Sunday, August 14, 2011

Performance Diary

This past Friday the Kenwood Players performed for an hour over at Gordon House. It was 20 minutes Dixieland (me on banjo), 20 minutes Hank Williams and hymns (me on guitar) and then 20 minutes of Dixieland. Everything went very well.

We were in a flattened semi-circle and left to right it was trombone, trumpet, clarinet, the two Eb tubas, sax (soprano and tenor) trap set and me. Very nice mix on the recorder, except on my vocals. Had it set-up right in front of the tubas with one mic facing the trombone and one the trap set. If I were to crank it higher and stand right in front of it on vocals I think the results would be about the best it can get. The closer it is to the sound, the better it is.

One small note on gesture. A handful of the Dixieland arrangements call for the banjo to go tacet in the last measure or so, and we did one of those pieces. Without thinking I did a sort of flourish on my last strum trying to get it perfectly in the rhythm of the trap set, and seeing that flourish and sensing the end of the piece coming up, a number of people applauded prematurely. I'd mentioned before that I conduct music therapy sessions in part with gesture, just hadn't made the obvious connection to influencing an audience as well.

Something else to note was how well we and the audience connected. Gordon House is an assisted living retirement home, so the residents are the right demographic for old time music. What happened that was so nice is that they picked up on how we josh amongst ourselves between numbers and started making jokes along with us. After we finished a lot of them felt comfortable coming up and speaking to players and there was quite a little confab there for a while.

We're also getting better at being more efficient performers. We performed for 60 minutes and the music only CD runs right at 45 minutes, so for all the talk, we went right from one number to the next and got a lot in. Any more might have stressed embouchures, especially on the Dixieland which is pretty demanding.

Should also mention that Dave F, former Army Band drummer, was able to join us. Having a professional level drummer makes all the difference, especially on the Dixieland. For me it's a treat not to be the sole time keeper on banjo, so I can get a little creative accompanying the other players.

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