11/6/2016 – Tech week for Drood has passed, plus the opening night and the first weekend…8 days. Last Saturday feels like a solid MONTH ago. A million things have happened….teaching, tech week, load in, sound checks, preps for a recording session, practicing, another gig in Leesburg, booking gigs…the list goes on.
Looking in my recycle bin, you would think I burned through a month’s worth of Starbucks Refreshers. Peach Passionfruit and Blueberry Acai flavors makes the green coffee drink quite palatable. (I’m not a fan of regular coffee, at all). It helps me keep the crazy hours that I sometimes need to do without jitters or feeling overly caffeinated. I should probably get a Refreshers endorsement at this point; that beverage has powered more than a few excursions across the country.
It’s the Saturday night show of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at UMW. The show normally ends at 10:30 pm. The band is tightening up with each successive night. Tonight was following this trend. It felt good. Real good. I’m slightly spinning from the dopamine rush and from the lack of sleep, but my playing is hitting on all cylinders.
Ashleigh had called earlier in the month, asking if I could do a show at Colonial Tavern with the band that night as well. Yes…a most emphatic yes…on my behalf. I have to get from UMW Klein theater to Colonial Tavern and be set up in a half hour between the shows. Not an issue. The venues are 10 minutes apart. I checked it all out…we were both game to do this.
Drood ends 6 minutes early…and there’s gratitude on my behalf…like a nod from the universe. “Voting” in Act 2 took less time than usual perhaps. I scramble down off the pit platform, grab my Spector from a storage area, change my shirt so I have on something other than dress black…and I’m out the back door to the SuperVan.
One of the musicians sees me leaving…”Oh, is that other gig tonight?”
“Yes.” I’m sitting in the tailgate area of the van, changing footwear from flats to boots. I’ve been standing for three hours playing upright. My legs and feet are sore…changing footwear usually relieves some of that for me. Plus, the night was becoming cold. Off with the velvet jacket and sandals. On with the fall boots and the brown leather jacket. 10:36 PM. No sweat.
I had the foresight to load in a bass rig at the club earlier in the day when I had a free hour. All I had to do was hook in my pedalboard and my bass. I had just finished the latest set of changes to the pedal board and I was eager to see it in action.
45 minutes later…I am pounding through a blues tune Ashleigh wrote called “Hard Working Woman”. And thanks to Will Robinson for shooting the video that this screen grab came from….
The band was churning. We warmed up on a funky cover of Cissy Strut, which delighted me to no end. The pedal board gave me everything I was asking of it. The Spector had wah for the solos, and I had new sounds on the backburner that I worked out for some of Ash’s songs. Everyone was encouraging….”Go ahead and turn up!” Nods…lots of nods and approval to do so. I reach to the rack mounted head and the master goes up. The cab thunders in response. The drummer closes his eyes, nods his head and smiles. We’re not in singer-songwriter small club vibe tonight….we’re going balls to the wall blues-rock. The nods of approval continue. The crowd wants to dance…they want to party. It’s on.
The oh shit moment follows approximately 5 songs later.
Ash’s music is fun to play for me. Ash channels a great positive vibe, she surrounds herself with truly high caliber musicians, her voice is a kindred to Etta James, the message is positive and spiritual…and perhaps, there is great affinity because she is a hardworking female artist as well…not to mention that the gigs are blast. It’s a great tribe of folks. Plus, supporting Tom’s solos is always a blast. I love creating something for him to hang his hat on, and then driving the solos…giving him energy to build off of. He’s definitely on my list of favorite guitar players. And Toby…we just lock up and drive the bus. Toby is so chill, so competent, and full of gig stories and humor. Good people, all of them.
I’ve played upright all night….all week really for various projects…and the Spector is long overdue for a communion with me. The experience is joyous….like I had been running with leg weights for weeks, and now all the new muscles and callouses had no resistance. I was also pumped from caffeinated beverages, running on way too little sleep, and channeling all the energy leftover from the previous gig..which ended less 30 minutes prior. I’m cranking hard…as one audience member said later, “bringing the thunder.”
I feel my jacket strike my leg and slide to the floor. Followed by something heavy.
I look down, the amp head, Furman and tuner…all in a rackmount SKB case…all 55 pounds of it…is dangling from a power cord and a Tuffies cable. The 65 pound cabinet doesn’t even move. We’re mid song. The drummer looks at me, I look at him, a little wide eyed in disbelief…the amp is still grinding hard and singing. The cab had been giving the head a ride…slowly vibrating it across the top of the cab until it slid off the front.
The guitar player wanders over as close as he can get…we’re mid song and I’m NOT stopping if I can help it. He looks at me, looks at the amp, looks at me, nods with a slight smile, and mouths “That’s impressive.” The oh shit moment was becoming pretty funny actually. We’re all smiling at the tenacity of the gear and the bassist using it. I shift gears to plan a tasteful recovery. I’m thinking ahead to where there is a break in the song so I can get the head upright. The drummer reaches over and grabs one handle, and I decide to left hand tap my way through things. At the moment I decide to reach with the right hand, the power cable pulls out. The head is hanging by the speaker cable. The bass drops out of the mix and the club has no bottom. And there’s dancers on the floor in front of the stage.
Time to move.
I slip out of the strap and rack my bass and punch the pedal tuner into mute.
*one bar goes by*
Grab the head by both handles and slam it back on top of the cab.
*next bar goes by*
Power magically comes back on as the power cable re-seats itself in the socket on its own…I’m stunned but moving with a sense of both flow and purpose…I visually inspect the front face of the rig….no harm, no foul…I grab my bass from the stand and slip it back on
*another bar slips by*
Try a note…nothing…stomp on my pedal tuner to mute the bass, turn around and un-mute the head…I discover the toggle switch for “mute” was hit on the way down…stomp the pedal tuner again to un-mute it….I grab the next note to make an entrance after a four bar break…
BAM. We’re back in business, none the worse for wear. Welcome back to the song. Big wheel keep on turnin, Proud Mary keep on burnin.
I spend the rest of the gig looking over my shoulder after each song ends to check the rig. If it moves, and I come over and shove it into place with a bump of my hip or a push from a free hand. Obviously, I’ll be getting something rubberized for the top of the cab this week to go under the head. *makes mental note*
The drummer later offers me his shot of Jameson. And he loves Jameson. But so do I. I graciously accept with a smile and a nod.
That’s winning my friends.