this time I have Skype and a cell phone to visit with her. Turns out space age communication is quite convenient. In fact, I'm able to access the Internet via Ned's Blackberry/Verizon wireless access while we're in the van. And, once at the venue, we have Internet access via Joe's satellite "satchnet" wireless network. It's all pretty cool.

And the pattern of the tour has officially settled in: Play the show, pack-up, drive until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, sleep, partake in the motel's complimentary breakfast if available, sleep a couple more hours, check-out, drive to next venue (1-4 hours), set-up, RINSE AND REPEAT.

So here I am in our greenroom in Cincinnati getting ready to set-up, do a sound check and play... and drive... once again... but it's fun.

Dive Right In

Another overnight drive begins after the Atlanta show. We roll into Lake Buena Vista (Disneyworld area) and check into the Paradise Motel at 9:00 a.m. It's a funny swing cycle...  just hours before we were full of energy and satisfaction with our first night completed. But after sitting in a van through the night we're completely burned out and grumpy... well everyone except Ned who can seemlingly sleep at any time in any condition.

As for the Paradise Motel: It turns out "paradise"  is a relative term. In this case, we book five rooms for two nights for $240 total. That's the good news. The bad news is cheap rooms come at a cost. On the "dive" scale where 1=total dive and 10=just below a room at a Comfort Inn, the Paradise rates a 4. The rooms smell like a bad poker party and it's best to simply sleep on top of the bed spread. The bathroom towels have, in theory, been laundered. The good news is we each have our own room for two nights.

The Paradise Motel - With Rockets!

A Room in "Paradise" - Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

With three hours sleep, we take to the road for the 3.5 hour drive to Pompano Beach, just north of Miami. While the rest of the nation has been inundated with wintry weather (as will we in a few days), southern Florida is more like spring with mild temperatures and swunny skies. This is forunate as the concert is at an outdoor amphitheater.

The Amphitheater at Pompano Beach

Ned and Jeff Campitelli - Joe's drummer - chat it up

Our second performance went really well, lots of energy and an appreciative crowd. The crowd cheered and wanted more as we ended our set. Opening acts are not allowed to play encore numbers. In fact, our job is to do exactly what we did - play well and get them warmed up and in the mood for the headliner. Mission accomplished!

Funny thing: After the show there were some visitors backstage. They looked like they had something to do with the Rock business. Turns out one of the group was Nicko McBrain - the drummer for Iron Maiden. He said something about liking my playing... at least I want to think he did. The night before, in Atlanta, Doug Wimbish - the bass player for the band Living Colour - was in the catering room after the concert. Doug's worked with Madonna and the Rolling Stones and many others.

Back into the van and we return to Lake Buena Vista. Arriving at the motel at 4:00 a.m. the inadequacies of the "Paradise" fade away as much needed sleep sets in. By 1:30 p.m. (it's Friday now, right?) we're back in the van looking for Starbucks and then making the short drive to Downtown Disney and the House of Blues.  I'd been there once before when Natalie, Simon, my brother Marc and his daughter Diana made a June trip when the kids were young. This feels like familiar territory.

 Downtown Disney and the House of Blues

 Catching Sleep as Catch Can - House of Blues Green Room

Unfortunately, Joe was behind schedule tonight. This meant, as the support band, we were also behind schedule because we can't make a move until his band has their sound check done. As a result, we had just enough time to set our gear on stage and make sure the microphones worked (a signal check); no time to run through a song to see how the levels were - just set it and get off stage. So it goes... but we played fine and the crowd enjoyed it even if we couldn't always hear what we were doing.

Joe's on stage stirring the crowd into a frenzy right now. Tonight we'll have another fine sleeping experience at the Paradise Motel and then drive west to the Clearwater/Tampa Bay area tomorrow for our final show in a mild climate. After that it's north into what the Weather Channel has been describing as a snow-covered frozen hell-hole. I'm glad I packed my long-johns!

Let the Show(s) Begin!

A rainy Tuesday in Nashville finds us at Soundcheck - a major touring equipment warehouse that supplies staging and sound gear of all types for major touring acts.  Our mission was to pick-up guitar amps for Ned courtesy of the Peavy company. One would never know it, but last spring's flood inundated the facility was during the Nashville flood and was re-opened just two months ago. Top name performers store their instrument collections at Soundcheck.... or once did.

Mission accomplished, we drive to the outskirts of Nashville where we meet Malcolm for our one and only practice session. A quick Mexican dinner and we start the drive to Atlanta. After the long haul, a four-hour drive is seemingly small. We arrive at Jeff Duke's house at 2:30 a.m. Jeff's been kind enough to host us for the night... and even kinder to wait up for us.

Wednesday afternoon and we're at the venue in downtown Atlanta. A typically nice hall complete with catering (lunch and dinner) and a large green room outfitted for us with fresh fruit, nuts, bottled water and a bottle of wine!

  Joe and Band During Sound Check - Atlanta

Malcolm and Ned "Wired" Backstage After the Set

AND FINALLY, after a very short sound check and small dinner chatting with Joe and Malcolm, we hit the stage for our set. No dropped sticks, no major errors! Man-o-man it's nice to play on the Big Stage in front of people who are there to listen to the music. As I write, Joe's on stage ripping it up... show-off :)

The van's packed and we're set to drive south overnight to Florida for the first of three nights before heading to the cold north. Ah! Another night in the van watching DVDs...

OH! And if you're interested, Joe was on the Tonight Show Monday night - see http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D1IQnPy5bzFY

Onward Rock Road Warriors...


A week ago Ned emailed and said, "Todd, do you have your stretchy pants and tour shoes on?" I answered, "Mais oui, monsieur Evett!"

For background: Ned had just returned from six weeks as the opening act (support) for Joe Satriani in Europe and needed drumming services for the North American portion of the tour.. three weeks in December and two additional weeks in January. I confess, hitting the big stage in front of large crowds is really something - even for the support. I had my first taste of this with the band DRAW, touring with Built To Spill in 2003 and then with Ned opening for Joe six nights in Europe in 2008.

After some scrambling to put work projects in order, buy and set-up a laptop and make a few needed drum purchases, my bags were packed and ready to roll.

We met at our departure site in Boise's North End Saturday afteroon, November 27, and packed the 15-passenger van with gear, luggage, CDs and DVDs. The crew for the first leg of the journey is Ned Evett (guitar extraordinaire and leader), Dave Barlow (freshman guitar and drum technician) and Burt Bergeron (Canadian-based van owner and tour driver). After four hours of driving in snow, Burt decided the best course of action was to stop at Utah's Crystal Hot Springs. This wouldn't have been my first choice with such a long drive ahead of us but after more than an hour soaking in the pools as snow fell, I concluded Burt was right.

Thus, the first thing to learn, or quickly remember, is to go with the flow of the tour. The start can hit like a slap in the face; in an instant the comforts and routines of home are wiped away and a new system of living begins. Eventually, there's a "tour pace," but that doesn't set in until the initial travel stage is complete.

With the hot spring's rejuvinating effects in place, we continued our massive drive in the dark of night, eventually rolling through Denver's deserted Sunday-morning-downtown and coming to rest via a daytime stay at Limon, Colorado's, K&S Motel. We picked the drive up again Sunday evening.

The K&S Motel  and the Flag - Limon, Colorado

One thing I noticed right away is how utterly boring and homogenious the Interstate Highway system is. The ammenities - franchise fastfood restaurants and motels, fuel stations, etc. - are virtually identical all along the way. It's corporate efficiency at it's best, but it lacks in almost every other way. On the otherhand, we did enjoy the fact that we could always find a Subway Sandwich shop. It's not gourmet, but it beats virtually all other Interstate food options.

After 1,900 miles of driving and many DVD's later the first, and likely the most grueling, portion of the tour ended as we made our way into Nashville less than 48 hours after leaving the wintery weather in Boise. Tomorrow we pick up more gear and our bass player - Malcolm Bruce - and then head to Atlanta to join Joe and his crew for Wednesday's opening show.

Somewhere in Kansas with Johhny Cash to Keep Us Company 

OH - If you're interested, you can see all of the shows we'll be playing at www.satriani.com/road/. The only shows we don't play are the first four nights of the January tour leg (western Cananda) and the two nights at the very end in Mexico.