Gig: October 3, 2009
And a very pleasant day was had by all!
We performed at one of the local “Street Faires” on Saturday. For those not familiar, this is where the City Council decides to close down a section of a Main Street for an afternoon, set up various vendor and community booths in the middle of the street, and encourage the local businesses and restaurants to do promotions and give-aways.
The locals all gather to walk up and down the streets checking out the shops and food and booths and so on. There are usually a few small stages set up on either end for performers, high school bands, talent shows and raffles.
Like a County Fair, but on a single street, and of course much smaller. I would say no livestock, but that would not be true. There was a pony ride attraction. (One of the saddest things on earth in my opinion, poor little guys bridled up to walk in circles around a post on the asphalt. They did however exact horse style revenge by dropping the most amazingly horrid smelling poops virtually every time a child rode one. Have I mentioned how sad these things are?)
At any rate one of the vendor booths asked us to come out and perform in front of them to attract the passers by and entice them within. In the trade that is called shilling, and no one shills better than a drummer/dancer combination.
So, with the kind permission of the drum shop (!) this booth happened to be set up in front of, we parked our stools in the shade on the sidewalk and went to it.
First of all: Shade is good. Being able to perform without the hot sun beating down on you is a big deal. A huge deal. Not only for the drummers (and our poor balding heads) but especially for the dancers.
Secondly: Flat sidewalk. A bit hard as a surface for dancing, but the flat and clean part almost makes up for it.
Armed with drummers, dancers, plenty of water, as well as business cards and flyers galore, we were set up and ready by 10:00 am. Soon the crowds began to walk by and we began.
The street faire was only about 4 blocks long (about a mile and a half total) and we pulled people into our area like the promise of free pancakes. We were on, loud, and having a great time and the dancers looked great as always.
The ladies have worked, and worked very hard, at their stagecraft. And not only in terms of framing their movements and polishing the performances, but also in the art of performing with and to the crowd. Flirtatious, enticing, playful, encouraging, and fun the dancers have managed to look like they are having a great time, that their dancing is the easiest and most natural thing in the world, and OF COURSE you could be doing this with us! This is simple to say and difficult to do. A mix of charisma, stage presence, open-ness with the audience, trust in each other and comfort level in the quality of their performance all go into making it possible and the dancers excel at it.
I cannot keep count of the numbers of people that they bring up with them from the crowd, dance with giggling and laughing and encouraging and applauding the whole time. It is really great to watch.
And then they do a serious duet or trio, with complex patterns and shifting moves and just look so polished and amazing. I am truly proud to drum for them.
The Troupe is starting to really come together. Our transitions are solid, our beats are spot on. We have a good solid bass for the rhythms and our pops and fills on the top are framing the dancers very well now.
And this week, we had an oud player with us! He was the husband of one of the student dancers, and he sat in and played with us and we sounded great. Suddenly we had an accompanist picking out a melody, playing chords with our rhythms and just generally making everyone smile.
We played for four hours and it felt like ten minutes.
Most important was that for the entire time we played we never had less than twenty or thirty patrons lining up in the street around us to watch and listen. So the booths and shops we were playing for were very happy with us.
We gave out a ton of flyers and card, talked to dozens if not hundreds of people, and my man N even earned his first “Red Badge of Rhythm”. That’s when you are playing so well and so hard that you split a fingertip/finger nail and bleed all over your drum head and never notice until some else points it out. A mark of some distinction, playing until your fingers bleed is a powerful bit of juju.
Hopefully this leads to even more gigs in the future, because there are hardly any better ways to spend a Saturday.
Looking forward to Wednesday’s Rehearsal just for the high fives alone!