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Author Topic: The Utterly Weird Session Thread  (Read 18555 times)

Bill Mueller

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2005, 06:56:59 pm »

My Tibetan Freedom Concert story probably should have been in Horror Story thread, but this one definitely belongs in the Utterly Weird Session Thread.

The gig was The Most Expensive movie release party in history (up to that point). The movie was Armageddon with Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler (!) and Disney spared no expense. For the party, they rented the entire Kennedy Space Center in Florida and brought Aerosmith in to play live. The stage was set up next to the Saturn V building, (for those of you who have been to Kennedy), with their backs to the Gantry's (spot lights filling up the sky) and the 300 A list attendees sat in the famous bleachers facing the band.

To view the movie, they set up a massive private theater in a tent, in between the Saturn V building and the bleachers.

I have been a hard core Aerosmith fan my entire adult life and so this gig was a pinnacle of my career. I was in heaven. No kidding, kill me now cause this is it, my heroes. But this one was not going to go down easy.

The setup was a bear because this was the year that all of central Florida was on fire. As we came in on the plane, it filled up with smoke and everyone was coughing and choking. The weather over the Cape was about 100 degrees hot and over 90% humidity. When we drove onto the base, fire trucks raced by us and there was smoke very close on three sides. Smoke, sweat and heat.

We got right to work and as usual, my job was to get with the producer and house guys for the setup. This was the first time the band was to play Jennifer Warrens' song, "I don?t' want to miss a thing", so the band had a pickup string section on stage. They also (you didn't hear this from me) had a track with a click and the orchestra from the recording. I mic'd up the string section and ran a couple tracks for the track and the producer (name withheld) told me not to record the string section . This sent cold child up my spine so I convinced him that I had extra tracks and it would be no big deal. I knew in my gut that Steve Tyler would come into the truck after the rehearsal and want to solo the string tracks.

When the band showed up, I went outside just to see if I could see them up close and maybe even meet one. I don?t' usually behave this way but I am a real fan of these guys. They were too busy to meet anyone and went right on stage. After they played the sound check, Steven came right back to the truck and asked to hear the strings solo!

Ok, so the sound check went well, so I expected the show to go well. Not so fast.


My assistant on this show (name also withheld) was trying to save tape or something and did not roll tape when I called out to role tape (at least two minutes before the band hit the stage) and missed the top of the first song.

CRAP!!!!

Things then started to get out of hand.

I stopped hyperventilating just in time for the band to roll into the second song. Ok, ok, don't look at the dogs, work the lock. Pay attention to Joe's solo's. About ten seconds into the second song, (Walk This Way), the very famous and powerful John Kolodner, who was in the truck for the show, heard something he did not like in the intro. He and the band's manager, came down to the console, tapped me on the shoulder and told me to stop the band and have them start again!

April fools, right? No... I looked back at him and he was dead serious. Oh man. I called Stevie Weincam (still the best stage guy on the east coast) on the com and said, ?Stevie, Mr. Kolodner wants you to stop the band!?. Stevie laughed and said, ?Right?. I said, ? No really, stop the band?. I can?t say what he said next.

After a few more exchanges between Stevie and myself he realized that we really meant for him to walk out in front of 300 people and stop Aerosmith in the middle of Walk this Way. Not wanting to end his entire career right then and there, Stevie walked over to the stage manager and told him we wanted him to stop the band. The stage manager turned to Stevie, and without a word, threw his headphones down and walked off the stage, never to return. In the meantime the band was about a third of the way through this song. Mr. Kolodner was getting tense, so I told Stevie that he had to do it himself.

In one of the bravest actions I have ever seen, (Stevie is about 5'6" tall) he walked out into the middle of that stage, tapped Steven Tyler on the shoulder and when Steven turned around in utter amazement, yelled in his ear to start the song again!

We had this on monitor and I was afraid to even look. However, Steven raised his hands and stopped the band, told the audience that we were recording and they were going to do the song again. Just like that, totally professional.

The rest of the show was magic. Although my perception may have been skewed by ten minutes of hyperventilation. The band played great despite our interuptions and Jennifer Warrens was introduced and everything.

My problems wern't over however. When they came to the truck for a playback, I thought they were going to kill me over the missing song, but they were great. The producer kindly told them we had a ?technical? problem with the first song and they said, ?No problem?. I couldn?t believe it!

The whole band and Liv, crammed into the front of the truck with me and the producer and had a listening party for the next hour and a half. We played all the songs multiple times and remixed a couple. The band was THE nicest bunch of guys I have ever met.

My God is Liv Tyler beautiful. I have never seen a picture of her that did her justice.

If you liked that one, I have one about Pink Floyd.

Best Regards,

Bill
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Brendan Thompson

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2005, 08:55:34 pm »

Bill Mueller wrote on Mon, 21 February 2005 10:56


If you liked that one, I have one about Pink Floyd.



Why must you taunt us so???  Laughing

Come on. Spit it out! Very Happy
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Timeline

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2005, 09:21:28 pm »

F___ing great stuff Bill!

Don't think I could top Bills but... I was held at gunpoint by Dustin Hoffmans Cousin after a session at Sound City in the '70s. That's about the weirdest one I had although recording Prince had some interesting moments.

Anyone ever worked with Keith Moon?

Cheers
Gary Brandt
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compasspnt

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2005, 10:37:17 pm »

OK, I hadn't planned on making this one public yet (and I wasn't the actual engineer or producer in this story, it just happened here at Compass Point), but there are getting to be some really good ones, so here goes:

[Many names in this story will be left out...]

We had an artist from a European country in here recording for a major label, and they had hired some very famous musicians to play for them.  Involved directly were:

•The Producer--a very nice guy, also from Europe; had a lot of experience with "strange sessions" already (one of those is another great story).

•The Engineer--another nice guy, from the US, who had brought his girl friend here with him.

•The A & R guy--a real, tough, no-nonsense kind of person, from the same European country.

•The Keyboard Player--a very well known personage, not from Europe or the US, who had been "in trouble" before.

•Me--in this case, providing our studio space and equipment, and doing some catch-up office work while the session was going on.


--------


The Artist, Producer, and A&R guy thought that the Drummer for the session was going to actually play the drums.  This, they expected, would be at the same time as the Bass player, Keyboard player, and Guitarist were also playing..."jamming," so to speak, the way music is often recorded.  But they  were all surprised when the Drummer stated that he wasn't going to actually play, but rather program his drum parts, on an MPC-3k.  No one was in a  position to argue with this, because of his history and reputation, so the programming started.  For about three or four days, the drummer sat in our lounge with headphones, demos, and his gear, and got the tracks ready.  Of course, this meant that the other musicians had nothing to do for this time period.  That was fine, as it relates to the Bass player and Guitarist, but it ended up causing a slight problem as it relates to the Keyboardist......

Unbeknownst to all of the rest of us, this guy had holed up in his apartment up the hill with a big stash of crack cocaine that he had gone out and found somewhere.  Also unknown was the fact that he had also brought a girl with him.  This girl was an actual princess from the Royal Family of the European country that she was from.  In order to prove to her family that she had a mind of her own, she had shacked up with this much older musician, and travelled halfway across the world with him to a  recording session....I guess that showed them!  These two stayed up in their apartment for the three or four days, and no one else ever saw either of them.  What we didn't realise at the time was

A) That she was there at all, and
B) Keyboard guy had gotten very high, and beaten the absolute bloody **** out of her.  We didn't know that she was laying on the floor of the apartment, beaten and bloody, and unable to even move.

But, back to the session...

Finally, the drums were ready for everybody else to play to. A call went out to the musicians.  The famous Bass player came right down from his apartment, and the Guitarist did the same.  But no Keyboard player.  Phone calls made to his apartment were met with a gruff, "I can't come now."  Well, Mr. A & R guy was not pleased.  Producer was not happy, but was ready to give our guy the benefit of the doubt.  He went up to see him.  Keyboard came to the door, standing in the way of any view inside, and mumbled something about being down when he was good and ready to play.  Producer returned with the news, which was not met with much glee on the part of A & R.

So A & R went up...similar results.  Anger and resentment were building fast; something had to be done.  A & R wasn't about to accept this, so he phoned Keyboard with an ultimatum:  "Come to play immediately, or be replaced immediately."

Well, Keyboard did finally come down...but it would have been a better night had he not!  The first person he saw when he came in the door was our trusty Engineer, sitting in our smaller TV lounge with his girl friend, talking, and waiting to work.  Keyboard immediately started yelling that Engineer had been looking at his (Keyboard's) girl friend in a lascivious way...but of course, nobody even knew Keyboard HAD a girl with him!  He was quite out of his mind from drugs by this time; Engineer denied it, of course.

I was just coming down the hall towards the lounge from one direction, while A & R was converging from the opposite direction.  A & R heard the commotion, and started yelling at Keyboard that he was going to be fired if he didn't get in the studio and start playing...but he didn't know that Keyboard had grabbed a pair of scissors from our front desk as he had passed it.  Keyboard lunged at A & R, trying to stab him in the groin;  he just missed, however, and stabbed the aluminium facing of the lounge door instead.  Madness ensued...bodies were rolling across the floor, the now-broken scissors were bandied about, the engineer's girlfriend was screaming and trying to get out of the door...what to do?  I had no choice but to jump into the situation; I grabbed Key's scissors hand, and restrained it from further stabbing, while A & R tried to hold him down.  Key was like a wounded bear, however, and it took all three, then four of us (as Producer entered the fray) to hold him.

A & R was totally furious; I don't think I've ever seen anyone so mad.  He insisted on physically throwing Keyboard out the front door, with the admonition tthat he would never work again.  This at least calmed the situation inside the building down a bit; we were all upset, but at least Keyboard was gone...or so we thought.

The session was called for the night...no one was now in the mood for music making.  After an involved discussion about whom to get in, as quickly as possible, to replace Keyboard, Producer and A & R decided to go back to their hotel.  They were staying at The Compass Point Resort, just about a hundred yards from our door, across the street.  As they walked, still somewhat shaken, past the hotel's parking lot however,  they got another big surprise.  It seems that Keyboard had procured a vehicle (we later found out that he had a 29 year old son on the island, begat from a session-related liason years earlier!) from his local son.  He came tearing across the parking lot, driving at full speed, and attempted to run over both Procucer and A & R!  They were jumping over cars, running behind trees...it looked just like a movie scene!  He squaled about the car park for a while, hitting other cars and the trees.  When Producer and A & R could make it, they ran across the street and into the hotel; but Keyboard wasn't finished.  He jumped from his car, amd ran after them, pushing past security, and into the lobby.  Producer dove over the front desk, into a small office behind it; Keyboard dove after him, but instead grabbed the hotel's computer monitor, and threw it across the room, smashing it into a million pieces.  He threw papers, brochures, money from the cash register, anything he could get, everywhere.  Security finally caught up with the situation however, and were able to restrain the guy.  The police were called, but before they arrived, Keyboard had pulled loose, escaped, and he drove away at breakneck speed in his vehicle.  We never saw him again.

However, we did find his girlfriend, still passed out on the apartment floor.  She was pitiful...hurt, no money, not sure of what to do or where to go.  We had to loan her some money, and get her a plane flight out of there, after a short first aid and recovery period, of course.

We did get a replacement player in only a day later, though.  This was another very famous name I shouldn't tell...but when we told him the story, he replied, "Of yeah, I replaced him on a session because of a similar incident about ten years ago!"

Terry
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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2005, 11:22:51 pm »

...I hope I never have to work with that a$$hole....Damn....
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Bill Mueller

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2005, 06:30:51 am »

Geeze!

Glad your all alright.

Bill
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Barry Hufker

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2005, 07:58:20 am »

OK, after that one I realize I don't have any bizarre stories to tell.  Mine will never be in that league.  Mine at best are "out of the usual."  And you know.... that's OK!

Barry
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Samc

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2005, 02:59:32 pm »

After reading Terry's story this morning, I had a strange feeling I knew the Keyboard player in the story.  After connecting a lot of little dots from the story  I'm pretty sure I know who it is.

Anyway, this is one of my weird session stories, it happened some years ago when a colleague and I were contracted to make a live recording of Reggae Sunsplash (an annual Reggae festival) in Montego Bay, Jamaica.   This particular year was supposed to be special because it was the Bob Marley memorial edition.  A lot of big bands were coming to Jamaica to perform and it would also be seen live in the US on pay-per-view.  Oh yes, we were also sending a live stereo feed to the video truck.

Because the site was located on a peninsular just outside Montego Bay, and there was only one entry/exit road, we had to get to our set-up position by 7 AM before the crowds started to arrive on the friday morning, (they had pre-sold more than 110,000 tickets for friday alone!).   We left Kingston at about 10 PM thursday for the drive across the Island to Montego Bay.  On board were, the truck driver, maintenance/repair technician, my friend and myself.  Just outside Kingston, in a deserted Industrial zone the transmission broke.  

A security guard at one of the factories told us that there was a truck repair shop in the zone but he was sure it would be closed at this time of the night.  Well......We were not so sure it would be closed, and in any case we had nothing to lose, so two of us went searching.  When we found the shop the boss had just parked the tow-truck, locked up the place and was on his way home.  After hearing our predicament he decided to help us.  He towed the truck back to the shop and confirmed that the transmission was indeed broken, there was no way he would be able to repair it during the night.  What the hell were we going to do, it was already after 1 and we had to get to our destination, which was at least 4 hours away..... The fastest route was using the central mountain roads.

After some discussions we decided on a plan.  We would help him to remove the broken transmission, he would tow the truck across Jamaica, return to his shop and repair the transmission that very same day, he would then return to Montego Bay with the transmission on saturday and install it into the truck at the site.  This would cost us his regular fees, plus two passes for the saturday show for him and his girlfriend.  Done deal.      

Everything worked as planned, this guy was great, he drove like a demon and we were on site at 8 in the morning.  

We hooked up the truck to stage and power, and were feeling very proud of ourselves when our luck took a really bad turn.  When our technician turned on the power all the breakers tripped except those for the two MCI 24 track machines.  Well, they toasted before he could switch the power off.  The site was getting power directly from the nearby power station and something went very wrong, and we were not the only ones affected, just the worst hit.  The machines were beyond repair but both us and the promoters were determined to record the festival, so we made another plan.  

My friend had just purchased  two new JVC U-matic video machines, and we decided to mix the show live and record on these machines since it would be easier to fly them from Kingston rather than the two MCI 2-track machines in the studio.  So thats exactly what we did.  From that point on everything worked as planned, we recorded the entire show and everybody was pleased with the results.  
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Barry Hufker

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2005, 05:22:37 pm »

It seems my best stories are the ones where I am my own worst enemy.  Please keep in mind that these things have happened over a period of more than 30 years, but in this thread they are being run together in "compressed time."  The result is that it seems I am not very smart (which may be true but...).

I was doing a choral recording at the Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis.  We had been given the "OK" by the building manager to record in the hall during the day when no concerts were being held or prepared.

I arrived first to find there were workmen on the roof (three stories up) who were preparing to re-roof the building by throwing old material off the building into a dumpster below.  Each landing created a large "pow!" I asked the building manager why he didn't tell me before I came that roofers were working.  His answer was that he didn't think it would bother the recording.  I stood there amazed and pissed.

Shortly after my arrival, about 30 singers showed up along with the Choral Director.  We talked about what to do and decided to see if we could get anything on tape.  We had no luck.  At any given point the noise from outside just reverberated through the hall.

I was setup in the "green room" using a talkback system into the hall.  About 11:30 I noticed the noise had stopped and we had a golden moment to record while the workmen were at lunch.  I started recording again, called the take number and we were off.

In the green room the intercom came on paging someone for a phone call.  Not wanting to be distracted by this or have it leak into the hall, I pulled my chair over to the tall bookcase where the speaker stood.

Now this was no ordinary intercom speaker.  This was a very heavy, 1950s 'we make speakers into furniture" hi-fi kind of beast.  My goal was to spin the speaker to a point where I could undo the wires to it.  Because it was hard to reach, I actually had to pull it towards me and ended up bearing most of the weight in front of, and above, my head.

While the take was still going on, the next thing I heard was a "crack."  The chair seat I was standing on was made of particle board which gave way.  I fell straight down through the chair's frame, pulling this heavy speaker down onto my head.  (Didn't something happen to my head in the last story??!).  The speaker's corner gashed my head but I had the presence of mind to set it down gently.

Stepping out of the chair, I returned to the gear as the take was finishing.  I felt something wet on my head.  I was bleeding.  I had a handkerchief in my pocket and pressed it on top of my head.  Pulling it off and looking at it showed me how bad it was.

Over the intercom, I calmly asked the Director to step into the green room.  Once inside, I asked him to look at my head.  Surprised at the way I looked, it was his opinion the gash was deep and I would probably need stitches.  He then asked if we should end the session.  Knowing "the show must go on," I said, "no I'd really like to get the music recorded."  So pulling up another chair, there I sat for the next hour or so trying to stem the blood loss with a handkerchief on my head until we finished recording.

With the session over and telling the building manager I would return later for my gear I drove off to find medical help.  Knowing I am a big baby, I refused to go to the emergency room at the near-by hospital.  I feared they would shave my head and stitch it up.  So I drove about another 15 more minutes to a friend who is a nurse.  She took one look and said I needed stitches.  I said all I wanted was a butterfly bandage, which she reluctantly put in place after a stiff lecture.  Feeling a bit woozy from the excitement, loss of blood and low blood sugar, I sat down proud of myself -- not so much that I had successfully finished the session but that I had successfully avoided stitches!

Barry
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compasspnt

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2005, 05:30:28 pm »

GREAT stories all!  Barry, I must admit I had to laugh at the thought of you trying to hold the big furniture speaker up...sorry!  I know it wasn't funny to you!

But you know, a very common thread here is that the job always gets done!  This is a testament to the professionalism of the people in this business.

Best of luck to all for future sessions!

Terry
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Bill Mueller

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2005, 07:56:15 pm »

Barry,

Are you feeling alright? No lasting effects? Dizzy spells? Of course that kind of stuff is typical for St Louis. I too am from St Louis so I guess we should stick together.

This one happened so long ago that it is like it happened so someone else, however I was there and I will never forget it.

It was 1973, (it might have been 1972) and I was working as a roadie, truck driver, monitor mixer, circuit board assembler and general maniac for Heil Sound in Marissa Illinois. I also owned my own little company, Fibersonics, and we built the world's first fiberglass covered speaker cabinets. Heils big clients were The Who, Humble Pie, ZZ Top, Joe Walsh and Barnstorm, Jeff Beck and a slew of other B bands. Heil was also the only JBL reconing shop in the mid west, (we blew up a lot of speakers!) and did outdoor festivals. I covered cabinets for Bob's PA stacks and an assortment of guitar amps (the Who), Leslie cabinets (J Geils Band) and other stuff. Actually, some of my speakers were used in the on-stage scenes of the movie Almost Famous, but that?s another story.

Anyway, there was this English band named Pink Floyd, starting out a tour in the mid west and one show was in Kansas City. This was a Friday evening if I recall. They were setting up their stage pyrotechnics and someone made the mistake of double loading a flash pot. Well, five minutes into the show, the button was pushed and instead of the pot throwing fire straight up into the air, it exploded! Shrapnel flew out into the audience and one piece struck a fan, seriously injuring him. All of the speakers in both stacks, spit paper and aluminum shreds all over the crowd. Every speaker in the Britannia Row high fidelity sound system was destroyed.

Can you imagine the volume of an event like that? Amplify an explosion enough to fire the paper right out of the speakers? Wow. Needless to say the show was over.

After the injured were taken care of, they tried to figure out what to do with their tour. It just so happened that the next show was the next night at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. Somehow they got in touch with Bob and contracted us to repair their system. They then drove through the night and were on site by 9:00 AM. About 7:00AM (an ungodly hour), we packed up two eighteen footers with a couple of hundred 18", 15", and 4" drivers and headed for town.

When we arrived, we got with their crew and formed a plan. They would set up their speakers and give us a little room to work on them as they went along. As they set them up, we unscrewed the backs, installed newly reconed JBL's and screwed them back together. It looked like the making of the Pyramids. There were two separate crews climbing all over the stacks with electric drills, assembly line like, hauling speakers up higher and higher into the air. Amazing.

My little job in all of this was to set up the first quad speaker system used in a major concert. (If I recall, we might have supplied supplemental speakers for the Who's Quadraphenia tour, but I think that was later). Anyway, I got with the FOH guy and put our little "beer coolers" where he wanted them. We called them beer coolers because they were a dual 12" with a peizo tweeter in a fiberglass horn loaded configuration, and when laid on their backs would hold a bag of ice and three six packs perfectly. Hey, they dried out after a couple of days!

I got finished wiring the quad system just as the show was about to go on. I was running thousands of feet of speaker wire up into the back of the hall with people coming in and walking all over it! There was no way I could dress that much cable. Don't look at the dogs, work the lock.

I got done and went down to the FOH table. The engineer was there and we hooked the cables up to his little setup. I remember he used a TEAC 3340 1/4" deck and I think he had a stack of McIntosh amps under the table.

I HAD NO IDEA WHO PINK FLOYD, OR ALAN PARSONS WERE! I HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON WAS.

I was just hanging out, ready for a rock concert (I thought I knew what a good PA sounded like). Then the band struck the first note and the curtain started to glide away from the center of the stage. I was awe struck! It was the most amazing sound I had ever heard. I'm not sure how many people saw this, but there were six of our guys still sitting on top of the stacks, at least twenty feet in the air, screwing the backs on the tweeter boxes! When the lights came up, it was just surreal.

Then Alan rolled the tape deck right in front of me and I literally could not believe what I was hearing. The sound of the laughing man and the cash register panning from left to right in a twenty thousand seat hall sent goose bumps up my back. I watched the meters on the TEAC sweep back and fourth and felt like I was being transported to another place and time. It was nuts.

Anyway, that was the best sound I ever heard but it ruined me at Heil. I realized that I sucked. But I have always had that reference in my head and that was the standard I mixed to, from then on.

I have been told by people who were at shows later on in the tour, that the band kept using our little beer cooler speakers all the way through. Pretty cool.

Best Regards,

Bill
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“The Internet is only a means of communication,” he wrote. “It is not an amorphous extraterrestrial body with an entitlement to norms that run counter to the fundamental principles of human rights. There is nothing in the criminal or civil law which legalizes that which is otherwise illegal simply because the transaction takes place over the Internet.” Irish judge, Peter Charleton

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2005, 08:38:34 pm »

Once again, the job is done with seconds to spare!
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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2005, 04:59:17 am »

bill said:

"Don't look at the dogs, work the lock."

that's a good one

as an avid appreciator of the 'rock'n'roll anecdote', i'd like to thank you, as what you've given us is something special
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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2005, 08:33:56 pm »

Lord Jesus. Does this stuff go on all the time?
I need a valium just from reading this stuff. I can't imagine actually going thru it!
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compasspnt

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Re: The Utterly Weird Session Thread
« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2005, 11:46:20 pm »

Radd 47 wrote on Tue, 22 February 2005 20:33

Lord Jesus. Does this stuff go on all the time?
I need a valium just from reading this stuff. I can't imagine actually going thru it!



Slim, you have no idea.  What's been written isn't even near half of it, for me, and I'm sure for many others!  Some things just can't be told...
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