Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah from Cinder Bridge

On Sunday, December 18, Cinder Bridge officially became part of the problem.

We participated in another multi-band holiday benefit that day. As I've mentioned before, I like doing benefits. And this one helped out the Community Food Bank, a great cause that's in dire need of the funds. So why "problem"?

Back when we were invited to this shindig, Ron the Drummer pointed out that they'd probably want us to play holiday songs at a holiday show. I sent a message to the organizer, Rik of Tucson Rock Alliance, and asked him.

Rik said they'd like everybody to learn at least one holiday cover.

And that is why, on December 18, even though I spend every holiday season complaining about holiday music being crammed down our throats, we played a rousing, jazzed up version of "Oh Hanukkah" and a highly abridged version of "The Linus and Lucy Theme" from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

That doesn't count as selling out, though, right? Supermarkets never play "Oh Hanukkah," Not even the Barenaked Ladies version.

And "Linus and Lucy" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio rocks no matter what holidays you celebrate or what music you like.

* * *

Happy Hanukkah, everybody. For those of you who have never celebrated it, it starts on the 25th day of Kislev in the Jewish calendar. This year, that's sundown tonight.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Get thee behind me, drummer

When we play an event that features multiple bands, it's typical for the organizer or venue to provide the sound equipment. Speakers, for instance. Or microphones.

Last night's Gift of Love benefit did us one better, though. They had everybody use the same drum kit, which was on a raised platform at the back of the stage. This meant much quicker loading and unloading between sets—good for the audience and convenient for the bands. It also made things ... interesting for Ron and me.

For those of you just tuning in, Cinder Bridge is a duo. Ron plays drums. I sing and play keyboard. In general, we perform side by side. At first that was pretty much for aesthetic purposes. The standard setup in which the drummer sits behind everybody else looks kind of odd when "everybody else" is just me:

Ron the Drummer watches Susan's back

More importantly, though, communication becomes difficult when we're stacked that way.

Take the set list. If there's an original song we especially want people to pay attention to, we often put it after a cover that everybody already knows. In this case, we had our big message song, "Everybody Knows About Me," right after the Rolling Stones' "Miss You." But everyone at Gift of Love was really into "Miss You," and I felt weird about plunging them right into a very slow, very depressing tune.

Normally when this kind of thing happens, whoever wants to change the order glances over at the other person and says, "Let's play [name of song] next." Sneaking a look back at Ron, though, I realized there was no way to convey the information either quickly or inconspicuously. So I turned back around and went into "Everybody Knows About Me."

Then, during the first few measures of our fifth song, before I started singing, the guy who organized the event came over and told me they were running late, so this would be the last thing we played. There was no way Ron could hear him, and no way for me to tell him what was going on. Nothing to do but keep going.

None of this turned out to be a real problem. The audience applauded for "Everybody Knows About Me" longer than anything else—some people were actually slow-dancing to it. And the organizer came up immediately after our de facto last song, thanked us for coming, and announced the next performers.

Still, weird. How do larger bands deal with this? I felt like we should have walkie-talkies or something.

* * *

Thanks to Don Martin for taking the photo, and for letting us pilfer it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grown and sexy

Cinder Bridge is doing a couple of benefits this month. The first one, on Saturday, December 10, is Gift of Love, a Christmas toy drive.

In addition to being a good cause, Gift of Love has introduced me to a term I wasn't familiar with. The print is probably too small for you to read here, but there's a note about the dress code on the poster:
This is an exclusive "grown and sexy" event
Dress to impress
I'd never encountered "grown and sexy" before. Maybe that's because I'm out of touch with the new and happening slang. Or, maybe it's because I've been living in Tucson, the capital of casual, for too long. At any rate, I made a mental note to dress up. And then it hit me ...

There's a reason I wear jeans and sensible shoes to gigs. I mean, besides the fact that I wear jeans and sensible shoes everywhere it's permissible to do so. Gigs aren't just sauntering onto the stage and playing. They involve much hauling of equipment. This is not something easily done in a dress and shoes that are designed to be worn with a dress.

I might be able to pull it off with slacks. But jeans are just better when it comes to manual labor. Before the fashion industry noticed that jeans existed, that's what jeans were for.

So, Ron and I look forward to seeing the audience decked out ... but we'll be dressed as the working class heroes we are.

* * *

Just in case you're in the vicinity and can't read any of the fine print on that poster, here's the relevant info for Gift of Love.
When: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. (We play at 8)
Where: Whisky Tango, 140 S. Kolb Rd., Tucson, AZ
Why: Toys for kids who can't afford 'em!
Cover: Free if you bring a toy donation

Monday, December 5, 2011

Checking it twice

For a while now I've had a theory that someone must like Christmas music. Well, I found him! Here he is!

On a related note, I have a request for Whole Foods, which seems to have gone from throwing a few Christmas songs into the playlist to doing all Christmas all the time. If you must torture those of us who aren't into this genre, could you at least ease up on "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"? Two versions of it in a row is a little excessive.