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  #1  
Old 08-25-2018, 01:04 AM
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Default Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Musical pit drumming is very near and dear to my heart, and I was gutted when my local theatre company "went a different direction" a few years back and I stopped getting calls for productions. Fortunately, I still have a pretty good reputation and just got picked up for an eleven-show run of "Little Shop of Horrors" this fall. I'll be using this thread as my show diary, as usual.

The next couple of weeks will be filled with score analysis, woodshedding, percussion sourcing, and pad programming... and I can't wait!
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Old 08-25-2018, 01:17 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Dedicated drum music? Wow.
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Old 08-25-2018, 01:42 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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Dedicated drum music? Wow.
No different than concert or orchestral scores.
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Old 08-25-2018, 04:10 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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No different than concert or orchestral scores.
I know, but to us dirty rock drummers, it's just amazing that anyone else thinks of the drums at all.
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Old 08-25-2018, 06:27 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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No different than concert or orchestral scores.
One big difference - the one score contains dozens of instruments, often several at once. An orchestra score would normally be split amongst 3-4 players. This is what makes it especially challenging.
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Old 08-25-2018, 07:10 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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One big difference - the one score contains dozens of instruments, often several at once. An orchestra score would normally be split amongst 3-4 players. This is what makes it especially challenging.
concert encompasses percussion ensemble and other scores where percussionists play more than one thing in a song, but I get your point.
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Old 08-25-2018, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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..No different than concert or orchestral scores..

I agree..

Here where i live a seperated score for only drums is very common with an orchestra..

Actually, i never saw anything else at the orchestra i played with..
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Old 08-25-2018, 06:41 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Separate drum scores are not rare in the theatre world, unless the producer is trying to cut costs by only ordering the conductor score or piano score. There's also a percussion score, which I plan to merge with the drum score if and where it makes sense to do so.

I've already done a bit of preliminary research and score review to determine what percussion will be needed (practical or electronic), and the kit instruments needed. The character of the music cries out for my Ludwigs for a woody, vintage sound; the challenge there is that most theatre scores assume at minimum a five-piece kit and I haven't got three toms for the Ludwigs. So we'll see what happens there. Listening to the new Broadway score, the toms aren't even audible a lot of the time and many of the multi-tom fills were played between the snare and the kick. Otherwise, I should be okay with one or two crashes and a ride (probably the Omni), plus a sizzler if needed.

I'm finally biting the bullet after I don't know how many shows and buying a Miller Machine for my triangle. Bat Boy was a total pain to do traditional triangle. Never again! And Andy, you'll be happy to know the mark tree will be coming out to play.
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Old 09-18-2018, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

First rehearsals are tonight. I'm taking a simple kit - snare, kick, rack, floor, hats, Omni. I may not need much more for the show, in fact - although it appears the MD wants to assign some of the keyboard 2 parts to me to play on electronic pads. All should be much clearer this evening!

EDIT: The band's all here! Should be a great show to play. We sightread all of act one and parts of act two. Band consists of woodwinds, piano, bass, keys 1 and 2, guitar/mandolin, and drums/percussion.
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

+1.

Snare/ timpani/mallets/etc. all had their own music.

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I agree..

Here where i live a seperated score for only drums is very common with an orchestra..

Actually, i never saw anything else at the orchestra i played with..
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:35 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Is a church putting this on? That's interesting. Get them to provide you a keyboard for the K2. They have the resources.
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Old 09-20-2018, 05:24 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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Is a church putting this on? That's interesting. Get them to provide you a keyboard for the K2. They have the resources.
We're only using the church for a rehearsal space. The instruments are all player-provided. The fellow playing bass owns our local music store, so he can pretty much order in anything needed if he hasn't got it in stock. We haven't got both keys players in this rehearsal.
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:36 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

I see. Would you rather play pads or keyboard? I would go kb if possible.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:53 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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I see. Would you rather play pads or keyboard? I would go kb if possible.
I'm not a keys player, and so I'm adding pads for percussion I can't get or fit in the space. Having said that, we're not stressing about adding layers of percussion or sound effects in - we're trying to keep it as stripped as possible while still filling out the essential voices on the alternate scoring.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Cool. Should be a fun show.
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:46 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

I had never heard of a Miller Machine.
Looks very helpful.
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:11 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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I had never heard of a Miller Machine.
Looks very helpful.
Yeah. The guy who invented it, Billy Miller, is a pit drummer based in Seattle (so I had my Machine in lickety-split time). It's great so as not to have to put down sticks, mallets etc. to pick up a triangle beater. As with many musical scores I've played, there's a lot of triangle in this show.

Billy also maintains a website with pictures of drum and percussion setups for all kinds of musicals, from high school productions up to Broadway. It's very helpful to get your kit sorted out for a specific show.
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Old 09-22-2018, 07:28 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Speaking of setups: Here's my first stab at fitting everything I'll need (and nothing I won't) into a 5x7 space. Please don't mind the clutter in my third car garage-slash-drum studio at the moment...

After sidelining the Standards for my last theater gig, I have never done so again (with the exception of last week's rehearsal). And I figure I'll play vintage drums for a vintage sound, right down to the 5x14 aluminium Standard snare. For cymbals, I did just fine at rehearsal with a single Omni, but I'm adding an 18" A Custom crash on the left side for convenience. It's the crash best matched to the Omni in terms of sound. Right now my A Custom hats are up for practice, but I'm going to play my Sabian AA extra-thin over Zildjian A medium-thin frankenhats for the actual show - both for volume's sake and for a vintage feel.

I'm going to be doubling as much percussion as possible during the show, and so to that end the cowbell, jam block, tambourine, and mark tree are all deployed, plus my new Miller Machine and triangle. The Yamaha DTX Multi-12 with two outboard pads will be triggering everything I don't own, from castanets to congas, plus gunshots and telephone rings. I've got one preliminary bank of instruments already loaded, but I'll refine that in woodshedding today.

Setting up for each new show is both familiar and brand new at once; I've never incorporated electronics or the Miller Machine into a setup, so I'm excited (and a little nervous) to see how it pans out live.
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:00 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Setup looks great. Pit gigs can be crazy fun. Last one I did was In the Heights. Good call on the DTX 12. Initially I thought your were going to be playing key parts.

You did RHPS last time, right?
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:38 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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Setup looks great. Pit gigs can be crazy fun. Last one I did was In the Heights. Good call on the DTX 12. Initially I thought your were going to be playing key parts.

You did RHPS last time, right?
My last two since moving to this town were "Rocky Horror Show" and "Bat Boy: The Musical". I've done a few others, including Rogers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, Honk! and "The Borrowers" in its off-off-off-Broadway debut.

Yeah, the Multi-12 will be a big help. Almost every sound I need is already loaded on there and it just took a little fussing and button-pressing to get everything in its right place. I need to load in a sample of an old-timey telephone ring, though - the two rings it comes with sound like the ring on the other end of the line and a modern networked office phone. I might also look for castanet rolls so I can single-strike a pad and get what I need instead of having to do all three or four strokes mid-rhythm.
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:57 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

This week I’m Musical Director for ‘Hairspray’. Six shows down, one to go.

So - our drummer got violently ill just before a show.
Too late to find a replacement, so I took over the drumming and directed the show from the kit, with a video camera on me for the cast to see my cues, and the orchestra all turned to face the kit. Has actually worked! Mostly because it’s a rock-style musical, and the drum kit has a lot of control over the tempos and changes.

Luckily I haven‘t had to do percussion as well, that’s a completely seperate part, with the typical ‘five instruments in five seconds’ scoring.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:56 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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This week I’m Musical Director for ‘Hairspray’. Six shows down, one to go.

So - our drummer got violently ill just before a show.
Too late to find a replacement, so I took over the drumming and directed the show from the kit, with a video camera on me for the cast to see my cues, and the orchestra all turned to face the kit. Has actually worked! Mostly because it’s a rock-style musical, and the drum kit has a lot of control over the tempos and changes.

Luckily I haven‘t had to do percussion as well, that’s a completely seperate part, with the typical ‘five instruments in five seconds’ scoring.
Our piano player is doing the cues and counts this run, but she swears she's not the MD. She leaves the coordination and rehearsal leading up to the bass player, who could play any of the instruments in the production in fact.

But I can see where drums could lead a lot of this production too. Many of the fermatas are held completely with the drums or completely without (meaning you can conduct).
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Old 09-24-2018, 04:12 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

So the Multi-12 is fully stocked, cocked, and ready to rock. It's even labeled for quick reference.

L-R, top-bottom: Phone Ring 1, Phone Ring 2 (for "Call Back In The Morning"), Gun Shot, Shaker 1 and 2, an 808 snare patch (which can be replaced if needed), concert bass drum, castanet roll (for "Skid Row" and "Mushnik & Son"), tambourine, woodblock high, woodblock low, vibraslap, and the outboard pads are conga 1 and 2 (which I left-hand ostinato during "Feed Me" and "Suppertime").

I woodshedded a bit with the 2003 revival soundtrack and it felt great!
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Old 09-25-2018, 08:35 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

In the "highly unrelated" category, tonight's rehearsal for Act II took place in a local middle school band room, where I quickly found relics of days long past in the hands of the less appreciative. The unpainted Acro is apparently the victim of dozens of gravity-assisted trips to the tile floor, the K has a pretty sizeable dent on one edge and sounds pretty questionable now, and the New Beats, while still intact, look like they've been on the floor of a gym shower for months... The stamp hasn't worn off, that's actually grime built up!
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Old 09-25-2018, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

I’m starting to think I’m going to have to break down and get one of those systems for doing these kinds of gigs.
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Old 09-25-2018, 05:58 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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I’m starting to think I’m going to have to break down and get one of those systems for doing these kinds of gigs.
Electronics, in my opinion, are a great way of playing more of the book without breaking the bank or having to lug a metric ton of instruments around. Also much more reasonable space-wise. Last night at rehearsal I didn't have the electronics with me, but I was in a school band room. The logistics involved to have just a pair of congas and a set of temple blocks nearby were silly even with all the room in the world.
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Old 10-06-2018, 11:57 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

So we're loaded in and in the space. The band is set up adjacent to the stage in a large area off stage left, with TV monitors for the stage. Shortly there will be a short wall built between the band space and the main walkway backstage to prevent tripping and falls.

It's a huge space - the largest I've ever been blessed with in a show! In the room picture we will be set up (left to right) wind player (flute/clarinet/sax), guitar/mandolin, bass player, key 1/MD, key 2, me (facing the rest of the band). The actor voicing the plant will be back here somewhere with us as well.

The setup didn't change much at all from my initial setup. In the drivers' view pictures you can see my personal mixer on the right side with a small amp for reinforcing the electronic pads, which we decided we didn't need. So I ended up moving the mixer to the left of the e-pads and plugging into the back of the main speaker next to my kit as you can see in the room view photo.

And a special sneak preview of the plant "Audrey II" in all its stages - hand puppet (backstage), hand puppet on the set windowsill, mid-size ("Feed Me"), and the full-size man-eating costume (currently without anyone in it). Usually community productions rent these puppets and props, but our local theater company made these themselves - they look incredible!
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Old 10-15-2018, 04:36 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Haven't posted much in this thread lately, so an update:

Last week had four rehearsals - the sitzprobe (where the actors sing along with the band for the first time, no rehearsals of lines outside of cues, sitting or standing), a separate Act I and Act II tech rehearsal, and a full run-through. I had to use rods and brushes for the sitzprobe so as not to blast the actors out of the room, and the tech rehearsals really were trying because all the sound levels, including actor mikes, were being ironed out. More than once I had to take off headphones mid-song and do my best with the room sound because a mike or signal was feeding back into my headphones.

By Thursday night's full runthrough, most of that nonsense had settled down and we could concentrate on making the whole runthrough work. And it went pretty well, allaying most of my fears about hitting all my musical marks.

The band had three days off (mostly reserved for a previously scheduled gig and two days of knocking honey-do lists down), but Monday evening we start the first of three dress rehearsals, with the third intended as a family and friends night. Then opening night is Thursday, with four shows this weekend and the next weeked, and three on closing weekend, plus possibly callbacks. By the way, I have a day job!

Great news is that I'll have my new Guru snare in time for the last dress rehearsal and of course opening night!
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Old 10-19-2018, 07:48 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Well, opening night has come and gone. As is typical with a musical, there's certain tunes in the show that have gelled nicely and others that continue to challenge us collectively. In the first column are several of the more popular, catchy tunes such as the title track, "Feed Me (Get It)", and "Suddenly Seymour". In the second column are the more technical and film-score-like songs, such as "Closed for Renovation", "Mushnik & Son", and "Call Back In The Morning". I would say we're 90-95% of the way there - with one big, unmistakable twist.

A key actor fell ill the day of the last dress rehearsal (like, hospital ill) and was not able to make it to the rehearsal or to opening night. His return is actually uncertain. One of the co-directors (himself a skilled actor and singer) has stepped in to fill the role, but it has been a huge shift for the production to accommodate.

But the show goes on - and with another addition: My Guru snare did arrive, not in time for final dress rehearsal, but certainly in time for opening night. This gives me the opportunity to play it for several hours each week in a natural range of styles and volumes, by the end of which I hope to share my (so far amazing) experience with you in another post. As a result of the marvelous timing with which this incredible instrument fit into my schedule, I decided to name her "Audrey" after two of the production's lead characters. Here she is in all her glory, riding herd on my Standards.
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Old 10-19-2018, 10:40 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Just curious, but will there be a video or something made from this production..?

I would like to see and hear that..
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Old 10-20-2018, 01:10 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

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Just curious, but will there be a video or something made from this production..?

I would like to see and hear that..
There's some video with no audio so far - there likely won't be a full video made (licensing, you know). I am planning on having someone do a "backstage" video of me one of these evenings playing through one of the songs - and when I do, I'll post it here. Stay tuned!
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Old 10-20-2018, 02:07 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

That looks like a great production. Have yourself some serious fun.
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:54 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Great to hear you're getting through this mammoth task, & good to have a bit of walnut love in the vibe too :)
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Old 10-20-2018, 07:41 PM
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Great to hear you're getting through this mammoth task, & good to have a bit of walnut love in the vibe too :)
I might as well post a link to my review of your snare here, to prolong the walnut love!

https://lookoutsidedesign.wordpress....ms-experience/
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Since today's the last day of the first break, here's an apropos question I got asked recently: "Aren't you afraid of getting rusty on your days off?" And the short answer is, yes - I'm PETRIFIED of it! That's why I do my best not to get rusty. I'm still reviewing my notes from last week's performances, listening to the music to keep me "in the mood", and psyching myself up to get back behind the kit. My spare kit is set up at home, and I'll be warming up on it tonight and tomorrow afternoon before heading to the theater. The band will be getting together a little early on Thursday night to go over some of our most notoriously difficult bits before the audience arrives.

Besides, I'm still basking in the compliments from last week's shows - not the audience's compliments, which are nice, but the actors' comments, which are really great to get. "You keep up all in line and keep the tempo up!" "We love it when you push us and don't let us drag!" "We wouldn't have a show without you!" When you're hidden in the back of the theater without anyone seeing you, that sort of recognition is truly nice.

I'll be shooting some video of the opening number this week - hopefully it turns out any good in the dark band room!
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Old 10-24-2018, 07:10 PM
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alparrott alparrott is offline
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

By the way, one challenge I discovered with my new Guru snare is that standard mike clips don't work on S-hoops very well. For opening night I made do by reversing the clip, but that wasn't optimal - it pointed the mike across the head instead of at the center. So on Friday night, I brought in the old tried-and-true homemade drum mike mount - a gooseneck and a multi-clamp.
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Old 10-26-2018, 09:06 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

So here is a video of the band playing through the prologue and title song. You won't hear much vocals in the mix, just musical goodness. We had two wind players subbing for our usual one wind player, and Keys 2 was out for the first act... but it still sounds okay. Phone video and audio, sorry.

https://youtu.be/KWmQNqHuDls
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Old 10-26-2018, 12:38 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Something warm is cutting through nicely :)
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Old 10-26-2018, 04:28 PM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy View Post
Something warm is cutting through nicely :)
I know, that saxophone is pretty killer, right?

I found a great sweet spot when I went in and retuned the Guru last night... stil haven't stopped smiling!
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Old 10-27-2018, 05:10 AM
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Default Re: Next musical: "Little Shop Of Horrors"

Nice..!

That looks like a very nice, atmospheric and cozy way of playing a gig in my opinion..

Also sounds like a pretty big audience and they sound enthusiastic too..
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