It’s hard not to feel privileged and honored when musicians express their will to contribute to this site not only mediately, through their tunes, but directly. Hopefully, “The Guest Spot” will become a permanent fixture here, but ‘the first night right’ goes to to Clint Bahr of TriPod who decided to share his festival experience with us. Thanks, mate!
March 30th – April 2nd, 2005
TriPod were cordially invited to play the Baja Prog Festival 2005 in Mexicali, Mexico.
It was a fabulous four day Festival beginning Wednesday, March 30th and concluding Saturday, April 2nd.
The band departed JFK early morning of the 30th, arriving in San Diego and greeted by a van to transport our small entourage to Mexico (2 hour drive) along some of the most beautiful (and surreal) landscape I’ve ever seen.
We arrived at the hotel to be warmly greeted by the promoters and staff, only to want to freshen-up and collapse… but no doing, it was off to the outdoor festivities, which were held on the hotel property… every afternoon there were open air concerts being performed by bands from all over the world, you could watch these acts while enjoying a bite to eat & drink and making new international friends, all the while getting some warm Mexican sunlight… it was an ideal way to spend an afternoon.
It seemed that not only every band performing at the Festival was booked into our hotel but also a very large amount of the ticket buying audience… so this led to many new friendships among the musicians and fans.
The main events were evening concerts staged in the Teatro del Estado (State Theatre).
Wednesday, March 30
We caught Ashtar & Taal sets, but unfortunately the concert was running so late that we decided to go back to the hotel for some sleep, thus missing Caravan. Personally I really wanted to see them due to my admiration of their bassist Jim Leverton. All was not wasted when the following morning Jim joined both our sound tech and myself for breakfast and a good chat(Fat Mattress, Noel Redding and Jim’s new country CD). A good man Jim Leverton.
Thursday, March 31
Moving ahead to Thursday night and seeing my friends Flash perform. Colin Carter & Ray Bennett played this show as a duo… re-launching the band back into the public eye. But what a duo, they played a fabulous outright rock concert with Colin (lead vocal & acoustic guitar) and Ray (electric guitar & vocal). No, this is not the same band as when Pete Banks andMike Hough were playing together (although it was seriously discussed amongst the members of reforming, it has yet seen the light of day).
This was an updated version of Flash music, drawing from all three Capital albums with new arrangements and a brand new song entitled “Walls”… which I thought was one of the highlight’s of the show. I was extremely impressed by their performance which was rich in harmony & texture. The audience loved them and it was really great seeing them back on the boards again… bravo gents!
Friday, April 1
Carl Palmer Band
As for TriPod, we had all our gear shipped from NYC to Mexico for these shows, we were the only act to do this… but we wanted to give the best sounding concert we could, and being a band with NO GUITARS or KEYBOARDS we needed our own equipment (I did use a festival supplied Marshall stack for this show, instead of my usual HiWatt’s, due to the shipping costs).
Tripod‘s soundcheck was to have been from 1:30-3:30pm, but as anyone in showbiz knows… schedules (like contracts) are meant to be broken. Due to Carl Palmer’s drum clinic earlier that morning things were pushed back. Unfortunately I missed Carl’s clinic, being too busy getting our show ready for that nights performance (I heard he was excellent).
TriPod‘s performance was set for 7pm… but we couldn’t start the soundcheck till 6:15pm. So with the help of our fabulous sound tech Steve Bondy, we pulled a rabbit-out of-the hat and did a high-energy performance that received two standing ovations and encore from the fabulous audience. I must say we felt a lot of love from them… it was quite moving. Both Keith (Gurland) & Steve (Romano) played outstandingly and the show was visually enhanced by the skills of our lighting tech John Schlick. A great gig!
Ozric Tentacles were up next and they gave a superb show… space rock at it’s best. They’re also very nice people and were kind enough to share their tour bus with us on Sunday morning… dropping our entourage at San Diego Airport on their way to LA.
Good band & good folks!
The Carl Palmer Band finished the night off with a rousing set of mostly ELP tunes (played instrumentally). He has an excellent guitarist in Paul Beilatowizc. I didn’t see much of their set, but I’d seen their soundcheck earlier that afternoon and was very impressed. Mostly I was hanging in our dressing room after our set, having a fine chat with Colin & Ray (Flash), catching up on old times. We could clearly hear Carl’s band and audience response through the walls… an excellent night of music!
Saturday, April 2
Arti e Mestieri
Ken Hensley Band
Saturday afternoon was spent outdoors meeting new friends, signing autographs and selling TriPod CD’s & T-Shirts.
We saw a great Japanese band called Fantasmagoria featuring the violinist Miki Fujimoto.
Ken Hensley and his band played a rocking show of mostly Uriah Heep tunes, with a sprinkling of some newer pieces (one of which was dedicated to the Pope, who passed away that day). Standout tune was “Easy Livin'”.
Finally, Arti e Mestieri closed the festival. I had never heard their music before, but was told of their high skills as players from our booking agent Leonardo Pavkovic. Not only were they excellent musicians, but some of the loveliest people we met. We became fast friends and I highly recommend them to everyone. Their drummer Furio Chirico is outstanding.
After Saturday’s concert the promoters held a private party at a local disco for all the bands and invited guests…to put it mildly it was one hell of a blast… great time was had by all.
Sunday arrived with no sleep and vast quantities of beer having been consumed, we packed and boarded our Ozric friends tour bus back to the States. Our flight didn’t depart San Diego for 10 hours… so Steve R, John and myself proceeded to find a nice dockside restaurant, had a good meal and killed time. Returning to the airport John said goodbye and headed back to Seattle.
We arrived back in NYC Monday morning, jet-lagged but very happy. The prior five days had been a high point for us both musically and socially.
The Baja International Rock Festival is a beautifully run event… professional in every way.
Special mention must go to (Promoter) Alfonso Vidales & Cast… and (Stage Manager) Cesar Cardenas and his fabulous crew.
Bravo to you all and the great audience at this years festival.
Cheers from NYC!