Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Ears Eve

The decor in The Space on Front Street where The Swinging Orangutangs jammed in the new year was a visual feast. We had Far Eastern rugs and tapestries. There were ropes of colored lights, candles, flashing stage lighting, digital projectors set on Visualizer, a swingin' 60's gel projector, and even a sliver disco ball. Everyone was wearing their glittery best swanky threads and the dancing, well, it looked like a contortionists' convention inside the WD-40 factory.

But for me the best part of the night was totally aural. We made music that was as transcendent as it was trance-inducing for us and the revelers all 'round us. That is not a boastful brag, mind you. I am simply saying that every once in a great while, the music comes out of you in a natural flow. And if you are tuned into this flow, you know to stay out of the way and let it happen. Because if you mess with the flow, it can quickly become a trickle.

The Swinging Orangutangs have had their fair share of "flow" nights in our 15 or so years of music making. But Monday night's performance ranks right up there with the best ever. And I think the reason is ears—we had 12 ears all tuned in to the same frequency. Everyone in the band listens really well and tries to blend what they're doing in with what everyone else is doing. On New Year's Eve, by the second verse of the second song I knew we'd brought along our A-game. We all felt it, grinned big grins, and relaxed back into the music, letting it take over.

At numerous moments during the night, Andy Hall (drums) and Clay Paschal (bass) were linked up like fraternal twins, utterly locked in to what the other was doing. Five or six times, Julie and Jessica sang some harmonies that sounded so good that I got chills. And Vinnie and I managed to get dual guitar riffs going spontaneously that sounded awesome even though we'd never practiced them and never even thought of doing them until that exact moment.

It was a special night of making music with good friends. And we get to make more this Friday night at The Marietta Brewing Company, starting at 9 pm. Good seats still available, but my guess is the dance floor will be full.

Here are some images from New Year's Eve 2007, captured by Official Orangutangs' Shutterbug Shila Wilson. If you haven't already, check out Julie's blog entry.

And O how they danced. . .

We were dancing, too.

Rock steady Andy Hall on drums.

Clay Paschal (and his giant brain) laying down the Down Low on blurry fiveing bass.

Vincenzo Serephino Mele is anything but mellow on lead guitar.

This was Jessica Baldwin's debut in a rock band. She plays keyboards and sings better than the birds.

Julie Zickefoose (The Golden Larynx of Whipple) was her amazing self, but even more amped up by the vibe.

This is me, hitting the high power chords of "Rewind Myself" one of the original songs we did.

One of our hosts, Zane, brought his traditional Fish House Punch to the party. This is supposedly something they drank in Colonial Times in America where every conceivable type of alcohol was poured into a punch bowl. In Colonial Times the life expectancy was something like 17.6 years. Perhaps we have Fish House Punch to thanks for that. Anyway, I managed to stay away from the punch. However, I witnessed several party people glugging down large glasses.

This probably made the band look to them like this:
The Swinging Orangutangs viewed through Punch Goggles.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Thinking About Punkins

Click on the link for the soundtrack to this post.

This morning the frost was on the pumpkin, or pun'kin as they say. So I'm thinking about punkins, and these images came to mind, as did this song, written by John Prine, and performed here by The Swinging Orangutangs.


The Swinging Orangutangs in this performance are: Bill Thompson on guitar and vocal, Steve McCarthy on drums, Julie Zickefoose on vocals and pennywhistle, and Marty Margolis on bass.
Enjoy it with your favorite punkin.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year's Eve 2006!

As alluded to here in BOTB late last year, The Swinging Orangutangs provided the music for the big New Year's Eve party at The Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg, WV. We all survived the show in grand style, managing to perform nearly five hours of music for several hundred enthusiastic revellers. Judging from the usage of the dance floor, I think everyone enjoyed themselves. There were many of our good friends in the crowd, which made things so much easier. Up on stage we were having enough fun ourselves to willingly play an extra half hour for the late-night party people. The hotel repaid the favor by letting us relax in the lounge until after 3 am with some much appreciated food.

Favorite moments of the night for me:
  • ending 2006 with a spirited rendition of Steely Dan's Reelin' in the Years
  • having Phoebe and Liam there with us at midnight (Liam wearing his Superman costume)
  • starting 2007 with a rocking version of Burnin' Down the House by the Talking Heads
  • standing onstage watching 250 happy souls gyrating to the music we made
  • seeing the boys in the band all duded up in our polka dot shirts and ties. We looked like we belonged onstage together--and we did!
Things I would do differently:
  • not play two gigs in one day with a major stage set-up in between. I was at the hotel for 26 hours straight. It's a nice place, but I felt like I should be wearing an employee name badge
  • get a photo of the whole band in our outfits. I'm sad to miss that photo-op
  • Start the boogie music right away. People evidently do not want to listen to any music that is not a DANCE song (either slow or fast) on NYE. In this way it's very much like playing for a wedding
All in all it was a great adventure. A thrilling end to the old year and start to the new.

I'll let the images tell most of the story from here on. . .

The ballroom was packed, the hotel rooms sold out. The barkeeps were perspiring from their exertions.

Julie painted our new logo on the head of Steve's bass drum. The neon green shone brightly from the stage.

Among the evening's first dancers were Phoebe (looking very Coco Chanel) and Liam (Blond Superman). It was so great to have them with us.

Our fab friends Zane and Margaret brought their baby daughter Oona along. She and Zane enjoyed several slow dances. Oona is everyone's fave babe.

Vinnie's smile lit up the room from behind his keyboards. He got the most kisses at midnight.

Marty our bass player looking swankly Italian during a set break.

Marty in action, fingers all a-blur.

It's hard to get a photo of Steve way back there behind his drums. He rocked, so hard.

Up on stage the lights were hot. We eventually shed our jackets and let the polkadots do the talking.

Music in the air, dervishes whirling.

Princess Zick in between I Hear You Knockin' and Take Me to the River.

A pair of orangutangs in their natural element.

Zick sang so well, she earned a feather in her tiara.

Guitarzan riding on the energy from his fellow Orangutangs and the audience, letting the music flow from one year into the next.

Nearly all these images were taken by our best pal Shila Wilson, photographic oracle, energy channeler, fun-seeker, soul sister.