Thursday, December 28, 2006

End of the Year

Hello again,

Wow, a lot has happened since I last wrote. Let's see, here is the short version first. On the 1st and 2nd of December I played with the Swaggering Rouges, my student recital was a week later, then the following weekend consisted of 3 pretty different shows. Thursday and Friday were the Go Like The Wind Christmas concerts, Saturday was an Indian Classical concert, and Sunday was a Kirtan benifit concert. Let's start with the Rouges....
This is a band from Bay City Michigan that I met through the bassist Jon Carmona. Jon is a musician and teacher that I worked with at RIT Drums and Oz's Music in Ann Arbor. He had played with this band for many years. He is from Bay City and this is his hometown band. (It reminds me of my first band, the Flat Broke Blues Band, who still play together! He makes the trek up north a couple times a month to play shows and visit his family. He asked me to come up and fill in for their regular drummer who was out of town. We played at the 702 bar in Midland, MI. It was a nice little place tucked away all by itself very close to a huge factory. They had started hosting live bands about 4 months back and this was the first time for the Rouges. This band plays all cover tunes by artists like U2, Tom Petty, Pink Floyd, Blink 182, Led Zepplin and so on. My rehearsal time for the show consisted of me listening to C.D.'s. while in my car.
Midland is about a 2 1/2-3 hour drive from my home in Ann Arbor. I made a stop at a gas station close to Flint and recieved a call on my cell from Jon. He was sitting in a police car on the side of the freeway. On his way up he hit a patch of ice and rolled his truck. His truck was totaled, but he and his son were fine. I was about 45 minutes south of them, which was just enough time for them to get the truck towed, and get to a gas station to wait for me. We went to the yard and got everything out of the truck, dropped his son off in Bay City, and made it to the gig with an hour to set up. Needless to say, Jon was a bit shaken up by the whole thing, but after the first set was over he was relaxed and felt alright again. It was an interesting start to the weekend, which, by compairison, was relatively uneventful. The shows went great, the crowd was appreciative, the guys in the band are terrific, and I had fun playing some good ol' Rock n' Roll in the heartland of Michigan!
One week later I was full steam ahead in preperation for my student recital. I had 18 students performing all different kinds of music. Drum duets, drum solos, percussion ensembles and full bands. It was an exciting night. I love to see my students go through the process of performance. I am also really proud of the level of music they are able to create so early in their drumming lives.
This recital was different from the others in a few ways, but the biggest was that it was in the Go Like the Wind gymnasium instead of the much smaller Oz's Music Environment. This time we had plenty of room for everyone and big stage that was able to fit 2 full drumsets along with a 5 peice band. I give a big thanks to the principal at GLTW Doug Collier for letting us use the space. I also thank my students for staying with me through the move from Oz's to my basement studio. I look forward to a new year of lessons in our new space!
Just four days later, in the same gymnasium, was the world premier concert for the GLTW Orchestra. What an adventure it has been to start a 48 piece orchestra from scratch! Most of the students had never touched an instrument in their lives and now we had 2 big concerts to play. The first concert was on Thursday in the afternoon and the second was on Friday in the evening. I also lead the 1st-3rd graders through 6 christmas songs and the kindergardeners sang a song with the help of their teachers. All these perfrormers translates into a gym absolutely filled to the limit with parents, grandparents, friends, and relatives. The concert went better than I expected and everyone was very pleased with the perfromance. I can't wait to start the new year now that we have settled in to our new program.
Just a day after all the madness of a school concert I was playing Indian classical music at a Bahai temple in Ann Arbor with my good friend Meeta Banerjee. We have not played in awhile and it felt great to sit with her. The night was set up by Sussan Babaie, a professor at the University of Michigan and the mother of my first student in Ann Arbor, Jiyan. Actually, Jiyan, his friend Zac and I were the opening act. We performed the same piece as we did at the student recital and then one more that we composed just the Wednesday before. It went well and will go in my mind as one of the most unique opening acts for an Indian classical music concert. The crowd was delighted to see Jiyan, one of the regular faces at the temple, bring his music to share. It may have been loud, rockin' and a complete contrast to the music that was to follow, but people liked it. When they were done there was time for a break for sweets and then we were up. It was a great setting. As Meeta and I played the crowd was very interested and attentive. After a couple of pieces I opened the show for questions from the audience, and they had plenty. It turned into a very educational as well as musical night. I love to talk about music almost as much as I love to play it. It is always so fascinating to me to hear the things people are wondering when they see us play. I learn from them as much as they may learn from me.
The last time I performed in December was with the Ann Arbor Kirtan group at the Friends Meeting House in Ann Arbor on Sunday the 17th. It was a benefit organized by one of the members Judy Piazza, an accomplished percussionist/performer from Michigan who is about to move to California to be with family. It was a perfect way to end the madness of the previous 2 weeks. If you have never heard of Kirtan, then, well, look it up on the web. For me, it is a way to play tabla for hours at a time and play with deep grooves that aren't found in other types of performance. I may also be getting a little something out of the chants as well....

Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you next year. Have a safe and happy New Year!!