Monday, February 6, 2006

More Cowbell!

Monday, February 6, 2006

Saturday night's Swinging Orangutangs' gig was a spectacle to behold. It was certainly our best attended bar show ever--SRO throughout the entire Marietta Brewing Company. Lots of old friends/friendly faces as well as scores of unfamiliar live music fans.

I always gauge our shows not just by how well we play (though that's important) but also by how many people dance. That's an obvious clue that you are connecting with the audience. There are other, subtler clues to show if your music is getting over: are people nodding their heads or tapping their feet in time with the beat? Are they singing along? And I always try to check out my musician friends in the crowd--are they digging it, too?

We had a few rusty moments on Saturday night--but not too many. It was especially gratifying that several of our new songs went over well, particularly our new original compositions. Because you never know...I can hear a song and think "Wow! That would be a great one to play with the 'Tangs." But then getting a recording of it, learning the chords and lyrics, and putting together an arrangement with the band is like a giant filtering process. Not every song makes it through to being played live. And some that do make it into one of our shows do not go over well and so are scrapped.

When a band plays someone else's song, especially a popular song, it's know as "covering" the song. Top-40 "cover" bands are very popular since they play only music that is on the radio, whether it's pop, country, rock, or something else. I played in a cover band once and from that experience I know what it must be like to be a jukebox. BORRrrrring!
Creamy Delight, my Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster served me well, despite having two drinks splashed on her.

In The Swinging Orangutangs, we almost never play pop songs of the day. Oh sure, we cover songs you know well, but we don't try to be an exact replica of the song as it sounds on the radio or stereo. And we do lots of obscure, funky, and downright weird cover tunes ("When the Iceworms Nest Again" by Stamfel & Weber or "$1000 car" by The Bottlerockets come to mind).Our set list for 2.4.06, enhanced for your enjoyment.

The joint was jumpin' literally. All the dancers made the floor bounce.
Andy signals fro another brandy snifter full of green M&Ms.
Steve McCarthy, our beloved drummer, in the Dark Hole of Percussion at the back of The Marietta Brewing Company. It's Steve's funky drumming that makes 9 out of 10 Orangutangs' fans dance like no one is watching.
Dancing continued until the wee hours, when the cows finally came home.

We often have a raffle at our live shows. Sometimes we raffle off lawn ornaments (the sleepy Mexican complete with burro and sombrero was a big hit). Once we raffled off a brass toilet paper holder and a kitchen sink. A "yard-o-beef" from Hickory Farms was a huge hit. Saturday night we raffled off an entirely new item. It was the chance to play cowbell, live on stage, as The Swinging Orangutangs played "Don't Fear the Reaper." Our friend Dan Harrison had the winning ticket and, I have to say, he acquitted himself nicely. Bruce Dickinson (the man who spoke those immortal words "We need more cowbell!") would have been pleased.
Dan Harrison (white shirt) has got a fever. And the only cure is more cowbell.

Julie and I do a show at birding festivals, called "Music of the Birds." We play music and sing while showing images of birds and nature. We're always looking for new birdy songs to include, so I think we'll add "Don't Fear the Creeper."

I totally live for music nights like we had on Saturday. There is something so rich about closing my eyes and letting the rhythm and music and the energy of the gyrating crowd wash over me. Ahhh.

In the spirit of all the post-Super Bowl interviews with the victorious Pittsburgh "Stillers":
I could not do it without my bandmates. We just take things one song at a time. We give 110 percent every gig and leave it all out there on the stage.

For more images and (better) writing about this most recent TSO gig, see Julie's blog.
Me, eyes closed, awash in music, lights, rhythm. There was also some pale ale involved.

Special BIG THANX to Shila Wilson for being our personal pan paparazza. These images are her work.


On February 7, 2006 at 5:32 PM JonBergerII said...

Dammit! I said MORE COWBELL!...What's wrong with you people... Thanks for posting the's makes it all the more exciting to imagine rocking out there...maybe I need to get married again so you I can get to see you guys my wife of course. :-) Let me know when you want to sell the downloads and ringtones so I can inject them into Indie Retail for you...Best, Jon