Tuesday March 9, 2010 was a huge milestone for me both personally and professionally. Here is the back story. I have been a fan of John Mayer and Robbie McIntosh for years, and two years ago when John Mayer performed at the Coca Cola Starplex in Dallas I mentioned to my wife that I want my amps to be on that stage the next time I see them.
(Scroll down for video and pics)
Well late last year as I had informally released the Britain 2.0 I saw John’s tweet about the band list for this upcoming tour and I got my courage up and shot Robbie an email to see if he would be interested in playing my amps on this upcoming tour. Well two weeks went by without any response and then one day I got an email from Robbie saying that he had heard of my amps and put them in the “Matchless, Two-Rock, Van Weelden, Dumble category. Good company indeed.”
Well as it eventually worked out that I was able to send Robbie a Britain 2.0 to NY for their rehearsals and within one day Robbie wrote me to inform me that they were the best amps he ever played. We worked out an arrangement and I was able to get him two Britain 2.0 heads and two 2×12-OS cabinets that he’ll be using for this tour.
Fast forward to March 9th and there my wife and I are inside the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Dallas waiting for Robbie to come down so we can grab lunch before the concert. After meeting with Robbie and chatting for a bit we drove to Capital Grille in Dallas and had an amazing lunch while my wife and I got to know Robbie better. One of the things that really struck me about Robbie was how down to earth and incredibly humble he is. He’s one of those guys who you could mention just about anyone in music and he’ll be able to say that he worked with them in some capacity over the years. Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Nora Jones, The Pretenders the list goes on…
So during lunch we talked about everything from gear, family, horses, Jimmy Bryant and Speedy west, Esquivel and tons of other obscure musicians and that most people would never had heard of but whom Robbie knew of in depth.
After lunch Robbie, Melissa and I drove back to the Ritz Carlton where Robbie had to grab one of his guitars and after he got it, we drove to the American Airlines Center. Once there Robbie introduced us to his guitar tech, Andrew Bade and then graciously allowed me to video tape him doing his sound check for the evening. There was no official band sound check for the night so we were the only ones in the stadium. To stand in the center of that stage and look out at the view the band sees every night was completely breathtaking and inspiring!
After Robbie showed us around his rig he introduced us to Rene Martinez. For those of you in the know, Rene is John’s guitar tech and many years before that was Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar tech. Meeting him was obviously a thrill! Rene was super cool and very friendly and seemed genuinely pleased to meet us.
Once Robbie finished his sound check he showed us John’s rig which included a Dumble Steel String Singer, a Two-Rock John Mayer Signature Model and a Blackface Fender Bandmaster along with a truckload of guitars that he brought with him. John’s touring collection is an absolute dream collection of guitars with everything ranging from telecasters to Les Paul’s, SG’s, Les Paul Junior’s, an L5 and many Strats along with his #1 Black Strat.
After checking out the stage setup, Robbie led us into the Band Room where we hung out for a few hours and met John’s bass player, Sean Hurley drummer Steve Jordan and rhythm guitarist/backup singer David Ryan Harris. To be honest I had NO idea what to expect when I met these guys but I was so pleased to find that all of these guys were completely cool and non-assuming; so much so that by the end of the afternoon we were all cracking jokes and talking about everything from life to which actress starred in which Hitchcock film. In fact, everyone that we met the entire day was extremely gracious and kind with not a hint of ego anywhere. It was refreshing to meet guys at this level in the game who were so down to earth. Total class.
After hangin with the guys for a while Robbie took us to see the tour bus which was nothing short of awesome, and afterward we went to eat dinner in the dining hall where catering had been provided. As Robbie and I were talking about something I glanced over to the left and saw some dude grabbing some food and thought, “Holy crap that’s John Mayer.” As John made his way over to his table, Robbie grabbed John and introduced Melissa and I to him. He was super gracious and actually took a few minutes to greet us until Robbie told John that I was the guy who made his amp for him to which John replied, “You definitely have the biggest tone in the smallest package thing goin’ on.” He then went on to say that “Robbie has the best tone on stage.” I assume he was being kind, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy hearing that. 🙂
So what do you talk to John Mayer about when on the subject of amps? Dumbles of course! After talking about my amps I mentioned that I’m sure his Steel String Singer wasn’t too bad of an amp itself and that got us going down the road of talking about what a unique individual Alexander (or is it Howard) Dumble is. For the sake of discretion I’ll leave out all the details of that conversation but from the sound of it, Mayer and Dumble have had some trippy encounters.
To my amazement, just like all the other people we had met that day, John was super cool, very laid back and uncommonly gracious.
After getting our fill of dinner, Robbie took Melissa and I back to the band room where we waiting until about 30 minutes before showtime and excused ourselves to our seats only after Robbie invited us to come backstage after the show.
Having seen a couple of Mayer concerts before it was no shock to hear solo after face-melting guitar solo with some of the best tone anywhere! It was 2 hours of guitarmageddon and I was in heaven! If you get the chance to see this tour when it comes to your town, I VERY strongly recommend it! You won’t be disappointed.
On a personal note, I have to say that seeing my creation on that stage in front of so many people was a dream/prayer fulfilled. From the day I first started working on my designs to that concert on Tuesday night, I have experienced every level of blood sweat and tears imaginable and had countless opportunities to quit and give up, but thankfully I never gave in. This hobby turned career has taught me many things but I have learned about nothing as much as I have learned about myself. My advice to anyone starting anything is to never give up. If you believe in what you do, stick with it because on some level you know you are right and once you know that, it’s just a matter of convincing the rest of the world you are right. Of the two battles, convincing yourself or convincing others, convincing yourself is the hardest. Once you reach the place where you know that you are good at what you do and you have a vision for where you want to go, hold tight to it and never let go. Then, if you truly are good at what you do, people will recognize you for it.
Once the concert was over, Melissa and I made our way back stage, took some pictures with Robbie and Steve and said our goodbyes to the band and crew to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude for being so warm and inviting.
This blog would not be complete without a special thank you to Robbie McIntosh.
“Robbie thank you for your kindness and the time you took to make March 9th one of the most memorable nights of our lives. I look forward to working with you for many years to come.
Enjoy the pics…