Music on a July Evening
It's really hard to describe adequately how our Swinging Orangutangs show went on Saturday night. Playing music is such a rush, a joy, and a mental and physical workout that it pretty much washes over you whether it's good or bad. Saturday night's music was overwhelmingly good, and even wafted over into great as the evening wore on.
It's doubly hard to do justice to the night when your talented-writer wife and fellow bandmember beats you to the blog punch and captures the event in words and images so very well. Reading Julie's blog, I often feel as I do when I watch an extremely talented guitarist. I admire the wonderful, amazing talent, then I ponder going home and cutting off my fingers because I realize I will never be able to play THAT well. Or write that well. The girl gots talent!
But I digress...
I'll let the images tell most of the story here. And they were captured by Shila Wilson on a variety of cameras, throughout the night.
We had a great crowd of friends who showed up at the hotel for dinner and stayed through the entire gig. Friendly faces in the crowd are a comfort, especially during the early tentative moments of a show.
Steve McCarthy reported for duty in his flag shirt. Steve is an amazing rock drummer, a positive and enthusiastic bandmate, and a really good birder, too.
As you can see, it was sunny, hot, and humid for most of our show. For the first two hours, we played in the direct sun. Once the sun went down, things cooled of temperature-wise, and heated up music-wise.
The Blennerhassett Hotel is in downtown Parkersburg, WV, and the patio where our stage was located has quite a view of the surrounding buildings, hills, and sky. Playing outside can be tough since the sound waves tend to dissipate moreso than they do inside a building. The Blennerhassett stage has a roof and a back wall, so the sound stays together and is projected out the front. Plus, there's something intrinsically good about being on a stage, instead of on the same level as the audience. It makes you take your performance "all the way to 11."
Things were loose and fun on stage--that's the only way to fly. The more fun we have, the more fun the audience has. That's a proven fact.
Vinnie Mele slums on bass for the Orangutangs. He's a fab guitarist and bandleader in his own right, but he enjoys playing bass with us and we appreciate it. His playing is tight, funky, and tasty. And he sings a mean falsetto harmony, even though we do not think he is a castrato.
Zick tore it up on Saturday night, singing her head off and playing some beautiful solos on pennywhistle and wooden flute. Having her strong vocals sets The Swinging Orangutangs apart from other local acts. When JZ is on her game, ain't nobody can touch her. And Saturday night, she was ON her game.
JZ singing "Take Me to the River." Shouts of "Amen!" and "Hallelujah!" echoed through the crowd. Brothers and sisters: It was righteous.
When Bruce DeMoll joined us on stage with his tenor saxophone, the lawn in front of the band filled with dancing bodies. I play in Bruce's jazz trio on Sundays at The Blennerhassett, and I have known him since I can remember. He and my dad grew up playing music together in Marietta, and Bruce made music his life and career. I've never played with a better musician. It's always a gift when he shows up to sit in at one of our performances. He played sax on "Low Rider" and "Chain of Fools." You should have been there....
Playing music on a beautiful summer evening to a sea of gyrating bodies--it's a musical dream come true.
I found out long ago that if I TRY to play music, it does not come out as well as if I just let it happen. Closing my eyes, and inviting the notes to leave my body via my fingertips seems to work best. Most of the time on Saturday night, I had no idea what I was playing.
Special thanks to our best pal Shila for taking the many pictures of our Saturday evening performance. We love you, Sheels! Photo by Tanya Wilder.