Why both? I wouldn’t have met one without the other.
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I met Mike via YouTube. He reached out via email and said he liked my VH lesson videos. Every 4 – 6 months I’ll shoot Mike an email to just say hi, that kinda thing.
A few weeks back I get an email from Mike; he’s guitar tech-ing for Joe, would I like to come to the show? I’ve seen Joe before the last time he was out, and I thoroughly enjoyed that, hell yes I’ll come to the show!!
So the day of the show I get an email from Mike: “I’m free between 5:30 and 7:00 if you wanna drop by. Doors open at 8, you’re on the guestlist plus one..” I’ve never met Mike in real life, so I let him know I’ll be there at the stage door of the Palais by about 6:15. I seriously thought he’d come out of the building, get a handshake and a hug, talk for 10 minutes, then he’d go back in. And I was fine with that…Boy, was I very fucking wrong, ha ha ha…
He comes out, we do handshake hug, and the first thing he says is, “Do you wanna come in and see some guitars?” And I was like, “Hell yes!!” Off we went.
Mike took every single guitar out of the rack, told me what they were, and anything notable about the guitar. Amazing collection. I asked if I could touch one of the strats and he was totally cool with it. I’m pretty sure he would have let me play any of the guitars, but I was there to hang and get to know Mike. But my inner demon (we’ll call him Doug) was going “Play the whole fucking lot!!” Not today demon, not today.
It was pretty much like this but in real fucking life!! My head was spinning.
After the guitar tour, we just stood near the guitars and talked about guitars, our past experiences, how Mike got the tech job, his new marriage, where he’s living, then onto Van Halen, Paul Gilbert, going vintage gear shopping with Joe, etc etc.
Then Joe walked out..we meet and shake hands. Mike goes, “This is the guy I showed you the video of..” I was like, whuuuut? Mike showed Joe my Dean Shredder Contest video. Joe says, “Man, your pinky is crazy..” That’s when my brain split in two..On the outside, I was calm, cool, nice John. On the inside I was going “Holy fucking shit!! I’m backstage hanging with Mike and Joe, and Joe has seen me play guitar!” Man out the outside, giggly screaming girl on the inside, ha ha ha..
I did ask them how they met each in front of each other, and that was cool to hear both sides of the story at the same time..(too long to post, but…a good story nonetheless).
My clip in question. Pinky thing is at :40
So then Joe goes, “Come and look at my amps..” Okay!! And from there Joe walked me through the amps (four Fender Tweeds behind the glass partition), and said that thee most important component to the sound were the amp mics, which were: I have no idea!! I’d be able to remember by sight, but not by name..I wanna say Tull or something. Google says I’m fuckin’ crazy.
Then, Joe shows me his pedalboard. pretty sparse as I can remember. No more than four pedals onstage. And lastly, he’s telling me about his strat that he uses for the first song, talks about how (through years of playing it), the fretboard is now naturally scalloped. He then unstraps the guitar and give it to me (not plugged in). I awkwardly play maybe 4 notes on it and give it right back.
A lot of Joe’s guitars have tape on the pickguards..He goes, “A lot of people ask ‘why don’t you just replace the pickguard?’, and I’m like, ‘Fuck that..it’s fine with tape..'” or words to that effect. I liked that. Sensible.
About this time I asked for a photo with the 3 of us. “Guys, I know this is probably a douchebag move, but can I get a pic of you both?” They were totally cool with it. I thought I was gonna take the pic, Joe asked one of the tour guys to take it. Stoked!!!
I thanked Joe, and Mike and I went back to talking over by the guitars for another 15 or 20. It was getting close to showtime and it was time for me to bail. Mike walked me back out, had a smoke, and I got a call from my buddy who was in the area and had started walking towards the venue. Mike finished ciggie, we hugged, and I told him the next time he comes out, I’ll take time off work and we’ll hang properly.
And I was flying high for the rest of the night. I quickly called my wife and said, “You’re not gonna believe this..” The gig was great, the band was great (I didn’t know Anton Fig was drumming in the band until I was already back outside..I love that guy!!) But yes, what an absolutely awesome experience. Mike Hickey and Joe Bonamassa are as every bit of cool as you’d want them to be. To have a guy who was warming up for his headlining gig to take time out to show me his gear when he clearly didn’t have to, speaks volumes. And Mike told me a story about Joe’s generosity that was just…Kind and awesome and meaningful..It’s great to meet down to earth, cool people. And people like that deserve every good thing that comes their way.