Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy Weekend - Friday

I've only been back in China for a little over two weeks and it seems like all of my free time is spent with gig-related activities. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining! Usually a couple shows more than covers my rent and utilities for the month. Since Friday, I played four gigs; 3 on sax and one on keys. Each brought it's own surprises, frustrations and tasty tidbits of insight into Chinese culture.

The madness began Friday afternoon at the a high-rise on Renmin South Road. As I headed up to the 18th floor, I double checked my gear: sax, neckstrap, reeds, play-a-long cd...ok, I'm set. I was greeted by a woman who looked Asian, by spoke English without an accent. This was helpful, as my chinese is not up to snuff when dealing with business matters. She told me that the gig would be one of the strolling saxophonist type. Zai jian Jamey. Fortunately, only about 20 people showed up. The event was the opening of a French architect's Chengdu branch. I played about 10 min. as people came in, waited out the program, then played one more tune after. Easy! the money, on the the next show.

It was the second anniversary of local ex-pat hotspot "The Bookworm" (coffee house/library/bar). Philip had arranged the whole night: three sets, four musicians, one ipod. Keyboardist Fu, the ipod and myself played all the sets while Philip was in and out dealing with his other nightly haunts. Our featured vocalist was Aussie and Bookworm mini-celeb, Lauren. We opened the show with Philip, Fu and myself. After a few tunes, Phil left Fu and I to fend for ourselves. No problem. By the second set, a good crowd, mostly made up of Brits, had developed. This set would be Fu, myself and Lauren. She had five tracks and i had six, all on the ipod for easy control. As we got up on the stage, the already slighty intoxicated audience began chanting 'lau-ren, lau-ren'. This seemed to give her some courage as I put on the first tune. Everything seemed good as she started singing. Then she stopped...but the singing didn't. It turned out she put the wrong track on the ipod; WITH the vocals. She was a pro though, on to Nelly Furtado's 'Like a Bird' and the audience had forgotten the little mishap. The next 45 minutes went smoothly enough as I played a few jazz tunes with Fu. Lauren finished off the set with 'Son of a Preacher Man' and 'Imagine'. I just wished we could have had a rehearsal. Philip got back from his rounds at about 11pm, just in time for the last set. By this time the party was in full swing. After a rousing 'Happy Birthday' song and thanks yous from Peter the owner, people began dancing and carousing rather fiercly. Philip had planned for this and programmed uptempo dance numbers for the last set. We played for about another hour. As the audience was quite inebriated they really seemed to enjoy us. At once point a couple Chinese girls got up on stage and became the band dancers. This was definitely the most fun of the whole evening. I finally got out of there around 1am. It was a pretty busy day with teaching 5 students in the morning and the gig in the afternoon. A good warm-up for the weekend; Real Estate gigs on Saturday and Sunday. Blog to come. Now i must sleep.

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