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Music Production: Life In Balance
08/16/2007 Life In Balance: The Kelly-Strayhorn Theater

Announcement
I'll be joining Steve and Ami of Life In Balance, reprising my contributions to their new CD Om to Ohm tonight, at the glorious Kelly-Strayhorn theater! Expect some reflective ambience, psychedelic nursery rhymes, and some serious trance grooves. It's going to be a good one.

5941 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. $10, all ages, 7PM.

08/13/2005 Life In Balance: Live at the Ellsworth Music, Dance and Arts Showcase

Announcement
Given how well our set at the Food Co-Op street fair went, I'm once again joining Steve and Ami of Life In Balance for a set at the Ellsworth Music, Dance and Arts Showcase on Saturday, August 13, on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. Steve and Ami are invigorated after their western tour, and playing at a whole new energy level. Their latest piece for dance is really quite stunning, and this one's not to be missed.

As ever, I'll be playing electronically processed guitar and ukulele. In keeping with recent shows, rehearsals, and mindsets, though, there will be a pronounced surf/western vibe to what I'm doing. ("What?" you may be asking, "How's the ukulele 'western'?" Consider the American West to be a kind of continental extremity, and then remember that Hawaii is even farther west than that. And while there's no surfing in Nevada, there's plenty of surfing in Hawaii, so it all fits.)

To complete the cultural cross-pollination, we're looking at bringing some of the dancers I've been working with as well. Come on down--it's free, all ages, and takes place at a reasonable hour (7-8 PM). And you can check out plenty of other performers and vendors of all types. How can you lose? Well by not dropping by. See you there.

Saturday, August 13, Ellsworth Avenue at College, Shadyside (in front of Eons). 7-8 PM.

Report

This was an aesthetic victory over bad circumstances. Things started reasonably well--I went down in the morning on bike to scope out the performance site, and was surprised at the size of the stage platform and the number of seats. This really was the main stage. I was also happy to learn that parking for performers would be both conveniently close and free, for reasons that were quite clear when I came back with the gear--lots of people around, and street parking largely full up.

I looked around for Steve and Ami, but couldn't find them, and went into the VIP tent to set up my gear as much as I could so that the move to the stage would be quick. While I did this, the dancers who were performing then (quite energetically) would run in, throw off their outfits, throw on the next outfit, and bolt out the door. I'm really not sure why people seem to think that "backstage" is a glamorous place to be--it's usually pretty utilitarian, and in this case about a million degrees due to the heat and the necessity of keeping the tent closed. Fortunately there was a large cooler full of bottled water, to which we helped ourselves.

I caught up with Steve and Ami, and once the dancers finished, we brought the gear up to the stage, being extra careful with the bowls. I set up to one side, we did the check (with some concern for uke and bowl mic feedback), and waited a bit for the time to start.

As the set began, things were going well--there were a few familiar faces in the crowd, and a general good vibe. We began with "United Dream States," on which I contributed a sort of baritone line on the E and A strings, but didn't want to overplay. I couldn't hear myself in the monitors as well as I'd ordinarily like, but I was able to deal with it. The next piece was more ambient, and I concentrated on volume swells, and then we went to pick up the energy. I started in on the belly dance stuff with Steve and Ami contributing, which seemed to go well, although as the looping went on, my lines were even lower in the monitor, and for playing uke I was relying on hearing what I was doing acoustically.

We'd assembled quite an audience by this point, and we moved into Steve's latest dance piece in three sections, at which point the deluge started--the rain just poured down, scattering our audience to whatever tents or overhangs they could find. Still, we kept going, even as the wind whipped rain around the stage. We played harder, and Steve ran around the stage with his wireless mic, asking people "Are you experienced? Are you experienced?" and it was awesome. It struck me that the appropriate response was to play uke with my teeth, so I did (which people commented on later). The guitar lines were less successful--I wasn't able to monitor the electric guitar acoustically, and I'd pretty much disappeared from the monitor. (Was this because of the deliberate uke feedback I had made a couple times? Still, it was in tune...) Had I been able to monitor the guitar, I would have realized (as I did later, listening to my own recording of my contributions) that the top two strings had gone out of tune in the moist air.

The rain slowed and we got some audience back, and we ended on something of a high. Lots of applause, and requests for encores (which, due to scheduling, we couldn't fulfill). So it seemed like quite a success overall, even with the rain. What we weren't prepared for, however, was the World's Dumbest Stage Hand, who immediately and without warning started poking the tarp over the stage with a long pole, dumping the water off it. OK, so he didn't want the stage supports to collapse, but he could have given people a heads-up before he dumped the water. He came very close to dumping it on everything of mine (he drenched the open flap of my gear bag, inches away from everything inside) and did the same to Steve. He wouldn't hear any complaints, though, as he barked at us and berated someone on the other end of his cell phone call. He also came close to drenching people walking alongside the stage, and on reflection I wonder if all this was just deliberate assholery. Certainly the mood was bad, as the two helpful stage hands (women) were also being insulted by the sound guy. Bad scene.

We got our equipment out of there without further incident, and I received some congratulations from friends (though--again--no sales). I did hang out with Steve and some other friends, checking out Lenora Nemetz's show tunes set, although eventually I had to get rolling for dinner and home. Ultimately a good night, even with TWDSH going around with his malicious pokes.

07/23/2005 Life In Balance: live at the East End Food Co-op

Announcement
Steve and Ami Sciulli of Life In Balance just returned from their Western tour, and they're doing an outside gig at the Co-op. They've also invited me to sit in, which I'll do even though I'm on for a gig tonight. 1PM at the East End Food Co-op on Meade near Braddock, behind the Factory shops at Forbes & Braddock.

Report
The first of two gigs in one day, and our son's first concert, since Steve would be in charge of the PA and I knew he wouldn't make it too loud. All the music gear and the baby gear fit in the Mini, and it wasn't a long drive anyway. A very hot, clear day, which was beautiful, and I didn't have to worry about the sun as they'd put up a tent over the stage. I set up and tuned (silently) right as Steve and Ami started their set, and stood off to the side while they played part of their regular set. Steve has also been working on more danceable pieces, one of which got a tryout this previous week at a festival, and which I was psyched to hear.

Our first piece together was more ambient, but I was looking forward to opening things up--and we did when Steve started the backing track for the new piece. It really is a hot track from the ground up, and engaged our attention in a really good way--Steve was full of energy, wandering around with his wireless headset, going up to people and playing flute right in their faces. Ami brought the drones up as she played the bowls with more intensity, and I let loose with some Western surf-like twangy TV guitar parts. Quite fun, though we did get asked to turn down a bit. We ended to quite a bit of applause, and one young man came up to me as I was breaking down my gear, saying that he'd heard we were good, but our being this good made quite an impression on him. Nice, although I can't take it personally--the reputation belongs to Steve and Ami, and while I did contribute the surf guitar, Steve's groove really pushed us to a new height today.

For some reason, I can't seem to move many of the Music For Dance discs yet, no matter how many people I engage in conversation. Other notable highlights: running into various friends, getting to show off the boy, sampling some of the interesting vegan and vegetarian selections at the Co-op, getting lunch, and picking up some groceries. Quite a pleasant afternoon, great peformance by Steve and Ami, and an overall good vibe, though we had to get rolling by 4 so I could prepare for the next gig of the day.

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