Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Suck 'n Blow

The LSO is the hardest partying orchestra of any with whom I currently play. Now, granted, this is not a tough title to earn. Most regional orchestras consist of two groups of players: 1) 40-somethings or older who have kids or grandkids and 2) college kids who hang together or not at all. Conspicuously absent are the 25-39 year olds. The adult tweens. With no other orchestra, if there even were post-concert socializing, would I find myself playing suck 'n blow in Hooters at 1am. Yet this is precisely where I was after this past Friday's concert in La Crosse, WI.

Now, I've only played one set with the LSO this year and didn't even know most of the people in the orchestra. Somehow, though, suck 'n blow has a way of breaking the ice and bringing people together. That and pints of Killian's. Or could the LSO musicians' near-universal, white hot hatred of that group's stick flicker be the tie that binds? It is difficult to tell. In any event I learned a new game, made some friends, and went to Hooters for the first time ever. (It boggles my mind how a restaurant can blatantly use tits and ass as marketing devices and still portray itself -quite accurately- as family dining.)

This set was one of two I'll play as principal with the LSO this season. All the other sets will feature my highly capable friend SM in the hot seat. Eventually the powers that be are supposed to make up their fucking minds about who should be hired for real. I'm not holding my breath on that decision.

Interesting notes from this set: We lost our principal oboe player to a migraine at the intermission of Friday night's concert and then lost our tuba player (said oboist's husband) to an emergency appendectomy for Saturday night. The show must go on, but first, is there a doctor in the house?!

Suck 'n Blow tips:
  • It's all about the lip seal, man!
  • Use tongue at your own peril.
  • Gravity can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
  • Suck, then blow!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Post From the Road

After eight+ hours behind the wheel I made it to rehearsal here in Springfield, IL (from the boonies) fifteen minutes early. For some reason I love how that almost always seems to work out. No detailed planning. Just a look at a map, an estimate of distance and speed, the subconscious takes over and "Voila!" You're there just in time to blow a few notes and play. I'm crashing at a Motel6 tonight before a double service tomorrow and I was lucky enough to pick up an unsecured wireless signal so I thought I'd post a short update.

Seasonal weather has finally started to hit us here in the Midwest. This adds a bit of excitement to the routine task of simply getting to gigs. What's usually a relaxing two-to-three hour iPod-accompanied, mind-drifting commute can turn into a four-to-six hour, heart-pumping, washer-fluid-draining, white knuckle sleigh ride all the way Ho-Ho-home. That has happened only once so far this season but Winter hasn't even officially begun yet.

Last Sunday I had some successes. I placed 6th in the 5k Reindeer Ramble in Moline, IL and won my age division (complete with 10 degrees, 15 mph WNW wind and homemade pumpkin pie). Then, twelve hours later, I became a regular member of the CRSO. Oh, and I had to play a concert in between too. That didn't go so great. Not terrible but not great.

The up sides:
-I got a neat little plaque for the race.
-I now have contracts with the three best-paying orchestras in Iowa.
-I out-sprinted a 16 year old whipper snapper at the finish.
-I beat out a couple Clevenger students including a h-h-hot (and very funny) Australian woman. (It must be that accent! Man-oh-man.)

The down sides:
-The race sweatshirts are absolutely, hideously unwearable.

-My mini Canadian Audition Tour '07 (Calgary and Victoria) is now in serious doubt because of new CRSO concert set conflicts (unless I can find 5:00am flights from Chicago or Minneapolis or Saint Louis to Victoria or Seattle or Vancouver and Calgary for less than the price of a kidney transplant). As my brother's highschool friend JM used to say after crappy cross country races, this seriously sucks the bag. Seriously.
-My splits were all positive and my final time was slow enough that I'd rather not mention it. Also three 50-somethings beat me.
-I can't for the life-o-me remember the Aussie horn player's name.

Sleepy time...