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Progressive Travels

The haphazard chronicles of a professional musician and his relentless pursuit of an otherwise boring life.

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Location: St. Jacob, Illinois, United States

If it ain't Baroque, fix it!

31 October 2006

Life Gets in the Way

Yes, I know…it has been awhile.
Frankly, I’ve just been too busy to sit down and write this bilge. I’ve been swamped at work (a good problem to have, actually), swamped at home, swamped at Dawna’s (another good problem to have), and my mother was in the hospital. I haven’t let it derail the song writing/composing too much, but everything definitely slowed down.

I suppose there is some catching up to do here.

BenWahBob played at Baha Rock Club in St. Charles, MO on Saturday, 23 September. It was a fairly normal gig, with one notable exception: everyone in the band was in a really good mood. We were having a blast on stage, virtually oblivious to the crowd for most of the night. Not only were we picking on Dale (as usual), but he was taking it unusually well all night. He even picked on himself on a few occasions, depriving us of the privilege. It was one of the most fun evenings of playing I’ve had in a long time.

Two weeks later, we played in Wentzville, MO at a wedding reception for some BWB fans. This night was the complete antithesis of the previous Baha gig. I’ve never been a big fan of these gigs to begin with, and this one only served to reinforce that notion. The room was big and wooden, and the acoustics in there were just plain awful. My bass was non-existent. As soon as we started playing, the bride’s mother complained almost immediately that we were too loud. There was no picking on Dale that night either, as he had made it abundantly clear that he was not in the mood for joviality…he took everything as a personal attack. There was a proverbial dark cloud over the whole affair for us. The event seemed to go off very well for the wedding party, but I personally couldn’t wait to finish and leave. On the bright side, we only had to play from 18:00 – 22:00, so the night ended early. We learned a couple of new songs at the groom’s request. Eric Clapton’s Tears from Heaven was practically a train wreck…and it was the “first dance” for the bride and groom. John Mellencamp’s Authority Song was OK, but it’s the same bass line over and over through the whole song. We used a small PA, so load-out was quick and relatively painless.

In the intervening weeks, I had the wonderful fortune of having to replace the starter on my minivan (*sniff*sniff*…one can almost smell the sarcasm). The suspension was almost shot from hauling heavy music equipment, there was an increasingly pungent oil leak from I-don’t-know-where, the windshield had a full-length crack that had started as a rock ding, it was in desperate need of new tires,...I could go on and on. At 216,000+ miles, it was becoming painfully obvious that it would soon need to be replaced. It had been a pretty good vehicle over the five years I drove it, and I put a lot of miles on it. But, I finally bit the proverbial bullet and traded it in for something considerably newer. I had been eying a white 2005 Chevrolet Equinox at a St. Louis County dealership. When I went back to talk seriously about it, though, it was already sold. They had another 2005 with only 12,XXX miles that I actually liked better. I was able to get it for the same price as the white one with 26,XXX miles, and some extra service package stuff thrown in to boot. Oh…and it’s gray! (go figure) Of course, now I have a car payment. I hate car payments.

I also had yet another opportunity to acquire a pipe organ for my home. A small Presbyterian church in St. John, MO was getting rid of an old 3-rank Wicks Fuga model from around 1938 in order to get a new Hammond (?) for their more modern approach to worship. I was told about this by our Service manager, made them a suitable offer, and they accepted. I made an appointment with the minister to see the instrument one night after work, but he never arrived. I tried for several more weeks to contact him with no luck. When I finally did get to talk to him again, he informed me that the organ was no longer available. Whatever. It was probably going to take up half of my living room anyway. Thanks for stringing me along, though. Jerk.

I guess that’s everything worth discussing. Now, you’re all caught up.

Saturday, 28 October 2006
Another BWB gig at Baha Rock Club was the order of the day. We had some apprehension about the potential turnout for several reasons; it was the day after the Cardinals won their 10th World Series Championship, it was just a few days before Halloween, and the weather was absolutely perfect all day. As it happened, attendance was quite brisk all night. I would estimate that nearly half of the people there were in some sort of costume. Some were pretty good, but most were quite lame.

Everyone in the band was in a pretty good mood again on this night. As a result, we had quite a bit of fun again. Dale had lost some of his percussion toys in the past few months, and we had teased him accordingly ever since. Carlos arrived bearing gifts for him; a stuff shelf that he can mount on a stand for his stuff, and a new set of claves. The claves were the best part. He only uses them for one song – Free’s All Right Now – but we had grown so accustomed to hearing them that their absence left a powerful void. He tried other substitutes in the interim, but that only solicited more jabs from us. Bobby tried them, and promptly told Dale that he couldn’t use them…they were in the wrong key. Dale actually thought about this for a moment before making some sarcastic comment back. It was on now! When the song came up in the set and Dale began using them, Bobby shouted at him from behind his drum set, “DALE…WRONG KEY!!!” We thoroughly enjoyed that. As there is no bass part during the verses of this song, I reached over and picked up my tuner, walked over to Dale, put the tuner up to the claves and shook my head, turned the one in his bottom hand about ¼ of a turn clockwise, put the tuner back up to them, nodded and gave Dale the “thumbs-up.” I think Carlos and Bobby may have both actually wet themselves. The rest of the song went off completely in tune. Then Bobby broke his snare drum head (serves us right?) and we had to stop early to repair it. The bar had their costume competition, so that worked out well anyway.

At the close of the night, we dedicated Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and War Pigs to the manager, Jim, who was celebrating a birthday. As part of his celebration, he was promptly punched in the nose. A fight broke out just inside the door, and Jim was into the middle of it immediately, as were several of his quite large bouncers. As we watched from the stage, not breaking our stride (or breaking into Breaking the Law either), I saw the main instigator throw a punch and Jim’s head snap back. The look on his face told everyone that this was a big mistake, and Jim literally beat the guy out into the street. All of this was very entertaining (and very Granite City-like) until I realized that my new truck, which I’ve had for a mere seven days at this point, was parked directly outside the door. Figures. I get a new truck, get that rare “Rock Star Parking” at the front door, and now I might have drunk idiots bouncing off of it or putting their heads through the windows. Fortunately, none of these scenarios came to fruition, and my truck made it through the fight unscathed. When I related this to Jim afterwards, he laughed at me and said, “You should know better than to park there by now!” When I asked him how his face felt, he told me it takes more than that to ruffle him. He then said, “Besides…beating some punk’s @$$ is way better than blowing out a bunch of candles!”

I couldn’t agree more, Jim. Happy Birthday, old man.

We loaded out fairly quickly and hit the road home. I had been listening to the first Infectious Grooves CD during the drive there, but opted for a more traditional soundtrack for the drive home and put in a disc of J.S. Bach cello concerti. After the melee at the end of the night, it made for a very relaxing trip.