Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend is over ... I'm exhausted!

I'm glad it's over, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

The Redwood Road Cemetery has food and drinks available in their chapel and it's a nice place to take a break, so it gives you a chance to recover between sets.

The band had a gig there on Sunday and I was scheduled to play my solo just before they performed. I showed up and did a quick tune up; then started my solo set. I got through the first piece (Fair Maid of Bara) when Tyler came out and told me to come in a tune with the rest of the group. He told me he really liked the tune I was playing and complimented me on how good it sounded - I was pleased with the compliment.

As the band tuned up, the PM asked if anyone wanted to play a solo during the performance. No volunteers. As we got the pipes tuned and played through a few sets, he asked again about a soloist. Grant was standing next to me and said I should do it. The PM looked at me and said that he thought the tune I was playing when I first got there sounded good if I wanted to play it. I admit I was a bit shocked to be asked, but I decided I wouldn't pass on the opportunity. Then I found out that there would be television cameras there from two stations. DEEP BREATH!! REEELAXXxxx ...

We marched out and played a couple of sets then the PM gave me the nod and Jack announced that I would be playing a solo. I stepped out and struck up - good so far. I hit my E well and went into the first doubling a bit awkwardly. I think this caused me to squeeze the bag a bit hard and my tenor drone shut off. If you've ever had that happen in front of an audience it sounds like you just went from a full pipe sound to playing the piccolo. I figured, "Oh well, I've blown it but there is nothing I can do except play the tune the best I can." And I played on.

I was happy with the tune, but unhappy that my drone popped off. I thought to myself, "Well, at least I got a chance to solo. Probably will never happen again after that."

The next day I got up early and had to be to the cemetery at 8:00am. I put in my two hours at Redwood and then headed up to Mountain View for another band performance. When I got up to Mountain View I pulled my chanter out and checked the reed. It had been giving me some trouble that morning - sure enough, it had a big chip out of the corner - aaaaaaahhh! I figured I was done for now!

I pulled out my reed case and looked to see what I had. I found a new reed and blew into it. It was hard as H E double hockey sticks. I found that if I chew the sound box on the reed a bit (I know ... big no no) it will weaken the reed a bit and make it easier. I tried that and voila - a really nice crow to the reed. I popped it into the chanter and it sounded pretty good.

When I joined up with the rest of the band, I confessed the problem to the PM. He tried my chanter out and found that the F was really flat. He messed with it a bit couldn't get it to work. I was about to tell him to not worry and I'd just sit out, but he said he thought a rubber band would help and we went to his car to get one. Sure enough it worked beautifully. We were pressed for time and I knew he was under some stress, but he remained very calm and friendly. I was very impressed with that.

We got back to the band and tuned a bit more. I was slightly flat, but made a quick adjustment on my own and I was locked in. We marched into the performance area playing a set and then went through some of the regular tunes. Without warning, the PM looked over at me and asked if I would play my solo. "No way!", I thought, "He's really giving me a second chance!" I knew my tuning was locked in, so I jumped at the chance to make up my mistake.

My strike in was a bit off; with the new reed I got a small squawk - but that was it. The drones were tight and full, the chanter was in tune from top to bottom and locked into the drones. No fingering mistakes. Embellishments were distinct and even. It sounded good to me. I couldn't have been happier with it. Jack said it was my competition piece when he introduced me. It really wasn't, but maybe it should be.

Anyway, it was all good.

1 comment:

Rose said...

You appeared as calm as a summer's day during both your solos. I was impressed by both your calm demeanor, your having a solo-length tune prepared, and your execution. Way to play it!