Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Be Thy Own Velvet

There's been much activity in Velvet Land oh my brothers and sisters, so let's straight to a quick synopsis. Hoorah.

Velvet Reunion no. 4 went well musically considering Live Mix studio was an oven. I bet temps reached over 100, if not the high 90's. It was a sweat fest. Personally, I have come to this old familiar music with a new joy and sense of purpose. We were crammed in like dripping clams, but I surrendered myself to the music. You have to or otherwise, why do it at all?

It's a strange gig. People actually just watch and listen. I'm not used to that. You'd figure we would be happy for such an attentive audience, but Velvets are used to entertaining in shall we say, a much more relaxed environment such as a drunk-ass crowd in a bar or private party.

From a playing perspective, my chops weren't as high as they could have been. I just couldn't get my right hand to relax at first. I usually have lots of adrenaline surging through me during the first three to four songs and it never quite settled down. In truth, more regular practice is the solution. With work and all the little errands of the evening, practice is tough to squeeze in.

I am impervious to worrying about band politics. Little petty things have started to arise, and I have not taken any of them seriously. I am here for music, not politics. The general mood is one of cooperation and goodwill. So far, so good.

From an entertainment perspective, the old Johnny Velvet (my alter ego) was brought out. It was fun and the crowd seemed to enjoy the stupid cheesy songs and the hamming it up on the sweat stage. I am doing Johnny sometimes and I don't even know it.

Of course, Mr. Craig brought his fine, fine rums. Oh that life should be so sweet all the time.

Played with Mr. Super Fingers on Wednesday. For a while, I didn't get a call to play with Ryan at the Bistro for a while. After a time, you begin to wonder. Was it something I did??? When you play, you bond on a personal level because of the intimate nature of music making. But since I have returned to the front lines after a very long and deserved break, my attitude has been very pragmatic and wholly better. We musicians are all on each other's lists. Players always going to get shuffled around. It's nothing personal, just the way it is. So if I hear about a band that was put together for a wedding and I wasn't invited to play, I don't get upset anymore.

"It's just the nature of da business we're in." Come and go. One slot filled, another empty.

Playing music in a upscale restaurant/bar is another animal altogether. Some listen, most don't. There might be polite applause or even enthusiastic recognition. You never know. Ryan has developed a following there because it is his gig; he is the weekly host. And because he is so incredibly gifted. Last week, we were invited to sit at some upscale patrons and my how they flutter about him.

It is both intense and fun. This is not an auto-pilot gig at all. You must bring your A game with Mr. Fleet O'Finger, oh yes. No coffee-to-stay-awake snooze fest. Although he is very accommodating to all requests and owner/patron satisfaction is number one, our set list has some odd ones. Curiously, we play The Sheltering Sky by King Crimson (and Frame By Frame) and it has received positive attention. I would have never figured that in a million years. I am always happy when he calls those tunes, but sort of wait for the ceiling to drop.

Multi-Sweat Fest. We were treated to a one a hour and forty-five minute sound fiasco before our short 32 minute set. Tired, overheated, annoyed, but we carried on like pros. Perhaps it was poetic justice that the newspaper carried a photo of the event and even noted the horrendo sound problems. The dudes were fucking up big time. I felt sorry for the audience. I can handle a crappy mix, but hope that a decent one is being sent to innocent listeners. A tape of the mix proved to be as horrible as we thought. And then some. Great debut. Thanks, professional sound guys.

There was a bit of grumbling behind the scenes as I think a few players were a bit confused as to the direction of the music. Are we jazz? Thought we were a jazz group? In the end, the joy of music making smoothed all the rough edges. This was not the Johnny Velvet show. Nay. This was a bold experiment by the band leader. I have to give him credit for having the vision to put this together. He also could have pitched a bitch fit at the sound guys, but he remained professional.

One aside. Your indulgence please.

"Are you in a band?" came the question from the girl at Blockbuster. I have to admit I hadn't heard that one in nearly two decades.

"Yes. Sort of." As a rule, I avoid long answers. That one would take hours.

"I think I saw you on TV." Ah, TV, the magic bullet. No matter what it is, if you are on TV, you become someone. I find it bizarre, but think it true.

"I saw you and I said I totally know that guy."

Yep. I am totally that guy.

Whatever the hell that means.

No comments: