More Non-Sleeping Madness
Friday morning, I got up, made a few notes about the U2 stuff, packed my clothes, and met up with everybody else down at the office in Candler Park. We loaded the van and drove to Nashville for a gig at the Mercy Lounge.
The Mercy Lounge is really cool. All of the gigs there feel like significant events in the band's life--as opposed to the 10 High, which can feel like more of an obligation when we're not into it. The Mercy always has good sound (though it can get really loud), and the sound guys generally care about what's happening. I mean, it is Nashville--I think because there are so many talented people floating around, the sound guys have to be on it too, or they're likely to be replaced.
We rolled in, set up, soundchecked, and went and ate at Fiesta Mexicana, which is where we've eaten the past three or four times we've been up there. I had a spinach burrito--a bold move for such a picky eater. It was ok. I probably wouldn't order it again. I'm really only there for the chips and salsa.
When we got back in the parking lot of the Mercy, we got the trailer hung up on a fence, so somebody suggested that the six of us get out and pick up the trailer and carry it away from the fence. Great, except that when we put it down, I slammed my forehead into the steel frame of the door and got a nice big bump. Ouch.
The gig was good fun. I was really tight through the whole first set, and made lots of little mistakes--holding a note too long, bumping a key, that kind of stuff. Not the major catastrophe variety, but the little mistakes of not being comfortable on stage. A keyboard playing friend of the band was in the audience, and I couldn't get it out of my head that he might be focused on what I was playing. Every little blip felt huge.
On Reminiscing, I turned on my sax mic and it started to feedback, so I turned it off and looked over my shoulder for the monitor guy, but he was nowhere to be found. I waited as long as I could (and kept looking), and finally I just turned it on and let it wail until he came running. He chopped the offending frequency out of the wedge in front of me, and things were fine. My solo on that tune was much better than the crap I played the night before.
I played a pretty good flute solo on Lowdown. They have this really big mic for me at the Mercy, and they put a foam windscreen on it that I hate. On a regular mic, I get right up against the grille, but with a foam windscreen, it totally messes up my airstream and makes playing difficult. I feel like they're not getting all of my sound, though, if I'm not right up against it.
Greg and I hung out on the break talking to a couple of girls; one had really big hair. She asked me if my hair was real. I said, "No. Is yours?" I've always wanted to say that.
The second set, I was much better. I guess I finally got used to the sound on stage.
We ended an encore. Always a good feeling! We did Baker Street and Footloose. I did really well on Baker Street--that song is getting to be really difficult to play if the crowd is not into it. My mind kind of wanders sometimes.
After the gig we packed the trailer and went to the hotel. Somehow they gave us rooms with king sized beds, so I slept in the same bed. Fortunately/Unfortunately, he did not spend much time in the bed! He spent the whole night throwing up his Fiesta Mexicana. Food poisoning? I bet he puked five or six times in the four or five hours that I slept. He puked again in the street right before we pulled out for Atlanta.
We drove straight from Nashville to the office, got our cars, and went on to our next gig at the Park Tavern (the 2011 Shamrock Fest). We loaded in in the rain, through all the people who were already there drinking bad beer and eating fried food. It was cold, and the tent over the patio was leaking in several spots around me. Not good for saxophones or electronics!
The U2 set was at 6:30. It felt like we hadn't played the stuff in a month. I was confused about the notes I'd make on my charts, and it was loud and I couldn't hear. At one point Greg put his guitar down and went and puked again. For a first shot at it, I guess it went well. It didn't feel like us, though--it felt more like somebody had dared us to play it.
We changed and hit the stage again at 8:30 to play two sets of Yacht Rock. These felt much more comfortable. The crowd was really into it, and I was cool with the sound on stage (once again, though, it was really loud). I liked the sound guys we had for this one--I think they ran the house speakers a little bit louder, and when I was playing saxophone up front, I could hear it really well. Most of the time, it feels like I am playing into a pillow, so hearing it in the mains was very encouraging.
Some girl asked if my mustache was real. I said, "Yes." I wanted to reply "Is yours?" but I didn't--but I wanted to. No question about the wig, which always makes me wonder if they think it's real, or it's so obviously fake that they move on to the 'stache.
Sometimes I get asked if my chest hair is real. Can you fake chest hair?
We called a sub for Greg and he went home on the break.
Early in the second set, we started Lowdown, and that was around the time that it dawned on me that on the break I'd put my flute away (inexplicably). In eight measures, I went from flute in case to flute on face. Nice move, Freeman. A mere minutes later, I played one of my worst flute solos in recent memory!
Weird--at the end of the night, it dawned on me that I never picked up my tenor for the entire gig. I played four or five alto songs and that was it.
When the gig ended, I packed up my gear and ran like hell to get out of there. Beth had called after the U2 set to say that her father had suffered a major stroke that evening, so I dumped my gear at our rehearsal space and went straight to Grady. He's in the intensive care unit of the stroke center. I was there for a few hours before returning to the space, grabbing my gear, and heading for home.
I got up a few hours later and ran over to church gig number one. Everything was really relaxed, and we burned through everything with ease. In fact, the rehearsal ended early--usually it runs seventy minutes or so, but this time we knocked everything out in about forty-five. The service itself was a bit more chaotic, with the leader trying to whisper directions to us about intros, and lots of pushing and pulling (and small train wrecks) of tempo. Chris, our drummer, was furious--all that stuff made him look bad, and it was the leader's fault. At one point, the main singer/cantor was singing and conducting at one speed, the leader/pianist was plowing ahead at another speed, and the band was caught in limbo between the two, and the leader was glaring at Chris. Not cool. I thought Chris was going to quit mid-gig. He cooled off enough to get through it.
We were asked to stay and play the next service (yay! more money!). When we got on stage, some old guy with a trombone said, "Hey! You guys need to be wearing robes! Where's your robe?" I thought he was joking, so I said, "Can I borrow yours?" Steam shot from his ears. Evidently, there's some friction coming from the "orchestra" that plays sometimes at the second service. So…we went downstairs and got suited up. What do I care? I'm guessing he hasn't seen what I usually wear to gigs.
I went home and took a nap, a shower, and then went to church gig number two. It sounded pretty good. I mixed with headphones this week to double check what I was doing.
The church attempted to show a video of the bishop's appeal, so a guy pushed a black metal A/V cart out into the middle with a projector on it and tried to hook his laptop up to it, but it wouldn't work--like it's 1995 or something! It never ceases to amaze me how technologically deficient this church is, and not for lack of money. Sadly, I think that the laptop/projector set up is a step forward for them. Last year they set up a TV on the altar and just turned the sound up. Then again, at least it worked last year...
This was right after the priest bragged about how they'd received $30,000 beyond what they'd needed last year for the appeal.
I was able to get a lot of sleep today. Good thing--it's going to be a tough week.