TubaJoe Summer 2012 wrap up and photos. It was an intense summer -- I toured a lot in June through August... I went on the road with 4 different bands in consecutive trips.
The summer started out with some interesting projects around home in NYC Gato Loco de Bajo opened up its weekly residency at the lovely new ZirZamin in SoHo, and New Beard made another (big!) music video. Add that to the Red Hook Ramblers doing another historic Edison recording and the Ja Ja Jas hit the beach in Montauk ...that was in about the span of a week.
After the pre-tour in-town fury, it was then time for me to hit the road. In June, I was honored to be a featured performer in Austria's ‘Heavy Tuba’, an all-low-brass all-star rock/jazz ensemble that evolved as an offshoot of the legendary Vienna Art Orchestra. It was a thrilling experience for me to be amongst such amazing players. Heavy Tuba is a group I've known about for years... way back in Chicago, I managed a CD store and a traveling tuba player from Europe stopped in with his minidisc to play me this cool new stuff going on in Europe.
It was such an honor to just play with these guys, much less to be asked to be a featured soloist. It was an intense trip, mostly of rural Austria which is such beautiful country. Several full days of rehearsal learning new music, then a day of travel across the country, then a show at a folksy brass festival (keep in mind this is rural Austria!) made for an intense trip with no time for jet lag.
After a day in Munich of recovery and practice for my next trip, I had to rush to Canada, via NYC to join Toronto's amazing Saidah Baba Talibah and her kickass band. Saidah is somewhat of a hero in Toronto, with her soul-tinged rock called a cross between Living Color and Erykah Badu, ...with TUBA as her bass. I had to head to Canada twice, first to Toronto for rehearsal, then back to NYC for a few days, then back to Canada, this time to Montreal and to to meet the band for my first show with them.
Making the trip to Toronto from Munich via NYC was a trek. And unfortunately, as happens once in a while, there was a flight delay through London and my tuba didn't make the transfer. I arrived in NYC for my transfer to Toronto sans-tuba. No worries, a kind Canadian tubist lent me his Yamaha CC until I got mine the next day. Fortunately, my horn only missed a rehearsal day and I got done what needed to be done on the loaner. My horn showed up eventually...
The shows with Saidah were fantastic... first a large club gig in Montreal, then back to TO to play the main stage of the Toronto Jazz Festival in support of one of my favorite artists, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. The Montreal show was a great induction for me, and TJF show was fantastic. While she is the niece of the legendary Andy Bey (she's the daughter of Salome Bey) her vibe is all her own... soul, blues, funk and hard rock (thats where my heart is too!) She embraces this mix fully in her sex-tinged power show. The first seated, surprised Jazzfest crowd absolutely loved it (not one II-V was played LOL!) and were on their feet screaming by the end of our set.
I got to meet Troy Andrews again (I met him a few years ago at the NoLa Jazzfest) he's not only an incredibly honest and dynamic performer, he's a complete class act as a person. He congratulated Saidah on her ability to kick the crowd in the butt! A good night.
I had a day or two to recover in Toronto (and to continue to shed!) and then we played the main Toronto Canada Day celebration to an estimated 25,000 people. That too was a rocking performance. 3 kickass shows with Saidah under my belt.
Next I had to hi-tail it back to NYC quickly as just a few days later the full 10-piece Gato Loco was due to head to Europe. One quick rehearsal, laundry, and then it was back on the road.
Gato Loco's first destination was 3 shows in Bordeaux, France. We were returning to the place of that band's first 'big gig' and where we recorded our live record; Bordeaux's outdoor Festival du Hauts de Garonne, which is presented by Musique du Nuit.
Arriving back in Bordeaux was an emotional thing, this was the site of my favorite gig I ever played. We instantly had to visit our hangout, the famous fountain, as always with a handful of locals. I had to get a meal of steak tartare and a glass of... bordeaux. Bliss.
The gigs in Bordeaux were cool, albeit a bit weird (one was on a high-rise rooftop covered in mattresses, the others in sculpture parks) but the vibe there is always great. I did get a chance to sneak off to Saint Emillion to get an insider's wine tour and taste some great wines. Bliss again.
We had to leave Bordeaux pretty quickly though, even though we felt like we were just getting started - unlike our previous visit where we stayed for quite a while and made a record. This time the road called.
A long train ride and we were in Italy. I LOVE Italy. A lot. Our first gig was in a rock club in Torino that was literally ON the bank of the (smelly) Po river, in some sort of catacomb-type place underneath the town square. Sorta cool. A quick, loud, rock-style gig, and we then had just a couple of hours to be back on the train. Venice was calling.
We got back in my favorite city of Venice for the second time in 3 months. I like Venice not for it's history or unique situation, but for the fact that it's such a timeless bubble.
And... Venice LOVES Gato Loco. We were to return to the exact site of our first big show there, the beautiful Serra dei Giardini. Again, presented by our good friends from Microclima, our job this time was to provide festivities for after the fireworks of the Redentore. The Redentore is the 'Festival of the Redeemer', it commemorates the end of the second coming of the Bubonic Plague, which hit Venice for a second time in 1575 and they've been celebrating every June ever since 1592. It's one of the city's largest festivals and it was packed to the gills with revelers from all over the world.
On our arrival in Venice, the Gato Loco band was *very* weary by this point, our travels had been tough this trip. We all were trepidatious going into this last show, simply due to exhaustion. However just a few bars into our fast "Coconino #3 "merengue-on-crack" tune towards the beginning of our show, all worries vanquished. The 1000+ crowd instantly turned into a mosh pit and people danced like maniacs for the next two hours. We had to barricade ourselves as people kept falling into the band! ...and we played on and on. It was complete mayhem... just the way we like it to be.
We wrapped up the show at about 2:30am, but the night was far from over. The longstanding tradition is that on the night of the Redentore, after a night of celebration, you sleep on the Lido; Venice's adjacent beach-island. Of course, we went.
The entire beach was partying, but I decided to take a long solemn swim in the warm salty Adriatic Sea. Heavenly.
The sun rose and we left the Lido, boarded the vaporetto (bus boat) and headed back to Venice and slept.
The middle of the next day we had one last gig, an outdoor acoustic performance on the Zattere at one of our favorite Venetian hangs, El Chioschetto. This was great too, quite tiring, but a good Campari Spritz took the edge off.
The following day the rest of the band headed back to NYC, but I stayed as I had more business to attend to. Before I get to that, I want to sum up my night like this: In a turn of events, I ended up cooking pasta for Venetians (talk about pressure) WHILE I fought off bats that had flown into the apartment. That's how I roll. Cooking while battling flying rodents. I didn't end up smacking any of the recording equipment, and the bat finally left. Most importantly, the pasta came out great. Venice.
Anyway... the next morning (more like the middle of the night) I took a boat to a bus to a train to a bus... to go to the other side of the Adriatic Sea, to Pula, Croatia on the Istrian peninsula. I was on my way to visit the Accord Case company, the makers of the finest, highest-end instrument cases in the world.
I have used an Accord Case for almost a year now and it has changed my life. My personal case is an early model in their revolutionary tuba case design, and was due for some adjustments. I have come to rely on this case so heavily that a trek to the factory was warranted since Pula is only about half a day's journey from Venice. After I rode a crowded train to the edge of Italy, then a crowded bus through Slovenia, into Croatia (an adventure for me as I had never been to Eastern Europe before)...and I certainly don't speak the language(s)! I was incredibly sleep deprived and exhausted, as well as a little intimidated by the Eastern European border officials that kept boarding our bus, so I didn't end up taking many photos of this leg of my journey.
Once at the Accord factory, it was wonderful -- a team sized up the wear on my case and did some needed adjustments. What an incredible company (more on that soon...)
After they were done, I headed out for a nice dinner then back to my hotel - a groovy old hotel built when Croatia was ruled by the Austrians, which was adjacent to the colosseum ruins from Roman times. Interesting place.
But again, there was little time for rest, as I had to be up at the crack of dawn to get back to Venice in time to get to my plane back to NYC.
Back on Venice, I said goodbye to my Venetian friends and to that amazing city... I had to head back home.
Once back home, I had a little time to catch up and dive back into the swing of things in NYC, but that was only temporary. I had had two pending, consecutive trips with New Beard - our first touring ever. It was now time for rock tour.
We loaded up in the pouring rain to head upstate to New England. A delightful trip (despite some nausea on the way home from the first one....) We hit Burlington, VT, Northampton, MA, and some little town in between, which I forgot the name of!
That was a good start, but was not the end... just a few days later we had a second trip, this time down to Florida - as part of the Heart of Darkness comedy and rock tour -- it was 3 bands all travelling together. The Heart of Darkness band with comedian Greg Barris, the band Corrupt Autopilot, New Beard, and the soulful Yazan did some solo performances too. It was all presented by the Florida Beer Company. Mmmm beer.
We flew down to Orlando and congregated at the home of our new friend Tierney from the great band The Pauses. Tierney’s house also had a special pet... Garbanzo, the giant tortoise!
Several great shows, Orlando, Boca Raton, and then Ybor City, and we made it out just hours before Hurricane Isaac. A good solid first rock tour.
Ok... that’s enough for now. Many more things coming up....