October 16, 2006 - Encinitas, CA
I made it back home in the wee hours of Sunday morning from the all too brief TLB tour, arriving basically in one piece, but apparently not without catching a virus guitarist Jesse was unwilling incubating in the back seat of our van all week. I'm sure I'm not the only one who got it. As Tony pointed out.. that's just life in a van! Jerry is staying here now and after a long morning of dealing with equipment, and a doctor visit for me, we finally started rehearsing a bit for our upcoming European tour in November. Lots that we want to get through yet, but I think we'll be in good shape for this one. It's a long one, touching down in Italy, Switzerland and France. The dates in some cases are still firming up, but the most recent info I have is on the schedules page.

Before I leave town though, I actually have one last big show coming up locally. This Sunday, I'll be playing at one of my favorite SD spots; the Belly Up. An old guitar teacher of mine puts on an annual show he calls "Guitar Extravaganza" once a year and invites some of the biggest and best from SD's music scene to participate. This year's lineup includes jazz great Peter Sprague, flamenco/classical master Fred Benedetti, Peter Pupping's own quartet and yours truly as a cameo'd guest. Also guesting will be drummer Kevin Koch from Fatt Burger. This should be a great afternoon of music, and one I'm looking forward to. For more on it, check out www.guitarsounds.com

October 14, 2006 - The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano, CA
Long drive today though thankfully we started the 450+ mile trip last night after the Fillmore show. I realized both waking up today and at our lunch stop that I really know the truck stops along the 5 all too well. I'm not sure there's too many I haven't been at before now. At both of our stops today I remembered a CGT trip up and down the coast where we had a leaking tire on the van. I could even remember which gas stations had working air pumps and which didn't.

Fun show tonight at the Coach House, but I thought it would be. It's always great for me to have so many friends at an event, and being the last show of this short tour, things went pretty well musically and gear wise for people I think. Quite a bit of extra work at the end of the night though as all sorts of equipment and people had to go to several different places. We were luck my friend Jen night and her boyfriend came since he has a big truck and could get a lot of things back to my house for us. Currently my garage looks a little more like a warehouse than normal, but I should soon be shipping things off.

"What would Jimi do?"
onstage at Coach House

rockstars Amanda and Cole came!

October 13, 2006 - The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA
Fantastic show last night in Santa Cruz. Though it was certainly not the biggest venue I've been able to play at with Jerry and the Tony Levin Band, it was a nice full house and a very enthusiastic audience. On a fun aside, while we were eating before the show, I noticed a printout of the club's monthly schedule listing "B-Side Players" a few weeks before us. B-side is a San Diego based group that was home for many years to both Agent 22 drummer Ryan Moran and now my good friend Michael Cannon. Tonight as I was walking around the Fillmore looking at pictures I saw a poster for a somewhat recent show with Slightly Stoopid, Ryan's current band. I thought it was fun that I'm following some of my good hometown friends around.

On the drive up from Santa Cruz today we stopped at Apple Computer's headquarters in Cupertino. Our friend Kevin works there and led us to the company cafeteria and employee store. I was hoping to pick up a new iPod shuffle, but.... they're "shipping in October" (no one knows what that means). The cafeteria was amazing though, in fact I can say I've never seen one like it. Sushi counter, espresso bar, gelato bar, smoothie makers, and many other things you'd actually expect to see. Everything looked good and it was fun seeing all the employees who seem to have no real dress code to contend with.

Tonight at the Fillmore, TLB is once again opening for Porcupine Tree, which means no Marotta/Griesgraber set. So.. I'm sort of on call as general "helper." This is a pretty self sufficient band though so I might actually catch up with sorting through pictures for this page. Tonight after TLB's set, the plan is to load out straight away and get on the road, driving something like 100 miles south to our hotel. It's going to be a late one for sure...

load in at Fillmore in SF
waiting to go on

someday I'll learn to take focused shots from the back of a dark room
local politics in Santa Cruz

a view from the SC lobby

October 12, 2006 - 5N in the central valley
We're somewhere in California's central valley now. Tony is driving and has been all the way from downtown LA. There are two vans on the tour, one filled with equipment and one filled with people. Some debate came up on the best routing and the vans have split off on different routes now. The equipment van with Robert and Jerry is taking the route recommended by tonight's venue while the rest of us are following the two GPS systems Pete and I have. Having done this trip so many times myself, I'm curious to see who gets there first.

Last night's show was nicely packed at the House of Blues. The audience really belonged to Porcupine Tree though as the club barely mentioned TLB in their promo. Of course most of the people there seemed to know all the guys in Tony's band, but I had a lot of people tell me at the merch table how pleasantly surprised they were to find out Tony's band was playing!

I'm looking forward to a good show tonight in Santa Cruz. It's unusual to be back so soon after Bert Lams and I just played there about a month ago. Hopefully I'll get a little time to wander around downtown a bit.

soundcheck - LA

October 11, 2006 - Hollywood, CA
Night two of the Tony Levin Band's California tour and we're all at the House of Blues on Sunset tonight. Very different night for all of us though as instead of the showing being TLB with openers Marotta/Griesgraber, the TLB is actually opening for Porcupine Tree. So for me a career change from opener to merchandise seller, and for them a much shorter set and smaller stage space. I'm happy to help out though and will enjoy the show from behind a nicely decorated pillar.

Last night was our first show in San Diego. It was fun to be in my home turf with the guys. Since all of the recent shows I've done with them have been in Europe, my first instinct when getting CDs together for the evening was to start thinking of CD prices in Italian! Strange... On my first trips to Italy, being a S CA native, when I heard people speaking Italian I started to think in Spanish.

soundcheck - San Diego

October 5, 2006 - Encinitas, CA
Home for a few weeks now since my tour with Bert Lams, I've been doing a lot of local gigs and trying to get things together for the next two tours coming up. The first starts in just five days now and is a short west coast run with myself and Jerry Marotta opening for the Tony Levin Band. It's been about four years since Tony's band was last on the west coast, so I'm quite excited that they're making the trip again. Jerry and I are doing three shows with them in San Diego, Santa Cruz and San Juan Capistrano. The San Juan show at the Coach House on Sat 10/14 promises to be something extra special. The Coach House was in fact the first place I opened for Tony's group several years ago and it was one of the best shows I've ever been a part of. Through a special arrangement with the venue, we also have discounted tickets to pass along for that one. Same general admission seating as all their tickets, but you'll save about $10 a ticket versus the Ticket Master price. To order, visit the store page or give us a call at 760-942-1031.

Tony's Band is made up of Tony Levin (bass, Stick, vocals), Jerry Marotta (drums, vocals), Larry Fast (keys), Pete Levin (piano) and Jesse Gress (guitar). If the names aren't familair to you, I can guarantee you've heard them. Tony, Larry and Jerry were 3/4 of Peter Gabriel's Band for over ten years, and while everyone in the band has amazing histories of working with great artists, Tony's is most impressive, having played with other artists like King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Buddy Rich, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Sara McLachlan, Paula Cole, Seal, Paul Simon, Carly Simon, Steps Ahead, Liquid Tension Experiment, California Guitar Trio, David Bowie, Tracy Chapman, Cher, James Taylor, Dire Straits and Lou Reed (to name just a handful).

Hope you can make it to some of these shows!

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

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