Lion Steel | 03/12/04

This morning I went with Matt to the Leon High School Lion Steel rehearsals. Since Matt is their director now, I think I'll go visit them more often. The first band is...not very good. I brought my pan with me and got a primo spot in the center of the lead section. The first tune up was Dust in deh face. As the piece went on, more and more people dropped out until by about letter G it was just me and the drum set player. I was hoping Matt would cut us off but he didn't, so I ended up playing by myself until the piece was over. Thank God I'd played it before. Well, I certainly didn't play it perfectly but whatever. I probably hit about 95% of the notes which is just fine with me after not playing for a week. We next played another Mas N' Steel favorite, Savannah Party. I remember it only because the notation was so difficult to read and the size was so small that I don't think either Chris or I ever played it the same way twice (well, maybe Chris did because he's Chris, but I sure as hell didn't). The band collectively made it through the piece and I guess I was supposed to "rip an awesome solo" which I failed to do. I couldn't remember the chord changes so I settled for 32nd note pentatonic runs, which sounded a lot harder than it really was. The kids were impressed easily enough and they threw me some very flattering comments. I then kicked back with the band director (who apparently has to hang out in the room the whole time with Matt because he [Matt] isn't a certified teacher) and listened to them play my arrangement of Hey Ya. It wasn't really what I thought it would be--it sounds a lot different (better) with the small group at FSU. I think I just take for granted that good musicians will play musically and not play whole note rolls triple forte. Anyway, they love the piece and that makes me happy. They then butchered one of my favorite songs in the world--Moby Dick. The drummer was cool with the solo but his time-keeping made me look like John Bonham. It didn't help that the tempo was roughly quarter note equals one. The class really got nothing done--they're so crazed and disrespectful if I were to direct them I would have been fired after a parental revolt. I guess I just take college teaching for granted where I can be a little more threatening. More power to Matt & Co., though. Anywho, once they left the band director, who I should probably leave nameless said some equally disrespectful and inappropriate things about some of the students. Not really perverse inappropriate but still. I'm sure my high school directors said the same things about me. I hope they stumble on this site--right now. See? I did make it into college even after you laughed in my face. And now who has more degrees? Yeah, that's what I thought...

The second band came in a few minutes later and I got to play my favorite piece El Montuno with them. Now appropriately warmed up, I was able to make them stop and say "Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" with my solo. They cheered crazily and my ego was even more gigantic than usual. We played through a couple more pieces and my God these kids were good. Now, you know I hate to say anything nice about anyone but JCOLD these kids were amazing. I know this is terrible to say but they played about as well as we're playing at FSU right now. We played Pan in A Minor and even though Matt told me his students were great I didn't believe him...but I do now. I can't believe that these high school students are on par with us! This just makes me more sad about the current state of the ensemble at FSU. The fact of the matter is that we need at least two bands--hell, Leon High School has two bands and we have one. Which is probably why their top band could easily play with ours. What blew me away was the balance. Not only could you hear all the parts but the doubles and triple parts were RoCkIN'. They were playing so confidently (and accurately) that they were getting that sound that's just on the verge of playing too loud like you hear on the panorama CDs from Trinidad. I hope FSU is able to recruit their finer players. I think they would be some key additions to our group. There was really only one lead player that was any good but that's ok--we have good leads to spare. However, we could definitely stand to beef up the lower voices with some aggressive players.

Yeah, so Steve, Matt and I went to Tia's for his last meal (hmm, as I typed "last meal" Great White was playing on Winamp and played "you don't know where you got your 'last meal'" with "last meal" lining up perfectly). We got some ribs and they were terrible. Both Steve's and mine had an enormous piece of cartilage running the length of it, with the width of a sharpie. It was really disgusting. After lunch I kicked Steve's ass in Madden 2000 a couple more times and then dropped him off at the airport. Once I got home I did some more steel drum research and made it half-way through the C's on my list. Oh, the list! I'm compiling a list of every collegiate steel band in the country. Sadly, this means going to the website of every damned university in the country and trying to find it. You would think most schools would have a working "Search" option on their site but not many do. This little project will most likely take over 100 hours unless someone helps me. In the end, though, I should have a list of people to whom I can market my steel drum music. Whew. That was quite the entry. Spring break is over and I'm sad.




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