My friend Zach Michaud has booked me as a solo act at two of his gigs recently. Despite the whole "solo" thing, I've managed to present him with two duos. The first was me and the (now departed) bass player from Snake Suspenderz, Dean Hedges. This latest time, last Thursday, May 29th, was another appearance of "Snake Suspenderz, Classic," being myself and Thaddeus Spae, the original Snakes.
Ahyup... the story of the whole adventure (and adventure it was) follows...
Dean and I played up in Everett, a small jaunt from here, but Thad and I made the trek all the way to Bellingham. This was courtesy of my friend Gyan, whose parents live up there. She decided to combine "visiting parents" with "being a patron of the arts" and drove us and all our gear up there.
Further, she arranged that we stay the night at her parent's fabulous house, right on the shore of Chuckanut Bay. Wowsa! But we'll backtrack to that in a moment or so.
As in Everett, Zach chose to open the show with us Snakes as the "headliner" act. To the left you'll see a picture of Zach picking away on stage. As usual, click on any of the pics on this page for a popup with a larger version.
This was at The Green Frog Cafe Acoustic Tavern, right on the edge of downtown Bellingham, WA. It's a smallish space, with an even smaller stage, but seems to be dedicated to presenting acoustic music, right down to having a wallful of assorted instruments hanging about for your playing pleasure! It even included a (pretty cheap, actually, but wtf) ukulele!
Gyan and her parents came down to check us out. Gyan is responsible for all the pics, ably running my cheapo Canon digital while we picked and grinned. Thanks again, Gyan!
Zach did his usual splendid job, mixing straight-ahead country, Americana, originals and some oddball novelties ("The Only Gay Eskimo" springs readily to mind) and as always, sounding even better than that last time I heard him.
Our set got off to a rather rocky start. Neither of us is quite sure which of us had timing problems... I suspect it was me, Thad insists he was having the same difficulty... but we got it together and rocked out pretty well after the first couple tunes.
I chose this gig to introduce T.R., my new sopranino ukulele, to the public. This only a couple days after receiving it. I'm happy to say that the little guy did fine, barking out loud enough to be picked up by my favorite "fat can" condensor mike just like the big(ger) boys.
We played about an hour, picking from amongst our usual selection of hot jass, original tunes and novelties. One thing I'm going to have to do is remember to throw in a few harps for this kind of gig. I sang most of the tunes because on several of the ones we've prepared for Thad to sing I play harp (or something else, like melodica) instead of ukulele.
I think I may have "trained my brain" too well with all the solo busking I've been doing lately. Since I don't use the harmonicas (or the melodica) for my solo work, I don't have the little internal nag that I've "forgotten something" if I'm leaving the house without them. This has gotta change, not only for these kind of gigs, but also for when one or more of the other Snakes are out busking with me. Changes of pace and sound are good things in a musical act. And Thad, awesome musician that he is, shouldn't have to cover all those bases.
All in all, a pretty fair night. Made a bit in the tip jar, sold a couple CDs, had a good brew. Good stuff.
But now let's step back for the earlier part of the adventure.
As I mentioned, we spent the night at Dave and Val's house. They are Gyan's parents. The house is one that started out pretty basic back in the 1950's, probably as someone's "shoreside cabin," but has been added to several times since then and Dave and Val have done a bit of internal remodeling themselves.
I liked the fact that it didn't have a rectangular footprint. It sort of flows along its little hillside and internally is on several levels. Val, who is an art importer, has decorated it with a very tasteful eye. There are all sorts of objets d'art that she and Dave have found on their travels around the world while Val was looking for good import material.
I think my favorite part was the game room. It's larger than many of the studio apartments I've lived in! It has a lot of windows that open to a view of the bay, a wonderful freestanding, carved wooden bar (from Indonesia, IIRC) and, best of all, a billiards table. w00t!
I don't think I've touched a cue in 8 or 10 years, yet when we were taken in there by Gyan (on our tour of the place) there were three balls (plus the cue ball) on the table and I sank them all in three shots, right from where they lay.
When we arrived it was to find that Dave had been cooking a rabbit stew, from a very French recipe that featured a rich wine-based gravy, for the last two days! (Lots of marinade time there.) I'd never eaten rabbit before and this was most excellent. They're the kind of folk who don't just "throw the food on a plate." It was presented nicely arranged in one of those broad, shallow bowls and eaten, along with a nice red wine, in a dining room that also overlooked the bay.
I also had a splash of a very good scotch, something that is almost equally rare with me. I'm generally not fond of it but this was quite mellow and tasty. I wish I could remember the name of it!
Dave and Val were very gracious hosts and we hope we adequately showed our appreciation. Thanks to you both for making our little overnight gig such a success and so much fun as well!
And one more thanks to Gyan, just because she deserves it!