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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!

15 January 2009

New Places, New Faces

09 January 2009
The main ideas behind the new trio format for BenWahBob were to play more stuff we wanted to play, play some different places, explore the challenges of gigging as a three-piece, and just have fun for a change. We seem to be accomplishing all of these. Our set list has changed drastically in the last year, we’re digging the trio challenges, and we’re having more fun than we’ve had in many years. We are also booking at some venues that are new to us. This past weekend, we played at a place in Smithton, IL called No Jacks Bar & Grill. It is a relatively new place which has only been in existence for about a year. A friend of Bobby’s recommended it to us, and thought we would go over well there. So, we booked it.

We got together the weekend before at Carlos’ shop to tweak Bobby’s newly revised PA system. Our friend and long-time cohort Mike Stevenson came by to work some of his magic on it. The sound went from white bread to art bread in no time. The man definitely knows how to massage audio equipment.

I got to the club around 19:30-ish. Bobby was already there, and had half of the trailer unloaded already. While we awaited Carlos’ (who got lost) arrival, we debated the idea of using the whole system. The room was not nearly as big as we had been lead to believe, and it had quite a lively acoustic. In the end we opted to use both subwoofers, as this would be much easier than trying to get the top cabinets on and off of the stands. Carlos arrived just as we were putting the cabinets in place. We made a few spatial adjustments to accommodate the pool table, plugged everything in, and were ready in no time. Bobby’s system has been refined to the point that it takes more time to move everything into place than it does to connect it; one speaker harness to each side of the stage, plug in the microphones, done.

We started just shortly after 21:00. Other than a few changes here and there, they were essentially the same sets we played a few weeks earlier at Motley’s. The first set felt a bit awkward, though, as everyone just kind of sat there watching us. It was hard for me to gage whether they found us curious or where simply disinterested. This was not a new phenomenon for me. I recalled the days at Granny’s Rocker North in Alton, IL when we would play to what seemed a room full of cadavers, and at the end of the night receive glorious praise from most everyone. Once we got to the first break, however, several people began complimenting us.

Bobby had arranged several 21 minute song files on his iPod to play during breaks. Everything was flowing like clockwork. During the second set, we started to get dancers. I guessed that we weren’t so scary after all. We did start to get a little feedback out of the monitors late in the evening, probably due to their proximity to the front vocal mics. We hadn’t really changed anything, but seemed to have gotten louder. Some quick adjustments to the electronic EQ killed most of it, and we learned to just deal with the remainder. I noted that it seemed to be bouncing off of my face when I got near my mic, and quipped to Carlos that I shouldn’t have shaved that day.

The end of the night turned into something of a free-for-all jam session. We started to ignore the set list and play whatever we wanted. We did a couple of Led Zeppelin songs by request and some off-the-beaten-path Black Sabbath tunes as well. We even did the odd Rush song I Think I’m Going Bald at the end of the night for the “one more song” crowd. They actually liked it.

We tore down the stage, received our compensation for our efforts, and were on our way in no time. Well...almost no time. Bobby’s truck died and needed a jump-start. I stopped at the White Castle in Belleville near the Belleville East High School campus. It’s almost a ritual, you know. I had the second disc from Dream Theater’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence in my CD player, and listened to that for the drive home. I need to start picking up some new music again. It’s been awhile.

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