Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nick Strange, Mike Waite, Student Recital, Kirtan

Hello again,

  March is here and almost gone again, and I have been busy busy busy as usual.  This has been a very nourishing month for me.  The first weekend of the month was nice and relaxed with just one show on Friday with the Nick Strange group.  It was the last of a series of shows I played with them, so the music was very relaxed and nice.  We played at Goodnite Gracies in downtown Ann Arbor.  If you don't mind the smoke, it is a really nice venue to perform at.  They have a nice stage, and lots of comfortable seating, which gives it a nice jazz club feel.  It is just the right size so I don't have to worry about amplifying my drum set at all.
  Oh I almost forgot about the very next Saturday.  I met up with Mike Waite and a bunch of his family and friends at a place called Hathaways Hide-a-way, which is just a block away from Gracies. It is this non-descript building that you have to rent out to have an event. It is a very cool, old style bar with lots of character and and aura that makes you forget you are in the middle of the city.  Some of Mike's cousins use it all the time for small events, and since Mike was coming through town this particular weekend, they decided to put something together.  I brought the drums and P.A. system and bunch of other people brought their guitars, basses, banjos, and whatever else.  It was a good ol' fashion jam.  It reminded me of the Hiawatha Music festival in Marquette.  Very laid back, with some great music happening spontaneously.
  The next weekend Mike was back, and this time he, his wife, and 3 kids all stayed at my house.  It was a blast.  I had organized a show at Crazy Wisdom Tearoom on Saturday and his cousins got him a show at Old Town Tavern, both in Ann Arbor just a couple block from each other downtown.  The Crazy Wisdom show was great. We put together a band that consisted of myself on drums, Mike on vocals and guitar, Rob Crozier on bass, and Brian Delaney on guitar, (actually, it was 4 guitars and a banjo....he really came prepared!).  We had put together a couple hours worth of music, which consisted mainly of songs from Mikes new C.D. 'Let it Go', which was released in January.  Mike sold a bunch of C.D.'s and the crowd was with us right till the end of the night.  It was a much smaller show than the big Kaufman show back in December, but it was just as much fun to play.  
  The next day I was in full preparation for my student recital.  It was at Go Like The Wind in the gymnasium.  This recital consisted of the fewest students I have ever had at a recital, but the music was some of the highest quality I have seen.  It was the premier of the 5-piece tabla ensemble that I have been working with, and also the premier of a couple of my students who have made the switch to bass guitar.  Danny Rivet and Jiyan Babaie-Harmon have been with me for over 5 years and decided it was time to take up the melodic side of the rhythm section.  It is so rewarding to watch all these students grow, practice, and blossom into great musicians.  I felt like a proud parent when it was all over with.  
  There wasn't much time to ponder the recital however, because that night Mike and the boys were set to go at it again at Old Town Tavern.  It was louder, looser, and just as much fun.  We were much more comfortable with the music and each other, so we let loose a bit more than the previous night.  Brian Delaney is great with the finger pickin' old-style jazz guitar stuff, so he took many more solos.  I had a blast playing a lot of the songs with brushes, which I don't get to do very often.  The balance was nice, and we had the whole place hoppin'.  It has been a long time since I had a weekend that was so musically nourishing.  I can't wait to play with Mike again.
  The following weekend was a nice relaxing one.  The only music happening was on Friday night with the Ann Arbor Kirtan group.  It was an exciting night to play because not only did we have some new chants prepared, but we were also joined by Judy Piazza.  Judy played with us for almost a year before she moved out to California to be closer to family and soak up the sun.  She is an excellent singer and percussionist and it is always a treat to perform with her.  The group has also been developing nicely.  They have all been coming to my studio for 2 hours a week every week since January to work on playing music together.  All the work has really paid off, they are sounding great, and the music sounds much more balanced and in control. I look forward to playing and working more with them.

That is all for now.  Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you soon.