Sunday, March 27, 2011

And..... The Anticlimax

After how worked up I was over what was supposed to go down today, to behonest I was relieved when Roger called me about an hour ago to inform me that John wouldn't be able to practice today. So after calling Britton, texting Jenn, and putting Pete in the dustbin of history, now I can focus on getting my shit together for the trip to Minden. I'm actually pretty happy right now.

And Apparently....

......Blogger has forgotten how to make a paragraph.......

I'm A Little Nervous Right Now......

Because I have at least two or three auditions set up for Sunday afternoon, but only the last of them matters to me. A guy named Pete is supposed to be coming in today, and he used to sing with the guys when they were playing under another name. But he's already blown off one audition, and there's no guarantee that he'll show in about thirteen hours or so.

Next up is a guy named Britton. I've heard him at karaoke shows around town, a good singer, but perhaps a bit limited in terms of vocal range - more of a baritone than a tenor. Of the three, he might actually be the easiest to fit into the band, because he seems like a pretty relaxed dude to me. But I have been proven wrong far too often to take a first impression as gospel.

But those guys are just the appetizer. Jenn will come in last tonight, around 7pm or so. And this is why I'm nervous. It turns out that Roger and Ron have had a CD of material she wanted to sing for some time, and haven't done a damn thing with it. Come to think of it, sounds familiar.... as in they haven't done a goddamned thing with the CD I gave them. I tried to run them through a few songs from it, and results were not up to snuff. The only song that we could even get through was Stevie Wonder's 'Superstition', and that took some work. Trying to get them to learn Journey's 'Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)' was like pulling teeth while herding cats. John was getting things rather easily, but Roger and Ron couldn't figure out anything, and then when John and I taught them their parts, they forgot them almost immediately. What I found amazing was that they'd never, ever, played 'Mony Mony' in their lives. How hard is that?

Of the fourteen songs on the CD she'd given them, I'd played ten of them in one band or another, and only one of the four I would've considered a song that I'd actually need to practice - another Journey song, 'Don't Stop Believin''. All the time, I'm thinking to myself, what the hell have I got myself into? I just hope that Ron and Roger don't fuck things up too badly when Jenn shows up. If she walks, I won't be able to forgive them for half-assing this. They're the ones that told me that they want to move up from playing one or two nights a month at one bar or another and go out onto the tribal-casino circuit. They gave me control of the group to get them to that point, and I don't think they really understand what it will take from them to actually accomplish that goal. Well, they'll know in about seventeen hours or so.

Thankfully, after Sunday I can take a break - sort of. The UW Medical Center called us Thursday and told us that the appointment Joy would have with their Endocrinology department could be moved to Monday from an original date in early May. And after a quick phone call to ParaTransit, they'll cover gas (a full tank for my pickup!) for the trip, and reimburse me for the cost of taking the ferry over from Bainbridge Island to the Colman Dock in downtown Seattle. From UWMC it's a short distance but a long drive (gotta love rush-hour) to Joy's mother's house in Tacoma. From there we can start our trip to Minden, and enjoy the company of our friends and family in Nevada while I'm gigging at the Carson Valley Inn, and doing so over our anniversary. For once, I'm beginning to think that Monday can't come fast enough......

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Auditions and Transitions

Well dear reader, back for more of my tales of musical meh? Okay, I shouldn't act like I don't care about what I do - it is my livelihood after all. But sometimes it gets a little...... tedious. But juggling two bands and two schedules, all while caring for an ailing wife, can be a pretty impressive feat of prestidigitation.

So where do I begin? Well, Steppen Stonz is struggling along, trying to find more and longer gigs to make it worth the expense of driving to Northern Nevada. But while Mike and Arthur's drives up from Las Vegas are no picnic, my travel expenses are more than theirs combined. But our good and noble steed of an agent, Stew Stewart (enough ass-kissing?), is turning stuff up for us. My last run down consisted of playing two nights midweek at the Nugget in Sparks for a dairy cattleman's convention - and the first night just happened to land on Mardi Gras. But the cattlemen didn't seem all that interested, and the hotel had no actual Mardi Gras event planned. But we still went out onstage and did our best.

That was followed by seven days off. And with not enough money to be able to drive home and back, I wound up staying in Carson City with my friends Jeremy and Alison, going to an Idekay show only a few blocks away from the Nugget with Jeremy (it's his band, after all) while pulling out some of my best recipes in the kitchen for Ali. And they'd just moved into a condo on the east side of Carson City, and actually had a guest room available for yours truly to hibernate in. Not a bad week off at all by my standards.

After that came another three nights at the Nugget, a standard Thursday/Friday/Saturday run that coincided with St. Patrick's Day, which also happened to be the birthday of the casino itself. And while we've had pleasant interactions in the past with Stephen Ascuaga, the owner's son, this time around we got to meet and greet all three Ascuagas - Stephen, Michonne, and old John Ascuaga himself. While he's getting up there in years, nothing gets past him. Seriously. He's a nice old fella, but I'm sure he'd have me wearing my balls for a bowtie if I crossed him. We talked with them backstage at the ceremony commemorating the Nugget's 56th birthday, and they were quite effusive in their praise for us both privately and on the mic for the crowd gathered in the cabaret for the birthday party itself. And it kicked off a pretty good weekend for us, with good crowds all three nights and virtually no glitches of any kind - aside from having to do an encore without my headphones because I'd accidentally pulled out the headphone cord from its socket while getting back onto my throne, and I had no time to plug them back in.

But all that has pretty much paled in comparison with what's been going on at home. I only have about a week in Port Angeles before I have to return to Nevada, this time for a three-nighter at the CVI in Minden, and this time with Joy to celebrate our 17th anniversary. Dirty Joe needs work, and I've been trying to arrange auditions for our lead-singer position, as I've mentioned previously. Well, I now have four interested candidates. I've already auditioned one, a Filipina from Sequim who's played in many of the same places I have in Nevada, though she may not be all that compatible with my guys. A karaoke buddy of mine has expressed interest in the gig, and a singer from a previous incarnation from the band as also thrown his hat into the ring. But they're all over shadowed by another karaoke friend of mine, with talent of phenomenal proportions, and nothing to hold her back. Jenn is so very talented, even with a cold her voice puts most others to shame. Ron and Roger have pursued her for some time, and she actually did sing with them for a few months, but she found their lack of professionalism and drive to be a bit disturbing back then. I was able to sit down with her at karaoke last night at the Coo Coo's Nest, and told her that I was pushing them a lot harder, and making them a more professional unit. I went to the mat to convince her to give them another chance. And talking to her and getting to know her, I came to the realization that she's too damn good for this town. She wants to sing, but doesn't want to be famous. She wants to sing in a cover band, and play the kind of gigs that I play. And while she has a healthy-enough ego regarding her ability (as well she should), her desire to pursue the same career path I chose and to avoid stardom showed her to have really not that much of an ego after all. Listening to her, I could clearly hear some of my favorite ladies on the Reno circuit in her words, good friends like Tracy Bing and Tina Fink. And I told her so. I actually told her that she needed to get off the Peninsula and come with me to Reno - or just get her own ass there herself. She's got the talent - the voice, the personality, the ability to engage the crowd - I just hope my minions will change their ways enough to make her want to actually work with us, though I told her that if they pissed her off to the point of bailing on us, that I might just go with her.

Yeah. She's that talented, folks.

But Roger, Ron, and John (Tom is out of the band for the foreseeable future due to health concerns - but we'll keep his seat open for him to come back whenever he's right) agreed to work more and kiss the bong less, and apply themselves to music more suited to Jenn's powerhouse voice. And if she sticks around, I'll finally have the three-part harmonies I've been wanting ever since I joined the band, plus a true lead singer who can peel the paint off the walls with her voice. And if it doesn't work out? Well then, I might have a passenger on a future trip to Reno......

We shall see, my friends.....