Sunday, July 31, 2011

Stringdusters + String Cheese

Words By Chris Pandolfi (

Live from the Electric Forest! This festival was other-worldly, bringing together the electronic and string band music scenes. I’ve never seen a site (formerly Rothbury) with more cool art/vibe installed on site–what a difference that makes. Thanks to our new friends, and hosts, the String Cheese Incident. We joined them on the main stage, along with our Railroad Earth and Greensky brethren, for a few tunes after our set. Banjo-cam takes you on stage, inside the action.

Electric Forest dust-up from Chris Pandolfi on Vimeo.

Music Associations (CMA Interns Asleep at The Wheel!)

Words By Chris Pandolfi (

Lately I’ve been wondering what ‘music associations’ are all about. Who joins? Why? What’s a music assoc trying to do? How do they get it done? And what types of music have one? Today’s NY Times has an interesting article about the mariachi music scene in LA, where newer, less experienced musicians are undercutting the typical $50/hour wages of older, more experienced players. Talk about a traditional scene–the bands actually gather in in place called ‘Mariachi Plaza’ just east of downtown LA, in full regalia, vying for the attention of potential customers. The United Mariachi Organization of LA is a new group, 200 strong, trying to keep musical/professional standards up, as well as prices. $10/month gets you a gold ID card but not necessarily much more. Says one veteran mariachi, “Do we need this? I don’t know. What we really need is more work.” Interesting.

I googled ‘music association,’ and a few things came right up: Gospel Music Association, Americana Music Association, the IBMA, the International Computer Music Association and of course the Country Music Association. Ahhh, the CMA–Keith Urban, Carey Underwood and Brad Paisley head up the home page eye-candy (three titans who are beautiful AND talented). But things get interesting when you click on MEMBERSHIP…

Of course, it’s it’s own benefit!

Nice CMA. I don’t like to be a critic, not big on advice, but that’s a bold line with a nasty little typo right in middle (more like THE typo). It’s not exactly buried in the bowels of the site. Go see for yourself–it’s a doozy if you ask me. But hey, everybody makes mistakes, and there are some legit sounding benefits (healthcare, etc) for CMA members. I’ll make them some kind of creative promo video if they fix it. Maybe if I get in the club I can ship 25,000,000 units of my banjo CD to the nearest Walmart (but not Borders, because they went out of business last week). In the meantime I am still trying to figure out what music associations are all about…

Stringdusters New Video Capabilities (Iris 1.0)

Words By Chris Pandolfi (

Here’s the first look at our new multi-camera rig–the Iris. After a few months of testing gear I’m editing 6 cameras together to capture live Stringduster action. We shot this late night at High Sierra. Much more of this on the way…

High Sierra Late Night (Hillbilly's, IRIS 1.0) from Chris Pandolfi on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Two Nights w/ Melvin Seals & JGB

Original Jerry Garcia Band organist Melvin Seals returns to Quixote's True Blue in Denver, for two nights of fantastic soulful music! Come on out to Denver's premier Grateful Dead venue on Friday August 12th and Saturday August 13th! Supporting acts include Mighty Dub Killerz and Minivan Blues Band!

RSVP to The Event on Facebook Here

A Celebration of Jerry Garcia at Quixote's

Words By J-man

Jerry Garcia. There is no more prominent figure on our scene than Jerry. His contribution to the music we all love is immeasurable. Quixote's owner Jay Bianchi, recognizes that maybe more so than any other. Stepping inside Quixote's True Blue is like stepping into a museum for all things Dead. August 1st, Jerry's Birthday, the celebration will begin and continue through the nine days leading up to Jerry's untimely passing on August 9th...

Monday August 1st: Shakedown Street & Gypsy Wild (Jerry's Birthday)
Tuesday August 2nd: Frogs Gone Fishin'
Wednesday August 3rd: Fresh Hops & Flypaper
Thursday August 4th: New Speedway Boogie
Friday August 5th: Willie Waldman Project, Red Eyed Djinn & Rufus J Fisk
Saturday August 6th: Euforquestra & Chaz Depaulo
Sunday August 7th: Mighty High Band & Pine Tree Refugees
Monday August 8th: Badass Blues Jam
Tuesday August 9th: Shakedown Street (The day Jerry died)

Following the celebration of Jerry's life, Quixote's will celebrate the life of Mikey Houser, the former lead guitarist of Widespread Panic.

Also, don't miss the Melvin Seals & The Jerry Garcia Band Friday August 12 & Saturday August 13th!

Wednesday August 10th: Songs for Mikey

Saturday Dead: Golden Gate Park 9.28.75

Words By J-man

Golden Gate Park has always been a special place for the Dead and their fans. Since the early years of the Dead they have been putting on shows in this magical place. September 28th, 1975 was no different.

Grateful Dead Live at Lindley Meadows, Golden Gate Park on September 28, 1975.

The magic began with "Help is On The Way>Slipknot!", a favorite for many Deadheads. Other highlights of the show include "Music Never Stops", "Franklin's Tower" and the extended "Truckin'>Jam>Drums>King Solomon's Marbles>Not Fade Away>Going Down The Road Feeling Bad>One More Saturday Night"...

The energy was high, the recording is clean and the fact that it was another free show in Golden Gate Park elevated the vibe further. One of the additional highlights of the show comes when Phil and Bobby call for a stretcher at the soundboard and announce "Your wife's having a baby"!

Enjoy this gem and feel the magic for yourself!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Kyle’s Brew Fest: Does It Get Any Better?

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (

For the second year in a row, Kyle Hollingsworth handcrafted his very own brew fest. Last year it took place the evening prior to String Cheese Incident’s Red Rocks run at The Great Divide Brewery in Denver. This year saw a boost in attendance and a move up to the Boulder Beer parking lot. With the inclusion of thirty breweries and sixty beers on tap, the stage was set for an amazing afternoon. We arrived just before 2:00 PM and got in line. With the price of admission we were given: two tickets for full pours, a ticket for food, all the tasters we could handle, and a commemorative pint glass. The only issue was that it was going to be a hot one as temperatures reached well into the 90s. The temp was definitely a factor but the huge variety of icy beers helped to contain the sweltering heat.

Everyone was well aware of Kyle’s collaboration with Boulder Beer, which came in the form of a “Festival Pale Ale” titled Hoopla. What was news to me was that he had made an additional three brews with Odell’s, Avery, and Twisted Pine. Honestly it was a great representation of Colorado Breweries and Kyle did an amazing job of creating four distinctly different beers for his very own festival. I wandered around sampling and discussing beer with the myriad of brewers on site. Some of the amazing standouts came from Stone, Alaskan, Ska, and Odell’s, but the real surprise winner of the day was Pizza Port Brewing. They have an IPA that is out of this world and unavailable anywhere in Colorado other than this particular event.

The entire festival was put on to benefit Conscious Alliance. I got a chance to talk with Jenny Mueller about the good work they do. For those that don’t know, Conscious Alliance is a nonprofit that, through their program Art That Feeds, distributes poster artwork for donated food. I have more than one C.A. poster on my wall and they are an incredible charity. Since they began in 2002, they have collected over one million pounds of food. At Kyle’s Brew Fest they hosted a silent auction with all the proceeds going directly to feed the hungry. Nice work Conscious Alliance.

Kyle began his set by inviting all the brewers he collaborated with onstage to discuss the process they went through for the various beers they created specifically for the fest. After a quick moment the band made their way onto the stage. Dave Watts could not make it due to a prior engagement with Juno What?, but Brian McRea filled in very nicely. I found him to be a very in-the-pocket style drummer. KHB opened with an incredibly appropriate, “Let’s Go Outside”; here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.

SET I: Kyle & The Brewers Talk, Let’s Go Outside > Unknown Jam, Too Young > Boo Boo’s Pik-A-Nik, B E Em R, Rosie, Canary In A Coal Mine / Instrumental*> Ordinary, Galactic > This Must Be The Place (Naïve Melody) > BAM

ENCORE: All I Need, Way That It Goes

*Conducted by Matt Butler

Kyle Hollingsworth Band Live at Kyle's Brew Fest, Boulder Beer Company on July 23, 2011.

Thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting the recording!

The set was just incredible and featured everything good about seeing Kyle Hollingsworth Band. Musically it was a very loose set that fit into the overall vibe of the afternoon amazingly well. The show just seemed to flow and maybe it was the inebriated crowd, but it just worked. “Boo Boo’s” was a nice touch but during Kyle’s ode to beer, which went B, E, E minor, Rest, my camera unexpectedly shut down. A warning flashed on the screen that asked me to, “Please Allow Your Camera To Cool.” Yeah, that’s how hot it was. Additional highlights from the show included the impromptu jam conducted by Everyone Orchestra leader Matt Butler who took us on a beer-fueled sonic journey. “The Galactic> Naïve Melody> Bam” to close out the set had me ecstatic. Not only was the Talking Heads cover totally funked out, but also it just came at the exact right moment. And “BAM”, which usually gets a lot of hate, was very tight. It was a solid way to close like a giant exclamation point on the set. They encored, and with that it was over.

I was left with a warm feeling and a level of excitement that I rarely get from a singular afternoon event. Everything was perfect. As people scrambled to grab their last pint, I took the opportunity to reflect with my friends. This is one of those events that will just get bigger and bigger. More breweries and possibly more bands will get involved. It’s just such an amazing community that surrounds Kyle’s Brew Fest. From the people who put it on, to the brewers, to Kyle himself, everyone worked hard to make this an unforgettable experience. So if you missed be sure to mark your calendars next year and get your tickets early, because this is one of those things that make living in Colorado special. Thanks Kyle.

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival

Oak Hill, NY
July 14-17, 2011
Words & Photos By Tabitha Clancy

All grass is blue at Grey Fox. Well, metaphorically anyway. For one July weekend, the hay fields of the Walsh Farm in Oak Hill, NY, were transformed into a picker’s paradise. In its two decade plus years since it began, Grey Fox has undergone various changes without sacrificing its integrity as a festival for all things bluegrass. Founder and producer, Mary Doub, even changed the name about ten or so years ago. She remembers looking up towards the wall in her bedroom. “It just hit me,” she claimed. On the wall was a painting of a grey fox.

Grey Fox, in its mere existence, tells the story of bluegrass. Each day, the schedule was designed as if it were claiming folk lore of its own, connecting the older generations with the younger generation. The Dry Branch Fire Squad hosted the festival and made various appearances throughout the weekend, telling stories and harmonizing song. Fittingly, they closed with a Sunday Gospel.

Part of the Grey Fox story lies within the campgrounds which are set up below the amphitheater staging area and extend back where the Catskill forests take shape. The farm was opened a day early for set up, if for no other reason, so that no music goes unheard. The campers were serious about their bluegrass. Each camper had their own stories, some of which resemble their own bluegrass heroes. Walking the grid, weaving through road paths named for the legends of bluegrass, the sound of pickers playing and storytellers could be heard. Glamorous camps speckled the site. One site had its own modified version of Jenga. This wasn’t just a game of blocks out of a small box. These blocks were painted and enormous which was set up for everyone to participate, the only rule being, a beer must be left if the blocks fell. Some camps were makeshift pubs, and other sites were stages complete with disco balls and lights. All were always welcome. Even the professional musicians would wander yonder and play an impromptu set.

Each day began with the more traditional bluegrass sets. Peter Rowan played moral songs in a lullaby fashion. The children were soothed and the parents relished in the rolling melodies carried by the banjo. This weekend was to be a family affair. The music played to all ages. Babies kicked their feet, children danced, lovers held each other and the elders basked in the warmth of the sun.

The Thile and Daves Duo picked up the tempo. Mandolin virtuoso, Chris Thile fancied us his skills with guitar player Michael Daves playing songs from their debut disc, Sleep with One Eye Open. Seemingly, from this point on, mandolin was the guest of honor for the weekend.

Make no mistake, each instrument was important and no other could convey that point better, than multi-award winner and fiddle player, Michael Cleveland. He invited an orchestra of strings to join him on stage, mostly students of Berkley College. In a four song set; “Kentucky Waltz”, “Cross-eyed Fiddler,” “Stoney Lonesome” and "The Dead March,” they paid tribute to late fiddler, Kenny Baker.

Each day, the sun soaked concert field would break away giving a giant round moon an opportunity to share its lunar beams with the musty aired night. Before the night settled in too much, The Del McCoury Band eased the daylight crowd into the night with waltzes in minor keys and gospel harmonies that grabbed the crowd in such a way they awarded a standing ovation. The farm grounds converted into a late night party with more modern and less traditional bluegrass bands. Here is when the plot of the story continued. On Friday, Yonder Mountain String Band rotated through band members taking solos. Jeff Austin kept the crowd to their feet with telling of a story while chopping his mandolin into “If There’s Still Rambling in the Rambler”. Mid way through the song, he invited Robby McCoury and Jason Carter for a sit-in on “Death Trip” that segued back to “…Rambling”. Sam Bush closed Saturday night alternating his instruments and telling tales of folklore through song, most notable in the “Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle”. Bluegrass in all forms began to make sense to the newcomers. The story unfolded, a tale dating back to Bill Monroe and moved through time.

While the main stage was reserved for more formal sets, the dance pavilion was a flurry of activity. Here the musicians played to an audience of two-steppers, square dancers and pre-teens huddled in their dance circles. Donna the Buffalo could be heard wailing on their tools for a late night closer Thursday night. Various artists took the stage here, some as a second set. The Sweetback Sisters, in their blue gingham dresses, reveled in the spotlight of a sweet and sassy set, blending acoustic with electric instruments and harmonies that captivated the soul. The dance pavilion also served as a Yoga tent in the dew drenched mornings. Lucy Weberling and Lotus Blossom Special led the sleepy-eyed risers who needed to regain blood flow and re-center their peaceful intentions in preparation for another dynamic day. At any time, this was where self-expression through movement was encouraged and welcomed.

Grey Fox was educational too; whether it was a formal workshop taught by a professional, or a grey-bearded fellow wondering into a camp, it didn’t matter. If you came in with minimal knowledge, you left a new expert on the subject. Workshops presented the opportunity for players of all levels (and ages) to interact with musicians. Some of the best shopping can be done at a festival. Grey Fox was not short on vending. From guitar shops to clothing and jewelry to lawn furniture, it was all there for the elite hippie to browse or purchase. As for food, there was some of the finest fair cuisine around. The Skinny Pancake was a favorite as it provided gourmet crepes of all kinds. A little fun was had in purchasing food since real money was traded in for funny money.

Grey Fox presented a fine sample of bluegrass in every aspect. Each day provided an opportunity to learn something and absorb a tune or two. It was a weekend for a community to come together and share. There is a pride in picking and at Grey Fox, it was everywhere!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Behind The Scenes Tour & Overview of The Montreux Jazz Festival

Words & Photos By Karen Dugan (

I just attended the 45th year of The Montreux Jazz Festival over July 13th - 17th. Taking place on the gorgeous Lake Geneva, or Lake Léman, as the Swiss like to call it, the entire festival ran from July 1st - 17th.

Nestled amongst the French-populated section of the Swiss Alps in Montreux, Switzerland, this town has one of the most majestic views one will ever have as backdrop for a music festival.

Fun Fact: Lake Geneva was the site for the first measurement of the speed of sound in (fresh) water.

Take all your preconceptions, like comparing it to any festival you have ever attended, and throw them away. Especially for those thinking it might mirror New Orleans Jazz Festival in the sense of night and day jumps all over New Orleans to catch shows. Try thinking more along the lines of a dignified, classy, smallish in scale but giant in reputation, amazing, worldly festival thrown into the middle of The Sound of Music.

A Little Background:

The Montreux Jazz Festival is certainly the most well known music festival in the entire world, at least to musicians. I would wager that the average lackadaisical musical lover even has a few Live in Montreux CDs from an artist or two without even realizing it.

It is all began with Claude "Funky Claude" Nobs, a passionate jazz fan and a visionary who founded the festival back in 1967.

This guy was cool. He was rocking Missoni gear every time I saw him. Come to find out he rocks it almost exclusively. I have to be honest with you, when I lived on Park Avenue, Missoni was the only store on Madison Avenue I cringed by when I took my daily walks home from work. However, I took the time to take a look at the Missoni catalog that came in our gift bag (more about that later). I have to be honest with you; I dug some of the $1,000 and up items.

Our tour rep told us that Claude started as a cook and networked his way up to somehow create this festival. That wasn't a through enough description for me. How about these facts:

1. After apprenticing as a cook, Nobs worked in the Tourism Office of Montreux.

2. He later went to New York, where he met Nesuhi Ertegün, the president of Atlantic Records.

3. There he met Roberta Flack and invited her to the Rose d’Or de Montreux, one of the most important international festivals in entertainment television.

4. Aretha Franklin made her first visit to Europe thanks to him.

5. At the age of 31, while he was director of the Tourism Office of Montreux, he organized the first jazz festival.

~Thank you Wikipedia

Montreux's inaugural fest was only three days compared to today's three weeks and listed almost exclusively jazz musicians. In the 1970s, the festival began broadening its scope, including blues, soul, and rock artists. Over the years, the festival has grown to include all styles of music from around the world. This year, I noticed that there was an obscene amount of Hip-Hop focus at this "Jazz" festival. I would love to speak more with the team who creates the line up.

It's fair to say that The Montreux Jazz Festival might be one of the world's most diverse musical gatherings in the world. Over the four days I was in Montreux, on the streets alone I saw:

1. Indian group chanting with flute and drum accompaniment

2. Individual John Mayer-types with guitars

3. Japanese dancing and singing

4. African Tribal singing and dancing

5. A Didgeridoo group called DidgEra (They changed spots all week, I loved them but they need to be nicer to their fans if they want us to give a shit.)

6. A solo Kora player

7. Heard so many versions of American songs remixed with electronic beats

8. Hip-Hop dance rage on the park stage

9. Four dudes had strapped barely floating raft to a paddle boat and set up their band on the raft with an electric amp playing garage band music. THAT was amazing. As seen below :)

Try to take into perspective that the festival is very small in ground size even though 220,000+ people are said to have attended. It's basically laid out along the edge of Lake Le'man straight shot line ending at out hotel, Eden Palace Au Lac.  Literally a 15-20 minute walk from end to end.


The Overview

I arrived in Montreux, Switzerland, on the 14th of July and would be there for four days. Even though it was raining, the place shined through with it's gorgeousness. Spotless lawns and sidewalks, clean air, a large gorgeous blue lake in the middle of the most scenic of mountain views one could ever encounter. To have a music festival set in this type of landscape was phenomenal. As I grow and experience these musical adventures, my definition of phenomenal has changed.  This...was...PHENOMENAL!

The town itself was rather small and you didn't have to gaze far to see that the town took this festival seriously. Every window display had a music theme. There were guitars with pearls draped across them and drumsticks scattered around cupcakes. During our time there, I would see flower vases lined with sheet music or in the shape of piano keys, cloth stores hanging musically inspired cloth and restaurants serving Orchestral Salads and Musical Cheeseburgers. It was no joke.

While checking in to the Eden Palace Au Lac, to our pleasure we were immediately told we had a room upgrade with a better view!   Then we were told that a representative from The Montreux Jazz Festival had contacted them and asked to be alerted upon our arrival.  We were then told that in ten minutes a representative of the festival would be coming to our hotel to greet us.  Alright, this was pretty dope...

Josh and I went to our rooms and melted into our view. It was the most delicious view I had ever experienced in my life. The grandeur of the mountains was just breathtaking. The Blue Ridge Mountains where I spent my college years were put in perspective.

The water was so clear and clean, very much like a tropical island. At any point on your walk along the lake, and if you felt like swimming, you could jump in from one of the many quaint docks and ladders. While you swam, you were floating amongst ducks, swans, pigeons, and sea gulls. Around were sail boats, paddles boats, para-gliders, surf-board paddlers and more. Every single moment and spot was picture perfect.

I began to unpack before the phone call came.  Josh went down to meet the representative and came back with a huge bag of goodies. The gift bag contained two Montreux shirts, MAC cosmetics, A Montreux Jazz Festival dual-disc sampler cd, Missioni clothing magazine, and a Switzerland tourist-type booklet with fun things to do around the area.

Over the next four days, I would experience a world I had never known as this amazing festival opened itself up to me at the same time. I was walking amongst covered Muslims and Native American Indians. I heard people speaking French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Israeli and more. This is something I never see/hear at American Festivals.

During the three-week festival you could enjoy piano, voice and air guitar competitions with contestants from Great Britain, Australian, France and more. There were paying concerts with Carlos Santana (Rock), John Mclaughlin (Fusion), Jimmy Cliff (Reggae), Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi (Southern Rock), B.B. King (Blues), and any other style of music you can imagine. There were also free shows held in various locations along the water each day.

There were Salsa and Brazilian show boats and a New Orleans jazz train which all housed performances on board.  There were workshops in Funk, Soul, Bossa Nova, Rock n Roll, Electronic and Classical music.  There were teachings about the rise of Hip-Hop, music in film, Slam Poetry performances, and numerous individual artists workshops.  I attended the Larry Graham Workshop and the Marcus Miller Workshop, both of which will be posted in full later next week.

Some 22 food stalls can be found along the lakeside. The food was on par with the quality you might find at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the only other festival I've attended whose food was on the same level as the music. My first meal was Jambalaya, followed by fondue, crepes, orange and apple portable waffles that tasted like fruit loops, baguettes with amazing cheese and oil toppings, German style potato salads, and cheesy scalloped potatoes with ham. There was Sushi, Thai, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, and German and there was even a salad/pasta bar in one of the booths. The food was never ending and I didn't get to eat enough of it while I was there.

The Behind-the-Scene Tour

To be honest, I had forgotten about the Behind the Scenes Tour until two days into the trip and we were on our last box seat night.  All we had to do was come in between 2:00 PM and 11:00 PM and they would give us a Behind the Scenes Tour.  The tour ended up taking place on our last day of the festival right around sound check. Coincidence? I think not ;)

I was described the difference between Backline (everything behind the artist on stage) and Front Line (the lights and video equipment). With that info under my belt, I was taken into the Instrument Storage Room.

Due to the small size of Montreux, the frequency of the shows during the festival and the lack of time for each artist to set up, most artist attending the Montreux Jazz Festival use instruments from the stock pile that is housed in the Auditorium Stravinsky. Of course, people such as Larry Graham and Paul Simon would use their own instrument but their backup bands were asked to use what was already on site.

Every day the staff prepares the instruments. The last performer of the night sound checks first. The selection of instruments was grand. I was told that the staff who maintain and organize this portion of the festival were the hardest working. It was their job to make sure that every artist had the instrument they needed. It was their job to be there multiple hours a day. They were first to organize what is needed for the day, then to organize sound check, see the show through to the end of the performance, and then make sure the instruments are put back accordingly. I immediately recognized the pressure that was on this portion of the staff and at that moment, a grumpy male snapped at Nathan to move out of his way. Clearly, there was pressure.

Because so many artists performed in such a small amount of time on one stage, the last artist performing on a given night has sound check first and their equipment is set up. Each following artist's equipment is set up in front of the last. Then, during performance time, the first act goes on, their items are removed from the line and by the time the last act is performing, only one line of instruments, that last artists instruments, are left on stage.

I was told of a story involving Keith Jarrett. There are only two pianos in the collection: a Steinway and a Yamaha. This artist struck one key on the piano provided by the festival and said "NO!" He refused to use the equipment. The Montreux staff went looking all over Switzerland for the piano that this artist wanted. There was only one located in Switzerland and it was flown in.

I was escorted to the inner belly of the building.  Here was housed the recycling center.

Fun Fact about the alcohol: The festival has 20,000 liters of beer imported from Belgium because the tiny Swiss kegs don't serve the purpose of the large festival.

Montreux's Greening efforts are intense. Their mission is to limit waste creation while at the same time maximizing sorting and recycling. This mission manifests itself through:

· Returning the site to its original state on a daily basis

· A team that works 24 hours a day, sorting trash and ensuring the cleanliness of the festival areas

· An on-site eco-compatible waste plant

· Eco Points spread across the site, both indoors and outdoors, allowing the public to recycle items including plastic cups, PET, glass, aluminum, paper/cardboard, and items to be incinerated

· Prevention and information for the public, in partnership with the Summit Foundation, to promote eco-friendly measures

For its second year, in addition to financial support, Alpiq is providing practical energy efficiency solutions for the Hospitality Garden, the festival’s VIP area.  With the installation of a photovoltaic system and energy-saving LED lighting, this technology is to be extended in future to the entire festival infrastructure.

The audio trailers were also in this area. There were two audio trucks and two video trucks. The Montreux Jazz Festival has been recording their video in HD since 1991. Back then, HD was seen as ridiculous. Now Funky Claude just sits back and smiles with his awesome video while everyone begs for it. The entire festival is recorded live and there has been 5,000 hours of tape recorded. As an artist playing the festival, you have to be ok with being taped. Don't worry; you get a free copy of your show! In fact, Marvin Gaye refused to be taped until he went to Funky Claude's personal home and saw the quality of the HD video. Only then did Marvin agree to be taped.

The fest is staffed with 1,200 volunteers who are mostly students who make little in wages. Many either stay with someone they know or travel in from the outer towns.    There were perks for them throughout the festival. Food was a 15% off price, there was a masseuse backstage for cheap whenever they needed to relax, they were allowed to see music for free days on end, and sometimes lucky ones, or not lucky, were allowed to work for the artists!

The two main Halls, Auditorium Stravinsky and The Miles Davis Hall, used for the evenings shows, were located inside the Convocation Center.

Backstage at Miles Davis Hall: The Miles Davis Hall, located in the Music & Convention Center, was built on as an audition to the Auditorium Stravinsky after the festival got too big for the solo stage and has a capacity of 2,000 people. Once built, musicians, specifically jazz musicians, wanted to perform in that space rather than the large space.

I inquired about the jam sessions that Sean Rickman had mentioned to me when we ran into each other at a red light on the street. Artists are encouraged to go to the Montreux Cafe after their performances for impromptu jam sessions. There are certain concerts that help promote such a thing happening. Unfortunately, the scene late night in the Montreux Cafe is not one that many artists of Sean's caliber want to participate in. Whenever we were near the area late night, the scene was full of young twenty-something drunken ragers who were more interested the opposite sex then the music fueling the vibe.

As we approached the backstage entrance to the Hall, I could hear Larry Graham's bass lines coming from sound check. We were let in to watch a portion of the sound check and sadly had to leave our camera outside.

I can tell you, standing in front of the stage with just me and Larry Graham and his low-end was an absolute thrill. In that moment I felt very special. I knew I was in a special moment, experiencing a very special thing. I couldn't help but think about the people who had gotten me to this point. Thank you to my parents, the Sloanes and Josh! I wasn't taking any of it for granted.

Larry Graham was on stage with his wife checking things out. His wife and he were sporting matching jerseys with #1 and #2 on the back. Josh, myself, Nathan and Helen watched for about 15 minutes. Taking it all in...

Backstage at Auditorium Stravinsky - We headed through a few corridors and up or down some stairs to end up in the Auditorium Stravinsky, situated in the Music & Convention Center. The interior is completely paneled with cherry wood and has an audience capacity of 1,800 seated and 3,500 standing.

We immediately went backstage and were walking amongst the orchestra that would be backing Deep Purple that evening. There was a red carpet on the floor that found out led to the stage. How cute is that? A red carpet to the stage!!

To the left of the red carpet was Claude's dressing room and interestingly enough, Quincey's Jones', who stays all three weeks each year. When our rep explained to us that her first job had been serving artists relations, Josh asked her which artist had been the most difficult. Prince became the topic of discussion now as she spoke of going all over Montreux with Prince's makeup artist looking for the correct wig and he apparently has a very impressive makeup collection.

The tour was informative and exciting. As we left the building to go do some more shopping, we passed the entrance to the line for the Deep Purple show. Diehard fans with purple hair and Deep Purple clothing were already lined up for the show that would be taking place in two hours. I knew how they felt. The music was calling...