Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm With The Band

It's hard for me to choose a favorite scene from BAND GEEK; after all, the book is my "baby." But one of my favorite sections is when Josh takes Melinda to a dive bar for the first time and she's introduced to the world of jazz music.

During my early years of performing with ensembles, I mainly played in concert halls or high school auditoriums. I also played in some churches and nursing homes. But my experience with dive bars came later, well into my adult years.

From 2005 until about 2010, I played flute with my friend Isabel's band Isabel And The Whispers. She wrote and sang the songs, and also played piano and guitar; we then had a drummer and guitarist. We had several bass players whom mainly joined us for concerts -- it was kind of a SPINAL TAP situation with them, LOL. But overall, my time with the band was a very positive, enlightening experience.

Isabel frequently got us gigs that were mainly in the back of dive bars on NYC's Lower East Side. In each, it was a similar set-up: the ramshackle stage was in the corner and the bar always looked as if it were about to fall apart. The place reeked of beer. We never played in trendy, upscale places. But you know what? I loved it!

Playing for a huge audience in an auditorium is exciting because you're performing for so many people. For my first jazz band concert in college, the auditorium was PACKED and we received a standing ovation. It was amazing! But playing for a smaller crowd is exhilarating in a different way. It's much more intimate. Your audience isn't separated by rows of seats and aisles. They're right there in your face while you're on the "stage." You're not performing AT them, you're performing FOR them.

At one bar performance, a drunk guy shouted, "More band! I want more band!" when we'd finished our set. At another, a bunch of girls danced right by the stage. Then there was one where some audience members slurred out, "You go, Naomi!" I felt like a rock star!!!

Playing with chamber groups and orchestras was great, but I'd be happy if I could perform in little dive bars for the rest of my life. And yes, I really did tell the bouncer, "I'm with the band."

Please check out and review my book REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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