Well I can’t believe I haven’t written an update since December, I truly am sorry. So much has happened that over the next few days I will play catch-up. So a quick blip, in Jan I lost my job and didn’t get a position till late March but I have gotten a position that is 100 times better than my previous position. Thanks be to God he saw me and my family through it all and we never wanted for anything.
Now music wise, this put a damper on my recording as there was no income coming in through these months. The gigs two main ones were absolutely awesome. First and tonight’s focus was the Jazz In the Gardens gig was truly an amazing experience. This was held on March 19th & 20th and I performed on Saturday March 19th. I was asked to share the stage by my great friend and fellow musician Johnny Holliday to perform with him opening Jazz In the Gardens.
The days leading up to the event were interesting as Johnny was debuting music from his latest CD including a great Afro-Brazilian song and Grover Washington’s “Just The Two Of Us”. Now playing this song at a club or bar is one thing, but performing this song to a crowd of 35,000 plus jazz aficionados is a little bit different, so Johnny (who also plays sax) and I were beyond nervous. Then since we all are still up and coming all of the musicians except Camio and Dante, everyone else has a 9-5 including Johnny who is still active in the US Air Force and works a graveyard shift. So getting rehearsals in for a full 6 piece band is a challenge, but we managed to get a rehearsal and a half in LOL.
Now the day of the performance comes in and we are going to the Sun Life Stadium to perform and we are all so excited. We have our parking passes and our “Artist Passes” feeling important. At the main gate a young lady with an “Event Staff” pass greets us with a smile and asks us to follow. As we are walking she says with a smile “let me show you to your trailer.” Did she say trailer? WTH? We have a trailer? We all look at each other and have a huge smile on our faces, we begin to walk just a little taller and swag following the young lady.
As we walk in an alley full of trailers we see signs in each trailer: Johnny Gill, a little further, Lala Hathaway then Lauryn Hill, then Al Jarreau and our smiles grow then a site that just stopped our hearts… In BIG BOLD LETTERS it said: “Storage Only”. Without noticing the sign or what it says the pleasant young lady says “Here’s you guys trailer.” We all look and just begin to laugh… Any essence of arrogance we had over the last 90 seconds have been deflated. The young lady looks at the door and with obvious embarrassment excuses herself and then tears the sign from the trailer and walks away. The trailer was nice had a couch and a few chairs a bathroom and a big bowl with all sorts of sodas, sports drinks and juices.
After settling in and bringing in all of our individual gear we head to look at the stage. To say it was huge is a sincere understatement. On this stage which was easily 120 feet wide were no less that 5 keyboards each of all the top names, a grand and classics like moog and Roland Mark V. Also there were no less that 8 drum sets of several makes and set ups, amplifiers galore and so much gear that it would take an armada of tractor trailers to haul it all.
The back drop to the stage was a 30 foot by 50 foot LCD Hi-Def screen displaying images and enough lights were hung around the stage that if they were all lit could probably cook a turkey in nothing flat. To say the stage was massive was an understatement. But what made this scene more amazing was the scene from the stage into the crowd, a sea of white plastic lawn chairs as far as the eye can see back. The thought that these seats would soon be full of music fans ready to listen to us was amazing. Though I have never tried any drug, the rush of endorphins at that very moment could not be matched by the purest drug.
The next few hours were a bit frustrating, wanting to get to our sound check and anxious to play our stuff, but being trumped by all the big name artists. Finally about ten minutes before our performance we were escorted to stage and told we would need to perform raw with no sound check. Our exhilaration was quickly replaced with frustration as they couldn’t get our click track to play nor get the monitors working and one coordinator screaming that we need to start playing. Almost all the chairs have been replaced with bodies and the remaining chairs are quickly being filled.
Suddenly in a flash everything begins to work and an announcer introduces us and we begin to play. Every song is just flawless and sound better than ever before and the crowd is screaming. When we begin to play the Afro-Brazilian song “Dance Conmigo” and suddenly when I begin to play the Samba whistle a Brazilian flag begins to waive from the crowd and a large group begin to dance and scream in excitement as their native rhythm is being played to their obvious approval. When we finish playing our set it there are no longer any empty chairs and we receive a standing ovation and the excitement and high are taken to a level which leaves us momentarily speechless. But just as quickly we hear a raspy voice screaming “Great guys, beautiful. Now clear out for the next group.” And just as quickly we are brought to our reality.
Our performance was great and flawless and I know that people loved it, but, we were just an opening act and by six we need to clear out so the evening opening acts can use the same trailer. We get to enjoy the rest of the artist got some great compliments from those that took the time to listen and took pictures with them. By the time we turn in our trailer, we are free to enjoy the remainder of the evening in front of the stage, but all the adrenaline is gone and sheer exhaustion sets in. This was truly amazing experience and one we won’t soon forget and are being told more invitations to events like Newport, Monteux, and Jamaica are coming but for today we are done. Tomorrow I will play at both Sunday services at my church and continue my life. Will these other events happen I hope, but we need to take them one at a time, cause life like God's blessings are to be taken one day at a time.