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I've got a show coming up on Monday the 29th. My first solo show in two years.
The last time around, I had some trouble. I couldn't figure out how to give the songs the groove they needed by myself, so I assumed the answer was more stuff. I brought in Ableton Live. I had a set of MIDI footpedals, programmed to do different things for each song. I layered keyboard tracks live, I looped harmony vocals, I wrote a nonsense song onstage... I even beatboxed. I had a binder on stage to help me keep track of all the details. It was a disaster. I spent far too much of the show hunched over the laptop, trying not to panic.
Here are some parts that worked.
But I still felt that I needed more oomph to the groove, so I started again, this time with a band. Arthur and the Geniuses. The first gig was just vocals, bass, keys, and a drum machine. We were the house band for a comedy variety show. No stage really. No monitors. It was quiet and beautiful. Soulful and spacious.
Low-fi recording, but it helps me tell the story.
But the dynamics never felt quite right. I wanted drama, and we couldn't get past gentle. So I added more stuff.
Drums and guitar.
It started getting big. Powerful. Thick. The album release show, with our 8-piece band, knocked people's socks off, and rightly so. The band was funky and strong. We zigged when it was time to zig, and zagged when it was time to zag. But I can hear my little voice struggling against all those elements. I'm losing that gentle sense of space.
How did this happen? Well, I've been lazy. I always tell myself to keep it simple. To do the best I can, with as little as I can. But in this case, every time I couldn't make something work, I'd say, "Well, if I only had..." What a copout. The right way would have been to put in the time. To make it work with one piece, so I had a solid foundation for three. To make that work, so I'd know what I was doing when I hit four. Five. Seven. Eight!
So this Monday at LIC Bar at 8 PM, I'm going back to one. Just me singing and playing the piano. And I'm excited, because I've been putting in the time. I'm making it work. I hope to see you there.