Duple Time

Feb. 8th, 2012 10:14 am
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Life, as they say, is what happens when you're making other plans. I'm pretty sure I can speak for all of the 'acting' concom of Duple Time when I say that none of us wanted to have to be up the front at the opening ceremony, but equally I think we all accepted the sad necessity that it took four of us to fill just that part of those larger than life shoes.

As [livejournal.com profile] realfranklin (as Toastmaster and effectively the voice of the con) said, the best thing we (by which I don't just mean the concom, but all of us - singers, performers, listeners, even the hotel staff) could have done for Keris' memory was to make Duple Time the best damn con it could be.

I think we succeeded :D

We (me, [livejournal.com profile] bardling, [livejournal.com profile] ladyat and [livejournal.com profile] bedlamhouse - I swear if LJ doesn't stop spell checking usernames I will HURT something!) arrived Friday for a late lunch, and I tucked into one of the hotel's rather excellent sausage baguettes while waiting for the Ladies Wot Lunch to get out of the Lincoln room so we could unload. The "Ladies Wot Lunch" have become a bit of a fixture in the logistics of the filk con here at the Ramada - they have a first Friday of the month lunchtime booking, and they usually finish such that the hotel can make the main room free by 5. This year, evidently, their flow of natter dried up early, as we were in before 4! 

Unloaded several cars of PA kit, and left [livejournal.com profile] deborah_c[livejournal.com profile] vaurien, and [livejournal.com profile] hrrunka to rig the PA along with the usual band of willing helpers, while I disappeared for a while to hover by reception as hotel troubleshooter, and then sort out what was happening with the rest of my PA kit (namely, being collected from an empty Mill House to be used in church on Sunday, along with (with [livejournal.com profile] filkerbaby's blessing) Keris' piano). Made it out just in time for the aforementioned opening ceremony, and then, as is my wont, spent most of the rest of the evening nattering to assorted people in the bar/lounge area and discussing what Phoenix might do in the absence of a flu-stricken [livejournal.com profile] micktim. Did actually make it to a chunk of Doug H's set, as well as Keris' memorial circle, where I got asked to sing "Before the Dawn" (and got a line wrong!) and Katzenjammer's "A Bar In Amsterdam" with [livejournal.com profile] bardling, and then did the wonderful "Forever Autumn" with Anne on flute and [livejournal.com profile] the_magician on vocals. After that, bed - which would have been improved greatly had I remembered to turn the room heat off before going to sleep.

Saturday dawned bright... very bright, with 2"+ of snow on the ground. Spent the morning nattering in the bar (including touching bases with the lovely Tanya from the hotel, just to keep abreast of any issues). Relieved to note arrival of a largely upright [livejournal.com profile] micktim. Caught a bit of [livejournal.com profile] tattercoats set (with [livejournal.com profile] bardling[livejournal.com profile] vaurien and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] tellivision - I'm sure that adjective is actually part of her name!). Lunchtime was spent rehearsing with the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] quadrivium, for whom I had rashly agreed to play bass - of which more later. Ducked in and out of the main concert/auction, catching several fab performances including the Crooklets, and [livejournal.com profile] lordofthewheel and [livejournal.com profile] raimei's brilliant "March of Can't Breathe" featuring bagpipes.

Then it was GoH [livejournal.com profile] quadrivium's set: the first of two in which I got to sit in on bass along with [livejournal.com profile] ladyat on percussion, which was amazing fun. The thing that amused me most, I think, was realising that a goodly percentage of the audience, if asked which of playing lead guitar with Phoenix and playing jazz walking bass lines on almost no rehearsal with Mary was harder, would probably say the former. Can I say at this point? So. Not. True. I know which I make look harder, because there's a lot more guitarist's flash (to misquote Gael Baudino) in playing with Phoenix, but believe me, trotting out continuous walking bass lines on songs you've heard at most once, that have .. mmm, shall we say interesting changes? Much harder. And a tip of the hat to [livejournal.com profile] the_magician for a number of grins and thumbs up during the second set - he got it, and the encouragement really helped, as did the tweaking at the desk from [livejournal.com profile] deborah_c to make it sound like a stand up bass :D Me asking for the key ("Fminor"; "Si!"; "No! F minor!"; "Si!") became a running gag, but trust me on this, the key was all the info I got for the second set (barring watching Mary's left hand!).

After that, we set up for what was going to be Phoenix's last gig (at least in the classic form - what our offspring may choose to do is an interesting prospect, judging by conversations I had with James (and Alex) afterwards, who's already thinking about an album title!). Missed the NMC (damn) due to a rather pressing need for food, got back in time for a last minute soundcheck, which boded well for the set - [livejournal.com profile] deborah_c and [livejournal.com profile] vaurien had managed to put together an awesome sound both on-stage and front of house, for which many many thanks (as well as the ever-present [livejournal.com profile] hrrunka, who is by far and away the best invisible stage manager ever.

Phoenix? What can I say. We rocked the place, despite [livejournal.com profile] stevieannie's voice giving out, and we gave the old warhorse a good sendoff. [livejournal.com profile] stevieannie and I have an agreement on Midnight at the Tower that she'll take the high line on the last chorus if I'm at all doubtful, because there's a top A and if I'm not good for it it sounds crap. This time out - definitely not up for negotiation :D Highspot for me was Midnight At The Well. Normally I get to do it semi-cold, with little warmup, but because it was the third of three on the trot for me, I was well and truly in the groove after Midnight at the Tower and Song of the Fremen (even if I did screw up one line to amusing effect). and the presence of [livejournal.com profile] bedlamhouse at the back for our version of Midnight at the Well was just the catalyst I needed to give that particular song the whole nine yards. I've always been personally extremely proud of our arrangement of that, with Bill's original Dm/Dsus2/Dm/Dsus4/Dm acoustic line mutating into a kickass dual guitar harmony riff (especially when the drums come thundering in), but never really felt I did it vocally justice until this performance. Partly it was being warmed up from the two previous songs, partly it was pretty much singing it directly at Bill, and partly it was that I made a pretty-much-spur-of-the-moment decision to leave ALL the rhythm guitar to [livejournal.com profile] demoneyes. Whatever way, I finally gave it all the vocal growls and attack the song demands, and there was absolutely no comparison to the down-an-octave wimp-out on Dancing Flames! 

Amusing aside: as I was relaying to the lovely [livejournal.com profile] tellivision in the bar on Friday, I have a problem with that song. I have absolutely no clue how verse 2 starts. Except in one very specific circumstance: when I've just sung verse 1! Right now, I cannot tell you how verse two starts short of singing it through in my head, and I have to basically take it on complete faith that as I'm playing the intro to that verse the lyrics will turn up. I demonstrated this to Chantelle on Friday, and, even more scarily, relayed the conversation we'd just had to someone else who joined us, to discover that I had once again forgotten the line I'd sung two minutes previously! (For reference (and it just took me a minute of singing under my breath at work to find it) it's "I've seen a thousand races die....")

We made use of Jared's talents in the set, too - keys on Crimson and Crystal and fantastic vocal duet on Superman Sex Life Boogie - and then dragged all the Walker, Allcock and Whitaker offspring up for the main set closer, Black Powder And Alcohol. This has always been a Phoenix trademark number, and I must confess to a bad case of proud Dad, as James (on his own drum kit) absolutely nailed his drum part (and no making it easy for him, either - that part was carefully crafted, largely by James, so as not to get in the way of Lissa's original).  

We encored with Turn Back The Tide and the inevitable Mr. Spaceman, and... well, that was it. :( Spent two hours unwinding in the bar before, to my surprise, actually popping into the Saturday night circle for a while before crashing out. Got to play a couple of things: in particular, I got to play The Miller's Tale for our Footloose Filker Sebastian and his lovely filk-neo girlfriend Jack (if you're on LJ, guys, let me know!), by way of explaining some of the history of the house they'd been staying in on Thursday.

Crawled into breakfast Sunday, then spent the morning in the lounge as DCM and roving hotel checkout troubleshooter. Missed almost all of [livejournal.com profile] oreouk's second GoH set, which I'm kinda bummed about in hindsight, but by that time at a con all I often want to do is vegetate. Did, however, make it in in time for the Sam's awards, where, to my considerable surprise, I found myself accepting the Filk Gold award on behalf of Michael Greiner for Phoenix's version of Turn Back The Tide. For those who missed the story at the time - he's an SCA bard from the West Coast who I ran into while he was on vacation in the UK in 1990, busking in Lion Yard in Cambridge. I bought an LP, liked Turn Back The Tide, persuaded Phoenix to cover it. And so, in 1998, when we came to record Into The Fire, we had the interesting task of tracking him down in Pasadena via the Internet...

...and now I have to do it again! Fortunately, it seems to be a bit easier this time!

After that came [livejournal.com profile] quadrivium's second set - this time with added [livejournal.com profile] micktim on fantastic trumpet. We had even less rehearsal for this one, but I had wisely moved myself to the left side of Mary so I could follow her left hand, and for some reason, the lack of rehearsal made it better (fewer clams dropped from me, for a start!). To cap it off, we had the Sam winners' concert, and then the closing ceremony, with a poignant thank you from [livejournal.com profile] filkerbaby and an equally poignant version of Sam's Song led by [livejournal.com profile] smallship1. I am one of those folks who, to be honest, tends to slip out during this, but this time it was just ... perfect.

And that was it. Another con, but a rather special one, over. I'd like to think Keris would have approved. I'd also like to raise my hat, if I may, particularly to [livejournal.com profile] azakir for his work on publications: I do know my stuff as a graphic designer, so when his first cut at PR3 turned up it was very gratifying to be able to just raise my hands and go 'cool. that's obviously under control, I'll stop worrying about that now'. Cracking job, Chris, and a thank you to you and all my concom partners, acting and otherwise. 
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