Playing Duesenberg on the Road with Johnny Clegg

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We’re about three weeks into the 2016 Johnny Clegg north American tour and the custom-built Starplayer guitar that the guys at Duesenberg sent me has been a constant source of delight. I’m so pleased this tone machine arrived before we hit the road. In a matter of days this became my “go to” guitar for just about everything.

My eternal thanks to Ingo and Dieter at Duesenberg. Pics by Nancy Nutile-McMenemy

EDIT: A few people have asked about the clean sound and the signal path on this guitar. The bridge on there is actually a Graphtech piezo acoustic pickup. The pot on the horn is mag volume. Two pots on the scratchplate are piezo volume and mag tone. Output – that is stereo with a balanced cable taking the signal via a Lehle DC Filter (to kill active rail voltage pops) to a Lehle stereo switcher (Little Lehle or 3@1, depending on the requirement) where it y-splits, mags to Kemper profiling amplifier and Piezo to the house via a PZ DI. I have control over the levels using the volume knobs, but our engineer has discrete control over both signals on separate channels and pans them slightly to widen the sound up.

I didn’t opt for all the extra switches to switch the acoustiphonic pre, etc. as I felt in the heat of battle, the simplest setup would be the most intuitive to play. Ingo at Duesenberg suggested using a single TRS (stereo) Jack rather than two mono TS outputs. It has worked swimmingly well

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Mountain Men & Oregon Adventures

It’s been a busy week! We finished the last leg of tour and zipped home to South Africa. After a whirlwind visit with the family, it was back out on the road for part two of the Johnny Clegg north American tour. We traveled back for 32 hours into Calgary via Amsterdam and then drove up into the mountains to Banff, where our first show was.

Bus in Portland

Bus in Portland with 12,000 lb trailer

Banff is a beautiful location in the Canadian Rockies and home to one of the best music colleges in Canada. We played outdoors at the relatively new Shaw Amphitheatre, with the show starting just before sunset – what a great evening! I also got to see some old friends from that part of the world, which was great.

Banff

Banff show in the mountains – Shaw Amphitheatre

From Banff, we moved our band of merrie skwirrels to Salt Lake City (an interesting flight next to a cavalry 1st troop sergeant from fort Riley extolling the virtues and bemoaning the costs of the Abrahams tank) and on to Portland OR for a night off. Let me tell you that the steaks at Ruth’s Chris steakhouse in downtown Portland are some of the best I have eaten, and as a South African, that’s saying something. Go there, but take lots of money or plastic – don’t let the Ferrari and Maserati at the door scare you off – be strong!

I had a Mono case for my pedaltrain delivered in Portland. The speed at which stuff moves overland in the USA never ceases to amaze me. All night truckstops, 24 hr couriers and immense infrastructure make for a highly efficient fossil fuel-based economy. I tracked the (free) shipment real time overnight from LA into the hotel lobby via free wifi on my iPad

From Portland we drove out to Roseburg OR, but disaster struck in the form of a DOT cop (department of transport – think officer Poncharello). Apparently, we missed a scheduled weighbridge (where you stop your heavy vehicle to get weighed, or else) and we were pulled over. In the ensuing checks it became apparent that our existing driver from Nashville was licensed to pull a 10,000 lb trailer behind the bus, but we in fact had a 12,000 lb one. Within the hour Susie was headed back to Nashville and a new driver had arrived (apparently rated for 12,000 lbs) and off we went to Roseburg OR. Arrivederci Susie.

In Roseburg, Dan (our keyboard player) and I got some lessons pre soundcheck from Ricky the frisbee king of Roseburg on how to throw the disc properly, then it was a quick soundcheck with our own in ear monitoring and a great show for around 3000 people at Music on the Half Shell. The volunteers at the festival were all wonderful, warm-hearted Oregon folks, something we have come to expect in Oregon. They cooked mountains of food and really looked after us fantastically well. Here’s the boss after the show:

Johnny Clegg – Music on the Half Shell

From Roseburg we had a short day drive to Bend OR, where we did a show right on river near the best pizzas I’ve tasted in years from Flatbread at the Old Mill centre. Watching the inhabitants of Bend floating down the river past the stage (a continual stream all afternoon long on a Wednesday), I sincerely doubted that there is a high incidence of stress-related heart attacks in the community.

Wednesday afternoon floaters in Bend OR

Here’s a pic of the show in Bend last night:

JCB show in Bend

Right now, we’re on a 9 hour drive to Sandpoint Idaho. Almost there now.

Some good news just came in. Look and Listen in SA have put in their first order for Anthems of a Stranger in brick and mortar stores. The first single, Angels, went to radio this week – we should know within the next two weeks or so if the stations are going to play me. That’s the first step in an exciting process to promote the album and get live shows booked and running.

I’ll post when the CD’s are available instore!

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