Sunday, April 04, 2010

Thoughts on Gigs

Over the last 20 years or so I've played a lot of different gigs: jazz combo (private parties, restaurants/clubs), big band, orchestra, my student jazz band, musical theatre, recording sessions, and, more recently, rehearsals and performances with a surf band.

Today, playing in a brass ensemble with organ and a small choir for an Easter service (something I haven't done in many years) I was reminded of how good it feels to play - what a privilege and honor it is.  It doesn't seem to matter the style of music or the venue.  Being part of a group of musicians (either as a hired horn or leader) is simply a deep love for me.

I can name numerous things I dread:  weeding, working for a big company, taxes, getting rid of mementos, calls at 4am - that's a few.  But I would be hard-pressed to tell you of a single musical performance I didn't think fondly of, especially with the passing of time.

And more and more I have the privilege to play and work with really good and even great (and sometimes fabulously great) musicians.  Although the last year (with the tough economic collapse) has been tough on local businesses and venues, the musical adventures for me have, fortunately, not only continued but proved to be even more special and appreciated - by me at least.

I seldom tire of "musician talk" - talk of tunes, techniques, tips, tricks and other bits; of hearing of other gigs players have had and their experiences.  Perhaps most of all, I love the humor and laughter shared with my fellow musician friends.  Not necessarily the nefarious kind you might expect from a trumpet player type like me (which I will neither confirm nor deny I contribute to) but the stuff that just makes you smile and be glad...glad to be in the room with folks who you can share a smile, story, and music with.  

And of course I do mourn the folks I don't play with anymore either because of a lack of time, location, or the fact that they're no longer alive.  Still, I maintain this childlike hope for gigs to come and the wonderful friends I'll get to share the stage/room with soon.  And in that childlike mode, I like to think that the best is yet to come - that my full potential as a person, musician and performer will continue to grow and thrive.  Well that's my little mantra.  You can't tell me I'm swimming up stream.  And even if you did, I tell you that's the way I need to go.

Naturally, it's nice when folks express an appreciation for the music and/or musicians - not completely rare of course, but not as common as the gigs where 1) few people come out to listen; 2) the music was regarded no more than "filler" music - nobody really listening or engaged in the creative process of music making; 3) finger food and some friendly conversation between fellow musicians being the only tangible benefit - definitely not the worst case!

No, I'm not satisfied with gigs that don't engage my own creativity or skills and do my darndest to filter out the situations/gigs I know won't be a good fit for me.  But more often than not, the gigs I play end up being more than enough to keep me inspired - plenty to fuel more research, exploration, practicing, writing, and dreaming...

Every musical performance is a lesson.  It teaches us humility, respect and the importance of being part of something bigger than us as individuals.

Well, that's all I have to say now.  Nothing particularly deep or profound here but today I was once again reminded of something worthy of noting in my little blog.

So here's to good friends and good music...and to the next one.


Friday, April 02, 2010

The Svens at Bombs Away Cafe April 10, 2010

The Svens will once again perform at Bombs Away Cafe Saturday, April 10.

It will be an extra special night of music - a double header!  Starting around 8:30pm we'll perform "Hulda's Story" - the narrative is a real letter from a grandfather to his granddaughter, Hulda, reporting on his adventures exploring Alaska.  Various surf tunes are crafted into the mix along with some tasty sound bytes by Viking.

(Incidentally, we recently performed "Hulda's Story" for the real Hulda, still going strong in her 90's, at her residence in Lebanon, Oregon in March.  We toned things down a bit for the room (what we call Svens Sv-unplugged) it was particularly moving to hear Hulda talk at the conclusion about her grandfather - sounded like an amazing fellow.)

Then around 9:00pm or so we'll perform an all new rendition of "The Blacksmith" - new tunes, sound bytes and a fresh take on this classic show.

And the evening will be extra, extra special because we'll be celebrating a great new CD recording release of the previous show "Doc" - I think it's the best recording yet of The Svens.  The band is tight and the Sax parts are beginning to sound like a real Sax player is playing them! (Ha!)  I know Viking worked very hard on the mixes, fixing our glitches and making it come to life - some of the best Sven studio takes yet. So bring your CD money too and take some Svens music home for the whole family to enjoy!

See you there!