I’m very pleased with the show I played at Sellersville Theater Thursday night, 4/18. If you’ve been following along with my various declarations and presentations you know that I opened for guitarist Peppino D’Agostino at this superb venue about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia. Of course, the opening spot is always a make-it/break-it situation. You run the risk of having the true fans of the headliner shun you or compare you (usually unfavorably) to him/her and find the perceived shortcomings that go along with openers. Not so, not this time.
I wrestled with my set list — I am notorious for writing up a set then just making-it-up-as-I-go, which I’m finding out is not the best way to go about things. I was booked to play for 25 minutes and I intended to make it memorable.
As it turned out, there was some sort of ‘ghost’ haunting the sound system, causing unacceptable levels of noise in the DIs. Both my guitar and Peppino’s encountered the same amount of hiss — there had been some upgrades to power lines or something similar that seemed to cause this. I mentioned I would be comfortable with just a mic on my guitar — the sound techs both agreed it would eliminate the problem and Peppino agreed. The small diaphragm mics worked perfectly (I have, in fact, been using a single small condenser mic from time to time on my own gigs so I knew it would work). It did – both Peppino and I had first-rate sound. It wasn’t just the mics — the sound techs both took the time to adjust EQ and tune the sound to the room with great results.
After chanting and reciting my Buddhist gongyo I was prepared to make the most of my 25 minutes. I opened with A In Blues Major, then played Bossa For George and Ballad. I then performed my latest rendition of Lennon & McCartney’s All My Loving and closed with I Shot The Sheriff. The audience was right with me through the set, even with the short-story intros. Of course, I was delighted that Peppino responded immediately after the set with compliments and observations. It’s nice to hear good things from your peers. Peppino’s comments provided that bit of validity that makes you want to go further.
Peppino played a 60-minute + set that covered his usual range of exciting and laid-back, all presented with his incredible knack for altering tunings between tunes while disclosing details about the upcoming song. I did ask about the altered tunings (which I have attempted and fumbled through once or twice) — he tells me ‘it’s like muscle memory — you work it out and just do it’. Almost the same thing Richard Leo Johnson told me 10 years ago. While For Chance is in an altered tuning (EGDGAE, if I recall) it was quite by chance that it worked so well in the studio — try as I might I can’t replicate it in any tuning. (FYI – the piece is dedicated to the memory of Peter Sellers, and his character Chancey Gardner from Being There.)
Sad to say, my son Matthew wasn’t able to record video in the theater. Even his usually superb photography was limited by the fact that the camera had a small orange light that came on and illuminated the audience just before he’d take the shot. There are about a half-dozen shots, one of which is included here.
That’s all for this time. See you soon.