Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gratitude sandwich with Tabla, Recording, Jazz, and a side of Birthday.

Hello,

What a week! It started off on Sunday when I played with the Gratitude Steel Band at a big church in Novi. It was a fun night. We had a 12 piece band, and were booked as the feature performers. It was the first time we were all able to get together since the big Life Fest show in Oshkosh earlier this year. This was a much different setting though. Most church gigs we play are in a big open high celing cathedral where the sound bounces around forever and the volume must be kept very low. This was no acception. It was a good thing we got there early to do a sound check so we could get a handle on how low we had to be to make it sound good. I had to play very soft, like using only my wrists and fingers. This is a challenge when you are playing pieces and songs that are so fast and high energy. I think we pulled it off well. We heard nothing but good things and the band sold C.D.'s. One funny thing happened....the music director from the church came up in our last set to play the piano with us, I think we played the caribbean version of Cannon in D. When the song was over, she went over to a mic to thank us and then speak to the audience a bit. She said, "You know, my favorite part of tonights show was the intermission!" Everyone chuckled a bit, but it was a strange comment. The room got quiet and she said, "well there are other parts that I liked, but....wait, let me explain!", she continued, "I was down in the music room where they were taking their break and the whole time they were on the piano and singing, and I couldn't believe that after playing such a high energy set that they wanted to keep playing." She finished by saying that, "it is wonderful to see people that truly love making music as much as this band and I thank you for coming to our church". Everyone clapped and I felt proud to be a part of it all.

So with a great start like that, the rest of the week was bound to be good. In Ann Arbor all week there were two Indian classical musicians giving workshops, lessons and recordings. I got to go to a few with the tabla maestro. His name was Harshad Kenetker. He is over in the U.S. for a 3 month tour with various other artists. Inbetween workshops and during the day I got a chance to spend some time with him. We talked alot about the music business and how exciting, hard, and huge it all is. I told him that one of my students, Nick Joseph, had a little recording studio set up in his apartment and I wondered if he would like to record a tabla, drumset duet. He was very excited about it and we made plans to record on Thursday after his final lecture/performance. We had no idea of what it would be like, but we just started to play and ended up with a half hour of a duet. I still have not listened to it all the way through, but the experience was truly amazing. We were both trying to figure out how to blend and make these two very different instruments into one sound. I think that the next time he comes to town we will want to do this again. I will try to post a clip on my website soon on the Audio page, so check it out.

Last night (Friday), I played again with Deep Blue. I was so happy to see about 15 of my students and their friends and family show up. It really charges me up to have friends family and students at my shows. I feel like, even if we don't get to talk much at the actual gig, that we are communicating somthing the whole night, and it seems to make it all worth it.

In an hour I will be leaving to go play at a high school homecoming dance with Gratitude in Detroit. It should be loud, high energy, and a ton of fun...A perfect way to end this incredible week. Oh yea, did I mention that my birthday was on Tuesday, which just made the week so much sweeter.

Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you soon.

-John

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