KreiFest VI – Post Mortem (a.k.a. Bridge Brothers - Part III)
For those following the Bridge Brothers and the saga covering our preparations for the annual KreiFest party held in our neighborhood, I wanted to provide a post mortem report of the event which was held on Saturday, September 6 at the home (and yard) of Bill and Cindy Krei. This is the 6th year that the Krei’s have held their party and asked us to play for the event. They are already talking about next year’s event.
Weather – for the most part not bad. It was a very warm, humid night with just a very short sprinkle of rain. Let’s examine this. Rain - good for drought-ridden areas such as here in north GA-bad for amps, musical instruments and sound systems (and Damon’s superbly coiffed hair). As usual, the threat of rain all but passed us by. As badly as we need the rain here in GA, in this case we were thankful that we stayed almost rain-free for the night. The short, light shower that we did get was just enough to make for a very interesting visual effect as it sprayed off the drums as they were struck and cascaded gently down through the ground lighting Jeff always has under his kit. All in all, the weather could have been much worse. This is always our #1 concern when doing an outdoor gig.
Fan base – Large, vocal and very active (particularly the many kids who always use this family-friendly event as a prime-time, cardio workout session). Our adult fan base all appeared to abide by our strict 2-drink-minimum policy. We don’t play until the crowd has had at least two adult beverages of their choice. For that matter, we don’t play until we have had at least 2 drinks either. In this neighborhood, meeting that requirement is never a problem.
Our “external” fan base increased again this year. We had quite a few out-of-neighborhood fans come to the show at the invitation of various neighborhood residents. We even received several requests that we come to their neighborhood to play a gig. That’s the great thing about KreiFest. It’s open to everyone and the Krei’s go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome whether they belong there or not. Wow, that really was worded poorly, but you get the idea. Everyone’s a friend, open arms, lots of beer, etc, etc,.
The “stage” – OK. Picture this. You’re asked to play a gig outdoors at a home. You have a relatively flat driveway on which to set up your gear that faces the main part of the yard where your fans set up camp for the evening. You have plenty of access to power (albeit about 40 extension cords are required to make the journey to various parts of the host’s home to find available outlets) and lots of space to place the requisite number of beer coolers. Sounds like a pretty decent place for a gig, right? For the first 3 years of KreiFest we thought so too. Then “it” came. “It” is a maple tree which was planted by the Krei’s a few years ago. The problem is they planted it about 20 feet from our “stage”. The first year the tree was there it wasn’t a big deal. It was still relatively small and didn’t get in the way all that much. Last year was a bit tougher as the tree had grown substantially and was becoming a view-killer. The tree appears to have grown exponentially over the last year and is proving to be a real problem. What I want to know is how the heck this thing is growing so much when we’ve been in a drought for the past 3 years. Note to self: When packing gear for KreiFest VII next year, bring a chainsaw.
Saturday’s “Take It Away Troy” Moments a.k.a. “Where did we go wrong?” – (For an explanation of what a TIAT moment is, see my previous post). This year’s play list was very well received. Something for everyone to enjoy. Even if a particular song isn’t one of your favorites, you have to enjoy watching your friends and neighbors on stage relieving their misspent youth trying to be rock stars. We received a lot of compliments about the wide variety of tunes we played (see part II of this saga from last month for a complete set list) and we certainly had a blast playing them. Did we have some hiccups, missed notes, botched lyrics and questionable interpretations of what key we were playing in? Sure. But we always do. It’s who we are and what we do. But what we noticed this time is that even when we hit little bumps in the tune-road there was no panic. Jeff kept the beat going on the kit. The pile of smashed, cracked and otherwise deformed drum sticks laying in front of, next to and behind his kit at the end of the night was hard evidence of his evening’s efforts. Whoever was on bass at the time (and we have a revolving line-up there) kept the bottom end groove alive, vocalists covered for each other and the axe players for the tune provided some nice “cover fire” for us all. Soundman Darrell kept us all sounding fine with his top-notch equipment setup (including new power amp to drive our monitors) and frequent tweaking during the gig. In short, we put lipstick on the few “pig” moments we had and we did so without much ado. This is the one area that Mick always stressed to us. Make a move and do it with conviction. We seem to improve on this with each passing gig. That’s a good thing.
What is equally exciting is the growing ability we have to bring in new instruments and flip people back and forth on instruments with relative ease. Damon (you remember, he of the magnificently coiffed hair), Troy and I spent what seemed to be all evening handing the bass back and forth to each other between songs. Good thing too, because Damon’s bass is a beast…seemingly made of 40 pounds of the best river-soaked lumber available at the time it was built-think oak tree with strings-but a great sounding bass it is. We had Donna and Tim slipping on and off the keyboards and Donna playing flute (to many compliments) on a number of tunes. We received lots of positive comments on our increasing array of tunes heavy on vocal harmony. Actually, we received all-around positive comments from everyone in attendance. Again, the 2 beer minimum helps. I highly recommend it for bands playing paying gigs. Buying a round or two for the folks at the bar really increases the grades on your end-of-night report card.
Cleaning up the mess – As we were packing up our gear in the afterglow of another successful event several thoughts came immediately to mind:
1. Where the heck are the “roadies”? We were all under the impression that when the band stops playing they are to retreat back stage or to an RV for drinks and relaxation of whatever type they desire while the roadies pack up. After spending weeks practicing, 2 hours hauling and setting up gear, 2+ hours playing tunes and more than an hour cleaning up you:
a) realize the Advil you took pre-gig has worn off and you’re sore as hell and,
b) begin to wonder whether all the effort is really worth it.
That thought lasts about 2 seconds when the obvious answer of “hell yes it’s worth it” clears out any and all doubts as to the worthiness of the endeavor.
2. When’s the next gig? On that front we have at least some news. Over the past few years we have done a show during the Winter that we lovingly refer to as the “Mid-Winter Blues Blast”. And yes the double-entendre of “Blues” is intentional. We have yet to set the official date, but late-January/early-February is the prime target. We also will need to evaluate the requests we have received to play outside the neighborhood for various events. As I noted in previous posts, getting everyone together to practice and do 2 gigs here in the ‘hood each year is logistically hard enough. Trying to get everyone together to do more shows is a dangerously perilous undertaking not for the faint of heart.
And so kids, this brings us to the end of the Bridge Brothers’ Kreifest VI saga. Another year, another successful event. If Brother Mick wants to indulge and have us continue posting our preps for our next gig, we will be back. Hopefully Mick and his family can return to GA for a visit and join us for the Winter gig. We would all welcome him back with open arms.
Until then, keep up the hard work, enjoy the time together with your friends and, by all means, try the new Budweiser American Ale that was just recently released. We, as a group, are generally not fans of the big Bud and its products. But the American Ale we tried as Guinea pigs for a friend who works for A-B is quite good. (Skip the Michelob Pale Ale though. Not nearly as good and if you’re going to subject yourself to a Bud product you might as well make it a reasonably decent one by tipping the American Ale.)
Keep the music rolling!