This summer looks like it will be one to remember for me. I have the pleasure of sharing the stage with the original members of 8084 and friend Hirsh Gardner.
Andre, Frank, and Gary from 8084 are family to me. Although we do not stay in touch all of the time, we have been through the trenches together. From Sydney, Nova Scotia to Panama City Beach, FL, we have experienced things together that have formed a solid lifetime bond. I've learned much from them, both as a musician and a human being. Andre Maquera is the most talented musician that I know. He simply amazes me with both his guitar playing and production skills. There are times that he plays a solo that bring goosebumps to me. He's simply that good. And as a friend, he has been there for through thick and thin for 27 years.
Frank Barnes has amazing sense of musicality. I haven't performed with him since 2000, so this will be a treat for me. A great bass player, Frank also has a bluesy powerful voice that needs no microphone. I remember the first time I heard him cover Toto's "Hold the Line". It was that moment that I realized that he had the vocal tools that I wanted. He's been great inspiration to me to become a better musician.
Gary Spaulding is solid. And for a drummer, that's what you want most. He is a true professional in his approach to his music and provided the foundation with which 8084 was able to soar for many years. He also makes me laugh, which keeps things light when you need it most. I can't wait to turn around to face Gary on stage and see that smile as he does what he loves most: play drums.
I've known Hirsh Gardner since 1986. But before that, I remember hearing "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya' from New England on WAAF back in 1979 while driving back and forth to visit an old girlfriend in Orange, MA. I loved that song then as I still do today. We met Hirsh in Boston in 1986 and proceeded to work with him on the first 8084 record. I was in awe of his talent as a musican and producer as I am today. I look forward to touring with him.
Last but not least, Gary Borress from GB Music in NYC. Gary and I have become close over the past 10 years. He has been extremely supportive and instrumental in helping me get my new album and this tour together. Gary will be attending the Vermont and Mass. tour dates with us, so you'll have the chance to meet one of the nicest guys I know.
We've kept the tour dates at a minimum for now. The first date on August 14 will be a smaller venue called The Lincoln Inn located in Essex Junction, VT. This will be the perfect place to launch. The second show on August 15 will be in White River Junction. VT at a large club called Shenanigans. We chose this location over others as the folks at the club have always supported 8084. We also have a great following in that area.
August 21 brings us to my hometown and birthplace, Shelburne Falls, MA. Memorial Hall is the very first place that I performed in public with my first band. (talk about full circle!) This show will also be a benefit for both the Doug Turner Scholarship Fund and Hilltown Food Pantry. Doug was one of my best friends in high school and passed away unexpectedly in 2003. I've dedicated the song "Alright" from the last 8084 release, The Last Great Train, to him. The song exemplfies how I feel about Doug's untimely death and void left because of it. The song really is not a negative, rather it points out the positive of what Doug would want everyone to feel. With regards to Hilltown, we are asking that each person that attends the show ( seating 425 people) to bring along with them at least 1 non-perishable food item for donation. You can learn more about Hilltown here: http://www.foodbankwma.org/wordofmouth/spring06/agencyspotlight.htm
I've been communicating and coordinating with my childhood friend, actress Elizabeth Perkins, to appear and be the master of ceremonies for the show. Liz also attended Mohawk High School with me, so it would be a homecoming experience for both of us. Although 100% commited to the benefit, because of her rigid filming schedule, we won't know for certain for a few months if she will be able to attend. However she and I are working hard to make it happen. She has been wonderful and has offered much input to help me to organize this benefit. Hopefully it will all work out! Thanks Liz!!!
The last show is scheduled to be in the Boston area. We're still looking for the perfect venue. I'll keep you posted.
That's it for now. Looking forward to performing live songs from the new CD Bittersweet, 8084, and New England/Hirsh Gardner on the tour. It should be a rocking August to say the least!