Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dynamic Duo: the Cake (icing) Gig

It's been a wacky, busy week. I feel like someone trying to swim in a hundred feet of water, all the while hoping to touch bottom. It ain't been easy. And if I have to sift through any more interviews about Rachmaninoff or Shostakovich, I may have to be committed.

Tonight, the DD did a gig which has been traditionally reserved for the solo Eclectic Guy and his beat up guitar. This week, I recruited Li-Li to help me with the gig because of several practical reasons:
1. my hands are out of shape. too out of shape to sound good as solo.
2. the gig is in a huge hall, full of people who, if asked later, if there was music (or a guitarist for that matter) would not remember.
3. What's the difference between a solo guitarist and a house plant at a gig? The plant doesn't complain when it's not recognized.
4. playing gigs with Li-Li is always fun; especially when she doesn't have to be the point person. she relaxes so much more with "Mr. Casual" as the point person.
5. the flute cuts through better than a geetar, especially in large halls. the musical effect is much better.
6. it's summer time, i am back being overweight, lazy and there's a hole in my tennis racket.

I knew I had the gig, but wasn't quite sure if the lady (a person I know from church) was on board with adding Li-Li. So, I called what I thought was the home number for her. First time, I left a rambling message on a machine about how they needed to get back to me, blah, blah. Never got a call-back.

When I called again, a guy answered (who was acting more confused than me, which is scary). The convo went something like this:
"Is [insert name here] home?"
"No, she isn't."
"Well, I'm playing for the event tomorrow and I really need to speak to her. Is she coming home tonight?"
"No, she's down at the Civic Center. Won't be back tonight."
Knowing full well that that facility does not have rooms, I ask with foolish hope: "Well, is she staying at a hotel?"
"Do you know which one?"
"I can't remember."
"The Marriott?"
"Embassy Suites?"
"I can't remember, but try that one."
Realizing I may be speaking to my doppelganger and how quickly this is going nowhere, I bail.
"Ok, I'll try there."
"Ok. Good luck."
The classic runaround in full play. But why? I don't know. Don't care.
But thanks, pal. I'm sure Li-Li is going to jump on board with a gig where she's not even sure if she's supposed to play, let alone get payed.

In the morning, miraculously I got through and it was a go. The D squared is in bizneth! Let's go.

After making sure that every ridiculous and unnecessary thing is loaded into the gig bag and that the full 50 lbs has been reached, time to don the monkey suit and fly to get that flautist (flutist? flutyist? flautayist?).

[Disclaimer: the gal who hires me for this gig is great. The following true facts are NOT a reflection on her. Thank you for your time.]
We arrive, unload and promptly find out that the gal who hired us is nowhere to be found. This is typical, so seasoned vets don't panic. Perhaps no one even told them that musicians were coming. Again, no sweat. Didn't expect the red carpet. We don't expect any carpet at all. Hell, we don't even expect a door. We're musicians, we have no expectations; except to get paid.

After wheeling the heavy keyboard amp into the hall, we spot the area where we are suppose to play. How do we know? A single red chair has been placed off to the side. Upon closer examination, there appears to be a white substance on the seat.

No surprise again. What is surprising is that there is a chair at all.

Let me see if I got this correct: out of the thousands of chairs reserved for the guests, the one with the white shit on it is reserved for the guitarist. Again: seasoned musos don't get upset, they get busy cleaning it off. The substance looked like white icing; no doubt left from another event long catered and forgotten. Sure enough, wiping it off was a good idea otherwise the monkey suit pants would have served as cleaning cloth.

No power? No sweat. Li gets that in motion as I park the car. When I return, power is running. The man who set up the old orange extension cord starts talking about all the instruments he used to play in high school. Normally, this might be cause for annoyance, but he's a nice gentlemen. You can almost see inside his mind as he walks down memory lane of former glory days.

One dude, complete with ID, said his fiance played flute, but then promptly pointed and asked:

" Is that a flute?"

You can tell when a guy is really in tune with his woman.

We start our standard set of jazz standards and light classical as people file in to the dinner tables that already have salads and desserts awaiting them. It's like instant dinner: add entree and eat.

A good move, really. Happy people are people who don't have to wait for chow. Also, at this event, there's no booze, not even wine. When any alcohol, however innocuous, is added to a social gathering, the noise level is automatically going to reach near deafening levels.

A gentleman approaches us and tells us that he is going to make some announcements. His remarks are brief, but after telling the people to enjoy their meal and our music, he tags his introduction of Li-Li with mention of her former employer. The former employer thing- that is not a pleasant topic for her at all.
Yikes and double yikes! That's like saying, "Our guitarist this evening, formerly of St. Dismal's church-the place that fired him. Thank you and enjoy your meal." It was a terrible faux pas. She looks a bit lost and hurt, but we are professionals and the gig ain't over, so we go back into playing.

A few tunes later, we get the signal that the "G" and G-Wife are going to speak, so our obligation is over. We move our equipment behind a curtain in order not to draw attention to our swift and gleeful tear-down process. It is sweet: the gig is short and we are outty!

As we are making our way into the main lobby, still hearing the speeches, Li-Li mocks the speakers with:
"Blah, blah, blah."
I'm a bit surprised. She is usually the one with the solid work ethic with nary a trace of cynicism.
"Well, you are sounding a little bit too much like me."
We laugh at the role reversal. Perhaps I've rubbed off on her or perhaps the many, many seasons of being "event" musicians hath made us both cynics. Neither of us, I believe, harbor illusions of "making it" or being stars or being part of the so-called music industry. We are what we are: solid musicians who play for pay. And ain't nothin' wrong wit dat.

No doubt the jibber jabber continued at the event, but I was worn out from work, the heat and the monkey suit. It's the best time: going home.

But hope! Another gig looms for Saturday. A new adventure in an old, familiar setting: the wedding.

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