What an adventure...
I've just arrived back to my home in NJ from Jemfest. I had a blast at the event and got to see some really awesome people I havent hung out with in quite a while! Unfortunately, it was quite a nightmare coming back home though.
Usually I have a full band come down with me, (minus 06') so traveling is usually done in road trip form. We took two cars; Jake's (bass) & Jason's (gtr) which from here is a good 17 hours or so to Orlando. The trip started wonderfully... until Jake's AC died in North Carolina-ish. Shortly thereafter his car died. Jake, being the genius that he is, somehow managed to McGeiver the fuel line issue with a tire pressure gauge...
From here on out the car worked perfectly to get to the festivities. We checked in, took a dip in the pool, got some r & r and it was time to rock the fugggg out.
Weeks ago when Kevan first filled me in that Vai planned on checking out some of the Jemfest artists on Friday night, I was incredibly skeptical. Not because I don't trust Kevan's word, but because I mean it's Steve Vai... lol With that I completely psyched myself out of the possibility that he'd show up during my set, but all the while I knew that it was
a possibility no matter how small. During rehearsals I jokingly told the guys, "if he walks in we have to immediately stop whatever song we are playing and go right into Acid Reign." We found it humorous and continued on with our practice routine.
I hit the stage with my band. We're a good song in and for this set I decided not to wear my glasses. I feel very restricted wearing them if I feel the urge to let loose and rock out because theyll fly right off of my greasy/sweaty face. However, I am B-L-I-N-D w/o them. After the first song Jake looks at me and goes... "Acid Reign.
.." Yep, that's about when my heart fell into the deepest bowels of my asshole. I started sweating profusely and kinda sorta panicked for three seconds... then tried to pull myself together to truck through the set.
My biggest fear happened.. my "ju ju" as Mike Martin calls it was gone. I had one of those off days that pretty much every guitarist would dread had they been performing in front of Steve Vai. For the first time that I can remember I was genuinely nervous performing. In 09' alone I played about 80/90 shows, this should have been cake! Performing in a room with other guitar instrumentalists is one thing... we all know they're aware of pretty much every fuck up you make. But to be performing in front of one of the most successful instrumentalists is a whooole other ball game that I didn't anticipate.
It's kinda funny... I always go all out at each show no matter the lack or abundance of people in the crowd. I make sure I'm not only performing as flawlessly as I can, but I'm also entertaining/engaging the audience. Don't get me wrong, I've never been obsessed with trying to be 100% flawless live... if anything I embrace a few flubs. Shows that I'm still human
But I say it all the time... "You never know who's out there, so always give 120% percent." Figure that one out LOL :nuts:
Halfway through the set, I looked at my drummer and we just laughed. I knew right then and there that there was nothing I could really do but to just try and have a good time. And from there on yeah I may not have played up to par, (w/my own standards) but I enjoyed myself. :metal:
Now the trip back home...
About 30 min into our drive back home Jake's car kept stalling. It got to the point where we knew that it was getting serious and pulled off to the next exit. For the next 3.5 hours he tried a bunch of different tactics to get it going and unfortunately none worked. The rest of us had to get back for work so he had no choice but to stay behind and figure out the next logical step to solving the dilemma. We were all severely broke and did everything we could to help him out. Luckily a former gtr student of his who attended the show is putting him up for a few nights while he gets the car towed and serviced. This was the last photo update Ive seen so far...
I have to say I've never
seen anyone so overwhelmingly calm and composed during such a crisis. He took the whole experience so gracefully, it was actually pretty inspiring. It killed the rest of us to leave a man down and drive back home without him. But I'll say this, if there is anyone in the world that I know who could manage himself out of any situation it's Jake :metal:
Regardless of the off day, the misfortune on the road etc myself and the guys all sincerely enjoyed ourselves. Jemfest is loaded with genuine people and killer artists who love to have a good time and rock face. Every artist who's set I was lucky enough to catch was on top of their game and gave it their all. I really wish I could have stayed the second day of JF to catch my brother Mike Martin break his whammy bar in front of Vai hahaha I have a feeling that he was the shining star of this year's event and made quite the impression on Mr. Vai!