Cross Country Gigging
An unusual week last week: two gigs on opposite corners of the country. Wednesday night Yacht Rock played a gig in San Diego, and Friday night we played a gig in Niagara Falls. Lots of time on airplanes in between.
Tuesday: up super early to fly west. We met up at 6:30 AM. We were in San Diego by mid morning--cool because we had over twenty-four hours of down time before the gig, but...why the hell were we here so early?
10 AM in San Diego was lunch time for us, so we walked to a restaurant from our hotel.
Past the Top Gun/Great Balls of Fire restaurant
To a restaurant down by the water:
I guess San Diego's old jail was in the same complex? We checked it out and took some pictures.
From there, I went to check out the USS Midway, which has been converted into a really cool naval museum. Super cool! I love this stuff.
I take this to mean they fished the astronauts from multiple Apollo missions out of the ocean?
Veterans who were sailors and airmen aboard the Midway give tours and talks. Two great things I heard:
1. The guy explaining how he launched airplanes on the catapults throughout the 70s showed us a 25 lb. tool that he used to lock the planes into the shuttle that would throw planes into the air. "I used to pick this thing up all day, every day (launching approximately 105 airplanes a day). You won't see me do it again today...twice is all I can do." His precise explanation of every man's job in the launch process and every hand signal was pretty incredible, especially when he said that it was happening every forty-five seconds until all the planes were airborne.
2. From the back seat guy (RIO) in an F-4, talking about landing on the Midway: "The first time we landed, I thought we'd crashed. When I looked out and realized we were fine, I thought 'So that's the way it's going to be.'"
Bob Hope statue.
I went for a run around the city. The weather was 70 degrees and just about perfect.
My favorite part of was the (maybe) homeless woman who saw me in the park and shouted at me, "PLEASE COME HOME!" When I got closer, she said, "Oh...I thought you were my ex-boyfriend."
On to the gig. Good crew, but the gear was less than perfect.
1. They missed the updated gear list that specified that we needed a bass guitar. We can't play a gig without it. That was a little worrisome.
2. Five microphone stands for a band of seven where everybody sings sometimes. Their solution was to tape microphones to extra cymbal stands. I guess it worked, but what the hell? What if one of the five had broken?
3. The Nord (bottom, red keyboard) was not our usual Electro, but the Nord Stage. They're really nice, but a different animal from what we normally use. On this one, I had several problems to sort out:
a. The keyboard had not been put back to factory specs, so I had to find in the menu the place where somebody had altered the tuning. The Nord was almost twenty cents sharper than everything else on stage.
b. The sustain pedal was not in agreement with the keyboard--also resolved by fishing through the menu to find a solution.
c. The volume pedal would not change the volume when playing organ. This one was the most difficult, as nothing in the system menu would resolve the issue. Finally I went around to the back of the keyboard. Someone had used black tape (over the black part of the keyboard) to cover up the proper jack for the pedal. Ah ha! The solution.
This keyboard is cool, but it still did some weird stuff that I didn't understand during the gig--mostly of the variety of accidentally pushing a button then not being able to un-push it.
The gig was a mindless corporate event for a couple of hundred sales people. Nothing of significance to report. Easy stuff.
Thursday: all day flying. First we flew back to Atlanta from San Diego. There we had a two hour layover. Lots of time to look at our phones.
Our flight to Buffalo (closest airport to Niagara Falls) left around 9 PM.
Overhead space is more and more difficult to obtain. Everybody's bringing their bags on board, presumably to avoid paying $25 to check it. I wonder what's going in the cargo hold if all the suitcases are in the overhead bins?
The flights to and from San Diego made me nervous that there would be no room for my saxophones, and checking them is not an option. After calling for first class, they called for silver medallion members, then sky priority members, and then everybody else they could think of, and then finally zone one.
My solution was to ask to pre-board with the elderly and the stroller-pushers. Before I could even finish my question, the gate agent said yes. Perfect! Plenty of space. I'll be using this strategy from now on.
We got to Niagara Falls around midnight. Up to our rooms and off to bed.
Friday: with plenty of time to kill, we all headed a couple of blocks over to see Niagara Falls and Canada.
Beautiful! We had great weather, too.
One of the most interesting things about the falls: when we got within one hundred yards of the river/falls, the temperature dropped ten to fifteen degrees. Enough that one street corner was "no jacket" and the opposite side of the street was "jacket."
Still plenty of ice making its way downstream.
The American falls.
The Canadian falls.
The Border agents were pretty stern. Their first line of defense was to charge us fifty cents to come back in to the U.S. Exact change deters those pesky terrorists!
Canada is right over there.
The gig itself was very kind of cool. Unlike other casino gigs that we have done, this one was not a stage out in the middle of the slot machines. Instead, it was a room off from the gambling floor, with pretty good acoustics and very snug seating. In a room that held five hundred, we were probably two-thirds full.
The crowd never got rowdy, but instead listened intently. They even clapped for solos and instrumental interludes--very different from our normal crowds, but in a good way!
Robbie Dupree came over from Woodstock (N.Y.) to join us for a few songs and hang out.
More adventures with the Nord. The keyboard itself was fine--worked well, felt great, had good sounds in it. However, about a quarter of the way through the show, the sustain pedal died. I spent the next couple of songs trying to simultaneously manage the gig and diagnose the problem. I couldn't see anyone from the crew to flag down for help, so I eventually gave up and resorted to sharing the one good sustain pedal between the two keyboard decks, unplugging it from one and plugging it into the other depending on the next song. Fun!? Extra brain power was diverted away from the gig in order to keep it straight. I did ok with it.
Saturday: we flew home (at a reasonable hour) from Buffalo. I asked if I could pre-board on this flight, and the counter agent said, "For your cello, yes." I'm not sure which saxophone looks like a cello.
I was home long enough to unpack and regroup before heading out to a jazz gig with two of my oldest musical friends in Atlanta--Dan Baraszu (guitar), and Joseph Patrick Moore (bass).
Originally, we were set to play outside, but passing rain moved us inside. As soon as we began playing inside, the client came running over and told us to move outside. Naturally, she picked a spot on the lawn with no electricity--"Can't you play without it?"
JPM and I played duo for twenty minutes while the staff ran two hundred feet of extension cord out to Dan's guitar amp. Eventually he joined us. Mostly we just laughed about the whole thing.
From there, I went to catch up with my old college friend Ryan Brown, now drumming with Zappa Plays Zappa. Incredible playing! It's really cool to see him doing so well. Go Big Ry!
The night ended with an I.U. reunion of sorts...me, Kevin Leahy, Ryan Brown, Mark Cobb, and Chris Yearian.