Sunday, April 26, 2009

Post 9: A Hard Night’s Day

8:00 am. Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head (actually I showered first). Eager anticipation of the day, which will include rehearsal for the gig later in the evening with Simon Baron-Cohen’s band, Deep Blue.

10:15 am. Grab a cab to Simon’s home in Grantchester for rehearsal. Greeted by Simon and Bhisma. Daniela (drummer for The Amygdaloids who is here for the Cambridge-NYU Research Network meeting, which took place Friday) arrives soon. After meeting Simon’s very nice family, we go on a stroll in his back yard to a little footbridge that crosses a small tributary of the River Cam, taking us to a small wooded island that borders the Cam itself. A wonderful refuge. We come back and have a good rehearsal of Mind Over Matter, When the Night is Dark, and Piece of My Mind, the three songs we planned to do. Simon’s daughter Kate agrees to join us as a backup vocalist. She has a wonderful voice and things are going so well we decide to also try Theory of My Mind, a song fitting since Simon has been a leading figure in research on theory of mind in autism. We get a version down. All is well.

1:00 pm. Simon drives Daniela, Bhish, and me into Cambridge, and Bhish and I go in search of mic rentals, as we intend to try to record some tabla for use on one or two Amygdaloids’ songs. Our search takes us further than we thought, and I got back a bit late to make it to Annemieke and John’s bar-b-que. But Bhish and I succeeded in getting mics and we make a plan to meet Sunday afternoon.

5:30 pm. I head to the neighborhood social club in Grantchester where the gig is. Sound check goes pretty well. It had been a long day but it all looked like it was going to come together. Back to Simon’s for a tasty vegetarian meal.

8:00 pm. People start to arrive at the club. Lot’s of local neighborhood people of all ages, and quite a few Cambridge friends and colleagues, are there. And Damian O’Malley has come up for the evening from Bishop’s Storpford as well. Damian buys me a pint of Guinness.

9:00 pm. Deep Blue starts to play. Nice mix of soul, blues and R ‘n’ R. After their first set, we take the stage. The group consists of Daniela on drums, Bhish on tabla, Simon on bass, Kate on backup vocals, and I'm on acoustic guitar and lead vocals. The Deep Blue guitar player has offered to join us since we don’t have a lead guitar. I’m a bit uneasy about this since he didn’t know the songs and these are lyric driven tunes, not jam band songs with a predictable chord structure. But off we go. We start with Mind Over Matter. I blow the lyrics in the first verse (maybe I shouldn’t have had that beer) but recover OK. But then it gets messy. My fear comes to pass. The guitar player doesn’t know when verses and choruses come and go, and when you’re supposed to play quiet vs run off on a solo. His lead guitar has taken over, and the stuff he's doing doesn't match the place in the song where we are. I’m totally lost (boy am I missing Tyler, The Amygdaloids guitarist). Struggling for a way to get the song back on track, I jump in with the 4th verse, after skipping some parts in the middle, and we end the song pretty smoothly, but whoa what a mess. This was not the guitar guys fault. He was great, but he just didn’t know the song. We slide into When the Night Is Dark. That goes great. Kate has learned the parts and does a wonderful job on backup vocals. Bhish and Simon are locking into Daniela’s steady rhythm. The lead guitarist has followed this one pretty well. Phew. Back on track. Piece of My Mind went ok as well, but was not as tight as When the Night Is Dark. We decided not to venture into Theory of My Mind since we weren’t on our game the way we’d like to have been. So we thank the audience, and step off the stage. Deep Blue comes back for another set. Lot’s of dancing.

10:00 pm. Hanging around with the crowd while Deep Blue plays. Getting lots of good feedback on When the Night Is Dark, and supporting sympathy on the other songs. I meet a barrister who lives locally and just stopped by. He says my songs and vocals remind him of The Go Betweens, which our exec producrer Tim Sommer had also said. That was nice to hear since I've grown to really love Robert Forster's voice on Go Betweens' song like Quiet Heart.

11:00 pm. Damian calls a Panther Taxi to take us to my flat on Lensfield Road. I give Damian the bedroom since I had gotten use to sleeping in the living room when Milo was here, and kind of like the ambiance there, with my bed, computer, and guitar all close by. Reminds me of my 1- room studio apartment in Soho when I first met Nancy. And while I have a nicer view in my little room in Cambridge, I had Nancy then to share the Soho room with.

12:00am. I sit at my desk reflecting on the day. It was wasn’t the way I had hoped the night would go. Mind Over Matter is such a beautiful song, and we just didn't do justice to it. Still, it’s always fun to play music, even when it doesn’t work perfectly. I'm beginning to understand the expression, "that's show business."

12:30 am. I begin to type out my post about the evening. I title this post “A Hard Day’s Night.” But by the end, before I post, I realize I’ve written about "a hard night’s day." Next I will write about an excellent day and night of science that we had on Friday in the guise of the Cambridge-NYU McDonnel Foundation Network.

coda: The Amygdaloids versions of When the Night is Dark is available on iTunes, along with the rest of our first CD, Heavy Mental. Previews of Mind Over Matter and Piece of My Mind, and the rest of our new CD can be found at Check these out for a more satisfying versions of the songs.

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