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Date: Sun 30 Jan, 2005 at 13:31
Headline: It's All Coming Back To Me Now...
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Greetings & Salutations!

As I mentioned in the previous note, there was just too much about this latest Colorado run for me to take in and write about in any kind of sensible fashion, but in the time since then certain anecdotes & observations have now crystalized into definitive memories, so I thought I'd share some of them here:

Bluebird Special
The skies were amazing all the way through this little venture. It being mid-January in the Rockies, there was some concern (most from me, cause, y'know...that's what I do) that the weather would be a big obstacle to getting where we needed to go on time...or alive, for that matter. But whatever powers that be smiled upon us and the trips both to and from were of the smoothest sailing.

Audience Aura
It really is true that the energy of a crowd affects the band's performance; not just whether they have energy, but what kind of energy they have. In Vail, the people were into the show, keenly observing and loudly vocalizing their approval between songs. But aside from a few dancers that cropped up here and there, they tended to take it all in with a more relaxed attitude. The second night in particular it seemed they were almost hypnotized by the flow of the set, and that energy filtered its way back through us. Greg and I had some of our best pockets and sexiest grooves that night. In contrast, the Steamboat audience was a rowdy, rambunctious, Rock'N'Roll crowd, and we found that sort of more demonstrative reaction affected our performance as well. The tempos sped up, lending a more aggressive edge to the tunes. Juli actually took the mic off the stand and prowled her piece of the stage, delivering 'Great Gig' with a commanding presence. 'Money', the last song of the set proper, became a monster jamfest with everyone taking a solo during the middle section and stretching the outro into hitherto uncharted musical territory, turning the song from our usual more conservative reading into a true grand finale. Both experiences were great, but the more manic energy was, to me, definitely the better way to end a run. More...climactic, somehow.

All Aboard
Having Flanders involved for this trip made a huge difference in the authenticity of our sound and the band's chemistry in general. His presence on saxophone and flute (and in the case of this jaunt, his first foray into background keyboard parts) always takes things to the next level, and his even-tempered nature & good humor helped out when certain challenges were looking more daunting than usual. And, he plays a mean game of Galaga. :-)

MVP
Since taking over the full-time keyboard position last fall, Matt has brought his usual impressive standards of musicianship and sonic responsibility to new and even more jealousy-inducing heights. He came into this run with a bad cold which got worse as the weekend progressed. All of us who rode with him in what Tim gleefully dubbed "the petrie dish" were also experiencing some nagging symptoms after a few days. By the Steamboat gig, he had lost his singing voice almost completely, and Tim and I had to cover his vocals on 'Shine On' and 'Comfortably Numb', respectively. No one blamed him for it, of course -- people get sick, it happens -- but still it frustrated him terribly. It seemed to me, however, that he channeled that energy into his fingers and seriously turned up the heat on his instrumental performance, because I don't think I've ever heard better versions of 'Welcome To The Machine', 'Any Colour You Like', and 'Astronomy Domine' (among others) come out of this band, and Matt was right out front leading the charge.

Deja Vu All Over Again
Fozz's base camp at any given show is often dictated by the layout of the venue. Sometimes he's off to the side, sometimes he's at the back of the house...at the Darrington festival last year, he actually had to set up backstage, so he practically had to run out into the crowd to check on his handiwork. In both Vail & Steamboat, he was positioned just a few feet away from my usual spot, at the far end of stage left. It was a nice arrangement, because it allowed for better communication between us on cues and modifications to the set (especially at Levelz, where the stage volume was beautifully and thankfully lower than usual). We've been friends for so long that we have a chemistry which really transcends that of the band in many ways. But sometimes I get so used to compartmentalizing our relationship and treating him in a separate fashion either as a friend or a co-worker that when the two unexpectedly collide -- say, when I sneak a glance over at him in the middle of a song and we laugh at some private joke that was part of our shared lexicon before this band was even a twinkle in anyone's eye -- it's positively surreal. Throws me for a loop, but makes me glad he's there. :-)

Rockin' The Old Skool
While Wish You Were Here is my favorite specific Pink Floyd album, my favorite general era of the band is the Post-Barrett/Pre-DarkSide time period. The trippy years. The haven't quite developed their signature sound but going with their instincts until something comes up years. The Roger's whinging hasn't ruined the mood yet years. The Live @ Pompeii years. Yeah...that's the stuff. Anyway, I always make a point to include something (sometimes several somethings, if I think I can get away with it) from that phase of the band's career into the set, and though it doesn't bring the house down in the manner that, say, 'Another Brick In The Wall' does, it's always incredibly satisfying for me to spy a few folks totally digging the Old Skool tunes. The second night in Vail, when we ventured into 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun', it went from the usual "few" folks to a full-house rave as the song built and built and built into a marvelous cacophony, then wound down for a serene finish, the crowd with us every moment. It had been a while since I've had that "floating above the stage" feeling while locked into a groove, and I did my best to absolutely savor it that night.

I'd Like That Pizza With A Side Order Of Respect
Whenever I happen to mention that this band hails from Utah (and these days I usually only do so when directly questioned, for this very reason), I often find people staring at me as if I have lobsters crawling out of my ears. Patrons at local shows are shocked that a band from their home turf could possibly be this...well, good, and apparently to those from out of state, even in the year 2005, Utah is still looked upon as a place where Rock'N'Roll has been outlawed along with dancing, laughter, and independent thought. Busting the barriers always feels good, of course, but when certain preconceived notions enter into business relationships, it can be especially frustrating. We approached the Steamboat gig with some trepidation, and so did the powers that be @ Levelz. We felt, for various reasons, that we were not being taken seriously -- and they felt, for reasons I can only speculate about (though I think I have a pretty good idea) that we were not meant to be taken seriously. The 180 degree turn in everyone's attitudes between the time we pulled up to the club and time we pulled out for home was truly something to behold. There's nothing like knowing you've truly earned someone's respect above and beyond their expectations, when all you were doing was the job you would have done anyway...because it's what you do, who you are. Damn, I love being in this band at times like that.

Recording the new CD and planning for future gigs continues...more updates soon.

ciao,
-Thom