Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Weekend Challenge - Balance

The Morning Show is the blog companion to the podcast audio

  Hey there, and happy Friday to ya!  Welcome to the show, and welcome to the Weekend Challenge!
This one is a music one that really applies to all of us.  The main point:  listen to the balance.  Here's what's up.  Tomorrow afternoon I'll be putting on a special T-shirt, plugging my bright orange guitar into a loud amp, and rockin' out at a reunion show.  About 8 years ago, I was in a gospel go-go band called Posse 4 Christ.  They're having a special concert again, and have asked me to play guitar for them.  I'm thrilled.  If you're not from the DC area, "go go" music is not about boots or 60's girls, quite the opposite in fact.  It's a funky blend of soul, funk, afro-Caribbean beats, rap, and in this case, gospel.  It's highly localized, a signature sound of the Capital city, and medicine for the soul.  It's also really weird for rock musicians to play.  For starters, the arrangements tend to be really big.  In this show, there will be two keyboards, a bass, a drummer, a conga player, a timbale player, four female vocals, two male vocals, and me.  This means that the sound is huge, but it's a fine line between lush and cluttered, and I'm usually the guy who would push it over the edge.  My job is like going to your girlfriend's family party.  You need to blend, compliment, accent, and every once in a while, tell a really snazzy joke in your typical rock 'n roll style, but then blend again, letting the aunts have the spotlight.  And, of course, you've gotta keep that wonderful swing beat, and stay in the pocket, as it's called.  It's easy to say too much, and step on the keyboards.  It's easy to be too timid, and get lost in the mix, a pale imitation of a cowbell.

  It's taught me to listen to the band as a whole, and see if a guitar line would improve the setting.  If so, I play it.  If not, I don't.  It's different from "oh, there's a place where I could FIT a guitar line."  It's very conversational.  So, this weekend's challenge:  Listen to the balance of the conversation as a producer or arranger would listen to the band, and see how you can make it better.  I'll be doing the same onstage in my Posse 4 Christ T-shirt, a funky little white boy rockin' out on his orange guitar...and listening.

No comments: