Thursday, June 26, 2008

In Perpetual Motion...

What a week! Seems like I haven’t stopped moving over the past several days. Aside from my regular duties at work, fate has conspired to fill up almost every minute of my day, with a few evenings of sheer boredom.

Last Monday I went to chorus and to my delight, one of my favorite clients from work took my suggestion and came as well! He was a bit self-conscious, being more an amazing keyboard player than a singer, but he did manage a few bars here and there. After rehearsal, he and I, along with my friend and quartetmate Lou, went to Four Green Fields and had a great time swapping stories about gigs, women, life and such over a couple beers. I hope he comes back. Not only did I have a blast, but it’d be great to get another real musician in the chorus. He’s got a great bass sound.

The following Wednesday, my quartet got together for the first time in almost 2 months to rehearse for a couple upcoming gigs we lined up for the weekend. We ran down a list of songs we knew well, ones we sorta knew but needed to brush up, and ones we need to learn. I was pleasantly surprised at how many we actually knew well. We had a disappointing gig several months ago for a birthday party. We generally charge $260/hr with a 1-hour minimum, and we were hired for an hour. Now, that usually (especially at birthday parties) involves about 30-40 minutes of actual stage time with some banter included. THESE people put us on a stage and expected us to sing for the full hour. I hadn’t expected that and we weren’t terribly prepared. About 40 minutes in, we ran out of material (we sang a bit fast and banter was rushed). We managed to eek out a couple shakier songs to fill the time, but it wasn’t pretty. Lesson learned.

NOW we had AT LEAST an hour’s worth of music. We went to our first gig (a birthday party) and did wonderfully. Only glitch was that it was an outdoor party and there were some passing thunderstorms. They had canopies, so we stayed mostly dry, but one lightning bolt hit what must have been about 3 houses down and nearly gave me a heart attack! Still, we sang on and everyone was pleased with us.

From there, we went to the Relay For Life at Ferndale High – a benefit for cancer research. We were supposed to be ambient entertainment on the track, but due to the weather, we were moved to the gym. After singing at the entrance for a few of the high school kids there (who, not surprisingly, were extremely impressed with our choice of footwear), we moved inside the gym. At first, we figured our sound would be completely sucked up by the ambient noise and echo, and we’d be barely heard. Acoustics are a funny thing. We started out with “Zippidy Doo-dah”, one of our better songs and has a great barbershop 7th just before the tag and a big cut-off. We’ve gotten REALLY good at ringing chords lately and LOVE holding that one at full volume because we do it so well. We get to that chord and as we sang it, we heard the wavelengths reinforcing each other in the echo. It got louder and louder as we held it. We cut off and it just RANG FOREVER! We look at each other with the biggest shit-eatin’ grins you ever saw, finished the song, and never had another worry about being heard in there.

Sunday was Liam’s belated birthday party for his friends. Planning Liam’s party is always tricky, as his birthday lies almost always around Memorial Day weekend, so we usually put it off a week or 2 so more kids can attend. This year, the planned weekend for his party coincided with one of his classmates who had invited his entire class. Rather than try and compete for guests, Liam went to his friend’s party and had fun with his friends while collecting a few phone numbers for his own guest list. After several calls, it turned out that only one of his friend from Cub Scouts, Lucas, and our friend Jenn’s 4-year-old daughter could attend. Being a small party, we decided to have it at Civic Park in Madison Heights; a WONDERFUL park with lots of room, facilities, and even a skate park. That was the clincher for Liam, as he’s been having a blast tooling around on his new Heelies and roller blades lately. The teens that usually hang out there are absolutely great, making room for him, encouraging him, and giving him tips along the way. He brought his unicycle along and impressed the teens there with that as well. We were there for over 4 hours, talking with Leigh, Jenn, and Sonya’s parents, eating pizza, and watching the kids play. Sonya made cupcakes in wafer cones and airbrushed Transformer logos on top, as well as using the same stencils for food coloring tattoos for the boys. Despite the low turn-out for Liam’s friends, he said it was the best birthday party ever. Mission accomplished, largely thanks to Sonya.

All this week, Liam has been spending his entire day at day camps, starting at the Cub Scout day camp from 8am till 4, then heading to Flint with Grandma to catch their church's Vacation Bible School. It's been very long week for Sonya as well, as she's been getting up at the crack of dawn to help the Cub Scouts set up and helping with the very high-energy kids and activities. They're both exhausted. Thankfully, the Cub Scout camp only ran through Thursday, so they get to sleep in today and relax a bit before heading to Flint for the final session of Vacation Bible School.

Monday night was the annual Detroit Target Fireworks along the Detroit River. Sonya, the kids and I will often join Sonya's parents for the event by parking at Sonya's parents' place in Corktown and walking to the embankment by the Lodge Freeway to watch them. The view is a bit obscured there and we catch maybe 1/3 of the show through trees and between buildings. This year, I took my sister up on her offer to join her on the 40th floor of the Comerica Building to watch them from one of her law firm's offices. I was hoping to take Sonya and the kids with me, but the kids didn't get back from Flint in time to leave and Sonya was to exhausted to get moving quickly, so I left solo. It was a small gathering including myself, Valerie, my friend Paul Bastian, and a couple of Valerie's friends. The view was AMAZING and I had a blast.

The rest of the evenings this week have been rather dull. The kids have been in Flint for all or much of the evening and Sonya has been tired and sore, so most evenings have been spent coming home, doing a few chores, making or buying dinner and vegging in front of the TV. This is rare for me, as most of my nights are filled with errands, rehearsals or work. It's been a bit boring, but a welcome change of pace.

On the docket for the next few weeks are trips to the cottage, quartet gigs, more camps for the kids, and of course work, work, work. It's going to be a BUSY summer.

Coming up next: "It must be Thursday. I could never get the hang of Thursdays"

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