Eric Baines

Tag: vodka

From the Mall to the big time…and more Vodka

by eric on Oct.25, 2010, under Eastern Europe Tour 2010, Music, Uncategorized

I am exhausted! We played the big show in Kiev last night with the full orchestra. It was awesome but not without a glitch. We started the show and halfway through the first song the keyboards decided to freak out. They started making this super loud screeching sound which felt like someone was ripping your skull in half. Ugh! Keiko had to stop and call Casey (the sound guy) up to the stage. That worked out good for him because she introduced him and he got to take a bow. That’s pretty rare for a front of house mixer. I hope he got that on YouTube. It turns out that the laptop that plays all of Keiko’s keyboard sounds needed a re-boot. After that it was fine. Computer’s can be so winy sometimes. In the end the show looked and sounded incredible! For an encore we brought out a rising young super star singer to sing a traditional Ukrainian song. He won the Russian version of American Idol and his name is…something I can’t pronounce. He was good.

After the show it got really exciting. I should probably start by explaining what happens on a typical show for me. I usually start out with a little Jagermeister maybe 20 minutes or so before the show starts. I will have anywhere from 1 to 3 shots for a Keiko show. Then we do the first half of the show. There’s a 15 minute intermission in the middle where I will probably do another two shots. Then after the show, depending on how early the lobby call the next morning, is when I kick it into high gear and drink. Last night started out very typical but I forgot about the Russian element. I did my shots, played the first half of the show and then was met backstage by my favorite stand-up bass player, Vadik. He asked if I’d like a drink, I said yes and he said follow me. Half of that conversation was in Ukrainian so I’m guessing that that’s what he said. Anyway, he led me down some stairs and down some long, winding hallways into the depths of the theater where his dressing room was and pulled out, of course, a bottle of vodka. We downed 2/3 of the bottle and went back for the second half of the show. I was way ahead of schedule but somehow managed to nail what I needed to nail. Song after song flew by and I was having a blast. I was a little worried that I would make through the Russian Idols guys song because I had to read some serious notes but I was on fire!

When the show was over, I invited Vadik and his vodka to the band’s dressing for more drinking. We were joined by the twins and all of us began to consume vodka like it was candy. We were reminiscing about the last 6 years of touring the Ukraine, joking and laughing about pas shows, I even borrowed Kayta’s guitar and gave an impromptu performance of my song “Baby” that’s on my latest record “Dive Bar Rock Star!” available on Itunes ;-) , all the while forgetting that we had to catch a train to the next city. I feel bad now for our stressed out, overworked Ukrainian tour manager, Olga, who now had to heard a bunch of drunk musicians to the train (including Keiko, I might add). at this point my memory gets a little foggy but somehow we all managed to make it on the train. We all reconvened in someones sleeper car for a few more drinks, I love you man’s and road stories. I was rooming with Kayta and we finally made it back to my sleeper car after getting lost on the way not realizing we were in the wrong train car and then I crashed hard.

Overall, it was the most fun we’ve had on this trip so far. It’s nice to be able to let lose and let off some steam once in a while and I think we were all due. I woke up the next day feeling quite refreshed behind a little bit of a hangover. Good times!!

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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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