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One. Forgot to mention an “upper†from Influence Night: I stopped to get some of that ghastly overpriced gas in case I got marooned in the mountains in the snow on my way home (I didn’t get marooned, obviously, though the highway was slick); the gas station was run by a couple of teenagers (one with girlfriend) and they noticed my “Deathgrass†T-shirt (which I’d worn to the music hall) and asked, “Is that rock?†So I explained that “Deathgrass†was the band, and how we got the name—somebody’s attempt to describe country music written by me and performed by a heavy-metal bassist and drummer, jazz-and-classical blues harp player, and classic rock lead guitarist—and I left the gas station with one of the kids saying “We have to check this out!†I hope they do.

The lesson? You create fans one at a time—and you should always be in a position to take advantage of the opportunity. I have CDs and the “joelist†notebook in the truck wherever I go, just like I have my digital camera on my belt whenever I leave the house, because you never know what’s going to happen.

Two. Another song that would be good to do with an impromptu band at the Influence Music Hall would be “Pole Dancing for Jesus.†Yes, the audience heard it Friday night, but they haven’t heard it with a full band—and I wonder if Skip could patch a remote mike out into the audience to catch them singing along. That would be neat—and “Pole Dancing for Jesus†is another that needs to go to market soon, with a good, professional recording.

Could we manage to do three songs with the impromptu band? They’ll be on stage, after all, and it’s easier (and less time-consuming) to keep ‘em on stage playing rather than move ‘em off so I can do one song solo. “Alabama Blues†and “Pole Dancing for Jesus†are close to the same tempo; it’d be good to separate them with something that sounded different. How about a blues? If our session is close to St. Patrick’s Day (and I’d like to be doing this soon), could do “Invitation to St. Patrickâ€â€”it’s a standard 12-bar blues (easy to follow), and fairly obviously funny (and I want to keep emphasizing that “it’s okay to be humorous†message).

Alternatively, we could do “Spend the End of the World with Meâ€; that’s a fast-moving number, which would be something different, too. It’s ragtime, but I’ve noticed people don’t seem to have any trouble following the chord progression. And it’s another get-it-to-market-quickly song.

Three. Working on my third singing square dance call—“A Fool Such as I,†the song by Bill Trader (always give credit to the writer) that Elvis made famous. I replaced the “plus†choreography with “mainstream†moves. And I repeated the trick I used with “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me,†and wrote it all down; it helps me remember, just as with song lyrics.

Again, I want to be a little surprising. It’s not that I can “sing Elvis,†but that this particular Elvis song just happens to fit in my narrow voice range. As Bing Crosby said once of “White Christmas†(which I can also sing), “Any tone-deaf orangutang could sing this.†Yep. That’s why I can. Goal is to have it ready to perform Tuesday night at caller class. That’d give me three. By mid-March, I need to have an hour’s worth of material down, and I’d like all of it to be a little off-the-wall. A square dance caller is first and foremost an entertainer; people go to square dances for the same reason they go to concerts—they expect to be entertained, and they’re going to have fun. I intend to deliver. I’ve got one more of the Hanhurst Music recordings to practice (Huddie Ledbetter’s “Midnight Specialâ€), and then I want to start recording my own.

Music at the Rapture Room tonight; Arts Center board meeting Monday, caller class Tuesday, Tsunami on Thursday, and another Arts Center open mike Saturday (for which I need to do the posters and invite people). I’m probably playing music in Garibaldi Friday night—I can’t afford to drive to Portland a lot with these gas prices.

Joe

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