Saturday, August 19, 2006

gig 021 – w/The John Waynes

Thursday August 17, 2006
The Red Guitar Art House and Café

John Sobol – vocals
Wayne Kelso – keyboards

15 people
2 x 45 minute sets
6$ cover
100% improvised

quality recording made
mp3s to be uploaded here shortly

Well this was a challenging experiment
Wayne and I have never done our thing in public before
and only ever played together twice before at all
and since we are playing totally free
and especially since I am riffing entire sets of poetry
true freestyling
well it was something I looked forward to with both anticipation and concern

the fact is that even tho I have improvised as a poet onstage many many times
I've never set out to do 90 mintues of it in front of an audience
especially without falling back on any tried and true repertoire
or on my horn playing
just 100% out and out extemporization all night long
daunting to say the least

but being rather daft I gave it a shot and all things considered it went very well
having Wayne – a tremendously humble, responive and propulsive musician – beside me, made a huge difference

the miniscule turnout was not that surprising but did have a substantial impact on the poetry
since it was mostly family
let's just say I prefer playing for rowdier audiences who know me less well
i ended up staying in a fairly mellow mode
spinning yarns
mildly fantastic
sometimes mundane
reveries about childhood in brooklyn
about the urban igloo in the egg factory
about Buddha's dreams
about coral spores
about the bartender blues
and a whole lot else I can't recall
and won't until I get to hear the recordings

Feedback was useful from family and from Paul Dutton, who was there:

1) break up the narrative linearity more often
2) sing more
3) give the audience more context
4) give your riffs titles in the moment
5) give evenings themes to help audience members situate themselves
6) repeat myself more again to help audience find themselves
7) play my horn
8) have more of an edge
9) be more physical

I was pleased to get all this feedback
especially since these are all things I already know and do regularly
but just chose not to do during this gig
due to the already demanding circumstances of simply seeing if I could successfully riff for 90 minutes

which I now know i can
so next time I'll keep those other possibilties in mind
and as I also told people
this kind of work is so responsive to external energy and cues
that in the quiet cafe confines it's not surpring that my work was chilled out
a drunken rowdy bar or a big outdoor festival produces different kinds of riffs, no doubt

after Wayne and I concluded
Eric St.Laurent took the stage with a cellist (Shelly Lo? something like that)
Eric was the guitarist on my 1990 CD Blue History
tho he's been living in Berlin for over a decade
this was the first time I'd seen him in probably 15 years
we jammed (me on sax this time) and that was fun
even tho i was seriously bagged by that point
Eric is a very funny very funky dude
Wayne came and jammed too and really got into some cool grooves with the cellist
Wayne's a remarkably powerful and subtle player
and a great collaborator

very very well treated by sister Corry, proprietor of the Red Guitar

looking forward to the next iteration of The John Waynes


Risk Factor: 11
Riff Factor: 11
Success Factor: decent
Wild Card: family
Cash Factor: 1
Parking Lot: Left the van overnight and didn't get a ticket or towed!
Joy: 4
Obliteration: 7
Travel: 7 hours each way
Sacrifice: Gave up a high-end 3-date tour in Florida for this - i must be mad


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