8.28.2008

RRFC: Las Vegas (Aug. 23rd)

After getting through the Phoenix show, we all piled on the VIP Bus. Courtney (the tour go-to lady from Rockcamp), Nathalie (a doctor from Canada), Bill (a surgeon from Canada), Nathan (a concrete contractor from Palm Springs), and me.

And I was tired, boys, lemme tell you. The emotional roller-coaster, the adrenaline, the flu...all combined to make me just want to sleep. I scouted out my bunk and hunkered in.

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The bunk had electrical outlets (thankfully) so I could plug in my CPAP machine (and thereby ensuring that the REST of the people could sleep if they wanted to.

I wired up and crashed. And like that, we were on the road to Vegas. I know that at some point they stopped and got beers and chips and what not to stock up the fridges, but I was just wanting sleep.

About 6:something the next morning we pulled in to Las Vegas to the Embassy Suites Swan something or another (no pix of the swans, Elvis and Prescilla, sorry). We had an 8:30 Lobby call. So, that left about an hour or so to get unpacked, and showered and ready for the day. (It also meant that they were going to drive us to the camp. Woohoo! No cab fare needed today!).

Vegas was also where we picked up the last 2 VIPs that were going to ride the rest of the tour out with us. Steve (I don't know what he did or where he was from, I think I was asleep when he was dishing that dirt), and Brooke (who was a hooker at the Bunny Ranch and on that Cathouse show on HBO, and apparently in this month's Hustler magazine).

So, after all that funness was sorted out, we headed over to UNLV to start the camp.

After a breakfast of fruit and juice, we headed over to our rehearsal space. I had Gilby Clarke as my main counselor today. No co-counselor non-sense to worry about.

This was the room they had us in. Here's Chris, our singer. Gilby, and John (I think), our bassist.

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Chris had just had an operation to remove some thyroid cancer and had some scarring on the vocal chords. So the fact that he was even singing at all was a miracle. The fact that he was singing 'Sweet Child O' Mine,' doubly so.

We were working through songs with few chords as our bassist was new to the craft and Gilby didn't want to overwhelm him. Andy, the other guitarist, was a madman. He's the manager of the Vegas Guitar Center and a hell of a dude. He had a sweet Les Paul double cut out (I finally saw one, Wayne!), and a fender rig he played through and some kick ass pedals. Our drummer (Matthew) manages a car dealership by day. And had some wicked leanings toward playing a beat that Gilby just didn't want to hear. But it was fun. We quickly settled on "Get Back" and "Rebel Rebel" both being fairly straightforward with the changes,and not having too many chords in them.

We also spent a fair amount of time working on "Sweet Child Of Mine"...and damn I wish we could have played that one. We were getting it pretty close in the morning, but Gilby decided to scrap it after lunch and we switched over to "Honkey Tonk Women." True, it was an easier song, but just didn't have same punch as Sweet Child. Oh well. At least I got to play the song with Gilby. That DEFINITELY goes on the list of awesome rock memories.

I went to Elliot Easton's Master Class that day.

I guess I should back up. The one-day camps broke down like this

  • Breakfast
  • Rehearsal
  • Lunch
  • MasterClass
  • Rehearsal
  • Head to Venue
  • Show

Master Classes were these kind of small group settings where you can have a Q and A with one of the Rock(gawd) Counselors. Today's Master Class by Elliot Easton was on how to craft a pop song, and he also went in to how he does a solo on a song.

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The really cool thing was, he just is really really passionate about the music. He talked about crafting your solo around the changes....what kinds of things make hooks memorable...things like that. And then he started talking about the guitar. And he said 'I don't polish this thing. I play it. It's a tool' It was just really interesting. His whole philosophy was to use whatever tool you needed to use in order to get that piece of your soul from inside you OUT in to the universe where someone else could share it. It was very cool.

I also learned another guitar tip to match the one I got from Gilby in Phoenix. In Phoenix Gilby told me to turn all the knobs up on the Les Paul and then to turn the volume knob on the bridge pickup down. That way, I had it as a 'kill switch' if I needed it. And I used that advise for the rest of the tour.

So, the next tip I got, this time from Elliot, came when he was changing strings. He said after you string it, stretch the strings, but stretch them all the way up the length of the neck, otherwise you make weird spots on the string where part of its stretched and part isn't. Again, good advice.

The master class was definitely worth it. Just to hear Elliot go through some of his more memorable Cars solos and show us how that fit in exactly with the rest of the song.

I went up to him later and thanked him personally and he and I chatted about things to do to craft songs. He's really a super nice man (and I think one of the only ones where I didn't get his autograph the whole week).

After another couple of hours of rehearsal, it was off to the Hard Rock in Vegas to get ready for the gig.

The inside screens had this:

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And the marquee outside looked a little like this:

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Yah, baby.

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Here's what it looked from the stage looking out at the rest of the house:

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Another shot of the stage that I'd be on in a couple of short hours.

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"No Name, No Fame" Our Vegas Camp band shot (Chris,Matt, Me, Andy, John, minus Gilby).

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I don't think I have a shot of us playing (like I mentioned at some point, I really was more into the moment than documenting everything-a first for me, actually).

Here's some shots of some of the other bands and some shots of the counselors jam that went down later (Extreme and Kings X were over at House of Blues tonight, so it was just us and the counselors rockin' the Joint).

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From the campers....on to the counselors:

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Elliot Easton, Mark Hudson, Kip Winger, Chris Slade, Earl Slick, Mark Slaughter.

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Mark Hudson and Dave Ellefson.

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Elliot, Kip, Chris, Earl

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Earl Slick, Rock Gawd.

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Gilby getting ready to lay one down

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Jammin'. Gilby, Mark, Dave, Chris

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I love this shot of Mark Slaughter in the foreground and Earl Slick in the background, it's almost spooky or something.

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Speaking of spooky. I've never seen anything as frightening as watching Chris Slade play the drums. He looks like a demon possessed. And I mean that in a good way.

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MegaDave Rockin' the Joint.

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The counselors groove.

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Kip Winger, Mayhem (yeah, don't know), and Dave.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Gilby Clarke.

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So...apparently The Joint just wasn't enough for our rock(gawd) counselors. So some of them headed over to this other club inside the Hard Rock called 'Wasted Space" and got set to get their rock on over there. Here's a few pix from that show (I only stayed a bit. I was tired and not used to how smokey Vegas actually was, so I went back to the hotel for some Pizza and some Basketball).

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Courtney (yes the same one that I drove nuts on a regular basis), with Mark Hudson.P1000123

Courtney (or as Mark calls her "the future ex-Mrs. Hudson), dishes it back to Mark as Slaughter and Dave look on.

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Jammin' at the Wasted Space. Elliot, Courtney, Slaughter, Mark, Dave, Nathalie (from our bus), Kip.

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And that was about the point I bailed. I went back over to the hotel and ordered a pizza. It was good. And I got it with fries (also good). I watched the US (barely) beat Spain in basketball (which was quite possibly the most Olympics I'd watched this whole time). Then I crashed. Knowing we'd have to be ready to leave Sin City at 9AM on our way to San Francisco.

2nd Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp under my belt? Check.

Effin' amazing time? Check.

Next Stop: San Francisco and The Fillmore!!

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