Sunday, June 27, 2010

Playing Sick

It's something we all have to do, regardless of what we do for a living - but we still have to do it. Another week in Carson City has passed, and this had to be just about the most difficult week with the Steppen Stonz to date.

It didn't really start out that way, though. Rolled in on Monday night, and for a moment I actually considered loading in and setting up my kit right there and then. But I realized that it was just the caffeine in my system talking with false bravado, and I slunk up to my room to get a decent night's rest. But a few minutes later I got a phone call from my friends Sara, Jazmyn (Jazzy) and Tyler, who wanted me to come down and visit for a minute. I obliged, and we hung out for about twenty minutes. And they gave me a nice present.

Rhinovirus, aka 'the common cold'. By Tuesday night I knew something was wrong, so I started downing Zicam tablets and drinking a whole lot of water. Wednesday was a blur of fever, chills, disorientation, vertigo, and a severe lack of energy. The guys noticed it right away, and cancelled rehearsal that had been scheduled for that night. It was so bad that I actually considered asking the front desk if I could borrow the hotel's only wheelchair to get back to my room, where I slept pretty solidly for almost fourteen hours. Thursday was only slightly better, but I mustered the willpower to persevere. I'd been told that we would rehearse after Thursday's show, but me shambling around like a zombie must've changed their minds. Now if they'd only have remembered to tell me. When we rehearse, it usually starts an hour after we finish the night's show. So I stumbled up to my room, peeled off my sweat-soaked dress clothes and pulled on a t-shirt and sweats, and headed back to the elevators to meet up with the band. And yes, it took me most of that hour just to get to that point. I went over to the snack bar, where the rest of the guys were eating dinner. They acknowledged my arrival and asked if I was going to eat. No chance there, my appetite had left the building. By all rights I should've stayed in my room, but I was grimly determined to keep up my end of the business, no matter the cost to me. Midnight came and went, and the guys kept bullshitting away and really not paying any attention to the zombie behind them. They finished up their meals and headed for.... the elevators! I went after Arthur and asked him if we were rehearsing, and that's when he realized that they'd forgotten to tell me that they cancelled it because they didn't think I was healthy enough!

Ten more hours of sleep followed. I was feeling better Friday, and better still yesterday. I'm pretty much back to normal now, and I'm pretty sure that it was the Zicam Joy talked me into buying that made it only last a few days rather than a few weeks. But it taught me a valuable lesson - I've got to carry cold meds with me at all times. That, and restock my supply of Zicam. I've spent enough time being the Zombie Drummer, I want no more of that than absolutely necessary. Now I'm going back to my Lemon Echinacea Throat-Coat Tea and vitamins, and back to sleep.

Talk to y'all later.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life Is A Cabaret - No, Really.....

Back again in Carson City at the Station, this time for only a weekend - let's just say that we were offered the two nights, and we accepted. And they're putting us up for the entire week - bonus! I have Internet access again! Well, I could've gotten online at the Nugget last week, but I can't really afford $12/day for service. It'd also be nice if the Nugget comped meals for bands coming in from out-of-town, but I can't really complain that much. They are paying me to be there, after all.

And last week's run in Sparks brought about an interesting new thing to me - the chance to interact with a touring company. Y'see, a few feet to the north of the Nugget's cabaret stage is their showroom theater, which had been hosting a touring production of Cabaret (natch) for the past week. I'd never really gotten to do so before, because the showroom had been dark (no acts playing at the time) during previous trips, and this was the only place where I'd played that such acts were booked. When I was in Powerlight, we'd occasionally meet bands that played upstairs in their ballroom - Blue Oyster Cult comes to mind - and one night we met the alt-country/Americana group Calexico at the Atlantis' cabaret, they'd just finished a show elsewhere in Reno and were staying the night there. But this would be altogether different - not to mention a lot more fun.

I walked offstage after the first or second set last Saturday when I heard a woman's voice asking me what kind of drums I played. I looked around and the voice came from a woman sitting at one of the tables behind the cabaret's sunken dance floor. Since my kit's resonant (front) bass drum head doesn't have a decal for the actual manufacturer of the drums (only a small Sabian Cymbals decal in the bottom-right quadrant), I get that question quite a bit, but so far never from a woman. She then asked some very technical questions about my gear, and mentioned how clean my cymbals sounded - this woman was clearly a drummer herself, and when I said so, she introduced herself as the drummer for the touring company that was playing next door, and that she really liked what she was hearing from us.


I don't have a problem receiving compliments from women. It's just usually that the compliments come from someone who's looking to get laid (which I can brush off pretty easily), or someone who really wouldn't know that much about drums and just liked the show. But this was something entirely different. There just aren't that many female drummers out there. In my own personal experience, I've only met two - one who plays in a cover band in Tacoma, and one who plays the cabaret circuit here in the Reno/Tahoe/Carson area. The fact that this woman was not only a drummer, but a peer who clearly knows the business as well as I do if not better, and is probably a far better player than me, well..... let's just say that she had my full attention. And not in any sexual way. No, seriously. Drummers will almost always kibitz (and hopefully not kibbutz - that'd be way too fucking loud) with other drummers if given the chance, and here was my chance. We talked gear, sticks, tech, the road - they'd be finishing a week-and-a-half run in Sparks the same day we finished our four-day run, and they'd be heading north to Montana while we rolled back to Carson. By the way, she's a New Yorker named Mia Eaton, and she was just the nicest person. She told me that she'd seen a little bit of our show the night before, and advised me that the rest of her company would probably come by to catch the show later in the evening.

And she wasn't kidding. When the DJ across the casino floor at Trader Dick's (our friend Bobby G), finished his set, the company's performers started to filter over to the cabaret. How could I tell? Oh, using the roughly three-foot-high stage as a ballet bar would be a good hint. My friends Alexis and Crystal were there that night, and Crystal asked me if I could put one leg up on the stage like that. I told her that I liked my hamstrings right where they were, thank-you-very-much. I'd say there were about a dozen or so of them, and they were just having a blast. Pretty soon the entire company was there, and their energy was so infectious that we probably played five or six encores, and I had a hard time sleeping that night because I was just in such a good mood. A few of them came by the next night, though Mia didn't come herself - probably had more important things to do. Not to mention traveling to Montana - voluntarily! Oh well. We'd exchanged information the night before, including Facebook membership. Working drummers like us need to stay in touch, I said, be cause we're a pretty rare breed of cat these days. And she agreed with me on that, though I'm sure she probably knows hundreds more than I do - she lives in New York City, after all.

All four of us really enjoyed this last weekend. The Cabaret cast just imbued us with a good vibe for the weekend, something that I'm pretty sure we all needed. I know I did. Getting to meet nice people like that is one of the reasons why I'm still doing this after all the bullshit I've endured over the years. So thanks go out to Mia and the rest of the cast. I only wish I could've returned the favor and gone to see them play. I'll definitely be keeping in touch with her. After all, what's the downside of having a connection in New York City?