This is all still coming together and I have some avails left in there and am working to connect the dots -- please contact me asap if you'd like me to come to you to play, teach, or both! firstname.lastname@example.org
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....
This is sidestage (raw) video from one of the more memorable shows I've ever done. In April 2012, the full Gato Loco was in Venice, Italy for an outdoor show, which got rained out. Consequently we crammed the entire band's setup, as well as a couple hundred people into a historic greenhouse and rocked the place. I love Venice.
8/23 - Will's Pub, Orlando
8/24 - Funky Bhudda, Boca Raton
8/25 - Crow Bar, Ybor City
Here is an initial update of my international shows over the next few months. This is only preliminary info, more will be added.
With GATO LOCO
With HEAVY TUBA
With SAIDAH BABA TALIBAH
With GATO LOCO
...more shows pending!
See the full calendar for all my gigs!
on April 20th, Gato Loco will be playing at the Stanser Musiktage festival, in Stans, Switzerland
This is a great festival - we'll be there with MMW, Rabih Abou-Kahlil, Joseph Bowie and many other great folks!
Stans is right outside of Lucerne, so if you are in the neighborhood, come hang with us!
We will be doing a few more shows in Europe on that short tour - Italy and Germany. More info TBA.....
I have played on a Miraphone tuba exclusively since 1992. I have based my career on it and make my living on it. I still exclusively play the one horn I have ever bought. It's seen so much action... been ridden hard and put away wet, and still has so much character, flexibility and soul.
On Gato Loco's recent trip to Europe a couple of weeks ago, it was my extreme pleasure to get to visit and tour the Miraphone factory in Waldkraiburg, Germany, about an hour train ride outside of Munich, right in the heart of Bavaria.
It's a magical place full of magical people and magical instruments!
Upon arrival, I met Josef Eisgruber, a technician, artisan, and euphoniumist from the company. He was incredibly enthusiastic about his job at Miraphone, and explained how the company is actually employee-owned and every stage of their horn production happens right there.
Josef gave me a tour of every corner of the factory...
(click on each photo for a larger version, sorry some are a bit blurry, they are phone pictures)
Assembly bench with 4/4, 5/4, and 6/4 tubas in final stages of production.
The assembly room.
Raw brass, from Germany, used for valve tubing.
Raw brass, from Germany, used in the larger parts of the horn.
More raw brass storage.
Bow jig/mold for the 4/4 C and Bb tubas.
Josef with the press that uses the molds. A tenor horn mold is in there at the moment.
Bells of raw brass in an early stage of fabrication.
A worker hand fires and joins the edges of the raw brass to make a flugelhorn bell.
The bell is now made round by hand with a hammer and anvil.
This is used to further shape the bell (a mold, of sorts - this one is for a 3/4 tuba)
A worker further shapes a tuba bell.
A worker makes valves on this hi-precision lathe.
Miraphone makes all their valves in-house. These are rotary valves for a tuba.
Rotary valve paddles.
Valve clusters for the popular 'Norwegian Star' Eb/F tuba.
Tubas ready for lacquer then assembly.
Giant dryer to dry the parts before lacquering begins.
Complete horns awaiting assembly.
Horn assembly bench. This guy (and a few others) were rocking some serious blaßmusik in the background while they worked!
A beautiful new 188 (or "88" as they call it now) is almost complete.
Josef and the 88. All that's left to be added is valve linkage.
Josef and I with the 88.
A bunch of horns, almost completed.
Finishing each detail.
Even more detail work. I loved how this worker suspended the horn from the ceiling.
Stockroom with horns awaiting shipment.
Naturally, I had to have them give my horn a tweak! They replaced some parts of my valve linkage and tightened it all up -- I am guessing it is better now than it was when it was brand new!!!
Artisans working on my horn.
Amazing work!! Many many thanks!!!!!
While there, I also spent a lot of time playing horns... I was SO giddy, like a kid in a candy shop, that I forgot to take pictures of the showroom -- I even forgot my mouthpiece when I was done!! Wow, was I excited...!
I got a chance to meet and spend some time with their development manager Christian Niedermaier and I got a chance to play about a zillion different tubas. I played every single CC they had in the showroom, as well as a couple of prototypes, including the new 6/4 York-style horn which is still in development. (it was great, York-like, but still had a Miraphone soul) I played a few F and BBb tubas as well. The best tuba I played there (next to mine, of course!) was the new 5/4 "Bruckner" rotary CC. It was actually one of the best CC tubas I've ever played. I almost tried to buy it on the spot... It's absolutely outstanding. Another tuba of note was the good ol 88 (188) It still retains that old Miraphone soul!
That was a spectacular day and really was an honor for me. I'll definitely be back!! Thanks so much Miraphone!!!
Not 3 weeks after our previous trip to Munich and Salzburg, Gato Loco was back at it in Europe again. After a few really intense pre-tour rehearsals in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, all 10 of us hit the air to the Motherland.
We again arrived in Munich, as this time the first gig was actually there in town. The full band all congregated again in Munich's West End. Early the gig-day morning we headed out for setup, rehearsal and soundcheck at Munich's famous Unterfahrt Jazz Club. While the band only sort of rests on the precipice of jazz, high-end clubs like Unterfahrt (and Bimhuis in Amsterdam) seem to like us!
The club was nice, but not huge... akin in size to clubs in NYC like the Village Vanguard or Sweet Basil. The fact that it was in a basement even more reminded me of an NYC vibe. When we got there, the stage, barely large enough to hold all 10 of us, had a giant concert-grand piano right in the middle of it. This was a problem. We found the tech and the GL rhythm section all pitched in and we got that beast moved - at least to the side of the stage.
After getting creative to sort out some logistic sound issues, we hit that stage hard. The gig was great! Due to the venue's regulations we had to split our single rock-concert sized set into two separate jazz-type sets, but that's ok, we still made it rock! We wondered in that intimate room if people would hang out for our whole show, but the did! The place was completely packed. It was also fun to meet some new people who had already seen a few members of the band perform back in NYC and had made it to the show. The whole crew from our label, Winter and Winter, as well as our new friend, massive-instrument inventor Eppleshiem were all in the house. We had a really great night.
Gato Loco plays hard, both on and off stage. That night, after the show, the jet lag eventually hit me and I crashed back at the hotel, but rumor has it that some raucous activity took place late that night in München........
The next day our large band had a productive organizational meeting discussing the next levels into the future and our spring and summer tours of 2012. Awesome.
The following day was a big one for me personally, I had an appointment at the Miraphone factory in Waldkreiburg, about a hour train ride from München, (More on that HERE!!!)
Then the next day the entire band got on the train for a 4 hour ride to Göttingen, the city of Germany's oldest university. Gato Loco was to headline the town's week-long jazz festival.
We arrived in the early afternoon and checked into our hotel, which overlooked the car wash, bowling alley, a McDonald's and a Burger King. It was just like being in Anytown, USA. However, at this place, every band member had their own room and the beds were quite comfortable.
That afternoon, after a quick nap, some of the band went to the university to teach some lessons to members of the school's jazz band. We met for dinner, then some of the band tore up the festival's open jam session and celebrated into the night.
The next day was the festival finale, and I was well rested. We went to the venue which was on the outskirts of town in some sort of old warehouse. Nice place, and they had GREAT gear for us! The band took its time getting everything in order and we settled on for a nice soundcheck. It was definitely a "rock" setup, which is the type of situation that works best for that band.
It came to gig time and the place really filled up, it ended up being packed to the gills - and the band absolutely went for the jugular with that show! It was aggressive and exciting and the close-on crowd absolutely ate it up! We did one encore and they wanted another, so then we did another, and they wanted more so we gave them more... we probably could have played all night! Göttingen Loves Gato Loco (or Gatö Löcö...?)
Here's a nice review of the night. ...if you read German.
The next day we hopped the trains hit our respective departure cities and flew home.
We'll be back soon.
The fall is always a marathon, and I now finally have a couple of days to catch my breath. This fall has been a time of constant motion... Have tuba will travel!
Starting in September, New York's notorious Ja Ja Jas kicked off our Oktoberfest tear with shows in New York at our home base of Zum Schneider. It was madness as always; a line down the street to get in (and we heard that someone actually slept in their car to get a good space in line!)
Right after rehearsing in NYC, the Ja Ja Jas immediately hit the road for the south, first down to North Carolina, then up through Virginia, back to NYC for a few shows, then back down to Virginia again.
(here I am with Herbie Abernathy of Valient Thorr -- was at our show!)
Big festival crowds and new friends and great food and... beer. Those shows are a lot of work, but are worth it for the vibe and the crowd!
I took a break from the Ja Ja Jas' constant string of Blaßmusik rocking, to head overseas again with the mighty Gato Loco for our third European trip in just over a year. We brought our "Psycho-Mambo" brand of jazz-rock to headline the Salzburg "Jazz and The City" festival in gorgeous Salzburg, Austria. (original home of W.A. Mozart, who I share a birthday with)
Gato Loco all converged in Munich, from what seemed to be a million different flights. We finally all made it in and got a great afternoon of rehearsal in a gorgeous art loft transformed out of an old post office in Munich's West End.
Here I'll mention that this was the maiden air flight for the famed Accord tuba case. This is the hi-tech carbon flight case which weights only slightly more than a soft gigbag. It worked great - I had to take 2 different airlines to get to Munich and they obviously put the case to the test (scratched the crap out of the outside of it, and beat the bumpers) but the ultralight case held it's own - no tuba damage! It came right out of baggage claim, right up the conveyor with the normal-sized suitcases, and I was able put the horn right on my back and walk right out of the airport and hop on a train. Tuba players will understand what a HUGE deal this is!
We visited this retro place called a CD store and look what we found displayed prominently!
and of course, we hit some bier halls!
The next morning, we got up early and hurriedly headed up the Alps toward Salzburg.
Once in this very pretty town, we got to the hotel and the band quickly befriended the dirndl-laden hotel staff and everyone got a quick nap to chill in our nice digs before soundcheck.
The venue was great - a large ballroom type of venue. The band and house staff got quickly to work putting together our sizable setup of two separate drum setups, two separate bass setups, guitar plus seven different horns.
During our soundcheck, a representative came to our venue in Salzburg from the Accord Case company in Croatia to modify my case for me! (Rockstar treatment! yeah!!) He set me up well!
Between soundcheck we had the pleasure of heading up the mountain to one of the most notorious restaurants in Salzburg which overlooks the entire town. Amazing! There we dined on Deer and got a chance to catch up with our festival-mates Bobby Previte and Steve Swallow, who had just finished their set. We didn't linger long tho... Gato Loco was on the clock and had a job to do!
We started our usual off-stage entrance and quickly surprised the crowd.
The band threw down for the entire extended-length set. The kind Austrian crowd ate it up, got out of their seats and danced the night away. It was a great show.
After the show, per Gato Loco tradition, we joined some of the locals for some reveling on the town.
Upon my return to the Big Apple, there was no time to rest! First, immediately, the De Bajo portion of Gato Loco played at our favorite home base of Barbes in Brooklyn, and New Beard was in rehearsal. I then headed with the Red Hook Ramblers for a quick jaunt to Boston, then rushing back for a show at Lincoln Center in NYC. Right from LC I ran to a CMJ spot with New Beard at Union Hall in Brooklyn. The next morning it was back to the studio with NB and then break and run to play an orchestral gig at Carnegie Hall, all of this within about 3 days time. Whew!
Fortunately this week I have a few days to recover and then in a week it's back to the studio with New Beard, Halloween with Gato Loco de Bajo, then back to Germany for a few more shows with the full Gato Loco.
Lots of things to come... some great media from both New Beard and Gato Loco to be released soon and more shows shows shows with all sorts of bands. Tuba Life is never boring in NYC!
Simple, Post-Summer update:
This time of year is always a point of change and rejuvenation. Leaning into Oktoberfest is always symbolic - it's more than a bier-soaked gropefest powered by Oom and Pah, It's a transition out of the slower moving, fragmented summer into the work-frenzy that Autumn always is for me.
Summer was good, but I am glad the fall is here. As usual, I been working with quite a few bands and ensembles, but here's a few summer highlights from a few of the groups I am more vested in:
Big growth for the indie rock band of New Beard... from the big show we all put on at Littlefield, to the recent pre-hurricane show at Union Hall (which kicked ass!), and Zebulon and others between, that band just keeps getting better (and soon will hopefully release the awesome CD that we spent a year recording...!) The songs and dudes are just great.
I spent a lot of time in the trad trenches with the Red Hook Ramblers... we played all over place, and did several records. Highlights included our residency at Galapagos' Floating Kabarette, and now to add the Way Station. We made a live EP of original tunes recorded direct on to wax cylinder on an original Edison cylinder phonograph from 1908. The Ramblers will also appear in an upcoming episode of TLC's hit TV show "Four Weddings" to air in January.
Gato Loco has been working hard, much of it behind the scenes. We've kept the fire burning around town, but more importantly we've been working on two trips to Europe: Austria in October, then a larger trip in November which includes, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland. We have a number of trips already in motion for 2012. Stay tuned for upcoming media coming from this group!
Stay tuned for updates from NYC's legendary Mösl Franzi and the Ja Ja Jas. This coming Saturday kicks off our rockstar whirlwind that is Oktoberfest. Wish me luck!
Other CDs are coming out or recently came out with me on them: Recordings by Jack Grace, Kiku Collins, Voltaire, and Sabrina Chap' in addition to bands listed above. I go in this week to record another... I don't yet know who it is for!
I want to share a new case situation with you all... as well as a plunge I am taking!
For years I have searched for an optimal tuba case situation -- something similar to what almost every other non-tuba playing instrumentalist enjoys: a case that is usable on a day-to-day basis and is also protective. Constant dings, dents, and damage while-in-the-case is considered to be an expected inevitability for tuba players, especially ones who drag their horns around constantly, such as myself.
As of now, tuba players must rely on soft cases for day-to-day use, and then switch to an industrial bohemoth for more protected transport.
Players of other instruments, even large instruments, don't seem to have this issue, or at least as much of one.
Cello players for instance, enjoy superior portability versus protection while their instruments are exponentially more valuable and fragile. I have also noticed that many of my trumpet, trombone, and sax playing colleagues have form-fitting cases which are lightweight and ergonomic.
Most current tuba hard cases are simply too large for reasonable cartage, much less daily use, and pose major logistic challenges and consequences for the player. The philosophy behind many of them is often one of excess and often downright ballistic in their design.
Protection of the horn is of course a good thing, but protection means little when practically unusable. I need a case that fits to what my personal logistic situation is - I haul the tuba most every single day to different locations, in a wide variety of transportation situations. I average 150 gigs a year, and that's not including rehearsals and giving lessons etc. This means I am dragging my horn with me constantly, and to venues which vary greatly. I often find myself in crowded, bustling situations where a gig bag is simply not enough protection. I require protection and maximum portability at the same time.
To add to this, I am playing more out of town lately, making the need for a better case situation paramount. I need a touring-quality case where I can reasonably go from an airplane to a train to a normal-sized car all within the same logistic sweep. I need a protective case which will easily pass through varying international airlines and airport situations. Before, I would use a standard flight case and take my empty gig bag along in a suitcase, then I'd have to beg people overseas in the city I was flying into to stow the flight case (and pick it up) while I traveled on with the horn in the gig bag via trains and cars.
I play a fairly standard tuba - an old Mirafone (Miraphone) 186 CC that I use for everything. I'm not really an F tuba fan, and a tiny travel tuba is out of the question for use in performance. For most of what I do, the 186 is perfect; not too big, not too small. I can dig deep and sound like a b.a.t., and I can make it sound light when I need to. Plus, I have played on this horn pretty much exclusively for 20 years. It fits me and I fit it. My relationship to this horn sort of akin to Willie Nelson and his guitar named Trigger.
In searching for a better case situation, I contacted some makers of fiberglass form-fitted cases for other wind instruments, and none were interested in making a tuba case.
I then ventured into the world of casemakers of other types of instruments. It seems that string players have the most options (probably due to sheer numbers of players) and have access to higher-tech materials such as carbon and kevlar. I figured something had to work for me. Size-wise a tuba is around the same size as a cello, and as far as tubas go, my tuba is not all that heavy, weighing in at around 18lbs.
I sought out hi-end string case makers, and surprisingly found that one actually listed a new hi-tech tuba case. I had never heard of it, but it seemed like it might fit the bill.
The company is Accord Case from Pula, Croatia, right accross the Adriatic from Venice. They are primarily known for their ultra high-end cello cases (Yo Yo Ma and Rostrapovitch use them. Yo Yo Ma's cello is an $8M Stradavarius!) and guitar cases (Santana, Sting, Eddie Van Halen) and their carbon and Kevlar technology is so revolutionary that Ferrari used them to make seats for their F1 racecar.
I found the representatives at Accord to be incredibly responsive and professional and were more than happy to work with me and help to put together a case that fit my needs. We corresponded constantly for weeks, always with a prompt detailed response and no language barrier. I had to provide them with many detailed measurements, photos, as well as a full-sized concise tracing/blueprint of my horn which I shipped to Croatia in a box. In turn they provided me with photos of my case, as well as photos of their prototypes with horns in them, showing how it would work.
It seems that their design is made for something similar to a 186 and/or any German-style 4/4 CC or F. The case is not too much bigger than the tuba itself, and then the fine-tuning is made with adjustments are then made to the the suspension on the inside, which is designed to suspend the horn with a series of bumpers, pads and straps. (more details on this when I take delivery of the case)
My tuba weights about 18.5 lbs (it's unlaquered and fairly lightweight) and that's about just what the case is supposed to weigh as well. So, what I should have is a flight package that weighs UNDER 40lbs! (my previous setup is 98lbs, having it in a prosound crate case)
Here is a stock photo of someone standing on the demo case, demonstrating the rigidity of their flight model case.
Here are photos of my personal case (while still at the factory) which is has a more rugged matte finish in Ferrari Red (with a design I commissioned from NYC artist Dima Drjuchin http://www.avrodesign.com/dima/ )
This is a whole new era and approach to instrument cases. Here is a Toyota TV commercial with classical guitarist Berta Rojas, with her guitar in an Accord case, which is very similar to the tuba case I had them make for me.
Early in the morning on June 25, after a painful night playing out in the Hamptons the night before, I got up at the crack and took the train up to Beacon, NY. Gato Loco was slated to rock the Beacon Riverfest.
It’s an AMAZING train ride upstate to Beacon, NY, which is a little over an hour north of the city. The entire route, from Spuyten Duyvil north, is on the right bank of the Hudson River. I have grown a fondness for the mighty Hudson. The Hudson has a significant place in our family’s history: My wife’s Great Grandfather spent his 30+ year career on the river as Chief Engineer on the SS Alexander Hamilton, a Day-Liner steamship that went up and down the Hudson every single day. It’s been said that riverboat was his first love, and my wife’s Great Grandmother was his second. It’s an awesome river.
Anyway, on to the gig. After a rejuvenating 70 minute train ride, my proximity app on my phone (awesome) alerted me I was near Beacon. I got off the train expecting to head inland to the festival site. To my surprise the festival was to the west of the train, in a park nestled on a tiny peninsula jutting out in the river!
This was one of the rare gigs ever where I am actually the first person there, but I was. I work to help coordinate this behemoth ensemble, so I took it upon myself to get there early to make sure logistics were cool.
I got into the park and even at this early hour, the tented soundstage was already rocking with sounds from Tao Seeger, great grandson of the great Pete Seeger soundchecking. His folk-meets-rock sound with some nice NoLa influenced groovin made for a nice introduction to the festival.
The Gato cars showed up and we got the day underway, a soundcheck, great amp selection, great food and beautiful location made for a nice day. My family even came up from the city! Here’s a photo of my daughter all gussied up in her dress-up accessories to, in her words “look fancy for daddy’s gig” Awww! (photo by Jan Meissner)
Gato took the stage in the late afternoon, and took it we did. I think we startled the folk-loving Beaconites a bit, but we rocked it nonetheless. It was good sound and we sold a big pile of Gato Loco merch. We met a bunch of new friends and it was all good in Beacon. (awesome photo by Jan Meissner)