Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Post 3: One is the loneliest number

Remember 3 Dog Night? Their song, One Is the Lonliest Number, is the song that was floating through my synaptic space Sunday.

I've traveled to far away places for extended stays without Nancy before, but usually with a plan that she would join me, with children, at some point. This time Milo will come for a few days next week en route to Oxford, but Nancy will not make it to Cambridge at all during the 7 weeks. So “one” is a lonely number.

But the song is also apropos of what happened Sunday night. Sunday afternoon I got an email from Acoustic Stage, a group that puts on music around Cambridge. I found out about them before I left NY and got on their list. They just opened their own pub and are doing live music several nights a week. Sunday night is open mic might.

I decided I'd march off to the Corner House on New Market Street, again under map guidance of my iPhone, and see what it was all about. I wanted to check out the competiton and maybe work up the nerve to bring my guitar some Sunday night later in my stay. So I arrvie and there are 2 guys sitting around, looking a little nervous. The bartender was very friendly and told us all about the hopes and dreams of Acoustic Stage. The 3 of us non bartendeders in the pub introduced ourselves. Neither Gavin nor Chris had played Acoustic Stage events before, but were armed with their weapons. We had an hour to kill before the event started so we exchanged war stories of our experiences playing live music. Gavin kept saying, well there are only 2 of us playing, so you have to do a few songs. With all my might I resisted, saying no, no, each time he jabbed (all the time trying to decide which songs I would mostly likely remember all the lyrics of if on the hot seat, and frantically rehearsing the lyrics mentally to make sure I had all the verses down). Another pint of bitter ale might help. Confidence was building. I'd made friends with these nice guys who seemed very supportive. I could do it.

Finally, the evening began. Chris got up first and did 3 songs. Excellent performance of Oasis’ Wonderwall and some other songs. Then came Gavin. He had a technically demanding act, using a pedal to record a riff while he played it live and then the pedal would repeat the riff while he played over it and sang at the same time. Other than a minor equipment failure, it was an impressive performance as well.

Confidence way down. They were too good. But it was too late. The bartender walked up and said, "you're on."

As I strolled up to the stage, “One is the loneliest number” comes back to my mind. With Gavin’s Yamaha in hand, I stepped up to the mic and started strumming the opening chords to Inside of Me. So far so good. There's no formal intro. You just get up and go. So no one really knows who you are. I sang the first line. The volume on the mic was way too high and my voice boomed out too loud. Kept strumming. Did a little soundI checking (test 1 2) while strumming. Started singing again.

Well, I remembered all the lyrics and didn’t flub the chords, so it went ok. The small crowd (3 of Gavin's friends, and 3-4 others of unknown origin, as well as a random person or two passing through the music area on theiry way to the john) applauded politely—no noises of wild enthusiasm. Clearly I wasn’t at the level of these other guys. But I had to do another song, so I turned to Mind Over Matter. Flubbed the intro lick so started it over. Felt ok during the song. Actually thought it was ok. Again supporting applause, but no hooting and hollering.

Back to the tables. I was happy I’d done it. Even though the reception at the table was not, “Oh my God, where can I get your CD” I felt I got something out of the experience and am going to work on my act a bit before trying a solo again.

My friend and guitar teacher, and producer of our first CD, Jeff Peretz told me before I left that I can't just go up there and play the songs as if The Amygdalodis were there. Solo performance is a different animal. One is a lonely number. I've got some ideas on what to do.

Now the much promised equipment blow out. I plugged in my compressor and pre amp to do some recordings on the second day here, and started smelling smoke. At first I was blaming a faulty power adaptor that allows you to plug a US plug into those big clunky British outlets. But today I was talking with my office mate Annemieke Apergis-Schoute who asked if I was sure the equipment was capable of doing the auto transform from 110 to 220v. I assumed everything did this now. But I checked and she was right. The power on those take 120v and convert to 9v. So if I’m really lucky, all I did was blow out the transformer. But we’ll have to see. In the meantime, I’ve got a built-in preamp in my Protools interface box and can work with tha

As I said, Annemieke Apergis-Schoute is my office mate. I think she finds that amusing since she was first a volunteer, then a technician, then a grad student in my lab. Now she shares an office with her professor. I re-met her lovely parents today (Tues). They are such nice people.

Next post: Life Imitates Blog

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