Monday, March 19, 2007

Gratitude at MSU, Nick Strange on St. Patties Day

Hello,

What a fun weekend of gigs! First I went up to Lansing on my first trip to the Michigan State University campus. Gratitude was slated to play a show to promote African awareness. I believe they played this same show last year, but I was not able to play for some reason. I was happy to be able to come to this show. I don't get to play the African songs very often, so this show was a real treat. The rhythms are very infectious and the harmonies they sing are so juicy. I was happy to see that Dahjumbay, (the 11 year old wonder on the steel drum), was also singing, and sounding great! There was also a guest drummer, (I forgot his name...sorry), who played an interesting set up of like 10 different size drums that were all sitting verticaly on the ground. He was making very intricate polyrhythms and great catchy melodic ideas happen, all with just 2 sticks, (no feet). He also brought with him a couple of the most intense dancers I have seen in a long time. They were so energetic and powerful. They definitely stole the show when they were out on the floor. At the end of the show we did a big drum/dance jam where people from the crowd came up and played some drums and danced with all of us. It was a high energy evening that made me happy to be a drummer.

The next day was St. Patricks day. I was slated to play a nice 2 hour show with Nick Strange at Good Nite Gracie from 8-10. Nick, (the founder of the group) was selling tickets all week, so the crowd was full of supporters, which made it really fun to play. Indian musicians often talk about how the energy they recieve from the crowd greatly affects the perfromance, and this night was a perfect example. When the crowd would clap for solos, and cheer after pieces were played, the whole group seemed to play with so much more energy. It was also a perfect time to go on. There were just enough people in the place to fill the seats. By the time we were done and the band after us was loading on, the place had filled up with a rowdier party crowd. It was a perfect time to split.

As I headed home, I listened to the Chicago recording in my car. I am so thankful for the experiences I am having as a musician, teacher, husband, son, friend, and student. I feel very lucky to be doing what I love for a living and I hope it just gets better from here. This coming up weekend I will be playing with the Kirtan group in Ann Arbor and then doing an evening of devotional song with Judy Piazza in Lake Orion. I couldn't have scripted a nicer way to bring a sense of closure this incredible last few weeks, as I get ready for a great summer. Thank you for reading, and I will talk to you soon!

John

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