Read the Label…Carefully!!!
That, being said and done, brings us to the present.
Having survived 6 inexpensive and 1 overpriced beers, a AAA baseball game and dinner with my brother and sister-in-law takes us to the next day…SHOW DAY!
The reason for this mini-road trip was to record my friend Sharon Gillenwater at the Portland Art Museum’s Museum After Hours performance. The day started off innocently enough, coffee, dog walks, replying to about 30 e-mails and sushi (in that order). Retrieved all of my gear from the hotel and headed for the museum.
I have recorded at the museum plenty of times in their Grand Ballroom and Grand it is! About 10,000 square feet of space, 40-foot ceilings… A Grand Echo Chamber. The trick there is to close mic everything and hope that there are enough people there to absorb the sound. Of course, with 800 people talking and drinking, you have to decide what’s noise and not.
The reason I bring this up is because we did not record in the Grand Ballroom this time. The museum is renovating the room, so we are in a 40×100 foot tent.
Did I mention the construction happening just outside the sheer fabric walls? Or that you could tell what type of jet is flying directly over you by the number of fillings jarred loose from your mouth?
I haul my gear in, set up and deal with things. There are 2 stage hands/staff workers at my bidding and a house a/v guy. They are cooler than shit. I thought the sound guy, Alan, might be a little ticked because I brought in all of my own mics and changed everything that he’s already set up. No problem. He’s very helpful and doesn’t mind when we have to do some things over. And over. And over.
The band straggles in. The guitarist has only seen the music once before. The original guitarist had to attend to a family emergency in Peru so the guy they find is a teacher at Portland State University. I’ve worked with the bassist many times and the pianist is a 23 year old who everybody fawns over. Of course, he pissed me off the second he walked in by raising the lid of the piano. It is now a 6′ microphone.
Sharon is nervous as hell. Richard told me he had to stay out of the house for 2 days leading up to the show.
She’s better now, but her voice is shaky and there is fear in her eyes.
Sound check? What sound check? This is live, baby!
The show begins and there’s not much more I can do until it’s over, 2 hours later.
Well, there is more to do. Alan and I are sitting next to each other in the back of the room. Somehow, the conversation turns to the operatic nature and language of the songs to be invocative of Satan. Fair enough. He informs me that the space we are on is over a Hellmouth.
To prove his point, he points to John Entwhistle, the bass player for The Who, who died a year or so ago in the arms of a prostitute and an ounce of blow in a Las Vegas hotel room. Sure enough, it is John and he’s in line for the buffet. Apparently, the chicken is too fresh or not bloody enough for his taste. He moves to the bar and gets a glass of red wine. I point to a woman who used to be a man and Alan points to a man who used to be a man.
Did I mention free beer if you say you are doing sound?
Just 1 beer.
OK, it’s done. We pack up and I go back to the hotel to drop stuff off and go to dinner. It’s a neat little Lebanese joint by the river where Richard is having his book release party May 4. When we show up, there is another couple that was at the show. This couple turns into 5 or 6 more folks, some much louder than others. Somehow, my reputation preceded me and, although everybody there seems to know who I am, they don’t know that I’m me. This takes quite a bit of explaining over quite a bit of hummus.
It’s Thursday now. Back to Seattle. Absolutely nothing to report on the drive back.
Get home, do laundry. Get a haircut.
WARNING: When you go to get your hair cut and the barber/stylist/butcher doesn’t speak English and you don’t speak Vietnamese, make sure you know what #3 means before you sit down. She looked me up in their computer and apparently somebody said that I like my hair mangled.
Anyway, they gave me 50/50 that it’ll ever grow back. When she pulled out the mirror at the end, I violently pushed it away. The way I see it (or don’t), if I can’t see it, it’s not really there.
Lots of beer in the house; good, because we’re back to tracking the Mala Vista record. It’s vocal night. Oliver and Jon show up about 6. Oliver called and said that Jon had a flat tire and they’d be there soon. Flat tire now means they stopped for a few beers on the way over. Later, Jason arrives and we finish all but one vocal track. I’m getting excited to mix this thing. We recorded the basics back in May and haven’t touched them since. Jon and I are strategizing a release schedule. A single here, an EP there. We’ll probably record a live set and use some of those as B-Sides.
Many beers consumed.
It’s Friday now.
Working with Stevie Boy again. You may recall me ranting at him on some of the earlier blogs. He who left me in Tacoma for a week subjected to x-mas music.
This gig is a benefit to help with school programs in the schools. Apparently, it’s more important to wage war all over the world than it is to give kids a chance to see and hear and perform music. The Seattle Symphony has sent a group over, about 30 pieces, along with the conductor, Gerry Schwartz. Most people around here know him as Gerard, but being with the in-crowd as I was, Gerry was just fine.
Did I mention that the 2nd course was Vanessa Williams? Probably not. So, the plan was simple. Start to set for the Vanessa until the Symphony shows up, the sound check to Symphony. When they’re done, resume with Vanessa til her sound check is over. Reset the Symphony. Do the Symphony. Reset Vanessa. Do Vanessa.
If you haven’t seen her up close, she’s kinda scary’ Sycophants tripping over themselves with glasses of orange juice, band members just plain tripping. I remember working with their monitor guy from about 10 years earlier when he was with Driving and Crying. He took everything in stride until we had to totally rewire the monitor rack. Even then, he kept his cool, though I’m sure his blood pressure became dangerously high.
Tear down and go home.
So, there’s another show in the Westin the next night that we’re working. In a more perfect world, we would just put the microphones away and call it a night. But for the fact that we (all sound, lights, video, decorators) have to shift 90 degrees so the band can play to the short end of the room. Who thought this up? Since I’m working the show Saturday as well, I’m released early for good behavior after 16.5 hours.
Saturday’s show is a party for a certain bank who was celebrating the raping of the greater Seattle area. Instead of lowering interest rates, they blow big $ on a party. The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies were the entertainment.
I’ll leave it at that.
Since then, I’ve caught up on sleep, seen a couple of movies (Sin City and Kung Fu Hustle, both great) and chased the dog around. Also brought over about 10 wheelbarrows full of dirt from next door to try to fill in some of Mifune’s holes. He thinks I’m just refilling them so he can dig again.
I guess I am.