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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!

18 December 2006

Root of Evil

Saturday, 11 November 2006
BenWahBob seems to be whittling the schedule down to one gig a month lately. The winner of this month’s lottery was Rusty’s in Edwardsville, IL. I normally wouldn’t complain about this at all. In fact, I still won’t…even now that I have a car payment (have I mentioned that?).

Money, money, money…what a terrible concept. No one ever seems to have enough, and some have even less than that. Most of us have plenty, really, we just spend it unwisely. I am frequently guilty of that myself. I didn’t really need that Cessna 152 for my MS Flight Simulator… I didn’t really need to spend as much as I did on a new vehicle (although it almost seems impossible to spend less on anything halfway decent)… We can always seem to find ways to justify these expenditures, though.

Even Dawna feels the crunch every once in a while. She is normally very frugal about her spending. Not unlike many, however, she is very generous when it comes to helping others in need. She did, in fact, help some friends in need on several occasions about a year ago. Unfortunately, her generosity was rewarded with what basically amounts to contempt and deceit. I referred to them as “friends”; but true friends do not make promises that they have no intentions of keeping, nor do they just flat out lie to you and turn their backs on their debts. A sad result of this is the loss of what she thought was a good friendship. She has also been forced to sell her convertible – the car she was going to give to her son next year when he turns 16 – to help pay off the debts that were soundly ignored by those who were responsible for them. I’ll not mention any names here, as these people know who they are.

Sorry for ranting about that, but it’s been a sore point for about six months now. This has little or nothing to do with the Rusty’s gig. In fact, it’s been so long since then as I write this blog, that I can really remember nothing of any significance regarding that gig. One note of interest was the lack of any bass players sitting in for try-outs in the matter of my replacement. Apparently several were contacted, but none bothered to show.

Saturday, 09 December 2006
Last gig of the year, and it was, of course, at Baha Rock Club in St. Charles, MO. Yet another relatively uneventful gig…with the same exception…no bass player applicants. When this came up in a conversation with Carlos & Bobby, Bobby admitted that he had not yet actually placed the ad in whatever publication. Hmmm…that was a bit disappointing. I suppose I should be patient through the process, as I am aware of how difficult it can be at times to find a replacement. However, it has been six months now since I informed them that I needed to be replaced. Knucklehead made no effort to replace me when I left that band, but they also stopped scheduling gigs. BWB now has gigs scheduled well into 2007. At some point, I suppose I may have to come up with a cut-off date. But for now, we’ll just see how it goes.

We did finally do that Purple Haze/Green Acres thing, though. Just before launching into Immigrant Song, Carlos started into Purple Haze. I sang the first two verses from the Green Acres theme, then the last verse of Purple Haze. Mike Mathews was out to see us and just stood there grinning and shaking his head. I took that as a sign of our success. I must admit that it was difficult to pull off without laughing, but my professionalism willed itself through. I did snicker a few times, though.

We also had the same trouble with set times again. We seem to play right through to the end of the printed set lists with absolutely no regard for the time…even thought there is a clock on the wall right next to the stage. Then, we took the same 20 minute breaks as usual, which just kept pushing us further off schedule. I seemed to be the only one who noticed that the club personnel were visibly irritated by this. WATCH THE CLOCK ON THE WALL, DALE! That’s why it’s there…right next to the printed time schedule for sets and breaks! I guess next time I’ll mark near the bottom of each set in bold red letters, “WHAT TIME IS IT?” (not that time, Derrick)


I did a bit of traveling again this past week. Unfortunately, it was for work. Chris Soer (from the Voicing Department) and I drove to West Dundee, IL (Chicago area) on Sunday afternoon to finish an installation of a Wicks Royal Classic digital organ. This was the fourth trip made to this church. The building was unfinished when it was delivered and installed, but they insisted that we do Tonal Finishing anyway, as they had some event at which they planned to show off the instrument. After finding some problems, another trip was made. Now, Chris and I arrived on Monday morning to find that three large widows between the foyer and the sanctuary were still not in place, and the acoustical treatments they had planned for the back wall were also still not in place. In addition to all of this, there where still workers in the foyer laying the tiles…nothing like trying to voice an organ over the sound of tile saws. We had to install an additional subwoofer, and move some of the main speaker cabinets to new locations. Chris and I had to muscle the 167 lb sub up a ladder to the second floor level. Did I mention that Chris only weighs 135 lbs? It made for an interesting day, to be sure.

We eventually succeeded, and Chris did his best to rough in the voicing…again…in the mostly completed room. It was obvious that he would be making yet another trip to finish it…which will be his fourth time there.

We drove back on Tuesday, and arrived in Highland around 14:30. We both went into the office to pee on a couple of fires, then left for the rest of the day. We had put in long hours at the church, and decided that comp time was in order.

Another reason for the early departure on Tuesday was the early flight out to California on Wednesday morning. We met at the St. Louis airport around 04:45 to get through all of the security stuff for a flight that left at 06:15. We stopped over in Dallas (DFW), then flew on to Orange County/John Wayne International/Santa Ana/insert any other name here. We rented a car and drove to the church in Chino where we were installing yet another Royal Classic digital organ. This time, though, there was one rank of pipes going in, too. Two guys from the Shop had driven the stuff out there over the weekend and were already well into the installation when Chris and I arrived on Wednesday afternoon. We worked late enough into the evening that most of the restaurants were closed when we finished for the day. Chris and I ended up at the drive-through of a local Burger King for dinner.

Thursday turned into another marathon work day. We did break for lunch sometime just after noon, since we seemed to come up short on Speakon© connectors for the speakers. We made a trip over to Ontario to the Sam Ash Music store, then had lunch at – of all places – Chevy’s. It seemed a bit odd to travel all the way to California and eat at a place we could eat at in St. Louis, but there we were nonetheless. We returned after lunch and worked late again. Bill and Bobby went back to their hotel reasonably early, but Chris and I worked until well after midnight. Our efforts seemed to pay off, as the digital portion of the instrument was playing and the voicing was mostly finished when we left. The biggest challenge had been speaker placement. This church is really more of a huge auditorium than a traditional-style church. It seats somewhere in the vicinity of 2000 people. All of the speakers were installed in the ceiling, with the exception of two of the four subwoofers that were located under the stage. Getting the other two subwoofers up in the allotted space was difficult at best, even with a lift. We found a way, but it required us to “alter” the building a bit…like cutting out sections of the metal wall studs.

One unfortunate side of this installation was the strong opposition to it by the church’s music director. They moved to a more contemporary worship when they built the new building, complete with light shows and dual rear-projection video screens. This guy did not want an organ in the proverbial picture, and was not shy about saying so. Every opportunity he got to take a jab at it was willingly seized. It’s obvious that this instrument will not get much use at this church, even though at least half of the congregation seems to be in favor of it. Whatever. A wealthy donor wanted to give us money to install an organ in his church, and so we did. It is theirs to deal with internally now. As my own little jab back at them, and with Chris prodding me, I did give a run through the opening of Mr. Crowley. I sometimes feel a bit guilty playing Ozzy Osbourne in a church, but not this time.

I had to fly back Friday morning, but the other guys stayed to tidy things up and finish with the pipes…a polished copper Trumpet en Chamáde that seems terribly out of place there. Chris was suppose to return with me, but opted to stay behind as well and catch a later flight. I called him when I got to Dallas, and they were voicing the pipes already. Very cool.

I didn’t listen to much music at all during these trips, other than the bits that Chris and I played at the churches. The one in Chino had a really nice Yamaha 6’ grand piano on the stage that we gave some considerable use, including an interesting duet with him on the piano and me on the organ playing Pachelbel’s Canon in D. It was a good-sounding, good-playing instrument that was killed by the dead acoustics of the room. Too bad, really. That place has a lot of potential that they will never realize.