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Christmas Concert Post-Mortem...


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The Christmas concert was good. We actually filled most of the chairs in the hall (briefly), and raised a lot of food for the Food Pantry—some cash money, too. Both Doc (blues harp) and Mike (lead guitar) said they want to do it again—and I told them both that could probably be arranged.

Roughly half the people who came were folks I didn’t know, which means they either saw the ads, heard the radio interviews, or heard about the concert from other people. I hope we made some fans. And the rest I did know, and I’m glad they came. We were competing with a number of other Yuletide events, including one right in Garibaldi (at one of the churches) and two in nearby Bay City (5 miles away). Some folks dropped off food and didn’t stay.

They were a generally elderly audience (it’s a generally elderly population), so no dancers; I did see toes tapping, however. Santa made an appearance (I’d talked to him earlier, and told him that would be okay, as long as he didn’t show up while we were playing “Santa’s Fallen and He Can’t Get Up”), sporting a big red and white umbrella (because it was raining), and Pastor Barry, proprietor of the Food Pantry, stopped by, too, taking a break from the Christmas program at his church.

Our experiment with the sound did work. Setting the band up against one of the concrete-block walls, projecting towards the kitchen (the one wall that isn’t concrete block) and pointing the speakers slightly inward, did produce a much clearer sound. All the people I asked—fans and strangers—said it sounded good. My voice lasted the whole two hours, with infrequent sips of water, and so did my fingers. Two hours is about the limit, though. (Drummer Chris faded early, and had to stop; I think he’s still recovering from the flu.)

I hated to take a break in between the first and second hours of the show, but I think it’s essential for the musicians (including me); it’s really not possible to play (and in my case, also sing) more than an hour at a stretch without a rest. The problem is you stand to lose a large part of your audience when you do take a break—and we did here. What’s the solution? Refreshments, maybe—if there was coffee, juice, cookies, &c., maybe people would stick around to partake, and then feel guilty about not having left when they had the chance. I’ll have to try it.

Judgments on the material: “The Dog’s Song” is hard to sing unless we play it real slow—but we can’t play it slow because it’s got so many words. I either have to figure out a different key for it or not do it. “Test Tube Baby” was a definite hit; we ended up playing it way too fast (my fault, because I start these things off and the rest of the band follows)—but it worked: it wasn’t too hard to play or sing, either. We should continue doing it that way. “Rotten Candy” was fast, too—but I know it sounds good fast; the important thing is to get the stops just before the choruses just right, and they were perfect. (Such good musicians. I am honored to be able to play with them.)

I think people’s favorites among the Other Writers’ Stuff were Stan Good’s “Un-Easy Street” (a consistent hit) and Gem Watson’s “Final Payment,” and among my stuff, “Armadillo on the Interstate,” “Bluebird on My Windshield,” “I’m Giving Mom a Dead Dog for Christmas” (of course), “Tillamook Railroad Blues,” and the new Christmas song, “Even Roadkill Gets the Blues.” The roadkill song is so over-the-top sad I don’t think anyone takes it seriously. (I notice four of the abovementioned top five are dead-animal songs.)

Next steps? I don’t have any gigs on the horizon (it is probably too much to hope that somebody would call us after this one to hire us to play somewhere, but you never know). Failing anything else, I’d like to finish the album. (That’s going to be on the 2010 Worklist.) I’ll thank everybody profusely, and see how much people talk about how good the concert was. Hopefully, a lot of people will say it was.

Joe

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