Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Gratitude, Chili, Heat, Salsa, Crazy Wisdom, Bens Band

Hello,

Summer is moving right along and the gigs are happening faster than I can write about them. Let's see, when I last wrote in here I was on my way to a gig with the Steel band. It was about a mile off US 23 in a community called Hidden Lakes. It was me and the family minus Loretta, (she was at a small job in Grand Blanc). We played at the rec center which was right on the biggest lake in the community. We had views of 7 Million dollar homes and a bunch of people sitting in lawn chairs drinking wine. I thought it was interesting that I pass by this place every time I drive down to Ann Arbor and never guessed that just behind the trees lies all that money. They were having a chili cookoff, and I must say, lots of money does not buy you good chilli recipies. I was not impressed with the contestants, but perhaps I am being too harsh. The only other chili cookoff I have to compare it to was the 4th of July Chilli Cookoff and Carshow in Filmore, CA. There were people their who made their living off of chili, not investments, stocks, and whatever else buys a super house. Anyway the gig was cool, the band sounded great. We definitely feel the effects of playing on big stages. More intimate settings are much easier to control and allow a little exploration in the music. Everyone relaxes and the music sounds great.
Let's see, I also played on Thursday with the steel band in Gross Point...another haven for the filthy rich. We played at a park right on the shore of Lake St. Clair. It was HOT and MUGGY, but again, the band sounded great. This time we were playing with the whole family and Guy Barker. It was a simple 2 hour show. It was a union job, which means we had to sign a bunch of papers and get paid directly by the union. I am not sure if I am now a union member or what?!?
Saturday was a great one. The best part of it was that my wife Jody came and hung out with me all day. I started off the day playing with some friends of mine from UM Flint in a band called Los Constantinoples Quatro. I call em Bens Band. They are a new band and play some cool stuff. Bossa, salsa, jazz, groovy. It is a nice mix. The instrumentation is an electric classical guitar, vibes, and bass, both upright and electric. We played at the Fint Farmers Market for about an hour. Vendors at the market said we were the best band they have heard their in a long time. We also put out a tip jar and made 60 extra bucks. Once that was over, Jody and I were on our way to Ann Arbor for my Indian Classical music workshop at the Crazy Wisdom Tearoom. We went to Ashish Deshpande's place and met up with Meeta Banerjee and Aniket Joshi to go over what we would play and talk about. The workshop went great. There were about 30 or so people and the reception was great. We played and talked for 2 hours. When it was over we all went to Pizza house and laughed and ate till one in the morning. It was a good day.
Monday was lessons and the handdrum workshops at Oz's. Lessons are heating up for me because coming up on August 7th is my first student recital. So far there are about 8 students signed up for it, plus the workshop crew. We have been working on another original piece based on Tabla Bols but played on djembes and other similar drums. There are also a couple of tabla students that will play along with the group. It should be fun.
One interesting thing that happened at the end of the workshop is that Nick, one of my more experienced students, told me that the gig I was supposed to play with him at the Heidelberg this Thursday was out due to the fact that he couldn't find enough musicians to come in and play. It was supposed to be a gig for his band, but they lost a key group member and couldn't play without him. So when he told me it was off and he now needed to find another band to take his place I immediately told him about Los Constantinoples Quatro (Bens Band). I made a call and the band is booked. So now, tomorrow night I will be playing with Bens band again at the Heidelberg in Ann Arbor. Sometimes this music business is a heck of a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading,

John

Saturday, July 16, 2005

LifeFest, Theft, Gigs, Gigs, Gigs

Hello,

What a week it has been! Last weekend I played with Gratitude at Lifefest in Oshkosh, WI. It was a huge Christian rock festival meant to showcase the mainstream Christian rock bands that are out there today. Of coarse it came with a lot of praising and preaching, but the main focus was the music. Gratitude got the gig because one of the bands backed out 2 weeks before, and the guy who was putting on the whole thing just happened to be speaking at the Mackinac Island show we were playing at. We brought a full 10 piece band and played for a total of 55 Minutes. 10 minutes on Sunday morning for their opening service, and a 45 minute set on one of the side stages. It was a huge event. Over the weekend they estimated about 75,000 attendees. They paid REALLY well, and every other band we saw backstage had a huge tour bus and trailer to match. The money floating around in this religious world was no joke. I thought it was funny that the whole thing was put on by the "Life Corporation". I am all for the freedom of religion, but when you add so much money to the mix, I must admit, I become a bit skeptical about what is being done with it.
So anyway, after Oshkosh was over, I headed back home with a quick stop in Chicago to say hi to some friends and discuss a wedding band that we are forming for a friends upcoming wedding in our hometown of Marquette, MI. Chicago is a great city, full of life, clean(er) air, and great food. I love to visit. I spent the night and made it back to Ann Arbor just in time for some lessons and the hand drum workshop.
The rest of the week went pretty smooth, I got my new business cards, started prepairing for my first student recital, and even practiced a bit. Everything was cool, until Thursday. I was in Ann Arbor teaching at Oz's when someone went into my car, (yes, I left it unlocked), and took my big C.D. case which contained all the C.D.'s that I had bought in India. Not to mention some discs that were from friend's bands, and a few tapes of the first band I was ever in. It was heartbreaking. I am still not quite over it. I lament even the case itself. I had it since high school, and it has been in every vehicle I have ever owned, filled with all the music I am listening to at the time. Oh well, what can ya do!
Yesterday I played two gigs. One with Gratitude at a fancy golf club in West Bloomfield, where we played for the cocktail hour of some celebration for the club, then I high-tailed it to Ann Arbor where I did the Cafe Felix gig with Deep Blue for the first time in over a month. I had Jesse, one of my long-time students, set up my small Sonor kit at Felix so I could start on time. All in all, it was a good night, and it kept my mind off my recent loss. Tonight I play with Gratitude agian in South Lyon, MI. I don't know what it is for, but I am sure I will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading,

John

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mackinac Is. Path


Mackinac Is. Path
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

Lutheren Youth


Lutheren Youth
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

John and Guy


John and Guy.JPG
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

Mackinac Island

Hello,

What a wonderfully busy summer. I don't think I have spent one solid week at home since finishing school. I believe the last time I wrote was just before the Mackinac Island trip with Gratitude. That went really well, although it started off in true Gratitude style. I played a graduation party in Fenton that was less than 5 miles from my house. Right after that we all caravaned to a clubhouse party in Troy which went till 11p.m. From there we left for the bridge. There were 10 musicians total going to Mackinac. We fit into 3 cars and followed each other up. We got to the hotel at 5 a.m., slept for about 4 hours and went over to the Shepplers Ferry dock where we played for all the Lutheren youth as they got on the boat and headed out to the island. That lasted about an hour and a half. As soon as we finnished we had to rush to pack up, get our stuff on a boat, head over to the island, eat, and start setting up for the opening night party. It got into the realm of surreal because we were all so tired and worn out. The evening show was so great. We were playing outside on a deck overlooking the lake at the Mission Point Resort. The kids, all high school aged, were having a great time doing the conga line, macerena, limbo, etc. We had to stop at 11:30 because of a noise ordinance, (thank goodness), and move our stuff up to the main stage inside the resort. We finally got to sleep at about 1 a.m.
The rest of the trip was great. I got to ride my bike to every show, and the days were mostly free to roam the island and try not to spend too much money. The last performance was on Wednesday at 9 a.m., it was for their final sermon. I had to rush off the island after that because I had students that evening in Ann Arbor. I made it into the driveway at Oz's right at 6 p.m., just in time for my first student. Right back to business as usual. No gigs over the holiday weekend, so I went up north and spent time in the woods with my wifes family. It was so nice and relaxing. Now we are back and the summer is still heating up.
While we were up in Mackinac, the band got hired to play a festival in Oshkosh, WI. on July 10th. It is some kind of Christian rock festival. They say there will be about 9,000 people and a huge professional sound system. I can't wait. I feel a little out of my element as far as the religious aspect goes, but I am just looking forward to a great gig.

Talk to you soon,

John

Share this Blog!