Friday, September 7, 2012

Guitar master weekend

This labor day weekend was full of driving and music.  Driving, because I went to Pennsylvania again (only took 7 to 7.5 hours each way this time, rather than 8), and music because I went to not one but two concerts.

The first concert was in Ann Arbor, before I left.  Bill Kirchen, named "Titan of the Telecaster" by Guitar Player Magazine (a Telecaster is a type of electric guitar), performed .  Even if you have heard of him before, one thing I'm pretty sure you didn't know is that he is my cousin once removed (my Dad's first cousin).  In addition to getting to enjoy the show, meeting him (and his sister) for the first time ever was pretty cool.  I got  hugs!

Bill originally became famous from the song Hot Rod Lincoln when he was part of the band 'Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen' (begun in Ann Arbor, MI).  According to Wikipedia, Hot Rod Lincoln was "voted a Legendary Michigan Song in 2008" and "the following year [the band was] inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame."

For his show there was no opener, just a short break in between two halves of the almost three hours that he played.  His accompaniment was two guys - one on electric bass and one on a small drum kit.  A second electric guitar player, whose name eludes me, joined them for the second half of the show.  The sound was great and Bill was pretty funny even just talking to the audience.

After his show, I went home, finished packing and was up again at 7AM on Saturday to drive to Pennsylvania.  While the drive down there is long, it is not hard.  There are about three "turns" - I-75 to I-280 to I-80 then exit at the right town in PA.  The drive was smooth and fast and uneventful.

Saturday, we had an early dinner and then headed to a local pay to ride amusement park about a half hour away called Knoebels.  One of their claims to fame is having the #2 wooden coaster in the world.  We spent a couple of hours there: rode their two coasters, enjoyed a simpler but still really fun ride called the flyer (which you kind of controlled yourself) and then capped it off with a Ferris wheel ride.  While the Ferris wheel spun much faster than we expected, it was still nice.

After sleeping in on Sunday, we decided to drive the two hours to the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA to go to a different concert - a show by Steve Vai.  While the focal instrument for both of them is electric guitar, Steve Vai and Bill Kirchen do not have much else in common (other than I suppose, both also being recognized by Guitar Player magazine).
The guy loves wacky outfits, in addition to being an amazing guitar player.  The blue sign in front of him and amps behind him have his logo/name on them.
While Bill is a Titan, Steve has been described as a virtuoso and before he went solo, he played with a veritable who's who of 80s rock groups.  He's a master of the instrument and is always looking for new off-beat sounds and so, on this tour for example, had an electric harp as part of the band (you can see the harpist, who's from MA actually, on the right of the photo above).  Not sure how else to describe this guy and his band other than impressive.
So for this part of the set he's got a light-up suit thing
But wait, he's also got lasers on his guitar and on a glove to highlight his fingers (the diagonal rays coming away from the guitar in the photo)
All in all, the weekend was really good and like many really good weekends, much too short.  At least there's another one right around the corner.

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