the official website for guitarist Jason Martin

Coast to Coast U.S. Tour with Voyage Air Guitar

First of all… Happy New Year 2011!

I just got back to California after a nine day tour across the country that would not have been have as enjoyable had it not been for my new Voyage Air Guitar.

For those that haven’t heard about this guitar I simply cannot say enough good things about it. The story goes back to last April when I recieved a royalty check from MTV/ASCAP for some airplay time I wasn’t aware occured. The song, you can find on my website or buy on Music Online Alive (as featured on Myspace) “Follow the Revolution” was at the time the only song I had registered with ASCAP and only 2 copies of the song had been made… I gave one to John-5, and the other to my friend April. In other words, I still to this day have no idea how or why I got paid. Long story short, I decided to step into the industry a bit further and head up to the ASCAP EXPO 2010 in LA to see if any of these experts in my field could answer this for me. After a few days of meeting everyone, tossin’ back drinks, and taking a book of notes (which I do plan to share eventually), I still had no other answer besides “You’re lucky man, most people have the opposite problem.” The end of the second day there was an announcement to enter to win a prize as you left that was supposed to be won at the start of the third day. Well, after taking advantage of the open bar and buyin’ drinks all night at the after party… let’s just say I didn’t quite make it to the opening ceremonies on day three. Fortunately enough they would save this segment until the end of the day, and after all was said and done people started checkin’ ticket numbers as prizes got called. I watched everyone go get their awarded prize, and with one thought that got me through the next numbers they called, I said the numbers in my head as they were spoke and what do ya know… “I did it”. Still no idea however what was to come, I stepped up to the stage looking around for any prizes left over and saw nothing. Once again, jokes on me I figured… except it wasn’t. I had just one the Grand Prize! A brand new Voyage Air Guitar fully loaded with travel pack and laptop attachment. Ironically, my friend Casey Desmond had just taken a picture with the guitar while schmoozing with Barney Leeson a few minutes earlier. I got the lowdown as the crowd gave a lotta thumbs up and smiles, then spoke with Virginia Cannon about some A&R stuff for Voyage Air and took a few pictures that are on a blog of mine from the event last year.

Alright, so what does this have to do with my tour? Everything. The guitar has been one of my primary instuments for all of my acoustic travel sessions this last year. The reason is not only due to the superior sound and quality of the instrument, but it folds in half! It’s so much nicer than strapping a guitar on your back and knocking your head into the guitar neck each step and the laptop compartment is f’n priceless! I could fit a laptop, books, or an extra set of clothes in the compartment and I am virtually set anywhere I go. So when it came time to go on tour there was no question which guitar was coming on the road with me. I was about to tour from San Diego, CA to New York with nothing but a backpack and my new VA guitar.

The trip itself was amazing, I cannot put into words how beautiful our country is. The timing of the trip could not have been planned any better as well. San Diego was about to flood the moment I left town and the big black cloud could be seen above the mountains as I entered El Centro. I meaning “we”. as I was traveling with my lovely friend Jen of which I would be sharing the road with day and night. The first state past was Arizona and man I would love to have a place there. Billboards had houses going for $85,000 meaning I could probably afford an ATV upon the move. One of the first things I saw in AZ was a ton of these ATV’s zoomin’ around the mountains of sand lookin’ like something that might happen on a regular basis. The next state over and more toward the end of my first day driving I had made it all the way to New Mexico, my old stomping grounds before I made it to San Diego a decade ago. I met up with a writer friend of mine named Mike Smith that ironically shared two of the same jobs I had in my hometown up in Alaska from back when I was a teenager. I went to my favorite New Mexican restaurant called Los Quates that I remember had the best red and green sauce I’ve ever had and the salsa tasted exactly the same.

Leaving New Mexico I saw something I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Snow. Although it wasn’t much, it was almost mind boggling that this stuff still existed, and it was only a 12hr drive away. Back down the mountains a bit it and on to Texas it shifted back into summertime and I got my first taste of American culture I had no idea would become a staple state to state…cows. At first I was takin’ pictures of every single one of these things… by say VA and PA I had seen enough of the species to probably never take a picture of a cow again. Texas soon grew cold as we stopped into the city for gas. I imagine it was right around 40 degrees or so. That night would be the coldest night I’d felt in ages as we stopped in Oklahoma City, of which after a few beers in Bricktown I would be calling Oakland on more than a couple occasions. Bricktown was gorgeous and although the table dancers at Coyote Ugly were worth the return alone, it was the area that would be the best aspect of the town. The whole place is literally made of bricks… and happens to be the home of Mickey Mantle.

I broke out the Voyage Air Guitar that night to put on a new set of strings before heading out to Memphis the next day. Changing the strings for the first time was a little different than I had imagined and not that I don’t know what I’m doing, but somehow I ended up busting a high e not long after. Memphis was old school, and not old school as you would think back to say the 80s, but old school as you could imagine the 50s. Elvis is their hometown hero and they are not afraid to show it. I made it out to a diner that served the best fried green tomato I’ve ever eaten as well as fried chicken that could only be found in this area of the country. Friend Green Tomato They happen to be playing Elvis on the jukebox in the background. The first stop before Graceland was SUN Records. SUN Records was great and although there was a band recording that night I did manage to get a few shots playing outside just to get in some playing time. Moving on to the Music City capital of the world, Nashville I would get plenty more opportunity to keep rockin’. Nashville was awesome, I started of picking up coffee at a Starbucks that was located in a building that had the nicest architechture I’ve ever seen house a coffee shop before. The barrista sent us a block down to where I would play outside the former Grand Ole’ Opry or known to some as the Birthplace of Bluegrass. This must have been where I busted my high e.

Finding a set of strings in Nashville was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Within’ the hour I had made it into a famous music shop called Ghruns where I would jam on $3K banjos and buy a $10 string winder with built in string cutter. Although jealousy wouldn’t allow them to let me open my killer new axe at their location I did manage to clip the strings within’ the hour at my next gig. After listening to all the opening 2pm bands around the block I went back to this spot where I saw a statue of a man on a bench playing jazz, and an empty bench. Seemed welcoming enough so I jumped on it. The acoustics of that town with the tone of the guitar were incredible. I clipped the tips of the sting windage off the headstock and headed on. In a few hours I would find myself on the east coast.

The east coast is so different than the west coast. Not only the houses, but the season as well. It was officially winter again as it started snowing well enough to wanna catch some flakes on my tongue. I didn’t, but I really felt it should have almost been neccessary. The roads wern’t bad, but the only thing I could relate it to would be from what I’ve seen on television or in movies. Houses in snow resembled ginger bread houses, and they all seemed to be lit up really well. The remaining states up the east coast although equally exciting just breezed by. I believe there was one state I was only in for a mere ten minutes it was so small.

The journey ends in New York. The first thing I thought was Gotham, the houses resembled the comics I grew up with and the moon had distinct characteristics of something drawn. Driving alongside the folks in New York as I curved around the turns, tolling over bridges, passing underneath many overpass was just fun. Some of the things I would suggest everyone do in NY is pick up an egg roll for dinner and a bagel for breakfast. I don’t think they could be matched anywhere else. I spent the “Great Snowfall of 2010″ in New Jersey as 3 feet of snow fell on the entire east coast at once. I got plenty a chance to push out stuck vehicles and shovel out cars that I almost felt at home again. Back to New York for the last couple days was the highlight of the entire trip. If you wanted to name anyhting remotely historical, I bet I saw it… in 25 degree weather toes soaked in slush. Central Park, Statue of Liberty, the Atlantic Ocean, Time Square, that famous spot where NBC has the tree, famous famous stuff you’ve probably seen on MTV or the movies.

I managed to time everything with the flight home perfectly. People that had been stranded for days were all still there as 93 people were on stand by for my flight alone. I did get hassled a bit by the airport security as I had just bought an electric string winder at a local NY guitar shop along with a new Van Halen usb drive that I ended up losing in that same spot. I guess they thought I was going to use my Power Peg string winder as a weapon to jeopardize the security of fellow passengers. The flight itself was outstanding and I made it onto the plane along with a backpack and only my Voyage Air Guitar case (extra clothes in the laptop compartment) without any sort of luggage to pick up upon my arrival in LA. The guitar fit perfectly in the overhead compartment, my backpack made it under the seat, and I was able to keep a book of chord progressions in the detachable laptop compartment as well which kept me plenty occupied for the four and a half hours I was in the air.

As odd as it was that I was able to leave New York on time, somehow my flight in LA down to San Diego got cancelled less than a minute before boarding. Though I wasn’t able to leave that night, I was more than taken care of. the flight out the next day was fine and I was really impressed how the staff was able to assist with the guitar on the smaller plane as well. I got taken care of with a ton of vouchers and made it back home safe, sound, and full of the best mexican food and starbucks I’d had in a week. I thought it was interesting one of the things I would end up missing about this place was cilantro. Less than an hour later I would be right back to gigging session to session with my still new Voyage Air Guitar.

That is a brief summary of my trip. I’ll try and get some pictures up soon so everyone can enjoy. Hope everyone has a great weekend. I’m gunna head up to NAMM on Sunday and make sure to swing by to say thanks to everyone at Voyage Air for such a great instrument.

Rock on.