Flurry of Notes – Feb 6 2019

Gregg Raybin Newsletters


This Thursday (2/7) we present our monthly Red Lion Showcase, featuring (with the lineups of new and recently-reconstituted bands indicated parenthetically) the eclectic sounds of HIGH THREAD COUNT (Steve Beasley, Michael Cano, Robert John Cook, Dan Fusco, Bob Donigan, John Putnam), the jazzy-funk pyrotechnics of COLD FUJON, Eric Clapton tribute SLOWHAND (this time: Jimmy Fontanez, Joe Fortine, Dan Fusco, Amy Griffin, Ed Howe, Judd McArthur, Gregg Raybin), ostensible Tom Petty tribute (with mashups and a dash of Hip Hop) THE PETTY THIEVES, Beatlemaniacs/classicists NO MERSEY, and Rolling Stones homage THE ROLLING BONES.


The 2019 Jammy Awards shall be Friday, September 27 at The Cutting Room.


There are many tricks to making yourself comfortable on a dark crowded stage (or a tight rehearsal room). Here are some of my faves:

1. Battery Power. Though I was initially reluctant to use batteries to power my effects, I have grown to love the Volto – a USB rechargeble Lithium-Ion battery that fits neatly underneath pedaltrain pedalboards. It’s reliable, powerful enough to get you through a 3 hour gig, and hassle-free. Best of all, you don’t have to hunt for a power outlet on a dark stage, or fight to get past your bandmates (who are dealing with their OWN gear issues). Several manufacturers (Nomad, BoxKing) have taken things further, introducing boards with integral batteries – a more streamlined approach, though I think I prefer being able to swap out batteries (which lose strength over time, and might be insufficient on extra-long gigs).

2. Spares/Redundancy. Always carry/be ready with extra picks, sticks, capos, slides – whatever you rely on – or would panic without. Using both a headstock tuner AND a pedal tuner is a smart move.

3. Go With The Flow. Admittedly, much of being able to go with the flow comes with experience – the more you gig, the less likely you’ll find yourself in novel situations that you don’t know how to get out of. But you can prepare for the big, obvious catastrophes. Are you ready for string or stick breakage? Do you know how to quickly troubleshoot a rig that isn’t producing sound? Are you prepared to abandon malfunctioning equipment and perform? HOW you compensate (like replacing your balking pedalboard with a FlyRig or multiFX pedal vs. plugging straight into the amp) might depend on the material, your personal comfort level, and how much time you have – what’s more important is that you can move to Plan B quickly, confidently, and not let it throw you off. Your tone matters a lot more to you than it does to crowd of impatient revelers looking to have fun.

4. Work Out Your Staging In Advance. People sometimes ask me things like: “Where should I stand?” Or: “Where should we put the percussionist? My answer is always “Wherever you want!” I mean, I know where *I* like things, and how MOST people like to arrange their gear – but I don’t know how YOU like it, how your bandmates interact with each other, and how you’ve been rehearsing. At the Jam, we prefer to set up our rehearsal rooms similar to how we stage our shows – in large part so that when we gig, there are fewer surprises, and we’re already comfortable communicating with each the way we will on stage.

5. Let There Be Light. If you need it to see your cheat sheet or your pedals, or to find things that are easily misplaced, bring a small light source.

6. Choose Your Friends Wisely. As a rhythm guitar player who jumps around a lot, I prefer a bass player who DOESN’T – and definitely one who can turn his head WITHOUT turning his whole body in order to make eye contact with the drummer – if they turn sideways, they cut me off from the rest of the stage, and 2) might hit me or my axe with their bass. Plus, it’s weird not to face the audience.


Thursday (2/7): Red Lion Showcase, featuring HIGH THREAD COUNT (7 pm), COLD FUJON (7:50 pm), SLOWHAND (8:40 pm), THE PETTY THIEVES (9:30 pm), NO MERSEY (10:20 pm), and THE ROLLING BONES (11:15 pm to 1:15 am). Free for Premium Jam Members, $10 for everyone else. Well-behaved minors welcomes until 10 pm or so, Kitchen open ‘til midnight, and live music co tunuing until 4 am.

Saturday (2/9): The Jimmy Jam with the multi-talented (vocals, keys, drums, percussion) Jimmy Fontanez, from 3 to 6 pm at The Jam (541 Sixth Ave, inside The Collective). $20 for Jam members, and $35 for everyone else. Whatever you guys want to do is fine with Jimmy.


Many years ago, in the interest of simplicity, I would “sand down the edges” of the songs I was to performing – like making all the choruses the same length (when they weren’t originally). I thought of these little anomalies as writerly affectations – more or less inconsequential. By removing them, the song was easier and more foolproof to execute. It took me awhile to understand that these idiosyncrasies usually have important effects – by playing with our expectations, surprising us, teasing us with tension and delighting us with delayed release. Sanding down the edges leaves something flatter, duller, less interesting.

Many times, these quirks operate subliminally, and we aren’t even aware of them (and accidentally omit them from our charts). In our haste to transcribe, it’s VERY easy to assume that what happens in the first verse/chorus/bridge happens in subsequent iterations, and we go into autopilot. Resist that urge, assume nothing, and keep your ears open for as many details as possible. Which is NOT to say that EVERY detail is necessary – or even reasonably possible to replicate. You still may have to decide which details (melodic, harmonic, tonal/textural, rhythmic, dynamic) are crucial – and whether to introduce your own. But before you make any decions on the details, you must first take note of them.

“Dear Music: Thank you for always clearing my head, healing my heart, and lifting my spirits.”

Lori Deschene