Saturday, December 29, 2007

Roadie Report 32 - 2007 - It was an adventure!

As I reflect back on the year 2007, my breath slowly emanates as my head shakes in wonderment. It indeed was the best of times and the worst of times. Roger played at Carnegie Hall, Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville and The Auditorium Theater in Chicago. We flew around the world with stops in Japan, Dubai and Germany. Then caught a train home from Washington, DC. All of that on top of a full schedule of concerts throughout the year.

Our final tour was going to culminate with the Christmas Celebration at the “special lady’s” house in Tucson, Arizona.

October 10, 2007

Roger was invited to sing a song in tribute to Elton John at Carnegie Hall. The song he sang wasn’t as well known as most of Sir Elton’s tunes, but Roger chose a song with a unique melody line and a favorite of mine, “Friends.”

We arrived in NYC a day early to rehearse with the band, “Fools for April.” Phoebe Snow was scheduled just before us and as we listened to her heart-felt rendition of “Empty Garden,” we knew she would bring the house down and she did!

Thai for Dinner (Photo by Camilla)

During sound check, we sat in the beautiful auditorium of Carnegie Hall and watched all the acts perform those magical songs written by Elton and Bernie Taupin. We felt like we were viewing our own personal concert. The Hall is a union hall, so when it went dark for dinner, we headed to a nearby Thai restaurant recommended by the sound engineer. You can be sure the crew knows all the good places to eat!

October 29, 2007

Martin Guitar had a request from their distributor in Japan for Roger to perform for their clients during their annual trade show.
We were delighted to be going back to Japan and as I researched the airfares, I found a very interesting alliance between United Airlines and Emirates. Two people could fly around the world for less than the price of one person flying in the same class of service round trip. There were just a few stipulations: 1. You have to fly in only one direction – no back tracking! 2. All trips across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans have to be on United Airlines. 3. You have to stay out of the country for 10 days and make 3 overnight stops. The Martin distributors were very happy I found this fare and didn’t object to our staying in Yokohama for an entire week.
Yokohama, Japan (photo by Camilla)

At the Martin Promotion (Both Photos by Camilla)

After a wonderful concert and a lot of interviews, we continued our westbound trip with a connection in Seoul for our flight to Dubai, our second stop. We were staying at the Ritz Carlton and I had requested that they send a car to pick us up when we landed at 5am. That was one of my wiser decisions. The Dubai airport is huge and the gentleman who met us as we disembarked took the stress out of the trek through immigration and to the car.
Dubai Hotel (Photo by Camilla)
Our eyes were eagerly peeled for the sights of Dubai during our 30 minute drive to the hotel. The Dubai highway has 10 lanes and construction cranes are everywhere. The city is flourishing into a commerce and tourist destination, very similar to Las Vegas.
Dubai Oasis (Photo by Camilla)

Our hotel was one of the originals in that city and these days its architectural charm is dwarfed by a sprawling sea of high rise buildings. Fortunately, the Ritz is right on the beach and if you don’t look back, you will feel like you’re in an oasis. The wonderful staff at the hotel will do everything to make sure your stay is refreshing.

From Dubai, Emirates Airlines took us to Germany. We spent the evening in the Hamburg Courtyard by Marriott. Yes it was a contrast from the palatial hotel in Dubai, but an ever so sweet one. I surmised it was once an independent inn because it also had a wonderful restaurant, an uncommon feature in the same chain in the states.

We left Germany from Frankfurt, flew to Washington, DC, then hopped on board Amtrak for the overnight train trip home to Orlando and back to more business.

For months, I had been working with Denny Tedesco to arrange an interview with Roger for a documentary on the famous Los Angeles a-list of musicians, “The Wrecking Crew.” During the course of one line emails, The Musicians Hall Of Fame’s ceremony for the induction of the “The Wrecking Crew” entered into the conversation and Roger was invited to once again play with this royal court of musicians.

January 20, 1965

The “Wrecking Crew” were the top studio musicians in Los Angeles who played on all the hits. The Byrds were signed with Columbia records for just one single. If the single made it, they could record an album. Jim (Roger) McGuinn was the only musician in the Byrds who’d had professional studio experience, so Terry Melcher, the producer assigned by Columbia, decided to call in “The Wrecking Crew” to get the job done.

Jim had already developed a unique sound on the Rickenbacker because of his banjo training at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago but even with session work under his belt, he was a little nervous. He quietly entered the studio, unpacked his guitar and was introduced to the “crew.” His hands were cold and his confidence low. Hal Blaine, the drummer, took one look at him and said, “Relax kid. It’s gonna be all right.”

It wasn’t only all right, it was a number one hit. Jim joined the “wrecking crew” for one 3 hour session and under the guiding hand of Terry Melcher, they recorded two instrumental tracks: “Mr Tambourine Man” and “I Knew I’d Want You.” Gene Clark and David Crosby later joined Jim to sing the vocal tracks.

November 22, 2007 –Thanksgiving Day

We began driving to Nashville on Thanksgiving Day. For years I have planned big gatherings of friends or romantic trips to celebrate this feast day, but this year, I had made no plans. Now I understood why. We decided to leave on Thanksgiving Day to avoid the heavy weekend traffic. I booked us a room in Macon, Georgia and was sure that there would be a restaurant close by to provide dinner. There were several restaurants close by, but not one of them was open. Even all the pizza delivery places were closed. Our Thanksgiving 2007 is one we will never forget. It was a vending machine feast!
Schermehorn Symphony Hall (Photo by Camilla)

The Musicians Hall of Fame Awards show was held at the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center on November 26.
The inductees included the Nashville A-Team, The Blue Moon Boys, The Funk Brothers, The Memphis Boys, The Tennessee Two and The Wrecking Crew. Some of the guest artist performing with the talented gathering were Brenda Lee, Creed Bratton, Peter Frampton, George Jones, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, B.J Thomas, Dobie Gray, Garth Brooks, Rodney Crowell and John Carter Cash.
Roger was honored to be on the same stage with this vast pool of talent and even more honored to play “Mr. Tambourine Man” again with The Wrecking Crew.
Roger playing with The Wrecking Crew, Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel (photo by Camilla)
December 1, 2007

Nashville was a wonderful stop on the way to Roger’s hometown, Chicago. He was invited to join in the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Old Town School of Folk Music at the Auditorium Theatre. It was at the Old Town School that Jim McGuinn was taught his intricate banjo and guitar picking by Frank Hamilton. Frank was going to be performing that evening as well.
Auditorium Theatre in Chicago (Photo by Camilla

Frank Hamilton backstage playing Roger's 7-string (Photo by Camilla)

I emailed Colleen and asked her if she could work in a duet for Roger and Frank. Just the thought of the teacher and student reunion brought tears to my eyes. The schedule was tight, but it worked out and I think there were more tears in the audience that night after they sang together.
Video of Frank and Roger rehearsing Finnegan's Wake.

A blanket of snow was covering our van as I eased it out of the parking lot for our drive to Utah. We watched the weather report and were confident that the storm had passed in the night and the roads on Interstate 80 would be clear. The storm the night before must have been horrific. We passed at least 12 large semi-trucks lying on their sides on both sides of the highway before we reached our stopping place for the night, Kearney Nebraska.

As I type this story…….. this is where I begin breathing slowly.

Roger parked the van after we unloaded the equipment. Even though it was only around 6pm, the sky was dark. He had noticed the snow and was cautiously walking under the awning to the entrance of the hotel, when his feet slipped out from under him on a huge patch of ice. He naturally reached out with his right arm to break the fall. It was a hard landing. His wrist broke.

I was still in the lobby, when he rushed in and told me he had fallen and broken the wrist he was holding. After a quick look, I shouted for ice. There was a man in the lobby who immediately came to our assistance and when I asked for directions to a hospital he volunteered to take us there.

Roger’s arm was set in a cast and we were given orders to return home to Florida for further care. Two months of concerts had to be canceled, so was the Christmas reunion with Roger's very special 97 year old mother. Once home, surgery was performed on the wrist and a metal plate inserted. The cast will come off on January 3 and we will be back on the road January 25th for a concert on February 1st at the Mondavi Center in Davis, CA. Hope to see you there!

A rose in Yokohama (Photo by Camilla)
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