Tuesday, July 31, 2007

For Love AND Money – Our first REAL paid gig...

I'm never keen on taking time off work. True, there are times I absolutely DESPISE that place, but as I'm paid hourly (and fairly well, considering the menial, yet specialized nature of my tasks) each minute takes a bit out of the ol' paycheck.

When I'm giving up my $15/hr in favor of earning $40+/hr to sing, however – hand me my car keys – I'm gone.

I love performing with a quartet. Even if I'm not getting paid, I love singing. The fact that we can – and have – charged as much as $260/hr to have this much fun almost seems obscene at times. At $65/hr per guy, if we could just find a way to book 20 hours worth of gigs a week, as opposed to the 2-3 a month (summer, mostly), we'd all be set for life.

But I digress… Back to the story….

Coda Honor has been performing at events for the Ruth Mott Foundation at Applewood Estates in Flint for the past 3 years. They usually call us about 2-3 times a year to sing for their Fall Festival, Holiday Walk, and some odd event in the summer. They were the first group to call on us after our first gig at the Corktown Homes Tour several years back and have been our most faithful and appreciative customers to date. We're always greeted with a warm smile and checks in hand. We love this group.

This year was no different. I was a bit nervous at first. We had been practicing with this gig in mind from the start. After FINALLY finding a bass, we had about a month – about 4 rehearsals - to learn as many songs as possible. I figured we might be able to get about 5 polecats ready, but for a 3 hour gig, I wasn't sure that'd be enough. The closer the gig came and the more we got together as a quartet, the less I worried.

We gathered at our bari's house about 4. I was the first to get there after stopping for some McD's (by the way, don't bother with their new iced coffee – it's crap). I was able to chat with Dave about music and his daughter's extremely cool job working for a Sci-Fi mag in Cali. We got the rest of the guys together and piled in Big Dave's van to head to Flint. On the way, we talked about contest songs, ran through some of the tunes, and came up with a list of what we knew. 8 songs that sounded good. Not bad for 4 rehearsals!

We get there and give a dry run for "Zippity Do Da", which we had just learned 2 days earlier in chorus rehearsal. Even with no practice, no music in front of us, and faking most of it, it sounded surprisingly good! 9 songs! Cool! I figured I'd bring my ukulele along just in case we needed some filler. I can plunk and croak out a fair repertoire, when the need arises.

We were met by a volunteer, checks in hand, and are given the rundown of the schedule. We have some time before the greeting ceremony, so we head to the rose garden and elicit some smiles and light applause in the rose garden.

For the greeting ceremony, I was contacted a week earlier and told we would be singing after the Chief Operating Officer's speech. The organizer, a lovely lady named Linda, asked what we would sing. I ran down our minimal repertoire. By sheer kismet, our set list fit perfectly. They have been doing construction to re-route the creek so the garden wouldn't be flooded anymore, so "If The Lord Be Willin' And The Creek Don't Rise" was perfect, and as their mascot is a frog, "Rainbow Connection" was another of her favorites she recommended. However, as the C.O.O.'s speech got a bit long-winded, she suggested we just wrap it up with the "Irish Blessing" so folks could get to their ice cream. We then sang for about 15 minutes for the folks in line, running through pretty much all of our repertoire. Then we hit the trails again to sing around the grounds.

Coda desktop

As we strolled back to the gardens, I started plunking out a tune, just to pass the time. As I sang, the other guys joined in, in harmony, woodshedding some great backup! You'd think we'd rehearsed it! I started to get goosebumps. This happened several times throughout the evening.

When we got to the garden, we were met by a couple young girls who started requesting songs we didn't know like "Supercalifragilisticexpialidotious". Only having 9 songs in our repertoire, they started to look a bit disappointed. Suddenly we all look at each other, shug a bit, and start singing it. Completely unrehearsed, faking the words a bit, but sounding astonishingly decent!

We then ask her to sing and she starts crooning "This Little Light of Mine". We then start backing her up, layering "Do Lord" and harmony over her melody. My head begins to spin. Had I actually managed to get a quartet together that had this kind of talent!?

After the gig, we stopped at Mexican restaurant for dinner. We talked about everything from computers, music theory and history, sci-fi, stocks, politics, to possible songs for contest and other topics for well over an hour. We had an absolute blast.

I have always enjoyed being part of a quartet and making music. I've been a part of about 6 or 7 different quartets or variations thereof in my life, but to finally be a part of a group of guys that click so well, appreciate and respect each other, have so many common interests, and above all have REAL talent just blows my mind. If I could bottle this feeling of sheer joy and amazement, getting more guys into barbershop wouldn't ever be a problem again.


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