Tuesday, September 29, 2015

AM Church Gigs and Golf Gig #2

I wish I'd taken more advantage of my early Saturday gig by going to bed early, but I didn't.  Unfortunately, I was up extra early to make a trio of church gigs at St. Ann's.  Once I was up, it really wasn't that bad--it's the early afternoon crash that gets me.

The church gigs were super easy;  the songs aren't difficult and the people are cool.  As much as anything it was a cool hang with the the two guys who run the music there, a chance to work on my soprano sax tuning.  I'll be back to do it again one Sunday in October.

After lunch, I headed out to another Yacht Rock gig (a big weekend for us).  This was a kickoff party for pro golfer Stewart Cink's Cink It Challenge,  which raises money for two local charities.  We've played this gig (I think) four years in a row now.  It's an easy, well run event.  

My sax effects pedal was acting strange--it appears that I traded on electronic gremlin for another.  Fortunately, it wasn't sounding weird, but the display kept showing the settings for the patch I was on.  I'm not sure why.  

Other than that, things were cool.  The rain even let up long enough for us to enjoy the fall weather.

We're headed to the northeast this coming weekend, with shows in Boston (The Royale), New York City (The Bowery Ballroom), Huntington NY (The Paramount), and Washington DC (The Hamilton).  

Golf Gig #1

Saturday, Yacht Rock played a late afternoon gig at the PGA Championship in Atlanta.  I'm not really sure for whom we were playing;  there was a small loop of corporate sponsor type tents set up in a VIP area, and we used one as a stage.  Unfortunately, the rain from Friday night continued all day Saturday, so the people who saw us were drenched.  I was a bit dumbfounded at the number of people (maybe 75?) who stood in the rain and mud and watched us, but they did, and they loved it.

I solved my EWI problems by switching out the little MIDI cable between the EWI and the wireless MIDI transmitter.  It worked like a champ.  A few spare cables have been in ordered and are in route to my mailbox.

Other than the rain, this was a nice, easy gig.  Monkeyboy had some guitar issues early on, but once he settled down, things were cool.  My sax mic was having some strange reactions to the on stage sound--probably because of the tent and the proximity to the main speakers.  There really wasn't anywhere to go anyway.

Skechers hosted us (it was their tent), and provided us with some groovy shoes to wear.  A nice perk of the job.

Home by 8 PM.  Nice.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Park Tavern

Yacht Rock played our final Park Tavern show of the summer concert series.  Pretty big crowd (maybe 1,000?), in spite of the rain.  

photo cred:  Kip Conner

My big excitement of the evening was some sort of EWI problem, basically with the laptop not receiving MIDI information from the EWI.  This is a major drag because there are several things that could go wrong:

1.  EWI problem
2.  bad MIDI cable between the EWI and the wireless MIDI transmitter
3.  problem with the wireless MIDI system
4.  bad MIDI cable between the wireless MIDI receiver and the MIDI to USB box
5.  bad MIDI to USB box
6.  bad USB cable between the USB box and the laptop
7.  laptop problem

The issue is intermittent, meaning I kind of have to wait for it to happen and then see if I can figure it out.  This happened years ago when the band was just starting to play bigger shows, and it took at least a month for me to solve it.  Fun.  I am now terrified of using my gear.

My initial hope/diagnosis:

1.  The EWI seems fine
2.  The wireless MIDI transmitter and receiver have a flashing light that says they are synced up, and that was flashing (meaning they are talking to each other), so I think they're working correctly
3.  The USB box also gets MIDI information from a foot switch (used for switching sounds), so I think that part is probably ok, which also means that the USB cable is fine, and the laptop is probably fine

Therefore, I am going to swap out the little MIDI cable between the EWI and transmitter tomorrow and hope that everything goes back to normal.  Pleeeeaaaaaaassssseeeee!

What else...the stage was about five feet above the crowd, which was kind of weird.  I wonder why it was like this.  No one had a good answer.

We brought back Break My Stride and Hip to Be Square.  Both were pretty good.

Post gig, the handle on my rack that houses my electronics broke off.  Now there's no way to pull it around like a suitcase, meaning I'll have to carry it like the big forty pound plastic box that it is until SKB sends me a new one.  Great.  Just in time for us to head out for some gigs in the northeast.

Second Beatles Show at Venkman's

I had the burger again (they were out of the bratwurst thing that I intended to order).  Still a winner.

This gig sounded much better.  According to Zach, the only difference was that he cut the level on the audience/ambient microphones down.  Maybe there was more to it (last Thursday, the guitar level moved up and down during soundcheck a lot, and we had some "Your ears should be muted"/"They're not" stuff), but whatever the science, the result was excellent.

Pretty good playing in front of a lackluster crowd, no doubt deterred by the rain.

I forgot my iPad clamp and my bari sax stand, neither of which I could do without, so in between soundcheck and the burger, Rob Opitz (our trumpeter, who also managed to forget his iPad clamp) headed back to Cobb County.  Not my favorite way to kill time, but there was no closer solution.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Polo Grounds

Atlanta has polo?  Atlanta has polo grounds?  I guess I never knew that.  Saturday's gig was at at the Buckhead Polo Grounds, which looked to be a pasture in the lowest (geographically speaking) part of Buckhead.

We set up on a stage in a tent, besieged by gnats, for some sort of benefit.  It was a pretty vanilla gig, albeit one with tall, expensive looking women.  In the second set, the band got a little silly, which made the time go by a little faster.  The gnats also excused themselves for the evening after sundown, which I greatly appreciated.

Other highlights:  I brought home four bananas from the green room;  we were fed BBQ, which was excellent;  I was able to drive up next to the stage for load in and load out.  A nice, easy gig, which I think was about all that we could handle.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Beatles Show at Venkman's

My burger was great;  my in ear mix was not.  We'll try again next week.  I may even order another burger.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Monday night was a cool gig for the Dave and Dave Duo (my sax/organ duo with David Ellington):  we played for the grand opening of Venkman's, a new restaurant brought into existence by Yacht Rock front men Nick Niespodziani and Peter Olson.  Congratulations to the whole crew that brought Venkman's to life!

Dave and I hadn't played together since late July at JCT Kitchen.  You can take a look at the videos from that gig here.

The Venkman's gig was a lot of fun.  Jazz gigs require a different kind of concentration than a Yacht Rock gig, and it was a very nice change of pace for me.  Plus, I played really well.  That always makes for a good night.  I even landed the two Brecker licks I've been trying to incorporate.  Yay for me.

Give these mp3s a spin.

I'll be back for a few Thursday gigs with Yacht Rock playing the Beatles (September 17 and 24).  I'll be leading a sextet in a performance of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue October 12.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Midwestern Gigs

Yacht Rock played a couple of gigs this past weekend in the midwest--specifically, we were in Indianapolis Friday night and Chicago Saturday evening.  Both were good gigs--easy, we played well, and had a good time.  Plus we flew in and flew out (and our gear met us up there).  I love doing it that way.

Friday:  We flew to rainy Indy.  The gear and our crew of Kip and Zach left Thursday afternoon and picked us up at the airport.

After lunch (and a nap), we made our way to the Indianapolis Art Museum for their fundraiser.

The situation there was not so great.  No rain contingency (and it was raining pretty steadily), the stage had standing water on it, and the canopy covering the stage had several holes.  I also heard mention of permits being revoked more than once.  It seemed like there was a pretty good chance that the gig wouldn't happen, so I took another nap.

Eventually, the stage was relatively dried, and we brought our equipment out from the trailer, setting up around the drips in the ceiling.  It felt like the sort of gig we'd wander through.

By the end of soundcheck, however, the skies had begun to clear.

It turned out to be a nice night!  The band was in a good mood, and we gave a comfortable performance.  Not bad at all.  Finished at 10:30 PM for the curfew.   Easy stuff.

Saturday:  We slept late, and had lunch at Yats (New Orleans restaurant in Indy) before heading north to Chicago.  Yats is so good, I had lunch twice (maque choux and then gumbo).

Ice Cube

maque choux

One of our nicer rides up through northern Indiana.

I didn't get any good pictures of downtown Chicago as we came through, but I did take these of Monkeyboy trying to get a shot of the skyline.

We were early to load in!  It almost never happens.  There was enough time for a walk around the neighborhood.  Greg and Monkey bought socks at Old Navy.

It was a beautiful day.

We opened for another band at Joe's Bar on Weed Street.  Not a bad gig by any means--ninety minutes and then a frantic teardown/load out so that the next group could have the stage.  Once again, we played well and had a good time.  No Pete on this gig (he stayed behind in Indy for a family obligation).

One strange thing about this gig for me:  I needed my more familiar tenor Monday night for a jazz gig, so I opted to send my backup horn in the trailer.  Worried that I wouldn't remember to keep my mouthpiece with me, I left it on my number one in Atlanta and used a backup mouthpiece.  Backup mouthpiece on a backup horn...hmm.  Everything was pretty close--they're both Guardala mouthpieces (an original MBII vs a laser cut Studio) and first generation Yamaha Custom tenors with silver G3 necks.  The only thing that bothered me was that there is a tooth indentation on my regular mouthpiece, worn in from fifteen years of playing it.  The Studio has a new, softer tooth guard (with no groove cut by my teeth).  I couldn't find a consistent place to grip the mouthpiece.

the tiger is not ours

Green room score.

Sunday:  no Pete;  Nick stayed in Chicago to go to the Packers/Bears game.  Cobb rode back to Indianapolis in the van.  The old guys flew home.  A nice day for flying.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Quartet for Kids

I had a nice quartet gig last night in Buckhead, an annual event for Children's Healthcare.  I think this my tenth or eleventh year in a row doing the event (which has been the same format every year)--I've got it figured out!  For this one, I used Louis Heriveaux on keyboard, Kevin Smith on bass, and Mark Raudabaugh on drums.  Since I rarely do a jazz gig these days, it was nice to hang out of with some of my friends in the scene.  The four of us had a wonderful time.  It was a good combination.

I really enjoyed this one.  Maybe I've been starving for a gig with a lot of blowing, but everything felt especially great.  The gig ended before I'd gotten sick of hearing myself!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Grant Park, Greg Lee

And now for something completely different...Yacht Rock (in Austin) Wednesday, Beatles Friday, Yacht Rock Saturday, and then the Greg Lee Show at a festival in Grant Park Sunday afternoon.  I played on four songs at the end of the set.  I couldn't summon anything great;  hopefully nobody recorded it and we can all collectively remember that I tried hard and just leave it at that.  Sometimes I don't know what the hell I'm doing anymore.

Wedding Time

Yacht Rock played a Saturday night wedding.  Super big money--not just a tent in the backyard of a mansion, but one of those permanent tents with the plexiglass panels and real doors.  A tent nicer than my house.  Their house was amazing.  Their garage was also amazing, and nicer than my house.

Our backdrop was a wall of paper flowers.  Presumably handmade.  Impressive.

The crowd was very reserved and didn't give us too much attention or energy.  On the other hand, I got in a pretty good nap before we played.  We also watched Big Hero 6, and we set some kind of record for farting.  Nothing else to report.  It was that kind of gig.

Ted Time

Something different for Yacht Rock:  our Beatles band, Please Pleaserock Me, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four's concert in Atlanta with a gig at Turner Field.

Before the game we played in the plaza.  It was a little rough in some spots, but we had fun regardless.

KDC on the job!

Once this part was over, we followed our gear down to reset it on the stage.  Here's the view from the right field corner early in the game.

During the game, we were provided with a suite (full of family and friends).

Post game, a stage was towed out in front of the pitcher's mound and we played a short (8 minute) medley, timed to a fireworks show.  Pretty cool!  We waited around in the tunnel until the game ended.

Pete was nervous.

We just barely fit on the stage.