Sunday, October 08, 2006

Swaggering Rouges, Brand New Band, Tabla, Tabla, Tabla

Hello again,

The past 3 weeks have been a tidal wave of adventure on the musical front. First off, my new position as music director at Go Like The Wind Montessori School is going great. It actually feels pretty good to have a regular schedule and a place to go to do work apart from my home office. I am also getting along with the students very well, so it is sort of like hanging out with friends. Well, friends that you must constantly remind of and correct their behavior. I don't mind, and I hope they will appreciate it in the future.
About 3 weeks into the school year I got a weekend gig with the Swaggering Rouges, a group from Midland Michigan. Their drummer was out of town, or somthing along those lines, so I filled in. It was a flashback to my first giging group the Flat Broke Blues Band, (who, incidentaly, are still together and performing today). It was a late night gig at a the Midland Street Pub. It was your typical smokey pub. The band was right on the floor in front of the waitress station, right in the middle of the crowd. It made for an intimate evening. Crazy loud rock and roll. The group is a cover band that spans 3 decades of classic rock. They covered Tom Petty, ACDC, Led Zepplin, U2, Blink 182, and many more. It sounded pretty good, and was a ton of fun to play. It was like classic rock Karaoke for drummers.
On the second night, in the second song I did something I have never done in over 20 years of playing the drumset, I put a hole through my bass drum head. I looked down and saw my bass drum beater had dissapeared into my head. The band played an acoustic version of Elton John's Daniel as I switched the broken head with the front bass drum head. The head had a big sound hole cut into it, so the sound for the rest of the night was lacking much needed bottom end, but no one seemed to mind too much. We kept on playing and had a great night. Jon Carmona was the bass player and the one responsible for hooking the gig up. He played with me for the Paledave recording project and a few gigs. He also played with me up in Marquette, MI. with the short-lived rock band Soul Sausage, where I was the lead guitar and vocalist, (imagine that!) Thanks for the gig Jon, I had fun.
A couple of nights later on Tuesday I got to check out one of my good friends Jared Smith playing at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. Jared and I both grew up in Marquette and went to CalArts together. I moved back to Michigan and he stayed in L.A. to persue a band that is currently on a 3 month U.S. tour. They are called Hello Stranger, and I think they will be in the mainstream consciousness before you know it. The Blind Pig show went great except for one thing....The drummer, Joachim Cooder broke through his bass drum head on the first song! He couldn't beleive it and neither could I. He said it had never happened to him before. Luckily there was another band playing after them, so they just borrowed their bass drum. It must have been the fall air.....
The next week was a big one at Go Like the Wind. The students had spent the last 3 weeks learning about the different families of instruments and now it was time for them to get their own. We set a night aside called 'Band Night'. It was the night that all the students who did not yet have an instrument would come and rent an instrument to use for the school year. Almost everyone was very excited. A big music store came in with bins full of instruments and rented out to everyone. It took about an hour and a half and suddenly I was looking at a brand new band. When they came to school on Monday the excitement was in the air. When music class started, I was looking at 40 brand new musicians with and instrument in their hands and about 10 questions each. I don't remember much about that day except for feeling like a tidal wave had hit me and the end of the day felt as if I was washed up on shore with no energy left. I can't wait for the rest of the year to unfold. I hope that I am through the hardest times.
So right now I am sitting in my home and I can hear the sweet sounds of the Indian Santoor being played with Tabla accompaniment. It is acctually live muscians practicing for an evening concert tonight at one of my students' house. Dhananjay Daithankar is playing the santoor and Harshad Kanetkar is playing tabla. They got in on Friday and are starting their U.S. tour right here in Ann Arbor. Harhshad has been teaching lessons to some of my tabla students and on Monday they will perform a concert at Go Like The Wind. I am so happy they are here. It is always inspiring to be with active musicians. They will leave tomorrow after the concert and just by chance my guruji from Calcutta, Pdt. Samar Saha will be arriving. He is playing a concert on Friday night at someones house in West Bloomfield. I will be sitting with him all week for lessons and then attending the concert. It is an inspiring time for me right now, and I look forward to seeing one of my favorite teachers.

Thanks for reading and I will write again soon,

John

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