This was a pretty busy month. blue number nine had seven gigs. The first 3 were at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, NY. We left Jersey City on Friday the 7th... it was HOT outside... but chilly in Niagara Falls. None of us brought warm enough clothes, so that was a bummer. Fortunately, Sheila lives up there and brought us all sweatshirts and jackets from home... lifesaver. The hotel where we stayed had a pool, jacuzzi and sauna! That was nice. The gigs were tough, though...especially Saturday. Friday, we had a bit of a late start getting on the road, but we were still doing OK for time until we hit traffic only about 10 miles from our destination. We had planned to stop at our hotel first, get changed, settle in and then go load in and set up, but it didn't work out that way. We brought ALL our stuff into the casino, which further delayed us because security checked every single bag, and we had a lot of bags! The stage is way up high above the heads of the people at the bar... up a flight of steps. We carried all our stuff up those sets and it was the funniest thing - all of us opening our suitcases and getting out our stage clothes while trying to set up at the same time. It was stressful, I must admit, especially after the 6 1/2 hour drive. And our first set suffered because of it. I thought we sucked, actually, but other people said we sounded good. We had a lot of fans there on Friday, so that was comforting. Someone told me later that no one, except our fans, was paying attention to us. Well, I would expect that they'd be paying attention to GAMBLING, and not to us! We were so far above their heads that we couldn't tell if people were watching or not, and even when they applauded, because of the noise of the machines and whatnot, we couldn't really hear them.
The next day, Saturday, everyone did their own thing and then we headed over to Dave Miller's studio to do a photo shoot. The new pix are on our photos page if you haven't seen them already. Dave Miller, the photographer, was super nice and easy to work with. He took about 400 pictures of us! It was a lot of work editing and fixing things, but it's done. So check 'em out! Then, we went out to dinner. We got back to the hotel around 11:30 at night. I laid down on the bed (Amy, Marco and I were in one room, Jack & Sal in the other and Sheila rented her own room.) At 12:30, Marco woke me up. We were performing from 1am-4am. Fortunately, I was already dressed and in makeup, but my voice was groggy the entire first set. It was PACKED during those hours, too. Sunday was the most fun of the three, even though we were back on stage 12 hours after our previous sets. We met some cool people (like Tommy Z - www.tommyz.info --> check it out.. he was the sound guy on Friday and the band after us on Sunday. REALLY TALENTED guy and super nice.) And thanks to Chris, Jack, Maddog, Scott, Patsy, Mrs. C, Ron and everyone else for coming out. We'd never played in a casino before, so we were nervous. Also, thanks to Maurice for coming up and joining us on harmonica. YOU DID A GREAT JOB! My great disappointment this trip was this: Monday was a BEAUtiful day. But the guys didn't want to go to Niagara Falls. We were FIVE MINUTES from the falls... we could have just gone for 15 minutes. I mean, geez, we live in Bayonne and Jersey City! It's not like we EVER see nature, let alone one of the freakin' wonders of the world. Believe me, I gave them all kinds of crap for not going to the falls, but you're welcome to help me if you feel so inspired! Hee hee!!
Next gigs this month were our return to the Rock Bar at Split Rock Resort on May 14th. Jeff FINALLY got to play with us and did a fantastic job, and Camari joined us, all the way from Columbus, Ohio. It was fabulous to perform with her again. Once again, Ray from Avenue A blew us away on harmonica. He came up and jammed on a few of our tunes, and then he and the guys did a blues jam. It brought the house down. Thanks to Shelly and also to Viera for taking care of us. Camari and Sheila were treated to great accomodations. It is so fabulous that they do this for us, because the traveling does get tiring. Also thanks to Arie & Kerry for coming out and bringing Kerry's parents. It was bizarre to see our NJ people at this venue, out of context, surreal, but I loved it! Unfortunately, I didn't play the clarinet they gave me until after they had left... well, maybe I should say FORTUNATELY for them. Heh... I have some work to do on clarinet. Afterwards, we hung out with this really cool guy named Pete who turned us on to some acupuncture tips. Sheila was performing with a sprained knee, Jack is still healing and I've been having back and knee pain myself... the freakin' walking wounded. So Pete's things helped. :-) Thanks to ROBIN for helping and to both of Jeff & Robin for putting Sheila & Camari up Saturday night.
After the gig, Marco, Sal, Jack and I went back to check out Sheila & Camari's room and bumped into a Barbershop Quartet convention practicing in the lobby of their building. Don't ask me what these diehards were doing rehearsing at 2:30 in the morning, but it was fascinating! Sheila hung out with them while we went to the room. On our way out of the elevator, she and one of the quartets were getting onto the elevator to come show us what they had taught Sheila! So we hung out in the lobby and they sang us a song, now a Quintet, with Sheila taking a part. They wanted to teach US something (me, Marco, Sal & Sheila), but the guys were chicken. Finally, after they performed a few songs for us, the guys were itching to give it a shot! So each quartet guy taught each of us a part and we sang with them, then, they made us do it on our own. It was SO MUCH FUN! I wish I could remember what the hell we sang because it would be fun to open a set with that.
On the 15th, we played at the Tokio Ballroom. The event was put together by Janet Bressler and was called the Bress Fest. Thanks to Dave S, Claire M, and all of Jeff's friends & sister for coming out! We had a good time. The event was behind schedule. Our friend Pamela West opened the show and then 3 other female fronted bands followed, then us, then another artist, then Janet. We got a great response and are looking forward to working with the Five Year Entertainment Plan people in the future.
On May 23rd, I was having thoughts about ending it all right now... because our gig on May 22nd would be the best final gig I could have. Well, guess I don't know that unless I keep going, but the point is, the gig was just great. The band played well, for one. We only did one set and so we had tons of energy and the audience became completely engaged in our performance. We played at the Blair County Arts Festival in Altoona, PA. Altoona is about 4 1/2 hours away. We almost tied our record high for CD sales. I told the audience they could take a CD and leave their $10 in the box... as Sheila put it, "These people are as honest as Abe Lincoln" (Sheila left all the windows of her car open because it was so hot, with her camera and other things in plain view and nobody stole anything.) The festival organizer plans to invite us back to play in the local theater. And we are making plans for that music video, because as she said, "Your demo doesn't convey your energy." So... I think we'll get more and better gigs and festivals if we can SHOW people what we do and not just let them hear our songs. We have a plan! Anyway, this was such a great time. It was hot, but the stage and the seating area were completely covered, so we were in the shade, the audience was, too, and there were chairs... very classy, if you ask me. It was an inviting set up because the festival booths were out in the sun, so it was a nice change for people to be able to come sit down and relax and listen to music. We were also told it was the first time in 5 years that this festival wasn't rained out. It was organized, the sound guy was great and the people were so nice and friendly and mellow. And we got a standing ovation. I thought I dreamt that.. Marco reminded me of it. Afterwards, when we were walking around to buy food, one of the vendors bought a CD and another guy asked us if we were playing anywhere else in Altoona that night because he only caught our last song. Unfortunately, we weren't able to book anything...we tried Harrisburg, Pittsburgh... well, not Altoona, but we will in the future - in fact, they called us back already and I'm going to call them back once I finish writing this.
Two other things happened this month. The Lambertville Shad Fest people mailed us more t-shirts (they must have read last month's DEAR SURFER, or something...) And now I feel bad, because the t-shirts really weren't a big deal at all! I mean, I didn't mean to sound like it was a big deal, because it's really not! I've got so many t-shirts, most of them end up under the bathroom sink in shreds. Well, I appreciate that they sent them, but it wasn't necessary!! What WAS necessary, however, but totally unexpected was the University Circle people in Cleveland refunding a $17 parking ticket we got when we played on the radio station there in March. I jotted a note IN PENCIL on the ticket when I mailed it in with payment. I don't remember what I said, exactly. I wish I did because it worked and could be used again in the future! But I basically told them we were an out of town band performing on the radio station on the campus. There were no signs indicating that a permit was needed and no one told us prior to our arrival that we needed a permit and that they should make it more obvious before they go slapping tickets on people's cars. It felt great to get the money back!
Our last gig this month was on the 27th put together by the nicest people in NYC I've ever met, an organization called WOODSIDE ON THE MOVE. I was extremely annoyed that night because a certain person I've know for a LONG TIME who lives, oh, 2 blocks from P.S. 11, the school in which our show took place, DIDN'T COME... not many people came at all, actually. The guy in charge told me that this event was held outdoors for the past 15 years and this was the first year they were having inside the public school auditiorium. So they were still working on promoting it. He said they're really trying and I believe him, because I know how it is in NY! People are overstimulated and broke and don't go out, it's that simple. I felt bad that he felt bad... because he's so nice and he's a real fan. Anyway, the school has a nice big stage and it was fun to have that much room to run around, but the acoustics were difficult, especially since there weren't a lot of people in attendance. I had a hard time with this gig... it's really tough to perform well when you can clearly see people in the audience sticking their fingers in their ears. We had little control over the volume and for some reason, the PA system was really bright - too bright... too many highs and too much going on in the 300hz range and that's the range that hurts. A lot of people left after our 1st set. Which is too bad, because sax player Jenny Hill got them all clapping along on the first song of our 2nd set. That was great! But aside from that, I was feeling so sad...the organizers were polite and seemed to like our show, but for me, it was just a difficult time. Well, plus, I had a baby bird die on me that morning. Pippo, my vicious orange cat, caught the bird on Tuesday and I had to work Wednesday and couldn't feed the bird. It was healthy on Tuesday - the cat didn't hurt it - but dead on Thursday. It never got to fly. It was just a baby. And for some reason, I am completely overreacting to this bird's death! Even now, writing this and recalling it, I'm getting all weepy. It never got to fly. :-(
Next month, June, we have 9 or 10 gigs... I can't keep track. It should be interesting.
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Letters from the past:April, 2004
August, 2000 (from Marco)