New Years Eve came around so quickly, and after a days rest from the practice sessions, we were all raring to go. We arrived at Sharky’s bar in Phnom Penh about 8pm for a 9pm start and saw that the set times had changed from what I’d assumed. Instead of 3×45 minute sets as assumed, we had: 9:15-10pm
11:30-11:50pm, and then
This caused some frenzied activity on my part – a set of music isn’t just thrown together, you craft it to give it a flow where it dips and rises throughout the show, to help build and maintain involvement from the audience. I typically approach it from a set-by-set perspective, and having the third “money shot” set split in two was hard to re-order. The problem with re-ordering songs is that all the players need to know in advance what songs are coming up so they can prepare for it. This is especially true for the brass section who play off charts (instead of playing by memory, or lack thereof, like the rest of us). Their charts are in set list order in those little plastic sleeves in a book, sometimes spanning several pages, and so changing the order affects them the most. I also had to consult with them to make sure I didn’t put two ‘killer’ songs next to each other. The boys work really hard on a few of the songs and after a hard blow, they sometimes need a breather while we play something simpler.
The third set was re-arranged and approved, and then it was time to hit the stage! We got a huge introduction from Big Mike at Sharkey’s and launched into “Southern Delta”.
The whole night went over really well, and I was very impressed with the whole band; there were a few mistakes which could have ended in train wrecks , but through good communication and a bit of marshalling from “The General” (Sneaky Pete) at the back, we recovered well. As you add more people to a band, the likelihood of a train wreck increases. With this 7-piece lineup, it really was a testament to the skill and communication of all that this didn’t occur.
The night ended for us quite soon after we finished playing, as Kayla wasn’t feeling well and we had to get her back to the guest house. Luckily, we got her back about an hour before the night-long vomiting started. Poor bugger. Needless to say we were all washed out the following day. She slept all day, I took it easy but had to go and do sound check and prepare for the “Not the New Years Eve” show.