Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Well, it seems that the whole camping thing has run it's course on my blog. We pretty much store our camper near Sedona and take it to Dead Horse Ranch State Park all the time. That's a tad boring to write about every time we're up there, so I've decided to expand the blog to include other stuff that takes place in my very exciting life! So, from now on, it'll include some cooking and BBQ-ing, my music, and other travel fun.

On that note, in February I attended The Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas! Thanks to my Pal, Loren Wessel, he took me along and picked up the tab! (Yeah… Cool friend, Huh)! Anyways, it was a thrill of a lifetime. The guests included Michael Anthony of Van Halen, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Orianthi, and a host of famous musicians who served as "rock counselors."

Basically, this is how the whole thing goes down. You arrive, they have an orientation, and you are assigned a band unit, with a famous musician as your counselor. Then, you practice, get to know your fellow bandmates, and put together songs to perform together at the two concerts at The House of Blues. Also, you work up a few songs to jam with the guest musicians they bring in.

Our band was assigned to play "Running with the Devil," with Michael Anthony, (former) bassist of Van Halen. That was pretty exciting, being able to share the stage with a member of Van Halen! Song went well, got to play the solo, and meet and greet Mike afterwards. He's also from Pasadena, so I had a nice conversation with him about the town where we are both from.

Michael Anthony, Van Halen & Chickenfoot.

Our band called themselves "Fireball," not after the Deep Purple album from 1971, but after the cinnamon whiskey that we partook in at The House of Blues. ($9.00 a shot, might I ad)! Our counselor was Les Warner, former drummer of the band The Cult. He was a great guy to hang out with, telling us jokes, and listening to stories about everything from his childhood growing up in England, to his professional career and experiences.

Les Warner

Part of the experience included recording at the Palms Hotel Recording Studio. The producer and engineer, Mark Gray, was a super-cool Dude, who wasn't hesitant to share stories about the musicians he's worked with: Elton John, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, and many more. He said Usher was a pain in there ass to work with! Very cool getting the inside scoop on so many artists. 

The recording studio experience was very cool! Talk about a plush environment as well… State of the art gear, Marshall amps, couches to lounge and relax on, etc. etc. Spent the day there, loved every second of it!

Now, THAT'S a mixing board!!!

"Fireball," at The Palms Hotel Recording Studio.
(L to R: Les, Jason Ebbs, Sasha, Loren, Ryan, Me, Teo, and Mark Gray, (Engineer/Producer).

We got to jam with some great guitarists… Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, and Joe Perry. The song we chose to jam on with Joe Perry was "Adam's Apple," off the Toys in the Attic album, (1975). He liked the obscure choice of the tune, and complimented us and how we played it after jamming it with him.

Jamming on Adam's Apple" w/ Joe.

Our band, "Fireball," with Joe.

Me and Joe Perry.

When we jammed with Steve Vai, we weren't prepared with any particular tune, as we thought is was only going to be a meet and greet, and not a jam. So, Teofilo, our band mate from Mexico, had seen the G-3 concert with Satrianni, Eric Johnson, and Vai, and they all played (Neil Young's) "Keep on Rockin' in the Free World." So, we decided to just jam on that tune with no singing, as it's basically a 3 chord song, where we each took a solo after Steve Vai did his. Cool jam!

Hangin' with Steve Vai.

Eric Johnson gave a lecture the second day, then we got to perform with him twice. What a great artist he is! This guy can just strum a basic chord, and it sounds like an angel singing! I actually got teary-eyed when he was playing. We named an instrumental of his called East-Wes, written in honor of jazz legend Wes Montgomery. Then, later that night, he jammed with all 16 bands at the House of Blues (at the Mandalay bay Hotel).

Lecture & demonstration at The Rock Fantasy Camp Studios.

Rehearsing "East Wes" for concert later that night.

House of Blues, jamming with Eric Johnson.

Jamming at the House of Blues was very cool as well. Crowd was pretty forgiving, considering many of the musicians were amateurs, who weren't used to playing live in from of an audience. Overall, though, every band did their best, and mistakes and blunders were kept to a minimum. 

House of blues concert.

In the heat of the moment!

After it was all said and done, I think the best part for me was jamming with our counselor, drummer, Les Warner. The guy was so funny, helpful, and just a pleasure to hang out with. And, overall, the whole experience was something I'll never forget! Hell… Jamming on stage with Steve Vai, Joe Perry, Eric Johnson, and more, in a 5 day period? It is a fantasy come true!

Here's some more photos from Band Camp:

Danny Seraphine (Drummer for Chicago) w/ Joe Perry

Jason Ebbs, hired gun (great) singer.

Gary Hoey & Tony Franklin (The Firm), All-Star jam

My buddy Loren Wessel, with Tony Franklin

Phil Soussan, bassist, vocalist, songwriter (Ozzy Osbourne)

Sasha, Loren's girlfriend, w/ Rudy Sarzo & Franky Banali (Quiet Riot)

Orianthi, jamming on Jimi Henrix's "Voodoo Chile," w/ Gary Hoey

Sunday Night Jam, House of Blues, final concert

So, that's it for now. I'll be back with more travel, cooking, and music fun! Be sure to follow my group, BANDALISM on Facebook! Ciao for now!  

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