OK. I toned down the red eye and balanced the color a little.
ALSO: Thank you, David Ryan Harris, for taking time out to snap this.
So, I finally have to chance to write about the John Mayer concert and meeting. I used to write lengthy reviews about good concerts I have gone to, but it’s been a while.. So this one is a good one to get started on again. There is some guitar geek stuff.. so WWF fans can just skip down to the middle…
Let me preface this by saying a huge thank you to my brother in laws. Paul and Dave could have invited anyone to this, but they know i’m a JM fan and played the guitar for almost as long as Dave’s been alive. They are truly great guys, and through this evening proved this many times over with the way they conducted themselves. We have had some fun in the 3 1/2 years I have known them.
Money has not been all that plentiful since the shooting for Dillards has stopped, so I was not going to go see John this tour. So it was all the better when my brother in law called and said they had been offered tickets. All I heard was Katie saying “yeah.. YEAH.. him and Eric Clapton are his favorite!” over the phone..
So after being sort of in shock kind of happy, we get there Saturday evening and find we are center stage..actually THE center… 7th row.
So the last time I saw John he was out supporting Continuum, which I wrote a long review about if anyone is interested. To me, that is one of the most important albums of the last 10 years. This time, it’s Battle Studies. The line up is a bit different band-wise, but i’m not going into that. Suffice to say the band was bad ass. Sound was a little heavy on the bottom end at first, then was pretty great. Only thing technical I am curious about is Robbie McIntosh’s amp. I will look it up.
Highlights? man.. John gets his SRV strat out (did you know John’s guitar tech is Rene Martinez… Stevie Ray Vaughan’s old tech?) and starts talking about SRV and Dallas and asking his parents for money to go live in Dallas because that’s where Stevie was from. And he’s playing these chords that are in Jimi’s “Little Wing” while he’s talking.. (maybe my favorite Jimi Hendrix tune.. certainly my favorite to play lol I did a mandolin solo due to too much tequila during a little jam session once when I lived in Austin..heh)..so i am thinking he’s gonna cover that. And he’s talking about drugs and how he’s only smoked weed and describing an SRV song called “Life Without You” and the goosebumps start to rise. Well, he proceeds to do the best version of Jimi’s “Voodoo Chile: Slight Return” I have ever heard. (man that wah tone was PERFECT!). Seriously. It was complete with standing (and kneeling) in front of his Two-Rocks (amps) and just wailin’.. John has a way of sort of channeling Jimi Hendrix. It really is a sight to see it from 50 feet away. He took his tremolo arm off his guitar in the middle of the song for some reason.. and afterwards seemed to be complimenting Rene (I guess for how that guitar played).
He did Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” acoustically. That was cool. In fact.. all the acoustic stuff with the band had a cool sort of flavor that night. Sort of loose and yet everyone was adding very tasteful bits. Robbie was doing really cool stuff on a few songs, “Why Georgia”, especially.
I really am a fan of the song “Heartbreak Warfare”. Some really sweet delay on that one and just enough funky modulation, too. Gravity was insanely good, too. And yeah, John.. I noticed you leaning hard into some SRV influenced licks during the solos. Goosebumps again. “Half of My Heart” closed the evening. I really dig the Rick Turner guitar he uses for that song. Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac uses one of those. They just have this weird, yet beautiful midrange sound that is awesome some some things.
In all honesty, that all I can really remember about the concert. I was so excited about meeting John and stuff that I couldn’t focus on the details. Me and the WWF guys were wearing our WWF tee shirts that are black with a yellowish logo on them, and there were a old of blue lights, so I think John may have seen us.. lol. In fact, I think he did tell us he saw us and spoke into a mic or something he had on his amps to tell his assistant to call us.
Ok. All the WWF fans and non-guitar geeks can start here.
So we were waiting to be fetched from the meet and greet line and there were a few girls out there, as can be imagined. One saw my shirt and said “words with friends? Is that a words with friends tee shirt?” lol I said yes and pointed to Paul and Dave and told the girl they are the founders of Newtoy and created WWF. At the time, I was pissed off trying to send a txt or place a call on my iPhone but the network was overrun and so I was having to retry everything. So i concentrated on this for a few minutes and when I looked up Paul and Dave were being surrounded by some true WWF fans. (Drunk SMU girls, mostly).. heheh Photos were taken, and we had our own little sample of rockstardom. Even if some of that was the fact that girls knew we were getting in and they wanted in.
So we were fetched. And given VIP stickers and let through the gate. The whole night I was expecting to be in a large room or near the busses with about 100 people with the whole band and staff. I mean.. i had made up my mind that was what it was gonna be. I was wrong. A door was knocked on and opened and in a room the size of a small hotel room, there sat John. My first impression? He gets up and shakes our hands and promptly digs in the fridge for us some drinks. (Sierra Pale Ale for me) and hands them to us. Wow. A little smalltalk and this is where Maggie asks John for a bottle opener. (Laughter) In fact, I had been looking around the room for one, myself. The 3 of us looked silly standing there with unopened beers. John sincerely apologized and we wound up opening them on his wardrobe (a roadcase, for JM). For the next 30 min or so it’s just us, me, Paul, Dave, and Maggie, JM and this one drunk chick that somehow made it in with us.. hehe
I have to say, as much of a fan I have been of John for the last 6 or 7 years, I had no idea what to expect him to be like in real life. But I found ourselves in this detailed conversation about video games. Just like talking to a new friend about similar experiences you had as a kid.. just as easy as if the new friend was a good friend of your best friend. Then he mentions music and produces a nice hard case full of about 30 records. As he is making a point about great records that have no “hits” on them he also pulls out Eric Clapton’s “Journeyman”. At that point I have to say something. I am a huge Clapton fan, he is the guy that turned this country kid on to rock and roll via his “24 Nights” album. And so I say something like.. “no way.. Journeyman? Man old love.” and he says “I LOVE OLD LOVE”.. You can play that song forever..” My mouth was probably agape because my buddy Rob and I can (and have) jammed that song for looong periods of time. So we discuss music for a little while. It’s insane. There were very specific things said about music that I feel the exact same way about.
Of the drunk girl I will only say this.. JM is such a cool, intelligent, coherent host that he’d be hard core talking about something with Paul and Dave, and she’d sort of say something out of the blue.. and without any awkwardness, John would segueway into a smooth, funny but not condescending answer for her and then back to the discussion.
John later thanked Paul in an email for making his dressing room feel like a living room.
As some people started coming in, we chilled for a while and then decided to not overstay our welcome. On the way out, John thanked us again, and we had a photo taken with Dave’s iPhone (with him this time). I wish I’d have one of my cameras with me.. but you know.. short notice. And as I left, I shook his hand and said: “As a Dallas native and guitar player, thank you so much for what you are doing with stuff like what you are saying about Stevie”.. and had a little moment there. What I was going to say was “Thank you for singlehandedly bringing the guitar back to popular music.” Maybe next time.
All in all.. just such a cool experience. Everyone was so chill.. even me! I didn’t really expect to sit down and have a 30 min hang out session. normally, i want to keep musicians and their personalities separate than their music. i am a fan of one amazing guitarist in particular that has been an ass to me a couple of times and it almost ruined me on his music. But with John, it was like a little peek into what was brewing as he was growing up to form the songs and guitar playing he has now. I have heard some folks badmouth him.. and it chaps me for 2 reasons: 1 most of that is bad press. 2. You shouldn’t care anyway. If you like the music, fine.. if not, fine.. but the media is not something you should base your opinion on ANYTHING on.
I think tomorrow, after re-reading this and prettying up a little (I am way too tired to write in my normal, witty and unique style) I am going to lock the door to my music room, and jam along to the DVDs and CDs I have of his, and some EC, too.
Long shot, but if you read this, John.. thanks SO much!! Can we talk more about music?