Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Back to The Bistro – GREAT Gig, But Boy! What a Trip to Get There!

I suppose it all started as far back as Thursday afternoon, March 28.  The Janeen Leah Band was all set and ready to play a show in Modesto on Friday, March 29 at Theater 417.  I was excited since I’d never been to Modesto before (and it seems everyone else has).  I was as excited about going as I was way back in the day when my friend Vic and I finally made it to Alviso one day! (inside joke).  To make a sort of long story short, there was no gig and it was postponed.  There is still hope, so fret not Modesto fans!  We'll be there before you know it!

After the bad news of not playing in Modesto, our efforts were fully focused on our next gig – a return engagement at The Bistro in Hayward on Saturday April 6.  We played there back in November 2012 and it was a very enjoyable show.  For me, it was all planned out.  I was going to have a little practice of my own on Friday night to tighten up some bass parts, and then on Saturday I was going to buy a shirt for the gig (decided not to wear the Van Halen t-shirt again!).  The gig was a double-header with Michael’s band Cold Planet, featuring Chris, their brand new singer.

We found out on Thursday afternoon (4/5) that due to a scheduling hiccup, the show was going to take place on Friday and not Saturday.  Consequently Mike was not going to be able to make it, and none of the Cold Planet guys (with the exception of Michael) were going to be there either.  Michael, Art and I decided to resurrect “The Art Williams Experience” (he still doesn’t like the name, but he won’t read this, so it’s OK) and do a set.  After our regularly scheduled practice on Thursday evening (minus Mike since he wasn’t going to be able to make it to the show), the three of us quickly ran through a quickly made-up set of 3 originals and 3 standards.

So Friday came.  I took the bus home from work and it took me a while in Friday night traffic since I work in San Jose.  I had just enough time to have a quick dinner, load up the equipment in the car, get ready a bit and head over to the gig.  The City of Hayward has recently changed the direction of some of its downtown streets, and I think it’s an improvement, but can get a bit confusing.  I drove aimlessly for a few minutes trying to find a good spot but ended up parking two blocks away, which is no big deal, just that I had to carry my amp, bass, cords, etc. uphill for two blocks.  Janeen, Michael and Art were already there.  Looks like Michael had a scary choking incident as they were getting ready to leave.  Fortunately, he was all better and ready to go, if a bit shaken up.  They almost went the wrong way on a busy downtown street, and although they found a good parking spot, there was some police/fire activity going on near the entrance.

We had also found out that Mike was going to make it after all, which was some awesome news.  Also, Chris, Cold Planet’s new singer, was there also.  "The Art Williams Experience" took the stage at the scheduled time and we went through our six-song set.  It was pretty good considering the amount of preparation we had (none).  There wasn't a lot of people, but it was funny (to me at least) when about a third of the folks there got up and left in the middle of our set.  It looked like they were all together and had to go, so I’m sure it wasn't because we sucked or anything; it just looked funny.  I decided to explore with varying degrees of success some different bass runs for future reference.

After The Art Williams Experience, Michael and Chris took the stage for an acoustic preview of the rebirth of Cold Planet, Mark III (see if you get that reference!).  They played a cool three-song set.  I’m looking forward to Cold Planet’s upcoming show on April 20.

Then it was showtime baby!  Mike got there with basically no time to spare.  Janeen and Art warmed up the crowd by playing a song as Mike set up.  Since I was standing up there already, I very quietly noodled on the bass since I hadn't played the song before.  We got things started strong as always with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”.  In the middle of the song, this guy stands at the doorway of The Bistro and starts screaming “THAT IS NOT YOUR SONG!!!!  THAT IS NOT YOUR SONG!!!!”  Dude was pretty upset about it.  We kept on playing like the seasoned, grizzled road dogs that we are, and the bartender quickly got him the heck out anyway.  I think he thinks he wrote the song or something.  We saw him later having a great time outside!

After this it was all smooth sailing.  We hadn't played together in over a week, but it was all good.  I even broke out some backing vocals to the delight of the audience – well, at least to the delight of two people in the audience (who told me so) – since the extra mike was there from Cold Planet’s acoustic set.  The downtown Hayward Friday night wanderers came in after seeing/listening to the band from outside, and we packed the place up.  As the show progressed, people were dancing, smiling, having a good time and the band was having a blast as well.  After our closing number (a world premiere!) we got some very generous, enthusiastic applause and “ENCORE! ENCORE!!” calls.

We were all happy, and it was the perfect ending to a couple of difficult days.

Chris was nice enough to take pictures and record some video.  When Janeen went to upload it, THE COMPUTER WIPED OUT ALL THE FILES!!!  Unbelievable!

This short clip, uploaded by Janeen, is the only existing footage of that awesome evening!


Janeen Leah's next show:  Saturday April 20, 2013 at the Red Devil Lounge, San Francisco.  Get your tickets early here: https://tickets.aftonshows.com/janeenleah

Now that the weather is getting nicer, where would you like to see us play?

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