What Did the Bear Say?
Jimmy and I were trying to put the rehearsal space back in order a couple days after the how and he looked at me and said, "Those outdoor shows are tough." There is such an unpredictability about them and at the risk of appearing daft by stating the obvious, I will.
1. You never know what the weather is going to be. Jimmy C is obsessed with weather, in fact when you see him looking at his phone, he is either looking at a new friend on Linked In who liked his post to Blue Murder Bassist Tony Franklin or he is analyzing some weather pattern.
a. Our very first show in Jimmy's back yard, gave us great concern as it was cloudy and a bit drizzly, but by show time, it cleared up and was a pleasant night. Too bad I had no idea how to play. Ron, Rich, Dave and Jimmy did a great job that night (it was the only show we played as 5 piece band). That was 4 years ago (8/17/2019).
b. In July of 2022 we had another semi drizzly night that played havoc with our sound at Kiwanis Park in Brookfield. It was a fun night and probably the largest audience we played in front of, but the weather was messing with us. It was warm and I think Ron forgot to turn on his fan. Drumming for 90 minutes in that heat is tough.
c. The next month, we got the chance to kick off the Mayfair Park series and again, it was overcast and drizzly all day. That weather really was a bummer in that we had to occasionally cover the equipment while we were setting up. We got the show in, but that damn drizzle!
d. Best weather was probably at the June 2023 show at Salerno's. Don't ask Ronnie about that show, he spent the night trying not to die and balancing his drums on the edge of a very small stage.
Which brings us to the show at Walker Park. No drizzle, just humid as all heck! I think, as I write this some 10 days later, I may still have to yet another shower to get that sweat off myself.
2. Setting up the sound is a challenge no matter where you are at, but outdoors is definitely harder. Jake Helm (Rik Kroll, Kevin Cavanaugh and Nick Madsen have all done sound for us) does a great job, but sometimes weird stuff happens and you do the best you can.
3. Electricity. With outdoor shows, you are trying to figure out how to power everything without blowing a fuse. We again had chords going everywhere and the thought that kept dancing in my head was, "I hope no one pulls a chord out!" It is weird where extension chords and surge protectors are everywhere. There is a lot to power (not just Cavanaugh's outfits either). Amps, microphones, the board, fans, etc…. It worked out, but it is always a worry.
4. I think I like outdoor shows, but they are harder than indoor ones. I love the anxiety and challenge of having to adapt to the craziness of getting the equipment there, set up, getting the sound in place… then trying to play the show. Although as I get older, I am pretty pooped by the time we start. Playing live, without a net, you just have to figure it out. That is fun and scary.
My son Zach was able to secure a giant trailer to get the gear there, and that is a huge advantage. Normally, everyone is cramming everything in their vehicles in the hopes that we can get it all to the venue. We are a 7 piece band. That is a lot of shit! Poor Ron. The man is a killer musician. He can do anything. He can play wicked guitar, he can play keyboards. You should hear him belt out "Simple Man" when we are farting around in practice by Skynyrd. He has done it all. Recorded, written and played in countless original and cover bands. Being the drummer sucks, though. It is a pain in the butt to set up and equally challenging to take down when you just played for three hours. At least he did not have to put it in his car. We were able to load and unload it for him. That trailer makes a huge difference. Thank God I do not have to drive it (although I am an excellent driver, not so much with my son's monster pick-up truck and trailer).
For the second show in a row, I brought a speaker so I could have a monitor but had a problem hooking it up, so I had to rely on listening to the overall mix like everyone else. I really enjoyed Lisa, Richie, Ronnie and Ellen's harmonies. They are always good, but it sounded great that day to me. Those are four pretty talented people, and do not forget that Ellen and Ron are playing instruments while harmonizing! As usual, Lisa and Richie just do not disappoint. I really enjoy being able to listen to both of them do their thing. They bring such cool different factors to the songs they sing. Every time I write one of these things lately (when Zippy McWiggy lets me – the normal writer of this blog), I end up gushing about Joe Smith. He understands I am a moron, but that guy has it all. First things first. He IS A KILLER PLAYER. I cannot believe I have got the privilege to be on the same stage (well as you know I am rarely on stage, as I wander around, but you are aware of what I am saying) these last 4 shows. Our original guitarist Dave Gonzalez is also an amazing player, so I am just incredibly lucky to have had these experiences. The thing that Joe does when he starts ripping those solos, is he is in the moment. He just looks freaking cool when he does it, he has that stage presence that matches those chops!!! Pretty amazing that he is as comfortable ripping a Steve Lukather, Neil Schon, Prince solo or creating cool textures in a song like "Counting Blue Cars". He makes it look easy, and we all know it is not. I feel that way about the other 6 folks in the band, but sometimes when Joe is taking a solo, I almost want to put the bass down and go sit in the audience to watch and listen. When Richie rips into "Second Chance" (which we did not play) or Lisa sings "The Story" (which we did not play) I get goose bumps. I guess in my very annoying and verbose way I am saying how freaking lucky I have been to be playing music with these people.
For the second show in a row, we were unable to get through the set list in the time allotted. Maybe I should shut up!!! Set lists are a challenge to put together (because everyone has ideas and favorites), but it seems lately, it is harder to get through them. At Salerno's, we only played a set and a half. At the park we played 16 of 18 songs we had planned.
A special thanks to our friends and family who always show up, wherever we are playing. Another shout out to Laurie Murray, superintendent of recreation, who gave us the opportunity.
I will shut up now!
Rob, the idiot bassist.