So here goes. Long Post time.
Monday: Fly out from London Gatwick and step off the plane into 30 degree heat. Must remember to put shorts on before I leave next time.
Got to the hotel and got some rest and tried to get used to Orlando time.
Tuesday: Did some shopping for presents etc in the day and then back to the hotel to wait for people to arrive. Met up with Kevan and Iain in the lobby and started on the first unloading of a van....some SWEET guitars in there! The RG Paint is gorgeous. Gabe, Ricky and Silke arrived soon after and after unloading the rest of the stuff; it was off to Hooters for the first time that week.
Lots of Jamming ensued that evening along with plenty of beers
Wednesday: More jams/drinking/hooters/setting up PC's
Thursday: Over to Tampa and it's ruch hour traffic with Kev and Iain to pick up the rig - starting to look like Bob wouldn't make it at this point so I slipped into sound engineer mode rather than alcoholic mode - LOL. Back in the evening and met up with Simon and Paul from CK....75% of the band there now. Hooters again and lots of drunken Jamming in the room. Sorted out playing Bass with Pirahna Red for some of the songs - Gabe looking after the others. Though the bits i learnt at 2am didn't really stick that well.
Friday: Set up the rig and start getting ready for soundchecks - a quick mission to buy more equipment from the local music shop to make sure that things went smoothly were well worth it. Had a little time in the afternoon to sort out soundchecks and run through the songs with PR
in time for the evening; rig sorted and recording ready.
THE GIG - FRIDAY
First on Pirahna Red - some great stuff from Shane, Darin and Josh ably assisted by Gabe on bass at the start of the set. The dual lead harmony bits were fantastic!!! PArt two of the set had some welsh dude playing bass....think I kinda got through things with some help from the guys!!! I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Shred-tastic part one. Some great guitar/keys harmony stuff and the guy can sure play those runs. Some very musically technical stuff in there showcasing yet another awesome Jemfest performer.
A super tight band and proof that a speed isn't everything in guitar playing - distinct lack of Ibanez in view - but you can let that go when the material is this good
And last for Friday:
Another shred fest. How this guy doesn't hurt himself while playing i don't know....sure that i would dislocate my fingers trying it!
Then a few more beers and some more jamming (sorry for anyone with the misfortune of hearing me mangle my way through some vai stuff. Though kirk's guitar and amp sounded sweet!!!!
Balducci has arrived, so at least CK has a full line up at last - though grabbing some time to practice would be the problem.
Saturday afternoon: Sound checks for the saturday performers - thanks to Eric Sands' band for forgoing their soundcheck and giving me twenty mins to run through some stuff with CK - first time we had played together was around an hour before we went on! My apologies to Simon and Paul for the few moments I was stressed out and a miserable sod around the 4:30 mark.... :P
THE GIG: SATURDAY
After all the preparation; I forgot my intro line...it was meant to be "We are Cereal Killer from the UK - you must be the USA!!!!!"
Never mind. Despite being a bit rough around the edges, I had a blast playing - even though the sonic torture of you lot having to put up with my singing must have been hell!! Still gutted that I didn't do the James Hetfield vocal style vocal on the ballad too!!!
Got to play Rob's new guitar, and again completely not do it justice!!!
The covers were fun - could have done with a few more soloist for hard to handle - but we will come back to this later.
Thanks to Kirk for his contribution - he did Ozzy more justice that I ever could have. Had a good laugh doing the Austin powers tune too...shows why I'm not a drummer though!!!!
I only caught some of Ricky's set - a had a nasty headache kick in after our set - but that which I saw shows the talent the guy has; great melodies and some beautifully developed songs. Sorry to Ricky for the few little techy problems - but we got through it and it was a fab set by all accounts. TSCHUUUUUUU!!!
Next: Eric Sands
Ok. Time to get blown away part one! Two fantastic guitarists in one band - super tight rhythm section and some fabulous songs. Plenty of variety in there too proving the versatility of the band in general and Eric in particular. An absolute pleasure to see and to work with.
Rob was fantastic last year at Jemfest UK just with Backing tracks, but here with his band I was amazed - anthony and dan do a fantastic job - both amazing players. The whole set was amazing, the new stuff sounds great, the old stuff still sounds great!!!
After a little technical difficulty (the power lead for the FOH amp got pulled out!) Jon Started on a great set showing the variety of his ability - some of the unaccompanied stuff was truly brilliant and a great show man to boot....filled the stage all on his own.
Then came the raffle....what can i say. I guess it was that best of british luck that they talk about. First Ticket out - for some Fire Garden Honey - I won!!! Simon from CK won the other Jar. Then came the big one.
A brand new JEM7VSBL direct from Ibanez.
It is on my knee as i write this!!
I gave back the honey to be re-drawn - I figured with this beauty I had won more than my fair share. Also I will be giving a guitar for the Jemfest UK raffle.
The jam came after that - starting with "J3" - Eric, Rob and Jon jammed a few tunes - amazing people all over again!!
Then us mere mortals got up and did a few and, I think a good night was had by all!
Sunday Saw lots of packing away, me and Rob & Corina polishing off the leftover beers and everyone waving a tearful farewell to another Jemfest. Only a few months to the UK and Germany ones though!
I made some good friends out of the faces seen here and elsewhere and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience....roll on Orlando 2004!!!
Special thanks to Gabe and Kevan, without whom this thing really would not have happened; and to Iain, Butch, Kirk, Brian, Rich and all the rest of the guys.
Simon - thanks for giving me the opportunity to play with you guys - it made sure i went and i am so glad that i did
Simon, Paul, Rob, Shane, Darin and Josh - a pleasure to play with some great guys.