Thursday, November 07, 2013

Roadie Report 64 by Camilla McGuinn

July of 2013 was very unusual for us…we stayed home for the whole month. It was time for editing the DVD we’re working on and the 2 CDs from the live show in Tucson in 2012. We plan on releasing these discs as a package:
“Roger McGuinn - Stories, Songs and Friends - 2 CDs and a Bonus DVD”

The live show was recorded for Roger’s mother’s 102nd birthday and the DVD is snippets from a few of Roger’s concerts and some conversations with dear friends about Roger’s musical journey. I’m still laughing at Dave Barry’s story about Roger and Stephen King experimenting with a GPS on board an airplane during a Rock Bottom Remainders concert tour.

We didn’t get the editing finished as soon as we wanted, because the troubadour I married always puts performing first. In August we headed north for two more concerts with Peter Frampton and His Guitar Circus.

September’s calendar held a special treat for us. Our van was packed for one of our favorite drives - Florida to California.
We included enough time to stop at the Petrified Forest National Park on Interstate 40, but our government representatives thwarted that plan.
 Our elected officials could not come to any logical conclusions. The park was closed the day we got there. We stood at the gate with a couple from Oregon just shaking our heads and wondering why the President and the members of Congress still received a pay check when they couldn’t even keep a park open.
We stopped in Flagstaff for the evening and heard stories of so many families being disappointed because the Grand Canyon had been closed as well.

 Our first concert on this tour was at the beautiful Music Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

The museum, founded by Robert Ulrich, was created to represent the musical instruments and music from every country in the world. Mr. Ulrich included a very lovely performing arts theater in the plans. He accomplished it all for merely the cost of one Impressionist painting. He is an avid collector of fine art.

 We wanted more time to explore this state of the art audiovisual museum but Roger had rehearsals scheduled in Los Angeles with Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives.

The first time Roger met Marty was in the mountains of Tennessee while recording the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” for an IMAX movie with Dolly Parton. 

Marty and Roger took two chairs and their guitars down by a creek in the woods and played during the breaks from the movie shoot. A group of us gathered at the top of the hill, silently listening to the two musicians drift away to guitar heaven playing songs that Roger used to play with Clarence White in the 70s. Fortunately I had my camcorder!

 Marty owns the guitar that Clarence played when he worked with Roger in the 1970s. What blew Roger away was Marty’s fingers flying over the fret board just as fast as Clarence’s had.

 Since that magical moment, ­­Roger has worked with Marty a few times; the Grand Ole Opry and Marty’s TV show.  One day, Andrea, Roger’s agent asked me if there was anyone Roger would like to play with in concert and I immediately suggested Marty.

 We headed to Los Angeles for two days of rehearsals and three California concerts: Pepperdine University in Malibu, The Poway Center, in Poway and the Gallo Center in Modesto. It was sad to say goodbye to Marty and the band, but two more concerts with them are scheduled in Bethlehem, PA and Utica, NY during November.

After Modesto we had a few days off before Roger’s next “Evening with Roger McGuinn” concert in Grass Valley, CA. Our friends, Steve and Melanie, invited us to visit them in their Marin County home nestled in the mountains. 

 Steve is a foodie. We spent two days driving down the mountain to San Francisco and eating the best Sushi and Dim Sum that can be found.

I had not even heard of Grass Valley before they asked Roger to perform in their Arts center. What a delightful surprise to find this picturesque little town tucked in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
There was gold in these hills and the town shines brightly. We loved exploring the history filled streets the day before the concert.

The morning after the concert I hit the “GO HOME” button on the GPS. I forgot to take into account that this particular GPS liked to take us on roads we didn’t intend to go on. After a few minutes of driving, we both said, “I think we’re going the wrong way!” Then we laughed. We had time and being on roads we haven’t traveled before is our type of adventure.

The drive was beautiful over the mountains to Reno then down to Las Vegas. It was a much prettier route than our original plan to take Interstate 5 through California.

 Carson Lake, Nevada was a complete surprise to us. To the left was the water and to the right snow covered mountain peaks. 
We also saw endless rows of some very strange bunkers dotting both sides of the highway. Roger researched it and found that the bunkers are filled with ammunition for the U.S. Army. We were happy to keep driving. We usually stop before night fall, but there wasn’t a hotel we wanted to stay in until we reached the suburbs of Vegas.

The full moon rising over the desert mountains was a wonderful reward for driving with the sun setting to our right.

We always get home faster than when we begin a tour. I like to leave time for any possible road delays before a concert. This trip home from California only took us four and half days. Just in time for a birthday pizza in the garden! ( I seldom get pizza!)

I never unpacked from the California adventure. I didn't see the point. We were soon leaving for some more wonderful concerts with Marty and the Fabulous Superlatives in Bethlehem, PA and Utica, NY. In between, Roger  will be performing in Albany, NY at the theater "The Egg." We love the intimacy of that venue.

The day we left, before the van pulled out of the driveway,  we sent the CDs and DVD to Oasis to press!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Gentle Soul and Cool TOO! by Camilla McGuinn

In 2002, PEOPLE magazine’s photo editor told me she wanted to send a special photographer to Orlando to photograph Roger for their article “Rock of Aging.”  John Chiasson and his assistant were on a plane from Nashville within the week.

As I invited John into the threshold of our front door, I quietly told him the one of Roger’s least favorite things to do is to sit for a photo session. John whispered to me with the most engaging smile, “I’ll be gentle.”

John was not only gentle, he was brilliant. PEOPLE magazine liked John’s photo of Roger so much that they used it for almost a full page. I called John and asked him if I could buy it from him for Roger’s publicity portfolio. His reply, “When the restrictions are expired with PEOPLE magazine, you can have it.” 

Three months later the photo was appearing in local newspapers around the world.

John was not only a gentle soul, he was cool! His style was a cross between a debonair 20’s actor to a laid back 60’s hippie. 

When THE FOLK DEN PROJECT was ready for pressing, we knew John was the man we wanted to shoot the cover.

His price to us,”Nothing, just pay my assistant.” John and Maureen even housed and fed us.

Roger had jammed with John on the first photo session. A guitar seemed like the perfect thank you gift to take to him. During breaks from flash bulbs and while Maureen was preparing a gourmet meal, the two friends sang and played the songs of the sixties. 

I have written about John and Maureen before, but this time I’m writing our goodbye to John. He silently left this realm while sitting in his studio on August 17, 2013. His dear wife found him and thought he was asleep. His heart had stopped and when we heard about it, our hearts momentarily stopped too.

We will miss John Chiasson - photographer extraordinaire, coolest cat in town, good friend and most of all ... the precious  husband of the lovely Maureen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Roadie Report 63 by Camilla McGuinn

Photo by Camilla

Rain tapping on the window of our hotel room in Beckley West Virginia encouraged us to pull the covers up, reach for the telephone and extend our stay for one more day.  It is a good time to catch up on paper work and to mentally float out the window with memories of our adventures.
A song keeps drifting in and out of my head. It’s “Sophie’s Song.” Dave Barry wrote it for his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and asked Roger to help him record it when we were in Los Angeles for the last concert of the “Rock Bottom Remainders.” 
Kathi Goldmark, the founder of the Remainders, was putting up a good fight in a battle with cancer and we were all hoping she would make it to the concert, but we were all greatly disappointed.  The concert had been booked so there would be one last re-union of a ragtag group of millionaire writers, with one ringer from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a group Kathi had orchestrated because she loved making music and knew that everyone wanted to be a rock ’n’ roll star.

At the hotel in Los Angeles, we had a hospitality suite for the band. Most of the time it was filled with the writers autographing books to be sold at the concerts for charity and for a wild party after every show. The writers were never concerned about getting enough sleep. One morning in that room, Roger fastened a microphone to a floor lamp with gaffer’s tape, plugged in his computer and told Dave to sing, Ridley to harmonize, Sam to play harmonica, James to blow his saxophone and me to keep the room quiet. “Sophie’s Song” was created on the multi-track recording program, ProTools.
We took the recording to San Francisco where Roger and I spent the night mixing the parts. It was the most fun we’ve ever had at the Ritz Carlton…well almost. Dave has given permission for you to hear the song. Click HERE .

The days of our lives are spinning so quickly.  On November 18, 2012 we drove across country for a concert with the consummate singer, Miss Judy Collins. Being in her presence is always so awe inspiring. She has the energy of all the American Idol contestants put together and a talent that none of them can surpass.

Photo by Camilla
In December, lectures on the Queen Elizabeth took us to the Mediterranean. The 5 o’clock afternoon gatherings of laughter at the Commodore Lounge with new friends Anthony, Stephanie, Gordon and Jonathon caused a twitter among the crew. But the biggest twitter came on New Year’s Eve, when  Gordon taught me the Scottish dance, “The Gay Gordons.” As usual with all my dance lessons since I was four years old, I promptly forgot the steps, but this time someone was filming.

Crossing the Atlantic on a beautiful cruise ship is a voyage to be savored. We stayed on the Queen Elizabeth until the ship docked in Miami, but the farewell was short, because we boarded her again in Los Angeles for Roger to give three more lectures on the way to Auckland, New Zealand.

Arriving home in February was a double edged sword.  Coming home is wonderful, washing dishes is not. That darn sword never gets clean! Fortunately as with every year something always entices us out on the road again…Praise God! Trips to South Florida, New York, New Jersey and a wonderful trek to Indio, California for the Stagecoach Festival kept our motor running.  “Stagecoach” is the first festival Roger has performed in years. His theory about outdoor venues is that the energy dissipates. He compares it to a firecracker. As long as it is encased in a tight tube there will be a loud bang, but if you empty the gun powder on the ground it quickly fizzles out. The Stagecoach Festival has a great reputation, so we packed the van and hit the interstate.
Route 40, “America’s main street”, is our favorite and once we connected to it, we had a direct path from the concert at Monmouth University in New Jersey to California. The day after the Stagecoach appearance, we headed to Carrboro North Carolina for a concert near the college town of Chapel Hill.  5084 miles for one show…now that is an adventure and no dishes to wash for many miles.

At my lemonade stand, one friend mentioned to me that we lived like royalty. I giggled wondering what members of a royal family drove a Ford Van with 180,000 miles on the odometer,  stayed at Hampton Inns, Marriott Courtyards and carried their cooler with them. But as I think about how much fun we have traveling, my hope is that royalty lives life with all the joy we do.
Our current tour has taken us to Montreal, Canada and Virginia. We’ve only had to replace four tires, the front brakes including rotors and calipers, on the way. When the unmistakable smell of smoking brakes caused us to question if the problem was ours, a parking lot was immediately to our right. We pulled in, looked up at the marquis and noticed it was a brake repair shop. How can man understand his own way? 

After a sold out concert in Glen Allen, VA, we stopped at Thomas Jefferson’ home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, VA. The next day we explored “The Bunker” at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulpher Springs, W.VA . Those historical places were intriguing but to have it all topped off with the beautiful drive through the mountains did make me feel like royalty.
We’re on our way to Ohio for Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus. Roger recorded one of Peter’s songs on his  ”Thunderbyrd” album and Peter asked him to join him for a reunion.  A nice bonus on our way to Cleveland is to stop in Columbus and celebrate Linda’s birthday.

Linda stood at the door of our tour bus in Columbus Ohio in 1991. She kept talking to the bus driver insisting that she needed to speak to Roger’s road manager.  I was real tired that night and didn’t feel particularly friendly, but she was so persistent in a gentle way that Tony, our bus driver, begged me to speak with her. I reluctantly walked to the bus door. She sweetly asked me if my husband would play for her husband’s 40th birthday. I smiled and said rather flippantly, “I’ve seen enough of Judge Wapner on TV to know better than to play for private parties.” She was so gentle and persistent, that in order to get her to go away I gave her Roger’s agent’s card and told her to call the agent.

The next morning, I telephoned Roger's agent and told her to expect a call from a very nice lady who would be calling about a birthday party. I gave Elizabeth, the agent,  a price to quote and said there would be no negotiation. I was sure the price was high enough that the birthday request would go away. Roger’s agent loved that command and was ready to play. Well there was no play. My cleverness was for naught. They sent a Lear Jet to pick us up.

Over the years Linda and Bill have become very close and special friends. Roger has played at all their landmark birthday parties, their Y2K bash  and their children’s weddings. The price has never been  negotiable – but now it is even higher than the first birthday concert – it is love. 

Happy Birthday Linda!