In the honor of Stewart Copeland reviewing The Police reunion gig which he played on, I figured I’d give you an unbiased review of the recent solo gig (10/19/07).
Unbiased, yeah right.
Thank you so much to all of you who came!!! And special thanks to those who were there in spirit…my friends in California, new friends in Japan (you know who you are)…and everywhere else!
This gig was at 169 Bar on NYC’s lower east side. A typical rock place, one must round up their following and get friends and family to cough up $10 to come in. Performer keeps 40% of what the door takes. Whatever…I was able to take Jeff & my girlfriend Jill out to Korean food and take a cab home. Hey, I’m thankful.
A semi-hard pill to swallow for the old ego, as I have done so many high profile gigs & background music gigs where I just get payed well without having to do leg work. But aaahhh – this is a new “in the trenches scenario”, where I am performing some “main event – in your face” kind of music, so there is a different set of dues to be paid. Seems like that never ends! Thats ok…
Setup: Taylor 314ce Guitar (2006 es system) into my trusty BOSS ME-50 pedal board. I recently picked up the LR Baggs para acoustic DI, and actually used the effects loop feature. Went out of the DI into the PA, and into my little Roland AC-60 amp for onstage as well. Didn’t know what I’d be getting into with monitors.
This was one of these scenarios where the minute I got signal, I was “on”. No soundcheck! I guess that all the experience I have had on gigs really helped with thiis aspect – being able to adjust and accept what was going on soundwise.
The evening’s bloodshed started with “Machine Gun”, opening fire on an unsuspecting herd of audience members. I had originally intended to start with something more groovy, but a split second descision to hit people over the head and grab their attention prevailed. I love that tune…it’s my “Dukes of Hazzard meets Van Halen” number.
Since I was in a weird tuning (D G D G B E), I figured I’d stay there and follow up with “Simplicity”. My best bud Christian Urich (lead singer & drummer for Tortured Soul) told me that this could have been improved. Not the tune itself but the pacing; it was this high intensity from the first tune, way on down to a folky ballad – maybe a smoother more gradual raising or lowering of intensity would have been better. Food for thought…food…I’m hungry.
Next came the Stevie Wonder medley “Superstition, Sir Duke, I Wish”. These are always good for the recognizability factor, bluesiness and groove. I always wince a little at covers, but the tradeoff is that it gives people something to hook onto so they don’t feel as if they are being left out in the cold. Paul Beaudry, one of my favorite NY bass players who was there noticed that I made a facial expression occasionally on botched notes. He reminded me – don’t make a face, ’cause no one heard it! Good advice!
Time to bring the intensity down a bit I played “Shelter Island”, a finger picked ditty in D, a la “Mother Nature’s Son” by the Beatles. This is a nice filler tune, and it has been my daily “etude” to get my fingers used to picking on steel strings. If I play this about 1000 times, I start to feel in control of my “touch”. These midway tunes are good to break up the high and low intesity tunes.
“Vitamin E Blues” closed the set. It’s a boogie-woogie E blues with a few chorusues of ideas and ends with guitar body percussion and a big loud bang at the end – a good set closer.
COMMENTS: I got several comments that the high energy of Machine Gun was more needed at other points in the set as well. By severral ladies, actually! It has that “strumming” over the top energy like flamenco, and I will keep in mind that this kind of material is a grabber.
PROS / GOOD POINTS:
The audience was riveted – I had their attention and support. It felt so great to be performing instead of playing background music!! YAY. All in all, this was a success,no question. The energy was good, and people had a good time. It did kick butt (at least for me!)
CONS / CRITIQUES / TO THINK ABOUT:
It was a bit rushed, as it was only a 30 minute set, and I felt under the gun. I would have loved a soundcheck…my Taylor guitar with the ES system is a bit bright, a soundcheck would have been nice.
Most importantly, it will take some time to get my own concept for “the show”. Right now I am feeding off the energy of Tommy Emmmanuel, as a model sort of – as he’s really inspired me. My bud Christian encouraged me to explore more of my jazz & harmonic background, my hip hop, and more – and incorporate that too. That will simply come with time and experience, and will be the unique Rafferty fingerprint.
Tuning, or staying in tune in a live setting is tricky. It can stop the flow of the show, and on YOUTUBE I saw how Leo Kottke could talk and tune simultaneously.
On acoustic, I don’t want to stop a piece if the axe is out of tune, which means constant checking in between tunes.
I’ll surely need a second guitar. What if the Taylor self-destructed, a pickup came loose, string broke, or how about a nice cracke somewhere…or if..? So I get to buy another axe!! Yeah that’ll make 13 guitars in my NY studio apartment!
Once again, thanks all for coming!!!
Next gig – 10/27/07 @ Rockwood Music Hall, NYC 6pm.