Wednesday, February 28, 2007

5 Shows with Nick Strange

Hello Friends,

About a month ago I got a call from Dan Orcot. He is the leader of a band called the Nick Strange Group. He was in need of a drummer for the next month or so while his drummer recovered from knee surgery. So I went to one of their shows at a place called Goodnight Gracie in downtown Ann Arbor. I watched them all night and then picked up a few of their C.D.'s and went home to study. A week later I sat with Dan at his home studio and went though almost every song we would play. It was a 2 and a half hour power rehearsal, without a bass player. I would equate it to cramming for a big test. My mind felt worked afterwords.
A week later I was playing with Dan and a bass player named Rob Crozier in Rochester, MI. at a place called Hamlin Pub. It was a good warm up gig for me. The place was a full on sports bar, complete with about 20 television sets that all seemed to face the small corner that the band was in. Thankfully, they turned the T.V. that was right over my head off. With so much visual stimulation, it was hard for the crowd to focus on the band in the room, so their response was very "light". It took some pressure off the performance and let me ease my way into these songs. It doesn't matter how prepaired you make yourself, when the gig comes, the experience of playing live always changes how the songs feel and sound, so having a low pressure gig is perfect for feeling things out a bit.
The next day I was sick. Very sick. I had to find a replacement for a kirtan chant. Luckily, Dan Piccolo was in town. He is one of the few percussionist/tabla players that I can call to fill in for me on tabla. From what I hear he did a great job and everything went well....Thanks Dan!
The next day I dragged myself out of bed just in time to play with Nick Strange again at the Hamlin Pub again, but this time it was in Lake Orion and the bass player was now Mr. John Sperendi. Dan playes out a lot, so he needs a lot of musicians to cover when there are schedule conflicts. The show was about the same as the one two days earlier. There were a few more people in the crowd that were listening to the music, but for the most part it was very mellow and laid back. It was a good rehearsal-type gig for the week to come.
The following Thursday we played at Good Night Gracie. It was a fun show. Some people I knew came out and the band was sounding alright. I felt more comfortable with the songs and the place was set up nice for live music.
The next day was a road trip to Traverse City, again with Nick Strange. This time we were doing 2 nights at a place called the Union Street Station. It is a great venue for live music. Big nice stage, good sound system complete with a nice sound guy named Ben, and a built in crowd that appreciates and likes live music. It was a nice weekend in Traverse City and I found a great place for a western omlett called the Omlett Shoppe. It is right downtown and I reccomend it highly.

Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you soon,

John

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Recording at Big Sky and GLTW International Fest

Hello,

This past weekend was a good one. On Friday I was back in Big Sky Studios recording with Dave Buehrer and Jon Carmona. We were recording 3 tunes for Paledave's upcoming album. I have been very into recording since moving to Ann Arbor. Mostly because I have been able to have my nice drums set up in my basement studio, (and not a cold garadge, like our last house), but also because I have had more opportunities to get into some nice studios. Big Sky is one of the nicest I have been to, and our engineer Greg really knew his stuff. The studio is literally about 5 blocks from my house, so it wasn't a far trek for my drums, which have not been out of my basement since the last time we were at Big Sky, (which, by the way, was the same weekend we moved to Ann Arbor!). For this session I really paid attention to how my drums were tuned. It made such a difference when I got the snare drum in tune with the key of the song. I have been aware of the importance of tuning my drums for years, but when you play a gig, the band changes keys way too often to make retuning practical. In the studio however, it is essential, and it sounds so good when you get it right. I am also very lucky to have such great drums to play with.

From the studio I headed strait to Go Like The Wind for their annual International Festival. Meeta Banerjee and I played Tabla and Sitar in the Indian room. Every room in the school was done up to represent a different country. As always, I had a great time playing with Meeta. We were so into it that I didn't take any pictures, and didn't get up to walk around and check out the rest of the school. When it was over my hands and brain were worn out from the long day of recording and playing. I am looking forward to some more shows with Meeta coming up in April, I will keep you posted!

Thanks for reading and I will talk to you soon,

John

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My 100th Post!! Rockin' the Library

Hello Friends,

I am happy to tell you that this blog entry marks my 100th post! I can't believe that this has been going on for over 2 years already. Thank you for reading. It is thriling to share my musical life with you and I hope to keep it going for a long long time. I am constantly amazed at how the internet changes the way we live our lives, and share information. This blog has become a very important tool for me. It allows me to reflect on every musical experience I have in a very personal, yet very public forum. It has given me a perspective on my career choices that I don't think I would get by any other means. It helps keep my family and friends up to date with what I am doing. It gets me excited to write, and strengthens my ability to communicate. My favorite part about it is that is is a record of every gig I have played for the past two years. I have not yet gone back and read my blog. I feel like the longer I wait, the more special it will be. I want to thank you again for reading, and I would love to hear from you if you have the time......
So out of this new age of instant online information and endless electronic resource comes an unlikely candidate for live music....the public library! This is a heads up to any musicians out there looking for a sweet gig, drop a promo pack at your local public library. There are a ton of them out there right now booking all kinds of musical acts for concert series and community gatherings. It is not just a feeble attempt to get people back into books, that battle has been lost to the web. Rather it is a realization that people crave real experience over sound bytes any day.
I suspected this new phenomenon last year after playing a show with Gratitude to a packed house of people ready to dance and have a good time. It was at the Mount Clemens Public Library. On Saturday I played the show again and reaffirmed my suspicion. The crowd was into it. It wasn't as big of a crowd as last year, (probably due to an extreme cold spell that closed area schools for a couple days), but they were just as into it. People were dancing, clapping and having a great time. The next day I was looing in the Ann Arbor Observer, (the local events mag), and noticed that Ann Arbor Public Library has a concert series of it's own. I don't know how big this news is, but it is worth looking into if you are a musician, or lover of live music. It also feels good in an old fashioned kind of way to bring such good energy into what seemed to be a doomed institution. Take that Google.

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