Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Deep Blue, Kozora, Kirtan, Gratitude, Looking ahead

Hello again,

  June is coming to an end, (already?!), and I am happy to say the school year is done.  I am fully the most wonderful benefit of being a teacher - summer vacation!  Time to work on bikes in the garage, play golf, sit on the front porch and read a book, or just sit and relax.  Actually, the relaxing part is one I have to work on.  I always seem to find a way to keep very busy. 
  Lately I have been doing a lot of preparation
 and planning for July, when Samar Saha will be coming to the U.S. for another tour.  This time he is bringing his wife Madhumita, who is a terrific vocalist.  We will be playing a set at the Concert of Colors on July 19th.  It will be Samar,
 Madhumita, and the Kozora group.  It should be fun.  I am also organizing a workshop for them as well.  There has been a great response so far, and I am looking forward to spending more time with my Guruji.
  This month has been relatively light on the gigging front.  It started off on a Monday, actually it was the Monday just after the monster weekend I wrote about in my last two entries.  It was a nice, small show at the end of a string of bigger shows, and it was very relaxed.  I was with Deep Blue in a park in Walled Lake, MI.  We played the same show last year.  They have a nice little gazebo in a park close to downtown. One problem though, they don't really advertise, so people don't come out.  This year we had about 5 people show up, (twice as many as last year!).  It is a funny thing about performing though, it doesn't matter if there is just one person, the show must go on.  It is definitely more relaxed, but the quality of the music doesn't, (or shouldn't) change at all.  In fact, the 5 people that did come stayed until the last note, and even hung around while we packed up.  To me, that makes the performance worth it.  I always have a good time playing with that group, and it had been too long, so I was happy to do the show.
  The following weekend I found myself back in the Crazy Wisdom tearoom with KOZORA.  I was excited to play some free form improv.  It seems to put me in the mode of 'youthful thinking' on my drum set.  As I get older, I notice that I am increasingly concerned about quality control.  With improvised music, you never know what you are going to do, so you must give up your sense of control.  It is liberating and refreshing. Especially when you are playing with people who can listen, and don't feel like they need to say too much.  The Kozora group has been gelling very nicely lately, and I am looking forward to more shows with them.
 The following Friday was time for Kirtan.  It was supposed to be a double-duty day.  Gratitude was slated to play for the Go Like the Wind Family Fun Day, but some ominous thunderstorms caused it to be delayed until Tuesday.  That meant my day went much easier.  The attendance at the kirtan was down a bit, but the group sounded great.  All the extra practicing has been paying off.  
  Aside from learning the chants, the group has also been learning the delicate art of using a P.A. system in performance.  Since I wasn't pressed for time, we got a chance to do a nice, full sound check.  I think this was the first time that everyone really got to hear how they sound all by themselves with a microphone and digitally added reverb.  A calm comfort came from everyone understanding how they sounded through the system, that lead to everyone listening much better, and that lead to better playing.  Good listening always does.
  Fast forward to the following Tuesday.  I had to go into GLTW for a year-end meeting, and then it was off to Independence Lake for the make-up Family Fun Day.  Now, to give you some idea of how the gig went, I want to start off about 2 hours before show time.  I went to one of my favorite burrito joints to get some quick lunch.  I got a burrito for the road.  As I'm driving and eating I looked down and saw RAW chicken....Yikes!  I wrapped it up and threw it in the bag.  Just as I am lamenting my lost lunch I got a call from the Steel Band.  They were broken down on the freeway about 45 minutes from the park....Yikes!  
  I was close to the park, so I just went in to see if there were some parents that could help. There was, her name was Jan.  Jan had a big suburban with a hitch that was big enough to haul the bands trailer.  So the band had their van towed and they waited on the freeway next to the trailer for us to show up.  We got there, loaded everyone up and headed back to the park.  The band knows how to set up fast, and we were up and running just about an hour behind schedule.  So, thankfully, the best part of the day was the music.  It is so great that no matter what adversity is in the air, once the music begins, all the worries go away. Especially with a happy group like the steel band.
  So now the music was over and we had another dilemma.....Jan had to leave to take her daughter to a hockey game and no one had a truck big enough to haul the trailer...Yikes!  To top it off, the band had a gig the next day in some far away city and their truck was not going to be done in time.  The solution...call Uhaul.  So another parent took Charles to the local Uhaul to get a vehicle.  When they left I said my goodbyes to everyone and wished them a great summer.  When I got to my vehicle I could not find my keys.  They were nowhere to be found.  I thought back to the last time I saw them......IN JAN'S TRUCK.....YIKES!!  So I walked back to the party and told everyone the embarrassing news.  Everyone put their heads together trying to figure out what to do.  Eventually, we figured out which ice arena Jan went to.  A parent called the arena and had Jan paged over the loudspeaker.  She was there and she picked up the phone.  We told her the news and she went to her truck to look.  The keys were there.  The game was just finishing up, so she had to drive back to the park to give me my keys, (Thanks Jan!).  
  By the time she arrived Charles had gotten back with the Uhaul and everyone was ready to put an end to the day.  One small problem though.....the ball on the Uhaul was too small...Yikes!  Jan had the idea of cutting a tennis ball and using it as a shim. One of the parents had one, so we cut it to shape and the band was off.  I got home about 4 hours later than planned and waited for the chicken to do it's damage.  Luckily, it never did.

Thanks for reading,

John

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