Saturday, April 15, 2006

Montreal jaunt to see Eric Johnson & Satch

I got an email a month back from my Eric Johnson mailing list that Eric was gonna be on Satch's tour and would hit Montreal today, the only Canadian date on the tour! EJ? Two hours away? I'm there.. Joe Satriani was just icing on the cake! Plus I had a geocaching Travel Bug that had to get to la belle province, so the planets were aligning or something. I've come to realize that I've never seen Eric Johnson live. When I was about 14 and down in the southern US on vacation with my family, my Dad and I caught a great band outdoors near some themepark and the guitarist played "Cliffs of Dover". He had big hair and when I first saw EJ on the cover of guitar player in 1986 and heard "Cliffs" on the included flexi-disc soundpage I thought, "I've heard this before! I've seen this guy! WooHoo!.. Over the years though I've realized that it was probably some hotshot Texas studio rat who heard Eric's tune, lifted it and played it just for fun.
So to make a long story short, This is one of those things to cross off the "Things to do in my life" list. I've been an EJ fan since 1986. He's probably been to Canada twice before. This almost never happens. Over on his website there used to be a pretty cool mailing list (now defunct, they went to a forum based thing..) and we'd talk about anything and everything. Like how the treble position pickup in Eric's famous guitar "Virginia" was actually a Dimazario humbucker with only one side coil wired. Or how the bridge saddle for the B sting was brass and the others were steel, or how he could "hear" the difference between Duracell and Eveready batteries in his stomp-boxes.... Two years ago, in the summer of 2004 EJ was about to turn 50. A pile of us on the list got together and recorded an audio CD in his honor (actually it was more like 3 CD's about 17 songs on each, hehehehehe) and Val Serrie presented it to Eric. Very cool (you can read about it here, my tune was called "LE")..

I also got my hands on one of his hard to get Fender Elite signature model stratocasters, which are based on "Virginia" his famous 50's recording strat. Mine's the two tone model. It sounds warm and fuzzy!

So, the show... Eric came on right at 8:00, with "Columbia" the tribute to the blown-up shuttle. His tone was awesome, coming out of a Marshall stack on stage right where I had planted myself soon after spying it. His clean sound was coming out of another head and cab which I could not identify. Unfortunately, the mains cut out! Fortunately, from where I was sitting, I could still hear EJ! It continued for a few songs and really hampered the clean passages in "Trademark" but when the mains cut in, you could hear his clean sound as pristine as it sounds in his recording studio. Amazing. It is cool to know that he is using a stock sig model EJ Fender and mine would sound close to that if EJ was playing it (a lot of the sound is just in the fingers of the artist I've found).

It was a great show. I don't know if I'll ever see him up here again, but I was sure glad not to miss it.

Oh yeah, Joe was ok too. Last time I saw him live, he had HAIR! That's how long it's been...

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