Baseball is big here and every time I come to Nagoya it doesn’t take long before I see some place supporting their city’s team; The Dragons. They have this LA Dodgers look to their uniforms, blue and white,(I swear even the color is Dodger Blue) and we seem to frequent this after party place that cooks up the Nagoya specialty; chicken wings, and the walls are plastered with autographs of many Dragons and other famous celebrities. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There is the matter of the gig first.
We used to play here at a place called The Apollo, nice place with a real rock feel to it. Played there several times with Bluestone. That was years ago and for the last few tours we haven’t been coming to Nagoya for some reason or another but this time we’re back. It’s a different club this go around – Tokuzo. The inside has this nice wood interior in neutral shades and the stage is almost like raw unfinished wood but worn smooth in some areas due to the normal occurrence of activity on the stage. Still I have to be careful while gathering up my cables and pedals cuz’ I’ve dealt with stages like this in their raw form and if you’re not careful you could get a splinter in your finger or even worse under your fingernail and that puts a damper on the gig. Ouch! So no quick movements. A sort of small room but not too small. Sound check done our hotel is just on the other block by a 3 minute walk, depending on if you have to wait at a crosswalk. I put new strings on both guitars. I always change strings on my gold guitar every gig. The Ice blue gets strings about every 4th gig unless I play it a bunch then it could be every other gig. Like I’ve said, strings only have to last me about 90 minutes then they’re out of here. Thank you GHS! I head back over a little early to catch the opening band The Monk Session. Headed by guitarist Hiroshi Mura. I was enjoying his tone and phrasing during their sound check as I was gathering up my stuff to return to the hotel for my bit of pre-gig respite so I wanted to hear them in their real playing conditions. Turns out The Monk Session band is an all instrumental group. Reminded me of my early days of playing when all I wanted to do was play really hard jazz-fusion songs and just fill the musical canvas up with as many notes as I could paint. This band wasn’t that busy on the music but they still were ambitious with some of the music and it was also a two guitar attack with bass and drums. They also had some impressive vintage instruments – bass player 59’ Fender P-bass with anodized pick guard – all original and the guitar player had a Candy Apple Red 64’ Fender strat but the neck was a later one maybe about a 65’ at the earliest. The logo was the thick variety as opposed to the spaghetti one on mine. Still to see a CA Red strat is fairly rare. I was enjoying looking at them and holding them. They sounded great too. The crowd tonight is a good one, in fact it’s sold out and a few standing against the walls. The opening band did a lot of promotion for the gig so gotta’ give it up for their hard work. Arigatou! We step up for our show and tonight I’m wearing this really old T-shirt that I’ve had. Long time ago I opened up for Alan Holdsworth when I was in Bobby Mack and Nightrain. It was at Liberty Lunch in Austin Texas and I was only 21 years old and nervous as all get out cuz’ not only was this one of my current guitar hero, (as aforementioned I was always playing crazy jazz fusion and I had a band where we played a few Holdsworth songs, Red Alert and Snake Oil, trying my best to mimic Holdsworth), but I knew all the ‘kats’ would be at this show and I was going to be mercilessly analyzed, stared at with folded arms with occasional eye-rolls and then picked apart and mildly slagged on if I was lucky. Tough crowd guitar players are. To top it off we were a blues band!? WTF!? How did we get this gig? I didn’t want to question the Guitar-Gods, I was glad and scared at the same time for the opportunity.
So I’ve got this shirt and it says I.O.U. Tour 1984 on the back and it’s amazing I can still fit in it. I also brought it for this gig cuz’ the last time I saw Holdsworth was in Nagoya about 8 years ago. (Wackerman & Jimmy Johnson respectively) We go through our variety of songs for our set. The stage isn’t the best sounding one but its fine by me. I was also given a new pedal tonight from – Jack in the Music Box – effector company. Yoshihiko san gave me this distortion pedal called – the Bad Key Saturator and it copies the sound of a Marshall. I played it on this night and I liked it. Crazy saturation on it when you crank the drive up, which you know I did. Big Fun. We ended our night with Sundown Blues in our frenetic and emotional style. Just leave it all out there on the stage is what I say. Live in the moment.
Rock on!!! We’re now half way through this tour of Japan.