RRFC: Contest Spoils

So, one thing that this whole Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp contest/experience has done for me is renew my interest in music. Not that I ever really went away from it, but it just seemed like it was sidelined for a while.

In addition to the amazing trip (of which I've written much, and will probably write much more in the future), I also won the Epiphone Slash Signature Edition Les Paul (which is just an amazing guitar. And special thanks to Talo for setting it up for me on the tour so I can rock like a real rockstar (at least in my own head)). They also hooked me up with a $500 gift card from GuitarCenter (which definitely helped steer my head back toward music, if only for a little while). And Friday I used the last of the dough on the card. Here's the final list:

And that about wraps up the gift card. I got some of the stuff (stands, harmonica, CD, capo) the day I got the card in the mail. The rest of it I got when I got back into town (lucky me-GuitarCenter was having their huge labor day blow out sale, so it was easy to eat up the rest of the card).

What's kind of funny to me now is, I know that I want to make a little movie (well, more of a little video essay of 'what I did for my summer vacation, kind of thing)...and I know that I've got enough pix from the camp and just enough video clips to work in there that it could be cool (at least to me). But the other half of me wants to work on music stuff now, too. It's nutty. It's like I've seen what the very tip top of the mountain is like...and it was enough of a taste to know that no matter WHAT I'm working on, it's good. As long as it's good for my soul, it's good. Period.

I think the biggest takeaway that I got from the whole experience is that as long as I'm being creative...the medium doesn't really matter...it's the creativity that's the issue.

As long as that's happening, it's all good. I didn't see that anywhere in Fishof's literature. But it should be there. Something about how this whole thing allows you to tap back into that creative place in your soul that everyone has.

Peace and love, man. And I leave you with a shot of Sammy, Rock Beagle.


RRFC: Pick of the Litter

OK. I've saturated the blog with RRFC stuff to last for days. I think it's gonna be a few days (at least) before I post any more about the camp, but I did want to leave you with what I thought was a pretty cool pic.

RRFC: Miscellaneous Signage

P1000201 I am not a huge 'gimme your autograph' kind of guy. But even I recognized the potential for coolness to be had at the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp.

I took an old sketchbook from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum and that became my Autograph Book.

I wanted to have a page for each of the bands I was in. And then, if I had time or the inclination to get the rest of the counselors throughout the tour, I could. And I got most of them, except Elliot Easton. My opportunity came in L.A. but his 13yr old daughter was at the camp and I really didn't want to be 'that guy' that kept budding in on his time with her when he was obviously trying to share a moment. So, I didn't get his. But I have the little vid clip of the Cars solo he did in his Master Class.

Extreme was the first real 'meet and greet' I've gone to. And since they were quite a bit higher up on the rock and roll food chain than I, I took the opportunity to get their signatures in Phoenix.



Speaking of Phoenix. The band was the HeebeeBeeGees. It was Dave Ellefson, Gilby Clarke, Me on gweetar, Mike T. also on guitar, and Nathan my guru on drums. And our Autograff page looked a little bit like this:

P1000203(and according to Gilby, we rule Phoenix...)


From Phoenix it was on to Vegas. And since Gilby couldn't get enough of me, he had me in his next band, "No Name, No Fame." Apparently he saw something in my raw rhythm guitaring that he could mold. Sorry, had a 'Behind the Music' Moment there for a second. LOL. Here's what we lookied like in Vegas:

 P1000204 and while I would normally take credit for the block lettering of any city, I have to give that one up to Gilby. The man is a maniac with a Sharpie!


From Vegas we headed on over to the city by the Bay. That's right, none other than San Francisco where I had to part ways with Gilby and join a one mister Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple fame. My perpetual rock stiffy was not to be, however, as we decided NOT to play Smoke on the Water (sniff). It's OK. With a hot chick singer and another chick banging skins on drums, there was little way we could fail. And, as Brooke and the BallBusters....we rocked the f**k out of that town. Lemme tell you that right now, son.

It was here, too, that the autograph pages took a decidedly 'yearbookish' turn (and I'm perfectly OK with that)!


It was also in San Francisco that I got the super secret message/autograph from Glenn. I know that if I can just decipher it, I'll have the secret to the rock-god elixir that keeps him perpetually funky:


But that's a quest for another day. From the bay we went on to L.A. Where as luck would have it, I was again with the awesome Mr. Hughes. And Brooke, too, was in the band. It was like a weird Beatles/Wings moment, only with me not being on the same scale as anyone in EITHER of those two groups. It was in LA that Rodeo #5 (a play on Rodayoh Drive and Chanel Number 5 that came out sounding like "Roadie-Ho number five") much to the amusement of everyone (and I think even a few people in the audience chuckled, too).


And that concludes the pages of the bands I was in. I have some other signatores from the counselors in their various guises for your amusement.


I just realized, I bugged Gilby THREE TIMES for an autograph. Duuuude. Not cool. No wonder he ditched me in San Francisco! And Elliot's was the only counselor I didn't  get to sign. Oh well...maybe...um...next time?? (yeah, don't worry...I'm not holding my breath...if my friend Nathan's band didn't win the trip to London for the smackdown that they gave everyone at the Fillmore, NO ONE should get it).



David Fishof is the MAN! Dude. I could have talked to him for hours about how much this has meant to me and I don't think he would have been any less thrilled to hear it. I wonder if he truly knows how deeply an opportunity like this has touched someone like me? Maybe I should write a short biopic mini-film about my time at camp and send it his way. Hmmmmm. Sounds like a plan.



Mark Hudson is another one that I could just listen to for hours. And I think he'd still never run out of stories. Peace and love indeed, man. And...oh snap. I got FOUR Autographs from Glenn? Crap. I needed to reel that sh*t back a notch. But he was just so cool....and so....British that I couldn't help myself. And part of me can't help but think that if I ran in to him in Picadilly, he might  remember me. But that's really part of the rock and roll fantasy, isn't it? That we're on the same level as these guys...even if it's just for a day.



Chris Slade gave an awesome Master Class on drumming and was just generally an all around nice guy who really liked to have a pint after the show. But holy crap....when he's on the kit...lookout....he looks like a demon. It's effing brilliant!


I didn't spend much time with Slaughter (as his dedication will attest) other than when our VIPBus broke down and we were on the RockGods bus for an hour while Slaughter and Hudson swapped Ozzy stories. And I have to say...he's one funny mother effer. He definitely gave Hudson a run for his money in the Ozzy impersonations. Well played!


Earl Slick was another one that I didn't get to spend much time with, but that dude was just cool. I mean no one there pulled of the whole "I'm a f**king rock star vibe" any better than Slick (although Glenn was definitely a close second and by no means a slouch in that arena). As Earl was putting the stars on the page he said 'I have to add my doodles, man" Indeed. Doodle away Rock God, doodle away.



Kip, as head counselor, gave this vibe that he really cared about each and every camper in every city (or at least the 4 I was in) and damn, that had to be tiring. I didn't really spend more than 10 minutes with the guy the whole trip, but he was a really nice guy.



And that concludes the band and counselor portion of the autograph page. Now on to the 'other celebrity' portion.

First off we have a Mr. Kenny Aronoff. Drum Beast from the Isle of Awesome. His talk really helped me out going in to the afternoon session on the last day (when I was (can you believe this shit)...almost bored?? I know, right? WTF?). But after hearing him, and Mark Hudson, I hit the afternoon rehearsal with a renewed vigor and turned it around.

 P1000216 (I thought the smiley face was a particularly nice touch).

And, apparently there's this show on HBO (which we don't get) about a brothel in Nevada. And apparently our lead singer from San Fran, and L.A., Brooke Taylor, is the star of this show...and she's on some magazine that I haven't actually looked at since oh....college or sometime way long ago. So, yeah. She signed a card for all of us on the VIP Bus. I'm thinking of giving my card to my neighbor (who's also named Todd), since I didn't get him anything for his birthday. And he's a bow-hunter...so the inscription works (it's dual purpose...works for guitar player or bow-hunter). For the record, the wife thought that the gifting idea would be funny (and would thereby avoid any touchy conversations if the kids happened to find it).



And that about does it for the autograph portion of the show. I DID happen to walk out of the Fillmore with one of their menus (don't worry it's a photo-copy...the REAL ones would have been much harder to gank). Wonder how that happened??


RRFC: Los Angeles (Aug. 26th)

P1000172 It hardly seems real. But it is. We drove through the night from San Francisco to LA and pulled up to the Grafton sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

In what can only be described by mere mortals as a 'whirlwind of amazingness' we unloaded.

I had to get a shot with Rob, our driver. The dude was a pro, lemme tell you. Not only did he put up with us whiny (faux)RockStars, but he got us where we needed to be and got us there in one piece.


Here's another shot with Rob, me, and Rick, our tour manager. Rick took some time during his break managing the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant tour to manage the RRFC tour. I bet he's probably looking forward to getting back to them. But he was great, too.


So, here we were. I was standing on the legendary Sunset.


We walked in and this was the view that greeted me in the hallway. I mean it was like someone said, 'ok, when you think of some old-timey posh Hollywood hotel, what image comes to mind?' And >poof< there it was.


I can't say that I'd ever have a room in my house decorated like the hotel room, but it was...er....um...different?



It definitely fit the 'image' of the place. And I'm sure it was a very nice place, it just seemed that 'Guido The Killer Pimp circa:1986' was a bit much as far as a motif. But, what the f do I know from design? I'm a helpdesk jockey pretending to be a rock star for a day (or 4).

We had enough time to clean up and get changed before heading over to camp. Today's camp was on the campus of UCLA. This shot was looking from the front of the hotel.


And this greeted us when we pulled on to campus.


I was set to have Glenn Hughes again. And yes, San Francisco was AMAZING. Other than Mark Hudson, I don't think anyone works the crowd like Glenn does. It is truly a pleasure to be in his band.

But I was a leeeeeetle bummed that I had him again instead of a new counselor. Brooke was also in the band again in LA and I found out that we would be doing the same set that we had done in San Francisco. So...while a part of me was happy to have pressure of learning completely new songs removed...another part of me was bummed that somehow I wouldn't be getting the 'real' rock and roll fantasy camp experience.

So, I'm not going to lie. I was coasting a bit through the morning session. I was not as excited (not nearly) as I should have been.

This is where we rehearsed that day. See that center column....3rd floor? That was us.


We broke for lunch. Everyone in the band had a pretty good handle on the songs. After lunch we got to hear a talk by Kenny Aronoff, drummer extraordinaire.


And as he was talking he said something that hit me. Damn near hit me right between the eyes. He said that the hardest thing to do is to PLAY LESS, but that you HAVE to play in such a way that you bring feeling to whatever song you're playing. And he applied it to the whole rhythm section (of which rhythm guitar is part). And that just stuck in my craw. I hadn't been playing with feeling at all that morning.


I got some additional autographs in my program and headed over to thank David Fishof for this whole thing before heading over to Master Class.

I was going to Mark Hudson's Master Class today on songwriting. We got in there and he starting talking about producing....and what comes first (the song)...second (the singer)....third (the rest of the band)....and what it means to get into comfort zones for songs and how artists will wind up giving you so much more in a performance if they trust you and feel that you have their best interest at heart. It was really an eye-opening session.

That coupled with Kenny's talk just had me thinking that I'd wasted my morning, but that it wasn't too late to salvage the afternoon. I mean-dude-this was the LAST CAMP. There was press all over the place. And celebrities were also taking the camp (no, I never met the kid from "Two and a Half Men"...I'd seen enough child TV star 'where are they now' things...the kid didn't need me bugging him. If I'd been in his band, that'd have been one thing).

So, I left the master class and headed back to rehearsal determined to enjoy the feck out of the rest of the day. And I have to honestly say, afternoon rehearsals went a LOT better for me. There was better flow and chemistry in the band.

It was cool.

And then we packed it all up and headed over to the House of Blues. L.A. House of Blues....Sunset Blvd. Yeah....pretty effing amazing!


There were a couple of times that David was going to snatch me into an interview, but luckily Courtney found other victims :-)

Here I am with Mark Hudson. This guy is amazing and I sincerely hope that our paths cross again someday. He is truly one of the bright souls in our crazy world.


This is the man. Mr. David Fishof. The man that makes it possible for regular shmucks like me to actually have 15minutes in the spotlight and feel like an effin' rock star. Thank you from the bottom of my heart David. You have no idea what this whole experience(the contest, the camp, the tour) has meant to me (although I'm sure it will be echoed in this blog for weeks to come).


This is me and Samantha. She plays bass and she was one of the ones that talked me off the ledge when I called the Rock Camp offices.


And here I am with Zak, the man. He called me the day I won and got me all signed up. Helluva guy.


And here I am with Courtney. For as much shit as I talked, she really did make it all come together. And she did a really good job putting up with me :-) She was definitely one of the cool ones (Courtney, sorry I was such a pain in the ass).


So...what's next? OH.

The rocking.

You say you want to see pix of Todd Rocking out at the House of Blues to a sold out crowd??

Why sure.

This is us getting set up with the intros by Mr. Hudson.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Rodeo (Ro-day-Ho) Number 5.

(Brad, Travis, Glenn, Brooke, Dez, Lance-drums, yours truly, 'Zo)







I did it. I really did it.

I still can't believe it. It seems that it happened a lifetime ago and a world away. But I will always have the nuggets that I gleaned from it buried deep within. And when I need to bring them out to brighten the day, I know right where to find them.

This won't be the last post about the camp, but it might be the last for a day or so while I let everything kind of sink in.

Thank you to everyone I met along this journey...you touched me in ways I can't explain, unique and special all and I carry love for all of you and wish you well in your lives and pray our paths will cross again.


The view on the way home....



RRFC: San Francisco-The Aftershock

So...we played the Fillmore. The LEGENDARY Fillmore. What could possibly top that??

If you had asked me that right after the show, I would have not had an answer for you. Because in my mind, nothing could top that.

We stayed through Kings X set-which I have to say, I really am starting to dig. As in dig to the point where I'd go back and listen to their catalog. I like their sound.

So, we watched them. And then headed out to our bus. Only our bus wasn't there. It had a flat. So we waited and chatted with some locals who were waiting for their  bus (as in public transit). Presumably their bus did not have a flat.

After a while we headed to where we thought our bus was waiting for us. It wasn't.

The Counselors' Bus (AKA ROCK FORCE 1) was there. But ours was nowhere to be found.

Apparently we weren't in the best of neighborhoods because Rick had us get on the bus with the RockGods.

THIS was the fantasy. Right? Surely this 'breakdown' was a clever scheme hatched by Fishof and Co. to give us the full-on life on the road moment. And something a chance to hang out.

On a tour bus with the rock stars.

Up front with us mere mortals was Mark Slaughter, Chris Slade, and Mark Hudson. Elliot and Kip and the others had gone off to other parts of the bus.  Slade hands beers all 'round.

And then it begins.

The usual chit chat about 'how is camp going, blah blah' gives way to the real Rock Fantasy.

The stories.

Dude...listening to Mark Hudson and Mark Slaughter swap Ozzy stories was LEGENDARY. And Slade throwing in his pips about the Black Sabbath stories, which Hudson picks right up on.

I will never forget those stories as long as I live (because I'm writing this shit down somewhere-they were classic).

And if you say you know someone other than Hudson or Slaughter who can do a better Ozzy impersonation-we're gonna have to fight. Because there's no way.

Today I caught myself saying 'Double It! Double It!' after something happened and I started laughing. My wife thought I'd gone crazy. Something about trying to adjust back into normal society, but then I told her the story about the bus and the stories we heard on the bus (but not all of them), and then about how Ozzy is the best double tracker in the biz.

David...if you do this 'On Tour' Thing again....and you have VIPs....PLEASE let them spend 30minutes or 60 minutes on the bus with the rock stars. The spontaneous stories that come from those unscripted moments are the things that your campers are going to cherish.

I, for one, will never look at cottage cheese or blueberries the same way ever again.

Unfortunately our bus got fixed all too soon and we had to hop on it to head out to LA for the camp the next day.

But that's a post for tomorrow.

Double It! Double It!

RRFC: San Francisco (Aug. 25th)

Alright, now on with the Camp.

This was my 3rd Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp. I couldn't believe it. I had to pinch myself-really (serving two purposes-making sure I wasn't just dreaming, and making sure the NyQuil had worn off).

I was also just a TAD nervous. I'd checked the list and I was the ONLY guitarist in my group.  The group would be head up by the legendary Bassist from the pinnacle classic-rock-gods Deep Purple. None other than Mr. Glenn Hughes. I had gotten to chat with Glenn a bit in Vegas (he's a rep for Gibson/Epiphone and so was interested in my Slashie Epi). So I knew he was super nice and he'd be super cool about the whole thing.


So. We get in there and start getting all set up. I let him know that I really wasn't a lead guitar player (I solo at about a 1.5 on a scale of 1-10). So, Glenn was going to take the other axe-duties and we were going to recruit one of the techs for bass duties.

As it turns out, things worked out splendidly (as they tend to always do somehow in Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp). For the band that day we wound up having 2 drummers (Mindi and Igor-who was in town on a business trip, but had this day off), Troy on bass (so the tech got off), Mike (a friend of Troy's I think) showed up a little bit later and jumped on axe detail. Glenn on Lead. I settled in to my pocket o' rhythm and Brooke assumed her place as singer and lead vixen.

We pounded out some off-list tracks. "Sunshine of Your Love" (actually, that MAY be on the list), then on to "Spooky" and finally rounding out the set with "I Hate Myself (For Loving You)."

And we settled on the name.

Brooke and the Ball Busters. Which, if you were paying attention to Brooke's day job listed in an earlier post, is actually kind of funny.

And with that, it was time for lunch. Another box lunch of sandwich, chips, some kind of cold noodly thing (that I didn't eat) and a cookie. I grabbed some fruit for later and made with the eating.

Since the rehearsal space was actually in the hotel, there wasn't a big central room. So me and a few others in the band (Mike, Troy, Mindi, Igor), ate in our practice room. Glenn fecked off for parts of the Bay Area unknown for a hot meal. I can't blame him at all. I'd only done this for 3 days. He'd been on this thing for 14 weeks or something crazy like that. So, if it was going to have him in good spirits for the afternoon jam, I was all for it.

Some shots of our camp day.

Brooke and Glenn compare thumb-typing tips.


Igor, Troy, and Mindi...chilling. P1000139

Brooke and Mindi talk hot pants or whatever it is rocker-chicks talk about with each other.


Mike, Chillin'.


Glenn and Brooke give their radio interview. I later was interviewed by the same lad. Don't know if my segment made it on the air or not. Depends on if they wanted it to sound like they were interviewing a muppet or not.


After lunch, it was time to break for Master Classes. I wasn't a drummer, but I really wanted to hear what Chris Slade had to say on drumming all the same.

And he didn't disappoint. The hidden gems in the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camps is the Master Class. A lot of to do is made about being in a band with rock stars, playing these shows in your bands...but honestly, the Master Classes are the real gems (imho).

I mean,I'm not a drummer, but just watching Slade go into a perrididdle and then go in to this full on monster drum riff where the only thing he's using is a perrididdle and then to go from warp speed to slowing it down....shoooot. Are you kidding me? That was amazing!

And he talked about the back beat....and the pocket...and all these things that not only apply to drummers but to the rhythm section in general.

All in all it really was a great session. I was actually inspired to start banging around on some skins after listening to Chris. It was yet another nugget in the bag of panned gold that this trip has been.

Who would have thought a drummer could teach a guitar player so much without even mentioning the guitar?

Chris Slade in action:



After the Master Class concluded, it was back to our band rooms for rehearsal. We ran through our sets a few times and we actually had it down pretty good. Two drummers and 3 guitarist made for a massive wall of sound (and I mean that in a good way).

The afternoon rehearsals wrapped up and we packed our gear and headed out to the vans that were going to deliver us to the Fillmore.

Now, up until this point in the post (and, truthfully, during the day), I had been downplaying tonight's venue in my head.

But it could no longer be denied.

We were going to be PLAYING on stage at THE FILLMORE. The legendary venue that has seen the likes of EVERY influential act in Rock in the last 40 years. If I had an extra pair of pants with me, I would have very likely pissed myself, did my best Ozzy impersonation and got on with it-I was THAT frickin' excited.

We pulled up to the back. To the area where we load in.


Once through the gate, we had to climb stairs that, no lie, had to be at a 85 degree angle. It was nuts. But it was the Fillmore...so my bitching was kept to a very minimal 'wow these stairs are steep.'

And then we were in. We took our gear in to the main auditorium (where it was later carted off to parts unknown) and we headed upstairs to 'The Lounge' (which actually has a much cooler name that I can't remember right now.

And the posters....holy shit. The posters. THE posters. You know the ones I mean. The legendary Fillmore Posters.


It definitely help set the vibe for the history of the place.


I mean, on college dorm room walls across the country were countless reproductions of these posters.

And here we were in the room with the originals.

There goes that rockChubby again.


Here's a long shot of the room.



Nathan and Nathalie were in Slaughter and Slade's band for this gig. I thought the halo effect was kind of cool.


So. Here we were. A couple of short hours from playing one of the single greatest rock venues in the history of rock and roll. And it's the one place that if you asked me, in a million years, I would have told you there's no way I'd ever play the Fillmore.

But I did play the Fillmore. We ROCKED the Fillmore, man, ROCKED IT. But, as they don't allow filming, I don't have footage of that-but supposedly the DVD I can order from the RRFC people does have the footage of us playing the Fillmore.

Did I mention the show was sold out? 1100 people.  If you're wondering what a sold out show at the Fillmore looks like-it's a bit like this-


Yeah. Seriously. Chandeliers. I'm telling you, the whole frickin' thing was so surreal. And I have to apologize to Mindi (I was a TAD um...loud and nervous when we couldn't find the rest of our band...but I think it all sorted itself out and went just fine).

This shot of Kings X from the balcony shows kind of what we might have looked like on the stage.


It was just a magical place to play. That's really the only word I have for it.


It was 12minutes of my life that made everything that I went through earlier (and later) on this trip worth it.

I played the Fillmore, to a sold out crowd, in a band with Glenn Hughes.

How can I possibly top that?

Thank you Mr. Fishof.

Failing NaNo - 4 Years and Counting

I looked, Dear Readers, and noted that the last time I saw fit to let the words fall from my brain bucket and onto these virtual pages was o...