original. acoustic. music.

Gigs and News

We played two gigs at the San Francisco Bath House recently - one Monroe's Deviant Jamm gig and then a slot at Acoustic Alchemy 2010.

We were set to play second in both gigs but ended up playing first both times because the first acts couldn't make it. This was fine - both acts had valid reasons for not turning up and Darrel and I travel light enough to be able to plug in and play at short notice - but playing first without having time to get settled or, more often than not, opening to an empty house, can get a little demoralising.

This time of year when Wellingtonians are fed up to the back teeth with Winter and can't be bothered to leave the comfort of home to go and listen to music they've never heard before and/or doesn't have a beat you can dance to and/or nod your dreads and/or stroke your beard to and/or wear your lenseless Buddy Holly glasses (like, Buddy, wuh?) to, and it's too early anyway and let's just stay at home and watch TV... audiences are a little thin on the ground.

That said, we do, and always will, appreciate those who come out to see us, whether they're there for us or not, and we REALLY appreciate those who come out specifically to see us. Without you guys there isn't really much point going out ourselves.

Both gigs went well, Darrel and I are continuing to relax into the material and explore its dynamics, and we're having fun doing it.

We played two sets for the MDJ gig, one either side of yet another great performance for the (drummer-less unfortunately) Apricot Jamm. They are taking a short time off from their originals to pay off the last of their PA with the proceeds from upcoming covers gigs. I, for one, am hoping that the hiatus won't be for too long.

Our first set played to a crowd who had turned up for Happy Hour and promptly left when it ended, although one or two people stayed behind along with the members of the Apricot Jamm and the inimitable and indomitable Pete Baillie who had just closed the Acoustic Lounge earlier that evening.We started with Mistakes I've Made Before which is our opener du jour but deviated from our set list a little to cover the extra time we had, finishing the first set with All About You.

Apricot Jamm's set rocked even without their drummer and standout songs for me were Star and Live Before I Die, which has an excellent a cappella reprise in the outro. We took the stage again and began with Give Up All the Time in the World, a song we haven't played in a long time.

As we had more time up our sleeve we decided to play a couple of favourites, If the Stars, and Photograph, but that night they came out somewhat differently from how we normally play them. Pete Baillie had dared Darrel to sing one of our songs as Sylvester Stallone and Darrel quietly mentioned it to me as we launched into If the Stars. My Sylvester Stallone impression is a bit crap, and it was clear in the first few seconds that Sly just wasn't going to do the song justice, so I switched to my impression of Brad Roberts, lead singer of The Crash Test Dummies - much better suited, I thought, to that song. Mr. Roberts sang the first verse to the delight of the audience and, with their suggestion and encouragement, Sean Connery and Billy Connolly (or pastiches thereof) sang the second verse.

Listening back to the recording of that gig it is gratifying to hear that although we murdered the vocals, the guitar work was near flawless throughout. Buoyed by that success (?) I launched into Photograph as Eddie Vedder, but didn't keep it up until the end as the moment had passed.

Perhaps the greatest part of the night, and one of the best experiences we've had for a long time, was when we called up Mike from Apricot Jamm to play guitar for us in Free Bird as we had done at the Ruby Lounge gig earlier. We were about to start when Morgan and Scott came up also, contributing keyboard and bass parts respectively as Darrel called out the changes behind me. Mike took his solo and then Morgan fired up a blistering keyboard solo before we all brought the song to its conclusion. It was absolutely brilliant, and a testament to the skill of the Apricot Jamm-ers improvising their way through the song so well - had we not run out of lyrics we'd probably have jammed out for hours.

Acoustic Alchemy is a collection of some of the best performers from the Acoustic Lounge chosen by the host and co-ordinator extraordinaire Pete Baillie. Our first Acoustic Alchemy was three years ago, our first taste of the Big League as far as we were concerned, playing alongside the likes of Darren Watson, Pixie, and The Thomas Oliver Band. Although every gig is a gig you don't want to bomb, Acoustic Alchemy is one of those gigs you must bring your A-game to or you just won't rate - as a performer you don't know who will be playing until a few weeks before, which is exciting, and more often than not you may never have heard of the other performers until they play, and more often than not they blow you away.

This year's crop were no exception: Louis Baker, a soulful voice and an excellent dynamic command of the guitar; Rosé, catchy melodic pop songs with great performances all round; and Josh Mason & Karl Lavo, deep, dark, emotive ballads on keys and guitar.

Despite a few technical difficulties the night went well - the audience was sparse but enthusiastic, and though we felt relaxed in our time on stage we decided to eschew the impressions this time around and concentrated on our own performance. The recording of this gig stands out as one of our best. It was great to see those who came out to support us, it's just a shame there were so few.

In other, rather embarrassing news: I discovered the next day that the CD I had made for the MDJ gig at the Ruby Lounge weeks before was defective. The tracks from Monroe and Apricot Jamm were fine, but the two tracks of ours had come out at the wrong speed - our voices and guitars are almost a tone lower than usual. Everything is in tune with everything else, it's just s-l-o-w and l-o-w, or to quote Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf, we sound "like Paul Robeson on dope".It seems I had mastered the tracks at 24-bit, 48kHz instead of 16-bit, 44.1kHz which is the proper rate for CD mastering. The CD burning software assumed that, as the rest of the tracks were at the proper rate, ours were too and had burned the lot as normal. D'oh!!

If you bought one of these CDs at the gig and want to get one with our stuff at the right speed please leave a comment or get in touch with me some other way and I'll send you a new CD.