Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Did You Miss This Week? (Week 213 #256)

Pentatonic Scales!!!

Filisko and Noden are 'down under' performing, so B1 was treated to the musical wisdom of Shoji Naito. With the classic Sam Cooke tune, Bring It On Home To Me, as a guide, Shoji defined the major and minor pentatonic scales and demonstrated when and how they are used. "Wheedle-deedling" on your harp and playing the diatonic scale can definitely get you in trouble on tunes like this - Stormy Monday and I'd Rather Go Blind are other good examples - so knowing how to navigate using the major pentatonic is extremely valuable.

Sensei says, "Learn your scales and be a real musician!"

The Shakes say, "Catch us Friday to hear two harps doing Bring It On Home To Me!"

The Shakes Final Bash At Vine Tastings!!!

- this from The Shakes (note that while the club is closing, The Shakes are definitely still gigging!)

Sad news. After years of supporting The Shakes and live music, our beloved Vine Tastings is closing.

But not without a BASH! We have one last gig there Friday and we're going to send them off with a blowout. We'll have special guests sitting in with us and you need to come party with us, dance with us, conga line with us and drink down their inventory! We know you can do it!

Vine Tastings
123 E. Main Street
Roselle, IL

Friday, March 11

Kirk Manley, vocals, harp
Connie Russell, vocals
Grant Kessler, harp
Chuck Frenkel, bass
Shoji Naito, guitar, drums
Marty Binder, drums, guitar

and lots of special guests!

20 Reminders About Making Good Live Music (After Seeing Filisko & Noden)!!!

It’s always a treat to see live music.

As a musician, I find myself studying performances hoping to learn something new. As an audience member, I’m just hoping to be entertained. As long as I’m clapping, grinning, cheering, and swaying, then I like what I’m hearing and seeing. It’s as simple as that. Or is it?

In Joe Filisko & Eric Noden’s case, they make it seem so easy. Here is a list of things I noticed the duo doing so well when they recently performed at SPACE in Evanston (Sunday, February 27, 2011). Some might be review. Some might be new. Either way, put these pieces together and you’ve got yourself a memorable show.

Full disclosure: I’ve been a student and friend of Joe’s since 2004, so I may be a bit biased. And Filisko & Noden didn’t ask me to write this. But I couldn’t keep these nuggets to myself.

1. Two people can make the music of six. I swear I counted 9 instruments played between Joe and Eric. Both of them used their voices and two hands (that’s 6). Joe played harmonica. Eric played guitar and kazoo (we’re up to 7). Eric used his guitar as a drum. Joe used his harp as a steady rollin’ train (9 total). You get the idea. The music you make isn’t limited to the instrument you play. It’s only limited to the imagination and resourcefulness of the musician.
2. Jot down life’s ideas. Take notes, keep a recording device handy, and write songs about what you experience in daily life. When you’re ready to perform your original, it’s likely someone in the audience will relate. Like Eric Noden’s ode to Chicago’s Blizzard of 2011, “Salt Rock Blues”.
3. Leave room for applause. After high-energy solos that move the crowd, stay on the I chord of whatever song you’re playing for a few bars before you start singing the next verse. That way, you’re deliberately leaving room for the audience to hoot and holler without missing any of your song’s next verse.
4. Repetition is a good thing. Repetition is a good thing. Repetition is a good thing.
5. Mix up your amplification. Play harmonica through both your vocal mic and your amplifier mic. Variety is the spice of sound as much as it is life.
6. Listen. Listen to everything your band members play, say, and do. Listen to everything you play, say, and do. Listen to how the audience reacts…or doesn’t react. Listen to the levels of the amps, mics, and monitors. Listening is key. Joe always says, “these aren’t head handles” (pointing at his ears).
7. Stand up while you perform. You’ll earn a seat on stage once you’ve played as long as veterans like James Cotton or Honey Boy Edwards.
8. Rhythm is king…always. Look for heads nodding up-and-down or side-to-side in the audience. See if people’s toes are tapping.
9. Change up the groove from tune to tune. Delta. Cajun. Funk. Mojo. Rhumba. Swing. Tramp. When these kinds of grooves are in the mix, your traditional blues shuffles will sound even better to any ears.
10. Pay homage to your heroes. If a song was inspired by a legend, tell your audience before you play it. That influence might be someone else’s hero, too.
11. Move around the stage. Just because the mics and amplifiers stay put, doesn’t mean you have to.
12. Listen.
13. People love to be recognized. If you personally know fans or friends in the audience, give them a shout out on stage. Especially if they have names like “Buzz” or “Bone”.
14. Make that tiny instrument sound huge. Play rhythmically. Play melodically. Play harmonically. Play it dirty. Play it clean. Play it big. Play it bright. You’ll hear Joe call this “using the strengths of the instrument.”
15. Include the audience in your banter. If you’re going to pal around with your band member on stage, make sure your audience is also in on the joke or story.
16. Play harmonica in more than just 2nd position. Throw a 1st or 3rdth, 12th, or 6th position tune to your repertoire if you’re adventurous. You just might turn the head of a harp player that’ll ask you, “What the heck were you playing that last tune in?”
17. You’re never done learning. I’m sure if you asked Joe or Eric afterwards: “If you could do the show all over again, what would you change?” they would have answers. Even humble, talented pros like Filisko & Noden consider themselves students of music.
18. Put some feeling into it. If you truly believe in everything you’re playing and singing, so will the audience. Just think back to Joe’s “raging” performance of his original tune, “Angry Woman.
19. Did I mention, listen?
20. Have fun! Actually, this should be first on any list.

This list is not limited to 20. The next time you go to a live show, take notes and drop YouMissedMonday.com a line about what you witnessed.

And if you’ve been performing for years (I know some YMM readers are vets on stage), please share what you’ve learned on your journey of making good live music.

Keep on keepin’ on…

Corporate Kirk Manley, The Shakes

B1 Blues BBQ!!!

Hey all, Carlos Orellana is spearheading efforts to have a B1 bbq at his place in Hyde Park. Sounds like a great time! So here's what you have to do. Click here to go vote on the dates in April or May that work best for you. Keep in mind Carlos has a twin brother in town from Chile on April 2, so that would be his preferred date.

Secondly, Carlos has an opportunity for anyone who would like to play a short set at a Friday afternoon happy hour in Hyde Park. No pay, just free pizza and beer, but it sounds like fun! Email him if you're interested.

Class Notes
  • Joe is back and classes run as normal next week.
  • Zoe Savage was ostensibly just leading an informal Q & A session in place of the afternoon chording class, but this observer is here to tell you that Zoe took charge of the class and did a wonderful job. She is not only a powerful player, she is an extremely confident instructor!
James Conway's Irish Harmonica Workshop!!!

B1 Buddy and amazing Irish harmonica master, James Conway, is teaching an Irish Harmonica Workshop on Saturday, March 19, 2pm-3:30pm at the Old Town School, 4544 N. Lincoln Avenue. The price is only $20. Register now!

Adopt A Dog and Give It A Blues Name!!!

- not our usual newsletter material, but Michelle "Nitro" Kaffko is a good friend of B1...and who could say no to someone named Nitro?!

I've been fostering an awesome dog who needs a home in the suburbs- city life is just too strange for her. I'm hoping the B1 community could help spread the word and find this dog a home! I made a little webpage with photos of her and all sorts of information here: click.

- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew