The LEFT HOOK gig at Burke’s Saturday night was a pretty darn good time. It’s larger and nicer venue than we’ve been playing, and we had a good turnout, with a whole a bunch of people coming to help our drummer Gus celebrate his birthday, and a few of my friends, including Nick, who came all the way from Long Island and took a bunch of pictures of the band, which I’ll post sometime soon. Woo-hoo and thanks alot!
Gus is back to playing his regular drums, which helps the sound alot. Also, last week I finally got my Mark VII sax in for a final adjustment. It took Virgil only a few minutes of fiddling with the various bits of cork around the keys of the upper stack. Now it’s playing totally great. It literally has never sounded better! I have all the tone and growl that I really love, plus a great clarity in the low end, even playing very softly. So now I have two world-class tenor saxes in great working order, the beauty and the beast. I’ve been enjoying hanging out with Virgil, he’s got lots of stories and lots of knowledge on musical instruments. It almost makes me sad my horn is all fixed up now.
We added a bunch of new songs for this show, including The Letter by Joe Cocker, Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel, Beginnings by Chicago, and Cheap Sunglasses by ZZ Top. All went over really well. I think Beginnings in particular, which we used to end out first set, was a winner. We worked on that on for a while and made our own arrangement. I’m emulating a whole horn section on sax, and Mike and Gary are covering the vocal harmonies between them. We even have a percussion break toward the end.
The surprise hit was Cheap Sunglasses. This one was a bit of a late addition, after we’d tried out and discarded a bunch of other new songs for various reasons (vocals were to high, the groove too mellow, that kind of thing). We only rehearsed it twice. It’s a bit heavier than most of our material, but basically a boogie blues, and right in Gary’s zone on guitar. Ken and Gus and got a tight groove going on on the bass and drums. I sing lead on it, and it’s right in my zone vocally too, and I do an Abacab-like solo on the organ over the coda. Big crowd pleaser.
Since we’ve been working so much on new material, we only had a chance to run thru the whole set list once before the show. Overall it was still quite good, but there was the occasional tempo problem (mostly starting too fast) or missed or sloppy transition from one part to the next. Still, we know the songs well, and they’re great songs, and the energy and sound was always there. The vocals keep getting better and better too. I guess you can say the better we get the higher our standards get.
As usual, the second set was the tightest, had the best energy and the biggest crowd. There were a few time where Ken and Gus were really right together in the groove and it felt fantastic. One was Dance to the Music, which we really bombed in rehearsal. For the third set I used to joke that we should just do two or three long jam numbers like Dazed and Confused or Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. But now we finally have enough songs to have a full third set, and not just of the leftovers, but songs we know well. We even ended up doing a couple extra encores, including Foxy Lady, which someone shouted out as a request. Gary launched into it and Ken and Gus joined in, and sang. I think I remembered most of the lyrics. Good fun. And we even got paid more then we’ve been so far.