Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sept 25, 2011: Wedding at the Waterfall Conference Center

Neato torpedo venue: Waterfall Banquet Center in Claymont, DE.
Wonder where they get the name?

     As a musician, I think I oftentimes take for granted how much live music can add to the mood and ambiance of a place.  When I hear music, my brain has been trained to pick it apart, analyze it, and process it in a way I could learn the piece.  For the past year, I've done a pretty small amount of listening for pleasure the way I used to.  Whenever I was listening to music, it was for the purpose of learning it.

The wedding hall.

     Tonight's gig was for a wedding and the people in attendance made their appreciation and enjoyment of our music very evident to us.  Some picked out the tunes they recognized while others asked us for tips to improve their own playing.  A couple of staff members also put in their kind words. 
     The jazz quartet I performed with were very laid back, trusting in everyone's talent and only requiring that we enjoy ourselves when we play.  I felt no pressure to try to be ultra-progressive in my playing, no pressure to dance around like a buffoon despite being unable to hear what I was playing (as often is the case with many rock shows), and no pressure to exactingly recreate studio recordings.  It was just a group of three other guys, two of whom I'd never met, and me just enjoying the simpler pleasures of jazz.  

Donald Williams, our sax player for the evening
showing-off his new bari sax.  
     During the commute back, I popped in some music that I was in no way obligated to learn and just listened and sang along like I did in high school.  It made my hour-long drive home feel like a vacation instead of work on the road.  Good times.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jam for Jeff Benefit Concert

     The kind of company a person keeps says a lot about him/her.  Like it or not, we are defined by our friends and family.  As social creatures, something as tragic as a person's death sends shockwaves felt by everyone in that social web.  A few Friday's ago, I had the privilege of performing at a benefit concert at Sweeney's Saloon in Philadelphia held the loving memory of one Jeff Hauser, a man I did not know.

Gifts, T-shirts, and raffle prizes!  (Photo by Noelle F.)

Words of kindness.  (Photo by Scott P.)

Hugs and dancing.  (Photo by Noelle F.)
     The proceeds of the benefit helped some great organizations that help children with developmental difficulties.  The turnout and energy were great and a lot of money was raised.  Much love and the joy of being reunited with old acquaintances filled the air.

Rocking a Zappa tribute in Jeff's memory. (Photo by Scott P.)

Hustle and bustle.  (Photo by Noelle F.)

Lap steel.  (Photo by Scott P.)

     I played keys with Honey Juice, a band of musicians and friends I first saw perform about a year ago at the very first Honey Fest.  In addition to our usual repertoire of Grateful Dead, Phish, and several other phunky, groovy favorites, we were asked to cover some Frank Zappa songs as Jeff was a huge Zappa fan. Friends of his hopped on and did their tributes.  The night went long as did the dancing, cheer, and merriment.

Me jamming away on keys.  (Photo by Scott P.)

Honey Juice and friends.  (Photo by Noelle F.)

     I returned home parched, exhausted, and smelling of cigarette smoke.  As I drifted to sleep, one thought lingered in my mind: I might have never known Jeff, but I got to know the people he held dear.  Seeing the support, love, and smiles that this gathering brought-up really spoke to his character, the kinds of people who were drawn to him, and in turn, what he meant to them all.

Poster board of memories.  (Photo by Noelle F.)