The Jet Set
More fly dates with Yacht Rock: three gigs, five airplanes. We were fortunately able to bring along Kip and Zach to assist in the show. Ganesh Giri Jaya (Greg's brother) subbed for Nick on Thursday and Friday, and then for Mark Cobb on Saturday.
Thursday: Atlanta to Jacksonville, FL at a fairly reasonable hour (12:30 PM)!
My "fly date" gear: alto/EWI in one gig bag, tenor in the other (that keeps them approximately the same size), and a backpack with my laptop and all the MIDI boxes and cables for my EWI rig. I check a Pelican (heavy duty rolling plastic box) with sax stands, sax effects pedal, wireless microphones and receiver, keyboard pedals, and any keyboard cables that I might need. My second checked bag is a suitcase of clothes.
One of the other guys carries one sax onto the plane so that we adhere to the airlines' "one carry-on and one personal bag" policy.
So...Jacksonville. We've played this gig the past couple of years, but this year it was moved from the PGA Tournament site to...somewhere else. I don't know where we were. Basically, we were in a shipping container facing an apartment complex somewhere in Jacksonville.
The whole thing was a mess. Shipping containers don't make for good sound, the rented gear was in bad shape, and the production manager was under qualified.
The production manager's plan was for the opener to soundcheck, then unplug their cables and plug them into our system, have us soundcheck, unplug all of the cables and plug them back into the other system, have the opener play, then unplug all of their cables and plug everything back into our system again. It made no sense at all. To top it off, the opener was given the incorrect arrival time, so we showed up and got almost everything set up (and plugged in), and then the production person wanted us to stop, unplug everything, and let the other guys set up. I thought Kip was going to kill somebody.
After all of that, I think the opening smooth jazz group played all of four songs before turning the container over to us.
Not the best of times for Kip.
And then...we had almost no crowd. If we ever made it to even a hundred people, I'd be surprised.
One of the weirdest things I've encountered: the Roland Fantom keyboard that I was provided would wander out of tune! I can't think of why it would do that, but if I held a note down, the pitch would rise a half step. At first I thought it was in my head (I mean, how can a digital keyboard that's set to A=440 have a pitch problem?), but it was real. I had to flat out stop in the middle of a couple of early songs because of it. I even tried to fight it by transposing the whole keyboard down a half step, but it wouldn't cooperate! It seemed to mostly settle down by the second set. I'd check the pitch before every song, and if it was off I'd shuffle over to the another sound and come back to the one I wanted, and then the pitch would come back with it. It made for a wild night.
Friday: Jacksonville to Atlanta to Omaha, NE. 7 AM lobby call.
We had a layover in Atlanta, where we had a quick lunch. Here's a picture of us waiting to board/being stupid.
We flew to Omaha, Nebraska, and then crossed the river into Iowa for our show in Council Bluffs. This show kicked off the concert season at Stir Cove, the Harrah's Casino's outdoor amphitheater, and was preceded by a ceremony rebranding the the city of Council Bluffs.
Jacksonville on Thursday was almost 90 degrees. Iowa was in the low 50s with 30 mile an hour winds. Very very very very very cold for an outdoor show. Also unlike Jacksonville, the rented gear (except for a bass guitar with a faulty input jack) was really nice. This was my first time on a Nord Electro 4 with organ drawbars. No big deal. The keyboard stands were particularly nice--after all we've been through, I think Bencuya and I will be investigating these.
I was worried that the wind would blow over my saxophones or my EWI setup, so I used a giant keyboard case as a wall to protect them.
Soundcheck was fast. We ran off the stage because we were so cold.
Pete killed some time between soundcheck and the gig by working out...in his street clothes. I ate trail mix from a bag.
This place was pretty fantastic. The stage was and amphitheater were really superb, the staff was helpful, and the green room was nice.
Zach caught a quick nap before the show. If this picture had sound, you would hear him snoring.
Once again, we unfortunately had a thin crowd. This one was no doubt the result of the weather--a week later and I'm sure we'd have had enough people to at least make it look decent. The couple of hundred that we ended up with were very nice to stick with us under less than ideal conditions.
So...we were FREEZING! Everyone's performance was affected by the cold. For myself, my hands got cold and stiff pretty quickly, and anything requiring any kind of technique was almost impossible.
We stuck it out for an hour. It was a tough night.
Saturday: Omaha to Detroit.
The Omaha airport is small and simple, and kind of what you'd expect.
|Zach took this picture|
Not a lot of activity, especially considering it was Saturday at noon. We hung out for over an hour while the rental vans were sorted.
This particular gig was a benefit for a children's center in Flint--a typical dinner, auction, dancing kind of thing for us. Easy gig! All of the rental gear was cool and Kip and Zach seemed satisfied with the audio stuff. All of this was set up in a high end car dealership in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
Our dressing room was in the service area of the dealership.
Possible snow? Really? I heard that there were flurries during the second set, but by the time we left it had turned to rain.
Ganesh did a particularly good job filling in on drums. Very solid, and the kit sounded good.
I had a Nord Electro 2 for this gig, the third different bottom keyboard in three gigs. At least it stayed in tune!
Following the gig, we drove the hour back into Detroit to our hotel. We hopped out of the van I was in and dragged all of our gear into the lobby, only to discover we'd stopped at the wrong hotel. Agh! Repack, drive next door, and unpack again.
Sunday: Detroit to Atlanta. We flew Southwest, which was not nearly as bad as I thought it could be. With the early check in, we had no trouble getting all of our crap on board.