Hey. What’s up? It’s been a while.
Where were you on Sunday night? You missed my gig. But don’t worry because you were in good company, apparently. It was a good one.
Okay, there were some imperfect moments. A few. And they were mostly due to the fact that I had the guys sight reading all night. But there were a lot of brilliant moments, if I do say so myself. Todd Marcus on bass clarinet, Richard Johnson on piano, Mike Kuhl on drums and Steve Zerlin on electric bass. Kick ass. And I was playing guitar.
My amp, a Line 6 Flextone II with floorboard is amazing. Absolutely amazing. If I were rich I’d buy a Flextone III and accessories or another Line 6 amp. It’s like a 21st Century Fender Jazz Chorus. Guitar amp porn.
The Flextone II connects to the computer via MIDI cables. The newer ones are USB, of course. You can edit, tweak and save patches on the computer and watch as it changes on the amp. And you can save patches on the floorboard. It has some great presets, too. I bought it from Chris Roque back when I was sitting in for Rustic.
That was, what. Like three years ago? Four? And I used it for the first time at the Liberated Muse @ Potter’s House gig back in June.
Anyway — oh here it is — it’s a thing of beauty.
I had this sound in my head that I wanted and it was easy to get. Kind of a Kurt Rosenwinkel-ish sound but without the phasing. Nothing that fancy. It’s pretty clean, bulked up a little, a touch of room reverb and tasteful delay. Tasteful to me, anyway. It’s such a nice, warm, glowing, dulcet tone. Hangs in the air. Like playing in the lovely, dark, deep woods. Man.
Big ups to my family who came out: Cheryl, Joe, DB, Stephanie, and Auntie A. It makes a big difference. Oh and Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Alston and crew were there.
It started out a little shakily. I got stressed, man. I stopped at Kinko’s — FYI FedEx Kinko’s is now called FedEx Office — and photocopied the charts. I stopped at the one off of Dobbins on the way up to B-more. For some reason I didn’t realize 1) how much time it took and 2) it takes a long time to organize over 150 pages of charts. Some of them are one page, some two, some three, collated incorrectly. It was a mess. There was paper everywhere.
So I was in panic mode for a bit. I had to ask Todd to play a few tunes with the band while I tried to make some sense out of all of that paper. Stress. Ful. Another lesson learned. I told you. I learn something new every time.
To Sing. Or Not.
During the set break, I got more charts ready. It was a relief to take care of that. My family told me that they would probably leave a little into the second set and I said, “You’re going to miss the singing.”
And my stepfather delivered a message from my mother: “Whatever you do, don’t sing.”
Hmmm. So I had my mic set up and the TC Helonic VoiceTone Harmony G. You know what that is? It’s a 2 voice harmonizer that uses the notes from your guitar as a guide to which harmonies to use.
It’s slick — a thing of beauty — although I may have to return it because it was pricey and I’z broke. It’s also teaching me a lot about my singing frailties. Makes it very obvious that I’m chronically flat. Even though I’m kind of in tune … not quite. My palette and whatever dull the sound and flatten the pitch. After practicing for a bit with that reinforcement my smile muscles were sore. Singing is a holistic activity. I never realized that before. I also put in one ear plug so that I can hear my voice via bone conduction. That really helps.
Anyway, hearing those words completely sapped my confidence. “Whatever you do, don’t sing.” I was building up the cajones to sing during the second set. That killed it. So “I Can’t Make You Love Me” was instrumental. Came out beautifully. I DID try singing on “You Are My Sunshine” — after my family left — and it was pretty much a disaster. Yep. The form got twisted, I was out of tune and not vocally warmed up at all, I was trying to do a quiet, breathy thing but that wasn’t very audible and any upward adjust of volume resulted in feedback. And of course I have no live mic experience so … oy.
It was painful. I don’t know.
I’d much rather have someone singing with the group instead of me. But that kind of collaboration is intimate, y’know. Like, it requires a real friendship and collaboration with a vocalist. They’ve got to learn all of the vocal tunes in your book. You have to learn their stuff and do some arranging and charting. It’s another person you have to reimburse.
I mean, I’m all for it but it’s hard to find someone who’s reliable, cool, has the time and patience AND who’s on the same wavelength. Therefore, I try to sing. It was a bad night, though, as far as that’s concerned. [shudder]
I never did use the Harmony G.
Anyway, I got some good feedback. And Todd recorded both sets. I’m going to slice and dice, extract and process a little and then I’ll post some highlights.
And last but not least, a shout out to Todd Marcus who let me use his night at Joe Squared for my thing and coached me through some tough spots and is one of the forces encouraging me to keep up the gig momentum. Check out his site and his music at http://toddmarcusjazz.com.