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#3- The Cherry Bluestorms at El Cid, 4-17-09

Played last night in Hollywood at El Cid with the Cherry Bluestorms, it went pretty well. It was a 9:30 show so we started while the dinner crowd was still working on their flaming shrimp fajitas and taco platters, always a little weird for a rock band. (Note to Brent Hoffort; don't book the opening slot at this club, we'll be WAY too loud for the early set). Anyway, that stage is HOT, and I'm talking literally about temperature, it was really cookin' up there. I think it's because the stage only goes about 8 feet front to back and they have a thick velvet curtain up so all the heat from the room/gear/p.a. is trapped in this small space before the show starts. Throw in multiple trips up and down the narrow staircase to load onto the stage and I was dripping sweat before we even started.

Played my P-bass, as usual. Brought the 
Ashdown head and 4x10 SWR cab. Dragged out the full pedalboard, although I didn't use anything crazy. Ran my Electro Harmonix Bass Muff Pi turned on through the entire set to add some slight fuzz to my tone. Also the Boss Bass EQ with the extreme lows rolled off at 50hz and a slight bump at 400hz, that worked really well for the room. My trusty Sansamp Bass Driver added some tube saturation and it all came together nicely.  The SWR cab is very punchy and clean, sometimes too clean for what I want to hear. Adding just a pinch of distortion from the Bass Muff is a recently learned trick that works like a charm with those speakers.  The only sound-related bad news was that I overcompensated for the dinner crowd and had my level too low for the first two songs, crap.

Speaking of bass cabinets, here's where I'm currently at; I've got an
SVT 8x10, which is ballsy and GREAT but sometimes too much for certain rooms. Then I've got the SWR 4x10 for mid-size clubs and rehearsals. For real small rooms or acoustic gigs I have a Hartke Kickback Combo that is perfect, and it's also my practice amp at home. Finally, I recently picked up a pair of Ashdown ABM cabs, one 4x10 and one 1x15 that I'm not very happy with. They just aren't as punchy as I'd hoped, which sucks cause I really thought they were gonna be great additions to the arsenal, especially since I really like the Ashdown head I use. The problem with the SVT is it won't fit inside my truck, it has to go in the bed, which is exposed to rain and theft and all that. Stacking the two Ashdown cabs was going to be the perfect substitute for loud rock gigs cause I can fit them both inside the truck. But no, they just don't sound right and I'm gonna have to sell them.  Anybody want to buy some bad-sounding, practically-new bass cabinets?  

The Band
If you haven't seen the band yet,
The Cherry Bluestorms do a cool, psychedelic 60's rock thing, real fun to play. Glen is a great guitarist and he and his wife Deborah both sing lead. They usually find ways to mix in something different for each show, which is great. Sometimes horns, sometimes strings, sometimes crazy costumes (Deborah wore a matador costume recently, which was rad). Last night, Deb had a strobe light hooked up to a footswitch to turn on at strategically appropriate moments. Tommy was in town from New York to play drums, he always kills it. He's played with us on some serious road trips, including gigs in Liverpool and Toronto, great times.

Bass Capo?
We opened with a new tune called "To Love You is a Crime" and it was the first time I've EVER used a capo on the bass. Listening to the demo, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to play the crazy bass line Glen had recorded. When he showed me that it was using a third fret capo it all clicked and was actually pretty easy and fun to play. It's an arpeggiated line that skips around between Dm7 and G7, very cool. I used a pick and played it pretty well I thought. Except that my level was too low for that song, which I already mentioned. Again, crap.

How Deep is Your Love
Second song was an old Beegees cover called "Words", which I only mention because it's the second cover of a Beegees tune I've played recently. Arrica Rose has a bitchin' version of "Tragedy" on her new record that we've been doing live. Will Flannel High be whipping out "Stayin' Alive" soon? Seems to be the pattern.

To Love You is a Crime, Words, As Above So Below, London Bridge, Daisy Chain, Sunday Driving South, Start Again.

The Grade
Anyway, the show felt good, I got my stage mojo back after last weeks slight discomfort at Crane's. I switched from the pick to finger playing after the first two tunes, right when I turned the volume up, and it sounded great. Got into the zone and was able to play freely, ride the groovy tone and get out of my head for the second half of the set.  Overplayed a bit on "Start Again", but nothing too crazy.  I think I'll give myself a B+/A- overall for the night, that feels about right.  

Finger Food
I need to do more finger playing, that's the bottom line. Dig it much more, feels like I'm actually "playing" the instrument, whereas picks create this distance between my fingers and the strings, not as intimate I guess.  The problem has been that I really play AWFUL fingerstyle when I can't hear the tonal subtleties well, and those bad experiences always herd me into Pick World for months at a time.  I've been there for most of 2009, it's definitely time to switch it up again, or at least find a better mix of the two styles.  Picks are great for some things, especially fast stuff where I need a lot of attack, but I'd rather that be the salsa, not the chips.  

Quick Turnaround
The band is playing again in a couple days at Life in Hollywood. Monday night, short 5-song set. Never been there, looking forward to it. Always good to get two quick shows with the same band, starts to get tighter, more flowing and natural, less cerebral.  

What could possibly go wrong?



how about you provide a picture of each gig you do, to match the journal entry. shit, show us your rig etc... some of my students would probably be interested in that aspect.
also you should do a break down of cost (at least I would think that was funny)
Parking - $10
2 beers before set: $14
2 beers during set: $14
10 beers after set: $100
New bass strings just before the set: $20

rock it in your pocket
I do plan on posting photos for each show retroactively, depending on when I actually get access to them. I often get a disc from my friend Brian who goes to a lot of gigs and takes great shots but it takes several weeks to get it. Or Kirsten takes photos sometimes. Anyway, that'll happen I'm sure.

Listing the costs? Might be too depressing, but definitely hilarious. I'll stay in denial on that front I think...

only had SIX beers after the set!