Once again sound check was a great hang. It was a Show within a Show. Luke reminisced about playing the Baked Potato at age 23. There was a picture of himself on the wall at 23 playing in the same exact spot he was standing in. He also recalled a nerve wracking performance playing in front of David Gilmour and Jeff Beck. Luke sat in the same spot Beck was sitting in years ago about 15 feet from where he was playing. Owner/Manager Justin Randi of the Baked Potato recalled that of all the years and of all the musical greats that have played or just hung out at the Potato Jeff Beck was the ONLY person he's EVER asked for an autograph. There were numerous cool stories about Luke pal Eddie Van Halen. Toss then started playing the intro to Toto's "Rosanna" and Luke immediately said jokingly STOP! $100,000 fine! Luke later broke into Metallica's "Enter Sandman" as the band followed along. This really is work for the guys but it's the fun kind of work.
The Show itself was truly unbelievable. Luke was battling a severe pinched nerve in his right forearm. Add the fact that this was the FIRST time these guys ever played together and you had a recipe for total disaster. But that was the furthest thing from what happened. Jorgen told me before the first set "there will be some mistakes out there, but it's all about the recovery." The mistakes he mentioned were there but they were far and few between. But he was right on as the recoveries were right there too.
It was an impromptu set list as the guys kind of felt out how the night was going and went from there. This gig was actually billed as a music and spoken word Show. Luke busted out an adult novel and read from it with much passion, conjecture and feeling. Babko added the appropriate background sounds at the exact moments they were needed. The crowd was equally divided from side splitting laughs to looks of pure shock. The crowd was warned and for those that have been to a Luke Show, especially at the Potato knew what they were in for. The all instrumental set list included Los Lobotomy's songs.
Some of those songs haven't been played by Luke in decades. "Dismemberment" brought smiles to the faces of the crowd and started the toes a tappin' and the heads groovin'. This also sent Luke's head spinning as he realized he hadn't played the "Spud" in over two years. That gig was also with Babko. An extended version of the Tony Hymas/Simon Phillips number made famous by Jeff Beck, "The Pump" brought even more energy to the room. They ended that number with a very cool Steely Dan outro. Other highlights were Lobotomy's numbers "Lobotomy Stew", "Big Bone" and the high energized "Smell Yourself". It was a "throwback night" that brought back great memories for most of the diehard fans in the crowd. Some diehards were at all four gigs which is a testament to the quality of the musicianship and the music itself. Luke had this to say about the night "the gig was a lot of fun. I was playing in agony. You have not lived until you played in that kind of pain! I gave it all I had, considering. It was a bit physically limiting and I missed a few things due to the arm cramping up but.....the Show MUST go on! I told people so everyone was really cool and had fun, great crowd! I hope I didn't suck (laughing)! The band was great. We had never played together other than for 30 minutes the other night to go over the songs, which we fucked up anyway. In the spirit of the Spud and people being very cool by NOT having iphones shoved in my face. The humor and the 'book reading' with Babko's sound effects was fucking hilarious! I had a GREAT time even though I was in insane pain." The next day Luke said "believe it or not... the arm actually feels better this morning. It should NOT! Odd? It was fun to revisit the OLD Lobotomy's songs with this new band. We are all having so much fun and I'm sure we will do it again.
Jeff Babko told me "this Spud gig with Luke was a special one. When I was growing up aspiring to be an LA studio musician, the excitement of seeing Luke up close at the Potato meant the World to me. Experiencing the lunacy of the full live Luke treatment with blazing guitar solos followed by lively comedy routines always makes me smile. It's an honor now being part of the music making on the legendary Potato stage, and Luke is as always, killing it! It has been far too long since we played live together and I'm so glad Jorgen instigated this super fun hang."
I asked Jorgen how he got involved in this project. He said "I met Luke at a session, a benefit. We just clicked and went from there." What's it like playing with Luke? "It's great! It's fucking great!" I then asked him about the upcoming Gov't Mule gigs in Japan and in Australia with Greg Allman. Jorgen told me "I've never played with Greg, but obviously Greg and Warren (Haynes) were doing the Allman Brothers last year. We'll see! I'll let you know after those gigs. I also asked about the very cool Gov't Mule CD "Shout". I told him it was an amazing CD with some very stellar guests on it. He told me "It was never planned that way. I think Dr. John or Elvis Costello might have been the first people on board and then we just said fuck it! Let's just do all the songs like that. Steve Winwood was a good friend of Warren. So that just kind of came naturally. Warren tried to pair up the songs with who would fit right." I then asked him about playing at the Baked Potato and all of it's history. He said "no I've played here before but just not with this lineup. Not with Luke." I then asked if there was anything else he was working on and he said "I'm working on a trio with the drummer from Gov"t Mule, Matt Abts called Planet of the Abts (P.O.A.). We did a record a couple of years ago and we're trying to follow up with the second one."
It had been a long time since I've spoken to Toss so I asked him about the gig among other things too. Toss told me "it's an honor to play with Steve. We've played before. I've played with Jorgen before. I've played with Babko many times as well. This is the first time we've played as a unit. We just ran it for the first time. We were full of adrenaline and nerves but I thought some music was made." I told him it was pretty unbelievable that was the FIRST time they've ever played together and they sounded that great! He said "that's it! We did our homework on our own. We played some heads at my house for rehearsal. The level of talent up there is great. I used to see Steve when I was a kid. I look over sometimes and say hey man. That's Lukey! And he's played with all the greats." I then asked him about what he's been up to lately. Toss said "I was out with Robi Darco Rosa. We did South America and the States. We won a Grammy for the Record. (Best Latin Pop Album "Vida") I have a band with my good friend Jimmy Mahlis. The Mahlis/Panos Project. I have a three drummer thing going with Curt Bisquera and Satnam Ramgotra."
I told him you have the reputation of playing with some of the greatest guitarists in the World. How about that? Toss said "Landau (Michael), Lukey, Larry Carlton, Sco (John Scofield), Robben Ford and Steve Vai. A lot of those except for Vai came from the Baked Potato." I told him 'you play with a ton of heart and feel.' He said "thanks man. That's ALL I've got!" I said you've got chops too! Toss added "a little bit. Little bit" I also asked him about playing the Baked Potato. He told me "It's historic! I was saying this on a Podcast about three weeks ago and I've said it before. It's harder playing here than it is the 20,000 seaters I was playing in December! That's easy compared to this! There's a lot more on the table here. The people are right there. They are right over you. But sometimes when you are on it's SPECTACULAR! Back in the day I had a Landau gig that we were recording a live record and I looked over and I see Vinnie (Colaiuta) in the back! And I'm like, ya, ok! It was all ok until I saw him! But then you get over it. You just have to forget about it. You can't be them You just have to do what you do." I said Thanks Toss you guys were great. Toss ended with "Thanks a lot! I think it's going to get better and better."
So it was a spectacular night. Despite Luke's and company's obstacles everything was great. Jorgen was a tight fit and you would have thought that he'd been playing here for years. It was also cool that the "new guy" was the one who was the driving force in making this whole thing happen.Toss kept a constant groove all night long. Babko knows exactly when to blend in and then blast off when needed! The crowd was much appreciative of the Show and were looking forward to this quartet making more magical music hopefully not too far down the road.