Eric Baines

Jazz, Vodka and more Vodka

by eric on Oct.16, 2010, under Eastern Europe Tour 2010, Music, Uncategorized

Krasnodar was a blast. The show went pretty well in spite of some strange equipment and non english speaking technicians. When touring out here with an artist on this level, all of the equipment we use is rented. Every venue is sent a long list of what we need that is really specific on brands, model numbers and sometimes even color of the gear. It seems to me that what happens next is the local promoter throws that document in the trash and gives us whatever they can find for us to play through. So the first challnge of each show day is making whatever they give you sound decent enough to do the show. Sometimes we’re even talking about toys or student model instruments and amps. It’s like trying to drive in a Nascar race with a MINI Cooper. It’s dangerous and you’re probably not going to win. The other challenge is the crew. Krasnodar is a smaller town and the smaller the town, the less people speak English. It gets scary when you ask the monitor engineer (he is your life line on stage and the guy in charge of what you hear) to turn up the bass and he looks at you with a wide eyed stare, say’s “Da” (Russian for yes) and doesn’t move at all. That’s when you know you’re on your one and you’re just going to have to make do. In the end the we pulled it off and the crowd went wild. Rock and Roll!!

When the show ended, we were wisked over to a night club to hear some upcoming Krasnodarian Jazz musicians and asked to sit in and jam. This is usually a welcomed thing for most musicians. As much as I love Keiko Matsui’s music, it gets to be a bit much when that’s all you get to play for weeks at a time. The opportunity to stretch out and play some other tunes can save you from losing your mind. We sat at our table and ordered some vodka. Then two of the skinniest young kids I’ve ever seen took the stage. The guitar player had plaid pants and looked like he was straight out the 60’s and the bass player had green hair and peircings who probably came right from a punk show. They were joined by a not so skinny drummer and a DJ and away they went. Notes were flying all over the place like a swarm of bees. Jazz standards were being shredded to pieces by angst and youth. They had amazing technical abilities but it was exhausting. After an hour of that it was our turn. We all got up including Keiko who decided to play with us. She usually doesn’t do that especially if she’s been drinking but this night she was inspired. She decided to play one of her more challenging pieces called “White Gate”. She counted it off and everybody started playing with the same crazy energy as the kids. I’m sure on one level we were trying to show the previous band who was boss but I also think we had so much energy bottled up after many plane, bus and van rides that it was time to let it all out…or maybe we were just drunk. Everybody soloed, the skinny kids sat in, it was crazy mayhem and probably quite a site to see. After that Keiko sat down and we all kept switching off playing tunes. Then we ended the with a drunken rendition of Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do For Love” which I sang. It was an epic night.

It would’ve been great if the night ended there…but it didn’t. We all headed back to the hotel bar where amongst four of us we polished off another two bottles of vodka. It’s hard to keep up with these Russians. They drink vodka like it’s soda. We were drinking with the local promoter/tour manager who had started consuming shots of vodka at lunch early that day at about noon. He continued to drink through the show and the club and then at the hotel until 3am. I came down the next day at 3:30pm to leave for the airport and he was still wasted and could barely talk. It was fun checking in 10 people with 25 pieces of luggage and gear with a wasted Russian at the helm. It was a  painful day of travel. It was pouring rain when we left Krasnodar, which is good luck in Russia apparently. Then we connected in Moscow and it was 30 degees, snowing and my head was still pounding. It’s a wonder that we ever survive these tours but somehow we do…knock on wood.

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