Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009-12-16 Monte Montgomery

12-16-2009: Monte Montgomery 
Where: The Saxon Pub, Austin TX
Went with: Myself


This is how a week of work travel can turn into a wonderful memory. Here’s the week in a nutshell:

  • Left a very stressed wife at home for 4 nights of work travel
  • Plane delayed, de-iced, then landed 60 minutes late into O’Hare 
  • Connecting flight departed with me waving at it (5 hours of wonderful O’Hare seating to enjoy) Yes…that’s the plan as it pulls back while I watch it after feeling my lungs bleeding from running across O’Hare to catch it…IMG_2495
  • Great education at work on marketing, competition, and pricing.
  • Became scared and quite motivated at our competition vs. our products
  • Met some great people in marketing

After all that, I needed some great music. Now that a constant goal is to hear and see great music, even when I’m in a town for work I try to find something great. In this case, working in Austin, TX for made me hope to see something ‘native’. To my joy, I found a new iPhone app called ‘Concerts’ that, based on my location, listed all big and small shows in the surrounding area. AWESOME!

Enter Monte Montgomery – an Austin native. In the iPhone listings, this name popped out as one I recognized. I read a lot of guitar magazines (duh) and it turns out he was listed in the top 50 guitar players alive in Guitar Player. I was sold. Needed to see him.

Luckily work wrapped up around 7pm so I drove downtown Austin to see him. What a treat!IMG_2518


He mingles in the bar before. He walks on and says ‘hey’. He starts playing acoustic like I’ve never heard it played live. And he whacks and bends the guitar to do what he wants. Amazing. Never thought acoustic and drums could sound so good.

Take a listen….

See? Amazing. Then, he had a sax player along. Now, this may sound terrible, but I’ve never really liked sax players…they just take precious guitar soloing away from me. But then Monte invited a beat-box player…now THIS was awesome!!!

Acoustic, drums, and a beat-box player!!! So cool. And, when beat-box player was done, he just walked off stage, got a beer, and stood next to me watching the rest of the show. Must be something to be that good but just be another ‘anybody’ in Austin, TX.


See the guys on the left  of this photo? That’s Monte…and the next band to play (Monte was the 8-10, and he was talking with the 10-12 act). This made a big impression. This guy is in the top 50 ON EARTH and he’s still pounding out music at small bars with 80 people looking on, then stepping out the stage door to the parking lot to chat as the next act rolled in.

A great night of music, but also a great night to realize how good I’ve got it. I can play music when I want, where I want, but I don’t have to worry about how it’s going to pay for my next meal.

The other insight I had: I need my wife’s support. She is my anchor at home. If she is supportive, that anchor is solid and I can fly free, hard, and take my ambition to new heights because I I know she’s there and I am happy. However, when she’s worried and not happy (stressed) then the anchor starts slipping and I can’t feel the connection…I don’t want to apply any energy in fear the anchor might rip out.

All in all? A very good trip for the life of Greg.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2009-12-05: The New Standards

12-05-2009: The New Standards Holiday Concert
Where: The Fitzgerald Theatre, St. Paul, MN
Went with: Wife, James and Lisa
This is probably my favorite thing to do…explore a city with my wife and go to a great show. (Isn’t she just so pretty!?!) Here we are in St. Paul walking with James and Lisa to a sushi restaurant called Fujiya.
While I’ve had sushi before, I’m no expert. James and Lisa are, so it was great fun to go with them to learn all there is to know…and since James is ‘the man’, we got to dine in this private room with traditional tables and seats. (meaning, the floor with pillows and a chair back). Quite enjoyable!  BTW, the Mondale's were eating just behind our private booth. I was thinking of giving them tips on how to become an ‘influencer’ so that they could get great private rooms like this.

I assume all Japanese restaurants provide this serious public service for new chopstick users through visual icons:

Don’t stick these into your ears

Don’t stick these into your nose

and DON’T make walrus tusks out of them!

Such a wonderful selection of Sushi. The Saki carafe was not in the photo but provided wonderfully warm Saki to warm us and make the sushi even more delightful.

Such a beautiful lady!!! (and brave with her tuna, eel, and crab sushi)

OK. So now that we were all ready, we walked to the Fitzgerald Theatre and saw a great show. I did feel privileged  to be there…like I was invited to an ‘insiders-in-the-know’ event. There were well known musicians on stage as main players and guests, poetry readings, tap dancing, and even a quazi-ballet.
The New Standards is a group of very well-known Minneapolis artists. Their focus is playing songs we all know in new and unique ways. turns it was very refreshing. I loved the piano/founder voice of Chan Poling, who used to rock with the Suburbs. They even played “Love is the Law”.
They had a variety of Christmas songs in cool arrangements, but the most memorable was when the bass player said “This is a song written for the composers father”, then proceeded to play Cheap Trick’s “I want you to want me”. The crazy thing is that all our lives we all knew this song to be about a boy singing to a girl. With the bass player’s intro, and the arrangement of a powerful ballad, it was quite a powerfully moving piece where the goal of the boy was to have is dad want him, love him, need him, and spend time with him.
Another highlight was Dan Wilson and Gary Louris sang their grammy-winning song written for the Dixie Chicks “Lullabye”
(this one is a millionty times better than DC version) 
By the end of the night when they played “Hey Na” in a jazz style, we were hooked. The love for Minneapolis and St. Paul really came through the musicians…especially the bass player (John Munson from Trip Shakespeare) as he said that this city guides and aids and engages musicians to develop their craft and their songs, so that when they are incubated and ready, the world hears them and ask “where on earth did that come from!”
This was our view from the hotel we stayed at. The wife and I walked by the river in the morning in brisk 15 degree sun…cold but very enjoyable. As usual, my favorite days are when my sweetie is next to me.

No, I didn’t buy this as a concert souvenir. The wife wanted to go to IKEA and since James was along I was able to spend 1.5 hours at Guitar Center…where I saw this, and a PRS amp. Both were sweet but far beyond the possibilities (for now :-)  )   All in all, a great guitar, but I’m still in love with the PRS Tonare Grand.
A lovely, lovely weekend. One I will remember for quite some time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

2009-11-22: Brian Setzer Orchestra

11-22-2009: Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza!
Where: Mystic Lake Casino, Prior Lake, MN
Went with: Wife, Dave and Paula
Times: twice. (last time in ‘06)


Yeah. I love shows that focus on guitars (these were on display next to a ‘register to win’ area. I hope to update this post with my winning guitar ;-)   ) 

Brian Setzer is one of my favorite guitarists and it works out well that my wife loves the big-band music he performs.


Christmas show. Wonderful! His wife sings backup…kind of a dream of me and the missus.


My favorite part is when they break down to just 3 players. SO much sound coming out of these three guys. Bass player was so impressive. Notice him STANDING on his bass!!! SOOOO cool. The drummer is also standing while playing (just kick, snare, tom, cymbal)


The only bummer? Mr. and Mrs Mellonhead were sitting in front of me, and Mr. Munster in front of them. AND, they were playing “Rock this Town” and nobody stood up!!! The wife and I were bouncing in our seats, stood up during “Jump, Jive, and Wail” and couldn’t believe these folks wouldn’t stand and move.

Ah well. Wonderful show. Stunning guitar work, and it even snowed indoors. Great great show.

2009-11-21: Pastel Black

11-21-2009: Pastel Black
Where: Rookies, Rochester, MN 
Went with: Wife, Steve and Jen, Jane
Times: 4 times!IMG_2334

…or as I call them “The Oomlat Boys”. I love these guys. It’s a somewhat local band that plays 80’s hair metal. Just Love it! Even better, the bass player in our worship band, Mark, just started playing bass with them. So now I can hear my favorite music thru my favorite cover band with my favorite bass player!

I’ve seen other cover bands and I have wondered why I like these guys so much? Here are a few thoughts:

- Steve: My friend Steve works with the guitar guy (WooooW is guitar-guy good!!!) and dragged me to Winona to see them…then to Pine Island…then to Winona again. It’s great fun to hang out with him (also since I have so few friends…but enough non-roboty talk)

- They really respect the music! The singer is older but can hit the notes wonderfully. Guitar-guy is younger but can hit every note like any guitar-god. Drummer…good! Bass player…lovely! I think other bands almost mock the music but these guys have so much fun…and they’re not crude or lude just wonderfully fun

- The oomlat is over the ‘S’ of Pastel Black. That is soooo funny to me. Classic rock-n-roll style…like flipping the bird at authority in a wonderfully wholesome manner!

-They let me sing TNT! Rockin!!!! (That’s me and grandpa singer)


Friday, November 13, 2009

2009-09-29: Miley Cyrus

09-29-2009: Miley Cyrus
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
Went with: Nobody! Girlies and Niece went together

Ok. I didn't go to this concert but I paid for it so my girls and niece could...and am so glad I did! They loved it and I felt I got closer to them because now we have more in common. There's just nothing like it.
Update: After this initial post, I received some ‘parenting guidance’ on how terrible it was to let them go to this concert. I withheld any commenting but considered showing my ‘Devil-Horn’ photo from the AC/DC concert and how I would LOVE to share that experience with my son. While I am a Jesus-follower, I’m getting quite tired of holy zealots and their goal to ‘shock’ the world to understand how evil it is. I actually think that Jesus wouldn’t mind rockin’ out to some AC/DC or Miley. He would find the concert-goers wonderfully kind and engaging, and find the concert a great talking point to explore the topics that are brought up.
My other idea was to say, “It’s just entertainment!!! Now, where’s my ‘how to prostitutionalize your daughters in 5 Miley steps’ monthly newsletter? AH THERE IT IS…right next to my Patron for kids video and my I heart the devil t-shirt”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

2009-11-11: Gal Costa & Romero Lubambo

11-11-09: Gal Costa & Romero Lubambo
Where: Blue Note Jazz Club NYC
Went with: Myself

I know. You're thinking "Who" and "Why" and "Where's the PRS?" Well it was related to my pursuit of all things PRS. I was in NYC for a customer briefing. Since the airlines didn’t cooperate I had to fly in Tuesday evening and fly out Thursday morning. That left ample time to search for fun things to do. One of my new favorites is going to “Rudy’s” guitar shop and find guitars. Wednesday morning I played a PRS acoustic Tonare Grand. Beautiful acoustic that I hope to one day own. Actually, I'm torn because I always wanted the cutaway version (Angelus) but Rudy's didn't have it...just the full rounded version. It played and sounded so beautiful I'm not sure I want the cutaway anymore.

Anyway, I was in the mood for acoustic guitar music and this was the closest thing I could find. Brazilian. Actually they're both from Brazil and quite popular. Every song...2 measures in...prompted a big "Ahhh!" and applause from the audience. I didn't know any of the songs. She has a great voice and the guy was an amazing acoustic bosa nova guitar player. wonderful!

Anywho it was great fun. Got to listen to music I normally don't hear in a famous jazz club and sat next to people I would have never met before (a table of marketing CFO-types that live in the city…and a girl from Israel who loves Gal Costa).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Full Concert List

I guess I've seen some shows when I was younger, but I never felt I saw a "real" concert.

When I got older I started to feel, well, old. Come to find out seeing some great music is good not only for my mood but passion in music, interest in playing and composing. All said, I am a better person and am MUCH happier after seeing a great show. I feel like I take a big bite out of life seeing a great show. Sharing the experience with my wife is certainly the best.

Here's my complete history of concerts.

Where: The Cabooze, Minneapolis, MN
Went with: Wife
Times: 11th

05-19-2012: Van Halen
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN
Went with: Myself

03-10-2012: RCPM
Where: St. Paul, MN
Went with: Wife, Lisa
Times: 10th

03-04-2012: Shaun Groves
Where: Crosswinds Church, Rochester MN
Went with: Wife

12-03-2011: The New Standards
Where: The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul MN
Went with: Wife, James, Lisa
Times: 3rd

11-27-2011: George Winston
Where: Mayo Civic Center, Rochester MN
Went with: Wife
Times: 6th

07-05-2011: U2
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago
Went with: Wife

02-13-2011: Amy Grant; Michael W. Smith
Where: Orpheum, Minneapolis MN
Went with: Wife

01-29-2011: Marc Cohn
Where: Burnsville, MN
Went with: Myself

12-12-2010: RCPM 
Where: Phoenix, Arizona
Went with: Wife, Lisa
Times: 9th

12-04-2010: The New Standards
Where: The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul MN
Went with: Wife, James, Lisa
Times: 2nd

07-23-2010: Ted Nugent, with Val Halla
Where: The Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake Iowa
Went with: Steve

07-07-2010: Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
Where: Des Moines, Iowa
Went with: Wife, Lisa
Times: 8th

06-28-2010: The Les Paul Trio
Where: The Iridium, New York City
Went with: Myself
Times: 2nd

06-02-2010: Jewel
Where: The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul MN
Went with: Myself, Wife
Times: 4th

05-29-2010: Pastel Black (#6)
Where: Rookies, Rochester MN
Went with: Wife, Steve and Jen, Jane and Dave

04-25-2010: Brian Regan
Where: Rochester Civic Center Auditorium, Rochester, MN
Went with: Myself, Wife

02-20-2010: B.B. King and Buddy Guy
Where: Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis
Went with: Myself

12-31-2009: Pastel Black (#5)
Where: Rookies, Rochester MN
Went with: Wife, Steve and Jen, Jane, James and Lisa

12-16-2009: Monte Montgomery 
Where: The Saxon Pub, Austin TX
Went with: Myself

12-05-2009: The New Standards Holiday Concert
Where: The Fitzgerald Theatre, St. Paul, MN
Went with: Wife, James and Lisa

11-22-2009: Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Extravaganza!
Where: Mystic Lake Casino, Prior Lake, MN
Went with: Wife, Dave and Paula

11-21-2009: Pastel Black   (4th time seeing them)
Where: Rookies, Rochester, MN 
Went with: Wife, Steve and Jen, Jane

11-11-09: Gal Costa & Romero Lubambo
Where: Blue Note Jazz Club, NYC
Went with: Myself

10/29/09: Miley Cyrus
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
Went with: Girlies and Niece went together

10/16/09: RCPM
Where: Springfield, MO

Thoughts: tiny stage and only 30 people made for a fantastic show. Close enough to pat a "awesome solo" for Jim Dalton. Best of all, this was a surprise treat. End of our Branson vacation they scheduled it after we arrived. Super!!!

Went with: wife

10/06/09: Creed w/ Staind

Thoughts: Amazing. At times it almost felt worshipful. Scott looked so happy and appreciative of us fans. Mark seemed to love playing. And the pyrotechnics were great!!! My first concert with explosions!

Went with: My friend Tony Esnough who I counceled with at Camp Nathanael.

10/02/09: RCPM w/ the Nadas

Went with: wife

09/28/09: Les Paul Trio

Thoughts: Wow! So much good guitar work. At the Iridum only 3 months after Les Paul died. Small jazz venue. Amazing bass player.

Went with: wife.

09/27/09: Rock of Ages

09/27/09: Mamma Mia
09/26/09: Mary Poppins the Musical
09/25/09: Shrek the Musical
08/08/09: Jimmy Buffett

06/18/09: Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood

2009 June Greg Misc 084

2009 June Greg Misc 086
03/07/09: Thousand Foot Crutch - Children 18:3 IMG_0001

01/27/09: Jewel - treasure island
2009-01 060

01/19/09: AC/DC

11/05/08: Bob Dylan

09/25/08: RCPM - fineline

09/20/08: PRS Experience


07/15/08: RCPM - Iowa casino
2008-07 Summer Fun 027

2008-07 Summer Fun 039 
04/19/08: Blue Man Group - Rochester

04/05/08: RCPM – Fineline
2008-04 RCPM 055
03/15/08: Pillar

10/18/07: RCPM - rocky point Mexico Puerto Pensaco 2007 043

05/06/07: RCPM - Iowa
04/04/07: ZZ Top - partnerworld
03/08/07: smash mouth - vmworld
12/06: Brian Setzer
Fall 06: Prince
Summer 06: Bob Dylan
Spring 06: Jewel - st Paul
Spring 05: Blue Man Group - Las Vegas
Spring 05: Blue Man Group - Mpls
Fall 04: Jewel – northrop
Fall 04: Jesus Christ Superstar (Ted Neeley)
Summer 04: Alison Krauss

May 04: Kings X – Minneapolis


October 03: Kings X – Fineline
Summer 03: Alison Krauss
Jan 03: Rent
Jan 03: Chicago
Jan 03: Aida
1990s: Phantom of the Opera
1990s: Beauty and the Beast 2x
1990s: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Donnie)
1990s: Les Miserables
7/1991: Sonshine
12/23/90: George Winston - Ordway Music Theatre, St. Paul MN
5/6/90: Prince - The Nude Tour - St. Paul Civic Center
4/6/90: Janet Jackson - Rhythm Nation - Met Center
11/10/89: The Nylons - Northrop Auditorium
10/21/89: Michael W Smith - Northrop Auditorium
1989: Sonshine
8/28/88: George Winston - Orchestra Hall, St. Paul MN
7/14/88: Oklahoma! - Ordway
7/1988: Sonshine
03/18/88: Russ Taff and Bryan Duncan - Bethel College Gym
02/19/88: Allies - Rock-a-Torium Brooklyn Park
12/22/87: George Winston - Orchestra Hall, St. Paul MN
12/12/87: Manheim Steamroller - Orpheum Theater
1987: Tangerine Dream
8/15/87: The Nylons - Northrop Auditorium, U of M Campus
7/1987: Sonshine
7/7/87: George Winston - Orchestra Hall, St. Paul MN
6/5/87: Pumpboys and Dinettes - Radisson Playhouse
4/5/87: Stryper - Roy Wilkins Auditorium
12/31/86: Christian Band Concert - Metrodome (Bryan Duncan)
12/23/86: George Winston - Orchestra Hall, St. Paul MN
Thoughts: This was karyn and I first date! Good decision!
11/14/86: Michael W. Smith
1986: Amy Grant
1986: Sonshine
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