Band Practice: A Sunday at the Doghouse

We are getting serious about being ready for the Capitol Bowl.  The FULL Lava Pups got together at the Doghouse.  No trio, the real thing.  I was so excited that I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon setting up the drum kit, printing out posters and fliers, plugging cords into each of the practice amps, vacuuming the rugs, and dusting off music stands.  I even tested the lava lamp which sits on top of the PA.

Sunday came.  Practice was scheduled for 11:00.  We are not stereotypical musicians however (assuming that you are kind enough to put me in the “musician” category).  Everybody arrived early!  Don and Paul were waiting outside the gate when Glenn and I pulled up at 10:40. 

While they plugged in their instruments and Glenn adjusted the drums to his liking, I laid out tortilla chips, salsa, crackers, hummus, salami, and cheese -- food for an early afternoon of rock ‘n roll.  Everybody except I pulled a beer out of the refrigerator.  Caffeine is what fuels me.  Red Tail Ale, Long Hammer IPA, and Corona fueled the others.  Paragons of healthy eating?  Not us!

A little food and liquid fuel, share some stories, and we were ready to rock ‘n roll.  Generally, Glenn, Don, and I work our way up to the tough songs.  We play four or more familiar songs to get warmed up. 

Paul, however, is more of a risk taker:  “Let’s start with Goldfinger/Secret Agent Man.”

We told him what we had done arrangement-wise.  He started into the chord sequence.  Don joined.  Then Glenn.  My turn.  I sang to myself, “Goldfinger.”  Wait for Don and Paul to play that first note.  “He’s the man, the man with the Midas touch.”  But singing to myself and listening to Paul and Don overloaded my multitasking skills.

“Oh, damn, I’m screwing this thing up.  Let’s start over.” 

Paul started the chord sequence again.  Don joined.  Then Glenn.  My turn.  “Goldfinger.”  Wait.  “He’s the man, the man with the Midas touch.”  This time, my multitasking skills were up to the test.  We played through Goldfinger.  Chords to end it.  Transition and into Secret Agent Man.

When we finished, Paul said, “That’s pretty close.  Let’s try it again.”  We did, and we were better.  “We’ll have that together for the gig.”  That was assuring.

Paul obviously wanted to assess where we were with the songs that we are adding.  He called the next song to practice.  “Last Date.”  I started.  Everybody came in, and we made it through Last Date.  Paul said, “I’m still learning that song.  Let’s try it again.”  We did, and I know that I liked how it sounded. 

Paul seemed to like it too and said (jokingly), “We can ask Paul Johnson how he does the song at Camp.”  I thought, “Yeah, and we can play it for him and ask his opinion.  Fat chance! “

We talked about the transition into Sleepwalk.  I grabbed a slide, and Paul played some 1950s sounding intro.  We played.  When we finished, Paul said, “You’re late on the harmonics part.”  He showed me what he thought it should be.  I played it.  “Still a little late.”  I played it quicker.  Then, Paul looked at the notation, “Maybe you’re not that far off after all.”  But I liked the quicker version.

We played Sleepwalk again.  Better.  Then we played Last Date and Sleepwalk together -- the way that we’ll perform them at the Capitol Bowl.  “Hey, that’s pretty good.”  Paul agreed but said, “Let’s do it again.”  We did.  Paul gave it his approval, “That’s almost ready.”

We ran through Out of the Vortex.  And we semi-nailed it.  Pretty good for the four of us not performing that song for more than one year.  Again.  Even better.  That one will be ready by the end of the month.

We tried the other two “new” songs.  We were not as successful.  Yeah, they need work.  The good news is that we have time which shortens by the day.

We shifted to some songs we have played before.  But they were among our newer material or pieces that seem to give us a bit of trouble.  This Sunday afternoon, they gave us very little trouble.  With Paul’s playing, we sounded really good.  We closed our full band practice with Rawhide and Jack the Ripper.  Wow!

After grabbing new drinks, we settled onto the couches and easy chairs in the Doghouse.  The guys finished their beers.  I nursed my fifth cup of coffee for the afternoon.  Our conversation ran the gamut from the artwork for the Pyronauts’ new CD to coming up with a list of what to bring to music camp. 

This was a perfect way to spend part of a Sunday:  Food, music, engaging conversation, fun, and friends.

Leave a comment

Add comment