Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Kirtan, Gratitude High Energy, Pictures

Hello,

On Friday I played in my first ever Kirtan event. For those of you that have never heard of Kirtan, it is, as far as I know, an event where a vocalist, backed by a group of musicians, leads audience members in chants consisting of Hindu mantras and phrases. There has been quite a buzz about it lately and I was very interested to see what it was all about. The event I played at was sort of a dress rehearsal for bigger events to come. There were only a limited number of people invited and there were a few bugs to be worked out, but all in all it sounded really good, and I look forward to more events in the future. Check out artists like Ram Das, and Ragani if you are interested to learn more.
On Saturday I played with Gratitude Steel Band at a house party in Clarkston. It was a really fun gig. I was amped from the show in Marquette, and Guy Barker was smokin' all night. I love to play with vetran musicians like Guy, because you just never know what they have in store on any particular night. On this night, Guy was playing things that I never heard before, and I felt like I was getting a glimpse into his past. What I mean is that, as a musician, you are always working to develop your craft by practicing and playing new things. To really master something you need to play it thousands of times. Guy has done this for many years and on Saturday I think he pulled out some of his licks that he had mastered long ago. It felt fresh and very energetic. I am very determined to bring him up to my hometown of Marquette, MI. so he can experience a crowd equal to that energy. Lamar Woodall and Kelly were the other two musicians on the gig, and they always sound good too. Lamar was a bit stressed towards the end of the night because he was misinformed about when the show ended, so he ended up being late for another gig he had in Novi. I guess, as a musician, that is not the worst spot to find yourself in, but it is a shame when it makes the music less fun to play.
Looking at the calendar I see that the next gig is on Sunday with Gratitude at a church. I will tell you more about it. In the meantime, I have been working long hours on my website (johnchurchville.com) and I finally have pictures up, so check it out.

Thanks for reading,

-John

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Gratitude, Deep Blue, Rock n' Roll at Jess's Wedding

Hello again,

Well, once again it has been far too long since my last entry. Currently I am taking a couple of classes at Eastern Michigan University, teaching 4th-7th grade music class at a Montessori school in Ann Arbor, I have a private student load of about 25 students, I am still doing the hand drum workshops on Mondays, and I have just started the new World Percussion Ensemble class every thursday. The schedule is pretty spread out and I am having a bit of trouble finding internet access throughout the day, and when I do, I find myself working on my home page more than anything. I have missed the regular entries and vow to try and find the time. This blog feels like an old friend that I have been neglecting. I realize that as far as the big picture, taking a couple of weeks off is not that big of a deal, yet, now that I sit and think about all that has happened I wish I would have put it down while it was fresh. So anyway, here is what has happened since last time...

I played with the Gratitude Steel band for a wedding reception somewhere near Clarkston MI. at a park. I remember that it was an absolutely perfect day and I was happy to be playing an outdoor gig. The wedding was a Hawaiian theme and we got to play with the Tahitian dancers, which always makes for an interesting gig. That was, I think, two weeks ago and I have not played with them since.
Deep blue was pretty active in the last couple of weeks. We had two Fridays in a row at Cafe Felix, and then we played at the French Laundry in Fenton the following Thursday, I believe. It was a benefit for the Fenton area schools. $250 a plate for a absolutely stunning 7 coarse meal. The highlight of the gig was definitely the food. They gave us most of the coarses all on one plate, but it was incredible even without all the fancy presentation. The music was good too. We got lots of compliments, and the band was sounding nice, not to mention it was only 10 minutes from my home...a very valuable perk.

Just 3 days ago I was up in my hometown of Marquette, MI. for a very special gig with my good friends Ryan Staples, Mike Waite, and Jared Smith. We played for our friend Jesse Ross's wedding. She the only friend of ours that has every major recording of every individual project each of us has done, and she is one of the few people that could have pulled us from our very busy lives to play a show. The show was on of the most fun, creative, good sounding, and joyful experiences I could have imagined. We only had one day to rehearse, and It could have not been more busy leading up to the reception, but once we got on stage to play, everything came together as smooth as silk. We actually played for 4 hours straight with no breaks. We had no name until right before we played. I asked the audience for a name and someone yelled out ROCK N" ROLL, so that was it. It made for a lot of fun comments throughout the night..."Rock n' Roll will never die", etc. We finished our prepaired set really early, and ended up playing a crazy medly that lasted 70 minutes. All spontanious and all in the best of fun. I have been working to edit the recording and can't wait to listen to it some more. By the way, Jesse got married to Matt Macklin, who is also a friend of mine, and a coneseiur of good music, food, and a good time. I congradulate them both on a beautiful wedding and kick butt ceremony.

Looking to the future, I have my first ever Kirtan performance coming up on Friday. Kirtan is, as far as I know right now, an Indian form of meditation that involves music and chanting that is meant to bring the audience and performers up to a high and equal level of awareness through sound, vibration, and whatever else gets transmitted. I am very interested and excited that I was asked to do it. I will let you know how it went. Also, I am playing with Los Constantinoples again for the first time at the Heidelberg in the beginning of October. I am looking forward to that. Otherwise, I will see what comes up and let you know. It was good to write again, and as always, I thank you for reading.

John

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