The “Not the New Years Eve party

During the day after the New Years Eve show we had a few hours to see some of the city. Once you get past the culture shock of rubbish in the streets and being pestered every 5 steps for “Tuk Tuk Sir?”, Phnom Penh is really quite beautiful; the architecture is amazing and you can see how this could once have been a wonder of the world. A few of us went to the Russian markets to snap some bargains (I don’t know why they‘re called that; there were no Russians. Not even anyone from Uzbekistan, as far as I could tell!). Lots of copies of movies, software, jewellery, clothes, tools; just about everything. And quite claustrophobic, too.

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After the excitement and effort put into the New Years Eve show, we were all a bit flat the following night for the “Not the New Years Eve” party. We turned up at 8pm for a 9pm start, as usual, and I found out that we were to play 3 shorter sets as there were noise restrictions on the club past 11pm.

Playing less songs would normally mean an easier night of it, but we still needed to play all our originals and still needed to have a flow for the show. So I descended into reorganization mode once again and came up with a set list I thought would work without completely pulling the rug from under the brass section (as they would have to reorganize their sheets).  Sharky once again put on a grand spread in the band room of rolls, ribs, nachos and Jack Daniels. What more could you want?

We launched into the show, and after last night it was more like work than a party. Nevertheless we had fun and made it through, knowing that tomorrow we had a day off, before jumping on the bus back to Ho Chi Minh City on the 4th.

It had been a hard few days practicing and playing, and we were all a bit bushed, so it was smiles all around when we took advantage of hte jack’s and food and said our goodnights. On the way out, Mike says “See you tomorrow night for the Jam night, fellers!”

Wait. What?

Gigging!

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
10:15-11pm
11:30-11:50pm, and then
12:10-12:40am.

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.

Down to work

Following the bus trip from HCMC to Phnom Penh, we settled in for two days of practice before the first gig. Leading up to the tour, I’d arranged a practice every few weeks with John and Walter after work which typically went for maybe 3 hours. As we only had two days of practice with the whole band, we had to cram in as much as possible, which meant 7 hours of full on singing for two days straight. After the first night, most of the boys went out for a “jam night” at the Memphis pub. I would have gone but I know this tour is going to take a lot out of me, and so hung back. My hanging back with Kayla also meant Karen could go out, so she joined the rest of the guys. From all reports it was a great night.

So the next morning brought a couple of sore heads to the practice room for another 7 hour session. We covered everything and had half a day to work on show format. Patrick was very focused on nailing the songs marked for the album, whereas I was more concerned with getting the structure right for the live shows. This caused a little conflict, but Patrick and I tend to bump heads occasionally anyway; it’s nothing personal, we just have two differing approaches on how to do things. The band would be a whole lot poorer without his passion. Peter, as always, came in as the peacemaker and we sorted it out, covering both sides in the remaining half day.

That night we did some filming for one of the clips,  which involved hiring 3 Tuk Tuks for an hour and driving around the streets of Phnom Penh just filming everything. After that we headed up to Sharky Bar for a drink (in full band dress) where we were actually recognized by a few patrons (plus the local ‘professional’ ladies in the bar) from last year. You know you’re on the way to rock stardom when the pro’s recognize you!

Dangerfield! And Harley David

Date: 17th Dec, 2010

Venue: Kings Head Hotel

Gig: SA Lotteries Christmas Bash

Act: Dangerfield!

This was the last Dangerfield! show of the year, and one I would normally not have taken, but I got a plaintive cry in late November from Sarah at SA Lotteries who had left it too late to go through normal channels. They were stuck and I’m a sucker for someone in trouble. So despite knowing that we’d be running around like headless chooks getting ready for the PlanB tour of Vietnam (leaving 23rd Dec) I said we’d do it. Sarah was suitably grateful (OK, I might be a sucker, but I still like appreciation!) and asked if we could start at 5. They had the room from 5 to 7. I explained it was difficult as we both worked during the day but arranged for a 5:15 start thinking that I could just leave work early. I had been in the office for the past 18 months and that didn’t look like changing, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. That afternoon Murphy kicked in and I had an interview arranged with a client in town. I obviously impressed them as they wanted me to start the next Monday, in town. This means bus, no car, and less flexible work hours. At this point, dear reader, imagine the following phrase (in italics) spoken with the derision that only a teenage girl can muster… Tuh! Typical!

Some of you may already know that I’ve been working with Adelaide based international Jazz diva Catherine Lambert for a year or so, working towards a new musical project; Harley David, the Aussie Swingman. We had planned to do a set at the Sussex hotel together on the 5th December, but this fell through due to illness and conflicting bookings, so I had written off 2010 as the Harley David debut and was looking forward to 2011. During a session with Catherine in early December, she mentioned she was MC-ing for the annual St. Luke’s charity gig, where money is raised to support the work that St. Luke’s mission (in Whitmore Square, Adelaide) does for the homeless. She said she would probably do a couple of songs as well, and asked if I was interested. “Sure,” I said “sounds great. When is it?” She replies “17th December” … Tuh! Typical!

As it turned out, my involvement with the St. Luke’s show wasn’t required until a little later in the evening. As the SA Lotteries gig was a short one (finishing at 7pm) I figured I could do both. So I committed to St. Luke’s as well. Launching Harley was something I had been working towards for a while, and a 1 song appearance with Catherine was ideal. We decided to do Summertime, from Porgy and Bess, a great song to duet with.

Back to the SA Lotteries gig; as it worked out I had a couple of extra hours accrued with my work in the city, so I was able to leave early on the 17th to set up at about 4:15. Take that, Murphy! Part way through the day I got a call from Sarah, “Sorry to have to ask you this,” (that’s never a good sign at the start of a conversation) “but the venue doesn’t have a PA system. Can I ask a huge favour and ask you to stick around for an extra 5 minutes for the CEO to give a speech? We’re happy to pay you guys for the extra time and you can help yourselves to the bar”. Sucker time again. “Sure,” I say, “5 minutes? No problem. Don’t worry about the extra money, happy to help”. I didn’t recognize it at the time but Murphy was snickering in the background. “Fantastic, you guys are the best! It shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes at most. Seeya!”. Wait. What?

We get to the gig, Rick and I got the stage set properly and start on time. The room is square and with few soft furnishings, which is a nightmare for getting a good sound. Add to that some loud drunk people (not the SA Lotteries staff, they were saints saint) and it was actually quite hard to hear anything on stage despite having the speakers next to us. Nevertheless, we powered through the first set, had a short break, and launched into the second.  All this time there had been various examples of finger food brought out and consumed. Part way through the second set, I was singing and someone came out with a platter of hot chips. Yum. As they walked past, a very aromatic smell coming from the accompanying sauce followed. I couldn’t believe it. I almost gagged. Fish Sauce!! With hot chips?? What the hell was that doing with a bowl of chips?? Despite me almost fainting, we finished at the appointed time. Hopefully the CEO’s address shouldn’t take too long, I thought; Sarah comes up… “OK, Brett, we’ll just do the speeches now and you guys can go”.

Again, suitably grateful.  Again, the Murphy snickering.

“As soon as we’ve done Kris Kringle”. Wait. What?

Date: 17th Dec, 2010

Venue: St. Luke’s, Whitmore Square, Adelaide

Gig: St. Luke’s Christmas Fundraiser

Act: Harley David

Australian Swingman, Harley David

We eventually get out of there about 8pm, packed and ready to go. I make my way to St. Lukes with a car full of gear, still dressed in my Dangerfield! togs. I find a park, get out and find Catherine only to discover she’s stressed out about some of the MC stuff going pear shaped. I wasn’t late, as it happened; there were a few more acts to go before we did our stuff.  Her Divaness quickly rips into me about not wearing a black T-Shirt as previously discussed. I dress down as much as I can, but obviously not quite enough as she hands over her leather jacket. “Here, wear this! Don’t argue!!!I said a black T-Shirt – what the hell is this grey thing?”

The ‘few more acts’ turned out to take longer than I had anticipated. Catherine and Harley finally made it to the stage close to midnight. I was buggered, I knew I had a big weekend coming and most people had left by the time we got on. The plus side of this, though, is that I got to see several world class acts in that little church hall that I never would have otherwise been exposed to: Anthony DAntonio (indie, roots), Kathy Pike (indie singer songwriter), Andy and Marta, Sweet baby James (an amazingly good blues guitarist and performer)
Sweet Baby James stood out as a deadest legend of blues guitar and vocals. The night and the duet with the Bluescasters plus Sweet Baby James backing us up was really enjoyable, and I managed to get some video that I’ve posted up on Facebook link to Harley Facebook page.

Harley is born. In your face, Murphy!

Dangerfield! for the State Theatre Company

Client: The State Theatre Company
Date: 19 Nov 2010
Outfit: Dangerfield! Acoustic Duo
Venue: Space Theatre Rehearsal Rooms, Festival Centre, Adelaide

This was a gig to help the State Theatre Company look after their under-30 subscribers. Apparently they lose a few subscriptions after they turn 30 due to an increase in the fees, so the State Theatre folk are spending even more effort to help them decide to stay.
Rick and I turn up at 8:30 on Friday night, parking outside of the doors to the Dunstan Playhouse/Space Theatre. I called Robyn ( the organiser from State Theatre Company) who told us she’d be there in 30 minutes or so, and to just unload in the foyer and park the car.
So we’ve almost finished unloading the Camry when we notice a rather large sticker licker taking photo’s of the cars (I don’t think they lick stickers anymore… too unhygenic?).
Me: Mate, is it OK for us to just finish unloading here?
RLSL: No. I can’t very well write tickets for these cars and let you park there
Me: Ah, OK. umm… bugger… this stuff is heavy (can you hear the violins in the background?)
RLSL: Well, I tell you what, it’s going to take me another minute or so to finish this one, if you just unload onto the footpath and remove the car by then, there won’t be a problem

What a  nice man 🙂

The play (The Give and Take, with Trevor’s mate George Kapiniaris) was being performed in the next room, so we couldn’t do a sound check and had to be vewy, vewy qwiet. Of course, that meant that we each dropped or knocked over any heavy things that we came across. So 9:45 came around and people started filing in (including the cast), the stage was set up but we had no idea what sort of mix we’d have. Normally it wouldn’t be a huge problem as I have a base setting on my PA, however we had two variants this week. The first was that we were using Rick’s PA head for the first time. It’s the same model as mine, but it didn’t have al the dials pre-set. Luckily Rick had noted down or remembered settings from mine. The other was that I was trying my new wireless microphone for the first time. We quickly found out that it puts out a much higher volume than my trusty old wired Shure.
We had a great time doing the gig and all the people there (including the crew from brass+verily public relations and arts management) were all fantastic. We noticed George having a bit of a boogie (after he had a bit of a nap..shhh!) and for the last song we had Peter Michell come up and sing “Throw Your Arms Around Me”. A sterling job he did, too!

That show was to be the last one for Dangerfield! for 2010 – Rick is flat strap with work and I’m preparing for the PlanB Southern Delta tour, but we received an emergency call from SA Lotteries for their Christmas Show on the 17th December. I’m obviously a sucker for these guys – I already give them $10 each Saturday for nothing!

Later groovers,

Brett

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It could have gone pear-shaped!

Date: 05 Nov 2010

Outfit: Dangerfield! Acoustic Duo

Venue: Maggie Beer’s Function Centre, Nuriootpa, South Australia

There’s a lot of stuff to remember for a gig, and usually I do pretty well. I’m certainly not the most organised person in the world, but most of the stuff I need is in the one place, and so I can grab it, run through a checklist in my head, and turn up prepared. Most of the time…

Did you ever have one of those nights when everything just comes together; everything just falls into place and everything is at your fingertips? This was not one of those nights.

So first, I’ll set the scene. For Dangerfield!, I’m aiming towards playing Corporate shows, Soirees, Weddings and special events. The pub gigs and Sunday sessions can be fun but these other gigs are a lot more personal – I get a buzz of being able to make someone’s special event even more special. This is particularly true of weddings; Rick is great at coming up with acoustic interpretations of songs for walk-down-the-aisle or wedding-dance songs. Add to that a set or two of background music to get people comfortable and relaxed, and then a couple of sets of toe-tapping or jumping-around-like-an-idiot music and it can make for a great night.
You can be as good musically as you like, but if the client thinks you’re a dickhead, they won’t invite you or recommend you to anyone else, so it’s very important to me that we put forward a professional image. We’d been invited to play at a Christmas Party for Rural Directions, an agribusiness consultancy and I’d told Brendan (who initially contacted us) that I’d be up there about 6 to be completely set up by 7.

Uh-oh #1. This started to kick in when I got held up at work. So I’m tootling up the Sturt Highway, approaching Nuriootpa and it’s about 6:30. “She’ll be right”, I think, “I should be able to set up in time, and we’re not starting till 8 anyway”. So I take the Greenock turnoff (as directed by Google Maps), turn right (as directed by Google Maps), and proceed to get lost around the backstreets of Marananga and Seppeltsfield (not as directed by Google Maps). I know I’ve missed a turn somewhere when I end up on a gravel road.
Recovery. After a bit of exploration of the scenic route, I am lucky enough to find an information board. Even luckier, it has Maggie Beer’s on it.

So I find the place and there’s only one car there. What the? I do a lap of the carpark to make sure I’m in the right place and go inside what looks like the function centre to find Travis behind the bar. “Is this the place for Rural Directions Christmas Show?”  Yep!  “Phew!”.

Uh-oh #2. Generally when setting up, I like to mark out the ‘stage’ area first, to get a feel for where things have to go. So I ask Travis for a chair (for the PA), put up the speakers, set out the mike stand, hmm – I don’t remember bringing it in…OMG! There’s no mike stand! Rush out and double check the car – nope, not in there.
Nobody else is here yet, so I might as well change into my stage clothes – off with the sandshoes and dacks behind cover of the car door, stepping into the troos and I set the car alarm off. Woop! Woop! Woop! The birds in the aviaries around the place go mental! Luckily for me no guests had arrived yet, but the roaming peacock did fan up his feathers rather threateningly. Or was it suggestively?
So, no mike stand, what am I going to do? I do have a music stand and some gaffer tape, I could create one, but that would look a bit back yard-ish. Maybe when Rick arrives we can tape both mikes to his stand – still not great, but better than a music stand. I go back in to finish setting up the other equipment. Once inside I notice 3 missed calls from Rick on my phone. He got as lost as I did, but instead of using his man-sense to find an information board, he asked 3 guys drinking on the side of the road. Apparently each gave him different directions; to his credit he managed to find the place anyway – he’s pulling up as I go outside to call him. I meet him in the carpark and break the news… “Mate, you’re not gonna believe this but I’ve left my mike stand at home”. His face fell – “mike stand?” (ferrets around in his boot… pause…) “Brett, you’re not gonna believe this…” he says.
In 3 years of playing together, neither of us has ever forgotten to pack a mike stand. Tonight we both did.
Recovery. Travis to the rescue. I asked if they had an inhouse PA. “Sure”, he says. “You wouldn’t have a mike stand in there by any chance would you?” “I’ll have a look”. He has a look and manages to find one. So Rick and I decide to just use the one mike.

Uh-oh #3. Back to setting up; I have a couple of old stage lights that I hang from the speaker stands to give us a little ambience. I’d set these up and checked the folder for the gels. The gels are sort of like coloured cellophane but more heat resistant. Not there. Duh.
Recovery. There wasn’t one really, we had to rely on our winning smiles (while sharing a mike) to win them over.

Uh-oh #4. Finishing the onstage cabling I hear a couple of expletives from Rick. “What now?” I ask. “ummm… I’ve forgotten the powerpack to my pedal”.
Recovery. Rick had to play without any effect on his guitar. Not too tragic, but not ideal. It’s always good to have a little chorus or reverb on the instrument to give it a little presence.

There were a couple of others through the night, but none really worth mentioning. Suffice it to say that for the night we called ourselves the Backyarders instead of Dangerfield!. The night went really well – they had a Western themed night and the guests came dressed up as Cowboys (and girls), Indians, Zorro, Annie Oakley etc. We played two sets of background stuff before picking it up for another two of more upbeat tunes for dancing. The guys from Rural Directions were great and it seemed like they had a good time.