Wednesday, February 12, 2014

TONIGHT! My New Steady Wednesday Gig at Jo Bar And Rotisserie 5-8

When I began my piano career in Baltimore and Washington D.C. back in 1988ish, there was a plethora of what we refer to as the "Steady Gig." Indeed, I basically learned how to play jazz piano because I lucked into a Friday and Saturday gig at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Baltimore. Even when that gig ended (because another group came in and undercut us), I still managed to have a bunch of regularly occurring gigs in the area. (I even had a 6 night a week gig at the Watergate Hotel with the late vocalist Pam Bricker.) Although freelancing in any field has it's severe financial ups and downs, having the steady gig makes looking at the upcoming calendar a whole lot easier. Alas, when I moved to New York, I was never able to secure any sort of weekly gig in the Tri-State area; I was only able to make a living by touring Europe and Japan with bands such as Cassandra Wilson, Gary Bartz, Buster Williams, and Don Byron. ( Yes, what a drag!) Ok, I jest; it can be great to go on the road, but there's nothing like a steady gig to call home.

If you ever talk to older jazz cats, you might hear more about gigs that went on for years, or even 7 sets a night! 7 sets! That's a lot of music. (I wonder if some of my students, given the tunes they know, could get through ONE set, let alone 7!) I keep saying that the best place to learn jazz is on the bandstand; unfortunately there are very few "bandstands" left in the world, especially ones where you can meet once a week, let alone 6 nights a week for 6 months.
tours where they would play one club for 6 months at a time. This is why these bands sounded so amazing; they were playing ALL THE TIME! How can you not get better? Many of these gigs were longer than today's gigs; there's some poster someone showed me where it said something like "Joe Henderson/Woody Show 7-2AM." Can you imagine? Pianist and Philadelphia native Billy Colucci told me when he played in Atlantic City in the 60's, they played 7 nights a week 

Well, good NEWS, everyone; out of the blue, a young man named Michael Gibbons emailed me and asked me if I would be interested in a regular Wednesday gig. Gibbons is the owner of Jo Bar and Rotisserie, one of the best restaurants in Portland and a successful business for 20 years. I was flattered , and I decided to meet with Gibbons. After enticing me with green tea and sorbet, I had to agree to an engagement. We decided that Wednesdays 5-8 would be a great time to give it a try.

So there you have it. Our first gig is this evening. I want to feature different rhythm sections every week for a while; this week bassist Miranda Williams and drummer Jon Huteson will be joining me on the "bandstand." Come down and listen; if you are a musician, and you have your axe, I might let you sit in, if you bring me a Valentine's Day gift! See you at 715 NW 23rd Avenue (503 222-0048).

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