I’ve played the big room in Pearl Street a hundred times and it’s always sounded cavernous and thin in there but I’ve got to hand it to Mark Allspough, our soundman, who got the room sounding great.
Before sound check I walked to Haymarket and got some coffee and skyped with Cheryl from the basement. It was a gray and rainy day and the atmosphere inside Haymarket was warm and inviting.
I walked over to sound check and we did a few jamming exercises, this time concentrating on changing time signatures during jams, or ignoring time signatures altogether.
We had asked Mark Mercier to sit in with us and he was there for soundcheck so after the jamming exercises we played the two tunes Mark was going to play on, his cover of Columbus Stockade Blues, and Mike’s Voices.
I must say, bringing Mark and Tom Cleary together was big, an event with the equivalent weight of Spock meeting Data. There are so many ways in which these two are cut from the same block. Just to hear them have a conversation could confuse as to who’s saying what, as even their speaking styles are similar.
So when they jammed together it was an amazing exchange. Each has such talent and depth on their instrument and you could see the mutual admiration as they traded riffs back and forth. It was exhilarating for me as these guys represent the cream of the keyboard crop to me.
Anyway, the chemistry of having Mark with us was obvious even in sound check. The rest of sound check was spent jamming to Liggy’s light show for the sake of Mike’s family who came for the afternoon.
After sound check I met up with Dave Wright and his son Ben. Dave was the drummer in one of the first bands I was ever in, in which I played keyboards. We met my niece Lenora and her friend from childhood, Diana, for dinner at the Spoleto Restaurant.
While I was at dinner I got a pleasant surprise: my son Jordan was coming to the gig with a couple of his friends, Sarah and Ken. Woo hoo!!
Pearl Street was sold out and so when I got back after dinner the room was packed, which is great for the sound in there. The crowd was very responsive. They seemed to react to every little nuance and when Mark came up to sit in he got a great response.
The whole night went really well for me and the second set included one of my favorites, Gillian Welch’s “Time (The Revelator).” I love this one because it’s a ballad with great vocal harmonies, a haunting lead vocal and a deep guitar solo in the middle.
The jams were off the hook all night as well. The time bending stuff we worked on at rehearsal was obviously helping us to shake it up and we took the music into unexplored territory yet again.
After the show, Jordan and his friends came and “partied” on the bus along with Dave Wright and his son before we left to do the drive to New Hampshire.
Of course we all felt the end of the tour rapidly approaching. Everyone was making comments about how the band is just hitting its stride and about how deep the jams are getting. It’s such a shame that it has to end after only ten days, but it’s even a bigger shame that it will be months before we play together again.