john lilley project at sellersville theater and world cafe live

so this was John Lilley Weekend – saturday and sunday, consecutive dates, great venues…saturday night at sellersville theater with fellow hooter eric bazilian (in a show that i half-jokingly yet affectionately referred to as an evening with a pair of hooters…), and sunday night with the smithereens at world cafe live in philadelphia.

i can’t remember why, but i was running late for soundcheck for the sellersville show – but fate intervened, as eric’s band was running pretty solidly late with their soundcheck, so i wasn’t actually late, per se…i just hadn’t made it to the gig at the appointed time.

now, thankfully – we were sharing davey’s drumkit (dave uosikkinen was playing in eric’s band, which actually made it a trio of hooters…but i digress), so the transitions were a little easier as a result, but most of us were using our own backline stuff, so everything had to come off the stage as soon as we were done. for a lot of the shows i’ve done at sellersville, i’d simply slide my guitar “boat” behind the curtain for the duration of the show and leave it there until after the show was over and pack up then, but we needed to clear the stage for eric’s band because…well, there were a LOT of them. and, since there was only one show and no one was sharing any backline other than the drums…well, it just made sense to break everything down and get it outta there between shows and before dinner.

the following night, though, at world cafe live, the load in and load out was a lot smoother…not because the itinerary was that much different, but because the whole layout was just a lot more condusive to easy mobility of gear and backline onto and off the stage. WCL has a dedicated entrance along the side for load in and load out, and a ramp that leads almost directly onto the stage, with a modest staging area at the top of the ramp and right offstage.

thankfully, they also had a projection screen on the stage, and when we got there, they had the playoff game up on the screen so we could watch the game while we were setting up. bonus. 🙂

i knew that, for this gig, we’d be able to turn it up a little bit, and i brought my silverface deluxe reverb for the show…it was a relatively short set, so i didn’t have to travel too terribly heavy, but i had everything in the “boat”, plus the pedalboard and the amp in a road case with casters on it, so it was an easy on/easy off situation.

we also had ed abrams (john’s guitar tech) and ed’s sidekick, joe…and for these gigs, they were really invaluable. in addition to taking care of john and making sure he had an acceptable comfort level onstage, they also helped a great deal with getting us on and off the stage for these two gigs in a timely manner. i mean – the night before, i had everything torn down, packed up, and in the back of the trooper before we went to dinner at the washington house. tonight i didn’t have to be loaded out after our set, but we certainly got off the stage in record time after our set was finished.

we had an awesome set – the sound was phenomenal (as has been the case pretty much every time i’ve played there), and the band was on fire…the version of in the drivers seat that we played that night was about as good as we’ve ever played it.

now, talking about that ed abrams guy…ed has a pretty amazing guitar collection, and ed has always brought different stuff out for john to try out at various times…most notably an awesome taylor acoustic that john fell in love with, among other things.

why am i bringing this up, you ask?

well, at the end of the night…after the smithereens’ set was over (freddie, rick and i listened to their set from the relative aural safety of the green room, where the volume was much, MUCH more sufferable than at probably any other place in the building), after everyone had filtered out of the club and the bands were loading out – john had left, the guys from the headliner had left, and it was turk (the soundguy), a few of the folks from the house, myself, and a couple other guys from the band were still in the area of the stage where the gear was piled up, just off stage right and at the top of the ramp. i had finished loading all my gear into the trooper, and everyone else had pretty much taken everything off the stage at that point…and yet, there was a fishman acoustic amp sitting all by itself among the mic stands and other gear that the club owned.

turk didn’t know who it belonged to…it didn’t belong to the club, and it was believed that the bands had both left at this point, and there was no one else left on the premises to ask. i told turk that, at that point, the only person i could think of that it might’ve belonged to would have been ed abrams, because ed was always bringing stuff out for john to try, and it could’ve become a situation of “i thought YOU had it…no, i thought YOU had it…” – and if it was ed’s, i could at least grab it and leave it at john’s so that ed didn’t have to make the trip back into center city to pick it up.

so, i put it in the back of my ride, and took off down the sit-still expressway towards home, and didn’t really give it a second thought.

now, somewhere around the blue route exit, my cell phone rings. it’s rick bell.

“hey, tom…turk needs you to give him a call about the amp you have in your car.”

“sure…what’s the deal?”

“well…it belongs to pat dinizio and he wants it back.”


as it turns out, pat brought the amp with him (even though the guys were using rented backline) as a safety blanket..which is why no one considered the possibility that it belonged to anyone in the band…and he was out front at the merch table signing autographs until late, and when he came backstage to grab his amp and it wasn’t there…

…well, needless to say, he had some questions.

anyway, i called and talked to turk, who put me in touch with their road manager, and we met up in the parking lot at the mcdonalds’ right off the conshohocken exit and i gave it back to them, and everyone parted on good terms…i was certain that they’d think i had shoplifted it, but anyone who was familiar with our relationship with ed understood why i brought it along, and – again – no one even considered the possibility that it belonged to the guys in the smithereens, because they weren’t travelling with backline.

but…no one had any attitude about it when we met up, and everyone went home with exactly what they left home with…which was all i was hoping to accomplish by bringing it along, anyway – but, as we all know, no good deed goes unpunished. 🙂

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