Monday, April 25, 2011

The Prom, Part 2

We (Yacht Rock Revue) took the prom show to Nashville Saturday night.  We loaded up the van and took off.

The crowd at the Mercy Lounge was ok…maybe a couple of hundred?  I won't bother to guess why it wasn't more.  Easter?  Who knows.  The people who were there were pretty enthusiastic, so it was cool.  The sound was pretty good, though as before, it got super loud on stage.

I reviewed all of my stuff Friday night and felt good about it;  still riding the calm confidence of the previous weekend.  My only big flub was coming in two measures early on I Can Dream About You.  The whole intro sounds like little two measure things.  I guess I miscounted.

Maybe it's the style of the music, but I just can't find Mark Cobb these days.  More precisely, I cannot get my stuff to fit into his groove.  I don't know why, but what I was playing just didn't feel like it laid right.  I tried leaning forward on the time, and that didn't do it.  I tried laying back and letting him pull me along…I don't know.  He never said anything, so maybe I'm just analyzing it too much.

Speaking of which…Bencuya and I were laughing at Cobb, who told us how every song had a checklist of things he had to do:  start the loop on the iPod, change the setting on the drum pad, do this, do that.  Welcome to our world!

The second set, we played the Top Gun Theme into Danger Zone, and once again, I turned off my sax mic in anticipation of putting it down, and then realized I needed it again, and almost forgot to turn it back on.  Geez.  Come on, Freeman!  I still can't believe I did that at the Variety show.

Other than that, I was pretty even.  The things I was most worried about keyboard-wise (Sweet Freedom, All Night Long) were both fine.  Our keyboard buddy in Nashville even made reference to my playing on the latter, so I felt like that was a positive.  I did almost forget to play the EWI solo on Sweet Freedom.  That would have been a monumental disaster.

We got back to Atlanta in the early afternoon.  I took a nap, showered, and headed off to my church gig.  Not much to say about it, other than the guitarist and drummer being all over the place on their levels.  I was riding the gain of both of them all night.  The pianist playing some wrong notes that were accidentally very hip.  I was surprised (after not really playing for a week) that my flute felt as good as it did.  I hope to get off the keyboards and back on the horns this week.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Double Thursday

Thursday was a Yacht Rock gig away from our usual 10 High thing…we opened a series at the Havana Club.  I think the idea is they're trying to draw people on Thursday nights, so they booked a series of cover bands (beginning with us), and offered free booze to see how it works.

The gig was pretty bad.  We should have never set up, based on the first hour that we were there.  The sound guy appeared to be on his first night in the room--I mean, we were set up and waiting, and he was just barely getting started putting out mics, and THE DOORS WERE OPEN!  I mean, too late!  Our soundcheck never happened--we did a really bad line check (where he attempted to get the monitors going, but ended up putting everybody in everybody else's wedges).  I, for one, had at some point had a line for my electronics (keyboards, EWI), a line for the sax, and a vocal mic for the flute.  I had a wedge in front of me.  Eventually, all that got cut down to just a line for all my gear (with the sax running with the keyboards and the EWI).  No flute mic.  That didn't stop the guy from insisting on running me a monitor (and swapping out two bad speaker cabinets before settling on A PA SPEAKER!).  What the hell?  Then he ran my keyboards through it and nothing else--except that I have my own amplifier for that.  When he wasn't looking, I reached down and unplugged it.  No thank you.

This week I went back and relearned All Night Long.  I'd played the song previously in other cover bands, so when it was added to our list, I didn't bother going back over it.  I've always hated it, probably because of its association with the other bands.  Since I have a little more ability now on keyboard, I decided to try and grab more stuff--there's strings going on under the brass on the second half of the chorus, for example, and the brass play chords a lot of the time.  Now, it's kind of fun.  At the very least, I enjoy the challenge!  I tried it on Thursday night, and it was pretty good.  In a few weeks, I'll have it down.

The Havana Club gig ended around 11:30.  I boogied out of there and got to the 10 High around 12:15, and went straight to the stage, playing sax with the Schooner.  It was a pretty slow night there--not much of a crowd there, and the band was pretty blah.  Even Hans (the sound guy) was not paying attention.  He was talking to some girl in the back and forgot to turn my mic on for Diamond Girl.  The next song, Too Hot, still had no mic, so I started playing into Ganesh's vocal mic.  When I mentioned it to Hans after the gig, he said, "I turned it on when I heard it through the vocal mic!"  I don't think it even occurred to him that he'd missed me for an entire song.  Oops!

Mark Cobb came by and sat in on drums.

They have a new lighted dance floor at the 10 High, approximately the size of a queen sized mattress.  Can't fix the leaky pipe overhead, but the dance floor looks great!  Typical 10 High.

We're off to Nashville to play the Reagan Rock prom for them.  I feel strangely calm about it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Prom

I was sure by Saturday night my head would explode.  Too many new parts jammed into my head too quickly.  Somehow, I came through just fine.

A couple of hours of practice on Friday night left me feeling pretty good about my situation, and I still felt good on stage at the Variety before and during soundcheck.  I had played through every song on the setlist by the time we finished our preparations--I was ready!

The first set went really well for me.  Once again, I had that very aware feeling that I was playing well--kind of like the voice in my head was content to just sit there and listen.  Every song that came up was no big deal.  I had no issues, no major space outs where I couldn't remember the next chord.  In fact, I was kind of chomping at the bit--I was anticipating the next section before I got there.  Pretty cool.

Lost Boys, Karate Kid, Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, Raising Arizona, Top Gun, Back to the Future
We came off stage and changed into our 80s movie costumes.  My costume (I was assigned a character) was Viper from Top Gun.  I looked exactly like my Dad (minus the 'stache), circa 1968.  In fact, part of my uniform --the captain's bars on my collar and the "Freeman" name tag--are his.

The second set started the way the first one ended.  I was confident in what I was doing.  Maybe three songs in, I picked up my saxophone for I Want a New Drug.  First disaster!  I never turned my microphone on--I was looking at Beth the whole time.  When it got to the big saxophone part, I couldn't hear myself at all, and it hit me that I had just screwed up…please let it be somebody else's fault!  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the monitor guy leap into action, looking for a signal he wasn't getting, but I knew what the problem was.  Ugh.  I kept playing, hoping for a miracle.  My thinking was that if I stopped playing the line and turned on my mic, I would lose my place and not be able to do it.  I was also hoping against all odds that it was somebody else's fault.  So…damnit!…I finished the line, they went into the next verse, and I looked down and my wireless pack was off.  I fucked up.  AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!

From there, the voice in my head was ON SPEED!  I was doing all kinds of internal damage control, trying to convince myself that my mindlessness had not destroyed the gig.  AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH! I missed the transition from I Want a New Drug into Ghostbusters.  AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!  My concentration bubble had just burst.

A few songs later, my head had quieted down, I was sure that it was FUNNY!  and not the epic failure that I knew it was, Mark Cobb would not be glaring at me, and it really didn't sound that bad…right?  Nobody noticed except the band, right?..AAAAAAAGGGGGHHHH!  Anyway, we got into Time of my Life, and I was on it and not screwing up, and we got to the sax solo…the crowd went wild, and I was major pentatonic man, woohoo!…except that I didn't get back to the keyboard in time to play the brass lick that ends it (if you know the song…C A F#, D B G, E C A, F# D, G E)…oops.  Dannells was not happy that I had left him hanging.  Sorry.  Another disaster.  The rest of the song was fine.

In fact, the rest of the gig was fine.  I felt fine (not great, but fine) about the rest of the night.  Sweet Freedom was a bitch, but I got through it with no blunders.  We finished with Take Me Home, and we left the stage one by one, Nick Pete, Dannells, me, Bencuya, Greg, and Cobb, so the last thing was just the loop going.

Some pics:

Greg Lee!
I love Mark Dannells
my world
Captain Freeman, version 2.

A few hours later I stumbled into my church gig.  Pretty easy stuff these days.  John Hancotte subbed on bass.

Sunday afternoon, Yacht Rock played a wedding.  Looking at the setlist, it felt like I hadn't touched any of the songs in months.  It was kind of weird.  Maybe I'd had too much champagne beforehand--Dannells and I were drinking champagne in water goblets because there was no other liquor at the wedding.  The gig was only an hour and a half (7:30-9).  I wish they were all like that!  I was in bed by 10:30.

Easy week ahead.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

Thursday night was the big dress rehearsal for the gig this Saturday at the Variety Playhouse.  I tried to balance getting plenty of sleep, taking care of errands, and practicing the stuff until I couldn't get it wrong;  not so successful on Thursday afternoon.  I had a small meltdown in the hour or so before I left for the gig, and I got so tense I couldn't play or remember half the stuff.

We set up and fiddled through stuff at soundcheck.  I was kind of poking at things I could sort of play and aggravating the growing knot in my shoulder.  Once we got going on the gig, I quickly settled in, though.  I was actually playing pretty well!  There were flubs and stuff I forgot, but I was pretty even keeled about it.  The only disaster was Maniac, and that was only because I didn't move well from section to section in the song.  On break, I felt kind of relieved.

The second set was not so hot.  We began with the Top Gun Theme and moved directly into Danger Zone.    I forgot about the sax solo at the end of Danger Zone, but I needed to have thought of it at the beginning of Top Gun--I play two handed stuff all the way through each song.  Definitely a problem.  Eventually, I just picked a spot to stop playing and grab my horn.  From there, we went into I Want a New Drug;  my reed was uncooperative.  The song after that was True, and I hadn't thought about that song at all, and so that was sloppy as I kind of felt around for the chords I had forgotten.  The Heat is On had a couple of errant note the first time through the riff.  By the time we got down to the end of the set, I felt like I'd taken the SATs again.  I was fried.

Packing up was really slow.  I just wanted my brain to relax.

Friday was my only day to gather up my 80s movie character costume.  Mission accomplished.  I did some desk work things;  I did my laundry (no clean underwear).  At long last, I plowed through the set list song by song and made sure I had my stuff together.  I feel good.  I'm poised to kick some ass tomorrow night.

Along the way this week, I cut up the remainder of my trio gig video.  You can view everything I recorded on my YouTube channel.  Here's a link to the trio gig playlist.  Watch and enjoy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tuesday Night Trio, Wednesday Night House Music

I had a trio gig Tuesday night.  Yay!  It was another party for Microsoft developers.  We played at a house turned club called Metropolitan--we were on the front patio, dueling pianos were in the front room of the house, the DJ was in the upstairs…there was probably somebody else in there too.  Anyway, the front door was open and the dueling pianists were super loud--annoyingly so.  We had a hard time hearing each other because of the volume they were putting out.  Mix that with the traffic, and it was a noisy environment for a jazz gig.

We would have done my tunes, but I figured that between the steady breeze and the impending darkness, it would be best to not try and deal with charts.  I called standards instead, except that I don't really remember too many because I never play them, so I was a bit rough!  Sorry about that.  I made more than enough mistakes.

I did the gig with Louis Heriveaux and Kevin Smith, who did their usual excellent job.  The gig was supposed to be a four hour hit, but they set us free about fifty minutes early.  Another yay!  After the sun went down, we all got kind of chilly, and I could really feel my hands not moving smoothly any more.  Louis actually went and got a heater out of his car!  How about that!

I shot some iPhone video in addition to my usual audio recording.  The editing and uploading to YouTube is a slow process.  Here are the two tunes I've done so far.

Here's the audio.

Wednesday morning, I got up and headed back to rehearsal.  Things are going better!  I'm more or less out of my charts at this point, and it's just the coordination of moving from one sound to the next that's getting me.  Bencuya's making his adjustments, and I'm adjusting to his adjustments, too, but things are mostly settled between us.  By next week, we should be a fairly well oiled machine…too bad the the gig's this weekend!  I'm a little stressed about it, but I think I'm going to be ok, provided I get in some good practice time over the next forty-eight hours.

Wednesday night was a House Live gig at Ventanas.  Not much to report.  It was pretty easy--only about forty or fifty people, and they spent most of the evening out on the open patio (and not in the room with us), so we kind of entertained ourselves, which of course meant that I got to play drums for about twenty minutes at the end of the night.  Going into the gig, we heard rumors about helicopter rides, but it never happened.  Boo.  Oh well, Wayne wasn't there tonight, and I wouldn't have wanted him to miss it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday gig

Yacht Rock had a Monday night gig this week--some sort of private party for some people who, quite frankly, were ready to party!  We got in there (at the Crown Plaza Ravinia), set up, ate, and let 'em have it.

At one point, I looked out at the crowd and they were doing the electric slide to Kiss on my List.

Another good, solid gig, and once again I had the thought mid gig--"Hey, I'm really not screwing up at all!"  I'm not sure if it's cool for me to kind of be astonished that I'm not butchering a bunch of songs I've been playing weekly for a couple of years now, but whatever.  It's kind of cool--it's like inner peace.  "Man, I'm really doing this and it's actually working!"  I feel like I'm fitting in well with everything that's going on around me.

Ganesh subbed for Mark Cobb on drums, playing the red Vistalites again.  He sounded great!  I really think the sound of those drums suits his playing style perfectly (much more than the Taye kit he has been using).  We also had our 10 High sound man Hans running the system.  Nice to know we had a good pair of ears working for us.  I could really hear him bumping me up for solos.  He was really on it.  I think he liked having a night of work away from the 10 High!

Tuesday morning was another Reagan Rock rehearsal.  Some things went well, and some are still shaky.  Nick sent out an email with the rehearsal schedule for tomorrow's rehearsal, and he said we don't need to go over Almost Paradise again.  Since I'm playing the DX7 part on that one, I feel like I conquered that song--if I'd botched it, I'm sure we'd be running through it some more.  Another dragon slayed!

I had a trio gig Tuesday night.  I'll write about that tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday night I had another House Live gig--same guys as earlier in the week!  We played a networking reception for Microsoft at the Omni downtown.  Super easy, and we were done at 9!  Can't beat that.

I shot a couple of videos from the gig.  Note to iPhone users:  don't use the front camera to shoot video!  Not high quality!

My idea in playing this gig is to focus on the stream of consciousness and the velocity of the line--there's really no climax because the background is pretty static.  At times, it can be pretty mindless until I come across another idea to mangle.

Sunday was a day of church gigs (and mowing the yard).  Lots of crying in the first one.  A couple of singers got pretty emotional while they were singing.  I was fine.  Church gig number two was kind of sleepy.  Evidently there was some issue with the piano microphone, and emails were sent and opinions were expressed.  I plugged it into the mixer and it worked fine.

Another busy week of 80s crap.  So far I've learned Let's Go Crazy, You Make My Dreams, If You Leave, Almost Paradise, Top Gun theme, Danger Zone, Sweet Freedom, and Take Me Home.  This week's tunes are Ghostbusters, Maniac, Time of my Life, and Power of Love.  Make it stop!

Friday, April 8, 2011


Last night was the regular Yacht Rock gig at the 10 High.  We had a better crowd than the previous few weeks, but they showed up (almost en masse) about halfway through the first set.

Pete's on vacation this week, so we had Kevin Spencer covering for him, and Cobb's out so Ganesh was in (on a red Vistalite kit!).  Ganesh sounded really good.  I'm not crazy about his regular kit, but the Vistalites sounded perfect, and matched his style well.  I dug it.

I played really well--it was a pretty mistake free night.  It was kind of surprising.  I also got off a couple of pretty good solos (on two brand new reeds).

We substituted Lonely Boy for Who Can it Be Now (and I was happy).  Much more fun for me to play.  Surprisingly (or maybe not), I was able to pull it out of my butt.  I wish we played that one more often.  That song was followed with an audible--I Just Want to Stop--which was easily the roughest song of the night, but I did ok.  I remembered more of it than I thought I would!  Lot of chords in that one.

Here's something different:  I made a time lapse movie last night (with my iPhone on top of my amp).  The audio is from last year's summer show at the Variety Playhouse (Mark Dannells on guitar, me on organ!).  Pretty cool.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Return!

Still alive I am.

Friday:  Big Beatles show at Eddie's Attic, home of the acoustic guitar strumming folk hero.  I guess Nick has enough pull to get us in there.  Anyway, I knew it would sound really great because the sound guy (Shalom) is top notch and is also a freak for the Beatles, and sure enough it sounded great and we listened to weird bootlegs the entire time we were setting up.

The Beatles stuff is still pretty hit and miss with me, and the fact that I'd been feeling the depression revving up in me for the day or two before didn't help--I was pretty non-commital about the show.  I played as hard as I could;  gave it my all.  Maybe it's the fact that I'm always playing and then sitting a couple out, and then coming back and doing hand claps, and then going and sitting, but I never feel like I'm part of the band.  I'm the favorite hired gun.  The feeling was compounded by the fact that the stage was small and we (the horn section) stood off to the side in the dark the entire night.  Not a ton of fun.

Bencuya and I played Norwegian Wood (the Herbie Hancock version) to open the show.  I was pretty uptight for both sets.  The sound on stage was so clear and loud, I could hear my inhaling being picked up by the microphone.  Really weird.  In the second set, I followed some strange idea that I was unraveling and totally missed the bridge.  It snuck up on me.

The other biggie of the night was Jealous Guy (the Donny Hathaway version).  I got a solo on that one.  My first set solo had an error (followed by an audible expletive), so the second set solo was played like I wanted everybody in Decatur to feel it.

We added My Sweet Lord for this show, which got me seriously listening to All Things Must Pass.  One of my faves, for Beth:

Speaking of the sound guy:  in between shows, I was sitting at the bar eating, and the sound guy came up to me.  First thing out of his mouth:  "You claps on Eight Days a Week need to be more defined.  By the end, you were getting it."  No "nice show" or "sounds good."  What an asshole!

Saturday:  I played a wedding gig at Agnes Scott with a bunch of friends.  Not much to say about that one--it was a nice jazz gig in a comfortable setting.  Very easy.  At some point, we gave way to an iPod full of hip hop.  They tried to bring us back out to play a few requested songs, but it didn't go so well--they then demanded that we play something more upbeat!  We once again turned on the iPod to calm the masses.  Easy gig;  I was but a sideman.

Funny thing about this gig:  I had originally gotten the call for this gig but turned it down because I had something on the calendar.  A few weeks later, my gig died.  I contacted the leader of this gig to say, "Hey!  Hire me!" but he said they'd already asked somebody else.  I was bummed.  Days later, I got another message asking if I was available--the other guy had fallen through.  Yes!  The gig came back to me!

On  the way home I saw a nasty car fire.  I passed by right as the firetruck was pulling up.  285 on a Saturday night!

Sunday:  Church gig number one was fine.  That one's gotten into a groove.  No dirty scowls from the leader, and no bitching from the band.  Even the substitute sound guy was on it.  Yay!

Sunday night, Yacht Rock played a wedding at the Temple in Buckhead.  Pretty easy stuff.  They wanted all the 80s music we could do--no problem.  We also threw in some funkier stuff for dancing.  A few examples:

sax solo at 1:55
 Use Me by David B Freeman

sax solo at 3:30
 Kiss by David B Freeman

sax solo at 2:30
 Caribbean Queen by David B Freeman

I guess you could say that Use Me and Kiss are about the same solo.  No argument here.  It didn't help that they came back to back in the set.  Hopefully you can see (hear) past that.

Monday:  I spent all day Monday desperately charting out songs (eleven in all) for a Tuesday morning rehearsal.  I finally finished at 5 AM on Tuesday, then packed up my gear and got in bed at 6 AM.

Tuesday:  I was up at 9, and at rehearsal at 10.  Considering I wrote all my charts, found my sounds, and maybe played through things once, I fared pretty well.  I've got a ton of work to do in the next week, getting ready for the big show at Variety Playhouse (the Second Annual Reagan Rock Prom).

No big deal, right?  I got home, took a shower, and went back downtown for a House Live gig at Ventanas.  The three hours of sleep I got did not carry me through.  I drank three cups of Coke on the break, and that helped for a while, but then I crashed.  I felt like the gig would never end!  Somehow, I made it to 10 PM, packed up, drove home, and went straight to bed.  Which was good because…

Wednesday:  I was back at rehearsal at 10 AM again!  What a nightmare!  Obviously, nothing was any better than it had been the day before for me--I hadn't played a note of the stuff in the previous twenty-four hours.  We waded through the rest of the stuff we were learning for this week.  Now it's up to be to internalize it.  Bencuya and I may get together to make sure all the keyboard parts are covered…great…a test!  I'm going to pulling an extraordinary amount of music out of my butt.

I spent tonight organizing, repairing stuff, paying bills, and cleaning off my desk.  Tomorrow, it's time to bear down.  Next week looks to be just as crazy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can't Stop/Can't Sleep

Fear not, blog readers…I shall return!  Last week was nightly gigs, and when it finally ended this Monday (yesterday, technically, though I am still awake), I had to chart out ten new tunes for a Tuesday morning rehearsal.  The blog will continue soon!  I need to sleep first!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Double Shot

Yacht Rock did two gigs yesterday.  We had an early gig at the Apparel Mart and  then our usual 10 High thing.

Oddly enough, I have never in my fifteen years of wandering around Atlanta played the Apparel Mart.  Never been in there (though the ring on my finger came from there).  It looks like a giant hotel lobby full of stores--this is accentuated by the fact that it has the same interior architecture as the Marriott downtown (or is it Hyatt?).  Anyway, it looks pretty cool.

We were collectively a bit daunted by the acoustic possibilities.  Would it be an mess of washy echoes?  Surprisingly no.  It felt really dead on stage.  I guess because there was nothing for the sound to directly bounce off, it just kept going.  After a couple of songs, we had ourselves balanced out pretty well.

The gig began with me in a Benadryl haze (the pollen is wearing me out right now).  We played for an hour and a half (and it felt like it) to a curious crowd.  After playing two saxes, two keyboards, EWI, flute, tambourine, and bongos, the only thing anybody wanted to say to me was "Is that your real hair?" to which I replied "Is yours real?"  I think eventually I'll upgrade to "Are you pregnant?"  I mean, yeah, it's a wig.  What difference does it make?

We dragged through the next set (which only took about a half hour).  At some point in there, I bit the dust on My Life--my hands just couldn't find the right notes.  Lots of unappreciated laughter across the band stand.  Should I be grateful that I was at least audible across the stage?  Should I maybe shut up and just play it right?

When gig number one ended, we collectively hauled ass out of the Mart, down the elevators, loaded our cars, and boogied over to the 10 High, where we set up in a flash.  That gig went better, and I was much cleaner on My Life.  I played another really good solo on Lowdown.

For April Fool's, we came back from the break dressed in our street clothes, and opened with Pearl Jam's Even Flow.  I tried to film it, but for some reason, my phone wouldn't comply.  The rest of the set was regular Yacht Rock stuff, with us sounding really fried--I felt pretty good, personally, but we weren't really clicking.  The band closed with The Who's Shaking All Over.

Time to shift gears!  We're playing all Beatles tonight at Eddie's Attic.