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45 Degrees North Dog Place Post-Mortem...


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45 DEGREES NORTH had our “public practice” in the courtyard of the dog grooming place in downtown Nehalem, and people actually showed up to hear us, and seemed to actually enjoy it. (And the dog grooming lady would like to have us back.) That said, we still have work to do.

Good things: The material is pretty much okay. We did mostly two of our three Ilwaco setlists, and with a couple of exceptions (amplified below), it’s good. Nobody really flubbed anything (not so the audience would notice), and we were strung out in a line on the Dog Place porch, and couldn’t see each other—and didn’t have to. And the hour sets took pretty much an hour. (I had worried about that.)

What we need (my opinion) to get down is our professionalism. A lot of bands dress up in clothes that look alike; I maintain that’s unnecessary, but what one should be doing is probably characterizable as mental dress-up. The Da Kine surfboard company summed it up as “Attitude Is Everything”: when you walk on stage, you are Performer—you know exactly what you are doing (in my case, because you have scripted everything out and rehearsed it), you have the audience’s attention, and you are not going to give it back.

Somebody opens the show, thanks everybody, introduces the band, and triggers the launch into the first song—I can do that if necessary. I like having a Rap for every song—but between songs is probably a better way to put it: one is not necessarily giving a “backstory” on the song (though sometimes I’ll do that), but rather inserting something short and cogent, to prevent silence. (I know one performer who tells jokes.) You have strategic places in the script where the “Rap space” is used to promote the mailing list and upcoming concerts (we do have a few of those).

Now, I’m the one who harps on organization and abhors silence; I’m also inclined to fill vacuums myself just to make sure they get filled. I’d be okay being the one that grabs the mike after a song, thanks the audience, and turns things over to the next person, offering a comment or two if and as necessary. And I can script that out for myself if that’s what the rest want me to do; it’s not hard, because I’m used to it. I don’t really want to be front man—everybody else in this group is way prettier than I am—it’s just the “must fill vacuum” thing. I’d want to be as “unfronty” as possible in the process.

I had a copy of the setlist, but I had to keep referring to it and reminding everybody what was next. There’s a setlist trick I do with Deathgrass I’d like to try here: I’ll print an abbreviated list, just title, genre and key, in big type and tack it to a little scrap piece of corkboard propped by a mike stand (where everybody can see it), and then we never have to mention it. (And of course, the Rap usually signals what we’re going to play next, anyway.)

We did make a couple of substitutions in the setlist, and I think they were good. We sould start out with something we do really well, and Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel” is a good choice. There are a couple of songs—“Walking After Midnight” and ”Crazy,” both originally intended as set-beginners—where we really need to do more with the song. I can probably play an acceptable lead if somebody else plays rhythm, or I can play rhythm if someone else does lead, but I can’t do both—and the songs are too short, and have to have lead breaks. I cannot make what the rhythm guitar is doing interesting enough to hold anyone’s attention. (“Silver Wings” is probably in this category, too.) And there are a couple of fiddle tunes I still can’t play without the sheet music. I need to get those down.

I need to pick up a couple of props while I’m in Portland for the Thirsty Lion gig Tuesday: I need a 3-ring binder for the mailing list, and I need a replacement for the Big Yellow Bucket (the one that says “Tipping Is Not A City In China”) because I can’t find the original one. Beyond that, practice, practice, practice, and I think 45 Degrees North will be ready. I’ve got three nights available this week, and wouldn’t mind using all of them.

Joe

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