Ever wish you woulda been there?

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Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby jeffl » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:19 pm

This is a hard topic to talk about because it deals with ego: Have you ever had one of those nights where you apparently played brilliantly and were unaware of it at the time? Have you ever had a night where the other guys come up to you after the performance and say stuff like "That's the greatest I've ever heard you play", or "You were Un-freakin'-real tonight", and you're thinkin' "Oh really, I wish I could've heard it"...? I think when you're at your best you can be so totally unaware of self and totally into the music that you don't even get the pleasure of listening to your own music. I'm actually thankful for it; maybe it keeps us from gettin' big heads and thinkin' we're even better than we are. The last time it happened to me I really think that part of the reason the other guys loved it so much was 'cuz I used an amp that I've never used around 'em before and the thing was perfect in the mix. I've been playin' harp for 45 years and I don't think I changed for one gig.
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Re: Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby allanlummox » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:44 pm

This is a tough topic; my first thought was to go into one of my patented rants about "doing it for it's own sake", but that would be disingenuous - I'm an applause whore and there's no denying that I want people to like my music.

I will say that I listened to my own release, "Streetwise", recently for the first time in many months - and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. "This guy plays guitar like I like it!". And it doesn't really sound like I THINK I sound. It's better than that!



I'm always suspicious of praise from the audience that's verbal as opposed to applause and cash - people who butter me up scare me.

There is one show I played though that I would love to have been in the audience for. My musical partner at the time, Shakey - you cats know him as Bottleneck - booked a small festival in rural Pennsylvania. A hippy camp out sort of a thing, similar to the Meadow Muffin I've been playing in California in recent years.

The weather turned ugly, rain and high wind, just before our set. The stage crew tarped the stage over on all 4 sides to protect the gear and shut down power.

The tarps were blowing around - not enough rope! Not enough tie down points! So Shakey started convincing audience members to sit on the bottom edges of the tarps. We had asses all the way around the stage, facing center. Not the entire festival crowd - a lot of people were taking shelter elsewhere. We ran for pitchers of beer, passed them around . Then we got onto the center of the stage and did our show, unplugged. It was a space and a time like no other; the connection with the audience was immediate and close. Shakey played with more spirit and power than I'd ever heard him put out before. I gave my best effort as well. The faces ringed around us absolutely glowed. It was magic! Still one of my favorite experiences! And man, I know we put on one hell of a show.
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Re: Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby jeffl » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:51 pm

It's like temporary Utopia. Absence of guilt,ego,malice,self-awareness,conflict,pain,hunger,fear......
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Re: Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby jbone1 » Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:50 pm

and absence of time passing too. Jo and i played our first time in clarksdale mississippi at a joint that's closed now. it was at the old train station. the guy who ran the joint was not good at promoting so there was next to nobody in the audience. on top of that a small tornado blew through the area a few miles to the north of town and dumped sheets of rain on cdale, flooding the streets. Jo and i did the first set, getting warmed up, hoping to see some butts in some chairs. which just didn't happen. there were a couple of patrons, the wait staff, who were not busy at all, and the manager. after a couple of songs Jo and i looked at each other and remarked about the lack of audience and the weather. go on, finish? or pack up and head for our room? and we decided, since we were in the place where so many blues shoes had trod, over so many years, it being clarksdale, the intersection of 61 and 49, where everyone who was headed out of the delta came through, we'd just tip our hats to the originators and founders of the music. and we did. we cut loose. i think we'd never played with that kind of abandon before. the songs just rolled out of us. i glanced up here and there and everyone in the place- all 5 or 6 people- were watching, sort of rapt, not talking or moving, just watching and hearing.
we did 2 sets like that. just no stops, no filters, no anxiety or attitudes. we channeled. after the 3rd set the owner came over and told us he had to shut down, it was flooding outside and he and his folks had to get home to see if anything had washed away. he paid us double our agreed fee and told us we could play there any time.
and i remember almost none of the music. nor does Jolene. we had been transported, we were conduits. we think the spirits of those old blues men and women took us over for those 2 sets.

moments like that are so rare and fleeting. i stepped out to get our car pulled over so Jo could stay dry getting in- and was instantly drenched and ankle deep in water. the drive out of there, in an old honda accord, through water at least a foot deep in a lot of places and deeper where we didn't go, was an adventure all its own. all my attention was given to getting us to our room safely and dry more or less.

but later on, the next day, driving back to arkansas in the sunshine, she turned to me and asked if i remembered last night, on stage. i had to think a minute. i did, but just pieces and parts.. and i remembered everyone there coming over between sets and after and telling us how incredible we were. which felt really weird. but good. i could probably tell you most of what our set lists were but i really have no conscious memory of playing them that night.

that train station stand unused these days, the joint closed for whatever reasons. last time we were over there we took a peek inside and out on the rear platform. there is a feeling one gets there, just a glimmer, of all those folks on the move, coming and going, some staying a while, others passing through on the way to chicago, detroit, wherever. but we have a bigger slice of it, if we can ever remember.
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Re: Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby jeffl » Sun Jul 04, 2010 5:26 pm

Great story! You ran into a great club owner too! You'll remember that one your whole life. Our band is playin' a weeklong music festival (about 50 bands in 6 venues around town) this month where we dictated some terms to the organizers in order to set up an opportunity for one of those magic nights: we told 'em we wanted to be outdoors under a tent (in case of rain)--preferably on the levee-- and that we wanted them to get a variance on the outdoors noise ordinance for after midnite. We had no clout, 'cuz it was OUR terms of employment before they hired us, but they went for it. They got back to us within about 2 days! An aside, their talent buyer came to one of our "rehearsals" and after listening to us for a while she asked one of our guys if we always played that well; our drummer gave her his poker face and said, "Well, when we play we usually get really loaded, so the results can vary." :lol: He was joking of course, but she was alot younger than him, so she took him seriously at first.
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Re: Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby bluejay » Tue Jul 06, 2010 5:12 pm

Bubba, sounds like a great place to reach when playing -- a loss of the self within the playing and within the music and within the moment.

Considering our conversations in the past (long time no see, huh?) you'll be pleased to learn that I recently found myself playing in front of a bar crowd -- totally unplanned. But I had the opposite concern from yours on my part.

I was in Aberdeen, Scotland, listening "stage-side" to the Son Henry Band in the Globe Inn as Son and crew laid down a blistering set -- and as one song ended, Son turned to me and said, "I'm playing harp on the next song, you play guitar" and handed me his Gibson Goldtop LP. Well, I was several pints into the evening and more than a bit stunned, :blink: but he wouldn't hear my protests that, as a poet and solo songwriter-type, I don't have experience playing with others in a band setting. It was a 12-bar blues, so (no pick) I did my best to keep up with the combo -- thankfully there was another guitarist sitting in, too, already, but I couldn't hear a thing and was praying that he had me turned down far enough in the mix that no one could hear me above the drums, bass, horns and harp :roll: . He assured me as he took back his guitar for the next number that I had done fine. As for me, I have absolutely no idea what I did other than try to keep up.

But I will always appreciate the opportunity Son provided -- and the risk he took. 8)
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Re: Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby jeffl » Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:44 pm

Bluejay, there's always been touring vets who are fearless about getting "guests" up on stage and dealing with whatever results they get. Apparently, they're comfortable with their ability to either cover for weaker musicians or to have a good time with decent musician guests. Other bandleaders just won't do it. I think it speaks to their approach to the audience. Those guys are guys who connect well with the crowds and try to make sure that everyone has a good time. I just came off a weekend where I played with 4 different bands in a 5-day stretch, so I've really gotten a close look at those situations. The one that really surprised me was a guy named Don Scott who I've always wanted to play with (for the last 30 years) ; he was doin' a gig at a friend's bar on a backwater of the river. The clubowner was playin' drums and I ended up playin' harp for the rest of the nite after the 1st set. What surprised me is that Don is lifetime solo performer and is very picky about his music and performances and I didn't think he'd get a stranger up there for that long. But he got me to do exactly what he wanted; within' a coupla tunes I knew exactly what kind of breaks he wanted outa me, and clearly when he wanted nothing out of me. He adjusted his playlist when he got me up, turning it into more romping traditional blues and picking up the pace substantially. He'd been real sick and I think he was actually using me to get his energy level up.
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Re: Ever wish you woulda been there?

Postby bluejay » Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:51 pm

Bubba, Son is a really enthusiastic and nice guy. It was about the greatest compliment someone could have paid me -- not as a skilled player, for I am far from that and have no illusions, but as a person who was a special guest at his gig. The whole bunch of Brits that I met up with on my trip to the UK, all linked to the Blindman's forum, including the Blindman himself, were exceedingly cordial hosts and compatriots.

It has made me think more about actually learning a couple "standards" in a couple keys (I mean I can do 12-bar rhythm in several already) so that if I ever find myself on the spot again, though Son never said what the song was, just that it was in D! :? 8)
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