And quite a weekend it was too.
Friday saw the String Project’s gig at the Cellar with various configurations of Eko Collective from Bristol. It’s always a gamble putting on a gig yourself, and especially so with the expenses (and relatively small local following) of out-of-town guest artists. Really our last gig was probably the first time I felt confident we were ready to headline somewhere with the profile of the Cellar too. And String Project gigs, with an 8-piece band, multiple keyboards, a ton of acoustic instruments, double figures of DI boxes and music far beyond the sophistication of most gigging bands, are always hard work!
However, this time it really paid off. The venue felt pretty full (numbers suggest there were about 90 paying audience), the crowd were certainly in good spirits, Julia, Issi and their a cappella trio with Lauren were all in their various ways sublime, and I think the String Project were (again, after our last gig!) as good as we’ve ever been. We even made a healthy profit. Onwards and upwards!
Now rewind a bit to Wednesday and Thursday. In the course of which I’d seen an ad on Facebook for a dep fiddle player to do a function band gig at short notice on Saturday, had some conversation with the bandleader and been signed up to do the job. That process didn’t finish until lateish Thursday evening, at which point I had set lists for something like 2 x 1-hour sets (a full night’s work by function standards, basically), with a proportion of them marked as essential for me to play on (mostly Irish rock or trad folk tunes), note that I was to try and fill in something on all the rest (! especially as most of them were function cover standards – Mr Brightside is notably lacking an evident violin part), and agreement that I could have a music stand on stage so long as I wasn’t buried in it the whole time.
Friday I was in work and then of course doing the Cellar gig, so the only real time I had to work on this lot was Saturday morning (struggling against sleepiness) before heading off to meet the bandleader, John, and get a lift to the venue somewhere a little the far side of Nottingham.
Unusually for a function band, we did cram in a bit of top-and-tailing songs in an outhouse (it was an ex-country house wedding venue), acoustically (drummer managing some truly virtuosic body percussion for the purpose) before and between sets. Probably a good thing too. As it was, I was feeling my way, improvising and literally working licks out by ear on stage through a lot of the sets. Always interesting when there’s only a single monitor mix that seems to have almost none of yourself in it, you have very little idea what the crowd are getting and you’re acutely aware that you shouldn’t screw up the highest-paid single job of your professional career to date!
Well, the crowd seemed to like it (probably mostly not much to do with me, but you know) and John was at least content with the pop-type material, even if I didn’t blag the traditional tunes quite so successfully.
Sunday was unsurprisingly a wipeout – I just about managed to get out of bed and the house in time to play a couple of songs at church (in the afternoon thankfully! I would never have managed a conventional 10:30 service, having not managed to get home till nearly 5am), and then basically came home and sank back into a cocoon of tired wooziness.
Now it’s Monday morning and I have to go to desk work in a bit over an hour and also try to really get the Finezza Quartet demo recording set under my fingers as we’re rehearsing on Wednesday.
Here’s to the week that will be …