dj​phillips

July 28th, 2014

Monte Carlo: Days 25, 26 & 27

Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).

Day 25

Friday was a benefit show featuring a French artist named Chrisophe Maé. We hadn’t heard of him but did some cursory listening before the show. After our set we stuck around and watched for a bit and he put on a great show! Fun costumes and a great sounding band!

Day 26

Elton John Day!

We got to open for one of the most accomplished artists still alive today– what an honor! I’ve always loved some of his songs but I have to admit that I’ve never been a super fan. However, after seeing him just KILL IT playing classic tune after classic tune, I definitely have a new-found love and respect for him as an entertainer/writer/artist.

After we finished our set, we were stage-rolled into the wing as usual. Sir Elton was waiting to go on and Justin went up to say ‘hello’. He was extremely gracious and walked over and greeted each of us in the band and shook our hands and made idle chit-chat. He also agreed to a photo!

(Yeah, yeah, Tony Danza, we know.)

After his set, a few of us hung out backstage like the gherms that we are trying to get another chance to say hello. We got a quick conversation with Bono and his wife again (ho-hum, right?) but Sir Elton buzzed up to the dressing room. I guess one greeting and brief hang out session with one of the most legendary performers still making music today is enough!

We took the long walk back to Monte Carlo and hung out for a bit with some of the crew members before calling it a night.

Day 27

Day off! On Sunday, Justin and I took a short train ride and ventured into Villefranche-sur-Mer, a nearby town on the coast. It’s not quite all the way to Nice, the largest nearby city, but it’s very close. We strolled around and looked at the beautiful views and old architecture before having a really great seafood lunch at a place recommended to us by The Edge called La Mere Germaine. (AHAHAAHAHA I can’t believe I just typed that, I’m so sorry. I’m not sorry enough to delete or re-type it though.)


(Have fun storming the castle!)

It was such a fancy day off that we all went to the ballet when we returned to Monaco! We were treated to box seats in the opulent casino opera house and the show was incredible! The costumes and dancing were all amazing. I have no idea what the show was about.

Taylor took a great panorama of us before the show getting ready to get all cultured and stuff.

Immediately after we exited the theater, there was a phenomenal fireworks display (the Monte-Carlo International Fireworks festival happens on a few Sundays throughout the summer) right off the Casino terrace. We were all too enamored to take any decent pictures. That drone video from July 4th is hard to top video-wise anyway!

NEXT: Paul Anka!

July 25th, 2014

Monte Carlo: Days 16 - 24

Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).

It’s been a little too long for me to do a full recap day-by-day but it’s been a good week! We celebrated my wife’s birthday from afar, I visited Le Jardin Exotique (the Exotic Garden), we opened for more Beatles shows, Patrick Bruel, we got to meet Marcus Miller, Joe Satriani and Booker T. Jones and last night we opened for The Jacksons!

Here’s a reverse order video/photo collection:

July 24, 2014

(The incredible Jacksons still kickin' on one of my favorite Jacksons/MJ tunes!)

Not to be confused with my seminal 2009 tribute version:

We hung out with some guys from their absolutely phenomenal rhythm section after the show and they couldn’t have been nicer guys. At some point I’m sure we’ll run into some mean people but so far so good.

July 23, 2014

Due to logistical stage-orientation concerns, we didn’t open up the show for Marcus Miller, Joe Satriani and Booker T. Jones but we did get to see it!


(Left to right: some guy, some guy, the legendary Booker T. Jones, some other guy, Joe Satriani, some guy and some guy)

Here’s Joe Satriani playing guitar really fast:

July 20-22, 2014

On Tuesday we opened for Patrick Bruel and they love him here! The two days preceding were days off, so a fair amount of goofing around and a little bit of productivity were afoot.


(Monsieur Bruel!)

We randomly caught the tail-end of a free flamenco concert while walking around on Monday. Wish we would have known it was happening!

Earlier that day, I ventured to Le Jardin Exotique (Exotic Garden) and saw more cacti than you can shake the pointy end of a different cactus at!

Every few feet there was a little alcove to catch a view of the principality as well. Stunning.

July 17-19, 2014

The days before that are a bit of a blur of Beatles shows and daytime walking around/emailing/pool time.

Here’s a photo of me feeling guilty for all the pool time:

À bientôt mes amis!

NEXT: Christophe Maé and ELTON FREAKING JOHN

July 16th, 2014

Monte Carlo: Days 12 - 15

Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).

Day 12

On Sunday, we came down from our celebrity high and took a hike! Taylor, Justin and I walked pretty much straight up into the sky to a small French village north of Monaco called La Turbie. Taylor calculated our ascent at 1,380 feet in 1.6 miles! It was basically a staircase that never ended.

(Pretty sweet view at the top though… pant… pant… pant…)

(The quaint historic streets of La Turbie)

(Tropaeum Alpium, “Victory Monument of the Alps,” which was “built by the Romans for the emperor Augustus to celebrate his definitive victory over the ancient tribes which populated the Alps.” Or at least that’s what Wikipedia tells me. We had no idea it was going to be there, La Turbie just looked like a good destination!)


(La Turbie? More like La Burpie! From… eating… the pastry…)

The descent was much easier. We also met a couple of very nice Irish gentlemen on the way down that kept us company until we parted ways in Monaco. After a little rest and showering, the rest of the group joined us and we went to dinner. I had a surprisingly good hamburger (we haven’t been overly impressed with the food here yet, I know… boohoo) at a place called Mozza. Definitely in favor of a return trip there down the line.

Day 13



Daytime on Monday was pretty uneventful for me. I slept in and then we worked on set lists for this week, then it was time for the show. We played to another polite audience and did a pretty good job! The show is starting to feel a little better in general. Some of it, I’m sure, is that we know what to expect from the gig now.

For this entire week, we are opening for a Beatles music revue called Let It Be. We stayed and watched the show on the first night and it was very good! They dressed and performed as the Fab Four throughout different eras of their career.



(Buncha goobers preparing for the curtain to rise.)


(Taylor’s cool photo collage of the different costumes)


(“Help!” from the Shea Stadium set)

Laundromats are hard to come by around here, so I hand-washed a bunch of necessaries in the bathtub with some Tide pods I brought from home. It was actually kind of fun until the hand-wringing part. I strung up clothes all over the hotel room to let them dry and it’s not going very well. Did you know that dryers are awesome? Dryers are awesome.

Day 14

Beach day part deux! Tuesday was the bossman Justin’s birthday, so we took the train across the border into Italy! About a 30-45 minute train ride and we were in the small town of Ventimiglia. We then took a cab (surprisingly difficult with six people) down to a beach resort where we rented chairs on the deck in full view of the Mediterranean. Turns out things are quite a bit cheaper in Italy too, so it was a good day.




(Sometimes you’ve got to protect the face, you know?)

The show went really well that night. The rest of the crew did some late night hanging after the show, but my lameness took over and I went home after a very tasty but ridiculously overpriced Caprese Salad. C'est la vie.

UPDATE: Clothes still not dry.

Day 15



Not much to report today. I decided to take a day off from the sun and stay inside and get a little work done. Not the kind of thing that makes for an exciting blog post, but it was good. The show was weird but fine. We had a couple of technical issues and it seemed to make it feel a little off, but we recovered!

UPDATE: Clothes about 50% dry.

NEXT: More birthday and Beatles!

July 14th, 2014

Monte Carlo: Days 10 & 11

Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).

Day 10

These last few days have been so ridiculous. I am starting to feel bad just sharing photos and videos with everyone back home because I didn’t do anything to make this happen, it’s just happening and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

On Friday we had the day off, so we went to the Jazz à Juan festival in Juan-les-Pins, a beach town about 45 minutes west of here. Before that I took a quick walk to the local music store to get some picks. (My big box of picks was the one thing – so far – that I forgot to pack, so I consider that pretty lucky.) It was an interesting exchange I had with the guy who worked there.

It began with some French pleasantries but then I quickly devolved into FrEnglish trying to describe that I wanted guitar picks. He asked me a question in French and I said “euh… heavy…” not knowing if it was an answer to what he asked at all. He laughed and then guided me back to the selection. We had a pleasant stop-and-go half French exchange and I eventually got what I wanted (overpriced picks). As he is ringing me up, he starts speaking in perfect English about how French is the official language of Monaco and he wants to preserve it so that everyone doesn’t just speak English. It was a very respectable and very French exchange. I threw in a couple of choice French phrases though, so I think he was satisfied. Plus he got to sell me picks at quadruple price, so why not?

That evening we got a ride from the transportation company to the festival (we are so important!). We walked around Juan-les-Pins and grabbed some food before the concert.

(The beach at Juan-les-Pins)

We then settled into our 2nd row seats and watched The Family Stone rock out. They had 3 original members with them. It’s incredible to think that they’ve been playing these songs for something like 40-45 years!

Then came the incredible Chic featuring Nile Rodgers! The band was ridiculous, the singers were incredible and they even brought everybody up onstage to end the show. It made us really look forward to opening for them the following day.





## Day 11

I don’t even remember what we did during the day on Saturday because the night was so incredible. (I’m sure it was some combination of eating, walking around and maybe swimming.) We played our set to a crowd of polite but indifferent patrons. The larger crowds actually seem less interested in hearing us, so that’s something we have to figure out. We played well though for the most part. We are working on getting a recording of our actual set, so I’ll share that soon hopefully. Part of the reason we may have been a little nervous is that a little birdie told us that Bono was going to be in the audience. WHAT. Nile Rodgers blew us out of the water again. It was the same show as the night before, but no less enjoyable.

(Nasty.)

Taylor, Justin, Ian and I jumped onstage for the crowd participation finale we knew was coming. Sometimes you’ve just got to be a fan.





Afterwards we hung out backstage hoping to say hello to the band. We ended up posing for pictures with them and Bono, the Edge and Larry Mullen, Jr. from U2. GAHHH! Bono and Nile were both pretty bum-rushed the whole time, but we ended up having lovely conversations with Bono’s wife Ali, plus The Edge and his wife gave us a bunch of great advice on things to visit in the area and I can’t believe I just typed that.

As we were standing around talking, another gentleman came up and started talking with me and Ian. He had a somewhat expectant look on his face but I had no idea who he was. Turns out I had a very nice conversation with Julian Lennon for several minutes. What. He said he’ll be back for other shows this summer, so we are probably going to be best friends.

We chatted with Jerry, Nile’s bass player, Russell the keyboard player and Ralph, the drummer, showering them with compliments for a good long while before dispersing for the night.

After we got back to the hotel we all gathered in a room and just looked at each other’s pictures and freaked out about what had just happened. I’m generally not a celebrity-chaser or anything, but this is pretty ridiculous. Everyone we’ve met has been so gracious and seemingly genuine too that it’s crushing my illusion of everyone famous being a douche.

NEXT: A beautiful hike into France with absolutely zero famous people involved

July 11th, 2014

Monte Carlo: Day 9

Sooo… I am now in Monte Carlo, Monaco until the middle of August. I’m performing in the house band of the Monte-Carlo Summer Sporting Festival. We’ll be opening for an unbelievable slew of artists like: Lana Del Rey, Kevin Costner, Robin Thicke, Paolo Nutini, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Marcus Miller & Joe Satriani, The Jacksons, Elton John, Paul Anka, Boy George, Bryan Adams, Gipsy Kings, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Tom Jones and more! I’ll be chronicling the adventures here when I can! The band is: me (guitar), Justin Caldwell (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Erin McCarley (lead vocals, guitar, percussion), Ian Miller (keyboards), Taylor Jones (bass) and Lee Holland (drums, percussion, guitar).

Day 9

After breakfast, Erin and I took a walk around to get a little exercise. We ventured up into the France side of things and discovered a couple cheaper restaurants that I’m sure will come in handy.

(I also encountered some stairs.)

The audience for the Paolo Nutini show was intimate but mighty. They listened. They clapped. We didn’t have to turn down. It was like a real-life music show! Paolo and his band were incredible. He’s such an amazing singer and the band songs were all well arranged and interesting. Really a top-notch performance! Afterwards we got to hang out with Paolo and the crew. They were all very nice and fun people. I took a nice walk home when I had reached my socializing quotient.

(Waxing gibbous moon over Monaco – ooh la la!)

NEXT: Day off at the Antibes Jazz Festival!