Monday, January 02, 2006

Time to be grateful

The last two days of 2005 turned out to be two greatest days of my 2005. In addition to sitting in Bob Margolin, another unexpected thing happened on New Year's Eve. First, a little background.

I was bummed we didn't get any New Year's Eve (NYE) gig this year. A bit disheartened and not wanting to spend any money, I was planning to either stay home or hit a movie, because all my friends had made plans and I was waiting until the last minute because I was optimistic that a last minute gig would come through. I was wrong. My friend Dave persuaded me many times to come to Rams Head to see Deanna Bogart because he and Becky and their friends from PA had already purchased tickets. He even e-mailed me on Dec 30, saying, "There's no other place to be on NYE other than Rams Head." So I called up the venue and they told me the tickets were sold out. Dave said, "Don't worry! Come anyway. I'm sure Deanna can get you in."

So on NYE, I arrived in Annapolis at around 8:45 p.m. All the streets were closed and packed with people. I was lucky to get a parking spot. Got out of the car, and walked into Rams Head. I was standing outside, and thankfully, Deanna was standing in the buffet line right in front of Dave and Becky. Dave told Deanna I was here. Deanna came out with a plate of food, greeted me a warm welcome and told the staff, "He's with me." This means, not only did I not have to pay for the event (which I would gladly do), but I also could get to sample the buffet food (which turned out to be excellent). The only (dis)advantage was, I had to sit right next to the sound guy, because the place was jam-packed and there was literally not one open seat. The drawback turned out to be an advantage because it was the best seat in the house in terms of viewing and volume. And I could learn a few things from the sound guy. I felt like I was a distinguished guest because the food, the desserts and water kept coming.

Anyway, Deanna put on a great show. I had seen Deanna with other people and listened to her CDs (and sat in with her twice), but this was the first time I saw dbb live. Their performance was a highly energized once and I was especially impressed with bassist Eric Scott and drummer Mike Aubin because they were doing some very cool stuff together and they were completely locked in. Eric had an awesome "singing" bass solo at one point. Deanna got an A+ in stage presence. She catered to the listening and dancing audience equally well, and she balanced amazingly with her singing, standing up from her seat while playing keyboards, and playing saxophone. Her music was blues-oriented but not straight-ahead blues. She did many of her originals.

The magic moment came during the end of the first set when Deanna asked while playing a bluesy intro, "Henry, do you have a harp in G? Come on up here." I was stunned. I did not expect she would call me up (since I just arrived impromptu and did not expect to sit in). Well, I felt like I was a rock star and proceeded smoothly to the stage when Becky handed in my harp case (while the blues intro was still being played like an anthem welcoming me up there). That was when I felt like, as the title of a Howlin' Wolf song suggests, "Sitting on the top of the world."

My solo was an inspired one, as the band backed me very well. Everybody seemed to have fun while I was up there. The audience went wild. More people danced. Even more people stopped dancing and listened. After the first song, I was ready to get off the stage, but Deanna and Eric insisted that I stay, "Where are you doing?" I stayed for 2 more songs, and that ended the 1 hour and 45 minute powerhouse first set.

I was glad I was a part of that powerhouse set. Moreover, I always had dreamt to play at Rams Head. It was indeed a dream come true for me to play at Rams Head with one of my most respected and favorite musicians Deanna Bogart. And it happened on NYE. What more can I ask for? I thank Dave for inviting me out that night. It made my 2005 and I look forward to 2006.

Randall Koenig, Deanna's tour manager, sent me these photos a couple of minutes ago. I'd like to thank Randall for taking these pictures and share them with you.

Check out Deanna in the background on keyboards.

Kajun Kelly on guitar and Mike Aubin on drums

Eric Scott on bass

P.S. I've just received news that DC jazz drummer Mike Smith passed away today. It's indeed very sad. Mike's one of the best drummers I've heard in this area. I might've played with him a couple of times. Pam Bricker called Mike Smith, "One of the best musicians on any given instrument." Rest in peace, Mike.

P.S.S. On a happier note, Larry David wrote this fabulous piece telling us why he won't see "Brokeback Mountain" and it had nothing to do with homophobia.

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