Okay, it’s Wednesday, June 26th and my head’s still spinning. Festival gigs are like that. I had a chance to say hello to summer last Saturday. At the Wetaskiwin Arts And Music Festival. And I had help. A lot of it. It had been raining for most of the week. And when I opened the front door of CandyLand and looked at the seven a.m. sky, it didn’t look very promising. No rain but it was gusting. Something wicked this way comes? Thou shalt rain on my Satyr’s Day Parade? We’ll see about that. Well, it was announced as rain or shine so I’d better get trucking.
I had spent the last few weeks working on my forty-five minute set for the show. Assembling and then tweaking my backing tracks. Posting them on YouTube and then critiquing them on the big screen. Looking for flow. Tempo. Trying to find the ultimate cast for the show. I have a lot of songs to choose from. In the end, I broke the set down into sections. When I looked at the final setlist I was pleased. A method to my madness? Let’s see.
I opened with Tick After Tock. The first thing the audience hears is the clock. Festival slots never seem to run on time. Just my way of saying “let’s get started”. It’s got a nice bounce to it. It’s hard to explain but it loosens me up. I’m always nervous when I perform. The first song is crucial. I struggle to remember the first line in the first song. Afraid that I won’t snap out of it. I always do. But still. “Time Bomb”, “Body Stalking” and “Boo” follow. All three songs are from my latest release “Kizza Me Now”. There’s not much of a break between these three songs so I had to be on my toes. Hell, I even had to time my drinks of water between songs. Next up is “It’s Gonna Hurt”, a song from the “Parade” album. If you’re counting along, it’s song number five in the set. It starts out with a bit of a drum intro so it’s a perfect spot to announce the song. It’s Gonna Hurt is followed by “Rocketship” and then “Falling Stars”. These three songs are grouped together because of their connection to space and the cosmos. Rocketship is in the works as a future single, while Falling Stars was our last single released before “Kizza”. Track number eight is “Satyr’s Day Parade”. I chose this one because of it’s laid back festival appeal. I decided to keep the guitar work sparse on this song so I could be a little more theatrical and play with the crowd. The word pantomime comes to mind. In a sense. “All Of The Things” is up next. I was tempted to bring my twelve-string to the gig but decided against it. Obvious reasons. Number ten on the setlist was “Spend Your Love”, a song from the Kizza album. I had performed this song the summer before. Not as polished back then. But it’s a faster tune, it’s bouncy and has outdoors written all over it. Then it’s right into “Gliding” and I finish off the set with “Kizza Me Now”, the title track from the Kizza release.
My setup for the show didn’t consist of much. My white Fender Strat and my tweed Fender Champ. My backing tracks were all in mp3 format and loaded onto an iPod. I had a few options. I could have gone stereo wav. using a DVD player with a remote. In the end, I decided to keep it simple. Hit play and hope for the best. I decided this early on. That’s why the set is structured thusly. The drum intros. The long endings. Usually, there’s that one rehearsal where everything clicks and you know you’ve got your set. There’s your show. It happened for me on Thursday afternoon before the show. Effortlessly. It’s hard to explain the feeling I got. Like it didn’t matter. I’d gone through the set like butter. No mistakes. Flawless. No matter what happened at the festival I had proven to myself that I could pull it off. That I already had pulled it off. The apex.
When I hit the stage at two-fifty p.m. it was gusty and overcast. But no rain. As the day wore on, the weather got progressively better. And by about four o’clock the sun was blazing. Nice. Now, one would think that this would be enough excitement for one day. Hell, no. I was also the emcee/host for the stage I was performing on. All of a sudden it’s Woodstock. “Don’t eat the brown acid …” Well, okay. Not that. A few public service announcements concerning vendor parking. And oh, the owl. The plush owl. He found his way onstage. A child had lost him. I made an announcement concerning said owl. No one came forth to claim the owl. Three bands later and still no one had come forth to claim the owl. After the last band had finished performing I grabbed the owl and found a little girl in the audience with her mom. I walked up to them and handed the owl to the small girl. “This owl needs a home.” The smile on the little girl’s face summed up the festival for me. It’s summer! Time to say hello to it …