Fogelberg Tour 2003 - Rehearsals
Well, after a very, very long travel day I finally made it to my hotel. All the band members' flights arrived at approximately the same time and although we had all worked together on many previous tours with Dan, this was a relatively new line-up. Long time Fogelberg veteran, Robert McEntee was doing guitar and keyboard parts as well as adding his vocal talents to the ensemble once again. Jim Photoglo, an extremely accomplished singer / songwriter in his own right, was taking over on electric bass and background vocals with that beautiful high tenor voice of his. And of course, the inimitable Michael 'Zoot' Hanna was on keyboards, which meant he would be covering everything from Grand piano and Hammond organ to complete orchestral string parts.
As I mentioned earlier, we had all worked individually with Dan at various times in his career but not in this particular configuration of players. I was very anxious to see what kind of musical chemistry we would create together. I had no doubt that it would be a great touring band but I also knew we had some serious work ahead of us if we were going to reach our full potential.
Of course, individual preparation for the tour began weeks before when we all received a tentative set list. And believe me, it's not just about memorizing a bunch of parts and stringing them together into songs! If that were the case, it would be easier just to read sheet music. In some ways it's similar to an actor preparing for a role. Sure you have to learn your lines but then you have to get in to the character and breathe some life into it. It's the same way with a well crafted song. Hopefully, you eventually reach a tipping point where you're no longer consciously concerned with what note or musical figure to play but how you play it. How does it work with the songs dynamics and harmonic colors? How does it work with the theme and how does it work with the vocal phrasing? Dan Fogelberg has written some brilliant songs over the years and they require as much from the heart as from the head. Compositions like these deserve a 110% effort in preparation and performance and I've always welcomed the opportunity to rise to the challenge.
By the end of our first few days of rehearsals, things started to come together pretty well. With Dan's songs and arrangements to guide us and his vocals as the glue to hold it all together, a real band began to take shape. We didn't think about the songs anymore as much as flow with them. Everything you needed to know was constantly being telegraphed by Dan and the other members of the group. All you really had to do was open up your mind and LISTEN! And no matter how many times you've performed the songs, each time you played them, they would be slightly different. I'm sure that many of the hard core 'Dan fans', who have attended multiple concerts, will know what I'm talking about. It's those little nuances, that personal signature by the artists, that really gives the music life. Although we were getting tighter by the day, the rehearsal time, that seemed, at first, more than enough, now seemed terribly inadequate. With just a few days left until our production rehearsal at the first venue, you can bet we were feeling the pressure. Of course, with a group of musicians like these the confidence level was pretty high and I knew we would be ready when we hit the stage for the first show.