Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Gig

L. to R. - Marie, on drum; Mary, vocal; Meredith, kazoo; Franz, vocals; Steve, guitar; Mary, vocals; Dan, uke; Jim, guitar; Anna, harmonica; Harold, gut-bucket bass; Elizabeth, keyboards.

Cloudy here today, a bit of drizzle on and off, perfect day for our first gig since I joined the Closet Musicians ...

Twas at the Centennial Celebration for the town (now unincorporated area) of Metzger, sorta between Beaverton, Tigard, and Portland, held at Metzger Park, the hall of which was renamed today in honor of a local luminary, Patricia D. Whiting. If you have no idea where this is, it is behind Washington Square Mall. 

There was a great crowd when we got there; that was at least partially because a troop of local dancers numbering fifty or sixty strong were on before we were, and all their parents, grandparents, and assorted uncles and aunts were there to watch the dancers, who ranged in age from pre-pube to adults. 

Plus there was free food–barbecued pork sandwiches and soft drinks.

There was a covered stage plenty big enough for our group, which numbered eleven today. We had a last-minute addition, a singer, who is not part of the usual crowd. He was braver than I–he didn't know the material and winged it.

After the dancers left, and much of the audience with them, we took the stage, set up our gear, and realized that being outside, all facing in the same direction, completely changes the dynamics from that of a low-ceiling room, sitting in a circle. 

We knew it would, just not how much.

There was a sound guy, we had five mikes and a couple of monitors onstage, but the balances with an all-acoustic group are tricky–too much, you get feedback; too little, not much volume. We couldn't hear each other very well, and had no idea if the audience could hear us at all.

The stage feedback monitors might as well have been blocks of concrete for all the good they did us ...

After our first couple of numbers, we realized that folks in the back were tapping their feet and singing along, so we knew they either could hear us, or were fair lip-readers.

They weren't throwing tomatoes nor booing. We took that as a good sign. 

We filled up our hour. Anna talked a little bit about the local history between numbers, and  we got done on time, with one alternate song left over if we needed it. The crowd shouted out for an encore ... well, one person did. Somebody's wife, I believe. We got off.

How'd we do? Hard to say from my side of the guitar, but it felt pretty good. We flubbed a start or a finish here, goofed up on a chord or two, and our pacing wasn't always the same as we had planned, but over all? I'd give us a solid B+. Our last practice on Wednesday, we were better. Didn't exactly leave our fight in the gym, but we killed it at the final rehearsal. 

We'd do better at a house concert. All that open space? Scary. 

The venue, the microphones, the unfamiliarity of the gear, and having a live audience accounts for most of what ailed us. In the middle of one song, I got a catch in my throat and a cough that killed my voice for the rest of the verses. Fortunately, I wasn't singing the lead, and I also had a Sucrets in my pocket for just such and emergency, got back in time for the end. 

"Woke Up Dead Blues," the next number in which I was singing lead went fine. 

I was nervous going in–always am in a public venue–but a couple of the other players were much more rattled than I, so I spent the time before we went on getting them to laugh, and to breathe. It's good to be busy before get up to play, gives you something else to do besides worry. 

There was a duo doing Spanish music following us, and an Irish band after them, but by then, we had all gone to a local restaurant to do a post-mortem. I was late getting there, having to fight off all the groupies ...

All in all, I was quite pleased with our foray into the public, and I got to say something today I'd never had a chance to say before: "Yeah, I'm with the band ..."


Joe said...

Congratulations. "Woke Up Dead Blues" was great.

Steve Perry said...

We had a fine time. Sound system wasn't set up for us, but we can use that for our excuse ...