Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Two More!

I got up a little bit early Saturday morning and went for a run before we headed to the airport. The hotel that we frequent in Indy is very near the airport, surrounded by warehouses, an industrial park, and a Fed Ex depot.

Back on a plane. Zzzz.

The day's gig: a wedding reception at the Egyptian Ballroom in Atlanta. Many, many gigs have I played on this stage. Many. Too many?

Here's the pre-show food.

edible (picked out meat and just ate the pasta)



edible (though heavy on the dressing)
no thank you (this was some sort of vegetarian lasagna)
 The gig itself was a piece of cake, and it was nice to see several musician friends out in the audience.

photo cred: Stephen Renney

After the gig, we were all involved in the low-grade war with the caterers and the production crew to get our gear down the freight elevator and out to our vehicles, which culminated in a car/truck (nobody saw it) peeling half of the bumper off Mark Cobb's car and destroying the tail light. What an ugly ending to a Saturday night.

Sunday: Last one. We've played most of the PGA legend Stewart Cink's Cink It Challenge parties waaaaay over in Suwanee. It takes me an hour to get there, but the gig couldn't be easier, Stewart is super cool, and we get a gift bag with Parker's Pickles to take home. Not a bad way to spend an evening, eh?

I had a couple of good solos on this gig, which hopefully makes up for not turning my microphone on for the last solo of the night (Take Me Home Tonight). Oops. I was tired.

Aaaaaaaaand no gigs this week.


More gigs! Thursday night, I joined Scott Glazer's Mojo Dojo for a gig at Blind Willie's. Also in the band were Kenyon Carter (saxophone), Jez Graham (keyboard), Nick Johnson (guitar), and Jack Jones (drums). What a group! It inspired me to some of my best playing in months. I always think, "Blind Willie's...ugh..." but the energy and chops of the group draws something extra out of me.

Friday morning, Yacht Rock reconvened at the airport! We haven't flown to Indianapolis in almost forty days, so this seemed like the right time to go back. Also, someone had hired us to play a private gig in Carmel at the Lucas Oil Estate. It turns out that the estate is not a home, but a multi-acre event space.

I never did figure out for whom we were playing. Easy gig, though, and good backline. Nothing else to report.


And we're back! The storm blew threw Atlanta Monday evening/night, and we were at the airport Tuesday morning, Washington D.C. bound for a corporate gig.

post lunch/pre gig stroll through the National Zoo
 Another easy gig. Nice backline gear from Drums Unlimited. In bed before midnight!


Back to Texas! This trip was originally going to begin with a Thursday night gig in Houston, but Hurricane Harvey cancelled it. Instead, we flew Friday to Dallas to begin the weekend's work.

Friday: Our first stop was a public show in The Colony, which is (I think) one of those "planned community" places. The Lava Cantina has a large outdoor stage that is mostly protected from sun and weather.

This show was pretty good. The crowd was into it (free show in the suburbs!), from what I could tell. A few things that were weird: 1. the large video screen that broadcast (on a 1.5 second delay) what was happening on stage--incredibly distracting! 2. the stage was maybe seven feet high, which left me feeling pretty disconnected from the crowd. Maybe they could show the crowd on the big screen (solving both of my issues?). I did like it later in the night when people would step in front of the camera out front, blocking half of the shot with a dark, fuzzy blob. That drove the video guy crazy.

The food here was great, and the staff was excellent. No complaints!

Saturday: A wedding reception in Ft. Worth. No alcohol was allowed, so we improvised a solution.

The Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth is pretty cool looking!...

...but maybe not ideal for a band. We set up in a round room with concrete behind us and glass in front of us--kind of an acoustic hell. The hedge was added to keep the drunk dancers from accidentally falling into us. The green room was a hallway.

Painless gig. Lots to look at.

It's Monkeyboy. Don't ask.
Sunday: Road trip to Austin! We couldn't make it without a pit stop at a Buc-Ee's, which looks like the offspring of a gas station and a Wal Mart. It's overwhelming. It's Texas big.

Tonight's gig: 3Ten Austin City Limits Live, which is an exceptionally good sounding room. Not the big room where they film the TV show, but we're in the same complex downtown.

Before the show, Zach, Bencuya, and I dined at Taverna, an outstanding Italian restaurant a few doors down. I ate an entire pizza. Cute waitress.

Highlights from the show: a drunk hippie-dancing chick latched onto Zach while he was working--a very entertaining side show. Also, the PA briefly died during the show, and no one in the audience seemed to notice. These two things were not connected.

Pretty solid crowd for a Sunday night, I thought.

Monday: Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Atlanta today, so we switched to a flight that left Austin at 6:10 AM--painfully early. However, we beat the storm home, which was all that really mattered. I slept like a dead guy on the plane.

photo cred: Peter Olson

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Zig Zag

Two gigs last week--one in Santa Fe, and one in Martha's Vineyard. Lots of flying. Lots of pictures. Let's begin:

Friday: 9:50 AM flight to Albuquerque meant that I left home at 7 AM, which means I slept on the entire flight--I was passed out before they shut the door, and didn't wake up until they put down the landing gear. I slept so hard that as I walked past the pilot and flight attendant at the door, the attendant said to me, "Mr. Freeman! We were very impressed with how well you slept! Also, congratulations on your recent Gold Medallion status!" I was so confused that I didn't know what to say.

Anyway, we got to Albuquerque and then took a limo van to Santa Fe.

The scene for this birthday party was a private compound of sorts on a hill just outside of the city. Multiple buildings and spectacular views all the way around. The house manager even pointed out Carol Burnett's house on the adjacent lot. Good company!

The backline...was not very good on this one. Lots of weird stuff--a Nord Stage and a Nord Electro 5D (that I didn't quite know how to use), giant projector tables that served as percussion tables, and a guitar that Mark Dannells had to to solder back together before he could use it. Most importantly, the Roland Fantom X6 that they'd brought me had a problem with the card reader--even though it said "CARD PROTECTED!", the problem was not with the compact flash cards that had all my sounds and settings. This was mildly terrifying, though. because I couldn't be sure that it was their keyboard's fault until they brought another Fantom X to try out.

If I was wrong, it'd be a lot of synth programming in a short period of time!

Fortunately(?), they had one other X series Fantom at the shop, but unfortunately, it was a humungous weighted-key-X8, which dwarfed the little Nord like an Imperial Cruiser over the Millennium Falcon. It did recognize and read my compact flash card right away, so it'd have to do.

All set now, so back to the amazing scenery.

Around a half hour before our start time, a storm inched towards us, eventually coming close enough that we had to tear half the gear down and tarp the rest.

The storm subsided about forty-five minutes later, and we reset everything and played the gig.

Everything went ok. The combination of a long day and the bad combination of gear gradually wore me down, and I don't think I could've played much more than we had to. Not only was the giant top keyboard a hassle (the weighted keys, plus the fact that the thing was pitched slightly away from me, forcing me to stand up to read the screen and change sounds), but the unfamiliarity of the Nord 5 meant that I had to toss my sunglasses aside more than once to try and figure it out while I was playing something else. It was tough.

Saturday: Our travel day didn't begin until 11 AM (which felt like 1 PM to us), so I got up and early and squeezed in a run.

Back in the limo van, back to Albuquerque.

We flew from New Mexico to Salt Lake City, where we changed planes and headed to Boston (and picked up actor Scott Glenn! DUUUUUDE! That's cool.)

Other than that...the sky was so clear leaving SLC that we had incredible views of the ground for a couple of hours, and then the sun set, and it was even more beautiful.

I wonder if the two guys next to me were more weirded out by all the pictures I took, or the fact that I ate five bananas and an apple for dinner.

We landed in Boston after 11 PM, went to the hotel, and went straight to bed.

Sunday: Off to Martha's Vineyard. We drove for about an hour and a half down to the meet the ferry. Wet weather all around, and a choppy ride to the island.

Check out this tent!

Because of the bad weather, we were mostly confined to one of the tents on the beach volleyball court (next to the flooded out bocce ball court).

With a few hours to kill between soundcheck and the reception, I squeezed in a quick run to the beach and back.

Soooooo nice to see our own gear again (we had a friend drive it up to Boston while we were headed west). I played much better with this stuff. Some of the guys in the reception got a little too frat-boyish for me, though, and it gradually drained my enthusiasm for the evening.

We spent the night at the Summercamp Hotel, a really cool 19th century building right on the main drag. Three to a room!

Monday: Yesterday in reverse, but with exquisite weather! We loaded our suitcases into the trailer and walked down the street to the ferry.

From there, it was a van ride back to Boston, and then a flight home. We even managed to squeeze onto an earlier departure, delivering us back to Atlanta around seventy-five minutes earlier than we'd originally planned.

This week, we are headed to Texas. Thursday's show in Houston was cancelled, but we are in Dallas on Friday, Ft. Worth on Saturday (wedding reception), and Austin on Sunday. Our gear will be there, and it should be a great trip! You can see where we'll be by regularly checking out the Pleaserock website.