St. Thomas, Virgin Islands – Welcome to paradise, playmates, and stubborn goats that won’t share the road.
People are always asking me what is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to, and I always have such a hard time deciding. I often end up saying home, San Diego. Which of course translated means a whale’s vagina, not to be confused with a dork, which is a whale’s penis. That’s what I thought until I came here, St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Check out this astonishing view of the beach, from my hotel room balcony.
We arrived at night and couldn’t see the surroundings until sunrise. I knew it would be amazing from the leaflets at the airport, but I had no idea it would be so breathtaking. I could barely sleep and eventually woke up even though the sun wasn’t out, just to get ready for a swim at the beach as soon as the sun rose. The warm water was great, but it was a bit rocky. Here’s the beach just after my swim, and another awesome view from my hotel room.
CLICK HERE TO SEE A VIDEO OF ME AFTER A SWIM IN THE CARIBBEAN SEA
After heading back to my room for a shower, I found these kitty cats. For some reason this resort had dozens of mildly domesticated felines living there on the grounds. The hotel was feeding them and there were cat toys all around. Stray dogs are totally common around the world, but it was nice to see such an abundance of pussies, cats gutter-brain!
Just before leaving for work, I ran over to the restaurant to capture a photo of the sunrise on the other side of the cove, where you could actually see the sun. Another breathtaking site. It looks like the best spot on the island to catch some surf too, never ending lefts and rights.
Even though there were major power problems on stage before the band arrived, we managed to fix all the electrical issues, set up the backline, and still had time to run down to the beach nearby to take more pictures. I ended up collecting handfuls of seashells, and sat here for about a half-hour enjoying the amazing colors in the water and the white sandy beaches, while watching the pelicans dive into the bay after fish.
(Ryan Huddleston Guitar Solo Live! Francisco Tarrega – Lagrima)
Here’s two of my favorite shots of the numerous critters I captured with my camera during sound check. It was a rare day that I wasn’t glued to the gear and computers. As the band rehearsed, I just wondered all over the venue, constantly chasing chasms of creepy crawly creatures.
After sound check, I hurried down to the same nearby beach to capture the sunset at the very last moment, with its amazing colors in the sky. Words cannot express the beauty, but these pictures come pretty close.
The humidity didn’t really hit me until around show time. As it got darker on that side of the island, the wetness became unbearable. Then when all the lights went to full capacity for the show, the bugs decided to join us.
This totally reminded me of when I was doing tech rehearsals and preproduction with Kelly Clarkson in Florida, which is not too far from St. Thomas. One night there were so many bugs onstage, and she caught the biggest one in the sky, right in her mouth. She totally flipped out and after spitting it out, she ended the rehearsal on the spot. Which was great, cause it was a long tech day and we all wanted to be at the hotel anyway. That was so comedic to see her dancing around with a giant bug in her mouth. We pretty much all experienced the same thing, but she definitely got it the worst. Here’s a picture of me back in those days on the breakout tour in 2006. This was me next to Cory Churko’s rig. He is one of the most amazingly talented musicians I’ve ever met or worked with, and possibly the nicest human on earth. I really miss working with him because he was so cool and inspiring. Just maybe I’ll see and work with him again next time Shania Twain goes back on the road. My fingers are crossed. Cory also had one of the coolest rigs I’ve ever had my hands on. You can see the violin and numerous guitars, that all fed through wirelessly into the Line-6 preamp, that had MIDI control coming from Pro Tools. The audio ran through Pro Tools, as well as his live, real time effects. His keyboard, percussion, and vocal mics all ran through the mic preamp, and then into Pro Tools, to be treated before summing and splitting to monitors and front of house. The Orange amplifier sounded awesome with the Gibson crushing through it. This was possibly the most integrated MIDI and audio setup I’ve ever seen. It was a great experience to help design, build, program, and operate.
Lucky for us the bugs in St. Thomas preferred lights over mouths, and I made it through the show with no dessert. It was a mad dash to get out of the venue and catch the wild safari jeep ride back to the hotel. I felt like Indiana Jones as we raced up the mountain in the open roofed ride, along the Cliffside, and wrong side of the road. All because the goats were too scared to walk the outside lane.
Ending a very long day in St. Thomas wrecked from the excursion, I went straight to sleep in my shoes. Some of the others however, decided to have a few drinks, even though we were only given about three hours to rest before we had to leave for the airport. Upon departing, some of the people in the entourage were literally falling asleep on the ground, on their suitcases, in the vehicles, in the lobby of the resort, at the airport terminal, and even at the restaurant where we had breakfast sandwiches. The good news is they told me no one even noticed the egg and cheese stuck to my face after my nap.
As we were leaving a huge hype went down because a playboy playmate was on the same flight as us. So we all had to go get a good look at that of course. She was stunning, even with those pesky clothes on. The flight out would have been amazing, if I wasn’t so tired. Almost everybody lost something or forgot something on that trip; cell phones, iPods, chargers, water treatment kits, bathing suits, and more.
Sometimes I forget how amazing my job is and the fact that I get paid to travel to places like this, all in the name of great music. There was so much natural beauty all around. I took like 800 pictures that day, of everything I could find, even the birds and bees. I had lots of extra time, cause I think I worked faster than ever before in my life. It was an amazing day, and I look forward to going back to the Virgin Islands someday soon.
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