High Sierra and Jay, the Great

The CRB just spent two days in the mountains of Quincy, CA at the High Sierra Music Festival and we had a great time. A ton of friends were there, musicians, compadres and about ten thousands freaks. So much fun and this photo (taken by a true master of the lens) totally captures the experience…

CRB, High Sierra Music Festival, courtesy of the magnificent Jay Blakesberg
CRB, High Sierra Music Festival, courtesy of the magnificent Jay Blakesberg

This cat is the real deal…Jay Blakesberg. He’s been photographing the biggest in business for a long time and he knows what he’s doing. A favorite of the Grateful Dead, Jay has been there, done that, seen it and shot it. Do yourself a favor and go buy his new book, JAM. It’s fantastic!

Oh, and he’s a good dude, too!

The great Jay Blakesberg and me at Mountain Jam, 2014. Happy to call this cat my friend! Photo courtesy of Neal Casal.
The great Jay Blakesberg and me at Mountain Jam, 2014. Happy to call this cat my friend! Photo courtesy of Neal Casal.

Now for a couple of days off in beautiful Santa Rosa. I think I’ll go swimming!


Never Ceases To Amaze

This latest run with the CRB has been going really well…we’re all having a blast and making friends all over the place. I feel incredibly lucky, grateful and happy to be able to do this for a living and I keep my father’s voice of wisdom forever close to me, “Just stick with it, son”.

Thanks, Dad!

I really love what I do and it’s always a pleasure meeting good people, especially a great photographer with not just an eye for detail but a kind heart as well and good manners…someone who really knows the game.

Phil Clarkin has it down.


Me at the Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS a few nights ago...courtesy of the great Phil Clarkin
The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS a few nights ago…courtesy of my new friend, Phil Clarkin. Thanks, Phil!

Look for him. Hire him. Buy his photos.

You’re welcome.

P.S. 13, 16 & 20…my latest tub-configuration. Very pleased.


Snare Crazy!

It’s true, I can’t help myself sometimes and my collection of snares has now grown to a whopping eleven, with number twelve in the mail right now, on it’s way to my house.  Oh, what to do?  Maybe I’m a bad person for buying all of these drums and filling up my apartment…I must have a problem.  But I keep telling myself it’s okay cause they’re tools of my trade and I need them.  Right?  I mean, it’s OK for a guitarist to own a couple dozen guitars, so I should be able to have a few snares in my arsenal.  Different sizes, a variety of woods & metals and each with it’s own unique voice.  I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Rogers, Ludwig, Slingerland, Bleifuss, Pearl & Craviotto
Rogers, Ludwig, Slingerland, Bleifuss, Pearl & Craviotto

Wait a minute…what’s this…someone who’s got it worse than me?

The Curotto Collection
The Curotto Collection!

This is a wonderful book written by a cat named Michael Curotto, detailing his collection of rare, vintage snare drums with an estimated value of over a million bucks.  That’s pretty funny and what a relief!  Here I am thinking I’ve got a problem owning eleven, no… twelve snare drums, when come to find out that this dude has more than 450.  Whew, I think I’m gonna be fine.  Thank you Mike, even though I haven’t yet had the pleasure of shaking your hand, I truly applaud you.  This is quite a fantastic book folks and features gorgeous digital photography by Steve Haag.  If you’re like me and you have an insatiable thirst for finding the perfect snare drum, then please give it a go…I think you’ll really dig it.  I’m sure Mike (and his wife) will appreciate it, too!

The Curotto Collection

Mike Curotto, the man himself!  Photo courtesy of drumsmith.com
Mike Curotto, the man himself! Photo courtesy of drumsmith.com

I’ve already shown this to y’all in the last post, but it won’t hurt to feature it more than once.  Yes, indeed…I’m happy as a clam to show off my latest…picked up from my beautiful friends at Revival Drum Shop in Portland…a 1940’s Slingerland 7 x 14 “Radio King” in white marine pearl.

The Slingy sounded great in the studio.
And it sure sounded great in the studio.

Thank you, Jose’…it’s a killer!

End of the Beginning

We played 118 shows, from March 28th to December 31st, 2011…an amazing year of touring with a great new band.  Then, on New Year’s day we headed into the remarkable Sunset Sound recording studios for a fantastic week-long adventure, making our first album together.  We tracked 27 songs in six days and that’s really all I’m allowed to say at this point, however I’m confident it’s going to be a great record.  I’m saving any photos and videos from the session until we get a little further along with mixing and such but wanted to deliver this one very special image, taken by the master himself, my friend and cohort, Neal Casal. Dig it…

in the zone.

Touring will begin once again for this Brotherhood in early June, so stay tuned.


End of the year is near, one last tour of the west coast then its into the studio we go to record our first album.  Pretty psyched about it all and looking back over the past 9 months or so, I’m reminded of all the traveling we’ve done to get to this point.  Just over a hundred shows in such a short time, back and forth across the country several times, we’ve been really busy and although exhausting, it’s been super fun. I’d like to think we’re all a little bit wiser and have maybe even learned a thing or two about life, as well as music.  Who knows, but whatever the case, we’ve certainly racked up a ton of memories.

rehearsals at the Alley in LA
getting our gear to fit so snuggly into the back of a 15-passenger van
Muddy. my fellow partner in crime
the rigors of the road
meeting, playing and hanging with the great Bob Weir
backstage blues
all those amazing shows and wonderful audiences
friends & fans that made a lasting impression
our watchful mascot, PDC (Possible Dust Clouds)...whether he's on the bus or on the stage, he's looking out for us
our fantastic tour manager, Brian. always there to remind us where to go, what time to be there and check our tired asses into one hotel after another until he was literally exhausted by the end of the day. what a guy!
and finally, CR. forever faithful & mindful of the muse. thanks bro.

Less than two weeks to go on this last run before we break for Christmas.  Excited, tired and extremely grateful for this gig.  We’ve come a long way, but we’re just now getting started.

Break Time

    I’m not very clear at this hour and it’s not even midnight, but I’ve had one amazing, tiresome weekend and sleep is much needed right now.  Before I can take a nap though, I have to jot this down or else I’ll forget about it in the morning cause I’m absolutely exhausted.  Up to Big Sur, two shows at the world famous Henry Miller Memorial Library, lots of scenery, some rain, mountains, Redwoods…a complete sensory overload.  And now, it’s over and I’m home.  The first CRB tour is done and we’ve got a nice little break, which I’m very exited about.  What a time though and filled with tons of memories with my newest friends and band mates.  I feel incredibly fortunate to have been asked to do this job and can’t wait to be a part of what’s next on the horizon.
Big Sur coast

If you read through this blog, you’ll notice that I have several posts regarding photographers and some who’ve become my good friends.  Well, I’ve very recently discovered a young lady who’s really got her shit together and I implore everyone to check out her amazing body of work and accomplishments.  She is Piper Ferguson.  A truly gifted artist.  Oh, I must give credit to Neal Casal, whom I can’t seem to give enough credit to, for telling me about her.  Thanks, Neal!

The other day on the way up to Big Sur, the gang stopped at a Starbucks for some early morning joe, and sitting in front of the cash register was a copy of the new Booker T. Jones CD.  I had to get it.  ?uestlove, Gabe Roth, Sharon Jones, Lou Reed…c’mon, seriously?  As I was flipping through the CD booklet, I stopped suddenly and was floored at a photo of Booker, looking out of a window.  He’s wearing a beautiful fedora and has the most relaxed, at-peace look on his face.  Stunning image.  If you’d told me that it was a photo from thirty years ago, I might have believed you cause he looks so young, aside from the grey hair, that is.  And at the bottom of the photo, there she is credited…Piper Ferguson.  You go girl!

Of course as you can imagine, the record is great and even though a bit short (just a hair over 40 mins), it’s an inspired session and one I’ll be diggin on for a while.  Tonight I decided to go exploring a little and reading through Piper’s website, there was a link to her blog which also has a link to an interview the Washington Post did with Booker recently.  The reporter, Erin Williams is asking him about his new recording and the quote from him was right on…

“I guess what I want people to realize is that there is a place on the earth that really gave us an insurmountable amount of great music, and that was Memphis, Tennessee. And it gave me a whole life– it made my life worth living. Because I was so fortunate to be born there and to get whatever this thing is that’s imbued in Memphis musicians. Everybody from…Al Green to Elvis Presley to B.B. King to Johnny Ace. There’s just a community – a music community – and an energy that you receive when you come from there.”

Preach it, brother!

Give The Cameraman Some

This cat can shoot…

Minglewood Hall, Nov 26th...The City Champs opened for North Mississippi Allstars. Photo courtesy of the fantastic Josh Mintz!

His name is Josh Mintz and he hit me up this afternoon, saying he had some pics from our show at Minglewood Hall the other night.  I was delighted to see them cause I love his work…in addition to that, he’s also managing editor of one of my favorite online mags, Honest Tune.  Go to it, read it and enjoy.

Fun Gig & Great Photography

The City Champs played Alley Jams in Memphis on Sept 24, 2010, which was really cool  and fun.  Big Baby showed up near the end and took the whole night to another level of soul.  There were a lot of photogs running around.  My favorite new cat in town is totally killin it and I gotta give him props…his name is Chandler Moulton and these photos were shot by him.  Y’all be sure and check out his stuff, he has a great eye and loves his work.

Al Gamble
Joe Restivo
Tameka "Big Baby" Goodman
Yours truly, George Sluppick