Tea, Family and Performing (A Concert Recap)
I don't drink hot liquids, save for that time at a UW football game when my family and I nearly froze to death until a round of hot chocolate saved our lives and saved our chance to watch a conference-winning 70-23 trouncing of Northwestern (woo hoo!), but last Saturday I learned the value and pleasure of tea, as I struggled mightily to keep from losing my voice on the day of the first concert of original material I've ever performed. I started to lose my voice on Friday, and this mild sucker-punch of fate kept me from sleeping well, which probably compounded whatever nagging virus my immune system was struggling to fend off. Fortunately, I had not one, but two college vocalists staying at my house that morning, and both recommended I drink Throat Coat tea with lemon and honey (plus drink lots of water, avoid caffeine and alcohol, rest my voice, etc.). I made a Target run, gathered the necessary ingredients` and proceeded to consume more tea in one day than in my previous fifty years combined.
I don't know if it was the tea or an assortment of other factors, but I managed to hang in there long enough to make it through an hour-long performance before finally crying uncle on the high notes of the last song we performed and preemptively striking the potential encore we had in our back pockets. But all in all, it was a successful and enjoyable show with a great turnout (somewhere around 140 people) of lots of friends and family, including a score of attendees who schlepped down from Wisconsin. Very cool. Even more important, I was joined on-stage by my son Sam, his buddy Julian, family-friend Bennett, and my daughter Jessica, making the event less of "me, me, me" and more of "we, we, we." At least I hope it felt that way.
I'd been thinking about playing a show of original music for years - for well over a decade - but there's an element of risk associated with such an undertaking, most notably, "What if no one shows up?" But of almost equal concern is finding musicians to play the material. Most of the musicians I invited to attend last Saturday were unable to make it, not because they didn't want to, but because they were performing elsewhere, so gathering a group of musicians to rehearse and play a free show is a huge undertaking. But around two or three years ago or so, something interesting happened - the musicians in my home started to sing and play with such expertise that I had a built-in band! (My sister calls us the Von Heinzes). How cool is that? Suddenly, playing a show of original material became a real possibility.
A possibility, but also one that needed to be pounced on. I've only got two years before the drummer of the family flies the coop, by which point both of my daughters will be working full-time somewhere probably far away; 2018 may turn out to be the sweet spot, that small window during which an event like last Saturday could be pulled off. I joke that maybe we can do something like this again in ten years when I turn sixty, but the truth is that might not even be possible. But for a brief moment in time the stars aligned. We formed a band six months ago, recorded an album, invited a few guests to join us, and for one hour in May of 2018, we played our hearts out. It was a helluva lot of fun.
During our performance, we crammed in fourteen songs spanning over twenty years of material, focusing most on tracks from the latest effort, Heinz & Wrobel's The Great Divide. These are some of the most driven, exciting and intentional songs I've ever recorded, and it felt good to give them their due on stage in front of an audience. For those who'd like a reminder of what we played, or for those who were unable to make the show, below is the set list of our performance and links to the albums the songs derive from. There are other songs I wish we could have performed, but instrumentation and musical flow dictated a certain kind of set. Maybe next time (might there be a next time?) we can do a different type of show and highlight a whole different set of songs. That would really be cool.
I must be going now, as my voice still isn't in good shape and I've got a box of Throat Coat calling me. Perhaps before the next show I could also learn how to sing properly!
Here's the list:
May 5, 2018
1) The Unexamined Road - from The Great Divide
2) Are You Gonna Fight For Her? - from The Great Divide
3) Diverge - from The Great Divide
4) Brown Eyes - from The Palisades
5) Why Can't You Be More Like They Are? - from The Palisades
6) Summer 1990 - from Piano Solos and Rocks off on Humboldt
7) Your Mother's House - from The Great Divide
8) We Are Two - from Better Than This
9) Hobo Woman - from Trainsongs
10) Cold - from The Great Divide
11) Daisy Chain - from Warts and All
12) Daddy's At Home - from Better Than This
13) My Mark - from Pause
14) End Game - from The Great Divide