Minority Report

I played a salsa gig last night…my last one ever?

I have mixed feelings about salsa gigs.  I get to play a lot, I like the music a lot, and it's not a wedding reception/micromanaged event, but it's kind of a rule that the circumstances surrounding the gig will be ridiculous.  This one proved to be no exception.

I have done five gigs with this band, and for every gig I have had to write charts for everything (with the exception of one tune that carried over from the first to the last).  It's usually about a dozen tunes, and I'd guess that I spend, on average, an hour per chart.  For this gig, I wrote ten charts.  Three songs were changed at rehearsal, so I wrote three more charts.  On the gig, the singer couldn't remember the words to a song, so we skipped that one.  So that's four charts (and four hours spent) that we didn't use.

our stage lighting was blinding

I showed up at 9:15 PM.  We did some kind of sound check.  It was a mixer and monitors tied into the house patch situation (we used the bar's main PA).  A Berringer mixer without enough inputs, so half the microphones used those low Z/high Z turnaround things into quarter inch inputs (with no gain control).  The piano and the bass ended up each stuck into one side of a stereo channel--I'm pretty sure that doesn't work.  A Peavey floor monitor and a Peavey Escort speaker on a tripod were the monitors. We had major high end feedback--at first it was out of control, but later on it only built up if we took too long between songs.

Then, the waiting began.  Where's the piano player?  (Donde esta el pianista?)  Ahh, he has a gig that ends at 10 PM, but he's five minutes away.  So…we waited.  Mentally, I drew a line--no piano by 11 PM and I'm leaving.  Fortunately, there was no audience, so nobody noticed us.  Waiting, waiting…who would show up first, the crowd or the piano?  At 10:45, he finally made it and got set up.  We began at  11 PM, playing for maybe ten people.

Things were OK.  In performance, the new tunes that I had charted didn't exactly follow the recordings (thanks a lot for that)--they were kind of bar band-ish, with hand cues and eye contact.  There was a big section in one tune that we skipped.  We skipped an entire tune because the singer couldn't remember the words.  We ended the set with a merengue where the vocalist missed his entrance, so we had to go around again and pick him up, and then once we got to the instrumental break, he wouldn't come back in, so we collectively just bullshitted parts over two chords.  I finally just stopped playing.  The rest of the rhythm section eventually faked an ending.

At the break, I still wanted to make a run for it.

The second set was short (thirty minutes) because we'd borrowed a tune for the first set.  More of the same…sloppy playing all the way around with a bad PA.  The crowd was still in the teens.  The gig ended, and I hustled out of there.  I guess on a good note, I kept my bag right next to me on stage, so packing up was easy…


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