The Good, The Bad, and The Unplugged

Another weekend of gigs...here we go:

But first--more keyboard stand stuff!  I think that The Great Bencuya and I have settled on a keyboard stand that doesn't feel too flimsy, still holds the keyboards at good heights, and breaks down for travel in an acceptable amount of time.  My/our next quest:  how to protect these suckers when they're in a trailer full of gear.  A road case with slots for each keyboard stand would be ideal, but the size of each stand would necessitate a large and heavy box (each stand is 51 x 26 x 6 inches) that would cost several times more than the $100 stands they were protecting, and who's to say that the stands might not still break in the usual spot where the second tier arms connect to the main part of the stand?

My compromise:  padded bags, each costing $125 to give the stands some protection.  A bit awkward to deal with, but better than a mover's blanket and a bungie cord.  I also bought a third bag for protecting a backup keyboard stand, which we'll also carry.  All of this seems kind of dumb, I know, but it's the most cost effective way to bulletproof this part of our setups.  Anything that will assuage my fear of pulling our gear out in the middle of nowhere, only to discover that one of our stands is no longer functional!


Friday:  Yacht Rock landed in Chattanooga for our third public show, this time at Track 29.  Unlike our previous trip, this room was much roomier for both the audience (1,800 capacity) and us (nice big stage).  It's a pretty cool place (though one of the local crew told me the room "sounds like shit...like a big warehouse").  Chattanooga feels like it's got something to prove.


After soundcheck, Greg Lee and I headed to our favorite cajun spot for some food.  As we passed through the parking lot, there was some kind of car convention going on.  Check it out!  Lots of Hudsons and some Grahams.









Blue Orleans was moving at their own pace for a Friday night, and we waited for a table for a half hour.  Greg Lee finally leaned on them to hurry because of our show, and they squeezed us in.  It was totally worth it.  Jambalaya!  I could've tried to eat two portions, but we were in a hurry.


Back to the gig.  Nick's set list for this show felt pretty perfect, and the crowd ate it up.  We had 624 in the room with us, but their energy felt like a thousand people.


Going down the list:  the intro to Sailing will forever scare the shit out of me because I blanked on it at a Variety Playhouse probably four or five years ago, but it's a scar that will never heal.  Somehow, I got through without error tonight.  I had a rare mistake in Baker Street right before one of the riffs--the band got so quiet before the build into the riff, I totally lost my place and had to wait for the downbeat before I came in.  That felt really stupid on my part.  Monkeyboy nailed the solo on Hotel California.  There's a pentatonic scale walk-up before the choruses of She's Gone, and I think I nailed two out of three--it's right on the edge of my piano technique (which is really pathetic!)  I played what felt like a terrific sax solo at the end of Africa (on the Flashlights section)--the progression of ideas that I played felt strong and logical, as opposed to the sloshing musical diarrhea that I have been known to spew.  




Yay!  All in all, a triumphant first night of the run.

Saturday:  We meandered to Nashville.  Lunch at Peg Leg Porker BBQ.  I've been thinking more and more about going vegetarian in the past year--eating a big piece of meat as the centerpiece of a meal kind of grosses me out these days.  Nevertheless, barbecue smoke still holds its power over me (fried chicken does the same).  I had a pulled pork sandwich and baked beans.

The Great Bencuya destroyed a chicken.


Our gig was a wedding reception at the Musicians' Hall of Fame in Nashville.  After load in and soundcheck, we still had enough time (four hours), to wander the exhibit.  I thought it would be lame, centered around guitars and country music.  Not so!  Way cooler than that.  I touched a lot of instruments you weren't supposed to touch--gotta have some of that mojo!



The Memphis Sun Studios/Stax exhibit included the instruments of the Memphis Horns.  Super cool Super 20.


Neat!  Andrew Love's Super 20.  I'm pretty sure he was not a Dukoff guy, though.  That mouthpiece should probably be a Berg.




Al Jackson's drum set!  Damn!  Also, what idiot set his toms up like that?



More cool stuff:  Jim Horn's flute, used on Good Vibrations, God Only Knows, Lowdown, Turn Your Love Around, Little Jeannie, Strangers in the Night, Shaft, and probably a bunch of John Denver and George Harrison stuff that wasn't listed, as well as Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, and the Rolling Stones.  Daaaaaaaaaaammmn.  It looked like a Gemeinhardt student model.  Right below it was his alto flute, which was a well worn Armstrong.


Side note:  the sign says that George Harrison wrote Turn Your Love Around instead of George Benson and Dirty Low Down instead of Lowdown.  Next to his alto flute, it says he played on California Dreaming' by the Mama's and the Papa's (their what?  as opposed to the Mamas and the Papas?).  The same person who set up Al Jackson's drums must have proofread the cards for this display.

Moving on...the conductor's score for The Wichita Lineman.


The handwritten chart for Still Crazy After All These Years.  Why is there no indication of where to activate Michael Brecker?


Anyway...more waiting...


Finally, we got to play the gig, and then my brain started melting.  First dance:  I Want to Dance With Somebody--I played a pretty gruesome cluster in the intro.  Nice going.  Intro to Rich Girl:  played a the major seventh in an ugly, major pentatonic spot, and later played a sharp four in a bad spot.  Towards the end of the song where it wraps around, the string part reverses, but I didn't.


Second set:  when we started Africa, I was getting no sound from my EWI.  The lights were on (the EWI was working), I could change patches (the MIDI convertor and laptop were communicating), but no sound.  With no time to play with it, I chose to restart my computer.  After I'd already set that in motion, I figured out that the MIDI cable wasn't all the way plugged into the EWI.  Damn.  An easy fix, but I wouldn't be able to get everything back in time to play the solo, so I had to play it on flute.  The notes are different on flute.  I sounded a bit...rusty, let's say.  Not my best playing.


Later on in Take on Me, I made more of a mess--I started the middle section in the wrong inversion and then had to stop and think about what the chords were, and I basically got run over for that section.  Sang some ugly low notes in the chorus, and then messed up the chords at the end.  Booooooooooooo.

On to Call Me Al:  I could no longer keep it together.  After noodling on rhodes behind the vocals (why was I doing that?),  I capped off my contribution to the gig by playing on the downbeat of the bass break.  Umm, no.  I was a sloppy, brain dead mess by the end of the gig.

Sunday:  back to Atlanta for a Yacht Rock Unplugged show.  No Pete and no Cobb for this one, so Ganesh Giri Jaya of the Yacht Rock Schooner filled in, providing percussion and vocals.


First up in the set list?  Sailing.  Instead of strings, it was on organ, which made things feel really weird, and thou shalt not use the sustain pedal when playing organ!   I played a wrong note in the intro.  Practicing it to death is probably only making me more uptight about it.

We revisited Young Americans for the first time in a while.  Playing that song hasn't been as fun as I always thought it would be.  I guess it's because the language of the sax part/solo is so restrictively pentatonic and so mindless (KEEEEEEEEEEP SOLOING FOREVER!!!!!) that I don't even feel connected to anybody else on stage.  It's like they're playing and I'm playing a bunch of crap to check my mic, and then we come back together for the bridge, I actually stop playing for a second, and then I play a bunch more crap in the new key (and hope that I can figure out where the break is).

At least the Africa stuff on flute was solid on this night.

I'll try again this week--gigs Friday at Kennesaw State (after the lacrosse game), Saturday at Lake Oconee, and Sunday at The Fred in Peachtree City.  All three are outdoors, so my brain will probably melt either way.


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