Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Work, Work, Busy Bee!

OK, I don't actually work. Not for a paycheck, anyway. But it seems I've been busy. Lots of gaming (including a very interesting half-game of Warrior of God with Matt R a week ago), we got a new addition to our gaming group who looks like a winner, and I have a lot of new games either in hand or imminent (Devil's Cauldron, Kutozov, new edition of Napoleonic Wars, and a whole lotta Panzer Grenadier thanks to Eric mentioning that you could pick the whole product line up for about a quarter). That's about 40 or so sheets of counters to punch and clip. If only I could do it when Mel's home, but then she'd notice that I got more wargames. Ack.

And then there's Mom. Lots of Physical Therapy sessions. Lots of repeating myself again. And again. And again. "You can take one more Aleve if your back still hurts. But just take one at night if you do that. No, just one at night. At night. Night, when it's dark." She's really pretty with it, but for some reason medication instructions defeat her completely. And she takes fewer pills than I do. 

What's been the hard work, though, has been the band. Yes, I'm still in a band. And no, we still don't have a name yet (although I have a name I'm pushing for). We did, however, have an actual gig. With actual people listening. And guess what? Everything I said would be a problem was. Imagine that. What do you call a guy with program management skills and 30 years experience in musical performance? A: Right. We got quite a bit of feedback from the gig, which was nice (especially having the words "Doug" and "awesome" not only in the same sentence but actually directly related! Woot!

The "leader" of the band hasn't even played in 25 years, which I just found out. He's a good guitarist, but not a good singer. He's close to pitch, but it's either below or just below the center of the pitch. Unfortunately, good singers sing slightly *above* pitch, so he clashes terribly when singing harmonies. And doesn't hear them anyway. Anyway, when I mentioned that while I liked songs like the Beatles' "Come Together," but they weren't dance songs, he'd go on about how everyone danced to it at all the frat parties he played for way back in the day. 

Feedback #1 from our gig: No good dance songs. 

He also hired a female vocalist who has some really good chops, but zero experience using a microphone or in front of an audience. I was asked to help audition, but not asked if I thought she'd be a good addition. I would have said no based on her brassy voice and non-existent experience level. I was not asked. At the gig, she tried to hide behind her music stand, looked intently at it even on songs she didn't sing, and her bright tone grated on the nerves of listeners. 

Feedback #2 from our gig: Lose the female vocalist. 

Now I get to choose between being a jerk and insisting she leave the band (or me, I'd do that if necessary), or getting to be her instructor on how to be a front person/rock star. Which I neither have taught, nor wish to. 

We have another gig at a benefit for a local cross country high school team, with a member of the Olympic team present to meet'n'greet, and dinner as well. This is the sort of gig where you want a jazz duo playing wallpaper music, not a six-piece rock band wailing out "Ramble On" or "Barracuda". In the business this is called a "mis-booking". Plus, we're doing it for free, which I'm guessing is the primary reason we were chosen. I'm hearing that their response to everything is "we just want to help out xxxx" or "that's fine". Should be a real thrill. Once I figured out exactly what the gig was, I recommended strongly that they find another act. Everyone else wanted to play, so play we will.

Anticipated feedback: Mis-booking.

Also, if I decide that it's me or the female singer, I'll bring that up after the gig. Should be fun. Not.

On the plus side, I expect that my demonstration of front-person skills has given me enough cred with this group to start to take over decisions from the guitarist, who has no idea of what he's doing. Very nice guy, very good guitarist, shouldn't be leading a band. I really don't *want* to be leading the band, but there's really no one else who has the personality or experience for it. 

The thing is that this is a pretty good band. Everyone plays well, everyone gets along reasonably well (you always want a *little* tension), and we're all more or less aligned in the same direction - play a club/bar gig every few weeks. No one is in it for the money, no one (even me) is in it for the fame. Actually, I do it because there is absolutely nothing like connecting with an audience when you sing, especially when you are able to tear down the walls around your lizard brain and just let 'er rip. When I don't do it for a while, and it's been a good six years since I've *really* gotten to let loose, I get a little difficult. Saturday was very cathartic for me, and better yet the audience seemed to enjoy it too. That's always nice. 

I'll give a further report after the gig. Probably no new game reports (maybe one on Warriors of God) until the next Road to Legend session in a week.

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