Saturday, March 10, 2007

The group is ready (...seriously...)

If ye remember, I told you that a few friends and me agreed to play a gig as part of a Lenten church music series.

[Left: the sanctuary and the mad scientist of the group, Dave]

Well the day is upon us. Our natural musicians' tendency to procrastinate and take the gig seriously only when we get closer to the actual concert date has hit the emergency alert level.

[Below-Lisa's rig for her flute. She doesn't need a huge amp like that, but she needed one for her keyboard at home and that's what she uses. The foot pedal on top is reverb/echo. The flute run straight is a bit dry, even in a room like this. It adds an almost indistinct fullness to the sound as the effect is buried in the mix.]

When I said yes to this gig back in the fall, March seemed a million miles away. Li-Li herself said she would walk by her calendar, see the date and think, "I've got to get that gig together." When she finally got a hold of me in January, I said, "Are we still playing that gig?" That quote is a source of amusement now, but it exemplifies a typical attitude.
We have played here as a trio four or five years ago, so it feels familiar and new at the same time.

This is a pretty church. I feel instantly comfortable here. That is not always the case. These people are also very nice and generous with the rehearsal time. That is not always the case.

Practicing at Li-Li's safe and comfortable rehearsal room is sweet, and it's easy to get used to those same acoustics. Acoustics are always to be checked out (if possible) before a gig, especially for an electro-acoustic ensemble like us. This room is pretty live, as you might guess from these photos.
I think we call ourselves Icarus, from the Ralph Towner tune we play of the same name, but the paper listed us as Wind and Guitar Trio. We did not submit a name because we did not have one. In fact, we probably didn't have a set list yet-at least not a definitive one yet. We are a quartet- another late-breaking development.
Google images for Icarus and you get some great ones. Icarus is a good metaphor for us because we never know what is going to happen with the technology we use, or rather what Dave uses.

Basically he uses an EVI-a synth you can control with your fingers and breath. Add miles of cables, connectors, amp, and a laptop-it adds up to something far, far more tricky to use "live" than a guitar. We even use a pre-recorded segment on the laptop to transition from one song to another. I wouldn't dare say we are progressive, cutting-edge or any other term to imply that what we do is important in any way, it's just that we are open to more sounds than can be provided by acoustic instruments. Best not to overthink anything, the direction for the music will happen and I trust that.
[Al is the percussionist who is an excellent trombonist. Here he's warming up the African djembe. Yes, that's a bodhran as well.]

My rig is simple. My one addition: a tuner. I use a bass amp because the sound is perfect for a classic guitar. Any smaller speaker and it sounds like a cigar box with rubber bands. Use the best cable as possible-that yields the best tone as well. Gone are the days of cheap cables.

If we get desperate because our setlist is a bit thin right now, we can always resort to this: "Ladies and gentlemen, please turn to Hymn number 213, Amazing Grace. We will sing all twelve verses...just to kill some time."

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