gigs about town with Dean Bowman
Just finished a low-key but strangely energizing gig with vocalist Dean Bowman at a small club in Brooklyn called "Puppet's". It's a club that's been around for over a year and which was started by Jaime Aff, himself an accomplished drummer in his own right (and who, in fact, sat in with us that day). The bass player was the inimitable Rael Wesley Grant, a virtuoso on the six-string bass. The "strange" part of the occasion occured during our first night there a week earlier, in which the audience consisted of a few stragglers off of the street and, in particular, an unusually and robustly drunk-out-of-his-gourd patron who at a particularly amusing point proceeded to provide us with an interpretive dance of our musical proceedings as we played, before ultimately having a "freak out" episode at his table during the break.
Most recently, the "energizing" part of the occasion occurred at some magical point during the second set. Gigs like this often feel like "dues-payers", but the real impetus for doing them at all certainly isn't financial, but for moments like these, when things just start musically clicking, and you're reminded of the company you're keeping and the high level of musicianship that is on display. Dean is a truly historic vocalist - currently he's touring with John Scofield's Tribute to Ray Charles project and with another project of Don Byron's, and actually also embodied the role of my father in my previous opera, "Quebecite". But, as is typical in New York, he could be found at this out-of-the-way place practicing his craft, incubating his conception for that time in the near-future when we can hit the road and play at other venues around the country and the world.
At a particular moment during this set, that strange synergy emerged, in which you feel as if you've taken a relaxing step backwards and are listening, with the audience, to the proceedings rather than playing; and in which a strange conversation occurs, energy-wise, between you and the audience. Dean rides this sort of energy as well as anyone, and I went along, playing my trusty Roland VK-7 organ and the Casio keyboard that the club provided upon my arrival.
Afterwards I called my wife to express my near-surprise with this re-discovery - a true summary of why I became a musician in the first place.
Dean has a tour planned in April, so if all goes well we'll bring his music to Paris and then across the U.S. at that time. Until then, there'll likely be a few more smaller gigs around town as we continue to hone our craft and seek those surprising musical moments.