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Draplin Design Co., North America
November 08, 2008
Guitar Tech Night
Posted at 01:20 PM


A couple months back I get this nice email from one Greg Howard of North Carolina checkin’ in after seeing me let it fly in that teaser clip thing. Turns out he’s a guitar tech who’s worked for Aerosmith, Green Day, Monster Magnet and even goddamned Hall & Oates! He builds amps and is a graphic designer too. Quite a range of awesomeness. So we exchange a couple nice emails back and forth and he tells me, “Next time I’m through Portland, I’ll look you up.”

And he does. So cool.

He was in town Friday night for The Jimi Hendrix Experience Tribute show. He was handling the guitars for Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, Billy Cox of Hendrx’ Band of Gypsies and Doyle Bramhall II.

I met him at the sidestage door and he walked me through the inner sanctum up to the stage to show me the lay of the land. Amps, cords, drums, pedals…and then the view from the stage out into the seats. Pretty cool to see what it looks like from up there.

Up walks Brad Whitford from Aerosmith. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Little band from Boston. It took all my strength not to ask him, “What the hell was up with “Love in an Elevator?!” He was super nice and all I could think about was the history behind him and his band, and Stephen Tyler and Joe Perry and all of it. Lots of history and prom ballads and stuff. Dream on.

We snaked through the backstage maze down into an artist area to shoot the shit a bit, catching up on all things guitar, amp, signage and America. It was cool to see the artists chowing down before the show. Kenny Wayne Shepherd, aside from having a pretty cool name, has one hell of a stroll. He walks like he doesn’t have a care in the world. This is the kind of stuff I notice, you know, being regular and all.

The show started and Greg walked me through how he tunes the guitars, cleans them and manages the cords, amps and effects pedals for each song. It’s an interesting mix of preparation and on-the-cuff problem solving. I’ve always been intrigued by the guys on the side of the stage. It was a real treat to see it from his vantage point. Awesome.

These are the guys who were in the show: Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, Jimi Hendrix’ original bassist BIlly Cox, Robby Kreiger from the Doors, Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, axe shredders Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player Hubert Sumlin and motherfuckin’ Buddy Guy! Yeah, Buddy Guy. So awesome.

I’ll tell you this much, the show was cool and all but exploded when Buddy Guy and his band took the stage. Seriously. So intense.

Here’s some shots from the deal:

01. “What it looks like to be on stage at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall.”
02. “Greg Howard in the cockpit.”
03. “The Doors’ Robby Krieger warming up.”
04. “Jonny Lang, shredding another solo.”
05. “Greg tuning up Brad Whitford’s guitar.”
06. “Hubert gets ready…”
07. “…to go out and shred it up. 77 years young, people!”
08. “While Greg was tuning, I was backstage makin’ friends.”
09. “The players about to take a bow at the end of the show.”

Thanks to Greg for getting me in and showing me the ropes. It was great to see him in action and hang out backstage with the players. Some pretty serious rock history going down around me.

The kind of shit that went through my thinker:

01. Thinking about Robby Krieger and Jim Morrison figuring out “Light My Fire”…
02. Wondering about Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s hair.
03. Jonny Lang is from Fargo?
04. Brad Whitford and countless Aerosmith tours and tunes. Wow.
05. Buddy Guy and everything he’s seen.
06. Mike McCready and cut-off army pants and longjohns back in the grunge heyday.
07. Hubert Sumlin and Howlin’ Wolf. Holy fuck.
08. REQUIRED VIEWING/REQUIRED THINKING: Billy Cox onstage with Hendrix at Woodstock. Whoa. Heavy history.

A cool night from the side stage. Thanks, Greg!

There is One Comment

It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people for this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

Posted by: Mia Watson on 03/04/16 at 10:33 PM
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