What's been going on with me?
1. Immediately following the end of the Yacht Rock tour in California, I had a very bad bicycle accident on a charity group ride in Atlanta. Basically, I hit a speed bump on a steep downhill and cartwheeled to a stop, a dramatic deceleration from 39 mph to 0 mph! Concussion, road rash, ambulance ride to the emergency room--not a good start to quarantine, but also...if there was a perfect time to have an accident and not miss any gigs...
I have almost completely recovered, and with everything shut down, have spent a lot of time reacquainting myself with the bike (as well as my running shoes). Follow me on Strava! For the time being, swimming has been curtailed by virus fears and a bum shoulder. If feels like my wreck allowed kinds of middle aged man ailments to catch up to me!
2. Yacht Rock has put forth a few online collaborations.
It feels like this internet trend has finally (thankfully) finished. I mean, do we really need to see another video of someone playing along with a Charlie Hunter video?
Several of the guys have committed to weekly shows on Facebook Live, and the rest of us have contributed backing tracks for those. Here's one where I am featured.
3. In my own musical world, I've been practicing consistently (though shorter durations), which has been good, though sometimes I question why I'm working on certain things (for that one jazz gig I might have in 2021 where I need to play four Joe Henderson tunes?...uhhh). One major accomplishment for me has been to learn the solo for Africa. I've always played it on EWI (with a few small alterations to the harmony) because I didn't have enough technique to handle it on keyboard. With much time and persistence, I've finally got it. One step closer to being a less crappy keyboardist!
A nerdy musical explanation here:
a. The variation in the first phrase is because I can only play parallel intervals on the EWI (in this case, a perfect fourth below), so the first notes are D# and A#. They should be D# and B. The way to think of it is that the whole phrase is in fourths, but within the confines of a B major pentatonic scale (which means that it's not fourths because the it's a third when you have D# as the top note BLAH BLAH BLAH shut up).
b. In the second phrase, the two voices (the flutey thing and the marimba thing) should be in thirds. I can't program the EWI to play thirds (since some are major and some are minor), so I played it in octaves. Now that I'm playing it on keyboards, I still can't play it in the thirds because I would need to split the keyboard for the two sounds. If I used one sound to cover the whole thing (which I am doing--another compromise for live performance!), I can't physically overlap my hands and play this, SOOOOOOO...I'm playing them a tenth apart (the third line in the middle system), which, to me, sounds fine.
c. The third phrase follows the same rules as the first phrase (fourths in B major pentatonic).
So, is it better? Am I closer? Maybe.
4. I've been working in my yard a lot, and I've enjoyed trying to get the right plants in the right place. It's mostly been an experiment of seeing which ones can handle the different ratios of sun to shade in our backyard.
While I was at it, I also learned how to clean this sucker.
5. Our family grew with the addition of a puppy named Finn!
PeePoopSleepEat on repeat.
On to the gig!
Yacht Rock played a gig last weekend in Indianapolis! It was set up drive-in style in an enormous parking lot. Tickets were purchased by the car (4 people max), and your ticket got you a spot to park and a spot to tailgate. We were on a nice, big stage, maybe forty yards from the nearest car.
The people that put this show together were very cool (no problems with staff not wearing masks, no eye rolling, no BS), and it felt really great to play a gig. I honestly didn't get much energy from the crowd, but it didn't matter because I was so tuned into what was happening on stage. The cars honking their horns was super funny, though.
About the only thing that was tricky about this was the travel and accommodations. I opted to ride up in the van with Kip and Zach. Just about everybody else flew (Nick and Pete were already in Indiana).
We even made the New York Times! The article is here. Zero mention of me playing the Africa solo on keyboard.
And that was it. I would definitely do more of this style of gig until things come back to normal. It was extremely well done. Corona hugs for everybody.
See you in...September? No gigs until then. Please wear your mask.