Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In Step with Steppen Stonz

To me, traveling out of your local area for a gig is usually fun. To me, traveling to a new gig in a place I've never been to before is always fun. And the July 4th weekend was no different. This was my gig filling in for my boy Dre with casino-circuit vets (and veterans of the same circuit that Powerlight came from) Steppen Stonz. Dre's father is seriously ill - that's all I'll say, out of respect to the family - and he's taken a leave of absence to head home to Omaha to be with his father. The Stonz' original choice to fill in was unavailable this particular weekend, so I was more than happy to take over. After carefully listening to their material (kudos to Mike for giving me their sets on CD!), I transported my happy ass over to Oroville, CA, along with Cliff Smith, the band's keyboard player. The only glitch to getting over there was that Mike and Arthur (the band's singers - hell, the band) took the longest possible route to get there, driving all the way in to Sacramento before heading north to Oroville and the Tyme-Maidu Nation's Gold Country Casino and Hotel.

Being a sequenced band, Steppen Stonz' material was fairly easy for me to pick up. The downside of this was that Dre sings several songs a night, and I just didn't have enough time to learn lyrics. But being the old pros they are, Mike and Arthur adapted to the situation (and to the maniac on the drums) with ease. There were a few minor flubs, at least in my opinion, but they disappeared by the final night of the three-night stand on July fourth itself. And Mike and Arthur were most effusive in their praise of me.

I really didn't get around much while I was there. Only on Sunday did I venture out from my hotel room to have lunch at a Casa Ramos (better known to Northwest natives like myself as Azteca) in Chico. I really didn't have much cause to. I spent most of my time quietly listening to the CD's Mike gave me on the PlayStation 2 I brought with me, with sessions of Dragon Quest VIII to break up the monotony. The casino gave me more free comps to the buffet than I actually used, and shortly after arriving in Oroville, Cliff and I went grocery shopping, and I bought plenty of Coke, snacks, and stuff for sandwiches that all went in my hotel room's fridge. The hotel room itself was excellent, and had the biggest bathroom I'd ever seen in any hotel. While the bathtub didn't have the jacuzzi I'd been led to expect, it was deep enough that Cody and Ellie could've swum in it. The separate shower stall was big enough to hold a caucus in, and there was plenty of space in between. The buffet at the casino was fine, and the comps I'd been given allowed me to go to any of the casino's restaurants, but I never did try out their cafe or steakhouse.

I'd like to go back, but I doubt that'll happen anytime soon. Y'see, this gig was the last week that casino used out-of-area bands for. Whether it's a money issue, a contractual issue, I have no idea. But it's something that's beyond me, so why bother? There's the possibility of playing in Oroville's other casino (Feather Falls), but I shall merely wait and see. I say that because Mike and Arthur haven't ruled out the possibility of Dre not coming back from Nebraska, and their original replacement (local pro Dee Marnier) not working out. Those circumstances would have them looking my way again, and while it's not necessarily the gig I'd wanted in previous posts, well..... beggars can't be choosers.

But there's always a consequence when you take one gig - another one disappears. Dean called me the day before I was set to leave for Oroville with the opportunity to gig with him for a three-night run up in Topaz. He'd forgotten that I'd taken this gig long before I hooked up with him, and he sounded like he was more than a little disappointed at the situation. But I told him that I was going to Oroville only because Steppen Stonz had asked me first, and that it was only for that particular weekend. I'll see him on Thursday at Indigo in Minden, and I hope he's not too pissed at me.

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