Whew...I'm done with the most concentrated portion of my "eight gigs in a week-and-a-half" frenzy, as four of them happened this weekend. I'll comment chronologically:
Starting the weekend off was the holiday gala at the college, where the administration throws a big dinner for the people who donate scholarship money to the school. Combo PM played in the atrium during dinner (which is always wonderful, by the way, especially the dessert table) and then the big band did one opening number and two closing numbers during the showcase concert portion and chilled backstage in between. Everything went well, although there were some nervewracking moments at the beginning when it was ten minutes till downbeat and we had no trumpet players. I told the combo to "stretch a little" on Blue Bossa and they followed me to the letter; the tune clocked in at around 20 minutes! Dingus opened up with an eight-minute solo, and Fizban followed him with six minutes of his own. Then they both disappeared for dinner during everyone else's solos, finding themselves stuck in the dessert room when it was time to play the head out (an act of complete dingosity on their parts). The group ended up stretching so much that they only needed three tunes to kill 50 minutes before the speeches began. Despite the fact that "Let it Snow (x3)" started off about 30 BPM faster than I counted it off, the rest of the gig went off without a hitch.
After the big band finished, Fizban, Dingus, Demon Halfling and I went to see The Last Samurai, which unfortunately was a 10:35 show (we got to the theatre at 8:30, so we bought our tickets and chilled at a nearby Starbucks). Not only is it a long movie (got out at like 1:15), but we chilled a little too long at Starbucks and got back to the theatre to find only front-row seats left (ack). The neck strain notwithstanding, it was a really great movie.
After a relaxing day (sleeping till noon, etc.), Fizban and Dingus came by to carpool over to the Combo PM gig at Ke Davi. You may recall that this is the fairly new coffeehouse near the college that I discovered when 15th Street Jazz played there a few times since the end of the summer. I got to know one of the owners at their last gig and we talked about having a place for the college combos to play, and this finally happened tonight...and from the way things went, there'll be way more to come.
I wasn't even sure that we could totally fit Combo PM in the space that they use for a stage (compared to 15th Street, they're Dingus-sized; 15th Street is a quartet, while Combo PM is a nonet), but it worked out just great. I was also concerned about volume, but the only people who went outside when they started playing were those who were talking on their cell phones.
I was also concerned with the small crowd at first (as were the owners, of course), but then eventually it almost filled up, mostly with people from school (hanging those flyers did make a difference) who were at or playing in the guitar concert. They cheered loudly not only for their friends but also anytime I said the name of the school; some of them even started dancing during The Chicken (the obligatory closer, but we replaced the usual big band "SNL" intro with a gospel-waltz version of Silver Bells).
It was also fun for me personally because I brought the bari (it was one horn not already represented in the combo, and I never get to play bari enough anymore) and got to play on my Vandoren ZZ reeds, which I'd had since UNT homecoming but hadn't had a chance to bust out yet. It's the first time that Vandoren has made a bari edition of a specialty jazz reed, and I have to say I like 'em. They make a nice big sound and seemed to make doing jazz inflections much easier. It was fun to play and I helped kill a bit of time.
Anyway, the evening was a total success; everyone had a good time, no major flaws, and the owners want to talk about having regular performances by school groups every month, which would be great for the school and should be great for Ke Davi's business.
After playing my usual two services at church, I went to the next stop on my way-too-packed Sunday: my first-ever gig at a grocery store.
This is no ordinary grocery store, mind you; Central Market is a specialty store for foodies--people who are really, really into food. The fact that I'm rarely even home to cook should tell you that, yeah, this was my first time in one of these places. It looked cool enough from what I saw of it; I think they have a lot of unusual items at the expense of some of the mundane ones. In other words, they might not sell laundry detergent, but they have 57 different types of oregano. They also have things like a cafe, a sit-down deli and an extensive floral department; while we were playing, they brought in the Giant Poinsettia Ball From Hell and set it up in the front of the store (I think it ate one of the workers that was moving it). This sounds like a place I might not frequent until I have Mrs. Kev on board (or maybe I should pretend to be into food and possibly meet her there??).
At any rate, I was playing for two of the four hours with the Judy Hester Group, which was like old home week for me. Judy used to sing in the college big band back in the day, and we worked together in Just in Time before it went on hiatus. The bassist and drummer, Frank and Brian, were not only in the big band a while back but also anchored my own combo in the mid/late '90's. And Scott, the pianist, is in the TI Jazz Band and also played in the Six O'Clock Lab Band when I directed it at UNT. Even though I hadn't played some of the charts in over a year, (and was sightreading some completely) it was a good time. It was especially funny to look at people's reactions when they realized there actually was a live band on the balcony; it was possible to not see anyone if Judy wasn't singing, since the rhythm section was a bit farther back. Several customers did a double-take when they caught a glimpse of me playing for their shopping pleasure. Oh yeah, and Jazzy G was there for a second; it was her grandmother's birthday so they took her out there. I guess grandma is a "foodie" too...
It's always fun to play with old friends, so hopefully I'll get to do some more stuff with them. I could only stay for a few hours, as I had the DFWAAA holiday dinner to attend in Las Colinas. That's always a good time; a lot of the wives show up and there's always great conversation. Today seemed to be a lot of reminiscing about college days, as almost all of us went to UNT. Oh, and I found out that the Chipotle in Denton is supposed to open tomorrow--good news for Demon Halfling and Dingus (and maybe Demon Matt) when they make it up there eventually.
Speaking of Dingus, this post has grown to Dingusoid proportions (maybe even as long as a chapter of the I-Lee-Ad), so I'll stop now and get some rest (and give your eyes some as well).
PLAYING THIS WEEKEND IN THE KEVMOBILE: Spymob, Sitting Around Keeping Score. I raved about this band in an earlier post, and now their CD has finally been released. Even though Fizban pointed out that I was flouting the Inspiration Theory by listening to a rock band on the way to last night's gig, I couldn't help it; these tunes are just too catchy. Go to their website and download a few free mp3's; you can order the CD from there too.