Saturday, October 16, 2004

Two Sets from a Subset

Tonight, I got to play with our usual guitarist Alex and our inaugural bassist Gordon at a new coffeehouse in Lewisville (it's in the Castle Hills development, so far southeast in Lewisville that I thought it was actually in Carrollton). The place is called Perk-N-Steep, and it was really nice, once I found it (it's in the back end of a shopping center--which Alex warned me about beforehand--but the shopping center looks like townhomes from the rear, which totally threw me; I passed it once, and poor Gordon passed it three times!). It's smaller than Ke Davi or your average Starbucks, but it's done up really nicely, with antique furniture and a separate "reading room" in the back--the very essence of a "neighborhood coffeehouse.". The stage would maybe have fit four people, tops, so it's not really a place for the full-blown TD/D to perform, but smaller groups will do nicely there.

We did two sets of mostly standards--a few staples from the TD/D book, at least the ones which can be done drum-less. The place was full most of the time, thanks to a combination of local regulars and the Alex Fan Club (he does a full-on PR blitz each time we play). The people were really nice, and the coffee drinks were quite good (I had a mocha made with Ghirardelli chocolate, and then a "Camelatte"--remember that it's in Castle Hills and you'll get the play on words), and the "medium" size was enormous, and served in an actual glass coffee cup instead of styrofoam.

This place was really not as far away as it sounds--about ten minutes from Midway and the George Bush, and the set time (7-9 p.m.) was short, so I hope to go back there soon and do some more "subset" gigs. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Kicked in the Foosballs

We did it...we actually played my deranged version of "Foosball.” More on that later...

Tonight went better than expected, and given that we had 2 new people sitting in and just rehearsed today, that makes it even better. We were able to debut a few tunes we weren't able to pull off last time, and make the ones already in our arsenal better.

First off though, we were all a little concerned with the weather and how it would affect the crowd turn out. Also whatever high school band people we all knew would be wrapped up in a near by marching competition. Freaking marching competition. However, the weather wasn't exactly...Florida-esque, so we still had the normal bustling crowd in the beginning, which wound it's way to down to a small core at the end. Our crowd sizes have been consistent throughout the 3 gigs, but personally I was really pleased tonight because some people run for their freaking basements at the sign of rain.

Tonight we decided to be daring a debut a few pieces that were a couple of notches higher on difficulty level than usual. They were:

Samba de Zuachiñu: This piece sprang from the mind of our own Kev. The head itself wasn't so much the difficult part, or the changes. These are relatively forgiving. The unison after the solos, however, is downright treacherous. The drums back off, so the horns/guitars are basically naked. It's notey, but tasteful. I did pretty well on it myself...the first 4 lines or so. My contacts have the bad habit of blurring when I'm really concentrating on something. So beyond whatever technical difficulties I had, I couldn't see the darn music. Funny thing is there's an easy solution to this...BLINK! After carefully dancing(tripping in my case) through the unison, a drum solo takes us back to the head. The crowd really enjoyed it.

In Case You Missed It: This tune is pretty straightforward beyond the rather tricky rhythm the whole song is based on. This little figure sank our chances of doing it last time, but we pulled it all together tonight to whip out a great chart. This was during our last set and I had a little bit of a brain fart, in the fact that I went to the coda before I played the head again. Silly Dingus. The coda basically involves a dog fight if you will, between the 3 horns. In the end…I’d say the audience won. :D We got on the edge of weird and raucous but didn’t tip over. The medium swing ending wrapped up things nicely.

Foosball: As aforementioned, I was actually surprised we pulled this off. This is a fast cut time funk that has a random 3⁄4 bar thrown into the head…just for the sake of messing up the band I guess. This all leads to a very straightforward bridge, which leads to a solo section vamping on a Gminor chord. After the solo section is when my derangement kicks in. I took a rather popular figure first used by Charles Mingus, and basically slapped on a 3⁄4 section that is played in 1 based on that figure, while the saxes play an augmented version of the main statement, which then leads to a sax cadenza. Music jargon out to wazoo, right? Basically, I metaphorically duct taped a Mingus-section onto a Lyle Mays tune. I was afraid it would sound like crap. It didn’t. First hurdle. I was afraid the band wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Second hurdle. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to pull it off at the actual gig. Third hurdle. We did it. There were a few shakey spots, but come on, the bass and drummer were sightreading. Plus the transition from cut time to 3⁄4 in one just made people’s head spin. Plus, the actual transition ALL depended on the guitar player, who is the first and only person to play right at the switch, followed by the band 4 bars later. Treacherous? Yes. Hard? Yes. Pulled it off in front of a crowed of greatly appreciative people? Oh yeah. I got them to clap during the cadenza too (like that compares the great work by Matt and Kev). They (the crowd) just ate the whole tune up.

Of course it was greatly satisfying that my first arrangement ever was 1. Performed well, and 2. Was difficult enough to give a UNT graduate with a masters a headache. Of course I owe this all to TD/D. My derangement was just scribbles on paper until ya’ll brought it to life.

Tonight was definitely a lot heavier than the last 2 gigs. The new bass player/drummer really dug into the grooves and gave us some hip stuff to blow over. I think the only problem that was created was that we got a little loud sometimes, but if that’s my only complaint…it was a good night. Despite being new to the group they followed the soloists, filled in the gaps, and did their job better than we could have asked for. We all gelled really nicely, and even though they said it was fun, I’m sure Kev and Matt and I can agree the pleasure was ours. My tastes tend to lean towards the heavier feel, so I was just allll over it.

Now here comes the obligatory part where I critique myself. I didn’t warm up nearly as much as I needed to, so my endurance went all to crap. When I began playing my lips felt better than ever, but by the middle of the second set I was getting really tired. It works like this…if you were to sprint right now without stretching, you’d probably go as fast or faster that you possibly could. However, in a short amount of time, the muscles would tense up and fatigue would set in. That happened to my lips. This basically led to a limiting of my high range, which is a pretty essential part to my soloing at times. Speaking of which, I liked my solos tonight, but I found myself being a bit repetitive. Add this on top of the limited range and you really get a homogenized solo on each piece. Also, dinner was sitting rather heavily in my stomach (or maybe it was last night’s dinner if I told you about it) so my energy level was down a little more than normal. Though I was trying to lay back a little. It wasn’t as dramatic as it seems, but of course to soloist…ever little nuance has a big bright flare on it. However, to actually shed some light on positive aspects, I began to recognize and read the chords better in the tunes rather than flounder around, so whatever runs I did worked really well. I was able to keep up on the faster tunes both mentally and physically, and keep whatever material I had tasty. I still think I have to play way too loud when soloing, so maybe if I can get the rhythm section to lay back a bit, it’ll solve that problem easily. The quality of my solos is staying consistent, which is great.

All in all, the night went great. We weren’t background music by any means of the imagination, and we’re beginning to define our sound. Hopefully we’ll stay on the heavier side of things when we’re in charge of what we play. As far as anything else, hey, they pay, we play.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Tonight's Lineup

Tonight is our next Ke Davi gig, and there are a few new faces for this show. Obviously, Halfling and Dingus and I are still there--the wouldn't be under the TD/D name if it were otherwise--and Alex is on board for tonight as well. Fillling in for the ailing Gordon will be Young Heo on bass, and John Whitlow holds the drum chair for tonight.

Some of the new tunes we're hoping to add for tonight include "In Case You Missed It" and "Foosball." My "Samba de Zuachiñu" is a possibility, but that might be tough with only one rehearsal's worth of time.

I hope a lot of people will make it out tonight; I've sent out the usual emails, but our pool is a bit shallower this time because all of my high-school students are involved in various marching contests today. One of the contests is practically within rock-throwing distance of Ke Davi (and we entertained the idea of putting a flyer on every car in the stadium parking lot *grin*), but unless the students ask off the bus ride back and come over with their parents, the logistics are a little difficult. We're hoping that friends, family, people from the college and my fraternity brothers will take up the slack this time.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to playing with this lineup tonight. The recap will follow later, of course.