The Pendulum Swings

There’s something about music.

I got a call recently for a gig playing with a Swing band at the Hip Kitty Jazz Club in Claremont. I have been to this venue before and really liked the atmostphere and thought it was a real hip place, so naturally I was excited to get to play there.  I said yes to the gig perhaps too soon.  With gas costs to and from the rehearsal and performance, I woul be about breaking even.  But, I figured, it would still be fun to play at such a cool venue.

The only available rehearsal space was the band leader’s wife’s salon.  While driving up the street on my way to the rehearsal, I got a flat tire. That really set the mood perfectly for how the night would unfold.  The drummer was also a sub, like me, as well as the bari sax player.  I won’t bore you with specifics, but the rehearsal was 3 hours of misery.  For a swing band, we certainly didn’t swing.  The drummer in particular was all over the place.  Beats were dropped right and left, the saxes were out of tune, all of my parts were written out note for note, and I was the youngest in the band by at least 40 years.  As soon as the rehearsal was over, I bolted out the door to leave.  But, alas, I still had a flat tire to change.  I set about doing so when the band leader noticed my situation and did what he could to help.  2 other members of the band came out and helped me change my flat tire.

So, the gig was tonight.  I had told all my friends how awful it was going to be.  I had talked it up to be this horrible 4 hour performance that I was about to experience…for free.

When I arrived at the jazz club, after setting up, I was given my tie to wear for the evening.  A black clip-on.  Now, clip-ons are annoying enough, but even worse when it falls a good 2 inches short of your belly button.  I looked absolutely ridiculous.  It was okay though, after all the piano player more than made up for me with his tie extending 6 inches past his belt line. While checking the mics for the 3 singers we would play with, there was a tremendous amount of feedback, nearly causing the entire club to go deaf.

After an hour of swing dance lessons, it was time for the show to start.  Bracing myself for the horrid evening ahead of me,  I grabbed my bass and pulled out my music.  Just then, in walks the jazz band director at my school, thus placing the proverbial cherry on top of the evening.

Perhaps it was because I had unbelievably low expectations for the evening that it was not at all what I anticipated. A few days before the band leader made the difficult decision to change drummers.  I was overjoyed to hear it, but had no idea who his replacement would be.  As it turns out, the new drummer was my favorite part of this entire gig.  He was a solid drummer who keeps great time, has great ideas and and great communication.  We really locked in together, unlike at the rehearsal with the other guy. All thoughout the night, we were solid. The saxes were late most of the time, and consistently out of tune, the piano could barely be heard, but the bass and drums were locked together solid.

There was primarily one couple dancing the entire night.  A many nearing his 40s, but evidently apparently denying this fact was dancing with a girl not a older than 24, in a lovely dress, complete with a back tatoo.  It seems that these two could not be more opposite.  But they were dancing, very sensually I might add, uncomfortably so, to the music we were making. In between songs they would hold hands and during the breaks, they would talk at the bar. I thought their age gap a bit strange until later in the evening when I saw the man dancing with a completely different woman very sensually, uncomfortably so.  This is all this man does.  He follows women around, being as creepy as possible.

During one of the breaks, I grabbed a water from the bar and went outside to sit and chat with the other band members.  In an interesting turn of events, during our break, a burlesque dancer came out and performed/stripped, much to the audience’s encouragement.

After we had finished playing, the bari sax player and I talked about college.  I told him about what I’m doing and where I go to school.  He told me how he had wanted to do music when he was my age, but his parents frowned upon it and encouraged him to get a real job.  So he went to school for 6 years and became a chemist, specializing in how to make different plastics. But just recently he decided that he wants to try music.  He is currently enrolled at UC Fullerton, “trying” he said, “to do exactly what you’re doing.”

The night was full of ridiculous stories that I will cherish forever. It was a great night of music, at the very least for the drums and bass.  I had a blast, and left with that feeling of ecstasy I get after playing jazz.  The night turned out completely opposite from what I thought it would be.  The band was so appreciative of me subbing for the bass player.  I handed out 4 business cards to musicians in the audience.  All of the guys who helped me change my flat tire asked me how my tire was holding up, and if I had gotten it looked at yet.

If this post seems a little scatter-brained, that’s because it is.  I’m a mix of so many feelings right now.  Joy, relief, surprise, appreciation, shock, hope, the list goes on.  Tonight was not at all what I anticipated. It was something so much greater.  Yeah, I missed the premier of what could be the greatest movie of all time.  Literally every one of my friends is seeing it right now.  But, I got to experience something great, open some doors, laugh, and play music.  What more could I ask for?

Oh, and I ended up getting more money than they originally told me.  Not a whole lot, but it was definitely an appreciated surprise to end a great evening.

On a completely unrealted note, if you don’t use Tide powdered laundry detergent, you should.  You wouldn’t believe how soft it makes your clothes.  And it smells so good!

4 Responses to The Pendulum Swings

  1. Alex W. says:

    The Dark Knight man….. awh…. the Dark Knight……

    Ok, so I’m done rubbing in it. To be completely honest, I’m actually just jealous of you getting to spend your night making music and meeting new people. Really though.

  2. Cheri says:

    What was the band – one of those old geezer rehearsal bands?

    Yeah man – you have to steer clear of those….

    Were the trumpets like 100 years old???


  3. B. Shaw says:

    Well, funny story. Yes, it was a band of people quite old people. Aaaannnnddd….there weren’t any trumpets. It was me, drums, piano, and 4 saxes. It was something else…

  4. […] – bookmarked by 3 members originally found by somedevilguy on 2008-08-15 The Pendulum Swings – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by evangineer […]

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