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!
The joint was jumpin' literally. All the dancers made the floor bounce.
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.
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.
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.