Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who Are You and What Have You Done with my Band?

It was getting dark and just started raining.  Of course it just started raining - I had just loaded the car and we were on the way to the club where the band was performing.  The optimists will say `at least it wasn't snowing.' I hate optimists.  Optimists weren't at this place last time when it was raining cats and frogs.  Cars and small houses were washing by the window as we were playing.  We had to wait for a ferry to the front door.

As any non-optimist would predict, the rain stopped after we loaded our gear into the place.  At the risk of sounding like an optimist, at least it would be nicer for the people coming to see us.

After three grueling years, we managed to agree on a name [Wolfe Blitzer].  And when I say agree, I mean no one objected, which is the best we could manage.  I remain convinced that Male Pattern Baldness would have been a much better name, but got voted down. [as George Bush said, `things would have been easier if this were a dictatorship and I was the dictator'].

In related news, the bar still had old information about our name.  We're used to this, as we sometimes change our name three or four times a night.

The core of the band has been together for about three years.  Recently we added a new bassist, percussionist and keyboardist, which really seemed to fill things out (as well as taking up much more space onstage).  And when I say onstage, I mean `the area in front of the pool table, which wasn't moving and upon which we were instructed not to place anything.'  As that was our single instruction, we complied.


Spatial dynamics is the science of how things fit, given a certain space (and I'm only making up a tiny bit of this).  Within any group (or marriage), there will be people who get it and people who don't.  The band is somewhat gifted, in that two thirds of us get it.  Unfortunately it's the ones who don't get it who cause all the trouble.  See if you can pick them out:

Bob brings in his equipment and sets it up where it doesn't interfere with everyone else.
Sue brings in her equipment and plops it down in the middle of the stage then goes to talk to people.

Julie sets up the p.a. system because the band needs to start on time.
Stan watches the p.a. be carried by then starts drinking heavily.

George tunes his guitar and sets his amps.
Roger excels at finding the most annoying noises imaginable.  Over and over again.

We've all got them.


lefty's First Axiom of Performing is that if the band starts, roughly at the same time, and finishes, roughly at the same time and in roughly the same key, people will enjoy themselves.  I'm not certain the band believed me at first but it bore itself out in the first set.  The crowd went nuts.

lefty's Second Axiom of Performing is that if you bring the crowd, it doesn't matter how poorly you perform. This also proved true (it was axiomatic).

We are the kind of band who brings new meaning to the phrase `Drink up - we sound (and look) much better the more you drink'.    We had a band meeting last week, during which we discussed our appearance.  I made sure to mention that since we're onstage, we have to look as LARGE and LOUD as possible.  As a result, everyone came in jeans and black t-shirts.  Our lighting consisted of four or six red and blue spotlights, which succeeded in making us look darker, as if that were possible, not to mention the fact that no retinas were spared.  We went blind before the second song.  So much for DIY lighting.

The place was packed.  We were standing room only (SRO).  There were people actually dancing.  It's been so long since we've seen happy audience members that we became concerned and wanted to call an ambulance.

It probably doesn't happen at every show but people actually cheered when we played Jimi Hendrix.  It probably didn't hurt that after the songs, I set the drummer on fire.  This might also have something to do with my wife's comment that we held the Geritol crowd enthralled.  It was, however, a bit sad when we realized that these people were our contemporaries.

Due to the spectacular lighting, I had to look down at my guitar a lot.  I also `go away' sometimes when I play.  It flipped me out to look up and have women going crazy in front of me.  But I am a true musician<tm>.  And what is a true musician<tm>?  The one who marvels at the women staring at him.  Then one steps up to the mic.  She sings out of key.  And POOF - she's no longer desirable.

It's a sickness, I assure you.

No,. really, it was an incredible experience, especially for a first time band outing.  I'm older than most of the people out playing these days.  My goals are not all that lofty:

  • to play enjoyable classic rock in dive (and nice) bars
  • to make people happy
  • to stroke my ego with attractive women
  • playing is the best therapy there is - I want lots of it

For clarification, I'm married, so all stroking is strictly visual (and imaginary).  It seems that I met my goals.  This does not happen often and was a welcome surprise.  I spent the next few days smiling (and sore, but that's a different story entirely).

My friends `caught' me playing a Springsteen song and asked if Madonna was next.
The reactions were mixed and hysterical:

"When are they playing somewhere with a real stage?"
"Why aren't they playing originals?"
"They should play song parodies."
"How come only one of them moves?"
"I"m sorry, I had to stay home and do my hair."


I saw a lot of flashes and cell phone cameras, in addition to a video camera or two.  As a result, there are almost no pictures and absolutely no video of the event.  Should this change, I will post it here.

I did see one light in the darkness after we were done.  It was my best friend, holding up his iPhone, on which was an animation of a lighter.  I told him I would have recognized it earlier if it were an Android phone.

Friends don't let friends use iDevices.
Don't be an iHole.


The band had its first outing with the brand new p.a. system.  The system included a Peavey 8600 powered mixer and a pair of Peavey two way speakers (15" and compression driver).  The percussionist promised me he had Marshall decals to cover the Peaveys because I was embarrassed but he never produced them (he was subsequently fired).

I will say this once and if you quote me I will deny it emphatically: the system absolutely rocked.  It did exactly what it had to with plenty of headroom to spare.  We had to jigger up a monitor system because we don't have any and wound up using guitar amps, which worked fine.

guitar: lefty `77 Strat, `59 reissue Les Paul --> Voodo Vibe, Dano compressor, CTO-1 overdrive, RV-3 reverb, original Fender Blues Deluxe amp.

guitar: backwards (righty) recent Strat, Fender Blues Jr amp

bass: custom Rick 400x, SVT stack

keys: Nord, Sony(?)

drums: round bangy things with a strategically-placed vibra-slap.  The evening could not have gone as well without the vibra-slap (the thing that sounds like a rattlesnake in All Along the Watchtower and Feelin' Alright).

percussion: more round bangy things with a few plastic bangy things (and lots of callouses)


  1. As I looked out into the crowd and noticed a dearth of ladies 24 years old or younger, I was reminded of a story by the great American storyteller Gene Simmons. In the early days of Kiss, Gene said that the crowd included a good percentage of 40-something housewives that just needed to get away from their sloth husbands for a night. If they were lucky, they found themselves screened and selected by Gene himself for some additional fun after the show. At this time in his career Gene was in him mid to late 20's. Fast forward to current day; Gene is now in his late 50s. While walking through the airport, he is approached by an elderly woman somewhere in her mid to late 70s. She asks Gene if he remembers her from one of the Madison Square Garden Shows from the mid 70s. Gene's magnificent brain suddenly does the math and realizes this woman was one of the 1,000s of house wives he banged when he was in his 20s. Gene quickly snuck away in the hopes he could purge the though of jumping on top of an 80 year old woman.

  2. Much as I hate to agree with anything emanating from the codpiece (or mouthpiece) of the esteemed Mr. Simmons, I cannot find fault with his logic.

    But if he slaps KISS on this blog, I'll be rich.

  3. Never been an iHole - never will be.
    Hope you can aquire and post some video.
    Enquiring (and demented) minds wanna see.