Bert Lams and Tom Griesgraber Tour
Eastern US September 2007

Tuesday September 18, 2007 - Louisville, KY
Bert and I played our last show of the tour last night in Louisville. It was a nice mellow affair in a big Victorian style home and was a good way to wrap things up. Bert's friends Aaron, Erin and Aaron (yes really) were in attendance and after the show we went out to dinner with them at an Irish pub. And now, today.. I have the challenge of flying home. I decided to try to fly with a different batch of equipment than usual since I have some shows coming up quickly at home. The question is.. have I managed to keep both check in bags light enough so that they'll actually take them? We'll find out! In the meantime, some fun this morning.. CGT recorded their new CD here in Louisville recently and are still working on mixes for it. Since Bert was in town he booked time today to come in and work on things a bit and I'm getting to be a quiet observer (or does this make me a groupie?)

I'm looking forward to getting home as after 15 shows in 14 days I'm a little fatigued, but at the same time I know I'll soon miss them. Hopefully we'll find time to do another tour soon!

Intense listening in the studio

Check engine? Temperature gague in the red?
All systems normal! (the last drive)
Searching for pre-show coffee

last lunch/wifi stop at panera

Monday September 17, 2007 - Lexington, KY
We're having a nice slow morning here in Lexington as we have only a short drive to Louisville today. Last night we played in an amazing home, owned by a Polish couple named Andre and Kasia. Andre is a fantastic painter who has done many paintings of athletes and horses. Their house was originally owned by someone who ran a piano business and had built a listening room, complete with a stage. Very cool! It was fun chatting with Andre after the show and hearing his ideas about art and the creative process. The show was organized by a Polish woman named Ela who it seems recently became an avid CGT fan. She told me the first time she heard them she was so moved she made the drive the next night to Louisville to hear them again. I know the feeling!

Slow hotel lobby morning

Load out from Andre and Kasia's concert room

The Stick player. (photo by Kasia)

Two nights ago we played outdoors at a home outside Lexington, right up against the Kentucky river. Clay, our host is a big progressive rock fan and while building a boat dock and a staircase to the river, topped it off with a small stage facing his large back yard. It was a very cold night to be playing outdoors, but people brought blankets, built bonfires and a few small space heaters, so the only real challenge for me was staying in tune. During Bert's performance of the Ciaccona I took a number of pictures of him (without flash) to try to capture something of the performance and great setting.

Clay's stage by day
...and by night!

Bach in progress

Saturday September 15, 2007 - Interstate 64W
We've just crossed the border into Kentucky, our last state of this tour. Last night was another great event in the Charleston, WV area organized by Dave and his sister Margy. They continued to go to great lengths for us, with an amazing spread of food for everyone, including two cheese "sculptures" of a guitar and (possibly the first time anywhere) a Stick! We have so many leftovers in the car with us now, I'm think we could open a fruit and snack stand somewhere on the road. After an intermission last night, we also had a friend of Bert's named Dilek from Turkey play one piece on viola. She is studying for her master's in music in the area and it was great to hear her play. She and Bert talked in great detail about interpreting the music of Bach after our show.

looks like the right place!

where to begin?
so many choices!

it's a Breedlove... I think
not in your grocer's deli section

Friday September 14, 2007 - Charleston, WV
We have some welcome free time this morning as we don't have to drive anywhere today and I'm trying to catch up on some e-mail and go through photos from the past few days. Last night's show was the first of two in Charleston organized by the amazing Dave D. of Non-Cents productions. We've been getting e-mails from him for many weeks now checking to see that every little thing we wanted was taken care of for our visit here. He was so gracious and enthusiastic about wanting everything to be perfect that at one point I joked via e-mail that I'd like to have some peanut M&Ms with all the brown one's removed (old Van Halen backstage rider reference). Well.. when we showed up yesterday, our hotel (provided by Dave) was stocked with Cliff Bars, Granola Bars, Pringles, fruit, Naked Juice, Walnuts, sandwiches, and... a container of peanut M&Ms with no brown ones ;-) Such a guy... The show last night was in a small recording studio downtown. They taped it.. and will be sending some samples for us to review at some point. After the show I noticed the great view to be found from the fire escape stairs...

Hotel fridge by Dave
Hotel table by Dave

View of Charleston from Live Mix Studios

Two nights ago we had our second show in Pittsburgh. It was in the home of Jim Ferla who is a guitar instructor for several universities in Pittsburgh. Most of the audience seemed to be made up of musicians and music majors which gave an unusual intensity to the feeling in the room. They loved the show though and we had a nice time chatting with everyone afterwards. Since Bert and I both play in an unusual way people are always curious about what we do.. more so when they're musicians and we can get into the "nitty gritty" details! Also at the show was Stick player Dave Brosky. Dave is a real high energy guy who is actually helping design a new Stick accessory (that I probably can't talk about ;) He had a prototype to show me.. and I gave him some feedback on it that will hopefully be useful!

After the show we drove about an hour to stay with my mom's sister in Greensburg, PA. When I was much younger, my mom used to bring me to stay with her family in this area for a month every summer. I went for a walk in the morning past my grandmother's old house which has changed a lot but was still very nostalgic for me. It's been something like 8 years I think since I last saw many of my relatives, so in the morning all of my mom's siblings came to visit and one of my cousins as well. It was quite a scene with everyone gathered in the dining room. Bert emerged a little later on from his room and when somehow the conversation turned to how tall we all were, he said he wasn't sure how tall he is. My aunts and their friend got right to work measuring him against the kitchen door! I forgot their findings though... you'll have to ask Bert (who was really a great sport about the whole morning!)

Bert gets measured in Greensburg
calculating the results

Just part of the Greensburg clan
Revisiting old spots

September 11, 2007 - Limestone Vale near Columbus Ohio
Bert and I have gotten to play in some pretty scenic places sometimes, and this one ranks right up near the top! Bert's friend Brian Lucey is a mastering engineer and Guitar Craft veteran from some years back. He and his wife Michelle own a nice rustic farmhouse ousited Columbus which Brian has his studio in and now uses for occasional concerts as well. Leave it to a mastering engineer to get the final details nicely arranged.. we played in open barn overlooking a field where he had a bonfire going for people to gather around. White Christmas lights decorated the scene and some nice stage lighting helped the audience see us. Of course playing ina barn has some quirks.. apparently there were bats zooming in and out of the barn while we played. I didn't notice them. But.. the night air made staying in tune a bit trickier. At one point I was tuning using some of the gizmos behind me and Bert suggested we play "Victor's Chase".. I normally introduce the song and thought I'd be clever and talk to the crowd while still tuning. Well.. I forgot to turn off the tuner for the bass strings.. so when the song reached it's real beginning.. there was no bass! Oops.. we winged our way through it till I could reach around and set things right.. and aside from my bizarre contortions I think it actually probably sounded fine.. different.. but fine.

Limestone Vale show (photo: Doug Carraway)
Audience perspective at Limestone Vale (photo: Doug Carraway)

A little business before the show at Limestone Vale (photo: Dough Carraway)
and refreshments afterwards!

September 10, 2007 - Coraopolis (Pittsburgh), PA
Our first show in Pittsburgh was organized by a friend of Bert's named Kathleen who is a long time CGT fan. She's a real music enthusiast and it was great to chat favorite bands with her a bit. We stayed at her home after the show as well and Bert had to kick us out of the living room (aka his bedroom) so he could go to sleep without us talking about music and watching band DVDs. I wound up leaving my camera upstairs at her brother's home where we played.. and didn't get any photos myself but have stolen a few now from Bert's diary (always a good source for pics and stories as well!). After the show I spent a good deal of time explaining the Stick and letting a few curious people try it. I also got to meet a good friend of Bert's named Bob who manages a nice music store in the area called "Amazing Cool Music." Bob also has worked many years on the road managing bands so it was fun to hear some of his strories.

snacks in Pittsburgh (photo by Bert)

In Pittsburgh as everywhere... many many Stick questions afterwards (photo by Bert)

September 10, 2007 - Mechanicsburg, PA
Just getting started on the day and with a few minutes to spare I've gone through some recent pics. After shows in Philadelphia and Franklinville, NJ the last two days, we drove back to Bert's home for the night last night. He is currently trying to catch up with his domestic duties by mowing the lawn.

Bert Lams: lawnmower man

Yesterday's show took us past downtown Philidelphia twice. It was actually outdoors in a great open area of a nursery. Roosters crowed while we played and the "bug sounds" of the woods surrounded us which made for some really nice atmosphere sometimes. Among the other sites to see was a fantastic pipe organ right in the living room of the owner's home. Apparently the "Dad" of the family has a doctorate in music as an organist. At one point they found an old church was trying to get rid of their organ, so the family moved it right into their living room. Amazing!

Hi Phili... bye Phili!

Triple Oaks Nursery "stage"
... and organ!

The day before found us playing and staying at a space called "PSALM" or.. Philidelphia Society for Art, Literature and Music. Jamey, the owner was an incredibly interesting person to meet. It seems he's gone in his life from being sound engineer (at what is now Berklee's Performance Center) to Yoga teacher, to physical therapist and studio/venue owner. PSALM functions as both a recording studio and a venue for all types of events. Jamey also makes his own mic preamps and bass cabinets, so I had fun geeking out and chatting gear with him.
Bert Lams: photographer at PSALM

September 8, 2007 - Interstate 95 South
We're headed south towards Philadelphia after a great show last night put together by Stickist Rod Smith and his family. Arriving at Rod's we rang the bell and a young boy flung open the door and ran back into the house yelling "TOM GRIESGRABER TOM GRIESGRABER TOM GRIESGRABER!!!" Apparently Rod's young son was quite excited we were coming and is something of a fan of Stick players (like his dad!). The rest of the family may not have been quite so vocal, but they really made us and all of the concert-goers feel quite welcome! It was great to see some more Stick players in person and several crafties as well (including the infamous Hellboy Tom). After the show some of the Stick players and other musicians there got curious about the particulars of my instrument including its glow in the dark inlays... so I spent an unusual amount of time in a darkened bathroom with them showing the glow off.

It's another warm day today in the car. We just stopped for lunch and then a grocery store where we instinctively purchased items like "Dentyne Ice" gum, Sobe "Artic blast" drinks and to top things off a bag of ice which (triple bagged) is now straddling the arm rest between us. The Philadelphia skyline approaches...

Bert works on the car's AC
it's our new best friend

September 7, 2007 - Branchburg, NJ
We've just pulled in to our "host home" for this evening's show and are enjoying the fans and AC after a long warm drive. Last night we had a nice show put together by the Society for Art Rock (SOAR) in the DC area. It was a nice chance for me to get to see a few family members who live there, and we stayed with my Aunt Jo Marie afterwards. If one was to do a google search for my last name, I think most of the finds would come from either myself or her as she is very active in politics and has written many books. But for us she and her family were great hosts! I stayed in the room of one of my cousins who has some interesting ideas in decor.

room with some views

Before heading to DC we also did a radio show in Harrisburg for WITF 89.5FM. I'm not sure when it will air, but we did played a bunch of music for them and of course a bunch of talking as well. They had a very nice little studio which I understand is rather new.. but not without some great old Neumann and Sennheiser mics!

view from the Stick player's chair: WITF interview

The night before we played in a "mid-sized" coffee shop/venue called Steel City Coffee House. This was a nice space for us as well with a small but very appreciative audience. One thing I sometimes enjoy about small venues is that we can often hear what the audience are saying. At one point Bert introduced the CGT piece "The Marsh" and told the audience that I would be trying to play both Paul and Hideyo's parts (the other two CGT members). Someone in the front row replied jovially "yeah.. good luck with that!" Funny!

"How does he get those sounds???"
a listener after the Steel City show


September 4, 2007 - Mechanicsburg, PA
I've made it back east. Bert and I are slowly pulling things together for this new tour. It's quite nice and a little nostalgic for me to be in Pennsylvania again. Growing up, I used to come to the Pittsburgh area for one month a year for many years. There are so many things here that feel familair to me; the trees and the way homes are built, the sounds of the bugs in the woods, the size of the ants and even the cars (more Fords than Toyotas!). I'm glad we have several dates in the state this time!

July 20, 2007 - I5 towards Santa Cruz
Once again it's been way too long since I've updated this page... usually a sign that too much has benn happening as was certainly the case this time. Right this moment however I'm the passenger in my own car while Bert Lams is taking his turn behind the wheel on a trip to Santa Cruz today. Bert and I started a short west coast tour a few days ago in San Diego that will take us up to southern Oregon over the next week. We're doing more pieces together as a duo this time which is fun but sometimes quite challenging. Bert has an affinity for tricky music. Trickiest of all this trip is a version of a Chopin piano piece called teh Revolutionary etude. Bert is playing the left hand part from the piano, and I'm using both hands to try to cover the right hand parts. It's great to be playing with Bert again. We're already planning our next trip too for the east coast in September.

In other news.. "Sketchbook" my new limited edition CD release made it into the world recently. This is a disc I'm planning on just pressing once, and something of a "look ahead" at several projects I have underway. As of today we're probably about 20-25% on the way to "sold out." More on all this can be found at:

Want more Tom stories and trivia? Check out the website archives for past tour diaries.

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