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#4- The Cherry Bluestorms at Life 4-20-09


I played a quick, six song set with The Cherry Bluestorms last night at a club called Life in Hollywood.  Glen and Deborah have a regular residency there as a duo, but this is the first time they have done the gig with a rhythm section.  It's a cool restaurant/club room, very upscale and clean, definitely a long way from your typical "rock club" divey vibe.  The Kibitz Room it was not :)

Gear
Brought the Precision bass, Ashdown head, SWR 4x10 cab and the full pedalboard (see
last entry for links if you want em).  Same exact setup as I used a few nights ago at El Cid, but for some reason I felt slightly underpowered for this room.  I eventually got the volume up to a good spot but felt like the rig was working a little too hard.  No bass in the P.A. system so it was all stage sound and the owner/soundguy asked me to turn up a couple times in the first song.  Probably would have been better if I could have had my stage volume a bit lower and thrown some of my signal into the house, but that's not how they roll.  I opted out of using the Bass Muff Pi for mild distortion, just because the sound was breaking up slightly on it's own and didn't need any artificial help.  

Volume

That's two gigs this week where I started the set too quiet.  I think I need to be a little less polite with my volume in the future.  Of course, we didn't get a sound check at either show, so that could explain it.  Still, I think my default level needs to be higher.  Let them ask me to turn down instead of up next time.  Rawk!

Tuning, Capo and Setlist
The set was a quick six-song affair, all from the El Cid list.  I had to tune down for one song (Just a Kiss Away) and use a
capo for another (To Love You is a Crime).  Speaking of that song, for some reason the capo wasn't grabbing the neck as solidly as it did on Friday.  The capo'd notes weren't very well defined and the whole arpeggiated skipping bass line was muddier than it should have been.  Weird.  Same capo, same bass, I don't get it.  During some open note sections I was physically grabbing the capo and squeezing it tighter onto the neck with my left hand which seemed to help a bit.  Also, Tommy had drum intros on a few songs, so we'd tune/capo/make adjustments till we were ready to jump in.  That's a good device but I think we might have overdone it by using it on 3 of the 6 songs.  Probably no one else noticed.  Anyway, here is the full list;

Daisy Chain, Just a Kiss Away, As Above So Below, London Bridge, Words, To Love You is a Crime.

Sing, Sing a Song
Kirsten made an interesting observation on the drive home about my singing.  I only sang on one song at the show and my voice was pretty strong.  She mentioned that as I get more familiar with the music I sing noticeably better.  I'd just done a show with this band Friday and was feeling comfortable with the material.  Maybe she's right.  I always want to credit that stuff to monitors and how well I warm up my voice (I'm often a slacker on that front).  Interesting theory, I think it's a good one.  

It's True Your Honor, The Man Has No Pick
I was pleased to play the entire set without a pick, except To Love You is a Crime which pretty much requires one.  Fingers felt good, attacks were accurate, tone seemed appropriate.  I'd had a Saucy Monky rehearsal the day before and was frustrated with the accuracy of my finger playing and immediately retreated into The Safety of The Pick.  Bah.  I know I can play better with those little buggers, but it just isn't as much fun.  I've been practicing my fingerstyle playing again, using my
Praxax in the car and trying to get my chops up.  Not a ton, but more than usual.  Anyway, it felt good to leave the pick on the sidelines (well, actually on the forehead) and feel like it was all working.  The struggle continues on that front.  

The Grade
Generally speaking the show went well.  Glen had some issues with his pedalboard but he eventually figured out the culprit and got it straightened out.  Got good reviews after we finished, which is always cool.  Dug the room.  Played pretty well.   Good times.  I'll give myself an A-/B+.  

Upcoming Events
Nothing on the books for me till a Saucy show in San Diego on May 6th so I may take the opportunity to switch gears and write down some thoughts about rehearsals and/or recording sessions between now and then.  Would love to talk about
Flannel High, The Obvious Wish, My Own Machine, Amy Heffernan, or Saucy Monky sometime soon.  We'll see.  

-s

Comments

(Anonymous)

Finger/Pickin'

Have you considered having picks surgically attached to a couple fingers on your right hand? Kind of an Edward Scissorhands thing? That way the picks would be an extension of you, and you wouldn't have to feel guilty for being separated from your, um, "instrument."

Re: Finger/Pickin'

I like this plan! Although technically I guess I could just grow my fingernails and have them shaped into a guitar pickish shape. That would save money on the surgery for sure. Edward Pickinghands, interesting, consider it considered...

Keep the ideas comin',
-s

(Anonymous)

Re: Finger/Pickin'

ew. Your wife thinks that's a really bad idea.

(Anonymous)

Gigs with Steve

Yeah, I've been stealthily following the blog. Thanks for the plugs and the interesting takes on the gigs. I think you're pretty damn objective and that's probably why you keep the quality up, with due consideration to the ghosts in the machines that occasionally (ha ha!) plague us all! See ya at the rehearsal for Skinny's (we MIGHT be able to swing the Vegas trip... we're working on it...). Incidentally, the pedalboard is in the shop again, but this time I think I found the problem so Dave can fix it!!!!.

GL

Re: Gigs with Steve

GL (I'm feeling clandestine and using initials), thanks for tagging along with this little project. Glad to hear you've pinpointed the pedalboard issue, although I think you had already successfully done that bit of troubleshooting at Life the other night. Wasn't the problem a preamp?

Let us know if you can swing the Vegas trip, it' gonna be a blast! The current roster of attendees is Steve, Kirsten, Dan and Jen, so if it doesn't work out for you guys you'll be joining a well-intentioned and expectedly long list of absentees :)

talk soon,
-s

(Anonymous)

Hi Steve,
It's good to read your blog. It is enlightening to know your thought process and why you like playing without a pick. It may seem like a safety thing for you when you're playing with one, but the attack has a lot of clarity I think. Having said that, it is in no to detract from your fine finger playing!

How do you I add myself to your blog?

Deborah

Hi!

Hey Deborah, good to hear from ya here :). Thanks for the kind words, and I totally agree about the pick/clarity thing. I guess the trick is pinpointing the tunes where that clarity is "better" than the warmth of the fingers approach.

I'll put you guys on the email list for blog updates, thanks for reading. Good to know you're following along, helps with my motivation to sit down and write this stuff when I know I've got an audience.

See y'all soon!
-s