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User Journal

Journal Journal: Gig 02/07/03 Gaslamp

The Gaslamp, for you non-SanDiegans, is the "hip area" downtown. There's lots of clubs and restaurants, etc. This place was a zoo a few weeks ago before the superbowl, and I played down there on Thursday. I can only imagine the debauchery and mayhem going on Friday and Saturday night.

It must be that with the Gaslamp the city fathers are trying to emulate the "Big City" experience that one would get in a place like New York. For example there are people coming up asking for spare change, and there is nowhere to park or often even a place to pull into to unload my gear. There are loading curbs, but these are taken up by gimicky horse drawn carriages that take up the space waiting for customers (leaving small, aromatic piles of residue), or by "pedicabs" which are not, as one might assume from their name, cabs driven by children, or cabs driven by pedophiles, but "bike cabs" often pedaled by southern California surfer-type dudes sporting rasta dreads.

This night I happen to be playing with a latin jazz band in a restaurant/bar/club owned by the widow of and named after a talented songwriter who died before his time. This is a fine place to play, and the staff treats the musicians well, and with respect.

Although I like to play all kinds of music, and love jazz, I'm not what one would call a true jazz musician. I know this because I hear real jazz pianists and am thoroughly blown away by their improvisational talents and the cool ideas they come up with during their solos. Listening to me next to the real deal would be akin to watching the Oakland Raiders' center engaged in a pas de duex with Mikhail Barishnikov (hint: center == me). Thus, I am honored that this band asks me to play with them.

As any good latin band should be configured, the number of percussionists in this band matches or exceeds the number of other instrumentalists. We have a "normal" drummer, a timbale player, and a conga player. Then comes bass, sax, and keyboards (yes, I know piano is technically a percussion instrument, but let's see how many pianists have gigs as percussionists in thrash metal bands).

This entry is getting kinda long, so on to the gig: Fun gig! You can tell the fun gigs 'cause all of a sudden the night is over, the tip jar is full, and you have this cool musical glow. All night I felt really good communication with the bass player, and often found myself going into a "percussion trance" while comping behind the sax player, settling into the solid groove underlying the beautiful organized confusion of the percussionists' syncopation.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Gig 02/01/03: Bistro221

This was an interesting gig for me, as it was a solo. I like solo gigs. I can just play whatever I feel like, however I feel like playing it, and I can play requests without worrying if the rest of the band knows it.

I really like playing requests even if I haven't played the song for quite a while, or ever played it at all (if it's simple enough :-)

The trick to playing solo gigs is to have enough songs on a list to help out with ideas, since it seems that I can never think of a song if someone just comes up and says "Hey! Play something." I'll always come back with "So what's your favorite tune?" and they won't be able to think of anything either, so I'll ask their favorite artist, and that usually works.

I don't have trouble with song lists anymore since I got a palm m500 a few months ago. I just have a "memo" item with a list of songs. Whenever I think of a song I like I stick it on the list. So convenient, but hard to read on the gig :-).

Back to the gig. It was a bit slow in the restaurant and I wasn't getting much response. I had the mental conversation "I'm I sounding OK out there or really sucking?" but I persevered. Towards the end of the night, after the folks had finished their meals, they walked over to me to tell me how much they had enjoyed my music. That felt so good.

I'd like to do more solo gigs, but my calendar is pretty full with my other bands for the next few months, so I don't feel too motivated to go out and hustle.

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