Monday, September 08, 2008

Kozora at a Castle, 3 with Nick Strange, Paledave C.D. Release

Hello again,

  September is such a busy month on the gigging front,  I feel pretty relaxed about it, but I don't think I can remember a time when I have had such a variety of shows in such a short amount of time.  It all started on Saturday the 6th.  It was an intimate affair at the Bennett Castle, a private but extravegent residence on the upper east side of Ann Arbor overlooking the Huron River.  I was hear a couple of months back with Kozora doing Indian fusion music for an event put on by the Sparsh organization.  The hosts of the party liked the music so much they asked us to come back for their mothers 80th birthday.  
  So it was Scott Brady, Ken Kozora, Dave Gilbert, Prashanth Gururaja and myself.  We had not played the music since the last time we were at the castle, but we did get a couple of rehearsals in to tighten things up.  The rehearsals paid off.  We arrived to an empty house apart from the host.  She showed us to the room where we would set up and play. Set up went pretty quick, (I only had my tabla, and we used a very small sound system), but as showtime grew closer and closer there was no one around.  5 minutes before showtime there was still no one around, so I took a walk to see what was happening.  I found out that everyone was down at the 'riverhouse' and they would be up shortly.  So the band just relaxed and listened to some music.  I think the quiet time really helped to relax everyone. When the guests came up and it was time to play, the music sounded great.  I mean really great.  I had never heard Kozora sound this good.  I thought it was so interesting how we all came together so well for one of the smallest crowds we have ever played for.  Everything just clicked and it worked very well.  It figures that this would be the one show that no one in the group recorded.  Oh well, perhaps that is the secret.
  Everyone at the party was so nice, they invited us to stay after and hang out, which is rare at a private affair like this.  I was sorry to have to go.  I had to rush off to another show.  Since I was the point person on the gig, none of the other bandmates felt comfortable to stick around either, so they actually ended up coming to my show to hang out.
  So the gig that night was at Good Nite Gracie's in downtown Ann Arbor with the Nick Strange Group.  It was a special show for the band because their regular drummer was moving to California and he would be stopping by to play a few 'farewell' tunes.  I am not sure what that means for me, other than I have a lot of Nick Strange shows booked up in the near future.  Anyway, it was a great night of music.  I was pumped to have the Kozora band their to hear me play something other than what I do with them.  They hung around for most of the night and seemed to enjoy themselves.  The music sounded great.  It usually does in that room. It is just small enough so I do not need to be mic'd, but big enough that I can play with full volume and not drive anyone nuts.  I was a little tired by the end of the evening, but all in all it was a great night.
  The following Friday I was with the Nick Strange Group again. This time it was at the Ypsilanti Crossroads Festival, which is a summertime music series that was supposed to be on an outdoor stage in downtown Ypsilanti.  This day was threatening rain so we were moved into a dance club right next to the outdoor stage.  I think it was called Club Divine.  It looked a little like a booty bar.....dancing poles and cages, lots of blacklights, and even some 'VIP' sections.  We had a little stage to play on and a nice big sound system to play through.  There was a professional sound crew, which was very nice.  Also, Rob Crozier was with the group on bass.  Dan Orcut, who is the founding member of the group, has been doing this a long time. To his credit, he never says no to a gig, even if all the members can not do it.  He will take the time to train a new person with the music and the show will go on.  Having this mentality means that he has a pool of musicians he can call on to play shows.  Granted, he likes to have the same crew for extended periods of time, but if someone can not do it, he always has another number.  His professionalism and dedication to the music itself prevents any sort of drama and/or jealousy from developing and everyone seems to get along just fine.  So anyway, the past 5 or 6 shows I have played with them have been with Jon Sperendi on the bass.  Jon is great and we have a blast playing together, but I have been doing so many other projects with Rob lately that it was great to have him on the bottom end again in this group.
  The same crew was together the very next day for the first annual Michigan Music Expo in Novi Michigan at the Rock Financial Showplace.  The Nick Strange Group had an hour long spot on the lounge stage.  When I walked into the arena, I got the same feeling I get when I have 2 or three music players open on my computer and they all start playing different music. It was chaos.  The main room had booths filled with D.J. companies, radio stations, record labels, and music stores, and they all had a P.A. system blasting music.  I actually got a bit queasy as I walked around.  I quickly made my way to the Lounge Stage, which was in the next room.  The crazy noise disapated into a low rumble. It felt sort of like standing next to an angry ocean.  It definetly distracted from the 'loung' feel.  Regardless, I was happy to be a part of something that seemed to bring musicians together.  The lounge stage featured a pretty unique sound system. It was called something like the Bose L1 sound system and consisted of 5 narrow speaker towers set up accross the back of the stage. Each band member had their own tower complete with a little mixer to mix their own sound.  It was nice to have my drums pumping through a nice system right into my back.  I could really adjust how it was projecting into the crowd.  The music sounded very crisp and clean. I don't think Dan liked his system, but all in all it was nice to be on a nice stage with fellow music lovers as your audience.
  As soon as we were done playing I had to rush off yet again. This time it was back to Ypsilanti to a place called the Corner Brewery to play drums for the long-awaited Paledave C.D. release party.  I recorded Dave's C.D. the same week that Jody and I moved to Ann Arbor. Actually, the studio was just 2 blocks from our house.  That was back in 2006, so needless to say, this was a long time coming.
  Since I was up in Novi, I asked one of my longtime students Vinnie Russo to set up my drumset for the Paledave show.  So I had the luxury of coming into the venue to a drumset all set up and ready to go.  (Thanks Vinnie.)  It was a happy night all around. Dave had a lot of friends there, the music was well rehearsed and sounding good, and all the musicians were relaxed.  It was great to have some closure to this very extended project.  I wish Dave luck with his C.D.

  So that is the first half of the month, and there is plenty more to come.  Thanks for reading and check back soon.

John

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