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The Blog

Great Gig in the Ska-ee

On a rainy day in Oklahoma, I drove across the state to Oklahoma City. with a little stop in Tulsa first. Rt. 66 goes pretty much straight through, so I checked out one of the old halls, Cain’s Ballroom. It looked like a castle on the outside, with one of those great neon signs from the 60′s. On the way to OKC, clouds took over the sky, and my car got a much needed washing.

There’s a website I’ve used a little bit in the past few years called couchsurfing.com that connects travelers like me with locals who have some couch space or a spare room and are adventurous people interested in meeting people from around the world. When I lived in LA, I hosted a few people and developed some wonderful friendships, especially with a Frenchmen named Timothe. As the best way to learn the local culture is through the local people, I thought this would be a great thing to do, as it was my first time in Oklahoma. Two separate people said they could host me, Devon and Eugene. I ended up staying with Devon and his girlfriend Barbara for three days, and they were so generous they even let the guys in the LA Duo stay as well. I unfortunately didn’t get to spend that much time with them because surprisingly, I had a lot to do in OKC. Eugene, the other couchsurfer host, happened to also be a pilot, and he offered to go flying while I was there. What an amazing offer. So, he picked me up and we took his 1966 Cessna for a flight around Oklahoma and OKC. Let me tell you, it’s just about as flat as Illinois…

Eugene post preflight inspection

Eugene post preflight inspection

Trains and flat land. Yum.

Trains and flat land. Yum.

Eugene had an old friend who sometimes worked outside on planes at a very tiny grass runway airfield outside of town, so as we circled around he showed me some cool techniques to lose altitude quickly, as we needed to be close to the ground to do a low pass flyover. Basically like Maverick in Top Gun. At the end of the runway, he pulled up abruptly and pulled g’s, and the ground faded quickly with my stomach still down there. When we came back to the airport after a surprisingly relaxing adventure, Eugene of course had to practice a short landing, which meant the plane kind of plopped down and stopped within a couple hundred feet. The other mile of the runway was of course unnecessary. After flying, Eugene took me to the town of Norman, a quaint little place, where I did an impromptu concert outside for a German Brewhouse. I’ll have to come back for the Norman Music Fest.

I don't know what this expression is...

I don’t know what this expression is…

The next couple of days I got to play at the National Cowboy Museum and I serenaded the only two Italian restaurants in Oklahoma…Chris, the owner of The Vine, had a great operation. She was only open 6pm-8pm four days a week, and she made a little flyer that encouraged patrons to tip the musician or buy a CD. All restaurateurs should be like that!

Serenading lovers of all things Cowboy at the National Cowboy Museum

Serenading lovers of all things Cowboy at the National Cowboy Museum

Next post about Albuquerque!

Welcome to Miam-ah

After getting back on the road Tuesday, I was ready to see the Ozarks in Missouri. The plan was to stop in to a few places and try out a couple “guerrilla” concerts. Most exciting to me was Jesse James’ hideout the Meramec Caverns. I got off the highway, passed a desolate wax museum, and drove a few miles into the hills. As I pulled up to the Caverns, I noticed a Disneyland-like commercialism to the place. They set up a zipline that went across the river, and the gift shop was humongous! Well, the cavern would’ve been a great place to set up. It was cool, quiet, and tons of people were there. After talking to the info people, who were excited about the idea, the manager nixed the idea. People are scared of the unusual…

Jesse James'  Disneyland hideout

Jesse James’ Disneyland hideout


I then tried Springfield, MO out, but I couldn’t really find a good place to set up. It was mostly strip malls. Where are the public squares??? So, I cut my losses and headed to Oklahoma.

After a much needed rest, I headed to the Coleman Theater on Wednesday. This place was incredible. I set up from 10-4 and played mini-sets for guests as they got tours. Everyone who came in was European. I had a good time trying to play pieces from each of their countries. Darcie, the manager there, was a peach. She was really supportive of the tour idea, and seemed to be taking the Theater’s programming in a great direction. Thanks Darcie!

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One of the great things about this tour is how we can set shows up while on the road. It is really addicting, and it makes me realize this type of trip could be really extended indefinitely. While driving, I set up shows for Alburquerque, LA, and San Luis Obispo. Thank god for a smartphone…

Look out for the next post about the Italian restaurant circuit and the National Cowboy Museum in OKC. Also-check out my duo’s facebook page for new recordings and LIKE it! www.facebook.com/duosogno

Selfie in the car

Selfie in the car

All Chi’d up in St. Louis

After a late Sunday night concert, I definitely thought I was going to be exhausted Monday for the drive across Illinois. Turns out, getting out on the road and pumping up some Led Zeppelin 3 (favorite song “That’s the Way”) got the adrenaline pumping up more than sufficiently.

I ended up driving quickly through the state, because I left later than planned and the concert in St. Louis was at 5:30. I always like to get to a concert a couple house ahead of time. That way, I can warm up the fingers, get a nap or some meditation in, and generally clear the mind of the day’s stresses. The boys in the LA Duo call this “Chi-ing up.” Also, I can feel the room and how it responds to my sound.IMG_20140728_150133

Having covered most of the state, I stopped in Litchfield to check out a place called Ariston’s Cafe. This was recommended as a great place to stop in and play by Bruce Forman, the founder and inspiration for the tour. Ariston’s was closed, so I went next door to Jubelt’s Bakery. After unsuccessfully communicating with the manager, who kept making employees run back and forth to her office before telling me her message, she finally came out and told me it was probably not an appropriate place to have a concert and they don’t want solicitors. Eventually, she said if I didn’t ask for tips, I could stay. I was honestly a little confused and irritated by the fact that she was so hesitant for some free entertainment! I guess hypothetically if I was terrible, I might drive customers away, but come on…Anyway, I played for the folk’s there and people clapped and everything. I even got the cashier to dance a little! Just goes to show you how a little persistence pays off.


Outside Jubelt's


I then drove to St. Louis and played at the Tavern of Fine Arts. This is an excellent venue for guitarists. It sounds great, I was surrounded by beautiful paintings, and they serve incredible food to the patrons quietly while they are listening. Rifftime recorded the show and you can watch it hereAnd you can tip! I was happy to meet Bill Ash, from the St. Louis Guitar Society, who interviewed me afterword for his radio program. I’m going to be broadcast in St. Louis soon! Also, I met a woman named Lucille Cimo. What are the odds?

The night wasn’t over. Ben Birkenmaier, who graciously hosted me and the LA Duo, took me out to another couple venues for open mic night on the other side of town. Atomic Cowboy was a great bar with an awesome crowd and they loved the music. Ben and the guys played a set too! Then we went to Gramophone, which had a hip-hop group, a Michael Jackson doppelganger, and a bass+drum/vocals rock band. I closed out the night with my “shredder” set, including the lightning fast Villa-Lobos Etude no. 2. My Chi never felt better…

Beccoming an Atomic Cowboy in St. Louis

Beccoming an Atomic Cowboy in St. Louis

Shredder set to close at Gramophone

Shredder set to close at Gramophone

St. Louis, I can’t wait to come back.

First Blog. Ever!

As I embark on my first solo tour, I’m excited to start my first blog as well!

On Sunday, my parents hosted what seems to be becoming an annual Jack Cimo/LA Duo House Concert. I couldn’t have been happier with this kickoff to my two and a half week tour along Route 66. Not only were there a ton of people there, but my mom made some delicious food for preconcert and intermission. Those coconut macaroons went quick… In the audience there were guests from Switzerland, Hong Kong, and Michigan. Talking with the guy from Hong Kong inspired me to start thinking about doing an Asia tour someday. Apparently classical guitar is somewhat of a rarity over there.

Anyway, the concert was really a success, and I couldn’t have been more grateful for the folks’ generosity at the door. They donated more than enough for me to get to my next stop, St. Louis. Also, my friend Kathryn Coughlin actually went home and came back with the coolest piece of tour gear ever. It’s an old camera case that was her grandfather’s, and she gave it to me to use for CDs and tips. So excited about that!

On to the open road…

LA Duo rockin' the house

LA Duo rockin’ the house


First blog post from the tour! Just testing things out….