Gig 02/07/03 Gaslamp
It must be that with the Gaslamp the city fathers are trying to
emulate the "Big City" experience that one would get in a place like
New York. For example there are people coming up asking for spare
change, and there is nowhere to park or often even a
place to pull into to unload my gear. There are loading curbs, but
these are taken up by gimicky horse drawn carriages that take up the
space waiting for customers (leaving small, aromatic piles of
residue), or by "pedicabs" which are not, as one might assume from
their name, cabs driven by children, or cabs driven by pedophiles, but
"bike cabs" often pedaled by southern California surfer-type dudes
sporting rasta dreads.
This night I happen to be playing with a latin jazz band in a
restaurant/bar/club owned by the widow of and named after a talented
songwriter who died before his time. This is a fine place to play,
and the staff treats the musicians well, and with respect.
Although I like to play all kinds of music, and love jazz, I'm not
what one would call a true jazz musician. I know this because I hear
real jazz pianists and am thoroughly blown away by their
improvisational talents and the cool ideas they come up with during
their solos. Listening to me next to the real deal would be akin to
watching the Oakland Raiders' center engaged in a pas de duex with
Mikhail Barishnikov (hint: center == me). Thus, I am honored that
this band asks me to play with them.
As any good latin band should be configured, the number of
percussionists in this band matches or exceeds the number of other
instrumentalists. We have a "normal" drummer, a timbale player, and a
conga player. Then comes bass, sax, and keyboards (yes, I know piano
is technically a percussion instrument, but let's see how many
pianists have gigs as percussionists in thrash metal bands).
This entry is getting kinda long, so on to the gig: Fun gig! You can
tell the fun gigs 'cause all of a sudden the night is over, the tip
jar is full, and you have this cool musical glow. All night I felt
really good communication with the bass player, and often found myself
going into a "percussion trance" while comping behind the sax player,
settling into the solid groove underlying the beautiful organized
confusion of the percussionists' syncopation.
Gig 02/01/03: Bistro221
I really like playing requests even if I haven't
played the song for quite a while, or ever played
it at all (if it's simple enough :-)
The trick to playing solo gigs is to have enough
songs on a list to help out with ideas, since
it seems that I can never think of a song if
someone just comes up and says "Hey! Play something." I'll always come back with "So what's your favorite tune?" and they won't be able
to think of anything either, so I'll ask their
favorite artist, and that usually works.
I don't have trouble with song lists anymore
since I got a palm m500 a few months ago. I just have a "memo" item with
a list of songs. Whenever I think of a song I
like I stick it on the list. So convenient, but
hard to read on the gig :-).
Back to the gig. It was a bit slow in the restaurant and I wasn't getting much
response. I had the mental conversation "I'm
I sounding OK out there or really sucking?" but
I persevered. Towards the end of the night, after
the folks had finished their meals, they walked
over to me to tell me how much they had enjoyed
my music. That felt so good.
I'd like to do more solo gigs, but my calendar
is pretty full with my other bands for the
next few months, so I don't feel too motivated
to go out and hustle.