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An awesome experience


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I know this is a bit long-winded... so bear with me, if you please. Thanks!

Last Friday, I stepped into a fairy tale. At least, that’s how my brother summed it up after I related the experience to him. But I suppose I should preface this by detailing the circumstances leading me into this extraordinary world.

Three months ago, I started the bachelor’s program for entertainment business at Full Sail. It was then that I met Carlos, this cat from Puerto Rico who has lived in the States for a little over three years, and we found an immediate kinship in music. I subsequently joined his business team, which will endure the length of the program. We played a couple of tunes together, and it didn’t take long for us to realize that we needed to form a band. While a nice idea, it’s always easy for a couple of guitarists to talk about forming a band – but the truth is, everyone’s a guitarist.

We eventually did find a drummer though (Dylan plays very well on a MIDI kit), add to that my friend Allen on lead guitar, and we had ourselves a band (Carlos decided he was much more comfortable playing bass). Now keep in mind, we only started practicing about three weeks ago, after converting my garage into a cozy little practice space. We all clicked very well; it’s amazing to play completely spontaneously with a few talented musicians. Well, we hammered out a couple of songs, all original, and had one heck of a good time doing it. About three or four days into this new venture, Carlos told us that he had lined us up a show to play a show in two weeks. We all got pretty excited, and that day we had a fantastic practice/jam-session.

The very next day, when I say him at school, Carlos told me the show wouldn’t happen in two weeks. Instead, he told me we had a week. That kind of freaked me out a bit, but we decided on three definite songs and two or three other reserve tunes we could play if necessary. As you might imagine, we immediately started working on the finer points - changes and beginnings and endings. Not nearly as much fun as lengthy jams, but productive, at least.

So this brings us to last Friday. After a last-minute trip to the friendly neighborhood Sam Ash to pick up strings ‘n things, we headed on over to the gig. Despite Carlos’s multiple prior requests that I join him at the Café de Antaño to at least check it out, I had no idea what to expect from the place. It turned out to be a very quaint little house that had more of a familial, artsy feel to it than a bar atmosphere. When we arrived, Allen, Dylan and I were the only gringos in the joint. I must admit, we probably shocked them a bit when we brought in Allen’s Fender 1000 Roc-Pro half-stack with a four-twelve cab. What probably shocked them even more was the fact that I jacked into that 300-watt monster my acoustic guitar. So, in this intimate little setting, Allen was playing his Paul Reed Smith through my Mesa/Boogie Mark III, I had my unorthodox rig, and Dylan played his MIDI drums through Carlos’s Fender FM212R. Carlos was playing his friend’s bass – I remember it was a Fender Precision, but I don’t recall the amp. (I wasn’t trying to make this a Fender plug, but so be it.)

So we took the stage, and decided that before we break into our set, we’d do a sound check with a tune Allen had written only a few days before. Nearly three minutes into the song, I heard a very pleasant flute melody accompanied by a complimentary trumpet line weaving in and out of our own melody. Whoa! I looked up, and the congero was setting up his congas right in front of me. Looking around, the entire place (probably 20-30 people) was moving – everyone was either playing some hand percussion instrument (I remember seeing some girl with a device akin to a cowbell – just enough cowbell?) or dancing, or both.

As the evening wore on, we all found ourselves intermingled with various musicians, changing the lineup fairly regularly. I cannot describe truly how incredible it was to play in such a laid-back atmosphere, where even the slightest jam led to a fairly long session with half the house playing along. And that was how it went – some of us would sit outside on the back stoop and talk, and the rest stayed in and rocked the rest of the house.

The rest of the evening took on a surreal aspect, as we wound our way through good vibes and triumphant music. After a while, I made my way to the bar to order myself another beer, and met the owner/bartender. Gladys made it very clear to me that she wanted to hear us play by ourselves (not with the other fifteen people who joined us in our newfound band), and told me that we were welcome anytime. In fact, I was to consider the Café de Antaño a safe place to relax and feel at ease. And that was how she sent me back into the fray – with a simple “Welcome Home”.

And that was the night I stepped into a fairy tale. I know I missed a few salient points, such as Umberto (sp?) playing not panpipes from our own mythos, but still punctuating every sentence with a joyful little arpeggio on his flute. Also, one of the tunes we played only lasted for five minutes… it was just a little reggae ditty that we had worked up, but Umberto was kind enough to inform us that no song that we played in there should be less than twenty minutes – and twenty-five or thirty was closer to the mark. His rationale, and I agree with him on this, is that people want to move. The less the music stops, consequently leading to outlandish destinations within a piece of music, the more likely the people are to enjoy and participate in said music. Probably the most satisfying of all though, was hearing not just a few of these cats saying that we were the best band to gig there in quite some time, if not ever.

I reckon we should figure out a name for ourselves.


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I reckon we should figure out a name for ourselves.

Nice story. :)

I figure you should call yourselves "The Terrifying Black Hands of Merciless Horrible Death".

No wait... doesn't really sum up the mood, does it? :doh:

How 'bout the "The Rotten, Filthy, Entrails of Maggot-Infested Doom"?

Uh, no.... :doh:

Hmmm... lemme get back to you.

Nice story, though. :cool:

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