Things are very slow right now in the local music biz, so I haven't much to report. A few livestream concerts have been broadcast--the Yacht Rock Valentine's Day Prom, and also the performance of Hot Dads in Tight Jeans, which you can watch on Facebook and YouTube.
Friday, February 26, 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021
Sunday, December 27, 2020
It's been the slowest, weirdest December in my lifetime. Oddly enough, though, I did get several calls for gigs, but almost all of them sounded like bad ideas--a jazz duo (yes!), but in somebody's living room with twenty-five people in attendance (hell no!). Who's taking a gig like that right now, but also, who's putting together parties like that right now? I declined all of those, reminding myself that it would not be worth it to possibly infect anyone in my family for $200.
Last Sunday afternoon, I did take an outdoor jazz gig in College Park that was a lot of fun. Louis Heriveaux, Tommy Sauter, and Ben Johnson joined me for a neighborhood Christmas party in somebody's yard. Great fun with a few old friends! Louis wanted to know if I still hated Christmas tunes--it made me think about it, and I guess my problem is that on these gigs, people want you to politely play everything on Charlie Brown Christmas. I, on the other hand, am usually so excited to be playing a jazz gig that I want to play every tune like it's Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard!
Anyway, 54 degrees was a little chilly, but I am still happy to play some tunes with my friends.
In other news, the Ladies of Soul (Keisha and Kourtney Jackson) put out a livestream concert on Christmas Eve. The backing band was Mark Bencuya, Mark Dannells, Greg Lee, and Zack Albetta, and I wrote and recorded horn arrangements for everything. Big fun for me, and our audio/video ninja Zach Wetzel was able to blend everything together perfectly. Check it out here.
Leading up to the broadcast, I also made some short videos to highlight my parts. Check these out!
One more good thing: I got a call from Steve Augeri (formerly of Journey!) to play on his quarantine project. This song, called If You Want, needed one of those heroic 80s tenor sax solos in the vein of Tim Cappello or Clarence Clemons. Steve sent me the song, I recorded a couple of passes at home, we talked on the phone, I recorded a couple more, and it was done! Recording from home rocks.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Saturday afternoon, I began making a video as part of the #GeorgiaOnMyMind campaign to encourage voting in Georgia's upcoming election for the Senate. I wrote the arrangement in an hour or two. My game plan:
1. Feature the different saxophones at different times. The alto has the melody in the first eight measures; the bari has it on the bridge; and the tenor has it for the last eight.
2. Have some sort of big band soli thing where all the voices move with the melody. This is the second eight measures.
3. Lots of rhythm in the supporting voices! I didn't want it to die with a bunch of whole notes under the lead line.
Here's page one of my chart.
On to recording it! One of my quarantine projects has been to try and transition my recording software from Garageband to Logic. I have enough knowledge to know what I'm trying to accomplish, but finding the corresponding button to push in Logic sometimes takes a while.
The other hurdle on this particular night was transposition. Reading concert pitch charts on Eb alto and Eb bari sax? Difficult, but not impossible. Reading concert pitch charts on tenor? Not too bad. Reading concert pitch charts in bass clef and transposing them to each saxophone? Ahh! Ya got me. I had to put the horn down and rewrite my chart in treble clef in order to save my brain.
At the same time that I recorded the audio, I also set up the camera and recorded video.
Anyway, editing took some time; some wrong notes from the whole transposition thing, some sloppy entrances from sight-reading, some "wait, which part am I recording right now?" things. Then I listened and tried to balance everybody's volume, and then listened to it without headphones and balanced it again, and so on.
Next up, I edited the video, trimming off the beginning and end where I am pushing the record button--stuff like that. From there, I dumped it into iMovie (and tried to remember from the last time I used it) how the work flow goes. Getting four shots in one movie was tricky--I put the first video in a quarter of the screen, saved it as a completed project, imported it back into iMovie, added another shot in another corner, saved it as a completed project, imported it...you see what I mean. Plus I experimented with trying to highlight each of the solos while they were happening, and that didn't work, so I had to scrap all that and begin a new edit.
Once I had the four stitched together, I added the recorded audio, as well as the beginning and ending slides. And hello 5 AM! It's finished!
Here's what I did:
The Yacht Rock Revue also recorded a version for this. Check it out, too! I played organ for most of it, and then stood up and blew a little saxophone at the end.
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
The latest 2020 Yacht Rock gig was at the Porsche Experience down by the Atlanta airport, playing three songs for...something...for Porsche. At this point, I don't remember. I think it was something about maybe trying to get people to come check it out, so they used local bands to highlight it.
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Sooooo...this shit continues with no end in sight.
There hasn't been much to write about over the past month or two. Outside of a few potential gigs that never materialized, my performances have been limited to recording a few "livestream" concerts with the Yacht Rock Revue. No one seems to mind that they're not actually live, and it allows our team to edit everything into a better performance. From our side of the production, it's definitely strange; the feeling is much closer to a rehearsal than a show, and it's difficult to overcome the reality that we're playing to an empty room. We're doing it, though. It's all we've got at the moment.
A few weeks ago, we played a corporate convention in Oklahoma City, and it too was a livestream. It was set up more or less as a television show, with several "sets" in different ballrooms.
On the first night, we set up our gear, sound checked, ate, and waited on a rehearsal that never happened.
Sunday, September 20, 2020
From there, we drove to the city of Castle Rock, where the gig was happening, and would you believe they had an Indian restaurant! I haven't had Indian food since March, so this was a treat. I did eat indoors, which made me a little nervous, but the place was almost empty (one other table in use), so I risked it. Aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower).
The amphitheater where we played was at a complex built in a valley. There was zip lining, an obstacle course, a soccer field, mountain bike trails, and a playground. Pretty cool. We were early for setting up gear, so I went for a little run around the trails.
Here's the stage. Very cool looking (though it faced west and got very warm during soundcheck. The fencing around the front kept the audience far enough away from us that we weren't in any danger.
The gig was, overall, really good, and it was nice to play for people again! However, I am not sure how successful the promoters were in keeping people masked and socially distanced. I don't know...maybe it was ok?
I played pretty well. The gig was only ninety minutes long, which limited the damage I could do.
I still haven't figured out how anyone plays saxophone in Denver. I brought a few different strengths of reeds to help with the altitude, but I ended up using the same reeds I've been on at home. My horns felt super dead, though. It was fine through a microphone, but bleah...nothing vibrated. There was just about no feedback through the horn.
The next morning, we met up at 6 AM to get back to the airport. Guzzled some coffee, got on the plane, fell asleep, woke up on our initial descent into Atlanta. It was almost normal.