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.
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