Of Knobs and Gigs

Last weekend was the first big weekend of gigs for me, with four Yacht Rock gigs and a jazz gig thrown in the middle.  Mostly good stuff, I would say, off the top of my head.  Along the way, Bencuya and I endured a keyboard stand crisis, sponsored by Quik Lok.  Read on...

Thursday:  Yacht Rock played a private gig in Alpharetta for the same people who flew us to the Virgin Islands last summer.  Alpharetta is not as far, but not as awesome.

Right as  I walked in the door, Bencuya (who was already there) texted me that one of the knobs on his keyboard stand had become stripped, and did I have another knob?  Fortunately, yes.  We installed the new knob, though the thing was so tight that I had to force it, tearing up my knuckles as I cranked a quarter turn at a time.  

We did get it all the way in, but it was really tight, almost like it was the wrong size (FORESHADOWING!)

Kip had been sick for a few days leading up to this gig, so after we got set up and sound checked, he crashed in the green room on an air mattress.

Time for work!

This gig was ok.  A few things in play:

1.  Ganesh's second gig with us as a sub for Nick, so we were trying to make sure everything was cool vocally and instrumentally.

2.  A few tunes we hadn't played in a while were on the setlist as a review for the upcoming shows on the Sail Across the Sun boat next week.

3.  We hadn't played a Yacht Rock show in a two weeks.

4.  The acoustics of the room made for some really weird sounds in the in-ears.  I felt like I spent much of the gig wondering what I could change to improve the sound--I had kind of low mids thing.  By the end of the night I'd finally figured out that Monkeyboy's vocal microphone was twice as loud as everybody else's, and it was amplifying the crappy stage sound.  By then, though, I'd made other changes which I would spend the next three days undoing.

Just like in the Virgin Islands, the audience was small (less than a hundred people), and mostly guys, so not much of a dance party--more like packs of dudes drinking and watching us (or drinking and ignoring us).  They did ask to play a short third set (overtime on a Thursday!), and we got through it.  The whole thing felt like it went on too long.  They were cool about it, though, and if they wanted to fly us to the Caribbean again, I'd be cool with that.

Friday:  Georgia Theatre!  Athens has become my favorite place to play.  The room is beautiful, the crew is good (they load our gear in and out), the audience is always ready, and the drunks are amusing.  The only thing that sucks is that the green room is five or six flights up!

As soon as we began setting up, another knob on Bencuya's stand gave out, and I didn't have any more spare knobs.  The production manager at the Theatre went into his office and found a random bolt that fit perfectly.

At this point, I am completely scared to death of my keyboard stand, knowing that it's only a matter of time before my knobs give out.  Both Bencuya and I are now in survival mode--"Please don't make me go and buy another keyboard stand this weekend!"

This show was pretty damn awesome.  We came within a hundred people of selling out, and the vibes were tremendous from the moment we walked out on stage.  Even my solos were pretty good.  Success!

Saturday:  two-fer!  I went to bed at 4 AM and got up at 9 to get a shower and head to Venkman's for a brunch gig with the David Ellington Quartet.

I was really excited about this one.  For one thing, Ellington's music is really challenging, especially with is affinity for odd meter tunes.  I'd never played with the drummer, Adam Goodhue, but I was familiar with his playing from YouTube.  He's outstanding!  Plus, he brought this sweet vintage kit.

Rounding out the group was bassist Rob Henson, whom I've known since college.  His musical intensity has been intimidating me for twenty years.

This gig was outstanding.  Everybody played great, and the hang was really fun.  I hope we do this one again soon!  This and the night before in Athens really made the weekend for me.

The French toast at Venkman's is really delicious.

I ran away from the quartet back to my house, which left me just enough time to eat, change clothes and leave again for a wedding with Yacht Rock.

Bencuya has become convinced that our keyboard stands have bad ju ju, and we should investigate other options.  Possibly a Z stand, such as this one?  At least the knobs on On-Stage stands will turn.

We were seriously considering it until I watched a product video where the guy showed how to fold it up, and in order to do so, you have to remove a couple of knobs and then screw them back in after you collapse it, and then the second tier comes off completely and doesn't fold into the legs.  No way. Too many parts.  So...back to square one.

Oh yeah!  The gig..it was fine.  The country club where we played is pretty tight-assed:  we were told that we had to wear "proper attire" to load in (meaning no jeans and t shirts), but half us wore jeans and t shirts anyway.  Nobody said anything, though.

We reviewed a few more tunes for the boat, and one for a gig later this year--Eddie Money's Take Me Home Tonight.  We'll be seeing him later in February.

Sunday:  Yacht Rock finished out this weekend's string of gigs with a charity event downtown for The Giving Kitchen.  Getting around downtown is a major hassle because of the one way streets (plus a movie shoot that had one road completely blocked), so by the time I actually began moving gear in, I was really pissed off (compounded by the people in the parking lot who either wouldn't get out of my way, or were too quick to tell me to move my car as soon as I'd finished).  While setting up, I banged my head on the screen behind the stage, and then scraped my head on something else.  Keep it coming.

Following soundcheck, I took one of the keyboard knobs to the nearest Home Depot (on Ponce Ave in midtown) to find out their bolt size is.  My thought was that if the knobs wouldn't fit, maybe we could use regular bolts--at worst, we could leave the arms permanently bolted at the correct angle, and the stands just wouldn't fold up as flat.

The shaft on the knobs is a metric bolt:  M8 x 1.25.  That's the only one that fit.

On the way back downtown, I talked to two incompetent employees at two different Guitar Centers, inquiring about a keyboard stand on their website (which neither could find, even when I gave them the product number off the website).  Unbelievable.

I got back to the gig with a few hours to wander around, sampling the food and drink.

After all that, the gig was really enjoyable!  Nick showed up and sang most of the gig, which kicked everything up a notch.  He's having a wonderful time with his newborn daughter.

Monday:  Keyboard stand crap.  I really want to find a solution to this.  The stand is great except for this achilles heel where the second tier connects.  The big question is this:  why does the stand destroy the bolt on the knobs?

I tried adding a liberal amount of grease to both mine and Bencuya's stands to see if it was just friction.  The answer:  no.  Still eats the bolt.

Here's the bolt.  You can see that at the end of the bolt, the threads become flattened, and eventually they'll no longer screw into the stand.

I suspect that the problem is that the threads on the knob and the threads inside the stand are not the same size, and that's why the knobs are so difficult to install and use, and why they turn to crap so quickly.  To investigate this hypothesis, I took my keyboard stand to Home Depot.

This bolt fits.  It's a 5/16 inch bolt.  It's not metric!

I couldn't find a 5/16" replacement knob with a bolt long enough, but I did have the idea to use an eye bolt--all metal (so it wouldn't break as easily) and easy to twist.  A 5/16" x 4" eye bolt fits great.

Here's my set up with a washer to keep the end of the eye bolt from denting the stand around the hole.

Success for $8.20!  I bought a pair for Bencuya's keyboard and a spare pair.  I think we're back in business.

When Bencuya's keyboard went down on Thursday, I'd called Quik Lok and ordered two more replacement knobs, and they arrived today.  Just as I suspected, they're metric (8x57 MM)!

So...I'm pretty sure that I've solved this crisis.  My final thought, though, is that the threads inside the keyboard might be damaged from repeatedly forcing the wrong bolt into it.  I went ahead and also bought a tap to recut any damaged threads on the inside of the stand, so hopefully it's a clean fit between parts.

What the hell is Quik Lok doing selling a keyboard stand with crucial parts that don't fit?  This is supremely idiotic.

Anyway...Dave and Dave Duo is back at Venkman's this coming Sunday for brunch, 12-3 PM.  Here are a few videos from our previous visit:

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