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#24- Arrica Rose and the ...'s at Zoey's, 7-25-09

Unfortunately, no photos of the whole band, I wasn't my usual crystal clear self with my volunteer from the audience.  You'll have to trust me that from off screen left to offscreen right the ...'s are Dan Garcia, Tarzan, Arrica Rose, and Mark Thomas. 

Took a little road trip up to Ventura this past weekend with The Dots, always a cool crew to hang out with.  Ended up being a fun show and a really good trip on all fronts.  I'm writing this on Wednesday and the gig was last Saturday night, hopefully I can put this little brain of mine to work and remember some details.  My computer crashed hard last week and I'm finally getting around to doing this on Kirsten's laptop.  Hopefully I'll have it all fixed up soon and I can stay more on top of things. 

Travel Plans

So there were some minor logistics to deal with for this trip.  Dan and Arrica had offered to drive me there, but Dan's place is in downtown L.A. and I'm out in Marina Del Rey.  Plus, I was going to a BBQ at a friend's place in Reseda on Sunday.  The plan we came up with ended up working pretty well, here's what we did: I drove out to Reseda on Saturday afternoon and parked my car at the house where the barbecue would be the next day.  Dan and Arrica left downtown heading North and picked me up in the valley.  They drove me to Ventura, then were able to drop me off there on the way back the next day and pow, I was at the party.  Smooth. 

Gear
This was a perfect gig for the super small rig, Hartke combo amp, Precision bass, no pedals at all.  Brought a tiny little handheld tuner and that was it.  We were rolling without drums and playing real quiet music centered around an acoustic guitar in a real small venue.  Ideal for minimal gear so that's what I did. 
All the important tools, clockwise from bottom left; Fender bass, Hartke combo, Korg tuner (on top of amp), power strip, Newcastle, Blackberry Storm, and tamborine

Ventura
If you haven't been yet, Ventura is a lovely little beach town about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles.  Small, quaint, bookstores, antiquing, cozy, all that good stuff.  It was our second show up there and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Zoey's is a funky little restaurant/bar, upstairs, set off the main shopwalk by about fifty feet or so.  They have a cool wall of set lists that bands have put up over the years, I meant to snap a photo but of course forgot.  The people there are really friendly and cool, they threw us plenty of free drinks and gave 100% of the door to the bands, which is unheard of in L.A.  Wish I could remember the Sound Chick's name, she was great, took good care of us and was paying attention the whole time.  I got great reviews from friends out front about the sound, she did a killer job. 
The windows at the top look into the bar where we played.  Zoey's is a cool spot

Tone!

Sounded super cool from my seat!  Loved it!  Quiet music makes it so much easier to dial in a nice, rich, full bass tone.  Felt like I had the right amount of that woody, farty P-bass thing happening, it was really working for me.  Effortless playing evening, I LOVE those nights!  Plus, I resisted the temptation to overplay, kept it small, simple, transparent, let the tone and time do the work instead of the notes.  All fingerstyle by the way, not a pick in sight.  Sweet.  Picks are such a necessary evil to me, it's bitchin' when I don't need them.  My only sonic complaint is that I couldn't hear Arrica's guitar well enough.  She drives most of the songs, especially without drums, and I found myself having to crane my neck a bit to see her right hand moving to find the tempo in sections.  Otherwise, sounded great.  Dan to my right was switching between bandolins and percussion (he rocked a ratchet on one song that was friggin' awesome), that always adds such a cool flavor to the music, very different to what I usually hear.  And Mark was just tearing it up on the other side, he plays all this great textural color stuff, swirling delays, chiming bell tones, really nice guitar tones and playing.  The vocals were kickin' too, Arrica sounded great and I felt like I had my Harmony Guy hat on tight, we got rave reviews for our singing.  Her songs fit nicely in my range and it's fun to be the primary dude on the harmony front, I like to sing when it's working well.  And it was.  Cool. 

Set List

We used the exact running order of Arrica's recent EP Pretend I'm Fur, then followed that up with an older tune and a new one. 

Pillow on the Ground, Tragedy, Memphis, Be, Say Goodbye, Be Still My Heart, I'll Love You Forever (and Other Lies), Uh Huh, The Sunshine Again

Some Specific Memories

1- I think I mentioned that Dan rocked a ratchet on a song.  That song was Tragedy, a cover of the old BeeGees hit.  We start it out with everyone snapping on the offbeats before the music comes in, and Dan does this cool thing where he cranks the ratchet on the downbeat and snaps on the offbeats with us in between.  Makes this interesting pppptttttttt snap, ppptttttt snap cycle happen.  It's a crowd pleaser, the other bands all commented on how rad that was to use a common tool as a percussion instrument. 

2- Say Goodbye tripped me up a little.  I think I was getting too confident, it was all feeling so damn easy and I was in the zone.  Then I clammed a couple bad notes in this song, nothing horrible, I covered quickly, but it got me back to concentration mode again.  Too bad, it's got one of the cooler bass lines we do that Dan played on the record and I always have fun playing. 

3- There is no bass in I'll Love You Forever, but I did rock some tamborine and sing some harmonies.  Normally I just sit out on that song, Arrica switches to nylon string guitar, Mark trades his Tele for Arrica's acoustic and Dan plays some great melodic lines on his bandolin.  But we thought we'd get fancy this time out and I put a tamborine in my lap to hit with my right hand on the fourth beat of every measure during the choruses and the instrumental sections, dropping out for the verses.  Plus we added a harmony for me that isn't on the record but is more in my range than the super high part for the EP.  So I had some new tricks to do for this show.  Had to concentrate on the lyrics in particular, I was literally running them through my head during the verses while I wasn't playing or singing.  Then getting all them words correct and remembering to hit the tambo on the right beat was the challenge.  I got the lyrics and mostly got the tamborine, I think I missed the last hit of the first chorus.   Doh. 

4- The Sunshine Again is a tune I co-wrote with Arrica, always fun to play something I had a hand in creating.  It really felt like we connected with the audience with this one, the energy was happening, it was a really great set ender to me.  I got LOTS of compliments that night and the next day for that tune and was repeatedly encouraged to "do more writing."  I think songwriting is the most rewarding part of being a musician, for me anyway, so it's always the highest high for me to get compliments and encouragement on that front. 

The Grade

It was a great night for the band.  We missed Ryan on the drums of course, but it was still a really fun time.  I played well and sang well and my tone was good and the band was good and the room was fun and the audience was into it.  I did flub a couple notes though.  And I missed that tamborine hit.  I still say it's an A straight up, no minus, it was a good one. 

The After Party!
We hopped into the car and headed to Arrica's folks place in Augora Hills, roughly halfway home.  There were about twelve of us at the party I think, mostly Arrica's family members, and we had a blast.  Drank wine, told stories, laughed, stayed up late, all the stuff I like in a good party.  I may have gotten swept away in the energy and been a touch louder and goofier than usual, but I'm cool with that, it was a blast.  Good times. 

Up Next
I'm headed out to The Kibitz Room for Saucies Last Stand in a few hours.  The midnight slot has been fun, but I'm thinking we'll take a break before we do a month of those again.  Also, I may just skip the blog for tonight's show.  Computer time is short while my Mac is in the shop and I'm pretty worn out on Kibitz Talk.  Might save my blogging energy for the video Arrica is doing this weekend for Tragedy.  I'm playing the Toy Cowboy.  Can't wait :)

Coolio, thanks as always for reading, y'all rock!
-s

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