Showing posts from August, 2010


In my continuing quest to find an alto mouthpiece that can get me closer to David Sanborn's sound, I have mingled with many hunks of metal, but today I think I found a winner!  The ARB metal (#6) fits the bill.

I have played approximately one dozen Dukoff 8s in the past two weeks.  None of them were great, but I did pick one that was pretty good and had Will Grizzle reface it (along with the D7* that I've been using since the Vegas trip).  The D8 has been on my desk, and I've been playing the D7*.  What I've noticed is that it starts out fine, but somewhere during the gig things change--I don't know if it's my reeds drying out or warping off the table, or if the mouthpiece is heating up and changing shape, but the thing never feels as good as it does for the first couple of notes I play.  Regardless of the reason, I've got to keep looking--I can't deal with a piece that is never the same thing twice!

Saxophonist fans of David Sanborn know that before th…

Sunday Zzzzzz

Sunday was a killer.

I went to bed around 2 AM, got up at 6:45 AM, and got to my church gig at 8 AM.  Somewhere in the down time at that one I took a nap.  I played lots of clarinet on this one--we kind of slid from gospel/soul to more of a New Orleans/soul thing.  Maybe it was just me--I probably played pretty much the same thing I would have played, but on clarinet.  Anyway, they asked for clarinet, they got clarinet.

I took a nap as soon as I got home.  After I got up, I hung out with Jack for a while, practiced, and then rolled on to my second church gig.  I played mostly flute on this one.

I got home, ate, and fell asleep watching the football game.


I had two gigs today.

The first was a Yacht Rock gig.  We played a wedding (ceremony and reception) at the Aquarium.  Mark Dannells and I played the ceremony--flute and acoustic guitar.  It was never clearly stated to any of us, but it turns out we played the gig for free.  Booooo.  It was all connected to some sort of radio program--I guess the bride and groom won a free wedding on the radio, and all the vendors (band, photographers) traded their services for promotion from the radio and the Aquarium.  We'll see.  I think we got screwed.

Saturday night was a smooth jazz gig at Londzell's with Madoca and Company.  It wasn't too bad, though I did have the thought at one point that it was two and a half hours of watching "your local weather."  It was difficult reading, though!  Here's what the charts looked like:

The solos were always wide open--one or two chords.



I played at the Wild Wing in Suwanee with the Schooner last night, with Greg Lee subbing for Ganesh Giri Jaya, and Dustin subbing for Mike Bielenberg.  They were a bit flat compared to last night, I thought.

The monitor that I shared was a bit grumpy.  During soundcheck it was fine because I wasn't quite standing on top of it.  Once we started playing the gig, however, my microphone began feeding back--a low end thing that kept cycling until it would roar.  The soundman fixed it pretty quickly by removing me from the monitor completely!  No more feedback.  No more audible saxophone on stage, either.  Thanks, dude.  A bit drastic, I would say.

I got bored pretty quickly and ended up overplaying--lots of saxophone in spots (intros, bridges) where it didn't belong.

My horns are getting a bit leaky.  I can always tell when my tenor needs to be looked at because the altissimo A and Bb become much easier to miss.  Last night the Bb was going low--I had to kick it to make it come ou…

I Cannot Afford to Suck!

Tonight the members of the Yacht Rock Revue had the band version of an office party.  We gave up our usual 10 High gig to the Schooner so we could attend the "Dukes of September" concert--Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, and Donald Fagen--at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

The concert was pretty good.  With those three guys, you'd think you'd hear more of classic songs.  Instead, it was about half covers--maybe more than half.  For instance, the only Steely Dan song Fagen did was Reelin' in the Years.  Michael McDonald did I Keep Forgetting, What a Fool Believes, and Takin' it to the Streets (and on that one he only sang the first verse and chorus before turning it over to a background singer).  Boz Scaggs did Lowdown;  maybe he did one other that I can't think of right now.  The rest were covers.  It was cool hearing Walt Weiskopf again.  He's awesome.

Immediately following the concert, somebody had the terrific idea that we would go crash the 10 Hig…

Please Pleaserock Me at Smith's

Please Pleaserock Me, our Beatles tribute, stormed Smith's Olde Bar again last night.  I think the show went really well, even though there were hardly any people there.  I guess the Juliette Lewis crowd wasn't interested.

(Just as a side note, I want to mention that the dressing room that Dearly Beloved used twenty-four hours previously still smelled atrociously bad.  It was all armpits and litterboxes.  They admitted/apologized to some of us that they hadn't bathed in a while.  No shit!  I think their previous encounter with soap must have been back in Canada.)

The big tune of the night was When I'm Sixty-Four.  It went pretty well.  I'm flat (of all things--after years of being twenty cents sharp, I'm finally going flat!) and the other two horns are wild with the tuning as well.  I 'm guessing that when I'm playing straight clarinet, my throat and embouchure aren't as wide open as they are when I've been playing saxophone full blast for an ho…

The Greater Vavoom vs. Juliette Lewis

Last night was the Greater Vavoom gig at Smith's Olde Bar, opening for Juliette Lewis.  I think we played OK;  it's difficult to say.  I was worried about the stage volume, so I wore earplugs, but that left me with the same problem I always have--I feel so disconnected from everything else around me, I have a hard time feeling like I'm there.  It was like I was watching through the window.

We came off stage and immediately began asking/telling each other "That was a good show, right?"  I think that's kind of telling--maybe we all felt disconnected (even though we individually felt fine).  I, for one, am still not sure what I'm supposed to do with the Vavoom.  I guess it will take a few more rehearsals and gigs before I hear myself inside the sound of the band.
Dearly Beloved followed us on stage.  They were ok.  Evidently, I've never felt the emotions they feel.  Maybe I'm not saying that correctly;  all of their stuff had punk/hard rock energy and …

Sunday and Monday

So...I vacated Ansley Golf Club around 1:15 AM, came home, unpacked all my stuff from the gig, hung up my suit, packed my stuff for my church gig back into my truck, sniffed around on the internet, and went to bed at 3:30 AM.  At 6:30 AM, I was up again, drinking coffee and eating breakfast.  I was at my church gig before 8 AM.

Not too much to report.  I was fortunate to have the monitor wedge right next to me (YESSSSSS!) but unfortunate to have everything but me in it (NOOOOOO!).  After a song or two, I grabbed it and slid it past me so the bass and drums could hear it.  It was not helping me at all.

At some point during the service, we were playing a song in A major, and I managed to fit Michael Brecker's entire solo on Still Crazy After All these Years into the church song THREE TIMES.  By the  third time through the solo my eyes were watering because I was laughing at myself.  They probably thought I was really feeling the spirit.

Am I going to hell for that?

It's still o…

One for the Boobies

The Yacht Rock Revue played a breast cancer benefit at Ansley Golf Club in midtown.  It was a pretty easy gig, though the time frame was very long--6:30 to midnight.  Other than that, it was no big deal.  Straight Yacht Rock stuff.  After the previous night's humid show, it was great to be in air conditioning, too!

We set up and soundchecked (with a monster PA!  I've played gigs in the same room with NO PA!).  I guess we got a little carried away going over tunes, because the coordinator came in and asked if we were finished because they wanted to open the doors.  Oops.  We changed really fast and played a hour set.

Included in the first set was Sailing by Christopher Cross.  Dedicated readers will recall my death at the Variety Playhouse a few months back.  This time, I nailed it.  No problems.  It was good to put that one to bed--I don't have to carry around the self doubt (or as much self doubt).  I've been looking for another opportunity.

Also included in the set w…

Thrilled in the Rain

Last night the Yacht Rock Revue played a sold out show at the Park Tavern.  When I parked the attendant asked if I had tickets "to the concert"--I guess they were turning people away before they blew money on a parking spot.  I said, "I'm playing the concert."  Way to be a dick, Freeman.

Atlanta got a good bit of rain yesterday, so it was 200% humidity.  Charts and set lists were damp before we'd played the gig, and you can probably imagine how my reeds felt (and how my fussy EWI liked it).  It remained hot and humid for the entire show, and at various times I noticed it pouring outside the tent.  Other than one of my cases getting a little wet, my gear was fine.

The first set was all regular Yacht Rock stuff (70s stuff).  No problems.  All my sounds worked, though I was constantly paging through my sounds on my laptop to make sure everything was still there.  It's going to take a few gigs to get my confidence back on that.  I thought I had all that EWI…

Thursday stuff

Yesterday (Thursday) was WAAAAY better than the previous week.

I began the day by running a slew of errands.  First, I took a few mouthpieces and put them in the mail--some to be returned, and some to be refaced.

A few weeks ago I replaced my old beat up Vandoren 5RV clarinet mouthpiece with a new 5RVlyre Series 13 mouthpiece (which plays much more in tune for me--I have always been sharp, even with a longer barrel).  Anyway, I ordered three mouthpieces to try, picked one, and sent the other two back.  A few days later, I got a call saying that they'd accidentally refunded me the money for all three, and so they needed my credit card to charge me for the one I kept.  Fine.  A week later, the two mouthpieces I rejected showed up in the mail again, along with a bill for them.  So...I called, they straightened it out (I hope), and I sent them on their way yet again.

While at the post office, I also sent out two Dukoff alto mouthpieces to Will Grizzle for refacing.  One was a new guy…

Thriller rehearsal

Yacht Rock is dusting off Michael Jackson's Thriller for a performance this Friday night at the Park Tavern.  Yesterday we wandered through a quick rehearsal of it.

We originally had learned the entire record for Halloween of last year (perhaps you will recall this).  We also played it on The Rock Boat this past January, and haven't thought about it since!

Video from the boat:

I'm pretty lukewarm about playing it.  I made charts of everything I have to play, so I just read it down.  I have no love for it.  I bet that I'll have more fun playing the clav part to Peg in the first set.

Anyway, rehearsal was fine.  Bencuya assigned me a few parts that I need to grab before tomorrow night, and I need to tweak a few of my laptop sounds that didn't do what I expected them to do.  I also discovered that my cable from my computer to my little mixer is going bad--I had some crunchy static that went away when I used my crappy emergency cable.  It's always something!



It's been a slow weekend.  I had no gigs at all last week or this weekend except for my Thursday night thing.  Even so, I've been busy with lots of stuff --teaching is coming back since school started, plus I have been cranking out charts trying to get ahead of the next couple of weeks' gigs.

Today (Sunday) was my bookend church gigs--one at 9:30 AM and one at 7 PM.  I was a little more awake than last week.  The morning gig went well--it was more of the regular service, so a bit less bombastic than last week's thing.  No choir and almost no pipe organ.  Same stuff for me, though--show and blow.  Afterwards the next service began frantically setting up, and they wheeled out tympani.  The big show must be at the 11 AM!

Sunday night's gig was the usual story--not much happening.  I dedicated my performance to adding the interval of a perfect fourth to the lines I was playing.  I fell asleep during the homily.  The hot (female) usher was there.  I started breaking in…


I have not been that bored on a Yacht Rock gig in a long time.  I could tell early in the night that we were all pretty flat and there would be nothing that could pull us out of it.  At that point it became a dreadfully long march through almost two full sets of music.

Musically speaking, I was able to neither achieve nor maintain...!

Increasingly I find it difficult to play with musicians who aren't listening well.  I thought last night I would be able to push past it and focus on the people who were, but I couldn't get away from it.  There were multiple spots where the soloist would wrap up his solo and most of us could hear it, but we would keep playing.  The opposite happened to me, where I was just reaching the top gear on my solo, but the song ended.  Am I misreading the signals?  I don't know.  My feeling was that some of us were just going from point A to point B, and the hell with the in between.  
All I know is I can't play when I know it doesn't matter.

Sunday church gigs

Yesterday (Sunday), I did a couple of church gigs.  The first two were new gigs at a nearby church.  Pretty easy, straightforward stuff--I just showed up and blew over the top of what was going on around me.  For these particular services, around was a choir, four singers, two lead singers, piano, two guitars (acoustic and electric), bass, drums, and three piece horn section.  The only bummer was that I had to be there at 8 AM.  8 AM!  Geez.  I slept during the sermon on the second service.  I also slept at the pool after that.

Sunday night was my usual church gig.  Nothing great to report.  My face and hands were really tired.  I was glad to get home, where I immediately crashed on the couch.

Saturday in the Park

Saturday night I played a really relaxed wedding gig with Constantly Awesome.  The four guys that comprise that band used to be a terrific original band called Y-O-U.  They are also the principal members of Yacht Rock.  I played melodica (theme to The Office), flute, alto and tenor saxophone, and keyboard.  It was fun and easy.  Why can't they all be like that?

Someone has posted a video from last night's gig.  You can hear me playing the synth and string parts that I worked on Thursday.  Weird...I didn't like the way the synth sound worked with the rest of the music when I was on stage, but now that I hear it on the video, it sounds right.  Maybe I need to live with it for a few gigs.

Oh What a Night!

The Yacht Rock Revue played four sets at whatever they're calling Andrews Upstairs last night.  The first two sets were a private party for Groupon, and then they opened the place up to the public.  The Groupon people were pretty lame--they just sat there like it was a concert!--but we had 500 presales for the public part of the gig, so we nearly had a stampede when the doors opened.  Since there were only about 75-100 tickets left, I'm pretty sure it sold out before we started.

Mark Cobb returned to the band for this gig.  It's been a few weeks since we played with him since he no longer plays the 10 High gigs on Thursday nights.  I think we were both excited to play.  He was on fire, especially through the first three sets.  Awesome stuff!

Mark Bencuya is still my hero.  Sitting next to him is the best part of playing Andrews--I pick up so much from watching him play.  I feel bad that he has to listen to me!

By the time we reached the midpoint of the public gig, we could…

An Awesome Thursday

We played a terrific gig Thursday night at the 10 High.  Everybody was in a good mood and everybody played well (with a few rough moments).  It was as much fun as I've had at the 10 High in weeks!

1.  Lonely Boy:  I nailed it.  The first song of the night rocked.

2.  What a Fool Believes:  All day I practiced the synth and string parts.  In particular, the second verse is difficult for me to coordinate.  I think I did pretty well on that.  There might have been a stray note in there, but one the whole I'd say my work paid off.

In addition to this, tonight was the first night that I used Mainstage (part of Logic Pro) with the EWI.  It was awesome!  The sounds were good and the program worked without any hiccups.  It makes me wish I'd changed my stuff over a couple of months ago.

A great gig!

Helicopter Rides and Gigs

I had a House Live gig at Ventana's last night.  The people who hired us wouldn't pay for staff from the sound company;  wouldn't pay for a stage;  wouldn't pay for food.  We soon found out is because they'd spent all their money on HELICOPTER TOURS OF THE CITY!!!  For three hours we played and watched the helicopter come and go.  Wayne and I got close--we were in the line at the top of the stairs, ready to get on the next helicopter, but then some other people showed up and we thought we should let them go (and Wayne got a lil chicken--I think the danger that we would get busted, not the helicopter part).  Anyway, we did NOT get in the helicopter (though I added lyrics to lots of our improvisations that dealt with our misfortune).  Next time?

The actual helicopter in which we did not ride:

I've spent all day trying to get my hands to play both the synth part and the string part of What a Fool Believes.  I don't think I'm ready, but I'm going for it …


I played a lot of bullshit tonight, but I looked damn good.

Tonight was a weird trio gig at the Marriott Marquis downtown.  It was supposed to be 6 to 9, but at some point I was informed it would begin at 6:30.  No big deal;  we hung out.

When we finally got started playing, I don't know if it was because Kevin was exhausted from a long weekend or we were in a dead spot in the room or what, but it felt like we were playing into deep space.  I mean, the room just ate our sound and took all the energy with it.  There seemed to be nothing I could do to kick us into gear.  Thus, I played a bunch of crap, trying to force some excitement.  Maybe when I go back and listen to it tomorrow, I'll think differently, but it felt like I wasn't making any sense.  My reeds felt stuffy and my hands wouldn't work.

My contract said dinner/awards, so we played about an hour and twenty minutes waiting for the awards ceremony that never came.  When people started leaving for the night, we to…