Gigs & Setlists 2007-2008
12/29/08 | 12/22/08 | 11/24/08 | 8/25/08 | 8/18/08 | 8/11/08 | 8/4/08
12/27/07 | 8/13/07 | 7/30/07 | 5/14/07 | 3/12/07 | 2/12/07 | 1/8/07
10/30/06 | 9/30/06 | 9/18/06 | 7/3/06 | 5/22/06 | 4/10/06 | 1/23/06
12/29/05 | 11/7/05 | 9/26/05 | 3/21/05
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set (JOKE NIGHT)
Setlist : More (For You), Waterline [Dog's Eye View], Whiskey & Women
In Attendance : My better half and perhaps 20 variously courteous fellow performers
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio
Notes : Much better crowd this time around, and I signed up for an early slot (4th, I think - not 1st!) and actually got to keep it. Nick came in shortly afterwards and signed up right after me and said "I get to follow you this time" and I said "yeah, that's RIGHT! you're following ME tonight! Hah!" We laughed. Hung out at the bar with my baby and talked to Jonas for a bit about his prior days playing with The Teeth - I mentioned that I only recently realized he played with them and that I was at one of their shows about 4-5 years ago when they opened for Townhall. I only barely started saying "at the TLA" when he beat me to it, and I was a little surprised he remembered that show that specifically. Right on. It was Joke Night and I was glad he was back in the host's seat. Someone up before me actually told a joke, but I had one in mind when I got on. Then I remembered something that happened a while back so I told that as a true joke - when I saw John Mayer play an opening set at North Star and he said "I'm John Mayer and this is what I do", ultra-seriously. I smiled a huge smile and said "I thought that was really funny" after I quoted him, and got some good laughter. I also said "it's my pleasure to be here opening for Physical Illusion, who's up next... give it up for Physical Illusion!" and got tons o' applause, as Nick is universally loved by all. Unfortunately, however, my ploy for him to return the favor by thanking me for opening for him did not work. heh. Asked for some extra guitar in the monitor, Jonas obliged, and we were on our way. More (For You) was first, for two reasons - so I could try to actually play it correctly (which means, remember all the words) and so Steph could hear it, since it's about her and she's never heard it. Kinda stumbled right out of the gate with a pause between the intro and the first verse. Not all that confident. By the time I was hitting the chorus, I was obviously out of tune and that annoyed the shit out of me, since the chords during that part of the song are hit pretty hard and loud. The 2nd half of the song was better and I even remembered most of the words. :-) Then I told the joke about the old guy who asks his doctor how much stronger he's gonna get because he can bend his penis way more than he used to be able to. I got nothing! I didn't tell it very well, but I love that stupid joke. Tough crowd! Then I tried to tune my guitar and semi-succeeded. Then I introduced my new cover as "a cheap rendition of a song I did not write", and it's beyond cheap - I literally play three power chords (a, b, d) over and over for the whole song. The actual song is also very repetitive musically, but it's all finger picked with lots of little filler notes and accents and stuff. But I get to wail a bit with the lyrics, and it's a great song. First time performed in public. Got through it fairly strongly, minus some tonal flubs, and even got some nice applause. President Bush was still in office, so I finished with Whiskey & Women for at least one last time, introduced as "this is original... I know, it's awesome", to which Steph giggled. I played it a bit too fast and had a very minor lyric drop in the first verse, but otherwise it was decent. Still haven't decided if I'll ever play it again, though I've thought about changing all the verbs to past tense so it still makes some sense. We'll see. Steph thought it was funny that after all those times I've played that last song, I still managed to forget some of the words - though she'd never heard me play either of the first two songs, and one was written about her, and she didn't mention anything about those. Ah well. Hey, this week I felt so much better than last, I might even go back again. I was contemplating going all-Beatles on the live performance part of my "career" and sticking to studio work only. I still need to practice a hell of a lot more, and I've got a couple new songs in the works that might sound good live if I can ever finish them. I'm done for a couple months, at least. I think I've had enough of playing guitar in the middle of winter in a cold-ass bar with frozen fingers. Happy new year!
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set
Setlist : More (For You), Inverted, Whiskey & Women
In Attendance : Around 15 politely kind people, eventually
Proof : digital video/audio
Notes : I certainly thought we'd practiced enough for a solid performance this time around, and after last month's semi-bland output I thought there was much room for improvement. You can be wrong and right at the same time, I've learned. I arrived to a fairly empty bar on a very, very cold December eve at The Fire and signed up 3rd, which of course... (wait for it)... means I had to go 1st. The first two slots were open and went unfilled, so then there was me. And being that hardly anyone was around, and there was a guest host (Keith Goodwin, who I quite mistakenly called Kevin - my apologies!), they waited around in hopes more people would show up and didn't really start until about quarter to 10 (supposed to start at 9). Not even Nick was there! Wow. I even saw Ali calling "regulars" on her phone to try and drum up some performers. Not that I mind waiting, but it just means I had to sit there freezing my ass off for longer than I should have. It was super cold outside and didn't feel like the bar was keeping up with the loss of heat (or lack of people). Plus I ordered a Sprite and that didn't help my fingers warm up any. I don't have particularly nimble chord-position-making fingers, even at 72 degrees. So after waiting around for a while and them finally deciding to get going, I overheard Ali the bartendress wonder aloud "who Huge Down Here is". I caught her eye and raised my hand in a "hey, that's me" kinda way and she mentioned they were gonna get started. Keith the guest host was courteous and nice enough to shake my hand as I was on my way to the stage, and after some tweaking, was good to go. A friend of Keith's (apparently) was doing the introductions, however, and he gave a nice one which unfortunately led to absolutely no one acknowleding my presence, aside from a couple giggles from some folks up front. The only folks up front. "Give it up!" he said, and a few people finally got the idea and clapped, to which I replied "deafening!" There was a small crowd of people in the bar, and after my rousing applause, the introducer needled the folks over there by saying "feel free to come on in here, people". Some of them started to come in, so I hesitated... and I think I thought they were still messing with the sound levels and such, so I just said a few things like "hace frio" and "buenas noches" as folks were walking in. Plus, the between-act-music was still playing. Finally they turned it down (but not off) and Keith came up to add a guitar mic because the first one was apparently not working. Then we were good to go, but the music was still on, so I said "you gonna turn that off?" and he said "what?" - "the music" - "it's off" - "I can hear it" - "oh, there we go" - "hey, that's better!" ROCK AND ROLL. "I am Huge Down Here, it's a fake band, but I'm very real"... to which Ali over in the bar screamed "YEAH!" so I said "WOO!" And finally started playing, about 4 minutes after I actually first got on stage. First song "More (For You)" started off fine enough, but for some reason I can't remember the fucking first pre-chorus lyrics. I have played that damn song a hundred times and cannot get the words right on stage. And then when I get unsure, my voice gets even more timid than it normally is, so the whole song just sounds like shit. I screwed up another pre-chorus verse and ended up skipping the one that comes right after it, so I completely eliminated part of the song. And it's a long song. Finally got it overwith, to polite applause. I said "there were a lot of mistakes in that song, my apologies..." and then Ali comes in to the performance room and says "my apologies for talking at the end of your song... sorry!" - and I honestly wasn't quite sure what she was talking about, because if she thought she was being loud, I didn't notice it. I said "no sweat" and then "I totally love the fact that you do not have blond hair" - she had very bleached blond hair for the longest time and sorta semi-recently went dark brown. She said "I know, isn't it awesome!?" to which I replied "right on". I then told the crowd (which was semi-decent sized by this point) what my second song was about ("Inverted") and got some pretty nice laughs for my honesty. I can't tell you, though, so you'll just have to believe me for now. I told them it was a secret and not to tell. I think they agreed. I had some trouble in the first tune with my cold fingers changing chords and they were still pretty chilled at this point, to which I said on mic "it's fuckin' cold in here!". Finally got the 2nd song going but I had to stop and start over after I played the opening riff way too fast. When I got to the first couple of lyric bars and people heard them and knew what it referred to, got some more giggles. Sweet. It's purposely cryptic but there is some satisfaction that some people get the references (even if I told them). The song wasn't horrible, but there were plenty of little goofs, and the guitar was getting pretty out of tune by the end. The very end is a series of quick chord changes which my hands couldn't keep up with. I started feeding back a little, just as I was finishing, and noticed that Keith was not behind the control board... so I said "mr. soundman... he has gone astray... and I'm feeding back" and then he walked right back in. So I apologized: "sorry I did not refer to you by name... 'soundman' just sounds so generic... whereas you're a brand name". No one laughed, though I thought that was pretty funny. I was out of tune but I couldn't fix it quickly, so I just kinda went with it. And the last song is (again) Whiskey & Women, so I said "I wrote this song a couple years ago about George Bush, and I'm gonna play it every day of my life until he's dead... or until he goes out of office, so I'm running out of time...". And I've played that damn song two hundred times, and I still effed those lyrics up and hit a couple of wrong chords in the first fucking verse. Christ. Had to laugh at myself in the song at the NEXT screw up. I could not sing with any conviction because my brain was apparently fried and I sounded like arse. Plus the out of tune thing. I'm sure everyone was glad to have me finish up - I know I was. Even after I slammed the last chord, which I think is an obvious end to the song - nobody clapped, and I had to say "that's my time, thanks" before anyone acknowledged me. What a bummer of a set, man. I sure thought I'd practiced enough to get through those tunes, and I had major errors in all three. When I got home and Steph asked me how it went, the first words that came to mind were "train wreck". Ugh. One funny thing, the guy after me was Anthony (saw him once before, forget his last name but he's a good guitar player, good songs) and he said something about how he was gonna play this song that he really likes and when he plays it, it's like he's having sex with it, so he said "so I'ma have sex with this song... should be good". I was right up front and I said "good for you, maybe!" and got a couple laughs and then he said "should be good for you, too, you are huge down there!" Right on, sir. Hey, someone was paying attention. His last song was called something like "In Vain" and he said he'd never played it before (I think) but it had a wicked guitar part. I was still freezing my ass off, so I didn't stick around long. Back to the drawing board.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set (JOKE NIGHT)
Setlist : Brakeman (instrumental), Wednesday, Whiskey & Women (slowed-down-version)
In Attendance : Around 25 chatty Cathys
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio
Notes : We certainly didn't intend to miss all of September and October, but we finally got around to returning to The Fire in late November, with mild results. I got there a little later than I should have and basically had no choice but to sign up first. Going first does indeed suck, especially when you have a busted pick-up in your guitar, because then you need TWO mics and microphones close together often do not like one another. Nobody likes to soundcheck at open mic, and that's what I did, repeatedly, for about 2 1/2 minutes. Lots of "mic check 1, 2" and "mic check 6 and a half" and even "I love going first, mic check, going first is awesome"... and you can never really tell what the host is doing, other than adjusting levels, but you can't really hear what they're hearing and you just keep rambling and if you stop and they tell you to keep going (more than once, in this case) then you feel even more stupid because you have to start over. But Jonas (awesome host, by the way) figured it out eventually - and I should probably thank him for making sure I wasn't going to be feeding back terribly. He cracks me up - his intro was this "Allllll right, I'd like to welcome you to the 656th consecutive open mic night at The Fire, the show featuring you, here to lead us off is my friend, Mr. Huge Down Here!" I got not a single clap, so I thanked everyone for the rousing introduction. (Another sucky thing about being first, when no one is actually ready for you). Being joke night, I led off with a joke that I got from my 6-year-old step-son about the butterfly not going to the dance because it was a moth ball. Huge response. Not really. At any rate, I finally got going and decided to break out an unfinished song as jam #1, without any vocals. I do not practice as much as I should and this leaves me with few options to fill 3 songs, and I had spent much more time over the past couple of months playing this riff than an actual song that's written, so I threw it in there to fill time and also because it's fun to play. I momentarily thought about trying to improv/freestyle some lyrics with the melody I'd been working on, but I'm no Dave Matthews and that would have been a trainwreck. Funny enough, the song is called "Brakeman" and was inspired by a story my dad told me about working on a railroad when he was a young man - a brakeman, in fact. I didn't know this until I was 33 years old, which is kind of a bummer, but I'm so glad he told me the story. It's backed by a guitar riff I've had in the arsenal for literally years, with no words or an idea how to make it into a song, and then you get a spark of inspiration and you're golden. I just haven't arranged it or found all the words quite yet. So I prefaced the song by saying it was a work in progress, "which means I'm not gonna sing, which is very good for you". I like it because it has some variations on a couple of real chords, though it sounds pretty repetitive without lyrics and ya know, not being finished. So I jammed it out for a few minutes. Wouldn't you know, it's a lot easier to play a guitar song when you don't have to remember any words. Polite applause. And as usual, I should have not said anything afterwards, but I couldn't resist and said, "if you feel like... trying to get the sensation of being on a moving train... that's what I'm going for... sorta metaphorical... sorta half-kidding... it is joke night." Whatever, dude. And I wasn't really thinking, but I chose to play Wednesday as the 2nd song, but the two main chords in that main riff are the same two chords in Brakeman (as they are in a couple of my other songs, too - yes, I'm that original). Not the wisest move, but I haven't played that one in a while and I can mostly remember it. I did briefly screw up the beginning but stopped and corrected myself quickly. I messed up some of the chorus words (rearranging, splicing) but it was ok, I guess. The end of the jam was a little garbled, musically. I did say at the end "...we got married on a Saturday, so much for that". I felt the need to talk some more (fight the urge) and mentioned the Phillies and Obama (both victorious since my last Fire visit) and Nick yells out "fire Andy Reid!" which is a reference to the Eagles' head coach. So I said "I'm a Steelers fan, so FUCK THE EAGLES. I said that on the microphone." I thought it was kinda ballsy and funny, being that I was in Philadelphia, and a few people laughed. I felt the need to then explain how I became a Steelers fan (nobody asked) and said, in very quick rapid-fire succession: "my brother was a Cowboys fan which is how I became a Steelers fan because the first football game I can remember was the 1980 Super Bowl between the Cowboys and Steelers and my first inclination was to root against my older brother who was a COCKSUCKER... and that's how I became a Steelers fan." I said the "cocksucker" in an octave or two above my speaking voice for effect, and got several laughs, which was my whole point, so at least my rambling got good results. Played Wiskey & Women as my last song (as usual) and sort of last-minute decided to play it at about half-speed. Not quite the lounge version I'd played before, but much slower than usual. Hit a couple goofy wrong barre chords, but mostly it went well. Except for the guitar being grossly out of tune by that point. I said "thank you very much" at the end and intended to say "tip your bartender" or whatever and ended up saying "tip... tip Jonas", a nod to the open mic host, but I don't think anybody caught it and if they did, probably thought I was just plain weird. Just as well. Watching the tape back now, it seems like my set wasn't quite as bad as I remember it, but just kinda bland. Not a whole lot of energy, but generally not a lot of flubs. I'll take that! Now, back to practice.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set
Setlist : Goosebumps, My Sister And Her God, Whiskey & Women (listen to two of those over here!)
In Attendance : My hot wife and perhaps 20 others
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio
Notes : We were blessed by the presence of oB's lovely spouse for this 3rd of 4 straight weeks at The Fire from our August residency. We even wore some new HdH merch (courtesy of said lovely wife) for the gig - yes, the band wore their own shirt. We're dorks, get over it. And of course we ended up not playing a single song about Steph. Ironic, no? It was entirely unplanned, we swear, but we were pretty psyched to have her back in the crowd. We DID break out an old-old-oldie, though (as promised!). The song Goosebumps was written way back in 1999 and it was one of the first real songs that we'd written that we could actually play and sing, at the same time, in one sitting. Imagine that. In fact, it WAS the first song we really ever played for anyone back in 2001, but that was anything but a stage-ready performance (and it was for an audience of one). We were shedding some old tunes semi-recently when we realized we'd never played that at a real gig. So we got back up to speed on it and decided to pull it out this week. Before we could get to our set, Spacey (old host) was back in the hot seat again, so strangely enough these past 3 weeks we've been to The Fire (for the first times in about a year) have been hosted twice by our old friend Mr. Raygun. Looks like we're gonna have to keep coming back to get to know new guy Mr. Jonas. Sounds like a plan. Alrighty, we arrived in good time and were fortunate enough to get another good slot - 4th or 5th (can't recall). Word up. Although, we were following Physical Illusion AGAIN, which is never good. Once we got on, I did feel the need to explain to the slew of people in attendance that the first song Goosebumps was indeed quite cheesy, but I knew that they knew and was going to play it anyway, and with a name like Goosebumps "that pretty much tells you right there". Too much? As always, of course, but sometimes I gotta say it anyway. I also explained that it was an old song, but really the first song of mine that I could actually play ("which doesn't really make a lot of sense") and it had never been played for people, so maybe they understood. And "as bad a guitar player as I am now, ten years ago I was much worse!" which Steph seemed to enjoy. It was played reasonbly well, with actual barre chords for the most part - and I had to laugh at myself as I was singing the cheesy chorus the 3rd time through and say "I'm cracking myself up!" as I was doing it, which seemed to get a few chuckles. And thankfully, Spacey turned down the loads of echo/reverb that were on the vocal mic about halfway through. I'm very glad I got to play it once, and it'll probably never happen again. The song is over and I still can't shut up about it: "cheese... I love cheese. cheese is good. that's actually about a real person who was in one of my college classes, in ecology, she was HOT. but I have no idea what her name was." (Nick agrees from the crowd, says "that always happens.") Right on. Then I agreed with him right back, but had to immediately turn that into a "not anymore" because my wife was sitting in the front row. And "she's SMOKIN' hot." And now you can hear that whole exchange (and the song, too) over on our downloads page. Then I said "now I'm gonna totally bum you out" because I was about to play MS&HG, which is of course about the passing of my sister. The crowd was generally in a good mood and laughing at what I said (mostly because Nick had 'em in stitches during his set) and I was honestly a little sorry that I was going to play it, but I didn't want to risk playing something I wasn't fully prepared to do or hadn't practiced much. A couple people actually said "awww" when I told them I was about to bum them out, and I replied with "I know, it's gonna happen, but drink some more beer, you'll feel all right". So I did it, and it was OK - had a few stutters on some of the single note riffs and jam chords, but I got all the words right. Nothing spectacular. Shoulda practiced it a little more! Crowd was respectful and quiet, though, which was nice. I thought I could have easily lost them. Then I said "see, I told you I was gonna bum you the hell out, but that's ok! 'cause this song is happy! it's rockin'!" and I went right into a MACH 5 version of Whiskey & Women before the applause even died out. I did have a couple of little chord errors, but I had good energy lyrically and rocked it the fuck out with confidence. It felt great. I got solid applause and a couple nice "woo!"s and I thought, that's the best I've ever played that song. I get off stage and Steph says to me right away "that's the best I've heard you play that song". And I didn't even hear what Nick said until many weeks later when I was listening to the tape - as I was finishing up and people were clapping, he yelled out "you didn't fuck it up!!" - and he was right! And he knew! 'Tis Nick, oh loyal reader of this blog! And he wasn't saying it mockingly or anything, I think he was generally happy for me that I got a good version of it out live. Hell yeah. That was cool, Nick. Much appreciated. And fuckin' a - now you can check out the audio on that one, too.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set / OPEN MIC OLYMPICS
Setlist : More (For You), Never Better, Whiskey & Women
In Attendance : 25-30 fine people
Proof : digital photos, digital audio/video
Notes : Last week felt like coming back home, after a year since my last Fire appearance; this week it's like a new family moved in. (Not that there's anything wrong with that). I found out after I got home from the gig last week that there was a new host, and he was back this week (Spacey was only filling in). I think it would have been a little more jarring had I walked in cold and found out then and there. Not that it would have made me feel less comfortable or unnerved or whatever, and not that it makes any difference about anything - it just was nice, honestly, to come back to a place I like to go after a long time gone and see some familiar faces. And luckily, I like the new guy. I've learned that a good host can make an open mic that much better. I'm not exactly a seasoned veteran, as I've only played at a few different places and have attended just a few more. But it's nice when the guy setting the pace isn't an asshole, or a control freak, or an attention hog. Jonas, the new host, did introduce himself to me cordially, although he initially erroneously thought I was part of a duo. I got a taste of the new regime on the sign-up sheet, where it was elaborately decorated with the Open Mic Olympics theme... indeed, I'd read something on The Fire Open Mic MySpace page about how they were gonna try and spice things up with some themes and contests and what not. That didn't thrill me, to be honest, but the Olympic thing turned out to be good fun. Ali (bartender) came out for the "opening ceremonies" with a small candle attached to a stick, a la the torch! Heh. There was a "lighting" and everything, and it was all quite cheesy and slightly ridiculous, but fun. Kinda why I like The Fire. There were even medals! I have no idea what they were made of, but they were gold-ish and silver-ish and were hung from the mics. Nice touch. Jonas is a boisterous public speaker and MC's with a little flair, and he's funny. He mentioned something right off the bat about how we were all being judged by unseen experts in a secret, hidden room or something and there would be medals awarded in various categories (unspecified at the time). He even injected some off-the-wall Olympic trivia in between acts. It was topical and fun, though I don't know how much the rest of the crowd appreciated it. It was a little more crowded this week, and besides Nick, I didn't recognize anybody - and he arrived what seemed like a little later than normal, so I briefly thought I was gonna be the only one repeating from the previous week. Fortunately, I got another good slot and ended up going 5th. Sweet. Nick even stuck with the theme and threw in a little Chariots of Fire action into his set, with some other olympic-y lyric ad libs, as well. He went on early, and I took a few pictures of him as sort of a cheap thank you for his offering to send me the MP3s of my set last week. I also needed to check my camera settings (The Fire is notoriously low-lit and it's hard to get good pictures without the annoying flash). This time around I remembered to hit the correct button on the video camera, and before I went on I was even able to convince Nick to take pictures for me instead of tweaking out captures from poor video files. I didn't need him (or expect him) to get too artistic with it, but he went all out - with different angles and shit! Heh. He even got a close-up of one of the aforementioned, and quite coveted, "medals". Righteous! You can see his handiwork on our website (just look up ^). While waiting for the music to start, I was hanging in the bar watching some football/olympic beach volleyball and an attendee sidled up in the seat next to me and got real chatty real quick. He started on about some Brazilian beach volleyball twins who were insanely hot - and they were twins! Heh. He was rather excited about it. Nice guy. He played right before me, and also happened to go by a name rather than his own - in this case, "Foolish Green" which he said was named after a plant in his apartment (not sure if that was a weed reference or not). He wasn't all that bad, and played a somewhat graphic sexual song about (as he said) two of his ex-girlfriends, who were both redheads, nymphos and wiccan. Both of 'em. Hmm. The song was called "Your Fire Down Below" I think. Interesting. I'm kinda glad that there were so many different people there from last week, if only for the reason that I played two of the same songs. I still have to play (and end with) Whiskey & Women, just to try and nail it perfectly at least once (and it rocks). And I wanted to play More (For You) again to get it completely right, which I thought was genuinely possible due to its first performance being relatively solid. And instead of The Turnaround, which didn't go that well, I threw in Never Better, which isn't the best tune but it's quick and simple. Of course that means I'm gonna fuck it up! Which I did! Woo! During the first chorus. I started with More (For You) and I had intended to keep it short and just hit right off with the first verse, but I guess I got nervous because that didn't happen and I just strummed the first couple bars like normal. Right in the middle of the first pre-chorus, I thumped right into the guitar mic with my off-hand. Damnit. Some dude kept stepping in front of my video camera, too - for a minute I thought I was gonna get nothing but blackness for the duration of my set. Thankfully he didn't stay long (maybe it was Nick, getting awesome pictures - in case, my fault!). Things were going smoothly until the bridge, when I THUMPED right back into the guitar mic again. Had to say "my bad" during the break. And I had some chord-changing trouble during the bridge which caused me to skip a lyric line - but I didn't have to screw up the rhythm at all, I managed to stay in time and just come in with the next line, so it didn't seem horribly obvious to anyone but me. I even hit some of the harmonics during the song, too. Not bad, all in all, and I didn't forget the flubbed parts I skipped last week. Decent applause for a cheaply played tune. And then I decided to "tell you a little story". I happened to be working earlier that day and the fire alarm went off. I was working the gorilla area - and the alarm ended up going off for almost an hour. Gorillas aren't big on loud, whooping noises and flashing strobe lights. Jabari the silverback has problems with colitis (on daily meds) anyway, but stress just makes it horribly worse, and after the alarms he ended up having some ridiculously colossal pools of runny, stanky poo. I figured The Fire was a good place to tell a quick little story about gorillas getting the shits from a fire alarm. So I did. Didn't quite come off as funny as I'd hoped, but I got a few laughs - "and it's my job to clean it up! Good times. Come on by. This song is about gorillas. Not really." (which got a nice female giggle) and then... Never Better, which besides the screw up with the chorus lyrics, which caused me to lose my place musically (had to stop, say "I fucked that up" and then restart from there), it wasn't all that bad - except for the poor singing and bad guitar playing. And then I had to mention "it's a rare occasion I get through a song without a fuckup, so that was the rule rather than the exception". And continued... "speaking of monkeys, this is a song about George Bush". And I made it through Whiskey without any major errors, but by that time my guitar was noticeably out of tune and it really bummed me out as I was playing the song. And I hit the goddamn guitar mic AGAIN right during the breakdown in the bridge. I did get a couple of good laughs for the "cocaine" line - largely female - and that's always nice. My contribution to the Olympic theme was this: after I finished my last song, I said "watch for the dismount!" and then I jumped off the stage and raised my arms and bowed to the invisible judges. Nice! Got a "woo!" Shortly after I got done, Jonas came on the mic from behind the mixing board and said "I think Foolish Green gets the gold for "best story"... that was awesome. Sorry I don't know your real name." - And I noticed someone sitting at a table look over to me - but it didn't even really occur to me right away he was talking about me, if he was - because I'm Huge Down Here. I'm guessing he meant me, because he said it after I was done playing (Foolish Green played right before me, though, and he talked about redheaded nympho wiccans!) So I think I won a gold medal, but I had to skip the award/closing ceremonies, which I regret, because that would have been interesting - speaking of which, there was a guitarist/rapper called Alien Architect who was odd but also oddly skilled, and another rapper named... I forget, but he was actually decent (if not overly cocky, putting on the medal and saying "might as well, it's coming to me anyway"), though he was all kindsa trying too hard to get the crowed "hyped" to clap and sing along or whatever and that's just weird at an open mic. That was a really long sentence. Anyway, always a good time... trying for three in a row next week. Gonna pull out an oooooooooldie. Maybe.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set
Setlist : The Turnaround, More (For You), Whiskey & Women
In Attendance : 15-20 familiar faces
Proof : digital video (partial), digital audio (listen to More (For You) here!)
Notes : The residency begins! And ahhhhh, it's good to be back. After a zillion false starts, we finally made it back to the stage at The Fire, by far our favorite place to play. It was just 13 days shy of a full year since the last time we played the open mic here. We walked in to some slight changes - a new bartender (to us), a sign up list on a clipboard(?!) with a sharpie(!?), and they moved the Ms. Pac Man! Well, about 10 feet away. Within five minutes, Spacey came around the corner, I saw Nick cruise on by and shortly thereafter, the usual bartendress came by for her Monday night shift. All was well. We even got a great slot - 5th (well, with slots 1-2 open). We did have to follow Nick, though. I hate following Nick. He's fun and funny and people actually sing along to his songs and people feel good and then I have to go up there and try to be my super serious sensitive doofus self? Hey, it's better than playing at 2 am! I was a bit relieved that there didn't seem to be the mad jam of people on the list, as well - it looked like a nice gathering of players and not some grocery list of every dude in the neighborhood. It was weird not having Steph there, but I had to soldier on. I got a solo stool on stage right instead of our usual table for two up front, stage left. Things were going well, nice little crowd, the sound was fantastic, with no major audio problems early on (as always seemed to plague my 1st place slots). The first dude was a bit odd - very high & whiny/Radiohead-type voice and monotone/linear guitar parts, and he seemed a little full of himself. Not my bag. Nick sounded good, though. I lined up my cameras for maximum video/audio action and I did end up getting called for 3rd man up. No sweat, let's rock. Oh! Another new thing, all the extra chairs were outside on the sidewalk with tables, so the only one they had available for the open mic was a bar stool. Not that big of a deal, except that I've never played for people on a high chair like that and it takes a minute to sorta get used to it. It's actually a good height for me since I'm kinda tall, but also uncomfortable because you can't touch the ground and stabilize yourself, if needed. I ended up sticking my left leg out far and wide a couple times for pseudo-balance. I'm sure it looked ridiculous. Back to my set... I couldn't begin without first mentioning how I hadn't been there in almost a whole year and how good it was to be back and see some familiar faces. "This song is about... BETRAYAL (got an "oooh" from the crowd) ...very scary". And then we played New Song #1 [The Turnaround]. Shaky start when I completely goofed and sang verse 3 where verse 2 should go! I was able to sort of get out of that and then sing verse 2 where verse 3 went, but I messed up the pre-chorus lyrical part after that and actually sang at one point "I forgot the words", which someone giggled at. Plus some other major chord goofs and what-not. I finally found my groove halfway through, as the bridge -> last verse -> last chorus ended up solid. "Rock & roll!" Then I couldn't help but mention the shortened version of how I got kicked off the stage at my last open mic, for inappropriate material. Nick gave me some crowd support ("Where? Crossroads?! Fuck Crossroads!!") and I advised not going there if you were going to be singing about sexual frustration. I then introduced New Song #2 [More (For You)] as a "nice little non-sexual love song". It felt pretty good, I got some nice guitar-echo courtesy of Spacey behind the boards. I completely left out half of the 3rd pre-chorus, just skpped right over it! Other than that, some very minor lyric flubs and maybe a chord goof, but not much else - a pretty solid rendition of that one, especially since it's very new. Then I somehow felt it necessary to say that I've played Whiskey & Women at The Fire every time I've played out since it was written because it's one I can get through without fucking up (not even true!) and even went so far as to apologize to Spacey, who's had to hear it often ("if you even remember it"). Not only was that kinda stupid, I realized my jinx almost immediately and stopped to say "that means I'm gonna fuck it up, doesn't it?" Well, I got as far as halfway through the first verse after a rockin', confident start and blanked on the lyrics. Yep. I had to stop and say "see? I did it right there!" I refused to start over and just re-started where I stopped and it was ok from there. I still had the requisite chord change eff-ups, but mostly it was good except for when I almost dropped my pick whilst trying to tap-out the beat with my hand during the breakdown. I played the song about Mach 5 and it sounded tough and rockin'. Solid ending, good to go. Got one big "WOO!" I get back to my seat and BOTH the video camera and digital camera are off. This means two things: 1) the video camera was never on. I pushed the wrong button. I got squat. and 2) I ran out of space on the digital camera and didn't get the whole thing on tape, which I thought might happen anyway. I mainly wanted to use that video to get captures to use as pictures online. Lo and behold, two minutes after I figured out that I didn't get a full recording, Nick comes over to me and boldly says with a sly grin "you can put in your blog that I recorded you". Sweet! I asked him if it were possible for him to send me the files, since I screwed up my own recording... he said he could and I thanked him profusely for saving my ass. I remember him mentioning to me some time ago that he had invested in some recording gear, and I later saw his handy-dandy little MP3 recorder. Nice! (note: it makes a mean recording, too... better than my set-up). Before I left I got to hear Spacey play as well, and it was lovely - he's got a really nice fingerstyle. I also got to hear the most horrible rapper on earth, and it was awful beyond comprehension - including his vulgar and pornographic 2nd song, something about a "cocksucker's anthem" and his last tune, with the chorus "hate... is my friend, with a bullet in the head, you're dead". It was so bad, I wish I had videotaped him just to prove he existed. Wow. God bless open mics. I got home and went online to send some messages of thanks and found out Spacey isn't even the usual host anymore, and hasn't been since like May? Damn, that's some kinda karma that he was asked to fill in on the very day I show up for the first time in a year. I think it was all part of the divine plan to make me feel at ease. Hey, it worked. We're planning on playing every Monday in August, so see ya next week!
Venue : Crossroads Coffee House - Philly, PA
Gig : 2-song open mic set
Setlist : And I'm Not, What About Now
In Attendance : The Mrs. and perhaps 15-20 others
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio (listen to And I'm Not here!)
Notes : "It's our CD Release Show and we're the Featured Act at the Crossroads Coffee House open mic! We go on around 8, play four songs, and totally embarass ourselves! Right on!" - This is how we advertised our last gig of 2007. We had talked to the host of Crossroads' open mic over email and he added us to the lineup as the featured act, with a definite time slot and an extra song (all performers get 3 songs). But that's not quite how things went down. Nope. Not even close. I need to start from the beginning, though. Thursday is my usual day off. I had done a "day-switch" with a co-worker so I could have off on the previous Sunday and she could have off that Friday. Or so I thought it was Friday... because I found out about an hour after I was supposed to be at work that I was supposed to be at work. Apparently I had gotten it in my head that the day-switch was for Friday while it was actually for Thursday. I also need to tell you that I haven't played out live since August, and with all the time I've spent finishing up the new record and doing all the usual family holiday stuff, I haven't been up to snuff on my performance skills. I spent a large amount of time the previous couple of days working on the songs I was planning on performing, especially one that I hadn't ever really played before. I wasn't quite there yet, and I thought I had all day Thursday to polish up. But no, I ended up working all day. I should also mention that we picked Crossroads as a venue because it is located in the heart of the neighborhood I used to live in. It's about a block from the post office, a mile from my chiropractor, 6 blocks from my doctor... a friend I have that lives nearby said it was pretty nice, that they loved local musicians, and I was looking forward to supporting this new venue in a favorite place of mine in the city. Alright, so we get to Crossroads, plenty early, order some grub (the ham & cheese panini was delish!) and find out through overhearing and direct conversation that the usual host won't be making it in that night. Strike two. When the sign-up list came out and got around, it was obvious my "special" time slot was out the window. I didn't have the balls to tell the fill-in host that I was supposed to be getting the extra tune. He was kind of an odd guy, anyway. Plus, to be honest, I had told the usual host that he should hear me play before offering me a featured slot; I'm by no means a solid performer and I know my songs aren't for everybody. I was very much OK with being just a regular signer-upper. Although, I was quite proud and flattered to be the featured act; it's fun to say! But not being the feature took a little heat off of me, though, since I only needed to do 3 songs. I signed up 4th. The host opened things up, and he was *beyond* odd... very unique, though. Not only a strange way of singing, but he played guitar like I've never seen anyone play. The first few people up ranged from ok to pretty good, and I thought I was in decent company and could probably hold my own. One guy even had a slightly angry song about President Bush! Whiskey & Women would be a nice companion piece! Or so I thought. I finally get on, and opened up with a mini-monologue about how much I was bummed that I literally moved out of the neighborhood the same month that Crossroads opened. In fact, when I said it was my first time here, everybody clapped! I felt like I was in Acousticholics Anonymous or something. Oh! I should note the weird host guy really botched the name of the band. He practically said we were "Who/Hue" Down Here. I thought maybe he just didn't want to actually say the name. Perhaps my penmanship hadn't made it clear. He wasn't sure what was going on and why I didn't just use my name, and Steph even had to explain to him that it was a joke, but it was really me. He also said while I was setting up that my name has been there before..? I had misintrepreted it as my being already signed up as the featured act which he just didn't realize or it wasn't specified, but listening back to the tape, I think perhaps I had been accidentally put down as the featured act for the previous week. I believe the regular host had most likely improperly inferred that I was planning on being there on the 20th. That's in part due to the last email he sent that said "see you Thursday" which was sent BEFORE the 20th. It all makes sense now... Anyhoo, I said some more crap about the band and got on with playing my first song, And I'm Not. I had sorta played the song before (as a surprise 4th song of a planned 3-song set at The Fire), but really only the first two verses and not the entire last half of the song, which has a couple of additional mini-verses and a lengthy coda. I hadn't really learned how to play the whole song until after I finished recording it for the album, which just happened about 10 days prior. It was kinda fresh, but I also was a bit nervous about it. It's a good song, though, it's got some real chords and a nice ending (I think) and comes across well live, if I can pull it off. But... it also has the word "bitch", sung softly, which didn't occur to me as being a big deal. I finished the song (sorta sloppy, but semi-pulled off; two minor flubs, vocals not strong) and got some good applause, which I was thrilled with and gave a rousing "Woo! Rock and roll!" and then had some nice, goofy banter between songs. I talked about my new CD being the reason I was there and how "I record them in my basement, and burn them in my basement, have some 'for sale' in my basement (giggles all around)... and I have a few here! But I'm not selling them, they're not worth the print, so you can just have one... they'll be on that table, so if you're feeling brave, come by and don't look at me and just take one. But it rocks, there's lots of electric guitar, and fake drums! It's very exciting. There's one guitar solo, that's about all I could muster." I also had to do some serious tuning (and said "thanks for waiting"). But when I intro'd the next one (What About Now) as a song about "sexual frustration" - the host replied "keep it clean", semi-jokingly. Then I instantly felt guilty... I apologized for "that last one" and said it was indeed clean, which it is (no bad words, just bad... ideas?). I got a whistle from the crowd, though! I had played a "sexual" song at a previous coffeehouse open mic (most of my performances are at bars) and didn't get reprimanded, but that host later played a song called "Jesus In My Veins". I forget that places that AREN'T bars might have some kind of "conduct code" about the songs people play, and don't think of my tunes as being abbrasive or offensive. But I sometimes sing about religion (not positively!) and sex and occasionally curse. And when I finally made it through song #2, which took a little while thanks to my seriously fucking it up (which usually happens to my "solid" songs after I spend all my time worrying about the one that I think will cause me problems), some lady comes up to the host and is talking about "well, he's at 12 minutes". I didn't really catch it all, but then the host sidles up to me and is looking rather vexed about something, and starts to explain that he was gonna have to cut me short because I was starting to get tight on time... or whatever. "Too dirty for ya?" I asked sort of in jest before he starts to tell me they would love to have me back another time... I looked at him with complete incredulity for a minute until I realized he was actually kicking me off the stage. The next guy after me (an accordian player!) was apparently the featured act (though the host said it was a last-minute thing, which added to me thinking it was still supposed to be me), he did 4 songs and was asked to play a 5th! The two guys after him BOTH played extra songs. So I knew there was no way they were short on time. I was getting a little angry by that point. When what turned out to be the last performer was playing, the host then sidled up to me again, at our table, and tells me in a very hushed tone that "when Ian's done, the owner is going to leave, and you can do another song if you would like to". I was a little shocked as I hadn't really realized until then that he wasn't also in on the decision to stop me short. I later thought that was a nice gesture, and I thank him for that now, but then I was still pretty pissed so I just said "no thanks" and he said "alright, well... think about it, if you change your mind" and left. If he had asked me again, I probably would have - just to actually talk about getting kicked off an open mic stage! That, and also my last song was my best one and would have salvaged some of my dignity, maybe. But he just wrapped things up and that was that - I think because the owner hadn't actually left yet. I should also mention there were a couple of kids who showed up in the front row shortly after I played, though they definitely were NOT visible to me when I was playing. I can only guess maybe they were the owner's kids, and she showed up halfway through and caught me as I was doing my "dirty" song, or caught the "bitch" at the end of the first one as well... and just decided to lie about me being over time and stop me without any other reason or justification or explanation... because she thought my material was innapropriate. I definitely would have softened up the first song (I can say witch!) and probably not played the second had I known the children were in attendance. To end on a positive note, the last performer (Ian) was GREAT, and he was there without a guitar - he lives in Chicago and was with his parents, who I think were from Philly and knew some of the folks there (the host knew who Ian was, too) and he borrowed my guitar and played the freakin' shit ouf of it. He was super nice, and his folks came up to me as we were gathering up our stuff and said nice things to me about my songs. His dad even said I reminded him of Lou Reed (side note - the second time that's happened! Which is great, I guess, but I actually hate Lou Reed. I digress). So I handed him a CD and said "thanks a lot, hey here ya go". No one else came to take a CD. I also invited a bunch of my friends but no one could make it. But the accordian guy did say to me on the way out "you sounded great, man". Thanks, dude. Those open mic'ers are very polite and pseudo-supportive. You can check out my first full-version of And I'm Not over here.
I don't think we'll be going back to Crossroads again anytime soon. And Steph said their hot chocolate sucks.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set
Setlist : Summer Of '69 [Bryan Adams], Whiskey & Women (Lounge Remix version), Inverted
In Attendance : Wifey, Chris Law and a smidgen of others
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio (listen to Summer of '69 + Whiskey & Women here!)
Notes : I learned yet another valuable lesson tonight (see below for valuable lessons #1 and #2). Even if you get there before the signup time, and even if the list isn't out, that doesn't mean the bartender doesn't have it at the bar and there aren't already 8 people signed up. We (with Chris Law back for more) kinda hung around waiting for a band to finish rehearsing in the performance room (turned out to be the brother of the owner's band) and didn't see a list until somebody came up to the bar and asked - and received! So I straddled up there and guess what - slots 2 through 10 already filled. First again! damnit. Well, at least we won't be there til 2 am and didn't get shut out, but I'd much rather go 2nd or 3rd. Ok then... we had to sit around for some time and wait for that band to finally get out; they went past 9 and that's when the open mic is scheduled to start. People finally start to sorta shuffle in and we did some more sitting around and I didn't get on until something like 9:40. And then there was some more feedback trouble, so it took some tweaking to get it all OK but Spacey's back there looking like he's still working on sound levels and such but he's really just waiting on me but I don't know it... so I'm doing stupid shit and wasting everyone's time. The guitar mic was finally cool and then I hit the vocal mic with a "yeah!" and it was kinda hot, so I waited a bit for that... Spacey asked me to "just check it for 30 seconds" and I started to sorta play generic chords and sang "this is a fake song... about nothing... la la la la la", which was beyond outrageously stupid. FINALLY just up and went for it and ripped into Summer of '69 which I literally just officially learned the night before. It's not difficult, and I know the words, but it was a little frightening. I saw Steph bow her head in shame when I started it... here I thought she liked to sing along to songs she knew and then afterwards she ended up complaining about covers and cover bands. So confused. Anyway, I do it fairly straight up but with a bit of a twist on some of the vocal arrangements; less highs and more somber. The high notes are tough. I play mute chords almost the whole song, too. It's fun as hell to play, I admit. Didn't get much of a reaction from the small crowd... I was hoping for some sing alongs. Vocals were kinda weak until I found my pitch... I was kinda digging it, then. In the breakdown in the middle where there's a keyboard solo or whatever it is... I just played the two guitar chords and said "in 1969... Bryan Adams was 9 years old". Which is totally true. At the end of the tune, I said "...gave it a shot! I don't know what he was doing working at a drive-in at 9 years old, unless he just made that up... which is possible." Then I just went straight into my new version of Whiskey & Women, which I really enjoy. One and a half major chord flubs, but the words were (mostly) great. OK vox. I mixed up the bridge vocals and really punctuated them on the short chords. Kinda funky. Aww yeah. Another no-response to the cocaine line, but decent appluase after the song. Got a big phat WOO! though. I said "that was the longest applause I've ever received, thank you very much" - only slightly sarcastically. Then I realized how out of tune the guitar was, and Spacey and I had a little exchange about tuning... he said "we got time". So I did my best and wasted some more time but got it semi-OK. Close enough. "Anybody still with me?" - I got at least one clap and one other "woo!" Fuck yeah. Song #3: "This is a song I've never played for anybody... it's called Inverted. it's called out of tune." More tuning. Then rocking. I dig that new song immensely. It's aggressive and fun. I didn't pull it off very cleanly, though... a few little slips mixed in throughout, but actually nothing very horrible - not quite ready for your ears, yet. Steph even said later that she "liked that new song", which is much more than she ever says, if anything positive. Polite applause, and then me saying "That was sort of what it's supposed to sound like... peace out". There you go, after a long twenty minutes. I'm definitely seeing the effects of a little practice and more frequent open mics, these last couple performances are much better than the previous two.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 2-song open mic set
Setlist : Whiskey & Women (Lounge Remix version), You Don't Mess Around With Jim [Jim Croce]
In Attendance : The Mrs, Chris Law and a smattering of other folks
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio (listen to my Jim Croce cover here!)
Notes : I learned a valuable lesson on July 23rd. If the door is shut, that doesn't mean the list isn't out. I learned another valuable lesson on July 30th. The bartender likes to put the list out early. We tried to play at the open mic on July 23rd, but I waited too long (or got there way too late, or a combination of both) to check for the list and by the time I saw it, there were already at least 10 straight people signed up with no open spots. That would put me on at sometime around... midnight, and that wasn't gonna happen. Spacey was keeping the door shut to the performance room so I thought we were kinda supposed to stay out, which wasn't really the case. We hung out for a bit and caught a few acts, including the first one up who was a female singer and male guitarist and they were really groovin'. Caught a bit of Nick's set, too. Anyhoo... we came back a week later, with a Chris Law in tow! Steph wanted to invite him to hang, and I was totally down, so we offered and he was game. We got there about the same time but I went straight for the list and STILL found around 8-9 people signed up, but at least slot #1 was open. Not ideal, but we'll take it. This is when Spacey told me the girly bartender has taken to putting the list out early (before the "scheduled" time of 8:30). Good to know. There ended up being something like 20 people signed up... CRAZY! So Spacey told me a little before it started that it was gonna be a 2-song kinda night. No sweat - less songs for me to potentially screw up. Took a few minutes as usual to tweak the equipment... feedback galore... it's always nice going first and being the guinea pig. While sorta soundchecking and waiting for Spacey to tweak knobs, I played the NBC theme song. Nobody noticed. ;-) I introduced myself as HdH, "my own band... as most of us are." Finally got the first song going and I decided to do a slow-down, loungey-kinda remix version of Whiskey & Women (intro'd as "a song about our beloved president"), which just means it was easier for me to sing and play it without trying to totally rock it out. I got to change some inflections just a bit, too, which makes it fun. This wasn't just spur of the moment - I'm not that good. It was kinda planned and even sorta rehearsed. It didn't go too poorly, either - of course, with a few chord goofs as per my usual. I was perhaps singing a little too timidly, though. And it was probably the first time nobody laughed at the "I haven't done the amount of cocaine required" line. Ah well. Spacey was the only one who usually laughed and he's heard it too many times by now. Pretty chatty crowd. I did get a WOO! at the end. I decided to forego the other HdH original I had planned for the 3rd song and do the Croce cover again... "this is a Jim Croce song, one of my favorites... I apologize to Jim Croce fans in attendance..." - that got a very slight but discernably audible giggle from Steph. A much better version than last time... it wouldn't have been bad at all had I not totally knocked my hand into the guitar mic TWICE. Not singing very confidently, either. But I did nail the lyrics and most of the chords. Polite applause, and that was that.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set
Setlist : Whiskey & Women, Going To, You Don't Mess Around With Jim [Jim Croce]
In Attendance : My wife and a solid crowd of 20 people
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio (listen to the entire set here!)
Notes : So we were away from the stage for over two months, we planned on playing a cover we've never played for anyone before, and breaking out an old song we only played a couple years ago that sounded like poo at the time. Recipe for disaster? No, how about a nice melange? Well, sort of. It wasn't all that bad, dare I say relatively solid (for me). Felt so good about it, I put up the entire set for download! Crazy! (three separate songs, plus all of the cut-out dialogue and song-flubs in one highlight banter reel). Even got a few laughs during my time with my amazing wit (hah) - though they were mostly Steph, probably. Got a choice slot in the sign-up sheet (4th), not too early and not too late... let's rock. No major equipment quirks, in fact I noticed the guitar mic was new and Spacey mentioned they got a bunch of new mics. Right on. He made sure I could hear myself nice and good (which I could, but also could hear the in-between-sets-CD playing softly through the monitor... "that's not the back up band, right?"... "my bad" - Spacey) and we were off. I got in one "Vote for Nutter" right off the bat and rolled right into Whiskey & Women (though I noticed the guitar was possibly a bit out of tune). Banged my way through the tune and only had really two flubs, both at "breaks" in the song, beginning the 2nd verse and at the start of the bridge. I caught them pretty quickly and just stopped and re-started quickly without really breaking the flow too horribly. Steph actually laughed out loud at them both - the first one I stopped, mid-verse and deadpanned "that's not the right lyric!" just before hitting the correct one; the second time I was a little more mad at myself and said "fucked it up again". Otherwise, it was pretty solid and rockin' - still getting laughs after the "cocaine" remark. [I was able to edit out the flubs and make it seem almost seamless in the MP3 file available for download, ah the magic of digital editing!] After the tune, I was fucking around wasting time and trying to quick-tune the strings and said "that's grossly out of tune... because I just beat the fuck out of it" (nice laugh or two) and then "that's a song about George Bush... if you didn't know... he's my buddy... " (got some giggles) and "not one mention of the war in Iraq, though! I was very proud of myself for that. that's another song." And apparently, one dude in the crowd thought this was insanely funny. Not quite sure why. And then we rolled right into "this is a song about an ex-girlfriend... sort of..." - Going To. Not horrible, it sounds much better with drums and other embelishments on the soon-to-be album version... but I can live with it. Right in the drop-out where I sing/yell "I have yet to SINK down to your level!", somebody nearby must have been getting a cellphone call or something because on the tape, there's lots of that weird tweaky flibbed interference sound totally ruining the song! It's kinda funny, really, but annoying. Hear it for yourself. Made it through that with only one minor chord error, and intro'd the last song as "a song I did not write, by a local singer/songwriter named Jim." I was being vague, but Jim Croce is local (born in South Philly - he graduated from Upper Darby high school!) and then also "I'm banking on at least 1 or 2 people recognizing it... so sing along! because you'll probably sound better than me... if I don't totally trash it". And then I played my first real full-length cover song. "Karate" didn't really cut it since it's like 4 chords on repeat for about 1 and a half minutes. Anyway, I absolutely love that song and was thrilled it was simple enough for me to try and play and it didn't even sound all that bad. I goofed on a couple lyrics but mostly kept the song together. I'll play it again. I was pretty happy I made it through it, so at the end when people were clapping, I was all "not bad... first time I ever played that in front of people!!" and got some extra-applause for that. And another "peace out... Vote For Nutter!" - got a couple "woo"s, too! Or maybe Nutter did. See ya next time!
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set
Setlist : Still With You, What About Now, Whiskey & Women
In Attendance : My lovely wife and perhaps 15 other fine people
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio
Notes : Not bad, getting better. Deja vu all over the place, though. We arrive to a very empty bar and the music room is actually closed - a few musically-looking people are milling around, in and out of doors and such. So we're hanging out in the bar, watching Deal or No Deal on mute (with captions). The door eventually opens and I head in after a couple minutes... somehow (this happens every time) there is no one in there but 5-6 people are already signed up. Slots 1 and 2 are open. I take #2. Back to the bar. We wait as long as we think we should (it's well after 9 at this point, supposed to start at 9) and head in, still no one is in there (except for Spacey and Nick, jamming in the back room). We set up in the front at our usual front corner table and do some more waiting. Nick sits down at the table next to us and that's basically it. Apparently nobody took slot #1, so I was first AGAIN, because Spacey comes up and says something like "you're first on the list... it's 9:30 already... do you want to just play or wait for some other people, I know people are coming, they're just not here yet..." and I kinda look at Steph to see what she thinks but she does that "what are you looking at me for?" attitude thing and I tell him I'll wait a few minutes. He's cool with that. Steph murmurs something about "people are assholes anyway, just play without 'em". She would rather be home about 10 minutes after we get there, pretty much every time. A few people do finally show up, so I'm good to go and hop on stage. Spacey had already gotten the guitar cords out and ready and then I told him I couldn't plug in. He said something about my guitar still having battery problems and I said "yeah, I finally figured out my pickup is broken" and he said "that happened to me, too, once. it sucks." Doh. He gets back to the mixing board and I'm kinda waiting on him to give the go ahead and it's deadly quiet. A few people had made it in the room but it was like a funeral in there. I tried to lighten the mood by "shhhhhh..."-ing in the mic but it didn't exactly go over. I asked him if I was good to go and he said yeah, but there was a little feedback correction needed on the guitar and mic; then we were rollin'. Sorta. I start out with Still With You, which is a great guitar song for me because it's sorta got some good, real chords in there, it's rhythmic and sounds nice. The vocal arrangement is ok if not a little boring, but the lyrics are whiny and goofy and I kinda know that. Oh well. It is what it is, which is a song about the boyfriend of a girl I used to have a major crush on. I kind of like that perspective... it's about her, but it's really TO him. I start playing and something doesn't really sound right with the guitar... something is off in the tuning, so I stop quickly and try to figure it out, but I can't. So I pretty much just go with it and hope for the best. Extended the intro a bit before I hit the verse. It's not bad... I inverted the first two post-verse lines but recovered... the rest is going relatively well until the last chorus and I lose my place in the chord structure and completely fuck up the last 4-5 chords, I mean not one of them was remotely even close to being right. Got out of it as quickly as I could and the song ended fine. No biggie. Vocals weren't feeling or sounding great but the first song never does. Straight into What About Now and things are going swell until I notice my vocals in the monitor are starting to sound fuzzy about 4 lines in... so I stop. Spacey's all "yeah, I don't know what that is..." - "that's fuzzy" was my reply. "Yeah..." he said, "keep talking into it, please? I'm sorry" - so then I say "Sure, I can do that - for a little while. I may run out of stuff to say though, because I'm not very talkative." He laughs and says "I think I got it. I don't know what that was, I'm really sorry about that." It was all good to me "ok, that's cool, I got time." a pause, and then "I'm gonna start over. Right on." Got Steph to giggle on that last one. So back to What About Now, which was all fine and ok but nothing spectacular. I was late on the 1st line of the 4th verse. Listening to the tape, the mic vocals still weren't all that great. Got solid applause from the 6 people who were listening (attentively) and I said "you're very kind, I appreciate that". Right after I finished the song, Spacey comes running up to the stage, "let me just fix something real quick..." and starts messing with something on the amps. I'm trying to introduce him, like "Mr. Spacey Raygun, on the... equipment!" but it doesn't fly. He said something about "that channel was messed up" and so I say "that sounds about right" and then I realize... "so you're saying I sound like shit? that was just me." and he goes "oh, can you do distorted voices? who do you think you are, Physical Illusion?" with a giggle. and I say "no, I'm not" in my best disorted voice, which of course sounds like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. So I say "that was like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget" which got better laughs then anything else I said. Someone in the crowd says "I'll get you next time Gadget!" and I say "Next time!" and added a "reowr!" in my best cat-noise impression. 'Cause Dr. Claw had a cat named MAD Cat (apparently) that always meowed viciously right after he said that. That got lots of laughs, too. Or maybe because I meowed like a cat and I'm 32 years old. Making sure the fixes were done... "All set?" "yeah." "OK". So here we go with song #3, and it's Whiskey and Women, AGAIN. Not a stellar start, with some tough times getting back into the F barre chord that dominates the verses. Once I got out of the 2nd verse, it was pretty solid. When I hit the big funny line in the bridge about not doing the "amount of cocaine required", Spacey laughed out loud (like he does every time) and I felt like I needed to acknowledge his appreciation of the joke, so I said mid-song "thanks for laughing". Which kinda threw off the song mood, I think. Finished it off and that was that. Don't know if it's worthy of being uploaded... ah, what the hell, there you go. Thank you, and I'm done.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 4-song open mic set
Setlist : Never Better, My Sister & Her God, And I'm Not, Whiskey & Women
In Attendance : My gorgeous wife and about 6 other die-hards
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio
Notes : It's like a comedy of errors, every time I try to play a song. I swear. It was a very cold February evening, but only the few and the proud showed up for this open mic at The Fire. I signed up in the 3rd slot (a few people were already on the list, but slots 1-3 were open) and there was nobody there. A few people showed up and eventually we got going. Spacey then informed us we could all play 4 songs each since there were so few people signed up. The first two slots were filled in by the time it got going, and the first guy up was probably half drunk. He was a goofy, giddy drunk, though. He had two buddies with him that were just there for support and not to play, and one of them was a very talkative dude. He was chatting up Steph and I as we were all hanging out and waiting to begin. Steph said he looked like a heckler so I asked him as much, jokingly I thought - but he seemed to take some offense to it. Well maybe, it was hard to tell how drunk HE was. Anyhow, his buddy got the ball rolling finally and began with a very sloppy cover of Hootie & The Blowfish's "Let Her Cry". Sloppy would be a generous adjective. He kinda butchered it, but it was done with love. He played a few more songs that I could hardly decipher, but one of them was about smoking weed. He mercifully left the stage and then Spacey informed me that the second guy who signed up had left, so it was all me. Alrighty. Now, before we left for the gig, I had switched batteries in my guitar (see last gig entry). I know the battery was fresh and good to go. I neglected to actually test it out in my own amp, however. But I was pretty sure I had it in correctly, though I brought a screwdriver just in case I put it in backwards. I wasn't too worried about it until I plugged in (and of course, told Spacey that I had a new battery, facetiously) and he told me he was only getting a very faint signal. He made sure my volume knob wasn't turned all the way down (it wasn't) and then changed channels again before I asked Steph to get the screwdriver out of my coat (I said "honey, can you...?" and Spacey inadvertantly thought I was calling him "honey". I don't know you that well, Space). She didn't know I even brought it or which pocket it was in, so after a minute she just brought me the whole coat. Meanwhile, the heckler guy was giving me support throughout ("it doesn't sound loud, it's just acoustic loud... this room is good enough for acoustic") when I wasn't getting a signal, and ("you need a philips or a flathead? I got a swiss army knife.") when I needed a screwdriver. Thanks, dude. But Spacey needed it mic'ed to broadcast the sound in the bar... so after I changed the battery around and it still didn't work, we just went with the guitar mic again. At least it didn't take as long as last month. But it still took some time, and since I start recording on the camcorder before I even get on stage, I wasted over 4 minutes on tape doing nothing but trying to get sound. Thus, because I only had 17 minutes left on the tape (plenty of time for 3 songs, with some flub time) - and it was a four-song night (a rarity) - I did not have enough tape to record all 4 songs. And since I wanted to end my little set with Whiskey & Women, I played that last. But I also wasn't thinking clearly when I did that, because I really would have preferred getting that song on tape as opposed to most of the rest. Anyhoo. I finally got going and said "I'm in a fake band called Huge Down Here. But I'm very real." and The Heckler said "is this band a lie or is it true?" and I didn't really hear him, so Steph stepped in (thanks babe!) and said "he is the band. the band is him". I said "I am Huge Down Here. I'm just saying." I got tired of bullshitting, so after a pause, I said "I'm gonna play a song." and then I got a little nervous. I took a breath to start singing but had to stop and re-start. Steph giggled. And then I went right into Never Better, which starts with a lyric before the guitar kicks in. And I won't lie to you, it didn't really sound all that good. I had a couple of mandatory goofs. It wasn't horrible, just kinda blah. The siren in the Firehouse next door went off about 20 seconds before the song ended. Weird. I asked for a monitor volume adjustment and went straight into the intro for MS&HG. In recent practices, I started doing the opening notes in a muted double-strum. It's hard to desribe, but I guess if they were once quarter notes, they're now sixteenth notes. It jazzes it up a bit. The song was ok the rest of the way. I think The Heckler kinda laughed at the "punch him in the face" line. I omitted the last "have you heard the one about...?" line that always had ended the song. I was enjoying the muted chords in that refrain and I swear Spacey had turned up the reverb in the guitar when I was doing it, so it sounded kinda cool. I said "thanks" after I realized what he did to the sound. I said "that's a happy song about my dead sister!" during the applause... then The Heckler said "way to kill the mood!" and so I retorted "yeah!! thanks for not heckling!", which he greatly enjoyed. And so I then called an audible and said "I'm gonna play the elusive 4th song, in the 3rd slot... just so ya know". When I found out we were doing 4 songs, Steph had asked "can you do 4 songs? you don't have another one ready do you?" or something less supportive. I have about 20 songs I can play, but at any given open mic I usually just prepare for what I plan to play, usually 2 or 3 tunes, although I could probably pull off another one or two. I don't practice as much as I should. So I thought about it and decided to pull out "And I'm Not", which I knew off the bat I wouldn't be able to actually sing all the lyrics. I just don't know them all. But I figured the beginning was good enough that I could just jam out the end chords and forget the end lyrics and just go with it - well, if I could remember all the chords. I've never played it for people. What the hell. So I started it and then of course when it came time for the words to begin, I blanked out. I stopped and then I deadpanned: "I'm gonna start that over." Steph giggled. Do-over, and while I was re-playing the intro I had to remember what I was supposed to sing, and luckily I did. And it sounded kinda good. This is a song that has a lot of real chords and I dig the vocal arrangement, I was really proud of it when I wrote it. The first half is vastly different from the last half, though, and I never really committed to memory any of the lyrics after the 2nd chorus - the two halves were written largely separate from each other. It also took me a second to remember how the 2nd verse began, but I simply prolongued the segway chords while I remembered (and said "hang on...") - Steph (and others!) giggled again. I was digging it until I had to come out of the 2nd chorus. There were many stops and starts and messed up chord changes after that but I played mostly what it should have been, minus all the lyrics. At one point there was a quiet moment and The Heckler started clapping... I grinned and said "psych!" as I continued playing. He was like, woops. At the end, he actually said "psych?" before I said "there ya go" and the applause kicked in. hehe. I said "there's a bunch more lyrics and stuff in there but I don't know 'em yet. I did write that." The Heckler said "good stuff" as he laughed at my remark - "thanks". I began to gear up for Whiskey & Women, which I still contend will be a great song once I figure out how to get through it all. So I said "all right, I've played this a couple times here but I've never completed it without fucking it up. Take three right here." More laughter from The Heckler. And then I got through 3 seconds of the chords to the song and ran out of tape. And it was a solid version! OK, it wasn't perfect, but it was mostly complete. I think. I don't really remember, I just remember it being better than the previous two... but we'll never know because I didn't get it. A good excuse to go back. The guys who came with the first performer all left right after I finished, so there were literally I think 3 people in the room when Nick (Physical Illusion) got up to play. Spacey had to go in the bar and rustle up some listeners. A few folks came back in and we were treated to a nice set from Nick. He had plenty of people singing along. He's a Fire God. Spacey was getting ready to play and Steph and I just kinda decided to bolt, slightly in a bad-manners kinda way, but it was already creeping up on 11 pm and Steph was out of beer money. Sorry, Space. None of my songs were all that great, or at least not any better than any of the other live versions I already put online, so no MP3s from this one. Better luck next time.
Venue : The Fire - Philly, PA
Gig : 3-song open mic set
Setlist : The No-Show, Temperature, Whiskey & Women
In Attendance : My hot wife and maybe 20 others
Proof : digital photos, digital video/audio (listen to Temperature here!)
Notes : If you were there, you might've thought I was not the least bit into it. I swear I was... I blame the batteries. And my complete lack of rehearsal. Things started off fine enough, we got there early, got a great slot (#2!) and hung out at the bar (Steph says "hooray!") before heading in for the open mic. Nick was there, and a bunch of folks I didn't recognize, and then I heard the voice. That guy who was there at the first Fire open mic we attended... The Crazy Ranter (see 9/26/05 entry). I knew it before I even saw him. I told Steph immediately when we sat down and she was pretty psyched. It was also my first time back since Nate the host left and moved to Brooklyn. We weren't sure who was running the show now, but I swear I heard/saw Nate talking to Spacey Raygun (one of the regulars; real name - Jason something) about some kinda technical issue last time we were there. Sure enough, he's the new host. And apparently with that comes a brand new, very short haircut. Kinda threw me off. Yeah, let's blame the haircut, not the batteries! OK, so I'm up on stage, ready to rock, plug in... no signal. Spacey changes channels on the amp, no signal. I haven't changed my battery in some time (all acoustic guitars that plug in require a battery, usually a 9-volt, in my case one AA) and it's quite probable that it's dead, since I rarely if ever check and make sure. So I tell Mr. Raygun that I didn't check my battery, after he's done a couple things back and forth to try and fix the problem, then he takes off and says "I think I have one of those!" and I'm all "uh, it's double A" and he says "what? double A? I definitely don't have one of those" and I'm all "yeah, I know, it's weird". Then, Crazy Ranter guy tells Spacey that he has a double A battery. I actually have some kind of false epiphany and tell him it takes two batteries (which it doesn't) and the guy actually pulls out two double A batteries. From his pocket. Or bag. Or whatever. Apparently he just walks around with batteries. OK! So I put one in (after some time consuming, laborious procedures to get the damn cap off the battery on my guitar, using my guitar pick and a fingernail) and Spacey goes back to check, and still no signal. Didn't want to try the other battery and waste another 12 minutes, and Spacey's getting a little tired of my BS so we both agree I'll just use the guitar mic instead. No problem. Get it in place and I'm good to go. I could have been done by now. I apologize for the delay. Spacey says "Huge Down Here, everybody!" and I get nothin'. He then says "you got a 'woo' from the bathroom". heh, thanks. Went right into The No-Show, which for whatever reason had a very extended intro (which is of course one measly little chord). I finally start singing and something just wasn't feeling right. I dunno. I hit a wrong chord at the change in the verse. I hit the right chord and something sounded a little off. And then I got to the 3rd verse and it completely left my mind. So I just played the verse riff and sang nothing, got to the bridge and just went right into that. It ended ok, thank goodness it's a short song. I was upset with myself that I didn't rehearse it hardly at all and thus forgot some of the lyrics. I hate being unprepared, and it's not a hard song. Ah well. I said after that, "I forgot the third verse. seems to happen." And from then on I was a little bummed, and it kinda shows on the video. Not exactly my most animated gig. Strangely enough, I'm not sure why, but the applause after that first song lasted way longer than it usually does. I don't know who was clappin'. Next was Temperature, which hasn't been played in its entirety since July - I had that whole thing back then about forgetting lyrics (yeah, again) and then finally did it completely with out screwing it up and put the MP3 online. Except that there were microphone issues that night and there was way too much reverb on the guitar and it sounded weird. So we have the new recording equipment now, and I thought I'd get a decent sounding version to replace the other one. I rehearsed it ever so slightly (in part) the day of the gig, but that was pretty much it. Somehow I made it through the whole thing with very minor goofs. I think there were maybe two brief chord fumbles but all the words were pretty much good to go. Sweet! It doesn't even sound that bad (except for more slightly out-of-tune-ness). Take a gander. I also said "thanks; I remembered most of the words to that one." After that tune, I tried to check out my strings, but they sounded ok individually. Still not quite right as a chord. Ah well, the show must go on. Rolled right into Whiskey & Women, which I think is gonna be a great performance song... if I ever remember all of the damn thing. It's got energy and I love playing it, I just can't get the fuckin' thing right. This time there were too-early chord changes in the first verse, a lyric drop in the chorus that took some time as I kept playing the chorus chords repeatedly before I fit it back in, and that sort of discouraged me. The second verse was great, the pre-chorus was fine, the chorus was ok (slight delay in one line), the bridge began fine except for the out-of-tune string getting more out of tune. When I hit the drop in the bridge (where it gets semi-quiet) instead of just holding the chords, I also hit the guitar with my fist 4 times for each drop (like tapping out the beat). It's something I toyed with doing when I rehearsed it recently, and it worked nicely. Steph pointed it out and said she liked it, so it must be good if she actually mentioned it. More out of tune strings in the bridge, though. The bridge lyrics ("I just haven't done the amount of cocaine required") got a big laugh and some claps from Spacey and one other unidentified person, so that was pretty sweet that somebody got the joke. The song ended strong (it's got a great last chord, BAM!) if not out of tune and the mild applause was a bit of relief. I'm done. Whew. It's time to shed. (that's "practice".) I get back to my seat, Steph goes to the bathroom after complaining about the super annoying chatty people right behind her (who were up next) and I proceed to try and get that battery out of the guitar so I can give them back to the Crazy Ranter. It took my keys this time to unscrew the battery cap, but I finally got it out and before I could even put the cap back on, dude walks over to my table to retrieve them. I was gonna go give them to him but apparently he just couldn't wait to have his dead batteries back (I've been sitting down about 2 minutes at this point). And then he gave me this look of severe suspicion and said "weren't the ones I gave you Maxell?" And I can't believe he's questioning that I actually might have switched out his batteries for another pair. I said very enunciatedly "those are the ones he gave me that you gave to him. ("are you sure?") Yes, that's them. That's it". And he still stood there an extra second before he took them and left. Right. OK then! The next guys up were an acoustic guitar/didgeridoo duo! Hell yeah. Not bad, though when Steph figured out they were the ones who were talking during EVERYBODY else's set, she was hella pissed and says she should have talked overly loud while they were playing. Next time, baby! We stuck around for more performances than usual, and had a good time... we missed the Crazy Ranter's set, though.
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