Monday, April 09, 2007


The Devil's Tailors - Our First Gig

The Devil's Tailors officially performed their first gig at the National Tartan Day celebration at Market Square in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, on April 7th, 2007 (a day after National Tartan Day proper. The line-up for this gig included myself, Chris Lindsay on guitar and bodhran, and a virtual Anders Johannson on guitar for Cairn o' Mount (courtesy of a 2005 recording, iTunes, and my Mac laptop).

Massive props to Chris, who worked sound all day and was spot on with Flower of Scotland, as well as my friend Anand Rao, who roadied most excellently for us, and my mother Nancy, who was Jane-on-the-spot with the hot drinks to keep us going. And, of course, to Chris' wife Christine, who let us borrow her husband all day despite having other plans.

It was a day of firsts for me. First frontman gig. First lead vocal gig. First entertainment chair gig. First stage manager gig. First time out for my PA. First time out for my new all-synthetic bagpipes.

The day was cold and blustery, with wind chills in the low 30s and wind speeds in the upper teens, but we made it through, and kept the entertainment coming and on time.

The reviews of our performance were pretty good - the main problems were with the sound setup. When I did Cairn o' Mount, we forgot to turn up the fiddle in the main relative to the vocals, and the recording of Anders' guitar in the monitor. And I found myself unable to do much at all with the pipes because of the cold (see below).

I learned a lot from this experience. I learned that I need 2 hours to set up, which will give me a 30 minute wind-down time and emergency buffer. I learned that my 2 x 400 Watt powered mixer wasn't nearly enough power to run two main speakers and two stage monitors - so I'll be buying a rack and a power amp. I learned that I can get all the band gear into my PT cruiser, if I have another car for instruments and bandmates. I learned the importance of rigorous, not rushed, sound checks. I learned that I can't stand in the cold for hours and expect my lip to hold on a blowpipe, or my fingers to be able to find the chanter holes (but the all-synthetic bagpipe performed admirably!). Looking at the picture, I realized that Chris must plug his guitar in (rather than use an instrument mic), and that we should be closer together on stage.

So despite the weather and the cancellations of other performers, and some technical problems, it all worked out great in the end.

Afterwards, we all went to O'Connell's a couple blocks away, where - once nice and warmed up - I entertained the crowds with fiddle, smallpipes, and Highland Pipes.

A hell of a day.

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