It was a First Friday on the SouthSide, and I put together a round robin with my friends Bill Schachter and Pete Gustavsen (Scapegrace). Again, a significantly small crowd, but I particularly enjoy passing tunes around with friends. Peter is a solid songwriter with a Ray Orbison voice and quirky pop tunes and Bill possesses and equally quirky sense of humor. We enjoyed each other’s company and the time passed quickly.
I had been looking forward to sharing the stage with my good friend and long-time recording colleague Wendi Bourne for a Dave’s Night Out. We set out to concentrate on the Art of Swing Rhythm Guitar, an aspect that Wendi is particularly adept at, beyond her wonderful vocal chops.
Again, it was a very small crowd, but one quite interested in the music. (This whole series is vastly under-appreciated in our dear Lehigh Valley). We traded a few songs, talked about our heroes (Ted Bogan, Bucky Pizzarelli, Freddie Green, etc.), the joy of being part of a larger groove and band. We share thoughts on basic block chords, some Artie Traum three note chords, damping the chords, creativity up and down the fretboard and more.
We were lucky that our friend and maestro Rolly Brown was in the audience, and we invited him up for some of his licks and observations. As usual, the quality of the conversation was at a college level and our apparent respect for each other palpable.
One gentleman brought his teenage son to the show, and I asked him what he had learned. It was hard for him to put his thoughts into word, quite understandable, but I asked him to share those thoughts with his dad on the way home. Another friend, a fellow radio programmer mentioned that he learned a lot, even though he didn’t play guitar. He went on FB to comment further that Godfreys is the best place in the Valley to spend an evening.
I was bushed at the end, but satisfied that we given our all, created some good music, and passed on some of the knowledge that we often take for granted as musicians. And how important it is to have good friends like Wendi and Rolly in our circle of creative artists.
It’s always a special night when I get to play Godfreys’ stage, and tonight was one of them. Playing with my respected friends and musicians Ed McKendry, Kris Kehr and Dina Hall, performing the best of my ‘adult’ repertoire in a world-wide respected venue, on Concert Window, and being recorded by my pal Bill Hall is all that I could ask for. A bigger house would have been nice, but that is a constant disappointment here in my home town. But, such is my fate: hometown hero with very little following.
I had come down with an, as yet undiagnosed, stomach problem, so I opted for doing a nice, long single set. And we set out cruising through my material. I am glad that I have a stack of good material, so new songs and folks by my side to render them with class. And a stack of material that will be on the album-in-progress.
During the set, I premiered my new mandocello, an amazing instrument that actually makes my Martin’s sound soft. I had worked up Satisfied Mind on it, presented it to the band before the gig, and was able to posit it. I think everyone was astounded by the richness and depth of this instrument. It rocked the joint
New stuff: Ten Men, The Blues Got the World, False From True, Smokin’ Babies, Giant, Rosie is a Friend of Mine along with some older ones: Nadine, These Days, Black Jack County Chain, It’ll Be Me, Ireland, Rocket Launcher, Pay Bo Diddley, How Legends are Made and my own Lessons from Pete.
We all had our antennae up, the creativity was flowing, very few mistakes (even on my part) and it felt great to be part of this ensemble on stage tonight. I had to drop some songs from the set list, but the good stuff got played.
Kris is one of my really dependable friends, dating back to Pavlov’s Dawgs times, and I can always count on his bass linking with my acoustic rhythm that becomes more than the sum of its parts, giving me the opportunity to concentrate on delivering the vocals and lyrics at a high performance value. Ed seamlessly adds great, spontaneous leads and keeps his head in the game, knows when I need his leads and never over-plays. Dina has taken on the job of adding “atmospherix” on percussion, adding appropriate and varied sounds and rhythms around the edges. She has come a long way as a stage performer, even outside of her fronting her own music. She said that she appreciates my trust. Trust on all our parts make this endeavor quite satisfying .
As we came close to finishing out the show, I thanked those in the audience for trusting in us to deliver a Godfreys quality show (no small thing), but also saying that, even if they hadn’t shown up, we would have played anyway. We do play for our own pleasure, perhaps primarily, but appreciate those who take a chance on us. I could feel I was close to my limit physically and we closed out the hour and a half set.
I packed up and apologized to my mates and sound crew for bailing out and headed upstairs in retreat. The music and my friends got me through quite remarkably. The recording will come out pretty nice and I look forward to having it on hand to share in various ways. My daughter Rosalie watched the mandocello part from her home in Italy.