Follow by Email

Google+ Badge

Google+ Followers

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A most fun time hanging out with great musician friends

By Ted Slowik

Just had a great couple days hanging out at Chicago Street Pub in Joliet hearing great music amid great company.

On Sunday, John Condron and the Old Gang Orchestra opened for Cutthroat Shamrock. The Pub's usually closed on Sundays but Triz opened special for the occasion. It was well worth it as there was a great turnout for a very special show.

Cutthroat Shamrock plays "Appalachian Punk Rock." They're currently on a 24-show, monthlong tour through Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and back to Tennessee. That's a lot of shows in a short amount of time with a lot of travel in between. It takes some serious dedication to live music to commit to a tour like that!

Speaking of road warriors, I just started reading the book "Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll" by Joe Oestreich. Joe teaches creative writing at a college, and plays bass and sings in a band called Watershed. In his book he recounts decades of performing, writing and recording music, and getting close but not quite making it. It's a good read so far.

John's opening set was highly energetic. The Old Gang Orchestra featured Tom Maslowski on upright bass, Doneco Nudi on drums and Pat Otto on mandolin. The band was great! I felt bad for Tom because the pickup on the upright crapped out right before the show. I brought one he could use (because, you know, in a previous life I used to be a bass player) but couldn't get there in time. There was some feedback, which goes to show how many variables affect a live performance and how every little thing has to align just right to have a perfect show.

Monday night I was back at Chicago Street for the Songwriter Circle hosted by Alex Hoffer. It was a small turnout so we got to spend some time playing originals for each other, plus some covers for people in the bar. Alex is a fantastic guitarist and vocalist and a superb songwriter. I'm more of a writer trying to become a good enough musician so that people will listen to my songs without fleeing the room. That's the thing about songwriting, for me anyway. To get your songs heard, you have to perform them. We are talking about music, after all.

And while I've always been confident my writing is strong and original and I have something to say, it's apparent I need more practice to become a better musician (my vocals are decent enough). I've been at it for nearly two years now--practicing guitar regularly for a couple hours a day, that is--and I can tell I'm making good progress. I'm not there yet, though. Not long ago a read a biography of Muddy Waters, and it talked about how his son Big Bill Morganfield spent about six years practicing intensely on his own before he felt ready to play out. He called it woodshedding, and it's what I need to do. I'm not concerned about getting gigs right now because I've got a lot more practicing to do to become the musician I want to be.