Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gig Report: "Big River"

I've not written much about my involvement with the "Big River" production.  We're halfway through the run, so it's time for an overdue update.

The process, as expected, has been pretty grueling.  I've been playing/practicing my ass off.  We started learning the songs in mid-April.  That's twenty songs and pages of scene/transition music.  As the May 10th opening date drew near, the rehearsals became longer, more frequent and intense.  I was (and am) waking, going through the day, then going to bed with these songs looping through my head - it has been a completely immersive experience.

Probably the worst thing about intense experiences like this is that my musical weaknesses and insecurities come to the surface like bloody, festering sores.  I'm talking specifically about my lack of a formal background in both theory and reading music.  The musical director (fellow Creekdog and all around hero Dan Lodge-Rigal) had to come up with some pretty interesting transcription techniques to get me on board for the tunes.  It has worked, but I hate the idea that he had to come up with such an elaborate work around for me. It was embarrassing for a lot of reasons, not the least of which I discovered how hard it is for me to play my upright without looking at my hands.  

When I couldn't get the songs, I was pretty abrasive in practices.  I'd take the tone of a petulant child:  I didn't want to read any more charts or transcriptions; I just wanted someone to show me how to do it.  It wasn't pretty.

Somehow I've made it through and the show is very, very tight.  I know it's tight because any criticisms I have of my playing would definitely splitting hairs - there is nothing perceptible to anyone but me.  My playing on upright is better than it has ever been.  It's been fun as hell playing with other musicians who are, quite frankly, infinitely better than I am.  It forces me to try and play better.  This experience has been exactly what I had hoped:  challenging, frustrating, and ultimately full filling.  I really need to figure out a way to keep the momentum going once this show ends.  This show has also yielded some material rewards as I've finally been able to score a decent electric upright (more on that after it arrives and I've had some time to try it out).

Of course, much, much thanks to Mary Beth and the kids for allowing me to do this.  I've been away A LOT.  MB has been a single parents since before the show opened.  I'm indebted to her for that.  And if you haven't seen the show, come on out and see it.  There are 7 more shows coming up.  It truly is a great show.  But in the immortal words of Levar Burton, you don't have to take my word for it.*

Here's an older link with some video.

* - Would've liked to link to actual reviews here, but the goddamn Herald-Times still has a pay wall.  Annoying.

No comments:

Post a Comment