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Do you ever have one of those days...


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...when nearly every note you play sounds bad and you just can't seem to lock in with the band?


Boy, I sure did last night. We had the great opportunity to fill in for another band that couldn't make the gig a a local country club. A real classy jacket and tie affair. I'm usually excited to play a new place, especially one that is a step up in pay-grade, but for some reason this has been weighing heavy on my mind all week.


We had to load in from the parking lot, via a 200 ft uphill artisan pebbled sidewalk so the carts bounced enough that we could not stack stuff very high, through a narrow and heavy hydrolically closing door that could not be propped open, down a narrow and busy hallway to a tiny elevator that could only fit a few speaker cabinets at a time. Up one flight and down another 300 ft of hallway, around several corners, to a long wooden entryway/dance floor adjacent to the dining room. Of course the designated "stage" area of the dance floor was about 10' by 15'. Fortunately we are only a four-piece and brought the small PA for the semi-quiet venue. Still got frowns from the management as we had to fudge over the tape "walls" a bit...only about a foot in front. As it was, I spent the evening behind the stage left speaker cabinet, sound board to my left in a tight corner, keys stacked three high in front, leaning against the PA cabinet, my keyboard speaker stack directly behind me about six inches from my back-side, the drummer's ride cymbal four inches from the top board's highest key and his high-hat partially under the piano. I never understood claustrophobia until this night.


Had to be there at 2PM to set up well before the event started at 5:30 at which time they wanted nice, pre-recorded dinner music. I selected lots of big band swing and jazz standards that seemed appropriate for the venue. After the first couple of tunes (Frank Sinatra then Diana Krall), the manager requested more peppy tunes, so I brought up some Benny Goodman. The boss came back requesting something more contemporary so with nod and a smile I brought up some Michael Buble...some of the more lively stuff and he seemed happy for a bit, but I had to constantly monitor the next song to ensure it passed the expected tempo threshold. The house had a good intercom system, but the club wanted me to announce that the buffet was ready for their dining pleasure over the band's PA. Again with the respectful nod and smile compliance.


After dinner, the awards went on for an hour where I could finally take a break and get a drink of water. Desserts were served and we began to play, but it was a beautiful evening outside and most of the patronage vacated to the patio. I can't blame them, but it was disheartening to play to an empty room. Well, there was one very inebriated fellow that danced to nearly every tune...by himself...fast and slow. Good dancer, though.


The tight proximity made it quite challenging to run sound from the back corner of the stage, and I was stuck there with the only way out over the drummer's throne. My piano sounded woofy and muted with the speakers so close to my back. Probably would have sounded a little better if my ears were at my belt loops. I tried to avoid piano all night. Brass and sax sounded okay, but it was still hard to hear the appropriate levels. VR09's organ was the best experience after tweaking the drawbars for each tune, but still couldn't hear all that well.


Exhausted and head pounding, the night finally came to an end. Management and staff had a couple of comments that we did well, and even if that was just to make us feel better, it did. We were able to drive our cars up the golf cart trail and unload out the back door...the shining moment of the day.


It certainly wasn't the worst gig ever but I must have had a poor attitude from the start 'cause it wasn't any fun. They don't pay very well but the bar gigs are much more enjoyable for me.

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I feel your pain. Your loading experience reminds me of a fund-raiser gig our band played about 8 years ago.


After the first couple of tunes (Frank Sinatra then Diana Krall), the manager requested more peppy tunes, so I brought up some Benny Goodman.


Must have been an older crowd.

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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