Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Paddy's Day 2010

17 March 2010

This was my first year doing extensive pub crawling. The first year I was a gig or so late due to either miscommunication, or forgetfulness on the part of my mother-in-law, I don't know which (and I don't want to know). I left after 1 or 2 pubs, too.

This year I was able to get to the Celtic Center for the tune-up (barely; had to pick up Red-Haired Daughter and take her home due to illness) and then proceded to do 10 pub stops. The bars were pretty empty for the first few hours of the afternoon (12:00 til about 3:00), but as afternoon turned into evening, and evening to night, they got fuller and fuller, until it was almost claustrophobic. We are used to having a big space to circle up in and play. There was no room for circles, or even ovals, in these pubs. We sort of squose in where we could, facing each other--sort of. We aren't even talking polygons, here. More like amoebas. As time wore on, the crowds got louder and more appreciative, too.

Ian overscheduled us, as he apparently has done in years past. At one point we had 30 minutes to do a 20 minute gig, drive 50 blocks and tune up again. Of course that set us up to be late for all subsequent gigs that evening. At one bar I saw Vickie Newton from work, and at another, Fair-Haired Daughter. I did the Amazing Grace solo at a bar called Gracie's and overblew it big-time. I felt terrible, and didn't volunteer for any other solos, though I think PM would have given me another chance if I had raised my hand. I don't think he really wanted me to. So I'll work on overblowing and volunteer another time.

Just as a side note . . . some of those bars were really creepy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

2010 Concert

13 March 2010

It started snowing late morning, pretty heavily, and while down in the lower elevations it stopped precitating, up on the benches it kept snowing until, oh, about 8:00 pm. The snow wasn't sticking to the roads, but visibility was reduced. I didn't have a very good feeling about our audience.

I failed to understand the fanaticism of our fanatics.

They filled 3 sections of the auditorium, despite the snow.

As for the concert itself, the video clips were better than our "Pipes of War" concert, and were shorter and more audible. Lots of different band members were in them, so it wasn't just Ian mumbling through the commentary. There were lots of the stories behind tunes, and clips from WWI (or perhaps WWI movies). There was gas and war sound effects.

This was Karen, Dan and Kevin's first concert. Dan didn't seem nervous, but he never does. Kevin was nervous and was dancing around next to me. I tried to tease him a little to get him to relax, but he was having none of it, so I left him alone with his nerves. Karen had Lungs of Fire, residue of bronchitis. We were lucky she was there at all, and she played here and there, and otherwise was a placeholder, which was fine. I had prayed for her immune system, and she says it worked because her mom, who had the same illness, can still barely breathe whereas Karen herself can play tunes on the pipes. Personally, I think she set herself up for a miracle by being a piper in the first place and developing good, strong lungs, but I'm perfectly willing to admit Divine Intervention on her behalf in this.

For our before-concert meal, Robert (the surgeon) brought sushi and wraps and vegetable trays . . . and cookies and pizza. He's looking after our health. I got a kick out of his license plate: CUTNSEW. He said he doesn't mind if people think he is a quilter.

The funniest incident of the concert was the beginning. There was supposed to be a video clip and smoke, then Jason was supposed to coming walking down the aisle from the back of the auditorium playing a tune. At the stage, he was to turn around and we were all going to start the 9/8's. Unfortunately (for him), he started before the video, got to the stage and THEN the video started. We could hear the stage people muttering, "He just started! Didn't tell anybody!" I guess he could have walked backstage and played the 9/8's with us when the curtain came up, but instead he walked back to the back of the auditorium, and after the clip was over, did his whole tune again. We were backstage in the pitch dark trying not to breathe the "smoke" and sniggering at his blaring mistake. During the intermission tune-up, Tyler said, "Why is it that when Jason screws up, everybody is nice to him, but when we screw up . . . " He never got any farther. Any comment about what happens to 'us' was interrupted by a laugh and a fake karate kick to the head.

All reports--even from experienced pipers--said that we played together, and our sound was clean and bright. It didn't sound like that to me. I know for a fact that I messed up the jig, Piper's Wedding. Maybe that was the only thing.

The treasurer's report said we took in almost $5000, more than any other concert during his (Pete's) tenure as treasurer. For a snowy day--for any day--, that was excellent!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Anticipating St. Paddy's Day

The band usually schedules gigs at bars, etc, during the afternoon and evening of St. Paddy's Day. The first year I was actually in the band, I showed up late for the 2nd gig and had to get tuned up while everybody else was already playing, for which I got scolded. Since then I haven't played the gigs.

This year I'm working early enough that I could possibly do them. I traded hours and got some PTO so as not to kill myself. When I suggested to the PM that I could help out at the gigs, he said, "Thanks. That'd be great." So I get to do gigs. I'll be working in my kilt so I can jump in the car after work (I am now getting off at 1030, tune up at the Celtic Center at 1100) and drive over there.

It's not exactly like being invited to play. But it's not a polite decline, either. It was an enthusiastic thanks. That's very uplifting.

Concert this Saturday. I should practice. A little every day.