Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Velvet Kings

We three kings of Velvet are.
Wandering casually
to meet at the bar.

When people play together in a band, they develop a rich history. It can also be annoying to "outsiders" who have to endure faded glories that may have not been so glorious in the first place. That's why last night was so much a treat- we were all into it.

There we were: the original Velvet three. The three lunkheads that decided that our loopy, quirky, Latiny music ensemble was worth taking out of the basement.

We weren't at Casa de Weg very long before the rum flowed and we started listening to band tapes. The first reunion tape, from about a year ago, sounded really rough. Even if it's knocking the rust off after sixteen year absence and combine that with a very a forgiving attitude, I still wouldn't want to subject anyone outside the band to that aural torture.

A few tunes made us look at each other and say, "What the hell?" It sounded like two different rhythms at once and three different interpretations of chord changes. Yikes. Spirited, yes, but not polished.
We are not a group of guys who spare any sharp comments when things went awry. Oh no. We might have worn shades, but never rose colored ones, babe.

Then, we dug back even further into the video archives. We had done some "interviews" from the late 80's with our fictitious characters: C.R. Smoothie, Johnny Velvet and Denny La Groove. There is some genuinely funny material in these free rambling, very cheaply shot videos. You'd have to edit the hell out of those and make them into something worth watching.
Which led to an ongoing discussion about making a Velvet mockumentary. Yes, I keep asking my band mates and others if an idea like this is too adventurous and vain to pursue, but no one seems to think it so. Done right, I think this could be very funny. At worse, we have something to laugh at during the holidays.

The last video was of when the Veebs were a quartet and playing in downtown Charleston at a place called Bentley's. In our typical open-ended policy, musicians joined us at different intervals. Totally casual.
I was shocked at how we sounded. This wasn't the Mahavisnu Orchestra, but it was clear that we knew the material and were growing stronger as performers. I looked over at Weg and said, "Damn. We sounded good." In his typical casual style, "You gotta find a part." Yep. Very important to find a suitable part and play it as well as you can. On guitar, it's easy to lose your way in noodling and overplay or attempt things (as I so often do) way beyond your reach.
Our classic combo of Black Magic Woman - Oye Como Va sounded very good. When it was over, I stated, "That was part badass and part goofy." No matter the tune, there was always something a bit quirky about the delivery. I don't think that has ever changed.
Alas, it had to be an early evening for us and soon it was time to head home.
You can say, "So what, dude? It was just an average band that broke up a long time ago. So what?" I agree, bands come and go.
One thing's for sure, the friends you make in those bands tell you the truth. They get to see you at your best and your worst. And in spite of every solo that went nowhere and every time you sang out of tune, they forgave you. And you them, yes?
While we didn't change the world or impact music in any way, it's was a rich experience that changed us. That's the power of music.
More importantly, the power of friendship.

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