Filtering by Tag: gigging

Report: First Gig as Next Paperback Hero

Well, I made it. It was a nerve-wracking and sweaty evening, but I am pleased to report that I didn't totally shit the bed. Exactly a week after my initial decision to just be open to the prospect of gigging again, I put together a set and performed before a small crowd for the first time under the name Next Paperback Hero.

I haven't stayed up that late for anything but New Years in a long, long time, especially on a Friday after a tiring work week. So I was definitely feeling it as I drove up to Frank's for load in at 9 pm (I know, I'm old.) It was clear that as the last act to be added to the bill, that I was going to have to go last. In this case, that meant starting around midnight. But beggars can't be choosers and I was grateful for the opportunity.

I was actually quite thankful I didn't have to go after the opening funk/jam band. Their vibe simply did not mesh with mine at all. The touring band, Wild Age, was a great transition as their set was still energetic, but brought in more of the indie vibe. (Read more about my thoughts on Wild Age here!) 

I found a couple of things I need to do:

1. Build a pedalboard. All of the other guitarists had pedalboards...so it was a bit awkward to pull out all of my pedals one by one, check the dials, plug them in, etc. Not only did I feel like an amateur, but I saw how easy it was for them. They literally took their pedalboard out of its case, plugged it in, and away they went. #Jealous

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2. Buy a handkerchief. Despite it being pretty cool outside, the venue was warm and the stage lights were radiating heat. I'm a sweaty guy in general, but this really took the cake. Sweat streamed down my face and into my eyes. I know that wiping it away with sleeves is weird, so I tried to power through. Kristen tells me she's seen people carry handkerchiefs while playing shows, wipe their brow between songs, and it is far less distracting. Well, that's what comes next!

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3.  Practice. Now that's not to say I didn't practice enough for this gig. I put in quite a bit of time and did what I could. And while I had a few misfires with the loop pedal, they were relatively easy to overcome. The real issue was comfort. It a bit harder than I remembered being alone out there and I could tell that I wasn't as moving nearly as much as I did when practicing at home. But I've been gigging for years, alone for the better part of three years. So why now? 

Well, in my experience, a new band or new set up hits the reset switch in many ways. There are so many new unknowns that you can't anticipate how it's going to go or feel, no matter how many times you practice. Sometimes, you just need to get that first gig out of the way and learn from it.

I can tell you that this gig felt significantly better than my last performance from over a year ago. I don't know if I technically played any better, but overall it felt good to have some of these songs out in the world again, not just online. At the end of the day, this was all I needed to start moving forward again.

In summation, I'm glad I got out there and did it, learned some valuable lessons, and feel more prepared for the next one. I can't say I'm going to go book a bunch of shows, but I am open to playing more and striving to find balance between gigs, studio, family, and everything else in life. 

From Studio to Stage

I hung up my gigging boots back in August 2017. After two years of giving it all of my effort as a solo artist, I had fallen out of touch with other aspects of music making that I love so much, including studio work. I'm a man of extremes, so for the next 12 months, I dedicated myself to the studio, releasing new recordings and songs every month. It was the breath of (not so) fresh air that I needed. Being hidden away in my home studio gave me time to experiment, go down some rabbit holes, and find my voice a bit more. But all good things must come to an end. I've opened the door and have my first gig in over a year coming up on Friday.

I now found myself in the position of translating the work I've done in the studio to the stage. Without an approximately 20 piece band at my disposal, I was left with no choice but to make some changes. Every aspect of the music was on the table, including song choice, structure, key, and instrumentation. That can be a bit overwhelming, especially for songs that were written in the studio. Well, it was time to rip off the band-aid! (pun 100% intended.)

 

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I chose to start with instrumentation. I've known for a while that I'm a stronger electric guitar player than acoustic. Add in my desire to keep my set up as simple as possible and I concluded to stick to a single electric guitar, amp, and pedals. This setup would allow me the maximum amount of tones with minimum gear. I always want to be sure that I keep things as interesting as possible for the audiences' ears. I started playing with my pedals (Earthquaker Nightwire, Moog Minifooger Delay, Neunaber Seraphim Mono Shimmer, Boss RC-1 Loop Station, Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive) and came up with some base levels and pleasing combinations.

Next I started playing songs exactly as I did when I recorded/wrote them, but with the electric guitar set up. Using a loop station can certainly free things up for solos and texture building, but it can also be risky and a logistical nuisance. The RC-1 is quite basic, so you essentially get one shot to get it right. For me, it requires a little too much concentration at times, so I decided to use it sparingly. Because I essentially set my restrictions (electric, pedals, voice), the songs started to take shape pretty quickly within those confines and others were cut. The songs had to be dynamic, utilize different effect combinations, and still stay true to the original sentiment and intentions. Not only that, but the effects had to amplify those sentiments. (Again, pun totally intended.) I cut a few intros that depended on lead lines that I couldn't create in this setting, and replaced them with simpler ones that still set the scene/key. For the most part though, the biggest change and focus was dynamics. Overdrive and the Mono Shimmer both do wonders to add that extra push over the edge.

Things sound a lot different, but it's been fun to rework these songs in a new exciting way. I look forward to presenting this smaller version of Next Paperback Hero to new ears in hopes of enticing them in for another listen. 

 

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