Saturday, May 2, 2009

Gig Weekend

12:20PM April 20

Friday I got to sleep in for once, catching up completely after Ferrara. I then headed up to campus for a makeup class of aural comprehension. Of course, only Adam and I, out of the sixteen-person class, bothered to show up, even though I ran into several members of my classmates on campus. I guess that worked out for the best though, as we cut the class well short of the usual two and a half hours, and we used the time more constructively to focus on what Adam and I needed the most help with for the final.

All the while, I'd been trading lots of text messages with Antonio and my bandmates to arrange a practice for our group that day. We had a long performance on Sunday at La Citè--the cafe we usually play at for aperitivo--and for once, we were playing without Andy, our faculty bandleader. Without a trumpet playing the melodies, we had to get together a lot of different material, including some things that would work well with that environment and instrumentation, especially given the fact that Dave would be playing Fender Rhodes instead of piano.

The night before, Antonio told me that we could rehearse for a bit at La Citè, so I had to confirm with my bandmates whether they were cool with that. That fell through though, so Antonio found us space up on campus. Again, I had to recheck that everyone else was fine with that. We had a problem finding practice space in the first place because the other ensemble would be playing in our usual space downtown. When they got word that we would be playing on campus they offered to switch with us though, which was all fine by me, but I had to yet again check to make sure that was fine with Piero and Dave.

We did end up having a good practice, working out some different ways to play some of the tunes we've been working on with Andy, reintroducing some old tunes we did last semester to Piero, and adding a few funky ones that would work particularly well with the Fender Rhodes. The biggest flaw in the practice was that John couldn't make it, as he was taking the day off to travel, seeing as it was his last real chance to possibly get up to Venice. We were all understanding of this and told him to experience that incredible city, but as it turns out, all the trains were booked that day, and he ended up going to Siena instead.

Saturday I woke up feeling sick. I had felt precursors to it, but I just felt really awful all day. I did however go up to school to work on my presentation on Philadelphia, which I had to give in Italian class on Tuesday. I'd already written out what I wanted to say for the project, essentially a five minute oral exam given in the form of a lecture to the class on our hometowns. I had a great time finding pictures of Philadelphia to accompany my text, some of which inspired me to think of a few more things I wanted to say. It would have been easy for me to ramble on about Philadelphia for the whole class if it were in English. I found it surprisingly difficult to find old pictures of the city though, both in its pre-nineties skyline state and at the turn-of-the century, when industry populated the city.

That night I had a gig at an art gallery downtown just over the Arno with John, the drummer from my group, and Evan, the bass player from the other jazz ensemble here. Unfortunately, I had to get the amp down there from campus on my own, as Antonio wasn't able to get his hands on any taxi vouchers for this gig. When I finally left campus after working on my presentation, I'd just missed a bus, and I was in a hurry, so I walked it all the way down the hill. I had my laptop with me as well, and I was tired enough after walking with them for a half-hour back to my apartment. I then had to get them across the Arno, and with all of the tourists populating the area in between my apartment and the Ponte Vecchio, the closest bridge to the gallery, it took another half-hour of walking with the amp. If that wasn't bad enough, Antonio gave us poor directions, and I ran into John as we walked around trying to find this place. Antonio called us to make sure we were getting there all right, and then gave us poor directions several more times as we wandered around looking for this place. We did eventually find it though after I asked a local store owner for directions.

The gig was fine, and Antonio was pleased with how we played and represented ourselves. It was background music gig though, not the environment for the most inspiring musical output. The artist was Spanish, so they served paella to accompany the art. Although it tasted good, particularly the shrimp, it just seemed like a poor choice for food at a gallery, where people walk with the food. All of the seafood in the paella was shellfish still in its shells, including shrimp with the head still on. It just made it difficult to eat, as one hand had to be devoted to supporting the plate itself.

Sunday I returned to campus to finish up my presentation and get a handle on my course selection for next year. I spent most of the day there, and then headed down to La Citè for the classical performance that night. I had a lot on my plate this week, so I didn't get the time to practice for and perform at this performance. John Spencer and Adam took the lead on the show though, and they did a really great job.

I hung around for another two hours after the classical performance as my group was to perform there that night as well. It was a great time playing with the Fender Rhodes, a first for me, and some of the tunes turned out really well, particularly our rendition of Wes Montgomery's "Road Song." All in all though, I felt it could have gone a lot better. It was a tough audience that didn't give us a lot to play off of, but we simply weren't rehearsed well enough. I had some tuning issues against the sharp sound of the Rhodes, and as John hadn't rehearsed with us the other day, he'd forgotten that the ballad we were playing was in 3/4 time, instead of 4/4. We also played straight through for almost two hours, and by the end, we were pretty exhausted. That being said, we definitely had our moments in the show, and I got some nice complements from some of my peers who attended the show. It was a great experience to build on, as it was our first performance as a quartet, and I look forward to topping it soon enough.

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