ladies and gentlemen, i’d like to introduce you to the immortal string trio.
about two weeks ago, i played at the hub with these two guys. from left to right, it’s me, eli, bruce. it was a ton of fun too. i was really nervous leading up to it, mainly cause the only other time i’ve ever played on stage was at church like three times, and these guys have been performing forever. the other reason i was nervous was that i was a little out of my element. the gig was originally gonna be at the hydrant, a small little bar that my roommate kevin works at, which i’ve spent a substantial amount of time at. i thought it was gonna be a really small crowd, nothing too big of a deal or anything, but then plans changed with the venue owners and we ended up playing the hub on a wednesday night. the hub is a quite bigger bar than the hydrant and i had an extra week to think about it so i got myself pretty worked up.
the day came and i got to the bar around nine, set up my guitar with eli and then just chilled out while people started trickling in. one cool thing though, eli took me down to the “green room” of the hub, i guess every venue’s gotta have a place where the performers can chill out before/after the show away from the whole crowd. unfortunately the hub’s green room is just the basement with a coffee table and like two crappy leather chairs and an old couch. all purchased from a thrift store most likely. so i went down with eli and bruce and another dude whose name i can’t remember now and just hung out while they had a few cigg-butts. we talked through the set list a little bit but basically just decided to wing it. and we went up and played a few songs. i think our first set was about five or six songs, nothing too much. i think it was mainly to get my nerves out.
it worked too. basically the way the three of us play together is either eli or bruce takes lead vocals, the other sings harmony, eli plays the basic rhythm guitar part, bruce will dink around a little with that and i get to pretty much do whatever i want. which means adding what i can during verse chorus parts and then they usually give me a solo in songs that call for one. that was what i guess i was most nervous about; i can play chords on a stage in front of people all day and it wouldn’t bother me, especially if there are two other people playing those same chords on stage with me. but soloing is a different story. when a solo happens, i’m trying express myself and the feeling of the song through strictly musical notes, and the spotlight is on me. yeesh. so the first couple songs featured a solo from me or just me playing along and it felt good to get the nerves out. especially once i realized that it was essentially like playing in my living room.
this is where i gotta give it up to my friends. all of my friends know i play guitar, and most know that i play a lot and that i’m better than the average shirtless college dude. so everybody was really supportive once they heard i was playing my first actual gig because playing with other people has always been something i’ve sort of wanted to do but never enough to actually pursue it aggressively. also, i’ve never really met anybody that has suited my musical sensibilities all that well either. i certainly hope that doesn’t come off as i’ve never met anybody as good as me because that’s not it at all, i’m not great and i’ve met people so much better than myself at guitar. what i mean is i haven’t met anybody that’s really matched what i enjoy listening to or playing to very well. eli and bruce fit that better than anybody i’ve ever really met.
so my friends knew i was excited and nervous about this, and they came out in droves to support me which felt great. and made me feel very much at home, literally, because with almost everybody who came, at one point or another in the last year, there have been one or two nights at least where i’ve played guitar in the jam shack (our garage) with all these folks around drinking. once i realized that the only difference between me playing at the hub for these people and me playing in my garage for these people was that i was standing two feet above them, i found my groove pretty quickly.
so i want to thank everybody that came out. there were new friends and old friends and super old friends, and it really meant a lot that everybody took so much out of their wednesday night to come and see us play. thanks.
so back to the actual thing. i played for about five or six songs, they let me take a break, eli and bruce duo-ed a few tunes, which is always fun to listen to them sing together, and then each of them did a solo set. so i had about an hour to hang out in the crowd and talk to friends and have a couple beers. it was great too, eli and bruce are both really great performers. they’ve got killer voices and they both have their own great style on guitar. and the songs they do are awesome. eli covers billy preston…enough said.
an hour goes by and eli invites bruce and i back up for another set. this is where it got fun for me. i had the jitters out and we just jammed and it was so great. set list (in no particular order):
soul scream (a bruce day original)
anywhere i go (slightly stoopid)
rivers of babylon (not sure)
wagon wheel (old crow medicine show)
2 drink minimum (chris cornell, written by john mayer)
omar bay (state radio)
arms of a woman (amos lee)
man in the hall (state radio)
always lift him up and never knock him down (old crow medicine show)
gulf coast highway (nanci griffith)
falling slowly (glen hansard)
what i got (sublime)
street corner preacher (amos lee)
that is the first list we made of songs we might potentially play. i think we did most of them, there were like maybe one or two we didn’t do all together, and i know we did one or two of them twice. but you can kind of get the feeling of the music we played. folksy, acousticy, no distortion or anything like that. just music that is easy to play and fun to play well. here is the end of my solo in arms of a woman. this is nothing fantastic, and watching it again i notice how freakin’ much i have to practice to get actually good or worth listening to. rather than fresh melody lines, my solos are normally just a glut of notes that fit in the chords being played cause i usually can’t come up with new melody lines themselves. and from just a technical point of view, i mess up pretty obviously here and there. but again, this is my first time playing on stage ever so i was happy with how it went. and sorry about the video quality; the video function on blogger is nothing to write home about.
EDITED 10/18/11: wordpress wasn’t able to import the video over from blogger’s crappy video function. oh well.
my favorite part of that is kevin yelling at the end, “i live with him! he’s my roommate!” that’s not his normal voice. devotees will remember kevin as the upside-down smile guy. anyway.
so that was it. i got to hang out with some friends and play guitar for like four hours. and on top of that, i got two free beers out of it, and on top of THAT, i got paid. like i was a legitimate working musician. this put me through the roof cause honestly, the thought of getting paid hadn’t crossed my mind through these few weeks like once. i was just excited i was getting to tag along with two seasoned performers to play on a stage in front of people i liked. i felt like the kid brother who had just gotten lucky and got to hang out with the older kids. i hadn’t thought once that i was gonna get compensated in any way. if anything, i was surprised i didn’t have to pay the bar owner to let me up on stage with a guitar, but when the owner of the hub gave me money for the gig, forget about it. what a treat. a great way to end my night.
so right now, there has been a little talk between the three of us about playing another show soon. the next one will be at the hydrant on the 2nd (tomorrow), and it’s actually just me and eli playing this one, bruce had a prior engagement. but i’m really excited because now that i have one gig under my belt, the next one will be a lot easier to be psyched for, and eli and i will have a fun time experimenting with what we can do on our own. he plays some great songs when he does solo shows and i’m excited to see what i can do with them. plus the hydrant is a super small and fun bar so i am already looking forward to it. we’re going on about 10 pm. hope to see you out there.