Monday, February 28, 2011

The Oscar Goes to…David Freeman!

This weekend was all about the movies.

Thursday morning, we (Yacht Rock) had our first U2 rehearsal.  We're playing (under the name Uno Dos Tres Catorce) a couple of shows in March.  It's a pretty easy set for me--I'm mostly percussion, and a few little keyboard parts to help out Bencuya.  The bulk of the music is guitar with delay!

In going back and studying the stuff, I was really impressed by how much The Joshua Tree impacted me.  I wouldn't have said I was a huge U2 fan, but checking out that album made me realize how deep I really was into it in the late 80s.  Very powerful stuff, now and then.  

Thursday afternoon, I got an email from Ben Lovett asking if I would like to be part of a movie.  He's doing the score for an independent feature film called The Proxy, and they were looking for a street musician to play bass clarinet (huh?).  I said yes, I 'd do it.  A lady from the movie emailed saying she'd be in touch with more info.

Thursday night, Yacht Rock played a private gig at 200 Peachtree.  It sounded great, considering the acoustics.  I liked it a lot more than I did a few weeks back at the Beatles show there.  We played for the Meeting Planners International party--hopefully we'll get some really good gigs out of it.

My effects pedal that I use for my saxophone died.  One of the buttons (the "up" button) that allows me to scroll through presets stopped working.  That would not be a huge deal, but I have a couple of them set up as intervals, and I need to change the interval mid-phrase!  Yikes.  Only the "down" button would work, so I would play on one setting and then frantically scroll through eighty presets to get to the on above it.  Not cool.  On the break, I took a screwdiver and attempted a little triage (using paper to help activate the "up" switch inside), but it didn't work.  I plugged it back in right before the set, and the "up" button still would not work.  A minute or two later, I looked down, and the the thing was scrolling "up" so quickly that I could barely make out which direction it was going!  The thing went Poltergeist on me.  I unplugged it and went without effects for the rest of the night.

I played well, and I had great reeds on both horns, though my tenor reed had a chip in the corner.  It still played fine.  

Friday morning, Yacht Rock had a photo shoot at the Atlanta Humane Society for an upcoming gig.  We played with four or five dogs and they took pictures.  The dog I had made my suit and shirt really smell bad.  

Friday afternoon, the costuming lady from The Proxy called, asking about clothing she'd seen on my website.  I agreed to bring a few loud Yacht Rock suits.

Friday night we played a sold out show at Andrews Upstairs/8 Traxx Disco.  The usual stuff--crappy stage, weird sound, darkness where I was sitting.  It's not a really fun place to play, but it's a good money maker, so I will only complain so much!  I played well, especially considering I was sitting next to Bencuya, who only hears me this clearly when we play this venue.  I fared well.  Bencuya gave me a gold star for my playing.

In between soundcheck and the show, I got an email about The Proxy.  No one had bothered until now to mention that the shooting date was Saturday morning.  Great.  The email she sent me had the call sheet--7 AM!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  Not good.  I couldn't find a phone number on the sheet (and I didn't think calling and yelling at the costume chick would do me any good).  I didn't feel like I could back out of it, and I didn't want to do that to Ben, but I was NOT HAPPY.

Saturday morning, I got home from Andrews, unpacked my truck, took a shower, and went to sleep at 4:35 AM.  I was up at 6 AM, and on the set (downtown Atlanta) at 7 AM.  They started with me, so I thought hopefully I'd be finished in an hour and I could go home and sleep.  Not so!  I spent four and a half hours standing on the corner of Fairlie and Walton in my brick-red three piece suit (white shoes, of course), playing bass clarinet, while they shot this scene of the movie two or three times from EVERY CONCEIVABLE ANGLE!  It was really boring (and for the first three and half hours super cold and windy).  As non-movie people walked through the set, I did manage to get 1. a tip ($1);  2. someone telling me to go to Buckhead instead of downtown;  3.  lots of strange looks.  I guess that was better than the homeless character across the street, who was told he couldn't lie there!

I have no idea what the movie was about.  The main character walked up to me, had some sort of epiphany, and then walked off.  I guess a futuristic movie with street musicians in 70s attire playing bass clarinet will do that to you.  

Anyway, keep an eye out for it.  I'm sure I was magnificent.  The 2012 Academy Award for Best Street Musician in a feature film goes to…

There was some discussion about the next day's shoot (again at 7 AM), but I told them I was unavailable due to church gigs.

I am still wondering if I will get paid for it.  It all came together so quickly, I never had time to ask.  Once I was on set, I never knew who to ask.

I got home, packed my truck, and left for my gig that night.

Saturday night, Yacht Rock played a gig at the Children's Museum.  I was going on fumes.  It was some kind of benefit…I really don't know.  I think it was for the Children's Museum.  Whoever put the gig together must have never done it before because they forgot to get us a PA.  We showed up (thinking that the sound was provided), and Nick had to race back to the rehearsal space and get our PA.  Ouch!  Other than that, the gig was cool.  The crowd was really into it in the second set.  

Sunday morning, I got home and unpacked around 2 AM, slept a few hours, and got up at 7 AM.  Church gig number one was a little strange.  The drummer told me he'd gotten an email asking him to stay for the second service, and it also told him that (in case I asked) that there I was not involved in the second service.  I asked the leader, and he said yes, stay for the second service.  Weird.  We played through the stuff we need for that first service (kind of blew through it).  Things got a little tense in there (the leader said something about "spoon feeding" us the alterations).

Interestingly, we finally got some clarification about extra money for staying late.  When we have been asked to play part of the next service, I (and others in the band) have asked if we would be compensated.  Generally, we have, but when there is no mention of it, I ask.  My thinking is that it is not just one (or more) songs extra--the second service begins a half hour after the first ends, and so we end up staying forty-five minutes to an hour later, and that time has value (in my case, it means SLEEP!).  

It's not like this church doesn't have the money, either.  Last fall, I heard crazy-big numbers about how much some of the Atlanta Symphony guys were being paid to fill out the holiday music.

The new plan laid out by the leader is thus:  stay for the opening song, no money; stay up to the sermon, extra money.  That's fine with me.  The leader asked that we "stop asking about the money."  Now that we're clear about what the compensation will be, I don't think that will be a problem.

Sunday afternoon, I finally slept.  Basically, from noon to 5 PM I was out.  I got up, showered, and hit my second church service.  It sounded pretty good!

Sunday night, I watched the Academy Awards and started thinking about what my acceptance speech would be…"I accept this award on behalf of bass clarinetists and street musicians around the world!"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Main St. Exilers

Tuesday morning, I got up on very little sleep and made the trek down to the radio station to play with the Main Street Exiles.  We were promoting Fake Fest at Park Tavern this Saturday (The REMakes, Ill-Eagles, Main St. Exiles, and The Mighty Dan Halen).  We played Miss You.  It went pretty well.  I didn't play the solo exactly right, but I got most of it.  Here's the video:

You can't see me (except for a slice of the back of my head), but I'm there.

I guess we should have checked the gain on the sax mic BEFORE we started--geez, it was loud.  The first two notes startled me.  I kind of tiptoed through the rest of it because of the volume in the headphones (and it sounds like it).  Too bad, because that's a solo that needs to be a little more crazy than I could make it.

Here's a live version from December 1, 2010 at Smith's Olde Bar.  The sax solo is at 3:11.  I screwed up differently on this one!

 09 Miss You (live 12-01-10) by David B Freeman

Tuesday night, I recorded the rest of the first movement of the Creston.  I had recorded the first two pages for a student of mine.  Here are the last two.

Not too bad.  Couple of little hiccups.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Not Much Happening, but the Yard Looks Good

I haven't been doing much--I had the weekend off.

Thursday night was our 10 High gig.  It went pretty well.  Nick was on vacation and Cobb was on hiatus for the month, so we played the super safe set list for Kevin and Ganesh.  Kind of a drag--I wish the Schooner guys would pick up a few more of our tunes so they could sub in with us on some of our current stuff--but it made for an easy night.

It was a pretty crappy crowd.  Not a whole lot of people, and almost no turn over, so we didn't make much money out of it.  Bummer.

Dannells was on fire in the first set--he could do no wrong.  In the second set, he cooled significantly.  I played pretty well, especially in the first set with Dannells breathing down my neck.  I felt like I had to rise to the challenge.

Friday, I cleaned gutters.  Tell me why I need gutters?  Houses in Florida don't have gutters.  They don't need gutters.  I don't need gutters.  They catch more pine needles and sweet gum balls than rain.

Saturday, I went to Lopes' house to get the brace resoldered on my bari.  I wish I could go to Lopes' house and hang out about once a week.  Lopes is my guru.

Saturday afternoon, I cleaned the yard up--raked and mowed.

Sunday was the magical land of church gigs.  The first church gig went pretty well.  We received no music emails earlier in the week, so it felt very much to be a seat of the pants affair.  Things were pretty solid, considering.  We were fortunate to be asked to play half of the second service (extra money!), which was cool.  It would really be cool if they eventually have us play both services.  I mean, we're already there! Come on!  Hire me!

I had a great tenor reed.  It's new, but it plays great;  flexible, but a little resistance;  it was edgy, but not thin or mushy.

The second gig was about average.  During the first song I had to deal with a dead microphone--it's always wonderful when the singers sing one line and then whip around to tell me what's wrong!  I haven't set the gain on anything yet!  Gimme a sec!

My flute face was in good shape--I played lots of long tones at church gig number one, which made number two sound much better.  Hooray.

Big week ahead!  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Yacht Rock played a private gig for IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group).  Some kind of private party at the InterContinental.  I have no idea what they were celebrating.  Maybe they were celebrating the really crappy labyrinth of a load in?  I was quickly reminded of why I usually avoid the freight elevator here.

Nick called Mark Dannells right before soundcheck to get his ETA.  Dannells did not know we had a gig.  He went from underwear to the stage in forty-five minutes.  Oops.

The gig was pretty good.  Full production was provided for the nice big stage.  I think we all played well, though nobody in the crowd seemed that interested in hearing us.  The room thinned out really quickly, and  we took on the energy and enthusiasm of a good rehearsal.  Not much of a party.  On break, we talked to a bunch of people who loved us, but I think they all stayed out in the prefunction area.  Greg and I took a photo and did a flip book.

Oh well.  The gig ended a half hour early.  We had fajitas for supper.  Who could ask for anything more?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mucho Cartage

I got paid (in theory) big money this weekend for all my cartage.  Not really, but it was a weekend of many, many horns (and my "bag o' crap" percussion).

Friday:  I had two gigs.  The first was a quick quartet gig downtown at Ventanas, so I hired Louis Heriveaux, Kevin Smith, and Marlon Patton.  Awesome gig!  Those guys make my stuff sound like we play together all the time.  It was very relaxed, but focused at the same time.

I was particularly impressed with Marlon.  I do way more trio gigs than quartets, so I really noticed his input the most.  He was super creative and read everything down without any problems.  Could he be the Mark Cobb of my jazz world?  I'm thinkin' yes.  Listen to his stuff.  Fantastic.

The jazz gig was two horns--tenor and soprano.

The second gig was Beatles (Please Pleaserock Me) vs. Rolling Stones (Main Street Exiles) at Smith's.  I played on both.  The Stones went first.  We used the full horn section for what we could, and it sounded pretty good--really, we could stand to be a lot sloppier, but it's probably never going to happen.

The Beatles set was good, but really long.  It felt like we were up there for a couple of hours.  I guess it was because we played thirty two minute songs!

It was super loud.  I was two feet from a sixteen inch crash all night, and my left ear was fried.

The Smith's gig was four horns--tenor, bari, flute, and piccolo, plus miscellaneous percussion.

Saturday:  Please Pleaserock Me managed to snag a corporate party gig!  We played at 200 Peachtree (the old Macy's downtown location).  It's a really neat room.  I'd never been in there before.

It was a rather daunting gig, going into it--four hours of Beatles?  Did we have enough stuff?  By the time we finished eating, the gig had gone down to three hours…and then we dragged the breaks out a little, and we had enough stuff.  In the end, we padded it out with a couple of Yacht Rock tunes and everybody was happy.

For me (and I'll speak for Jason, too), it was a low intensity gig.  Particularly in a situation like this where people were dancing (and the focus was on the early 4 piece Beatles stuff), there wasn't much to do but drink beer and pick our noses.  Occasionally we would have to get on stage and clap two and four on the bridge of a song, but it was hard to get in the groove of playing because we'd be on for one, off for two.  I took lots of bad pictures (posted immediately to Facebook) to pass the time.  It was mostly a hang with friends.

Mark Dannells!

Bencuya is my hero
Cartage for this one?  Nyet!  Four saxophones, piccolo, flute, clarinet, and the bag o' crap.  I played some "lead guitar cowbell" on Hard Day's Night that probably deserved a fine.

new wig?
Ouch!  Bari down!

Sunday:  The usual church gigs.  Church gig number one:  tenor and clarinet (though I have to bring flute and soprano because I never know what I'll need).  Church gig number two:  soprano and flute.  In between there was a pretty good nap.

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Life

My Life practice rig!
This past Wednesday, we (Yacht Rock/Please Pleaserock Me) had a big rehearsal--5 Beatles tunes (I Want to Hold Your Hand, Back in the USSR, Ob-La-Di- Ob-La-Da, Taxman, and Revolution) and 2 Yacht Rock tunes (My Life by Billy Joel and Thunder Island by Jay Ferguson).  The Beatles stuff was easy--I make charts and play them, plus it's lots of tambourine and clapping.  I was really pumped about playing My Life--not only is it a big song for me personally, but once I started listening to it, it sounded like piano PLUS rhodes (and synth on the main riff).  So…Bencuya plays piano, but I double him on the rhodes, which turned out to be a terrific challenge.  I have to BE Bencuya for a couple of minutes there.

Pete's facial castanets for Thunder Island
Anyway, I practiced it like crazy.  We played a couple of times at rehearsal.  I was fine.

We weren't going to play it last night at the 10 High gig because Mark Cobb was not there, but Ganesh said he wanted a shot at it, so we did do it.  Awesome.  I did well.  Plus, it went over really well--everybody was singing along (which is always a cool feeling).  We probably got two keepers out of that (Thunder Island was good too, but I just play organ pads, so it was no biggie).

Speaking of the 10 High…the first set was good and inspired, and then we came back from break and not one of us could have given a damn.  It was a pretty boring second set.  I sucked on the sax solo to Caribbean Queen.  Such is life.  I wore my new suit, so at least I looked good doing it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday

I did my two church gigs.

The first church gig was a circus.  The usual sound guy was not there, and we had all kinds of trouble with the headphone mix (except for me, of course, because I do not wear them).  Static, instruments disappearing, screaming acoustic guitar.  All there.

We were asked to stay and play half of the next service, which featured the adult choir, the children's choir, and the "orchestra" (which was really the church's community band).  It was chaos.  We had so many tunes stuck in the music books, and some were for the second service and some were for the first, and nobody was sure what belonged to what.  We rehearsed everything (but without the adult choir, children's choir, or "orchestra") that morning, but not in any kind of order--more of "Hey, can we play through this one?" kind of thing.

My second church gig began a half hour after the Super Bowl.  From my position, I counted sixty-eight people in attendance.  The band was about the same.  After the first song, I had comments from the band--"can't hear the singer."  They probably didn't notice that I was dealing with the fact that nobody had plugged in the piano mic!  Once I got the stuff up and running it was fine.

I had good cell phone service in the church, and didn't miss a second of the game.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pat Boone and Debbie Boone Were There

Yacht Rock played the Taste of Dunwoody party at the W Perimeter last night.  It was probably not the best venue for us and the event--we were jammed into a pretty tiny ballroom (I guess it's the only one in the hotel, come to think of it).  They had tables with local food samples lining the walls all the way around.

Everybody was back for this gig--Nick was fronting the band, and Mark Cobb was kicking it in the ass!  It was a really relaxed event--we were loaded in plenty early, soundchecked, and then hung out in a suite on the top floor until it was time to eat.  We ate, we played, we drank.  Gradually, we took over the party.  I don't think the local food people were too thrilled that we sucked all the attention away from them.  Before the end of the first set, it had become a concert.  In fact, it seemed like most of the vendors bailed before the end of the night.

I played really well.  I'm (thankfully) still in a good groove.  We did most of the same stuff as we did Thursday night, so I was really comfortable.  I was loud, though (I guess we all were).  I could really hear myself slapping off the opposite wall.  I kept thinking "maybe I should turn down," but then I thought better of it.

Mark Cobb pushed us along the whole night.  Ganesh played faster tempos than he usually does on Thursday, but Cobb leaned forward.  Some of it was just flat out fast.  It was good, though.  I like it.  He also set a personal record for playing the "Pat Boone Debbie Boone" fill in the first set.  All over the place.

Nick had four people ask if he was wearing a wig.  Nobody asked me.  Does that mean my wig looks bad, or really good?

Friday, February 4, 2011


Last night's Yacht Rock gig was a little different from the past month--no Nick (Kevin Spencer in his place) and no Mark Cobb (Ganesh in his place).  It was still pretty smooth, but the banter is not of the same quality!

Just like last week, I prepared for the gig like it was some kind of exam.  This week's big addition to my performance was playing all of my parts to Baby Come Back on keyboard.  Impressive, non?  Mais oui.  Bencuya's over there having a good time with the rhodes part, so I'm playing strings.  On the verse, I'm playing piano;  on the choruses, I'm playing clav (with the strings).  Then on the bridge, I'm playing the synth part, complete with the big pitch two octave pitch bend.  Who's the man!  I mentioned my newfound keyboard prowess at the end of the first set, and Bencuya mentioned that he heard everything I played, and it sounded great.  I think he was trying to make up for the fact that he repeatedly mentioned how bad I (and he) sucked at the holiday show on Greatest American Hero (Believe it or Not)!  The recording from that show needs to disappear.  Damnit!  I guess when you suck real bad, you suck real bad.

Hmm…past that, let's see.  My tenor reed was really soft, and when I stood up to play the solo on Takin' it to the Streets (which we dedicated to Egypt), it completely closed up.  Not good!  I relaxed my embouchure and got through it, but it felt bad.  Too bad, because it sounded good.  I just couldn't push it.

On the break, I was standing there talking to Pete and some guy walked up and tried to sell us drugs--"Molly"--which I was later informed is high quality Ecstasy.

Second set was fine.  I started Lonely Boy, and I guess I hadn't set the gain on my mixer correctly, because it was SUPER LOUD!  Holy crap!  I played one handed once the band came in and turned knobs with the other.  Other than that, it was the most relaxed I've ever played it.  I even anticipated the spot where I (mentally) freak out and forget the chords, so yay for me.

Somebody stole Dannells' set list, so he and I shared mine.  While we were in between songs, the girl in front of us pulled his list out of her purse and checked to see what we were going to play next!

Things were going so well…then we started Jive Talkin' and I noticed that my laptop had died.  I'd forgotten to plug it in, and it'd been running on batteries the whole time--until now.  I thought, "I'll play the synth solo on something else," but I knew I'd need the EWI for the song after this (Peg) too, so I got up and walked across the stage, through the merchandise booth, and over to the corner where my cases were (the band playing the whole time).  I missed the first synth solo, got my power supply, walked back, plugged it in, woke up my laptop, and was back in time for the second synth solo.  Talk about stupid.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Video Roundup

Here are a few videos from the Variety Playhouse show a few Fridays ago:

Here are a few videos of me from last night: