Escanaba Show Review

I'm blogging today from the 8th St Coffeehouse in downtown Escanaba, MI (the only place in town with free wireless internet access), where two nights ago I played a fun show with two of my long-time Yooper friends, John D. Beck and Jeff Krebs. Jeff, John, and I have played many a gig in this town over the early as 1995, and other years, too (1997, 1999, 2001 I think). This is probably the best music venue in the U.P. these days, and we had a really good crowd...maybe 50 people, and some who drove all the way from Ishpeming and Negaunee to attend.

I've noticed in my recent commentary after each show that the reviews tend to go like this "awesome show," "one of my best performances," "a highlight of my musical life," etc. Well, the show from a couple nights ago is evidence that not every show is so flawless and lovely. Although Dawn told me it seemed to go well from the audience, I felt less-than-stellar about my portion of the gig. I guess it was okay, but I was certainly not "in the zone." Here are some reasons why I was unable to hit this one out of the park:
+ I chose to play while seated on a rickety bar stool (always a bad idea). I should stand up, or sit on a low chair, BUT never teeter atop a stool a-la Kenny Rogers: "On a warm summer's evening, on a train bound for nowhere..."
+ I hadn't played guitar in weeks, so my callouses were gone from my fingers, and I put on some nice new (and sharp) guitar strings before the fingertips were in serious pain!
+ I had eaten two huge pieces of spinach lasagna (and a giant glass of milk) at my in-law's house right before the gig. Bad idea jeans. I always play MUCH better when I'm hungry.
+ I haven't played a solo-acoustic coffeehousey show in a LONG time. Been doing the band thing a lot this Fall, or the occasional solo church gig, but the solo coffeehouse format felt foreign to me. (funny, back in the mid-90s, this was the only kind of show I ever played!)
+ I'm coming off a week of Christmas festivities, so I was feeling particularly greasy and puffy and exhausted (staying up all night long with a 2-month-old does not lead to rock & roll glory).
So anyway, I did my best, but it was a tough night. I totally forgot the words to "Falling Down" (I always have trouble with that song, for some reason), and it took me awhile to get back on track. Here's a rough approximation of my set list:

Falling Down
Smart Girls
We're Creating Monsters
Every Town's The Same
Out Behind the Old Hotel
the Serious Kind
Gospel Verses

At the end of my set I brought up the other musicians for the evening, and our full band performances redeemed my weak solo set. I stayed on acoustic guitar, and joining me were Jeff Krebs (on banjo & guitar), John D. Beck (on bass), and my brother Tim (on drums). We wrapped up my portion of the show with a couple REALLY cool interpretations of some of my lesser-played songs:

Almost Never See
I Love You With All of My Mind

Then, after John and Jeff's excellent set, the audience demanded a jam session, so Tim and I jumped back on stage and we played a couple fun cover tunes to close the show:

Gimme Shelter (Rolling Stones)
For The Birds (Bruce Cockburn)

Once again, having Jeff, John, and Tim play with me really gave me the psychological boost I needed, and we indeed rocked the house.

Here endeth my performances for the calendar year 2006. I've only got one gig on the schedule in January (at Dunn Bros in SW Minneapolis), and it'll be full-band, so it should go okay. That's about it for the new year, so it looks like I'll be lying low for awhile (which is okay with me). But the blog shall continue.

They hung Saddam (yes, of course he was an murderous dictator), but it seems like the world is taking a little too much pleasure in revenge. Hopefully the new year will bring more peace and less "dancing around the body."

Time to head back to the in-laws to help figure out how to operate the digital-photo-printer they got from Santa.


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