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#11- The Cherry Bluestorms at Skinny's, 6-3-09


                                                                              This one's for Little Quita...  

Put on my 60's Mod/Powerpop hat and played a gig last night with The Cherry Bluestorms at Skinny's.  For some previous thoughts on the band check here and here.   

The Skinny
First time at this club, it was kinda cool in a "Bringing the Strip to North Hollywood" sorta way.  L-shaped with the stage at the back, bar and entrance at the front.  Retro vibe, nice lighting, felt newly remodeled.  Good load-in area out back with a locked gate so we could keep our stuff there after the set without worrying about it.  They also supplied us with a free bucket of beers on ice, which is always good.  

Who's The New Guy?
This was our first time out with drummer Kellii Scott.  Yes, that's double L, double I.  He's the primary drummer for writer/producer extraordinaire Linda Perry, so I had a feeling he'd be great and I wasn't disappointed.  It's a good thing too, cause the drumming shoes in this band were big ones to fill.  Ryan, Dan, and Tommy (the last three guys I've worked with in this band) are three of my faves, great players and friends.  Anyway, Kellii did a smokin' job, only missed a couple small things and covered those well.  Great energy, deep pocket, cool fill choices, felt groovy all around to me.  

Bad Penny Overture
Ah, a new gig, a new bass challenge from The Talented Mr. Laughlin.  This one is an instrumental tune from the band's upcoming concept record Bad Penny Opera, and the bass part is quite tricky.  It's a driving riff, uptempo, with some cool string-skipping pick stuff.  Glen is a guitarist, but he tracks his own bass parts on their records, and he does a great job of it.  In this case he used a Fender VI, which is sort of a baritone six stringed guitar.  Sort of.  And he tuned it down a whole step, then capo'd it back up two frets to make the action more part-friendly.  I didn't have this luxury as I was doing the gig on my trusty P-bass.  Managed to come up with a version of the part that served the live performance pretty well, although it wasn't identical to the recorded track, missed a bit of the nuances of the VI.  I found myself needing to mute the strings a bit more rather than let them ring out like they do on the recording, otherwise it got too muddy sounding.  Anyway, the part basically repeats the same upper register pattern whilst moving around the root throughout the song, with a couple of brief builds that hold on single notes.  Very cool song, I'm anxious to hear the finished recorded version.   I did a reasonable job pulling it off live, but I can definitely do it better.  I doubt anyone else noticed, but I know I did.  It's fast and relentless and I didn't quite get it happening the way I know I can.  Serviceable but not a home run at all.  Plus I missed one of the changes towards the end, despite drilling the structure into my head all day.  Bah.  

Brains, Brains, Brains!!
At the end of B.P.O. Deborah joined us onstage and we morphed into "Time of the Season" by The Zombies.  Quick Zombies story, Paul Atkinson was the guitarist for that band WAY back when, and he also was the president of the record label Nu Millenia that signed my band 3 Penny Needle back in the mid 90's.  A great guy, truly a gentlemen, and a key figure in my only real "Getting Courted and Signed By a Record Company" story that I've been a part of.  He offered us a deal after a showcase at The Whisky, took us out for some great meals and lots of drinks, back when we were all so broke that ANYTHING free was spectacular.  Flew us out to Austin to play South By Southwest at the label's big launch party.  He told us all kinds of great stories about being in the Zombies and getting his parents permission to sign their record deal.  They were basically a cover band with no songs of their own when they got signed so they had to write some tunes real quick when they went into the studio.  Paul didn't do any of the writing, but the singer did, and managed to come up with at least two that are absolute classics that still get thousands of spins around the world every day, "Time of the Season", and "She's Not There".  Paul passed away about 5 years ago, and although I didn't really know the guy that well, he was a big part of one of the more interesting chapters of my ongoing musical adventure.  

 The Ocho
Just did the math and according to my calendar I've got gigs with 8 different bands in the next five weeks.  That would be, in order; The Cherry Bluestorms, Arrica Rose, Flannel High, My Own Machine, Relentless Itch, Amy Heffernan, Grubb Street and Saucy Monky.  If I can just get The Obvious Wish to book something It would be a clean sweep of all the projects I have my toes in on any level.  Crazy.  My brain is full of songs.  

Precision, as I mentioned.  Tried out the Jazz in rehearsals to see if it would accomodate the fast stuff in Overture, but it didn't work as well.  Narrower string spacing wasn't conducive to the quick string-skipping so I went for the roomier (and better sounding) Precision.   Brought the Ashdown head, SWR 4x10 cab, and the full pedalboard.  Despite the relative smallness of the room, I missed my SVT 8x10, I think that would have worked better.  Hey, I got a new digital camera recently and took some gear photos.  Here's a couple for your perusal...

The Current Pedalboard (clockwise from top left) - Boss Bass EQ, Boss Octave, Boss Chorus, Radial Tonebone, Boss Tuner, Sansamp Bass Driver DI, Crybaby Bass Wah, Electro-Harmonix Bass Microsynth, Electro-Harmonix Basss Big Muff Pie.  I badly need to redo the velcro and reroute some of the power cables.  It works fine but it's looking messy and disorganized.  Wired entirely with George L cables by the way, they are fantastic.  

The Main Axe - Fender American Standard Precision "P-Bass".  Bought it new in 2006 I think?  Love this bass.  

I actually got to use a couple cool pedal stomps at this show.  Combined the Microsynth with the Boss Chorus pedal for a swelling, synthy gurgle at the top of Bad Penny Overture.  Used some mild distortion from the Bass Muff Pi to beef up sections in Dasiy Chain, As Above So Below and Sunday Driving South.  Dropped some Boss Octave pedal riffs in Daisy Chain too.  I've made peace with using the pedal board primarily as a way to have EQing options and a good tuner, but it's always nice when I get a chance to use some of the whackier stuff.  Hey, speaking of the songs we played, here's the...

...Set List
Bad Penny Overture, Time of the Season, Daisy Chain, London Bridge, Just a Kiss Away, Sunday Driving South, As Above So Below, Words, Start Again.

The Band
We were pretty good but not great.  Deborah had a couple minor technical issues with her guitar and fortunately friend/tech Alex was there to help straighten it out on the fly.  I already mentioned Kellii did a bang up job but did miss a couple changes.  I also dropped the ball in two spots.  Glen told me after the show that he had two bits he missed.  Pretty good, most folks surely didn't notice most of it, but we're capable of being tighter.  

Volume Epiphany!
At Kelli's request, I turned my volume up halfway through the set and promptly started playing better.  This seems to be a recurring pattern for me lately.  I'm too damn polite with my stage level.  I think a LOT of my tone problems I keep bitching about wouldn't be nearly as bad if I would just  crank it up a notch.  I can hear the nuances better, feel the instrument, get the snap, punch and grit I need to play properly in a rock setting.  This is one of the reasons I started doing this blog, so I would start to see some patterns and hopefully make adjustments based on what I noticed.  Color me louder next week...

A friend of Glen and Deborah (Dan?  Dave?  I'm pretty sure it's Dan) took some video of the show, hopefully I'll have something to post in a future entry.  He also did this video of a show at El Cid (not the one I blogged about, an earlier one).  Always fun to check those out.  Curious if it will back up my thoughts about Bad Penny Overture, I'm very interested in hearing our performance of that song and comparing it to how it felt from my perspective.  

My pal Brian Honda was in attendance and took some photos.  He's a star and always shows up at gigs and takes cool pictures, plus hands me a disk of shots from the last time I saw him.  I'll continue posting photos that go with older blog entries cause I like having the visual.  The super crappy shot I have for this entry I took with my new camera between songs while it was sitting on my amp, just reached over and pushed a button.  I'm sure I'll be replacing it with a Brian Special after I see him next.  I need to remember to hand my camera to someone in the audience in the future to get something I can use from out front.  

The Grade
Let's see.  I could probably give myself a different mark for different parts of the set.  B.P.O. was "okay".  Then the next few songs were slightly better.  Then I turned up my volume and I finished strong, dug in, had some nice moments.  Never really got all the way off the ground though.  Tone was pretty bitchin' by the end, I cranked up the "presence" setting on the Sansamp to get some nice top end bite.  Played mostly with a pick but "London Bridge", "Sunday Driving South" and "Start Again" got the fingers treatment and that actually went pretty well cause they were post-volume-adjustment.  I think I'm gonna sink back into the B's again.  Probably a straight up B, barely avoiding the B- thanks to the late-set improvements.  Okay, fine, it's officially a B.  

Up Next
I've got back-to-back shows next Thursday and Friday with Arrica Rose and Flannel High respectively.  Both should be really fun, Arrica's is a record release at The Hotel Cafe and Flannel High will be a crazy party at Rusty's on the Santa Monica Pier.  Good times!

Thanks as always if you made it this far.  If you're reading this from the Myspace or Facebook posts and want to be added to the regular email list, hit me up at sinjingiles@yahoo.com and you'll get the inbox special.  

Talk Soon,



Cherry bluestorms

Steve! Yes, this is Dan, Glen and Deborah's friend who videotapes TCB. I found your bass blog via Google. Interesting to hear your thoughts on how the room sounds, etc.

I did post a video of the Bad Penny Overture, wondering what you thought.

Caught you at The Joint for IPO. Music sounded okay, but Deborah's vocals got lost again.