My Vegas trip was entertaining and fun, as always. I heard some good music in lounges at various hotel/casinos but nothing that knocked my socks off, so to speak. At the Paris Hotel and Casino where I stayed I did hear a very good dance band who were fronted by a young man and woman (singers) who were excellent. The best however was the bass player who really knew how to set the groove – and hold it. What impressed me the most was their virtually non-stop playing. Just as soon as a tune would end the drummer would set the beat for the next tune and they’d all jump in. This is a very instructive thing for players who are in bands. Granted, the idea was to keep people on the dance floor and a non-dancing engagement is somewhat different but (and I know I’ve mentioned this before) it is vital to not waste time between tunes when you’re performing, regardless of the style of music you play. Audiences tend to have a limited attention span. If a performer wants to talk to the audience, fine. But diddling around with equipment, mindless noodling on an instrument, excessive tuning and private banter on stage are turn-offs to audiences. Bottom line: if a performer acts like he or she WANTS to be there, the audience will react in kind.
I received a great email from a reader yesterday. He had read a blog entry I wrote some time ago about some of my favorite concert experiences. It seems he was also in the first row at a wonderful concert we both attended at Muhlenberg College back in 1970. He had a much clearer memory of details of the concert but we were in agreement that both the Byrds and Santana were excellent. He went on to relate his enjoyment of a recent solo concert by Jim McGuinn (aka Roger), leader of the Byrds. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but it is always heartening to hear about great musicians from that time who are still on the road and still making great music.
Some have weathered the years better than others however. Last night I watched a new documentary about drummer Ginger Baker. It was fascinating and well worth checking out if you have the opportunity and are interested in the history of British rock music. Ginger comes across as funny, unpleasant, occasionally violent and abusive, brilliant and dumb at the same time, even pathetic on a certain level, but undeniably brilliant musically. It was interesting to hear musicians like Eric Clapton and others proclaim that Ginger was and is the best, not just as a rock drummer but also as a jazzer, saying that generally recognized great drummers like Keith Moon and John Bonham were not even in the same league as Baker. Wow.
And on a personal level… I have three gigs scheduled for the next three days, first the Friday night buffet at the wonderful local Coonamesset Farm, my usual Saturday morning gig at the Daily Brew Café and on Sunday morning, a special “folk service” at the Waquoit Congregational Church. You would assume the church service would be the easiest but in fact that has turned out not to be the case – the lady singers have required no less than three rehearsals. So in terms of money on a per-hour basis this one is, shall we say, somewhat less than profitable. However, my hope is that I will gain some karmic balance after a few nights in Sin City!
Peace & good music,