Tag Archives: Gigs

gigs #3 and #4: the hub and the hydrant.

we kind of need to find a new place to play.

#3 was pretty standard, with a few interesting things to note. it was a benefit deal for one of the art groups we have on campus, which my friend paige is a part of, and she was the one that actually asked us to play. interesting too, we actually played last, this band called the beat strings opened, which was kind of funny because they were an actual band that sounded kind of like franz ferdinand, really upbeat, high energy, and then we took the stage. two dudes with an acoustic and one with an electric. weak sauce. but anyway. we played with bruce again and i played my electric, which really made a big difference in my playing and made me NOT want to play acoustic on stage again. i just feel so limited in what my hands can translate from my brain when i play the acoustic. it suits me a billion times better to play on my strat. so it was a lot more fun this time around and i got into my groove a lot faster than before. one thing that plagued our set was the lack of practicing though. eli and i had played quite a bit the week prior to this show and we worked a lot of cool things out on certain songs and even added a brand new song to the list, but we were unable to coordinate a time to practice with bruce so he came into the gig not on the same page as eli and i. we still played well i think but it definitely could’ve been tighter among all three of us. another cool thing about this gig: paige sang with us. that was cool to have a girl’s voice amongst our sound. the most interesting thing about this show for me though was my process of relaxation on stage. i felt alright from the get go, a titch nervous but still ok. as we played on though, it got late, and people obviously got tired and started to go. as i watched people get up and walk out, i stopped thinking completely about the audience and just started to goof off and play what i wanted. that was a lot of fun, i almost just stopped caring about whatever eli and bruce were doing and started making jokes to owen and colleen and joel, who were all sitting at a table together. it was a lot of fun. less people = more fun for me. and we debuted our new song, “mess around” by ray charles. such an awesome tune, and i’m glad we have a ray charles cover in our set. super fun to play, with a chance for me to really dig into a 12-bar blues solo, which was awesome on my strat. problems: too freakin’ short. we played it and out of nowhere the song was over. it’s literally done in like two and a half minutes for us, which is just far too short. not good for our set and not fun for me. so overall the gig was fine. i can tell i’m getting better about being on a stage.

#4: best gig so far, by far. absolutely the most fun i’ve had on a stage, and i felt like i played my best so far and really got into it. started off the show with about 0.1% nerves, which is basically negligible for me. so that was great. it was just eli and i again, with me on electric. i was a bit wary before the show whether or not it was gonna sound good with just eli on acoustic and me on electric but i really felt like we found a good sound with this set up. the crowd was great, which to me means it was mainly our friends. it was the thursday before finals week so the hydrant didn’t have many patrons, and i was kind of behind a speaker so most of the people who i didn’t know i couldn’t even see. that relaxed me a lot right from the get go. and i finally got to see how i performed with a bit of alcohol in me, which is not bad at all. around the middle of the set i started to get a bit of a buzz and instead of making me worse at playing it was just a lot of fun. it also helped me take the song omar bay on a lot easier. omar bay is the one tune where i’ve got a solo but i just haven’t figured out yet how to make it a good solo; it’s such a weird chord progression and trying to find a good melody to solo with over this progression has stumped me. but after having a few drinks, along with playing it later in the set after i’ve gotten comfortable, when eli looked at me and said “omar bay?” i was like “yeah….i’m gonna get you this time, omar bay.” and it was awesome.

and my strat. gosh i love playing electric so much more than acoustic. it takes a ho-hum set list for me and turned it into something really enjoyable to be a part of. we played some really rockin’ tunes too, the weight sounds great with me on electric, and we finished off our last set with hooch, and kevin actually came up and freestyled a little over this super funky groove we found. that’s the kind of stuff i wish we played more of. stuff where i can really forget about being on a stage and just bob my head and play. it was super fun.

on top of that, a super fun one was mess around by ray charles. we ended our first set with it, and it’s such a good set closer, except that it is just so short. solution is just to figure out how to medley it with another tune, preferably another ray charles tune if we could. i’m thinking i don’t need no doctor, i got a woman, possibly what’d i say. figuring out how to medley a few tunes will be my project as soon as this week is over.

no more gigs on the horizon right now, but whatever else comes, i sincerely hope they are like #4. oh yeah i’m done with the semester too. awesome. two more classes and i’m out of college. holler.

-jon

p.s. my font changed for some reason unbeknownst to me. i tried for like thirty seconds to get it the same as the others but then i got lazy. so i guess just deal with it for this one post. sorry.

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gig #2: the hydrant.

well second gig has come and gone. it kind of came up much more suddenly than the first one and it was more of a hodge podge i guess you could say, but it was still a ton of fun. little back story, eli lets me know that he’s playing on thursday night at the hydrant and bruce can’t due to a prior gig the next day for which he wants to save his voice (bruce’s actual band stable daze was playing friday night and recording the show for a live record) but eli asked me if i would be interested in playing with just him. the problem with all of this is that the week ended up being full of stuff and we weren’t really able to practice at all until thursday afternoon. by “practice” i mean eli coming over at 4 pm (gig was at 10) and us talking about songs we might want to do and not actually playing any more than one song together. ironically, it was the song i flubbed up big time at the gig but i’ll get to that.

in the end, we decided that since it was just two of us, it’d be better if i was just gonna play along since we didn’t really have time to practice at all. not really a night for me to play solos since there was just the two of us. and that was a good plan, but it would’ve been better had i been able to play some of the songs first. anyway. fast forward to later, we go up to start playing. and let me tell you, the hydrant got packed quick. i had invited more people than i realized and i think every person i told showed up. there were school friends, work friends, church friends, old friends. even a professor. it was pretty nuts. so the place felt really packed. which didn’t really make me nervous, and just the fact that i wasn’t really nervous was great. so eli and i go up and i just say to him play whatever and i’ll catch up and we start. and i don’t catch up as fast as i had hoped.

this was the result of a few little problems. first, i should’ve asked eli to turn my guitar up louder in the monitor. i could hear it ok, but not great during the one or two solos that i had in the beginning and i’m not one to play my guitar loud anytime at all, especially when i’m playing along with someone else to a song i’ve never really practiced before. so that was problem number one, and probably the biggest one. secondly, we played the song omar bay as we had at the hub at our first gig, and boy did i suck. eli gave me a solo and it was like will ferrell’s devil character trying to join in. i couldn’t hit notes and i was just struggling to play anything that sounded remotely good. eli took the song back quick though so it was ok. but man after we ended i could feel the sweat on my forehead and knew i had ground to gain after that.

the bright side was, as far as i could tell, the night only got better after that first crappy omar bay. we played a ton of stuff, and for a long time. we started at like 10:15 and played for about a hour, then took maybe twenty or thirty minutes and went back on until like 1:15 or 1:30. and since it was just eli and i, when we were playing we were actually playing. no eli solo sets for me to take a break. by the end, my fingers were killing me and my hands felt like glue.

we played tons of stuff too. hooch, the weight, falling slowly, always lift him up and never let him down, gulf coast highway, arms of a woman, will it go round in circles, a few eli originals, what i got, candy, street corner preacher, sitting waiting wishing, more stuff. tons of stuff i’d never played and didn’t even know he could play, like candy. that was super fun cause we had never talked about us being able to play it and then he started this little riff off and i was like “what’s this?” and he was gonna walk me through the chords quick and he was like “it’s candy” and i immediately joined in where he was at. and then we rocked it. it’s a song very conducive to two guys on acoustic guitars in a bar. another one i really enjoyed was the weight. again, hadn’t played it with him before, or actually ever, but since it’s a total of three chords, i picked it up quick. and it’s just a fun sing-along and we threw some funk into the last few choruses that eli wasn’t expecting but liked a ton.

one reason it’s fun to play for some of these new people is that they don’t know all my old guitar tricks. i’m pretty good at guitar, but even more than being good, i’m really good at making it seem like i’m really good at guitar. and for someone who doesn’t play guitar or doesn’t know tons about music, it’s not that hard to come across as good. for most of our audience at the bar that night, me playing the D chord as a 7th in the chorus of the weight makes it sound funky, and all i did was play one note differently than eli did. and yet people will cheer if i play that one note and bob my head like i’m really “feeling” the groove. i’m such a poser.

but it was still a lot of fun once i found my footing. what i really think would make me and eli sound better is a time to play and practice with no one else really around. a time where i could sing harmony loud, and we could go over songs multiple times until we got them down. not playing until showtime isn’t good for me. we’ve got two gigs this week coming up too so hopefully we’ll get to play soon.

gigs this week: wednesday night at the hub (benefit/charity type show for paige. i think bruce is playing with us? i definitely want to practice before this thing) and then thursday night at the hydrant. it’d be fun to have bruce but i haven’t seen that guy since i think our first show so i have no idea if he still exists. so potentially a repeat of this second gig with just eli and me. and hopefully my name will be on the ad poster hanging up at the hydrant. that would be awesome. hope to see you out there!

-jon

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gig #1: the hub.

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.

-jon

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the debut of the immortal string trio.

get a load of this.

this is on the official website of a local bar called the hub. i am playing there tomorrow night with two local performers slash friends, eli and bruce. eli is in a band called the barefoot compadres and they’ve played together for awhile and they are awesome. lots of college-y type covers, but the good ones. no crash or banana pancakes here. stuff like oar, old crow medicine show, amos lee, etc. and bruce plays all over the place, here in cedar falls, cedar rapids, and last time we practiced he was telling me about a gig he had just done in des moines. he plays mainly solo but also duos with eli occasionally. and he sounds like chris cornell. it’s incredible. actually both of them have killer voices, eli fronts barefoot compadres and sounds like a mix of everybody he sings, so when they sing together it’s a great blend. awesome harmony.

so a few weeks ago eli and i are out with some friends and he asks if i want to come and jam with him and bruce the next day and the next day comes and we jam, bruce teaches us a new song that he wants to start playing and then they ask me to play with them for this gig. yikes. i feel like the little brother tagging along with a brother and his cool friend. these two guys play all the time around town and even in other towns, and when i play i’m usually sitting on my bed in front of my computer playing along with itunes, not in front of real people who are drinking real drinks and listening and watching me play. i’m mortified.

i think it’ll be fun though. the two or three times the three of us have met and played our set we gel really well and sound pretty good if i can say that. we play a mix of the stuff the two of them play, folksy acoustic rock type of stuff. nothing flashbang but fun to sit and drink to and even more fun to stand and play. i’m looking forward to it. if at least just to get a real gig under my belt and not be so nervous next time. should be fun though. if you’re around, come check it out. the hub, wednesday night around 9.

-jon

p.s. i had no input whatsoever into what was put onto the hub’s website, especially concerning me. i actually have no idea who wrote that. just wanted to clear any doubt.

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