Tuesday, August 30, 2005

August-Bay City, Cafe Felix, Bloomfield Hills, New Job

Hello,

Well, August has been a relatively slow month as far as music goes. It has been a good time to catch up on work around the house, time with the family, and, of coarse, practicing. The gigs have been light. I played a 45 minute show up in Bay City, MI. with The Gratitude Steel Band out in a park for 200 kids. I think it was the second week in August sometime. We were playing the chicken dance, macerena, hokey pokey, etc. What ever keeps em' moving. Gratitude had another gig happening at the same time, so they had to split the band up. I ended up playing with Loretta on vocals and double seconds, (pans), Anthony on bass, and Dayjumbe on lead pan. I was impressed that Dayjumbe could hold it together so well, considering he is only 9.

Last Friday I played with Deep Blue again for the first time in over a month. It was at Cafe Felix in Ann Arbor. The gig was fun and laid back as always. I was very happy to see some of my students and friends come out. It motivates me to keep sending those bulk e-mails out to let everyone know whats up. Chris the bass player couldn't make the gig due to the fact that his wife had twins the night before. It was still fun to play with Paul and Scott. It is like we can all still feel the bass and play off that feeling. It gives the music a boost. Remember, we had been playing that gig for over a year without a bass player, so it was not so wierd this time. I look forward to playing with them again this coming up Friday. Not sure if Chris will make this one either...we'll see.

So the only other gig was on Sunday with Gratitude. It was the whole family and Guy Barker. We played for a fund-raising party at someones house in Bloomfield Hills. It was a fun gig. There was one lady that danced and enjoyed the band the whole time we were playing. Other than that everyone was pre-occupied with the silent auction, the food, and the schmoozing. Gratitude is used to playing for crowds like this, and it is one of the few bands that I play with that can keep the energy level high without the crowd having to feed it. The name says it...Gratitude. They truly play with it everytime they get behind the instruments.

Oh yea. I recently got hired as a music teacher at Go Like the Wind Montessori School for this upcoming year in Ann Arbor, MI. I will be teaching the 4th,5th, 6th, and 7th grade classes. It sounds like a lot, but because of the way they combine students together, it boils down to just 3 hours a week. I think that the ideas I have been coming up with will have to be whittled down a bit considering the time constraints, but I definitely look forward to starting my career as a school teacher. I got the job through a recommendation from Steve Osburn, the owner of the store where I teach my private students and workshops, not to mention a new World Percussion Ensemble Class that will be starting in a couple of weeks. Anyway, Steve is a teacher at the school and he wanted to lighten his load, so he gave me the nod. We will be working together alot in the coming year, and I look forward to it all.

Cool, I think that is it. I appreciate you reading, and I will write again soon.

John

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

No Los, More Gratitude, Student Recital, Goin Home

Hello again. It has felt like too long since my last entry. Let's see, the last time I wrote I was happy about the connection made between my student Nick and the band I just played with, Los Constantinoples. Well, the gig we were supposed to play was double booked, and we got the boot. These kinds of things happen when you work with no contract. So instead I got the night off, which I used to ride my bike around Ann Arbor. I think the connection is not lost yet either. I have a feeling this will come to pass again soon...
Two weeks ago on Saturday I played with Gratitude at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborne, MI. It was cool. We played in one of the confrence rooms for a Greek Orthadox church event. The crowd wasn't too lively, but the band was kickin', still using the energy created by the whole Mackinac, Life Fest excitement. We played with the family plus Guy, myself, Jacquie, and Cynthia. We got to do some of the cool gospel tunes that we did for life fest. I remember watching one of the servers dance as if she knew one of the tunes really well. I remember thinking that she must know the song because the band in her church playes it, and it gets the whole congregation dancing. I got the sense that she wanted to really get down, but was held back by her duties as a server. There wasn't much dancing, except when the Tahitian dancers took over for a set. All in all it was a good gig.
The rest of the week was spent getting ready for the student recital on Sunday. Posters, lessons, extra rehearsals, programs, phone calls, cancellations, etc. I had one show to play before the recital. It was down in Detroit at the Russel family's church. I was very happy to see where they went to church. I know how much of a part of their life the church is, and how it has helped them through some rough times. I was happy to play music with them there. I couldn't stay for the whole gig though, I had to make it to another gig at a house party in Bloomfield Hills. I wasn't slated to play it, but at the last minute it was found in the contract that their was supposed to be 5 musicians. Since the guy playing drums, Kelly, was also a pan player and singer, it was no problem for me to come up and play drums. Easy fix. The party was a lot of fun to play. We had Guy, Lamar, Kelly, Anthony, myself, and Charles even showed up for the last set. We got to play just about as loud as we wanted and the people at the party were really appreciative. It was the right kind of atmosphere for making some really good music. I was tired at the end though. The summer has been hot, and driving around in this heat takes it's toll. I was feeling it by the time I got home at 12:30 a.m.
The next morning I had to get up early to finish the programs and make all the last minute preperations for the student recital. Jody and I went down early so we could take our nephew Gavin to a kids open stage at Oz's. I wanted him to be able to perform and then check out what my students were doing. He was excited all day, and he really helped to keep me laughing and calm. What can I say about the recital. It was awesome. It was go great to see all the students with their friends and families together in one room, talking, laughing, clapping. I was a proud guy. The students did awesome. I will put up a place on my website soon so you can hear it.

This weekend I will be heading up to my hometown, Marquette, MI. I can't wait. Jody and I are taking Aniket, one of the tabla players from India that I play with. It should be a great time. I have got no gigs booked, but I am sure we will be playing somewhere. I hope you have a great weekend and I will write again soon. Thanks for reading.

John

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