duke

Even armed with a Marshall head and cab behind me things can obviously still go wrong right? Sure they can. This was my last gig in the first band I played in at the Elmocambo in Toronto back in 2001 where we went on stage at 4:30 in the afternoon to a somewhat interested crowd of maybe 50-65 people at best. No headbanging, no stage antics, no enthusiastic singing or growls, just going through the motions and afterwards I left. Packed up my gear and just walked away. Sure it was a dick thing to do to the rest of my bandmates and the other bands that were there to play but at that point in time I really didn’t care nor did I really want anything to do with music by then. We had been fighting during rehearsals, arguing and bickering about senseless gobshite and petty issues. My will to create and play had slipped through my fingers and fell down the drain like rain water from the gutter pushed by the force of gravity and the wind.

So how does that affect you on stage? The people there don’t know your problems, they weren’t there when you almost threw your guitar at the drummer over something that didn’t have to happen or be said. They don’t know about how your bass player was selling you out from behind your backs by mailing a very cheaply made demo to big label record companies to use as a coaster during their next board meeting and sushi luncheon. Who knew in the audience that you were going through a depressive phase at home with your then girlfriend and at practice to where you sat like a 5 year old sent to the corner to be quiet because you were talking out of turn for the umpteenth time. That your singer was not showing up because he said he had to work but you found out he was at his girlfriend’s house the whole time and another time you saw him at a stop light while on your way home and he refused to look over at you as you flung your arms wildly at him to get his attention. The piles of shite just grew and grew from everyone and it just drained us at our last gig. There was no joy at that gig and the few pictures that survived from it show the lack of energy and enthusiasm held within it. But still, should it have been a bad gig considering we all knew what to play? Well I think I mentioned it before that the drummer had to take his shoes and socks off before we could start and you can hear me straining my nerves out as I steamed out “Playyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!” in that strained pissed off tone to them as one of the promoters was looking at us tapping his watch telling us that we’re wasting time and it’s not looking good for us on any level. But we carried on eventually and as far as I can remember not too many people came to see us at that gig now that I think about it whereas prior to that the previous time we played The Elmo we had over a hundred showing up cheering us on. But the gig was bad and when your energy is confined elsewhere and you can’t access it you’re feeling more and more sunk like a ship with its back broken and ready to just die in to the waters. Even if the energy was there, not everyone was putting forth the same amount as we did before. Things had changed and so did the dynamics of the band. Partially due to growing separations in what we were listening to and the fact that as a band we were fairly young and stupid still, me being the oldest at 24 and the drummer being 17 at the time, maybe 18 by the time we finally called it a day. So growing up played a cameo in it and that sucked, being a rock star was happening because the singer and I were working full time and our music wasn’t what the world wanted at the time, we sounded like a band that would have been the opening act for Motorhead or Black Sabbath and those bands were going through their own metamorphosis’ at the time so it was havoc in a hand basket really.

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I dug the tape out of the last gig and I couldn’t make it all the way through oddly enough, hearing myself say “PLAY” too many times before the third song was just aggravating and dis-interesting to listen to. I’ll have to filter out the nonsense of it and then try again…. in about a year or five from now. Not long before that the drummer and I were the only ones in the band and had we kept it that way we could have made it like bands as Death From Above 1979 or The Black Keys way of playing but we were purists and wanted that classic four piece hard rock sound. Balls! Sometimes less IS more. So that gig was shot down in flames and sent to the bottom of the sea along with countless other bands I heard that also died at that gig from running in to several members of musical rivals at the time some months to years later so it wasn’t just us, it was an epidemic.

Let’s move forwards to around 2011 and I had been in a band for about 2 years or so with a drummer who used to be the epitome of debauchery in previous bands and the stories he told would have made Zeppelin and the Stones blush and turn their heads so I thought ok this should turn out well and maybe go somewhere to the point of gigging to some pretty cool places and he kept in touch with a lot of his old friends and he had rights to some of the old songs that we could strip down and rebuild along with the new stuff and rebuilt stuff from the first band I was in so hell why not eh? Not to be, his wife did NOT like me or my music and felt that I would pull him back in to his old habits and way of life which by this point was not the case nor would it ever had been because well, honestly, I’m in to the music not some floozie who wants your “autograph”.  But yeah she didn’t like me and the singer we got his wife didn’t like out music and wouldn’t even sit in the basement with the rest of us so it was a struggle. Things started going south when we started bringing in friends to play in the band instead of looking for people to fill the spots and the band got to become a cover band to what the bassist who was not playing guitar wanted to do and we were playing songs by Niel Young, Green Day, The Black Crows and Gashouse Lamp something or other I can’t remember and others that just didn’t roll with what the originals had in common with. So it got to the point where after his last Xmas get together and the drummer’s wife deliberately walked around and away from me to film everyone else I knew that I was no longer welcome and that the other guitarist and former singer were jamming with the drummer without me which is fine but when it gets slipped in to conversation right at you, you get the point. So after the last jam/basement gig I unplugged all my stuff and took apart my gear and said I needed a break from it all for a while.

After that I worked on a new band concept idea with my then girlfriend who has an amazing voice that resembles Ann Wilson and Grace Slick so needless to say why go to the market for band members when you had one right there all along right? It started off great and we manage to get an album’s worth of songs put together and the best ones out of the entire record were the ones that she sang on I have to say. I tried too hard to go against the grain of contemporary sound and “be” different too much resulting in a mess of a record at times but I digress. That idea dwindled to a standstill as the relationship began to fizzle and we found a drummer who we only got to jam with twice as he was committed to another band that got regular gigs which was unfortunate because he is a good drummer! So that “band” never even got to play a gig so that just went wrong all over the place.

Flash forward to this month, October 2016 and the last gig I played at Open Studio Art Cafe was not my best for the new material that I’m putting out there but these gigs happen and you move forwards right?  Absolutely because now I can take it all in stride and fun because hey, shit happens!

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My sound wasn’t where I liked it or wanted it to be at, too much echo and reverb but for some reason I couldn’t change it to where it was spot on. My carpal tunnel syndrome was acting up and my balance wasn’t the greatest that night either, (see above picture) and I had recently modified The Gurum and hadn’t really had a lot of time to test it out with my amp at the volume I am used to playing live with either so I couldn’t quite get the right feel for whether or not the mods were done right and set properly to my specifications. Also, the conga player who up here on a work visa from the US lost his job and he told us when we got there and that kind of soured the mood a bit but I understand why he would say because he needed that support and as friends that’s what you do, you lend your ear and support to these things. It wasn’t as packed at the cafe that night either like it has been lately, several people who signed up to play didn’t show up and they have done that for the last three sessions where they say yep I’ll be there and RSVP the invite and never show up the day of or had changed their RSVP to not coming so we knew. The audience was made up of eight people. four of us who were playing and the other four came as support to who they came with as well as to the other musicians who performed but the vibe was pretty dead I have to say. Sure there was laughter and good music but something in the air was stale that night. Everyone knew it because usually there’s more vibrancy in the air there and I think it has to do with a couple of things.

  1. People signed up to come and then didn’t
  2. We pretty much played the same songs as we always do give or take
  3. The conga player wasn’t feeling well and had lost his job
  4. The audience was small like the number of people you can hear clapping in the Matrix Club bootlegs of The Doors from 1967
  5. There’s usually more listeners that show up because they can hear the music from down the street and come out to see what’s happening
  6. The weather is getting cooler at night and people wanna stay inside and watch the new seasons of their favourite shows as a guess

 

Another thing that may have contributed to the demise of the night could have been my presence there and people may have not decided to sign up once they saw that I was going to be performing. The conga player also mentioned to me that some people complained that I was TOO loud last time and it was rather unpleasant. Too LOUD?!?! Ok, well say something after the first song like, “Excuse me, can you turn down just a smidgen please it’s really loud back here, thanks.” Sure no problem, I would have gladly turned the volume down, didn’t realize I was that loud and powerful sounding because well, too many loud concerts with no earplugs will damage your hearing that’s for sure! So having to turn my volume down also made it hard to be effective with my effects to get “the ” sound across but that too happens, I wasn’t offended by it. More offended that people who claim to be an adult couldn’t have spoken up and just asked. As for the music I play it’s generally very much outside people’s comfort zones and sandboxes of sound which I can understand when you have been raised and later continued to have fed yourself a diet of radio friendly music that keeps to that cookie cutter format and upon hearing something that sounds like an abomination crawling up your leg you tend to either be offended and uppity or turn your head and snoot it right out because it’s not music to your ears and what I do has soured your audio palette somewhat because I have disgraced the sanctity of the beautiful tones that make up sounds that are pleasant to many an ear. I’m not sorry. In fact I’m glad I shook your world up and tipped your sandbox of sound over and spilled what you thought was music all over the floor because it’s my way to be free to express myself musically and it’s my way of saying that music doesn’t stop at the radio AM/FM dial carrying flowers and freshly baked bread for you, there’s a whole world of so many amazing sounds out there waiting to be heard and played. But again, I digress. The show was oooooookaaaaayyyyyy but not the best and the improvs that three of us did were dreadful this time around. My solos weren’t anything to enjoy and my playing was just blech in my opinion for that facet of the night and the conga playing went loud and offbeat to what we were doing a couple of times as well because like I said he wasn’t feeling well both physically and emotionally and I really did feel for the guy because you’re in a foreign country and you just got canned by a boss that sounds like an absolute bitch of a person and has an ego problem with a side order of attitude to boot.

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In the end, off gigs do and will happen but you move on and forget about it, no one got hurt and nothing short circuited and caught fire so no injuries, no problem and since no one paid to come see you… No Worries! Lol

Honourable mention in when things can happen…. My gig at The Cavern in Toronto during my first song I hit the mic and stand with the headstock of my guitar and stopped my sound entirely and pointed out to the audience and said, “I meant to do that!”, quick chuckle and kept playing the song. The term “Shit Happens” really does tend to be a common phrase in the music world and you know what, it’s all good at the end of the day because you got to play and perhaps your mishap made people laugh and you as well so don’t take it seriously, these gigs will happen and when they do just keep moving forward and don’t stop and dwell on it because your next notes will be better than your first. Enjoy

 

 

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~Fin

Published by OddsFiche, A Canadian Perspective