Another Gig in the Books

Last night’s gig was pretty successful. We’ve played three shows together and they’ve all been at the same place. The crowd was smaller but respectable. Very respectable considering we had a snow storm that morning. The conditions were okay by the evening though so no one risked life and limb coming to see us. Thankfully.

There was a shorter than usual (for us) turn around between last night and the previous show, and the holidays made scheduling rehearsals difficult, so there were only three new songs. One really surprised me. Someone dug up a really heavy arrangement of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and we learned it. It is really fun to play, but I thought it would be a dud with the audience. Nope, it got the best reaction of the night. I couldn’t believe it. I guess ol’ Phil just does that to people. Now we do one Phil Collins song and one Peter Gabriel song. I think we should learn some Genesis for the next show. I’m thinking “Return of the Giant Hogweed”.

We need to figure out how to manage time better. Kevin the drummer put together three setlists, all with 11 songs and all about the same running time. We plan on doing three sets, with each one starting at the top of the hour. It never works out that way. We always end up cutting songs from set #3. Last night we started right on time. The second set started a few minutes late but it was close. We tried editing the second set on the fly to suit the crowd’s mood and we ended up with 13 songs. It was long. Very long. Somehow we, as usual, ended up starting the last set at 11:30ish and we had to skip around. The setlist for the third set always ends up being more suggestions than rules. Whatever. One of these days we’ll get the timing right.

Speaking of set lengths, I was very happy to learn that the other guys were all running out of gas by the end of each set and I wasn’t the only one. The last song or two in the first set were tough. My hands were feeling tired and weak and I couldn’t do some of the things I wanted to do. Same with the second set. The last two or three songs were tough. On the third set we were about halfway through and I was toast. I actually had to insist on dropping one song because I didn’t think I could physically play it anymore. What is the solution to a problem like this? Practice. Lots of it. Practice builds up stamina. That’s what I need, and what it sounds like all of us need. Not rehearsals, but sitting at home and practicing. That would help a lot. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough hours in the day most times. We do our best.

I did not wear ear plugs at all last night. I wanted to hear my guitar as it really sounded. The result? It sounded okay at first. For the rest of the show? Who knows. I was loudish, and standing right next to the drummer who was also loud. By the second set my ears were completely fried. Everything sounded like mush. I couldn’t make out any details to any of the sounds were were making. It was sort of like a great big loud wash of white noise. Fortunately I recovered pretty quickly and my ears are fine today. I think maybe all the years of insisting on ear plugs might be paying off. If I subjected myself to that much volume without protection on a regular basis, I think my ears would be shot pretty much all the time. The moral of the story? Wear ear plugs.

We booked two more shows at Racks Bar and Grill. One for April and one for June. I will be posting about them as they get closer. You should all go. It is a lot of fun. Honestly. No, really. I promise.

Fuzz

We had a band practice today. It was the last one before Friday night’s gig.

The band agreed that from this point forward… no more December gigs. This month has been suck after suck after suck, and there just isn’t time to work on the music. Practice went well today, apart from the singer having a cold and having to take things easy. We cranked through all three sets as quickly as possible and we were all toast by the end. Fingers just didn’t respond the way they should have. It was tough, but over all there were few disasters.

I took my amp and my pedals home in the hopes that I will be able to work on all of my pedal settings through the actual amp I want to use at the gig. Unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do what I need to do, and it will require volume to get it right. Still, I hope to spend some time with it. Fingers crossed.

Four days to the gig.

Show Recap – Sort Of

My fist gig with Lizardfish was two nights ago.  How did it go?

Well, I’m typing this right now so that must mean I survived.  That’s a good thing, right?  Right?

I punched out of work at 5:30 and had the car loaded up by 6:00.  When I got t Mike’s I loaded my amp, board, and gig bag into the car, and helped him load some things too.  Greg was there and he helped us both.  Kevin had already picked up his drums earlier in the day.  Mike’s cellar looked a little strange without our tons of stuff everywhere.  

We were planning on getting to the bar around 7:30 or so.  Being 4th of July weekend I included traffic into my schedule, but ended up going back roads from Mike’s house and was super early.  I actually watched some Netflix in the car to kill time.

The bar itself is on the second floor, so lots of carrying heavy stuff up stairs.  Let’s just say the big fat, totally out of shape guy was feeling it.  I was covered in sweat and we hadn’t even set up yet.  Oh yeah, and it was HOT in there.  We set up all of our equipment okay.  I thought there would be someone there who knew their way around the house PA.  There wasn’t.  Greg figured it out, but some of their gear… I’m not saying it looked like a fire hazard, but I think they’ve probably been lucky.  The audio stuff was ok though and we got a sort of decent mix.  We had to tweak it as the night went on.

The crowd was much bigger than I expected, which was a very happy surprise.  When the first set started I think we were pretty tense as a group.  There were some mistakes.  I screwed up on Greg’s mother’s favorite song.  I bet she hates me now.  Sorry.  I also kicked off the Eddie Money song in the wrong key.  Effin’ train wreck there, Robbie.  Still, everyone said we sounded good.  I thought we were okay, but we could have been better.

The second set though.  I’m not sure what happened, but we were confident, we played tight as a unit.  I was relaxed and played as well as I’ve played in a long time.  Every song went over better than we had hoped.  It was a really good set, and it was fun.  I was feeling pretty proud of us when the set came to an end.

The third set is where we hide the clunky songs as most of the crowd is either nicely drunk by then, or has already left.  Still, the good vibes continued.  We actually played a request.  As we got near the end though, I think we were starting to run out of gas.  The adrenaline was running low.  I had managed two and a half sets without any pain in my hands at all, but with four songs left, or so, it started creeping in.  When it was over I was feeling a little relieved.  I don’t know that I had another song in me.

As for all my new gear, it held up well.  My amp was on the floor right behind me and I couldn’t hear it very well.  I learned that a few of the new pedals are a little more sensitive in the knobs department than I expected, and I was moving the volume controls around a little as I was stepping on the switches.  I need to watch that in the future as it messed a couple of things up.

I think the people who saw us who had also seen the band play with their original guitar player were pleased enough that they won’t turn on us (at least they seemed that way outwardly, who knows what they were really thinking), and I know for a fact that we won over some new fans too.  We played a good show, we had a lot of fun, we helped a few people enjoy their Friday night.  All in all I’m very pleased, and looking forward to the next show in October.

One last note.  We didn’t get paid much, but what we got we split between us before we left.  What did I do with my share?  Did I spend it on new gear?  Nope.  Did I buy my beloved wife (who stayed for the whole show!  Thank you, sweety!) a nice meal?  Nope.  What did I do with that money?  I used it to open a new bank account!  Yeah!  Responsible rock and roll for the win!  

Pre-Gig Rituals

I haven’t played a paid gig since 2005. (I wonder if I could find our old website on archive.org and maybe get the exact date. hmmmm) I know there were things I used to make sure I did before I left the house to load in at the bar, but what were those things? 11 years seems like such a long time.

This morning before work I did the ceremonial trimming of the finger nails. Skipping that step has in the past resulted in me having to rip them off mid-set, which pretty much guarantees they’ll be way too low and hurt a lot.

I spent my lunch break performing the ceremonial changing of the strings. Both Gibsons are ready to go, although I only plan on playing one of them. The other is an emergency back up. During the string changing, one of the old strings tasted blood. A clipped end stabbed the side of a finger on my right hand and drew a little blood. Nothing that will be an issue tonight, unless I develop tetanus or something.

I have a little pile of stuff on the dining room table that I will throw into my backpack. Extra strings, extra cables, an extra fuzz pedal, an extra glass slide even though I have no intention of playing any slide tonight. You never know.

What else?

I skipped eating lunch in favor of strings, so I have to feed. I’m working from home, so maybe I’ll order a sub.

I have not yet had the ceremonial vomit. That wasn’t always a thing, but it has happened. Given the 11 year gap, it wouldn’t surprise me if I order a sub and then hurl it later tonight.

Too much information? Yeah.

Less than three hours left in the work day. Then it’s load out of Mike’s house, load into the bar, play three sets over 3+ hours or so, then load out of the bar, load into my house (maybe the garage?), and GO TO SLEEP YOU OLD MAN!

Murtaugh, indeed.

Lizardfish

In November of 2011 I tried to start a band. I asked Mike the bass player, who has been one of my best friends since 4th grade, and he was interested. My beautiful wife Jennifer, who I love with all my heart, suggested her friend Kevin the Drummer and he was interested too. Steve the other guitarist from my last band joined up, as did Dave the singer. By February I was out. Eventually everyone but Mike and Kevin was out. They hired a new guitarist and a new singer and last night was their first gig.

They sounded great!

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I planned to stay for about an hour or so. Catch a set, say hello, congratulate them, you know… Be a fan! During the first set, however, I got called away. It seems my step son heard noises outside of his window and got majorly freaked out. His attitude was contagious, and soon everyone was freaked out.

Super Step Dad to the rescue!

I got home, explained that I often hear noises outside the back windows on weekends and that they were usually the result of a neighbor having a social gathering. I offered to grab a flashlight and go check out the back yard, but was told that was unnecessary. Just having the old dude around was security enough.

I felt like the freakin’ king. Granted, there are issues there at need to be addressed or else step dad is never going to be able to go out at night without being called back by a scared kid, but we will address that in the future.

For now, congratulations to Mike and Kevin and the rest of Lizardfish on their first gig. You guys sounded seriously tight. I’m looking forward to gig #2!