December 20th, 2017.

Last night Rowan and I got together to practice and then decided to head down to Gypsy Sally’s for their Tuesday night open mic. We’ve been a couple of times before and it’s generally been a good way to remind the staff and owner (the latter runs the open mic night) that we exist – and that this is what we look like. The last couple of times we’ve been there it’s been kind of sparse, but last night it was packed both with physical bodies and with talent. There were a number of performers that were downright intimidating – but we had a great time… once we got there.

Not our cat says farewell and have a good show!
Not our cat says farewell and have a good show!

Practicing with Rowan is a good exercise. I’m TERRIBLE at exercise. Definitely terrible at leading it. When ilyAIMY practices, I put together a list of songs IF they’re lucky, and then we kind of push our way through. Generally speaking, we play in so many different formats that for the rest of the band it’s mostly a matter of reminding them how everything goes, and for Heather and I it’s a matter of reminding ourselves of how things align with those particular bandmates – and countering for drift. The songs evolve as Heather and Kristen and I play them out on the road or over and over at the bar gigs that seem to define our Lives – and then when we gear up for the festival season where the larger band formats are appropriate, we’ve got to remember how the drums influence the rhythm, how the piano plays that ONE chord in “Illinois”, how Rowan’s drums interact with Joey’s drums and where it is that that overrides Heather’s cajon part…

Et fucking cetera.

Anywho – practicing with Rowan – he and I have been focused on doing more things together – a couple of reasons behind that, not least of which is that he’s underused right now and wants to get out and play his OWN stuff for a change. We’ve played at least one of these Gypsy Sally’s gigs, a couple of open mics, and a really wonderful (and finally much more equal) show a couple of weeks ago at Columbia’s Mad City Café.

Open Mic at Gypsy Sally's in Georgetown - Washington DC.
Open Mic at Gypsy Sally’s in Georgetown – Washington DC.

Well, now it’s time to buckle down and really polish things up – something I kind of suck at. Rowan’s really great at running one part of a song over and over again. And it’s a different kind of push than I’m used to. After a couple of hours, we had a quick dinner with his wife and kid, and then headed into DC to see how much we remembered.

It turned out that at least on the topic of “how to get to Gypsy Sally’s” “how much we remembered” was precisely “not much”. I think the first wrong turn was Rowan’s fault. The second wrong turn was me second-guessing Rowan and was at least partially the GPS’ fault for not updating fast enough. The THIRD missed turn was DEFINITELY the GPS’ fault as it froze as we were going around one of those fucking traffic circles… and then the fourth wrong turn was probably my fault, though at that point it was anyone’s game… but remember, whenever you’re faced with the decision of “taking the high road” or “going down” – when it comes to Gypsy Sally… you ALWAYS go down.

Rowan performing at the Gypsy Sally's Open Mic - I've just realized that I don't remember this song and decide to retune my baritone in prep for handing it to Rowan in pseudo-DADGAD. After taking a pic or two (and watching Rowan play) I
Rowan performing at the Gypsy Sally’s Open Mic – I’ve just realized that I don’t remember this song and decide to retune my pseduo-drop-D-tuned baritone in prep for handing it to Rowan in pseudo-DADGAD. After taking a pic or two (and watching Rowan play) I suddenly DO remember what to play and realize the problem is that I should be playing tuned to STANDARD! I hastily retune the low A back to B and jump back in, promptly forgetting I’ve also retuned the other B and the F#, which I shortly run afoul of. In all, I should’ve just kept taking pictures. Also… write stuff down.

Still, got a lot of quality time in the car – but that meant we were WAY later than we’d hoped, which meant we were WAY later on the list than we’d hoped and we played WAY later than we’d hoped, resulting in us staying waaaaaay later than I’d hoped.

For all that it was something of a comedy of errors GETTING there, it felt like we were maybe SUPPOSED to be there. Had a great chat with the owner, got recognized by a couple of other performers, and even had the percussionist of the night, Baptiste, text his friend about my guitar to someone who then promptly remembered me too! I felt famous. Open Mic famous.

Man am I glad my venue closes at 10pm. We were about to call it a night at 11pm shortly after we’d played, but then one thing led to another and it was suddenly 1 in the morning! T’was an exhausting night. But good. Gig tomorrow. We’ll see what we remember!

One of the crazy coincidences! So I'm editing Journal files from 2004 or so right now, and that's probably around the last time we saw this guy! Junior Bryce found his way to us courtesy of our mutual friend Alfred (our drummer in the early 2000s) and played with us at our bigger shows back then. He was sitting at the bar and I totally lost track of where I was in a song when we did that "holy crap! It's YOU!" thing... he jammed with a couple of the other players and was just as amazing as I remember (here he's playing with one of the last players of the night - I believe this to be Andy Carlson (?).
One of the crazy coincidences! So I’m editing Journal files from 2004 or so right now, and that’s probably around the last time we saw this guy! Junior Bryce found his way to us courtesy of our mutual friend Alfred (our drummer in the early 2000s) and played with us at our bigger shows back then. He was sitting at the bar and I totally lost track of where I was in a song when we did that “holy crap! It’s YOU!” thing… he jammed with a couple of the other players and was just as amazing as I remember (here he’s playing with one of the last players of the night – I believe this to be Andy Carlson (?).

December 21st, 2017.

Last night was a lot of fun despite the odds. Rowan and I have been working hard putting together a more equitable setlist and we got to play it last night at Gypsy Sally’s. Tuesday night we’d practiced our little hearts out and then headed down to play the open mic with kind of questionable results, and today we left really, really early to avoid rush hour traffic on our way down to the actual gig.

Kristen and Artem and Heather and I go to finalyl see Star Wars: The Last Jedi... that maaaay end up being a whole Journal entry on its own!
Wednesday night Kristen and Artem and Heather and I go to finally see Star Wars: The Last Jedi… that maaaay end up being a whole Journal entry on its own!

Not that avoiding DC rush hour traffic is actually a thing – you have to avoid DC as a whole in order to do that.

Yeah - Rowan's leaf piles are bigger than my car. I'm NOT jealous of this. And I'm NOT messin' it up.
Yeah – Rowan’s leaf piles are bigger than my car. I’m NOT jealous of this. And I’m NOT messin’ it up.

In any case, armed with Tuesday night’s knowledge we were really, really prepped to not miss ANY turns this time around – and were only mildly disappointed to have google route us to Georgetown along an entirely different path. No matter – the point is is that we GOT there! We parked, had enough time for coffee [Rowan showed off his beanerdery by taking me to a Blue Bottle and talking about… like… “figuring” and “profiles” with the guy behind the counter] and then nabbing dinner at Chipotle [I continue to fail to find anything at Chipotle that doesn’t make me sick though] and STILL have time to load-in early to the venue AND spend plenty of time in their bathroom thanks to item two above.

Rowan getting his coffee nerding on at Blue Bottle in Georgetown.
Rowan getting his coffee nerding on at Blue Bottle in Georgetown.

Sigh. You know you’re not one of those laissez-faire rockers when one of the major plusses for a venue is the fact that their rest rooms are always clean – but man oh man, I can’t say enough good stuff about the fact that Gypsy Sally’s bathrooms are always in good shape.

Decorate with spikes? Sure - why not!
Decorate with spikes? Sure – why not!

Anywho, loaded in, set up, warmed up playing along to the Red Hot Chili Peppers album being played over the PA, and proceeded to rock the Hell out.

Now, Gypsy Sally’s is one of the only “tips” gigs I’ll play nowadays. The “why” to this is probably not immediately obvious : it’s not easy to get to, paying for parking ain’t cheap… BUT a) you’re scheduled against the “big” shows going next door in an intelligent fashion so that you get a LOT of audience flooding in from that, b) the staff is really, really fantastic and appreciative and c) the crowd is also really, really appreciative –it’s definitely a music crowd, not your standard barmongers, d) as mentioned… great bathrooms e) we can play what EVER we want. Rowan and I really have a fantastic time. And it’s supportive enough that we DO actually make a profit, so… until the promised big gigs on the BIG side come along, we are surprisingly happy about playing these.

So happy, as a matter of fact, that some nights (like Thursday night) we forget to take a break. And so, after playing our hearts out and then realizing ANOTHER big batch of people are crowding in so we should play our hearts out a little longer – we remember that we’ve not taken a break and have forgotten to run back out and pay the meter.

Now, especially since at the open mic we felt like we’d had a close call with this – seeing the car next to us being ticketed half an hour after the meters were supposed to be OFF – we weren’t feeling like we were going to get away with this, but Rowan’s windshield remained remarkably free of citations! Huzzah!

A neat light installation of some sort in Georgetown.
A neat light installation of some sort in Georgetown.

Then we got pulled over on the way home.

For a taillight! Just given a work order! Huzzah!

Then I-695 was closed on the drive home.

But the cat was waiting for me when I got home at 1.30 in the morning. Huzzah!

Little victories. Tis what Life is made of.