“When I get to be a big rock star I’m going to have easy routing.” That’s always been something I like to think on or in jest I’d announce that to people who gawk at our itinerary and wonder how we do it; travel all those miles that is. It’s the ‘dart-board method’ or ‘Pin-the-gig-on-the-map’ game while blindfolded. Now I’m really jesting, it’s just what happens when you’re at my level in this biz and in the course of booking shows you just have to try your best to piece together good routing. I don’t mind driving; really. I get to see so much. The evolving highway system, seasonal changes, bird migrations, various wildlife, (alive and dead), Unusual ‘Oversize Loads’ being transported, classic cars in motion, fecund fields, pastoral pastures, sometimes stupendous to serene sunsets to child book night skies. The stories I could tell of what I’ve seen from the driver’s seat of a van. It’s not just about watching a gas gauge and the odometer numbers fall.
Today we’re starting out the back and forth part of this tour. For us it’s fortunate that this part of our itinerary is in the Northeast where the states are close and not too big. Yes it’s the Memorial Day weekend but we seem to be moving in the opposite direction or we’re on the road when the traffic isn’t at its heaviest. We’re heading to Connecticut for a private show and I’m looking forward to this because this is going to be about playing whatever I want. It’s actually encouraged from the people that hired us to do just that. They just want us to play and we’re provided a more than comfortable environment with which to ply or trade. No set lists, no preconceived structure, just let it rip and have fun. Our stage is set up expertly on a hill and it’s more than ample to accommodate us on. The whole family that’s hired us is here, from all the brothers and their extended family and even Mom is there. A lot of our dedicated fans show up at this gig because it’s a big family that has grown over the years of our touring with the people that follow us from gig to gig in these small Northeastern states. The Magical Music show continues. We’re in a lakeside area in a beautiful cozy neighborhood and our hosts have put out the word in the area about us coming so there will be no problems with noise ordinances. Everyone has been forewarned but it also exemplifies the sense of community and cooperation of these neighbors to work with each other in allowing each other to engage in a measure of frivolity and good times within reason and tolerance. It’s a great set-up here.
Load in done and our meals consumed we saunter up to the stage and get ready to commence. We open up with the typical starting number of ‘Jump The Trane’ as I keep trying to work on melodic ideas with this tune but after that it’s whatever goes. I see John putting the microphone in front of him ready to sing cuz’ the second number we usually play is one with backup singing but I call something else and he pushes it out of the way and he’s ready to adjust. It’s not going to be business as usual tonight. I call out some old tunes that we haven’t played in a while, some that we do but I change up what I normally play and I also call out some rarely played Hendrix songs. A few of them being the Hendrix version of ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ and ‘Catfish Blues’. Another indicator that this was not to be ‘business as usual’ was that we started off with ‘Sgt. Pepper/Little Help From My Friends’ but it was a bit clumsy on my part cuz’ this pair of songs isn’t getting enough play time for me to master it yet. At the infrequent rate that I call this tune out, it’s on schedule to start sounding solid by about the end of the year. We’ll just have to have fun with it until then. Onward with the show…..
We twist and turn for about 2 hours with our first set, take a small break then we go into our second set. The sun is beginning to go down and the crowd is turning into a black void. There are no lights placed out there like there would be at a club so all you hear is disembodied voices yelling their approval and cheers. A fire has been started way in the back and I can see the silhouettes circling the flames for it is a big fire burning back there. We rock on and mistakes and miscues be damned. There are some lights on the stage but the lights illuminate from the stage pointing up instead of the conventional above and pointing down on us, and everything on the stage is turning slowly into a black void as well. I can only see the pedals that are on due to the small LED indicating its operation. The lights are focused a bit too much in my vision so I’m blinded by the colors if I look down their way. The music plays on. We end in a fury and we call it a night. It was fun just to come here and play. Our hosts have become dear friends to me and all that have attended we know well too. It’s been like a big family getting together for a night of music, fun and food and I couldn’t have been more comfortable in this setting. Kudos to all at the show. This event has become somewhat of a tradition now, it was originally born out of a cancellation while we were up in this area touring, a sudden cancellation that is, and our friends were just trying to help us out and I’d much rather be playing than sitting in a hotel room anyway. From those accidental and generously extended acts of goodwill we have all made it a tradition. I’m hoping this will be an annual event for many years to come. Thanks goes out to Mel and Dave and for all who had a hand in making this memorable gig a warm remembrance and a great time. I look forward to our next show here.
Rock on!!! – chris duarte