Tuesday, June 2, 2015

And So It Begins...

How does anything like this begin?

For me, it began with a text on Tuesday, April 28 from my friend and leader of the Good Graces, Kim Ware: "Jim, please check your email."

And in my gmail inbox was an email, subject line "the Good Graces tour in June"

Hi Jim, 
First, this is super confidential. 
And, I'm sorry to interrupt your workday with it! But I need to get all the details figured out asap. 
the Good Graces got asked to open a leg of the Indigo Girls' tour this June.  
It is going to require practice 2-3 x a week and being gone from around the 14th or so til the 26th. 
Here are the dates from their management: 
June 17 - Grand Rapids, Mejer Gardens
June 18 - off
June 19 - Summer Festival, Ann Arbor
June 20 - symphony show - no opener
June 21 - benefit - no opener
June 22 - off
June 23 - Asheville, Chattanooga or Mobile
June 24 - Asheville, Chattanooga or Mobile
June 25- Asheville, Chattanooga or Mobile 
This is not a joke. :) 
Let me know what you think. I know it's a lot to ask...
The mind boggles. What do I think? What do I think? I think holy another word for moly, that's what I think.

My brain was racing with questions: How did this happen? How can I take two weeks off? How will my wife react? What gear would I need?  Can I play these songs well enough? How large are the venues? Is this really happening? Over and over, ad infinitum.

Then the adrenaline really kicked in.

OK, there's really no other choice. Of course I want to do this. But first, I need to talk to the wife.

In the meantime, Kim shares some logistics she has already set in motion. Rehearsal schedules and locations, initial thoughts on additional tour dates leading up to and surrounding the Indigo Girls dates, and lodging ideas.

We're in uncharted territory. Just the past weekend, the Good Graces performed at Steve's Live Music in Atlanta, a small, nice listening room that might hold 100 people on a good night. With the Indigo Girls, there might be ten times that many at some of the shows. We've done a weekend tour here and there, but not one of this length or logistical complexity in a long, long time.

I should give you some band context. The Good Graces is less of a "band" band and more of a musical collective band that revolves around Kim Ware, her songs, and different groups of musicians that support her and the songs at different points in time. There are some musicians, engineers, producers that are part of the recording process and others that join the group to play those songs live. Kim plays many shows solo, and will often add one additional player to cover extra guitar, bass, background vocals, or percussion, or will move into trio or quartet mode with more players to cover keyboards, more percussion, extra guitars/basses/vocals.

I am lucky to have been playing with Kim for almost eight years, starting just as her first CD, Sunset Over Saxapahaw, was released, and including both live performances of most of her recorded output, as well as a few of the recordings along the way, including the EP Bring On the Tambourines!

The Good Graces most recent album, 2014's Close to the Sun is fantastic and blew up big in the bloginterwebosphere. I have watched The Good Graces musical and production sophistication grow over time and the keyboard parts and atmospheres on the new record were contributed by some really great players. Several band configurations have formed to support the album over the past 10 months, and I joined on for shows last November and just a few weeks ago in late April. I'll need to raise my game for these new shows. I'm a meat and potatoes player at best, and the parts on the record are a couple of steps above that.

I want Kim and her songs to shine. As the adrenaline subsides, the fear that creeps in is the one of letting down my friends in front of hundreds of people. The excitement quickly overcomes the fear and it turns into motivation to practice, practice, practice.

I head home to share the news with the family. I'm floating a hundred feet in the air.

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