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Rick's Rap   - October 2002

Practice 1 ...

      O.K. O.K. O.K. With a little scrambling and a little luck I managed to find everybody's phone number (except Terry's), and started making calls.

      Charles has been quite active, musically, for the last 20 or so odd years, including doing some national touring, and also doing some major label recording. He's currently going to school, teaching, and playing in a local band called The Deacons (if it's o.k. with him, I'll eventually get around to posting a link to his page). Busy guy, but I'm not surprised ...

      Donn's initial response was a cautious "I'll think about and let you know". After about a week he decided that he's pretty well hung up his rock 'n roll shoes for good. I think it'd be way cool if he changed his mind, but hey, what happens, happens ...

      Eric, Bob, and yours truly, chatted on the phone and via e-mail, and eventually got together for a face to face parley. We rapped about the pro's and con's, the which-ness of whatever, (just all kinds of deep meaningful stuff), and decided "what the hell, let's proceed as if we're actually going to be able to pull this off". We picked a time, and got together back in Eric's basement, with just enough bare bones equipment to see if any of the old magic was still there. I'm glad to say that buried in the nervousness, senility, rust, and incipient arthritis, the spark was still glowing ... o.k., it was flickering a lot, but we're pretty sure it was still there.

      In any event, we felt good enough about the outcome to proceed on to a little more rigorous benchmark. We've picked out 5 tunes each, and we're going to make basement cassette recordings of just the 3 of us playing them, and see how they sound. As we get them I'll post them as mp3's.

Practice 2 ...

      Worked on harmonies ... started to catch a bit of a flow on Big River (came and went, but every now and again it was solid) ... Bob patiently explained the ending of U.S. Blues to me, and I think I'm getting the hang of it ... definitely need a high harmony part on the chorus and trailer vocals for Amie (Barb, are you listening?) ... Neon Moon, Franklin's Tower and Friend Of The Devil came together quickly, but we could use a little more harmony. The first time we did Truckin' we nailed it. It sounded so good it scared us. We didn't try it a second time because we were afraid we'd bring ourselves down. I moved it from "in the works" to "ready to play".

      Putting together a band that intends to actually get out of the basement and work, is about 10% fun and 90% drudgery. In addition to technical issues (equipment, transportation ... ), scheduling considerations (who's available and when, who's wife will put up with us disrupting her household on a regular basis ... ), artistic deliberation (songs, keys, arraignment, yadda, yadda, yadda), there is, of course, the obligatory incessant whining (I was relieved to see that we seem to have a natural predilection for this, so we won't have to waste an inordinate amount of time working on it).

      Bob mentioned that he really misses having a drummer and a base player to work with. I agreed with him, and shared the fact that if I was playing an authentic Gibson Les Paul Jr., instead of the cheap, Korean made, Epiphone knock off copy Les Paul Jr., that I'm actually using, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be hitting nearly as many bad notes as I am now.

      Eric mentioned that he knows a drummer, and we all agreed that there's no harm in checking to see if he's available and interested. Eric also wondered how we felt about booking a couple of American Legion jobs for early next year, just for the experience. We have no clear consensus on how we feel about this. At the present time we also have no clear consensus about when we should start seriously looking for a base player and a drummer. I'm pretty sure that we definitely agree that once we get all these petty details worked out, we will still have no well defined strategy for seeking work.

      I sent Charles an e-mail, and asked him if he would mind if I added a link to the Deacons home page. He replied and indicated that it was o.k. with him, and I took that to mean that nobody else would mind either. I also sent T.J. Murphy an e-mail to ask if he would mind if I added a link to The Next Step's home page. He hasn't responded yet. I've taken that to mean that he doesn't mind. Check out our Links page.

Postscript ...

      Never one to let grass grow under his feet, Eric has just booked us for 2 (so far) Legion gigs early next year (check Scheduled Events | current performance schedule). I figure most of Weir's country and classic rock tunes, and Pigpen's tradtional blues stuff, will go over o.k., assuming we keep the peak volume to barely above sub-audible. If we don't have a stable line up by then, we'll borrow pick-up musicians as needed, and just wing the material on the spot. Hey, if we can't make up this stuff as we go along, we probably shouldn't be even trying to cover the Dead.

      Stay tuned,


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