Saturday, September 17, 2011

The DBQ Tour (and the lead-up)

Firstly, I should apologize for the lack of material in the months separating this entry and the last one.  I got up to some amazing things, and there's no good reason not to have updated this blog.

This summer was basically musical hibernation. I left off the last blog post having just recalculated the events of the "big band" tour, after which I spent 2 months in Montreal, waiting for a visa to allow me back into the States.  On the gig front - many with hometown hero Bud Rice, Talia Billig came up north to play a couple of shows (including street hockey and poutine to initiate Dan Parra, the great bassist of that band to MTL life), a really fun gig with Marc Beland's Beat Project, some varied situations with Rick Rosato (holy shit, that's all I can say), a great NY return with Jeni Chandler (double-bill with Sam Anning's band!), among others.  I spent a great deal of time discovering new music, analyzing, and reflecting about the upcoming compositions I want to put down on paper (or computer, rather...)

Bud Rice and the Black Flies

Some notable events:
1) I got a job offer at my favourite record label, which didn't end up working out, but I was extremely flattered to have been considered.

2) I had a "lesson" with Ben Wendel when he was on tour in Montreal, which was a total eye-opener for me as far as my trajectory as a musician is concerned.

3) I've been making music alongside Dominic Mekky for a documentary being made by Todd Lambrix, a Parsons teacher, and Alexandra Garkavenko, a Parsons student.  The film follows the experience of 5 students at the New School, and will continue to do so over 4 more years.  I believe the premiere is in October, I will post the exact date when it's confirmed.

4) I went to Vancouver for a week to visit a dearly beloved.

5) I moved to Park Slope, Brooklyn.

5) I went on tour with Dillon Baiocchi's Quintet in California. That's what I'd like to talk about.

The band was/is:
Dillon Baiocchi - Alto (U.S.A.)
Me - Guitar (Canada)
Sami Bronowski - Tenor (France)
Max Esquivel - Electric Bass (Costa Rica)
Douglas Marriner - Drums (England)

Jonesy Photo Shoot

We left NY together on August 20th, arriving in Santa Cruz (land of the "gnarly") that evening.  Dillon's family friends (the Fitz's) had a little guest house in their backyard where we stayed.  The beginning of the week was spent playing a radio show (I forget the name of the network), playing a clinic at Soquel High School, rehearsing a ton, and exploring the city. This included beach hangs, going on a BYOB sailboat, BBQ's, going to the boardwalk (the famous Bronowski/Rollercoaster incident, you can ask me about it personally), and more BBQ's.

The first and most important gig was at the famous Kuumbwa Jazz Centre on the 25th.  Right before soundcheck we were invited to a studio right next door to have our pictures taken by an eccentric man named Jonesy.  The studio was massive, and FULL of lights, cameras, lenses, prints, gobos, ect.  Here's another one from that shoot:

Jonesy Photo Shoot

We proceeded to soundcheck, where Doug managed to convince the owners to let him play on the house Craviotto kit.

Drum-Gear-Nerd shot

 We played two sets to a wonderfully attentive audience, and a post-gig run-down confirmed that we all felt this was the best the band had ever sounded.  Dillon's music is many things; intricate, beautiful, dark, lyrical, polyrhythmic, the list goes on.  It's also very difficult.  It's taken many months for the band to sink into it's sound and act as one unit. This tour was the best way to get it together.  We were able to talk about our personal approaches to the music, where each of us felt comfortable and uncomfortable, and build a sense of musical trust within the band.  All summed up in an evening's work. It sounds that way on the recording as well.

Kuumbwa Jazz Centre w/ DBQ Quintet

Friday, we visited San Francisco and I met up with my good friend Sara Knox. Amazing city, it was too bad there was so much fog (I couldn't see Alcatraz or the Golden Gate Bridge).  Regardless, I had a blast walking around and getting a feel for the place. I know I'll be back soon.  Saturday night we played at a venue called Senzala, the gig went well but wasn't as well attended as we would have hoped.  We stayed the night in San Raphael, at another friend of Dillon's family.  I don't think I can stress this enough: we were treated like royalty the entire trip. Every meal was fantastic, everyone was generous and hospitable, and we moved from palace to palace (at least in my eyes).

Post-Senzala gig (Hence the sweat)

It became clear that with the effect of hurricane Irene, we would not be able to fly back to NY for several days.  We played a fun gig in Berkeley at Cioccolata di Vino, and afterwards walked around the Berkeley campus (where my friend Sara has just begun her doctorate).  The radio station had invited us back, where Dillon, in between performances, openly announced our availability to work due to the hurricane delay.  We managed to get another gig at the Bargetto Winery on the Wednesday, where in addition to monetary payment, we got loads of wine and a lesson in wine etiquette! The days in between were filled with more beaching, hiking, surfing, boardwalking, etc.  By the way, although this is uncommon for a local Santa Cruzian, we saw a whale, dolphins every time we went to the beach,  seals, sea lions, and sea otters.  The gig at the Winery went well, in addition to payment, we got a lesson in wine tasting, and an offer to be flown back for the big winery events!

Santa Cruz Sunset #1
Santa Cruz Sunset #2
We flew back on the Thursday without incident, re-listening to the recording of the show and further discussing the music.  The band is only going to continue to grow, and I know Dillon's music is evolving into a really unique sound and concept. I'm looking forward to more playing and touring with this amazing band.  On a side note, I've never laughed so hard in my life. Put a Frenchman and and Englishman together in the same room for more than a week and you're bound to get results.  This entry has taken me longer to write than expected, so I'm cheating, but look forward to the post about National Bank Financial's "Ride for Youth" which I was a part of! I will post listening suggestions at the end of that one (I have so many...)

Giant thanks to Dillon, Sami, Doug, and Max for this experience.