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Hello readers and welcome to another installment of Zone Recording. I recently headed over to Eastern Europe to do a month long tour. It was an amazing learning experience. I was initially invited to play a guitar festival in Armenia called the AGF from two promoters named Lily and Vahagn.|
Believe it or not this contact came through MySpace and could have easily been deleted as spam but it was destined to work out. The concert itself was a 5-hour festival that I was to headline.
When I checked out Armenia on a map I realized it was east of Turkey. That was going to make for a very long trip. After this was confirmed I realized that it was a long way to go just for one show!
My mind started to twitch and I then knew I needed to take some initiative and get booking some other shows.
I then went into research mode and decided to focus on Italy. I have been invited there in the past but it never worked out. I decided to search out where other people have done clinics in Italy, then contact them with a slamming email on how they need to have me come to their town! I probably sent out over 40 emails to different parts of Italy. Guess how many replies I got! One! But that one was all I needed. This was a place in Milan, and then there were two!
After that I was in touch with a fine gentleman named Guglielmo who initially was trying to get me to come over to Italy a few years before.
We worked together for a good few weeks on trying to find other locations to play. He then introduced me to a great dude named Alex who is in charge of MMI in Italy. (Modern Music Institute). We booked many more shows through Alex and things were moving now.
Guglielmo also introduced me to a friend of his in Romania named Corrado. Corrado had done a larger guitar festival a few months prior, and was interested in doing something with me. We worked out travel and then BAM! Another one!
Then a great singer I know named Carmelina (who I also had perform with me in Italy) contacted her brother Antonio who lives in Rome, and he connected me with a woman named Mirella. Then BAM! There was another one!
I also attempted contacting 40 or so more places between Poland and England, but heard nothing back. By this time my tour was about to begin.
I had never played Europe before and knew of course the power was different. I did my research and asked all locations to have a power transformer there for me. I also took it upon myself to find one of these in Vancouver and take it along with me just in case. Can you imagine, "Ladies and gentleman... DAVE MARTONE!" You hit the stage and as you step on your first pedal. They all smoke at once due to incorrect voltage and you're left with a clean tone through an solid state amp. Crap!
I needed to make sure this did not happen and that is why I brought my own transformer. I actually learned you have to add up all the watts of the pedals that will be connected, then give yourself room for at least another 30 watts or so - and you should be OK!
I had organized what I was taking gear wise which was:
2 Parker Guitars ( I tried to get ones supplied but that was a nightmare)
1 Vox Tonelab LE
1 Digitech Whammy
1 Radial PZ DI
1 Digitech Reverb Pedal
1 Route 66 Comp Pedal
1 Power Transformer
Plus. I packed a pair of jeans and some shirts! Let me tell you, getting a double guitar bag was a huge benefit! I usually have a large black flight case to transport them with, but the last thing I wanted was to be traveling through Europe with this thing!
In hindsight, I had too much equipment because I had to carry all of this around with me, and crippled my hands and back doing so!
I asked for a Vox backline to be supplied but in many of these places unfortunately, that request could not be met. I would just use whatever they had for me and tried my best to make it work.
I had done 2 TV shows in Armenia as well as countless interviews and press conferences. There were even some billboards with the concerts poster and me larger than life on them in Yerevan! Very cool!
I hosted a show in Romania called "The Phone Call" as well, which was placed right in between my concert. That was very interesting.
This was recorded live for playback at a later date on the show. The idea was that two contestants would be brought into the concert, and brought up to the stage. I would then have to play ten excerpts of famous songs to see if they could get them. This was very interesting and sounded like fun, plus free exposure so I did it!
I started off with something easy like "Smoke on the Water" from Purple. As I played this song the audience was cheering and clapping along with the song. I went to ask the contestants what song it was. Their answer was, "We have no idea, Never heard that before."
I then thought, hmmm... weird... but let me try this next song.So I played "Back in Black" from AC/DC.
And there answer was,"We have no idea."
This went on and on with different songs until I had to resort to actually playing the "Happy Birthday" song! Believe it folks!
The only other song they got was "Time Of Your Life" from Green Day. What a crazy experience but it was all fun!
I learned from traveling that you have to watch baggage weight restrictions. I got killed on this only once, and once you lose your shirt, you learn to wear 10 of them, so to speak, so as to not incur all of these exorbitant charges! Also it was strange for the most part to spend a month in countries where English is not spoken. I had translators in different countries and learned some of the good words from these places if you know what I mean.
I met many amazing people on my travels and also connected with a whole new fan base!
In all honesty I did not have that much time to sightsee but I did have a chance to do a few things.
Duomo in Milan.
I have to say this tour was one of the cooler things I have done so far, and for the most part it was done with hard work and perseverance!
You can do many things, especially if you put your mind to it and call on your network of people to guide you in the correct direction.
May the tone be with you.
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