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#20- Saucy Monky at The Kibitz Room, 7-15-09


Saucy Monky, left to right, Megan Jane, The Earl of Sandwich, Annmarie Cullen, Cynthia Catania.  This order will become relevant further down the page.  

Part three of our exciting five week stint at The Kibitz Room in Hollywood was last night.  Another successful venture I must say.  Despite the midnight start time, I'm having a good time with this weekly residency thing.  Of course I don't have to drive all the way back to San Diego after the show and work early Thursday every week like our poor drummer Megan.  She's a champ.  

This will undoubtably (hopefully) be a record-settingly short entry, as I'm running out of things to say about The Kibitz Room.  Plus I've got a show tomorrow and a recording session Sunday, both of which I'd like to blog myself silly about.  Guess we'll see how this one goes, maybe I'll uncover a topic or two worth some attention.  

Let's Start Things Off With...
The weird stage!  Kibitz has one of those stages where you have to line up left to right, no depth at all.  That makes drummer placement particularly different, since they are typically back behind the rest of the band.  Also, Cynthia with her Wurlitzer, pedalboard and multi-mike setup isn't easy to place comfortably.  We've tried many of the 24 possible lineups and haven't really found the best answer yet (4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24, right?  I don't remember much from my college statistics classes, but I think that's how that works).  Starting long before our residency began, we've rearranged nearly every time we've played here.  Moving left to right, we first tried "Cynthia, Annmarie, Megan, Steve".  The girls had trouble hearing their vocals from that side of the stage, although Megan prefers to have me on her hi hat side so that part of it was good.  We've also done "Steve, Megan, Annmarie, Cynthia", that one kinda freaked out Megan to have us yanking her time around from opposite sides.  Last night was "Megan, Steve, Annmarie, Cynthia", that was okay, but having Megan and Cynthia so far apart wasn't ideal because they play together on some of our trickier sections and it would be nice to have them closer so they can lock in better.   

I'm officially suggesting for next week either "Steve, Annmarie, Megan, Cynthia" or "Steve, Annmarie, Cynthia, Megan".  Annmarie would be towards, but not in, the worst monitoring area for vocals, but we'd get Megan and Cynthia next to each other.  Hmmmm. Still problems.  I'm not on Megan's hi hat side for starters.  This is a bit of a puzzle, I'll keep you posted, I know you're fascinated.  

editors note- after writing this bit I got an email confirming that next week will indeed be "Steve, Annmarie, Cynthia, Megan."  Results to follow after that show.  

Bass Tone Troubles
It won't be unusual for me to bitch about my tone, but it does seem kinda strange that it was crappy in the same room where it's been pretty good before.  Oh Sound Waves, how you thwart me with your unpredictable and irreverent ways.  I couldn't find it last night.  Brought the Hartke, P-bass and pedalboard, as I've been doing.  Just couldn't dial it in.  Felt like I didn't have the headroom I wanted.  So weird, I've had plenty of power the last few times we were there.  Maybe it's cause Megan was to my right and directly in front of a mirror, perhaps the drum sound was reflecting and interfering with my precious low end (my precioussssss)?  I kept bumping up the low end, felt like I wasn't "filling up the room" the way I wanted.  Cynthia asked me to turn up and I agreed that there just wasn't enough happening on the bottom.  But as the EQ changed and I bumped the level, it just got more distorted and didn't really take flight how I wanted it to.  Bah.  Should I bring my Ashdown/SWR 4x10 combo next time?  Feels like overkill for this little room.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I'll try the Hartke one more week and see if I can come up with a sonic solution.  It's been great in previous weeks, maybe the new left to right stage alignment will help.  

Auto Pilot
The good news is, my muscle memory kicked in and I think I played pretty well despite the turd-o-riffic tone.  That's rare for me, usually when the tone is bad I go on a multi-state "clanking and clamming" rampage and the night is ruined.  Not this time, I think the groove was still happening despite what I was hearing.  Progress Giles, progress.

Set List
It was a short one, they overbooked the night so we had to squeeze in less than our usual ten song set.  We managed to play the following before it was time to pack it in;

Acrobat, Everybody Wants Something More, Solid Ground, Ghosts, 5 South, Trapped, No One's Here Anymore.  

So that's seven tunes, we only lost a few.  Still.  Felt very truncated.  Like these sentences.  Cut short.  We were just hitting our stride when the jig was up.  There, that felt better.  

Some Song-By-Song Thoughts
I thought we played pretty well, despite not having the ideal sonic setup.  Acrobat started things off strong, that's always a fun one.  I get to do some fun wah stuff on the bass and Cynthia hits the wurli in the breakdown section.  

-Everybody Wants  has been out of the rotation for awhile, it was refreshing to trot that one out again.  Three part harmonies in the chorus went well too.  

-Solid Ground also has the three part thing happening, and Megan laid down a groovy, rock solid swing beat under Annmarie's lead vocal.  I sometimes get a bit overzealous with the slides and fills and runs in this song, the nasty swing gets me carried away.  I think that was the case again last night, but it was still fun.  

is a relative newbie that I've talked about before.  I think that tune suffered a bit from Cynthia and Megan being separated on stage, I felt like they didn't quite get on the same page of the pocket and I was caught in the middle a touch.  That will be better if we can position them closer together in the future.  Totally dig the song, it's on the short list of "record me" songs for the band.

 -Another on that list is 5 South, which went well last night.  I love the bouncy vibe in the choruses and the moody, slinky feeling in the verses.  Has a really interesting structure that has been slowly working itself out over the last few months.  

-Trapped is another one we haven't played in ages, this one was recently featured in the Independant Film "And Then Came Lola" so we thought it would be a good time to perform live.  GREAT song, very dark and introspective, Annmarie really pours her heart out on that one.  Unfortunately playing the midnight slot doesn't make for the most sensitive listeners on earth and there was a distracting amount of bar conversation happening during the "guitar and vocals only" sections.  Damn whisky bars.  On the bright side, Cynthia SURPRISED THE CRAP OUT OF ME when she started playing some bitchin' harmonica, I think in the second verse.  I didn't know she could even play the harp and I certainly didn't know she was going to whip it out on this tune.  So funny, I had one of those "do I hear a harmonica?" moments before I looked over and saw her playing it.  I think I actually had a question mark appear over my head.  Loved it, hope we get more chances for that, although I'll probably suggest to the band that we leave the really quiet songs on the sidelines for the remainder of our stay at The Kibitz.  

-Last song was "No One's Here Anymore" from our last EP Between the Bars.  High energy tune, great closer, lots of cool guitar effects and some punchy changes.  This one would also benefit from Megan and Cynthia being nearer one another, but still worked pretty well.  Everyone boned up on the arrangement this week and we played it with more confidence than we have been recently.  

That was interesting.  My first actual tune-by-tune brief comments effort.  Maybe I'll keep that one around, it was kinda fun for me.  
Thought I'd squeeze in one more photo just for those of you who mostly just look at the pictures :)  If you've ever been to Canter's or the Kibitz Room these photos probably elicit the smell of pastrami sandwiches.  They sell em in the deli next door and they are seriously world class.  

The Grade
Played well, sang well, tone sucked.  Performed pretty well too, I felt comfy on stage despite the limited space to work with.  These are tough ones to judge cause really the SOUND should be the most important thing, what people are actually hearing, no?  But I really did play well, almost no mistakes, time felt solid.  I think I'll give myself credit for actually rising above a crappy tone and playing through the pain.  B+.  Pow.  

Next Up
Flannel High this Friday night at Trip in Santa Monica, never been to that club, looking forward to it.  Two sets (9:30 and 10:30) of 90's grunge tribute shenanigans, should be a hoot.  Then on Sunday, My Own Machine is going into the studio to lay down basic tracks for our upcoming record, I plan on chronicling bits of that long journey that starts up this weekend.  

One final note, yesterday was Kirsten and my ninth wedding anniversary, and I'm beyond-words grateful for so many things about my beautiful wife, but I think it's particularly appropriate to point out here how amazing she has been putting up with all my musical adventures over the years.  Not just putting up with them, actually more like joining in and enhancing the fun on every level.  We celebrated the night before our anniversary this year.  Why, you ask?  Because on the day itself I had a 7pm rehearsal and a midnight gig.  That's how things roll these days in the Giles house, and that's how my girl is, encouraging her 42 year old hubby to keep chasing his dreams and aspirations and enjoying the ride right along with him.  We're a great team and I'm a lucky guy.  Happy anniversary Jelly Bean, best nine years of my life in a landslide!  She also typically does a proofreading pass of these here blogs and cleans up my misspellings, so I think I'd like to add that I sure do loev yuo :)

Okay, I'll leave y'all on that sentimental note.  As always thanks for indulging me and reading these things, I'm having a great time with it so far :)

Talk soon,