And because of that, this is a huge post with lots of pictures. Be prepared to deal.
So we got invited to play this We Are The 9 event at Gypsy Sally’s from Justin Trawick about 2 weeks before the show. And the subsequent two weeks after were a blur of recording, practicing, promoting, and just getting ready for the show. When Justin invited us, we did our homework and read-up about the singer/songwriter series. It’s a cool idea: 9 different musicians, playing 3 songs a piece, and everyone interweaves their performances with each other. If 9 different musicians can each sell 25 tickets, then it’s much easier to book a nice venue for everyone to play at, like Gypsy Sally’s, since overall there’s a large number of tickets being sold. It’s typically just 9 people, but tonight was a special duos and trios night leading to much larger acts. Unfortunately, The Capitol Heights are still a pretty small group (apparently lots of blogposts don’t get people to shows, go figure?) and we think we pulled about 15 – 18 people. (THANKS TO EVERYONE!!)
Justin was the organizing force here, basically taking care of everything. He said load-in for the evening was at 5 PM and we got there late [classic]. Showing up late was super-unprofessional, especially since it was an actual paid gig. A tax document was even sent around. I barely do my taxes now – and the federal government thinks I’m going to do two sets of taxes? Ha! I think not. (Just kidding government!) Anyway, we arrived at Gypsy Sally’s at about 6:30 and the soundcheck had already commenced. And we started to get nervous. The folks we saw playing were good. Like clone yourself and raise yourself as a child good. This was no open mic – these folks are professionals and they sure as hell sounded like it. Eventually we checked that our instruments still produced sound and started futzin-around with the other performers.
We were told that there was free food and drinks in the vinyl lounge ………whaa … whaaaaat?! The pizza and salad were top notch, and the beer (PBR and Shiner LIKE A BOSS) did what they were meant to do.
Just as a side story…
The free food and beer was especially cool to us. One of our old bands played a show up in north Georgia. The venue was essentially a pre-fabricated garage and was located on a dirt road. It took a couple of hours to even drive there (cue the deliverance banjo). We were told it would be a paid gig, but alas we were paid in food. That would have been fine, but this was definitely concession stand food. Like – lukewarm, liquid fluorescent (possibly glow-in-the-dark) nacho cheese with, most likely, month old, stale, circular chips. Don’t even get me started on the popcorn (yes, you can make popcorn really nasty).. This is not to say we were being picky.. But it was kind of a let down after driving so far. Long story short, the food we got at Gypsy Sally’s was awesome and was a really nice gesture that wasn’t taken for granted.
… back to the main act.
To top off the legititude of this venue, to get to the green room you had to go thru the kitchen like you worked there. yiiiissssss. The first time you are like.. they are going to kick me out, but by the third time you’re kicking in the door like – WHATUP BITCHEZ. It was a non-stop party back there in the green room and I don’t understand how the audience in the main room weren’t complaining about our noise levels. It was so loud. Nearly 20 musicians all back there practicing scales, tuning, and playing random music with other musicians they don’t know, all in this tiny little room. And that’s a big part of this whole “9” show – the different act are supposed to collaborate. And people saw Josh’s cornet used in our upcoming song “You and Me”. Lots of people asked Josh to improv random cornet licks on their songs….but here’s the issue … Josh isn’t that good at cornet yet. Apparently being a serious french horn player over a decade ago is not the same as improvising rock and folk licks with people you don’t know… but we’re getting there.
The show itself went like clockwork. Justin nailed it into everyone’s heads that as soon as the person before you plays their last chord, the next person is already walking onstage. All this to say, it was just one of those times when you get caught in one of life’s whirlwinds. The joy of all these different folks sharing such an important part of their lives onstage, combined with the furor that was the backstage was all simply amazing! All 9 acts played 2 songs a piece, and then all 9 played one more song again for the second go’round. Being a part of this cool concept, with such, truly awesome, acts was sincerely humbling.
There’s too many to mention them all, but with some adieu, here’s our rundown of the 9:
Brittany Jean and The Gingers – this three piece set was epic. We checked and they didn’t have gingervitus (Josh tried to delete this, but Kenny’s putting it back in without his knowledge). It was actually this group’s soundcheck that we walked in on leading us to go “whoaaaa we may have written a check for which our backside can’t provide the requisite goods and services.” Their violin and cello add such an air of class while the lead singer Brittany Jean is just an explosion of rock swagger. We experienced their set from the green room but we know how they do. We loved this mix of country, rock, and folk that swishes together to make Americana.
ilyAIMY was a unique experience to say the least. They are normally a trio, but tonight they were a duo… and we couldn’t tell they were missing anything at all. Electric cello (Kristen) and guitar (Rob) with both of their voices going strong and holy shit did Rob have guitar chops. Literally one of the best and most unique guitar players we’ve ever encountered. He’s the kinda guy that when you see him play, there’s not enough room under the bed for you to hide under in shame. Our favorite song of theirs was where they were singing about being blacklisted by the TSA. We’ve got friends like that… so we thought this was particularly poignant. Their sound is funky as hell and it’s like Rob slaps every string multiple times a second. Rob’s voice was solid and particularly “rock-ish” with some grit on there right when it was needed. Their music had SO MUCH ENERGY and their back catalogue is massive! Unfortunately, we don’t have a great pic of Rob and Kristen – since all the photos you see in this post (except for the title image) were taken by Rob on his amazing camera. Thanks Rob! Here’s Kristen absolutely nailing it!
Atoka Chase (Maya and Jared) were SUCH a good and unique act. Josh had a chance to chill with Jared in the Vinyl Lounge earlier and they told us some of their adventures touring across the country. It was harrowing stuff and we hope we have half of their stories some day. Their set was right before ours, and we’d describe their music as dark bluegrass? Gothgrass? The way they laid into the banjo was unique tho – since it wasn’t a lot of fingerpicking but instead played it like they were hittin’ hard-rock guitar riffs. This kind of ingenuity is great to witness! This group was full of solid, Class A licensed musicianship and Maya and Jared’s voices melded with ease. You HAVE to listen to their track where Maya howls like a wolf – we absolutely loved it! They took just as much care crafting their stage presence as they did with their music. It was actually Atoka’s bullhead that you see featured on the stage in all these pictures. Our favorite part was their custom-built suitcase drum where they cut-out the sides of a suitcase and inserted some toms! Extremely portable and super nifty. We are probably going to steal this idea … 🙂
Our set went ok – we played our new song You and Me and Sequestered Together. Josh hit a wrong note on the mando in the first 30 seconds of playing. What. The. hell. (He’s literally never missed that note before.) The cornet went sort of meh since Josh missed the high note and we’re thinking nerves had something to do with it. The very next day during a songwriting session Josh hit a note a 4th higher than the F#, so we know he can hit the note. Then towards the end of Sequestered Together, Kenny made an error on the piano. To be fair, Kenny’s playing REALLY quickly and singing a complicated part. For our second go-round, Justin joined us onstage with a cajon! We played Take Your Momma which is a coming of age tale about a gay man – and we dedicated it to the State of Indiana. Everybody laughed at the joke, but alas, we have to admit that this was Justin’s joke that he came up with backstage. He more or less indicated we could use it but Josh has felt bad about this since that night SO LET THE TRUTH BE KNOWN. Wanna see a badass pic of us that Rob took?
Cashe & Earle played 2nd to last, and holy hell they were fun. Josh has been beatboxing for a long time but Earle really brought it to the next level. SO GOOD. Why? Well it really has to do with the music that Cashe & Earle play. They are more or less an a cappella duo but that doesn’t do it justice. Think Glee but ya know… real. Cashe’s voice is like fine wine and it immediately gets your attention. We want to say she sounded like she was singing modern music with the hint of 1940’s style. But then the daft maneuver is Earle’s beatboxing, which actually supplies the underpinning of their music since many of his bass notes are pitched to the song. He’s hitting a note in the implied chord of their music. Very impressive and something we plan to learn from. Josh really wants to challenge Earle to a beatbox battle if we ever get to the play The 9 again.
Justin capped out the night and it wasn’t the first time we saw this man lay down the law. He brought the magic just as surely as before and he had all the other performers get on stage with him and sang his famous last song Goodnight. All the performers jumped on stage and sang it with him. It was an excellent end to a magnificent evening. And the song is still stuck in our heads…. “Gooooooodbye. Goodbye I tell you. Goooooodbye.”
We just can’t say nice enough things about Receiver, Jamie and James, Karl Straub and the Light Duty Hammers, and all the rest! We met some amazing people and learned about some new shows. ilyAIMY and Atoka Chase were some of the folks we got closest with during the evening. We actually ended up talking to Rob of ilyAIMY a lot and telling him that we’re doing this open mic challenge thing and he told us that he runs an open mic in College Park. So you can put that on the Open Mic Challenge scoreboard! We also want to again thank all of the wonderful people who came out that evening to support us! This tiny little band really appreciates the support and next time we gon’ kill it.
We leave you with the most justice-ridden picture you’ve ever seen.
Doesn’t this remind you of The Brady Bunch? Andy, we wish we had this picture BEFORE the show to help promote this thing!
Wow – lots of talent here!
Cash & Earle
They don’t seem to have a web presence at this point in time (we felt bad cause we kept buggin’ them about it) but they were on The Circus Life podcast, so we have a video of them to share!
atokachase.com is their masthead, but https://atokachase.bandcamp.com is where you want to be. Head on over and buy their music and grab .. their bull by the horns? Yeah. That. They got a facebook too!
This dynamic trio is available at www.ilyaimy.com. Frankly that’s all you need, but they’ve got a facebook, YouTube, and on twitter with the handle @ilyaimy! AND THANKS AGAIN TO ROB FOR THE MAGNIFISCENT PICS! In thanks, every should go visit the open mics that he graciously runs!
Karl Straub and the Light Duty Hammers
We were unable to find anything about these folks online!
Justin’s main page is justintrawick.com. His podcast is A Circus Life, and his concert series is We Are the 9. All of which are worth checking out. Seriously. Stop reading. Go. Listen to his stuff. Go.