Our Kagan & Gaines Music Co. ensemble played a set of R&B and blues songs at the Pine Avenue United Church in Chicago Sunday afternoon in honor of Black History Month. The performance went well; we had fun and the audience seemed to enjoy us.
We began with a medley of “It’s All Right,” “My Girl,” and “Rainy Night in Georgia,” then continued with “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” “People Get Ready,” “The Thrill is Gone,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
At that point, we started playing something I wasn’t expecting, Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues for You.” We hadn’t rehearsed it in a while and I hadn’t been practicing it, so it took a moment to realize what the song was and remember the chords.
We concluded with our version of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” It was the perfect finale, because Mickey Johnson went all out in his rendition of Mr. Brown. The audience loved it.
Our ensemble was smaller than usual, because our keyboard player, Vera Beilinson, had to cancel at the last minute, because of illness. Our teacher and leader, Jim Goelitz, who usually plays with us, had a prior commitment.
Alex Scaramuzza and I played guitar, Lawrence Brown played bass, and Justin Young played drums. Mickey Johnson, Mike Estelle, Billy Smith shared vocals in various combinations.
In previous performances, we’ve had music stands, so I had music to refer to if necessary (though I rarely did). This time I didn’t use music and didn’t miss it. There were a few times when I got off track and missed the chord I meant to play, but I hope no one noticed. Alex and I soloed on “The Thrill is Gone,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.”
I love playing “Thrill,” and it’s a favorite to solo on, but I felt my solo wasn’t as good as I would have liked. Alex sounded good in his solos, though it’s hard to listen to others in the group when I’m trying to pay attention to what I’m playing.
It was a challenge to hear our singers, because we had no monitors. Afterward, one of the singers said they had the same problem. Kagan & Gaines didn’t supply any equipment for this event, so I used my Crate practice amp. I don’t know how it sounded in the audience, but it seemed to me to be loud enough.
Lawrence, our bass player, is a member of this church, so our group had played here once before on Sunday, October 29, 2011. (My post about it is here.) At that point, I’d only played with the group for a couple of months. It was my first time to play in public with the group. I remember that my anxiety before hand neared panic-attack levels. Since then I’ve gotten more experience playing with the group and performing, I know the material better and my anxiety has greatly diminished.
It’s always encouraging to be reminded that I am making progress in learning to play this music I love so much.