It’s closing time. Today I have 2 more shows at the Grand Theatre for Joni Mitchell – River. I’m glad I have a few gigs booked in November and December that I have to prepare for otherwise I’d be left with a big hole to fill. There’s nothing like an entire month of work for a musician. Especially when the venue is just down the street.
January was an interesting month. Compared to my productivity and practice in December it was almost a lost month. I know that’s a bit of an over statement but sometimes it can be hard to overcome my inertia and sit down behind the music stand, plug in and get things done.
I’ve kept busy rehearsing for shows, touring and learning music for the last month. I took a different approach to learning some of the tunes. If time is limited I usually sit with my bass and play the tunes over and over but this time I added a step. I listened to the tunes away from my bass. I’d listen in the car while on the road or sit with iTunes and review the tunes. My goal was to learn the chord progressions by listening and then confirming on my bass later. Then I play the tunes over and over trying to internalize the verse and chorus.
I was successful learning parts of tunes for Emm Gryner’s shows while on a 4 hour car ride but still needed to refer to notes for Lynne Hanson’s shows. I play with Lynne again in April so I better get at it if I want to get away from those notes. I consider my ability to hear quickly the weakest part of my playing so learning tunes off the bass can only improve that part of my role as a bass player. Ideally I’d like to get to the point with any artist where I customize my set list and only need to add the keys of the tunes. For Rant Maggie Rant I’ve played the tunes for a few years so don’t really need notes but I still make my set list with keys for the tunes. Continue reading
There can be magic moments when you play music. It might be a special venue or a moment when you feel like you can do no wrong when you are playing. Both can be quite rare especially the latter! Other times it’s the people you meet and get to play with. I’m lucky enough to work with singer/songwriter Emm Gryner from time to time. I’ve lost count of how many albums she has released under her name and to watch her perform on stage really is one of those magic moments.
Last year Emm and Chris Hadfield released a version of Space Oddity. Emm played the piano parts and NASA sent those to the International Space Station where Chris recorded his vocals. Emm played in Bowie’s band for a time and he gave permission for them to release the track.
So one of my magic moments for this year was playing Space Oddity on a live show with Emm and Chris.
There was a time in my high school and college days when I was scared of my shadow and doubted my abilities as a musician. After 20 years running a small business the shadow is no longer an issue although I think self doubt is just part of being a musician for many of us. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over that part of my personality but I am so grateful to be able to do what I do on a regular basis. There really is nothing quite like a live performance. Continue reading