Sunday, April 02, 2006

From where I sit, behind the drums & percussion

From where I sit, behind the drums & percussion, my band, Triage, keeps getting better & fresher every time we play for people. I take this as a good sign, as we’ve been playing the same basic set (with numerous variations) since November--for 5 months at least. This Triage-band-experiment-thing has so far remained fun & exciting for me since we started it, soon after Hurricane Katrina; it has certainly been what Kelly calls "musical triage" (meaning a finding of "where it hurts" & a beginning of inner healing) for me, & I believe, for my bandmates, as well: Robert (guitar, lead vocals), Kelly (lead guitar, vocals), & Charlotte (lead vocals, tambourine, shakers); also, Kathy, our special guest congaist/percussionist, seems to have really enjoyed the few times she has performed with us. Here’s the set-list (& some photos) from our latest performance, at the Herb & Garden Festival in Ocean Springs, Mississippi:

TRIAGE (Charlotte, Robert, Kelly, Gary, plus Kathy)
Set-List (with 2 songs written by Charlotte) March 2006
Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay (Steve Cropper-Otis Redding)
Horse with No Name (Dewey Bunnell)
Fields of Gold (Sting)
Here Comes the Sun (George Harrison)
Mississippi (Charlotte Cooper)
Country State of Mind (Roger Alan Wade, Hank Williams, Jr.)
Landslide (Stephanie Nicks)
Lonely People (Dan & Catherine Peek) [by America]
Passionate Kisses (Lucinda Gaye Williams)
Shower the People (James Taylor)
Umbrella (Charlotte Cooper)
Teach Your Children (Graham Nash)
Feelin’ Alright (Dave Mason)
You’ve Got a Friend (Carole King)
Give Me One Reason (Tracy Chapman)
Closer To Fine (Amy Ray -Emily Saliers)
Bobby McGee (Foster-Kristofferson-Mehdi)

We played straight through the list, ending with a rousing, stomping "Give Me One Reason". Our hour was gone, 15 songs, the festival day over, 5pm; we didn’t get to the last 2 numbers, or the dozen & more others we were ready to go with should the situation arise. We felt very good about it all; we’d even had a generous "sound man", who worked well with us at an indoor gig last fall, come by to give us a critical listen at our last practice; & an old friend of the band handled the sound board for us, & for other acts, there at the outdoor gazebo stage at the Herb Fest.

Everyone told me I sounded good & played well; Robert, especially, told me that was the best I had ever played with them, as he has on the last 2 or 3 gigs–but I think he says it because it’s true, & I agree: we are certainly improving as a live band, as we get to know each other better as musicians. Charlotte sounded great, & she really cut loose toward the end, it seemed. I also know it was the very best that Kathy & I have played together as a "percussion section" with Triage. Kathy played her congas, tambourine, triangle, shakers, claves. I played drumset, woodblock, shakers, a little chime. My drumset is an Apollo (an inexpensive Japanese brand from the 60's & 70's) 5-piece, red sparkle finish, but I am using a djembe in place of the snare. The djembe has a synthetic shell & a good, humidity-resistant, rawhide head, with bright finger & brush sounds, & a deep bass tone. Since Triage plays only acoustic guitars & percussion (so far), I usually employ brushes, or very small wooden strikers & mallets, much more than I use drumsticks.
Our audience seemed to be having a really good time listening to us, dancing or swaying, or moving just a little--to my beat! my band! Pretty cool, really. There’s no doubt Charlotte can get folks to moving their feet & their hips, & Kathy gets into the crowd & gets the crowd into the music. Steady & ready, Kelly & Robert keep on keeping on, playing & singing so fine. We even had extra shaker players in Tom & Dan, bystanders extraordinaires. We felt this was a very good gig, one of our best. (I recorded most of it on my little audio cassette voice recorder; not much audio quality, but enough to hear how we sound; I must listen to it before I can report on it.)


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