Shinybass journal entry 10-01-12

Oktober – that’s one ‘K’, 2 ‘O’s’….

Autumnal. It’s one of my new favorite words to say.  You can’t get more seasonally descriptive with one word. Go ahead and try.  Summernal?  ‘Wintry’ is close – but that could mean a lot of things to a lot of people.  Plus it just doesn’t sound as romantic as autumnal.  Saying it brings the light coats and jackets out of the attic, gets  your mind to football pools and planning the trip to Asheville, NC to drive slowly to look at the foliage and piss off the locals.  I love all seasons, but I like that you can dress up a little more in Autumn.  And wear coats.  I like coats.  I always forget my coat on show runs, even though I have too many. My wife does pin my name to my sleeve so my driver knows who I am.

This week I was off from the Phil Vassar tour, so I picked up a ‘sub’ gig for the Shawn and Hobby Band.  There were shows in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Collier Township, which is outside of Pittsburgh.  I got the call from our friend Director Steve about the possibility of doing the shows, and I was excited about the prospect of getting into a van again and doing long-late night shows.  It’s been a while since I’ve been onstage for 3 sets.  That sounds a bit aloof, but with bigger acts, you tend to play shorter sets, and the payoff for slumming it and being in the trenches is that you hopefully get popular enough to play shorter.  Unless you are Springsteen.  We do 2-hour shows with Phil, but the difference in a bar situation and a ‘festival’ situation is that (sadly) most folks could care less about the band onstage.

The first night in Cincinnati was a great warm-up gig.  The crowd was ‘light’ (in industry speak), and the ‘care less’ factor was in full effect.  There were some who took notice, and sent a lot of shots to the stage, which is always a help, but I have stood on stage in front of an empty club many times, and it’s never a good feeling.  The ‘paid rehearsal’ was just that, since we had no rehearsals before we left town.  To say I was exhausted by the end of the night is an understatement.  Usually I am back on the bus by 10:30.  It was 3-something before we hit the hotel, and I had been up since 6:30 that morning.

The short drive to Louisville was welcome, and the Tin Roof was in a section of town called St. Matthews.  This was a hipster little place, with 3 bike shops within 5 blocks of each other, and a little bakery, micro brewhouse, and a great local market with some of the best produce I have ever seen.  The walkabout did me well (as well as the workout that afternoon) and I was able to snap a few pics of the highlights.

And yes, I like flowers. Autumnal ones.

So the marathon gig kicked off at 10:30, which lasted until after 2.  With no breaks.  I was able to pee at some point, and at another point, when the drummer had to hit the restroom, I hopped behind the drums for a song.  As I watched the throngs of drunk fools congregate, then ebb and flow from the stage to the bar, I couldn’t help but think of the ‘old days’ in King Konga, when we dealt with the same situations. These are the same ‘We are going to command you to play what we want’ people and my favorite – the drunks with sense of entitlement to either a)touch things on stage b) play things on stage or c) get on stage.  Whether you paid $3 or not to get in doesn’t mean that you are allowed to do whatever you want, no matter how hot you think you are.  That ‘I’m cute and I get what I want so I want to be onstage’ crap may work at home (and why you have a stage at home I do not know…), but it’s not going to fly on my watch.  Try selling crazy somewhere else – we’re all full up here.

But since it’s not my band, I really didn’t have a say in things, which is fine, but there was the obligatory sit-in tambourine expert.  And drunks.  And we played songs twice, since I guess people didn’t quite get enough.  But as much as I bitch, the crowd was tolerable – just young – but I felt bad for, well, us.  Shawn and Hobby are trying to make a name for themselves, and nobody really cares that these guys are trying to get their music out there.  In a cover band situation, it’s just not really important to many people.  Hell, one time while King Konga was playing some covers, a girl walked up onstage and asked us for the book.  I had no idea what she was talking about and she kept asking for ‘The book’.  Finally she said she wanted to see the karaoke book so she could sing.  Yep – things have always been rough on the cover bands.

The next morning we were in for a bit of a drive up to Pittsburgh – Collier Township to be exact – to play the Collier Township Oktober fest.  I was a little scared at the initial turnout, but then I realized there was a lot of college football being played, and the locals turned out after their favorite teams were off the air.  The show went well (which was mostly original songs), and since we were done by 9PM, we decided to head into ‘dahntown’ Pittsburgh for a little Carson Street action.

Smokin’ Joe’s was the first stop, which was my kind of spot – unpretentious, rustic, with belt-driven antique fans and a decent pool table.  After a few bowls of loudmouth soup, we headed to Jekyll and Hyde, where it’s Halloween year-round.  We didn’t make it out of the front corner because it was jammed with Saturday night revelers getting their collective groove on to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  As we left the bar, the full moon was just right, so I wanted to grab the sign and the moon in the same shot.  I didn’t realize the bat signal was being cast over the moon to match the sign.  I’m pretty proud of the trippy randomness of the shot.

So the van was pointed homeward yesterday morning, and as the four of us rambled on, I realized a couple of things.  First – being in the van again wasn’t all that bad, and it does have its advantages.  First – better parking.  Second – much cheaper than a bus.  Third – nobody wants to get in the van and party after a show.  And fourth – and this is the best thing about the van – the band is forced to actually discuss things.  In a bus we are spread out, and yes, we talk, but in a van, it’s very close quarters, and I honestly think you can get more done on those trips if you put your mind to it.  The hard part is actually putting your mind to it.

So this week I am back with the Vassar gang, and headed to some great shows.  I hope your High School football teams win this weekend, and  you don’t have too many leaves in the yard.  Autumnal. Nothing like it.

See you on the road!


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