Over some of the month of October, 2012, the G3 Tribe bounces between several of the most populous cities on the South American continent. I’ve never seen this part of the world before. Luckily I’m in the care of Professionals Who Have Experience With These Kinds of Things.
the water is very cold
Our first stop is Rio. Lovely Rio de Janeiro of song and story. The self-described capitol of the senses. “You love me, I’m Brazilian!!!” I’m not comfortable with these cannibals of emotion, the noise and the bugs. To get over jetlag I drag my ass down to the beach and leap into the Atlantic. It’s cold, very cold, like Pemaquid Point in Maine on a summer day but refreshing. Later I’m told this beach is well-known to be a sump of offal leaching from overpopulated hill sides. I wash my mouth out with coffee.
simultaneously menacing and astonishing
At rehearsal/soundcheck prior to the first show the next day we are catching up on consciousness, remembering our parts and putting the pieces together.
shuttle to concert – Ipanema beach in the background
Traffic is congested between the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches – a skinny two lane blacktop connects two of the most famous playas on Earth.
At rehearsal (L to R) Joe, Steve and John making with the three part guitar harmonies.
All goes smoothly, including our first show of the tour. Next stop: Sao Paulo, also a smooth production while outside the venue a warm Equatorial thunderstorm bathes the rain forest.
I am the Lucky Number
We’ve spoken of the Holy Laminate before…all of us get handed one. I’ve drawn an especially auspicious good-luck laminate! Looking over the setlist prior to the South American tour I realize I only require two basses: the five-string for Flying in a Blue Dream and the P-bass for everything else. Since the Thunderbird was already in the shipping coffin from the recent European tour I’ve thought to use it as a warm-up instrument. Its scale being longer than the P, it’s like a batter warming up with a heavier bat.
Brazil behind us, we arrive safely in Argentina. Some of us have had passionate discussions about the high quality of beef in this country. I take heed and avoid red meat until Buenos Aires. Mike Mangini (drums for John P.), Mike Keneally and I wander quiet old streets to a chop house for what becomes one of the best steaks I have ever had. I go to sleep happy.
Buenos Aires, all pomp and circumstance.
Buenos Aires is a beautiful, sad city. “Paris of South America” it’s called, and it’s architecturally true. But neglect is evident. People are selling all manner of tourist goods on the street. They’re also selling family heirlooms. In tight little marketplaces European silver, crystal and china brought across the sea in the last century clutters shelves alongside clothing, toys and dolls. If you like rummage sales it’s heaven.
everybody’s got work to do.
Several of us head over to the Recoleta Cemetery, the most dire and ponderous necropolis I’ve ever seen.
guardians of the spirits
Some crypts are lovingly preserved, some are decrepit.
obligatory cobweb and cross
I am only slightly alarmed to see rotting coffins within reach. Time, the Revelator.
…and behind door #3…
Enough accessible decay to last a lifetime.
open from dusk til dawn.
I spend an hour wandering past massive granite Belle Epoque crypts. I’m not creeped out. Of course, it’s daytime and other tourists are present. The old dare about spending the night in such a place…could I do it? What do I have to prove?
The morning after our Argentina show it’s a short hop over the spectacular Andes to Santiago, Chile. Upon arrival we are invited by a local restauranteur to a glorious (and hosted) meal. I’m very taken with this mountain city, it’s liveliness, open-sky feel and civility. People smile for each other, automobiles stop for pedestrians (mostly) and there’s a crispness in the air.
Chilean B-boys (and girls) strut on polished marble below high mountains
The walk from the hotel to the restaurant at dusk is warm and full of life.
Doug Nightwine, our Tour Manager, leads the way
At dinner we are treated to a king’s feast. King crab, meats, fish, hors d’oeurvres aplenty and flowing wine (Chilean, of course, and fantastic) all contribute to well-being, ease and relaxation.
as delicious as it’s beautiful
We are welcomed, feted and fussed over by patrons and staff alike. Joe whispers to me: “They think you’re Ted Nugent.” I suggest to him that I should loudly voice my support for gun control and cultural compassion (one must counter foolish behavior any way one can). Thankfully I do not loudly voice anything. Luckily Mike and Jeff find time for a friendly disagreement at top volume. As the DJ is also contributing to the overall sonic level in the room much of what they have to say to each other is drowned in hipster bass and drum grooves.
Mike (L) and Jeff, agreeing to disagree
No animals are harmed in the making of this conversation and everyone finds their way back to the hotel and sleeps. Tomorrow: a show under snow-capped mountain peaks.
Outside the venue, after soundcheck, Joe finds a quiet moment in the sun.
The Santiago show goes well. The city and it’s people have welcomed us, and we moved easily within its borders. It’s the last peace we’ll find for the next three days. Early in the morning we make a very early 7am departure from the hotel.
Now begins a descent into several of Dante’s Hells.
We fly from Santiago, Chile (I awake at 6am) for three hours and land in Lima, Peru for a ninety minute layover. Then we fly towards Caracas, Venezuela (a supposedly four-hour flight) but are diverted to Maracaibo (700km away) by extreme weather. I mean, our aircraft is struck by lightning several times. It’s very rough, and thunder is clearly audible inside the cabin. During this flight I finish Neil Young’s new autobiography “Waging Heavy Peace” generously on loan from the Mike Keneally. Sometimes you’ve got to drag your mind as far away from the present moment as you can, if only for a short time. After white-knuckling it to Maracaibo our tribe and another eighty hapless castaways are abandoned by the airline (LAN). Left to our own devices we are thankfully rescued, in part, by a young man who manages the Dream Theater web site within Venezuela. We spend the night in Maracaibo (my room has no hot water, no lights in the bathroom and industrial air conditioning units directly above my top floor room send subsonic waves through my exhausted body). We depart in the morning for Caracas on a one hour flight. The web master kindly proffered his credit card (apparently only Venezuelan credit works in Venezuela) to purchase these new plane tickets (on another airline thanks) to Caracas. The original airline (LAN!) turned their back on everyone. Time from Caracas airport to our hotel in the center of the city is three hours through traffic so horrendous it makes Moscow seem rural.
creeping along the freeway from Caracas airport
But Caracas, as nasty as it appears, is the site of our last show with Steve Morse. We make the best of it. The show is energetic, loose, powerful and very well-received. The farther you travel and the more arduous the journey, the greater the release.
In the dressing tent Jeff (L) gives Joe pointers on how it’s done.
It’s an outdoor show and the weather has cleared; a glorious tropical night under a yellow half moon.
(from L) Jeff, Steve, Joe and John display a custom Venezuelan flag with G3 logo
We make our goodbyes to Steve Morse and his drummer, Dru Betts, after the show. Doug Nightwine snaps a quick group shot with Jeff’s camera.
The G3 Tribe (from L.) Allen, Joe, John, Mike M., Steve, Jeff, Dave, Mike K., Dru.
Travel from Caracas to Mexico City is cursed only by long lines at airports. At a celebratory dinner (we escaped Venezuela!!!) Steve Lukather and his band arrive, straight from the airport. It’s a happy meeting. We all spent a lot of time together in New Zealand and Australia last Spring.
(from L) John, Joe and Steve
We’ve got two back to back shows here in Mexico City. Some of the crew complain of shortness of breath. The smokers, naturally. At 7200 feet above sea level I can understand it. But I don’t suffer altitude sickness. The higher I get, the more I like it.