Micky, Michael, and the band continued rehearsals today at Videoranch, and you can listen to a run- through of "You Told Me" below. Don't forget to check out yesterday's piece in Rolling Stone about the upcoming tour along with more rehearsal footage (including "Auntie's Municipal Court"!).
By Andy Greene
From the earliest days of the Monkees, Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith had a special bond. Their harmony blend was a crucial part of the group's signature sound, and on the group's television show they shared impeccable comic timing and loved nothing more than to go off script and improv with one another. "We even had this odd idea about doing the Mike and Micky Show because we enjoyed playing together and singing together so much," says Nesmith. "We just never had the big money support for it because it was all about the Monkees, so we'd just set up on some of the set furniture and sing songs while the crew set up lights."
It has taken over 50 years, but their dream of the Mike and Micky Show is finally coming true in June when the "The Monkees Present: The Mike and Micky Show" kicks off a month-long run of dates in Chandler, Arizona. It's going to be a very different show than anything any incarnation of the Monkees has ever presented since there won't be screens displaying vintage clips of the group and they're dipping deep into the catalog to resurrect songs that have never been played live. "It's been a lot of work because Nez is quite the perfectionist," says Dolenz. "But it's so exciting to hear these songs done in their original context and harmonies. It's so great to recapture all these moments."
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the tour is that Nesmith agreed to it in the first place. Less than two years ago, he retired "Monkee Mike" after an emotional farewell show at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles. The group was in the middle of a huge 50th-anniversary tour, but Nez sat out nearly every date, leaving Dolenz and Peter Tork to carry the Monkee banner as a duo. But once those dates wrapped in December 2016, Tork told Dolenz that he wouldn't be available for any shows in the foreseeable future. "I realized if there was going to be any more Monkees music played live that Micky and I were going to have to do it," says Nesmith. "From the old Mike and Micky stuff I felt there may be some creative fun to be had here."
Rehearsals began at Nesmith's home in Carmel, California, a couple of months ago. At first, it was just the two of them and Nesmith's son Christian poring through the 12 Monkees studio albums, picking tunes they felt like singing and trying them out vocally without any band. "We did a version of [the 1967 Headquarters song] 'You Told Me,' the vocal part, that was really electrifying," says Nesmith. "I was like, 'Wow, this song does well under a little rock & roll power when you get away from the pop shampoo commercial stuff.'"
Special attention was paid to latter-day Monkees LPs The Birds, the Bees & the Monkees, Instant Replay and The Monkees Present. These came out after the peak of Monkee-mania and are packed with Nesmith originals he wrote while beginning to plant the seeds for his groundbreaking country rock group the First National Band. "One of the first songs we dusted off was 'St. Matthew' and 'Some of Shelly's Blues' [from the sessions for 1969's Instant Replay]," says Nesmith. "Mick asked if I wanted to sing 'Joanne' [a minor hit for the First National Band in 1970], but I felt it was way too much off into my own corner and not associated with the Monkees at all. But we are doing 'Different Drum' since that fell into the Monkee stew because Coco [Dolenz] started singing it in the live shows."
The show will also feature all of the band's biggest hits, including "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," "Daydream Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Stepping Stone." They call these the "can't cannot play" songs. "Those will always be about half to one third of any Monkees show," says Dolenz. "Nez likes some of the early Monkees hits more than others and I do too, but it goes without saying that we're doing all of them. I've learned over the years that once the audience knows they are getting those hits they will listen to just about anything else."
Once they had a working list of songs they wanted to do, Dolenz and Nesmith went into a rehearsal space with a band that includes Wayne Avers on guitar, Christian Nesmith on guitar and vocals, Alex Jules on keyboards, John Billings on bass, Rich Dart on drums, Coco Dolenz and Circe Link on background vocals, Pete Finney on pedal steel, and Paul Kramer on banjo, fiddle and guitar. The latter two will help them flesh out Nez's country rock tunes. "It's an astoundingly good band," says Nesmith. "This band and this iteration of the Monkees music is the best I've ever heard. It's the most fun to play, too."
They're going to rehearse all the way up to opening night on June 1st, and they have yet to settle on a final set list. "Good Clean Fun" from 1969's The Monkees Present is provisionally slated as the opening tune and "Me & Magdalena," "Circle Sky," "Porpoise Song" and "Birth of an Accidental Hipster" are near certainties. Dolenz is pushing very hard to get Nesmith to sign off on a version of the First National Band's "Grand Ennui" the ensemble has worked up. "I have been begging him to do that," says Dolenz. "Wait unit you hear it. It friggin' rocks!" Nez isn't quite convinced. "I told him it couldn't be any further from a Monkees thing, from subject matter to the way it's performed," he says. "When we started doing it, it jumped up to its full bright, sprightly self and we realized this would be a great song to sing. But so would, you know, the Beatles catalog and we have to stop at some point and say, 'This is a Monkees show.'"
One thing they aren't doing is any song originally performed by the late Davy Jones beyond "Daydream Believer." "Nobody can sing what David sang," says Nesmith. "He was so sweet and generous and the songs need this voice there when we play them. We made a decision to not do them."
Lingering over the whole tour is the absence of Peter Tork. The singer-guitarist successfully battled a rare form of oral cancer in 2009 and was an eager participant on every Monkees tour between 2011 and 2016, though he kept an extremely low profile in 2017. Earlier this year, he said he wasn't going to be involved in the tour because he was focused on his Lead Belly tribute LP Relax Your Mind. But the disc came out in January and he hasn't announced any tour plans behind it. "I've always had a certain distance from Peter," says Nesmith. "I don't really know what he's doing or what he's thinking."
Dolenz is slightly more willing to talk about the situation. "Last year when we talked about reconnecting he said, 'I'm not available,'" he says. "He told me a couple of years ago that he wanted to pursue his dream project, which is the Lead Belly album. He worked on it for a long time and he's going to tour with [his band] Shoe Suede Blues. My understanding was that Peter was just not available for this tour. That's his business and you'd have to ask him for more about it."
Tork's absence is a big reason Dolenz and Nesmith aren't touring as the Monkees, though when you ask them whether or not the band on the stage will be the Monkees you get a very long and philosophical answers about what the group was in the first place. "The Monkees is a television show," says Nesmith. "It was a group we played on television. Once it steps outside that show, people have to nourish it and make it something on their own. When you play the songs in your car or in headphones at your office it starts to integrate itself into your life like a real band. But that doesn't mean the television show is coming to life. You, however, might see it as a band. There's a real bifurcation in the way it exists in my mind. In some ways, it's a creative extension of the job I get called up to do every once in a while and really enjoy."
Dolenz looks at it from a bit of a different angle. "There's no short answer to this," he says. "It's like saying, 'What is Star Trek?' How many casts have been in Star Trek? But it's all Star Trek. You can't reduce these things in any scientific sense. We've never controlled the brand name and we have to pay [Rhino] every time we tour and use it, which we're happy to do."
Whatever you call the band, they have no plans beyond the end of the tour in Red Bank, New Jersey, on June 25th. Michael Nesmith already has a First National Band tour booked that will take him to the southern United States and up the East Coast in the fall. Dolenz is booking solo shows and is in talks with producers about returning to the stage on Broadway or the West End of London. But they both say they are very open to resuming the Mike and Micky Show at some point in the future when their schedules permit. "You just don't say no to anything right now," says Nesmith. "Who knows what's going to happen?
The Monkees Tour Facebook page posted videos of Micky, Michael, and the band rehearsing "Sunny Girlfriend," "Auntie's Municipal Court" (!), and "Different Drum" today at Videoranch:
Andrew Sandoval shared a photo from today's rehearsals on Instagram:
And courtesy of Videoranch on Facebook, here's a look at Michael's guitars at rehearsals:
Wayne Avers speaks to The Monkees Live Almanac about "The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show" and the touring band
On June 1, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz will begin their first tour as a duo at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, Arizona. Entitled "The Monkees Present: The Mike Nesmith & Micky Dolenz Show," fans have already been promised a set list full of surprises and deep cuts, and the 17-date tour is likely to be one of the most unique in the live performance history of The Monkees.
Longtime Monkees guitarist and musical director Wayne Avers recently spoke with the Live Almanac about the upcoming concerts. "The Nez and Micky combination gives us a chance to play some songs that have never been played live by The Monkees before," Wayne said. "It's also the 50th anniversary of the movie Head, so we will highlight some of the songs from its soundtrack. And of course, besides all of the new selections added to the set list, we will play all of the classic Monkees hits everyone loves to hear."
Wayne also revealed the musicians that will constitute the backing band, and the lineup includes both familiar and fresh faces. "We have added steel guitarist Pete Finney (from Nez’s First National Band) and Paul Kramer from Nashville on fiddle/banjo/guitar so we can replicate the more country-influenced songs of The Monkees more accurately."
Wayne Avers / Guitars & Vocals
Wayne Avers is no stranger to Monkees fans. He has been a part of The Monkees' family since the group's 30th Anniversary Tour in 1996, acting as musical director and handling lead guitar duties. Wayne has performed onstage with all four Monkees at Wembley in 1997, appeared twice on The Tonight Show with the group, and took part in The Monkees' massive 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2016. Residing in Nashville, Wayne is an ardent collector of guitars. "I play the guitar because I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964," he told the Live Almanac in April 2017.
Christian Nesmith / Guitars & Vocals
Christian is Michael's eldest son and first joined The Monkees' touring band upon his father's return to the group in 2012. His songs have been heard in both film and TV (Blades of Glory, The Hills Have Eyes, Lionheart) and he has composed commercials for companies ranging from AOL to ESPN to Starbucks. His theater credits include being the musical director for the first ever production of Hair in Moscow, Russia. Christian was also musical director for Hair in Los Angeles in 2007 (which also featured Circe Link), and that production was awarded Best Musical of the Year by LA Weekly. In 2016, Christian contributed greatly to the arrangement of "Birth of an Accidental Hipster," a key track from The Monkees' album Good Times!
John Billings / Bass
John Billings was introduced to the Monkees family by Wayne Avers. "Wayne had been in the Monkees circle for nearly 20 years and had, at that time, run Micky Dolenz's band. The bass chair opened and Wayne brought me into the fold," John told Epiphone.com. John resides in Nashville, where he owns a recording studio. When performing with The Monkees live in concert, John received some good advice from Avers on how to approach the songs. "Wayne gave us a fundamental direction," John said. "Go back to the records."
Rich Dart / Drums
Rich Dart began his association with The Monkees in 2010 when he started playing drums for Micky Dolenz during his solo performances. He joined The Monkees' backing band in 2012 when Micky, Michael, and Peter Tork delivered a series of concerts in honor of Davy Jones. Rich has had an eclectic career as a free-lance percussionist. He has played with various symphonies, jazz groups, theater troupes, rock bands, country bands, and percussion ensembles. Rich also played drums for Avenue Q on Broadway and for its first national tour, and traveled with a production of Pippin.
Pete Finney / Pedal Steel Guitar
Paul Kramer / Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar
Paul Kramer is a Nashville-based multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter, and this Nesmith/Dolenz tour will mark his first association with The Monkees. Paul has toured with nationally known recording acts including Gary Allan, Travis Tritt, Pam Tillis, Suzy Bogguss, and the Special Consensus Bluegrass Band. His fiddle and mandolin stylings have graced the recordings of Lionel Cartwright, Suzy Bogguss, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson, Buddy Spicher & Vassar Clements, and Carolyn Martin. He has released three CDs: Swing Street, The Bloggrass Boys and Low Budget Christmas. He currently performs with several bands including Paul Kramer & Swing Street, 50 Shades of Hay, The Grassaholics, Nashville Fiddle Mafia, and on the General Jackson showboat. (Biography courtesy of 50shadesofhayband.com)
Alex Jules / Keyboards & Vocals
Alex Jules is new to the band (replacing longtime Monkees keyboardist Dave Alexander) and is a New York born and raised rock and roll singer/songwriter now based in Los Angeles. You can sample some of Alex's work on SoundCloud.
Coco Dolenz / Vocals
Micky's sister, Coco, has a long history with The Monkees. She provided harmony and background vocals on such Monkees tracks as "Shortly Blackwell," "Little Girl," "Midnight Train," and "Mommy and Daddy." She wrote for teen magazines in the 1960s at the height of her brother's fame, and in the late 1970s, she toured with Micky and Davy after the dissolution of Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. In 1987, Coco released her own album, One Voice. She has been touring with The Monkees since 2012. You can also hear Coco at Micky's solo shows, where she often duets with her brother on "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Crying in the Rain" while taking over on lead vocals for Michael Nesmith's own "Different Drum."
Circe Link / Vocals
Circe Link joined The Monkees' band for the first time in 2014, performing backing vocals with Coco Dolenz, and more recently performed with Michael Nesmith's First National Band Redux. A singer, songwriter, and musician in her own right, Circe has previously described her music as ranging from "Cowboy Jazz to Alternative to Americana." She has recorded several albums, including a live CD from a successful tour of Japan. Circe writes, records, and performs with her companion, Christian Nesmith.
Be sure to get your tickets to see Micky, Nez, and the band this June. And stay tuned to The Monkees Live Almanac for more updates soon!
UPDATE 3/9/2019: When "The Mike & Micky Show" returned to the road in March 2019, Paul Kramer was no longer featured in the lineup. Probyn Gregory is the newest member of the touring band and plays guitar, banjo, and trumpet. You can read more about Probyn in this March 2019 post from the Live Almanac's blog.
Rich Dart began his association with The Monkees in 2010 when he started playing drums for Micky Dolenz during his solo performances. He joined The Monkees' backing band in 2012 when Micky, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork delivered a series of concerts in honor of Davy Jones.
Rich earned a Bachelors of Music degree from Keene State College in New Hampshire. Since then, he's had an eclectic career as a free-lance percussionist. Rich has played with various symphonies, jazz groups, theater troupes, rock bands, country bands, and percussion ensembles. He also played drums for Avenue Q on Broadway and for its first national tour, and traveled with a production of Pippin.
Rich is one of the founding members of the rockabilly band Creamed Corn and he also performs with The Illegitimate Sons of Keith Partridge.
Congratulations to Rich, who made the announcement of his association with Sabian earlier today on Facebook:
Earlier today on Facebook, Circe Link seemingly confirmed that both she and Christian Nesmith will be a part of the Nesmith/Dolenz concerts this June:
Circe Link joined The Monkees' backing band for the first time during the 2014 spring tour, performing backing vocals with Coco Dolenz, and more recently with Michael Nesmith's First National Band Redux.
A singer, songwriter, and musician in her own right, Circe has previously described her music as ranging from "Cowboy Jazz to Alternative to Americana." She has recorded several albums, including a live CD from a successful tour of Japan.
Circe writes, records, and performs with her companion, Christian Nesmith. "I think putting together a collection of songs is like curating an art show," Circe told Riveting Riffs. "I was a painter for a long time, so I think about things visually. We don't sit on anything around here for a couple of years. If it is hot, it’s hot and we are working on it and we get it out the door. I think that is one of the reasons we are productive."
Circe's most recent album, Enchanted Objects and Ordinary Things, is available on compact disc and as a digital download.
Christian Nesmith is Michael's eldest son and was often seen in photographs in 1960s teen magazines posing with his dad and mom, Phyllis. He joined The Monkees' backing band upon his father's return to the group in 2012.
Christian has a long list of musical accomplishments. His songs have been heard in both film and TV (Blades of Glory, The Hills Have Eyes, Lionheart) and he has composed commercials for companies ranging from AOL to ESPN to Starbucks. His theater credits include being the musical director for the first ever production of Hair in Moscow, Russia. Christian was also musical director for Hair in Los Angeles in 2007 (which also featured Circe Link), and that production was awarded Best Musical of the Year by LA Weekly. In 2016, Christian contributed greatly to the arrangement of "Birth of an Accidental Hipster," a key track from The Monkees' album Good Times!
Christian's latest work, The Other Side, is available on compact disc and as a digital download.
Wayne Avers is no stranger to Monkees fans. He has been a part of The Monkees' family since the group's 30th Anniversary in 1996, acting as musical director and handling lead guitar duties. Wayne has performed onstage with all four Monkees at Wembley in 1997, appeared twice on The Tonight Show with the group, and took part in The Monkees' massive 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2016. He recently spoke with The Monkees Live Almanac about his guitar collection, career highlights, and more.
Wayne first entered the orbit of The Monkees in the early 1990s when he joined Breakaway, the group that supported Davy Jones in his solo performances during that period. "In 1991 I was asked by Jerry Renino (Davy's bandleader) to fill in for a weekend for their guitar player, Rory Gordon," Wayne told the Live Almanac. "David asked me to join the band right after the first show. So we had both Rory and me for a few years, and then Rory went on to other things and I stayed." Wayne continued to be a part of Davy's touring band in the '90s and backed both Davy and Micky Dolenz on their joint 1994/1995 Together Again tour. Ever since then, he's been a constant presence in The Monkees' live concert performances. Today Wayne continues to serve as musical director and lead guitarist for Micky's band.
Residing in Nashville, Wayne is an ardent collector of guitars. "I play the guitar because I saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964," Wayne shared. A standout guitar in his collection happens to be a Monkees Gretsch model. The Monkees have a long history with Gretsch. The company provided guitars, basses, and drums for The Monkees in the 1960s, and a Monkees model Gretsch guitar was available on the market from 1966 until 1968. Today, the Gretsch Monkees Signature Guitar is a highly sought after collectible that has been known to sell for thousands of dollars through online retailers like eBay. "I own one and play it on tour, and have done a lot of research on these guitars - I'm a guitar collector geek!," Wayne enthused.
"This is a photo of me in Toronto on the 2016 Monkees tour. It's a 1967 Gretsch Monkees model, also known as the 6123 model. They originally all came in red, but this one was refinished in black 30-40 years ago before I got it on eBay in 2014. I played it nightly on the 2016 tour."
Here's another photo of Wayne playing his refinished Monkees Gretsch guitar:
"The next picture is me with Micky's personal Monkees Gretsch model, also a 1967. Micky owns 2 Monkees models. He was given one by a fan in 2014 and that's the one I played on the 2014 tour. He has another one that he got from a collector a few years ago. None of the other Monkees own any [Gretsch Monkees guitars], but Davy's family still owns the small bass guitar that Gretsch made for him."
Wayne mentioned other famous musicians who count a Monkees Gretsch guitar as part of their own collections.
"Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick owns a Gretsch Monkees model, and so does Bono from U2. When I lived in New York City in 2001, Bono bought it from 30th Street Guitars. My friend Matt Brewster owns the store and they shipped it to him in Ireland. In 2002 when The Monkees played in Dublin, Bono's guitar tech brought it for Davy and Micky to autograph. He's a big fan."
You can see Rick Nielsen's Monkees Gretsch in the video below:
Wayne also revealed to the Live Almanac another Monkees-related guitar that's in his collection, one that he carefully customized himself. "After the Monkees Gretsch guitars were discontinued, they used the Monkees guitar bodies and electronics, changed the finish, and renamed it the Streamliner. I own a 1969 Gretsch Streamliner guitar in cherry red. And I had a Monkees pickguard and truss rod cover made for it, and added a bigsby."
I took a moment to ask Wayne about his personal highlights of working with The Monkees for the last 20+ years. "Too many to remember!," he exclaimed. "But playing on The Tonight Show twice [in 1996 and 2001] was a real highlight, and I've had the opportunity to tour the world: the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and twice visiting Japan with Davy Jones. And getting to play at the Cavern Club in England with Micky last summer at the International Beatle Fest was also a highlight!," Wayne said. "And all the friends I have made through this experience. I'm great friends with mostly everyone that has been in the band and crew over the years, as well as many of the fans. It's a dream job."
As for what's next, Wayne will once again be on the road while also releasing new music with the Wayne Avers Group. "I'll be doing the "50 Summers of Love" tour this year with Micky Dolenz and Mark Lindsay, and the Fab Four as our band. My own band in Nashville will soon release our new CD as well." Wayne will also be playing with Micky and fellow Monkees touring musicians Rich Dart, John Billings, Dave Alexander, and Coco Dolenz in Micky's solo shows throughout 2017.
Fans will also get to hear the Wayne Avers Group performing "For Pete's Sake" on an upcoming Monkees tribute album from 7a Records, with all proceeds benefiting the Davy Jones Equine Memorial Foundation. "I was taking my band into the studio to record a new CD, and at the same time 7a Records asked if I'd like to contribute a song. Since I am a sponsor of one of Davy's horses, I was happy to participate." Wayne also spoke about his admiration for Peter Tork's most famous work. "I always thought 'For Pete's Sake' was a great song. I love the guitar part, and have been playing it for over 20 years with The Monkees. So, I rearranged it as an instrumental Latin Jazz song. The original version is perfect, so rather than copy it, I did my own version, and we think it came out great."
I'd like to say thank you to Wayne for taking the time to speak with The Monkees Live Almanac. And be sure to stay tuned for more information about the upcoming album by the Wayne Avers Group!
UPDATE: The new album from The Wayne Avers Group is now available on CD.
Here's Davy in his element at a stop on the 2001 tour with longtime touring bassist, the late Jerry Renino, and saxophonist Sam Albright.
Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones (along with Micky's sister, Coco) performed a series of shows at New York City's Riverboat Cafe (in the Empire State Building) in 1977. Here's a photo from their April 17, 1977 concert, courtesy of Judith Supple Hadlock.
Sandra Schock recently shared some of her Monkees artwork with the Live Almanac. Here's a great sketch of Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork with their touring band. For more of Sandra's artwork, be sure to visit her on Facebook and Twitter.
The Live Almanac would like to extend a warm thank you to Micky, Peter, and Michael Nesmith for all of the fun and excitement they brought to the road this year. I'd also like to recognize Andrew Sandoval, who produced the tour, along with the entire staff and crew that worked behind the scenes. Andrew was also kind enough to share photos of set lists from numerous shows on the tour with the Live Almanac, and that was much appreciated. If only Davy Jones had been around for it all.
With that being said, the 50th Anniversary concerts wouldn't have been the success they were without The Monkees' touring band: Wayne Avers (guitar/musical director), John Billings (bass), Rich Dart (drums), Dave Alexander (keyboards), and Coco Dolenz (vocals/percussion). Everyone involved with the tour should take a bow!
In the meantime, I'm going to begin work on my essay for the 50th Anniversary Tour page here on the Live Almanac, along with creating a page dedicated exclusively to Michael Nesmith's final concert with The Monkees at the Pantages Theatre this past September.
I would also like to take a minute to thank everyone for their constant support of this website and blog. I have been overwhelmed by your kind email notes and well-wishes. I continue to be astonished by the traffic flow the site receives!! I was also honored that The Monkees Live Almanac was mentioned this year in online articles published by industry websites like Billboard and others, and author Peter Mills gave a shout-out to the Live Almanac in his newly published book, The Monkees, Head, and the 60s (which I highly recommend):
John Wilson, Alan Adkins, Jim Catapano, Fred Velez, Patrick Zappi, Daniel Eckert, Mark James Melhi, Amy Collen, and Brian Marchese also deserve recognition. In honor of The Monkees' 50th Anniversary, they composed essays for the Live Almanac (and in Brian's instance produced a podcast) celebrating the group's history and impact, and their work has greatly enhanced this website.
Finally, a hearty thank you to John Hughes, Andrew Sandoval, Dan Wingate, and everyone at Rhino Records, who provided Monkees fans with two monumental releases this year. Good Times!, The Monkees' first studio album since 1996's Justus, shot to the upper echelons of the charts and captured the spirit of the group's '60s recordings, due in large part to Adam Schlesinger, who produced the LP. Rhino's Blu-ray set, which featured all of the Monkees episodes, Head, and 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee restored from their original prints (along with a bevy of bonus features), allowed The Monkees' legacy on film to jump into the 21st century.
Now, stay tuned to The Monkees Live Almanac in 2017 for all it will bring to Monkees fans!
Rich Dart has been the drummer in The Monkees' backing band since 2012, and he also supports Micky Dolenz during his solo performances. Today on Facebook, Rich reflected on The Monkees' 50th Anniversary Tour and how being associated with the Monkees organization has impacted the last decade of his life:
Tonight is the last show of The Monkees' 50th Anniversary Tour and quite possibly the final Monkees show ever. It's been a long and amazing year. Who would have thought that ten years ago when I accepted a gig at the Goodspeed Opera House to play a production of Pippin that it would have led to this today?! I have been blessed to not only work with but become a close knit family with the great band of hard working musicians (Wayne Avers, David Alexander, John Billings and Gemma Dolenz). I have gained new friendships with a phenomenal crew whom without there would be no show (Tim Iseler, Chip Auchincloss, Austin Becker and Sabrina Rush - along the way Martin Garneret, Francis Sapienza, Guy T. Koepp, Noamme Elisha, and Dave Butterworth). We were fortunate to have some great musicians from our extended Monkees family join us at times (Vrandel Brescia, David Robicheau and Felipe Torres and of course Michael Nesmith) as well as getting to play with some amazing guest musicians from all walks of the industry and I have gotten to meet many people who I have been a fan of since my childhood. I have met numerous fans who have shown so much appreciation for the shows that I felt so blessed to bring joy to others the way this music has brought joy to me over the years. I want to extend a big thanks to all of these people but especially to the man who put it together, our manager and producer, Andrew Sandoval. Not only is is he a great person and a good friend but he is the only person I have met that knows more about the Monkees than I do and for those that grew up with me, you know that's pretty big in my book! LOL.
It has been one heck of a ride and tonight we head to Gold Coast, Australia for what will be a happy occasion as we once again give it our all to perform this amazing catalogue of music but also a sad one as it brings a gigantic chapter of my life to close. I cannot thank Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork enough for this incredible opportunity.
I return home on Saturday night to business as usual with a pop in at the Creamed Corn gig Saturday night (I know - I'm nuts) and a Greg Piccolo gig on Monday night. But tonight, I get to back the Monkees one more time.
Happy belated birthday to Monkees touring bassist John Billings, who celebrated the big 5-0 this past Friday in Los Angeles before The Monkees took the stage at the Pantages Theatre. Video is courtesy of his fellow band member, Dave Alexander.
Christian Nesmith posted this picture on his Facebook page just now showing Micky, Michael, and the band in rehearsals for this week's upcoming concerts in Tuscon and Phoenix, Arizona, and Friday night's big homecoming show in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre.