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#23- Saucy Monky at The Kibitz Room, 7-22-09

Episode #4 of "Saucy Rocks the Kibitz" is in the books.  Left to right the band is Roger Rabbit, Annmarie Cullen, Cynthia Catania, Megan Jane.  

 Ah, what a difference a week makes!  Big improvement in the sound at this week's residency gig at The Kibitz Room.  I think we may have found the correct way to position ourselves onstage to make everybody happy, including the audience.  I'm gonna really try to make this a short, mini-blog kinda entry, I'm a bit burned out on writing about The Kibitz Room and we've still got one week to go on our Wednesday Midnight's in July hunkering down at that joint.  

Playing the Shell Game
Let's start with the left to right band lineup I mentioned.  We've been experimenting with all sorts of configurations, taking into consideration that the further left (from the audiences perspective) you are, the worse the vocal monitors are.  Also, trying to keep key components near one another to lock in some tricky grooving sections and the fact that MOST of the audience is near the bar further off to the left.  Oh yeah, and also the fact that the further to the right the drums are, the less overpowering they are to the mix.  We've been juggling spots all through our current stay and for several gigs prior.  

Last night we were, from left to right, "Steve, Annmarie, Cynthia, Megan."  This worked for a number of reasons; having Cynthia and Megan near one another sets up the bands pocket very well.  They work together nicely with proximity and this always seems to set up a good groove for Annmarie and myself to climb aboard.  The drums are all the way to the right, this helps keep the mix less drum heavy by the bar and leaves room for the vocals in particular to be heard.  I'm a bit closer to Cynthia for some visual cues and general locking in, recently we'd been on extreme ends and that was trickier.  

There were only a couple little problems with this setup; with me in the far left spot, I'm more "out front" than I'd like to be.  I found myself trying to get small, bend down, make visual room for the girls to be seen.  Also, I'm now fully separated from Megan, not ideal for a rhythm section.  I had to concentrate, particularly in a few key spots, to stay locked in with her.  But the drums carry nicely in there and I felt like it went well, plus this distance made nice sonic space for my bass to be heard without all the cymbal sounds interfering with my ability to hear myself.  Annmarie mentioned that she was a little mad at her tone and I thought the wurli was just a smidge loud where I was standing, but still I think it worked, best setup we've found yet!  Finally!  

Gear and Tone

I took a chance and brought the Hartke combo again.  Last week was a bit of a sonic disaster for me and I debated bring my "medium" rig instead of this one.  But laziness and convenience won out, plus I knew I had dialed this amp up in this room before and it had sounded great.  I'll call it a challenge, but we know the truth.  Anyway, also brought the precision and the pedalboard.  As I mentioned, it ended up sounding great.  I had plenty of headroom, actually had to turn down a couple times to get the right sweet spot  happening.  It's a tricky balance, just a miniscule twist of a knob from Too Damn Loud and Way Too Quiet at all times.  Found it though!  Great!  ALWAYS so much more fun when the tone is buttery.  This was a good night, Doctor Jeckyl was in the pocket, picking some tasty notes, not overdoing it but enjoying the sound surfing.  After last weeks double whammy of crappy tones at Kibitz on Wednesday and at Trip with Flannel High on Friday, it was a nice break from the hack-and-slash bass butchering of Mr. Hyde.  I even felt like it sounded good enough to lose the pick for most of the set, although I did use one for a couple key sections that need that attack.  

The Set List
We mixed it up a bit this time around, some brand new stuff as well as some oldies but goodies.  We actually got a chance to rehearse this week so we were able to do some reviewing and worked one up from scratch.  Here's the list...

Makeup, Disco Ball, The Acrobat, Superstar, Change Your Mind, Ghosts, Alcohol, Flicker, All the Things.  

Some Moments Worth Mentioning

1- We pulled a couple tunes out of the toy box this week, Makeup and Change Your Mind.  Makeup felt like we put it in the wrong spot in the set to me.  Not an ideal opening, a little too light and fluffy for my taste.  It's a great one to whip out when the crowd is up and partying, but maybe not good to establish the band.  Felt a little misplaced.  Change Your Mind was great though, felt like we grabbed them with that one.  I always seem to have trouble with this little chordal turnaround at the very, very end of the song, so I did a little extra prep and made sure I had that section in my back pocket.  Nailed it.  

2- Brand spanking new tune called Alcohol got trotted out last night.  We sorta F-ed up the structure in a couple spots and bungled the ending, but it still went well.  We hammered out a cool arrangement at rehearsal, I think it's gonna be a winner and a great addition to the set in the future.  I like the bass line, it's a simple, unison pulse with the band in the verses, then an interesting, semi-walking bit for the choruses.  Sliding low-to-high figure in the bridge is fun and works for the song.  I'm digging the new tunes we've got, when we get around to recording again I think we'll have the goods.  

3- Flicker was really groovy to me.  We played it slower than usual and it totally worked, took on this particularly torchy, jazzy vibe.  I was able to really mute the strings and go for my best upright impression, tried to keep it minimal but found a few spots for tasty licks that weren't distracting.  One particular high on the neck moment in the last chorus was worth patting myself on the back over.  

4- All The Things had a funny moment, Cynthia's strap broke just as we're leaving the bridge and about to shift the time from the heavy, slower swing back to the more straight, upbeat, poppy pulse of the rest of the song.  Megan cues this with solo'd quarter notes on the kick drum for a measure, then Cynthia comes in with a "yeah-ee-aa-ahhh" that finishes the cue and moves us back into the rest of the song.  BUT.  Her strap was off and the kick drum pulse just kept going and Annmarie had to help Cynthia get her guitar back on.   So time is passing, the girls are struggling with the strap and the kick drum is bumping along like the Energizer Bunny and it was like a full minute or more of that when it's usually about five seconds.  When it was all put together and she kicked in with the "yeah-ee-aa-ahh" it was great, the crowd loved it and it was a fun moment for everyone.  
The Saucy Merchandise suitcase and mailing list.  Wanna buy a CD?  Please?  

Okay, How About a Grade and We Wrap This One Up
This was an A, no doubt about it.  The band was sounding good, I was playing well with a good tone, felt like my vocals were strong, the room was fun, we had some friends in the house despite the late hour (howdy Brian, Abby, Pam, Erin, Angie and some others I'm forgetting right now).  Bringing the curve back up with an A, go Me.  

Next Up
I'm off to Ventura this weekend to play an acoustic gig with Arrica Rose and the ...'s at Zoey's.  It's a really vibey spot in one of those "houses converted into a restaurant" kinda places.  Ventura is a lovely little beach town about an hour or so North of L.A. and we'll probably stay the night, either at Arrica's folks place nearby or possibly in a hotel.  Always fun to get up there, I'm looking forward to it.  

Okay, that's all I got.  Thanks as always for tagging along, talk to ya soon,



Very cool Steve!
Have fun in Ventura :)

Thanks Vivi :)


Alcohol was great - fun lyrics, I liked it, not sure if I've heard it performed before, but I think it's a good fit for "The Sauce."