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Music Production: Maurice Rickard
06/16/2005 Maurice Rickard: Live at the Blue Light District, South Side, Pittsburgh

Announcement
The last few belly dance gigs have gone so well, I'm doing yet another, this one once again outside of Ethnic Artz, a fascinating store on East Carson Street. Things get started at 7PM. The event is free, the dancing excellent (ranging from traditional to tribal to modern), and the music richly textured percussion samples, live electric guitar, and haunting desert uke. I'm serious about the uke, too. You'll dig it. See you there.

1102 East Carson Street, South Side. Map.


Report
About a week before this show, I'd gotten an email from a gentleman who plays ukulele, and who'd be in town for the Senior Olympics (table tennis), and who wanted to meet up. I'd figured that he'd done a web search on Pittsburgh and ukulele in order to get my name, and we worked it out that one of his available times was during this show. So not only would I have a gig, but I'd have a chance to meet a more experienced uke player, and with any luck I'd pick up a few pointers or techniques. If I was really lucky, he'd dig the set.

I'd had a number of things going on this week, and there was a possibility that scheduling for the day would be difficult, but things worked out--I was significantly early for the show, got good parking, the weather was clear and warm, and I was in a good frame of mind, even without having done one of these shows in a few weeks.

Rather than rent another preamp, I thought I'd bring a long extension cord and siphon some power from Ethnic Artz, and that worked out, even though I was pretty much at the outer limit of the extension. Since I was so early, I did a leisurely setup inside the shop and chatted casually with the owner and a few customers, as well as a photographer who'd taken many of the shots displayed (and for sale) in the shop. He was a musician himself, a keyboardist, who apparently has quite the array of gear at home. In talking about what I was doing (guitar and ukulele for belly dance), he mentioned to someone that he thought it was a "stupid" idea (um, gee, thanks) until he heard it (oh, well, thanks). So I take that as a compliment, I guess.

Eventually a few dancers came by (as did the vegan baker--people, you have to check this out) and we started setting up. As I was running my gear outside, I noticed one older gentleman coming up on the scene and checking things out; my vibe was correct--this was ukulele player Dick Jeffers, in from Houston. I asked him to hang on to my little $27 Mahalo uke while I set up, and of course he was welcome to try it. I'd mentioned that it was quite a low-end piece of gear ("good" ukes start in the low hundreds), but he liked it--I knew it sounded good and played well in my limited uke experience; apparently it compares respectably even for people who are playing more painstakingly made instruments.

I did my soundchecking and tuning (headphones, as usual), and answered a few questions asked by some prospective audients, and soon it was time to get started. Off we went, and my end of the set wasn't bad, although I'm a bit bothered by the feeling that I'm just going over familiar ground here and not pushing things, as for me Music seems to appear most frequently when I'm on the edge of something new, not knowing what I'm doing. Maybe it's the heightened attention that I have to have in those cases, and, lazy being that I am, turn off when I don't absolutely need it. This kind of slacking is something I need to train myself out of. So it was a reasonable set, though there were more bad notes than usual, so it seemed (guess it's the feeling of pressure, playing for a real uke player). I was afraid I was boring people, but may not have been--for one thing, the dancers had said they'd be dancing for a half hour or 45 minutes tops, but we seemed ready to blow past that, and I brought things to a close at 10 to eight.

I packed up, loaded the car, and Dick Jeffers and I joined two of the audients for an excellent Thai dinner at Thai Me Up, several blocks up Carson, where discussion ranged across several topics, but concentrated on ukuleles and Dick's lifelong experience with the instrument. Afterwards, we did get a chance to play ukes back down at Ethnic Artz--more of a uke lesson, actually, as Dick ran through several of his arrangements of classic tunes ("Jeepers Creepers," "42nd Street," "Button Up Your Overcoat," and others). Quite an education for me, and it's obvious why he's in demand as a teacher and performer. Very good guy, too.

At 10 or so, the owner had to close up shop, so we said our goodbyes, and I was home shortly thereafter. One of those evenings that justifies why one does all this.

Contact:

You can buy my music right now over the 'net at onezero music-- instant music at sensible prices. You can check out free samples before you buy, and there's a discount for buying full albums or EPs.

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Death Pig (Live, July 2, 2003)
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Circuits of Steel Tour 2003: Chicago, St. Louis, Muncie
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