Tuesday, August 5, 2014

An Evening with Red Cloud

Two weeks ago, I put my musical skills out there, and played in a jam at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Bank Street.

It might be unusual that I never really mentioned this nor did I ever say a word about it until now, two weeks later, but eh, I've just been putting it off. I had to write about C#. I've been procrastinating quite a bit.

Growing up, my father and his brothers/sister naturally had neighbourhood friends. Quite a few of them are still around, and have since become something like surrogate uncles to me, ever since I was very little. One day in his apartment on Frank Street, my dad came up with the name "Red Cloud" and the nickname permeated the consciousness of every member of that social group around my paternal relatives. That's who I was to them. It was affectionate.

Then of course, one of the closer people, James, went out to stupid Calgary. He's the kind of rare person that I can talk to instantly with ease, and about anything, on an equal level. Once a year he drives across the country to Ottawa, and this year, he included me on the big get-together/jam session he arranges upon his arrival.

It wasn't really a concert or anything as much as it was a place for a lot of old friends and relatives to meet up and hang out, with the music and jamming a common interest and focus the majority of them, including myself, my uncle, and my father, lean towards. Turns out the Clocktower pub has a basement bar. After almost one hundred e-mails were exchanged between James, myself, and a host of other people, "An Evening with Red Cloud" was born.

Admittedly, it was me who suggested it - but it was a suggestion buried within about twenty other names I'd written down, including "Celtic Slavics," "Staged Artists," "The Band with Miche in it" (Miche has actually toured in the past) and many others. It was mostly a joke, but it was decided over "Blueberry Douche." As a result I was apparently the MC (though the only MCing I did at all that night was at the very end, when I thanked everyone for coming).

I provided the majority of instruments - my entire drum set, my keyboard + stand, my guitar and my bass, plus an amp which, it turned out, was actually owned by one of the other musicians, who took it home with him.
Nothing is too much for the Chipmunk.
Unfortunately there aren't any images of me as I was the only photographer with a good camera; my father is behind the drums.

A P.A. system was also set up, and line-outs, so it was almost like a concert except the majority of it was people just playing around. On bass, I contributed my generic ska song thing - the D A C C thing - and James and Miche took their guitars and somehow re-created the predictable, simplistic tune I had into something else completely refreshing and catchy in a new way. By contrast I was playing the simple bass line. Wow.

James brought an African piano teacher with him from Calgary, who was moving back to Montreal in the process, and he played some awesome stuff on my keyboard, stuff it won't likely see again played on its keys (definitely not by me!). Later, an obviously accomplished guitar player, also African, joined in. Using his fingers for everything, he was pretty awesome. Most of the time I played the drums, particularly filling in for one of the couple of real bands that played at their request. At one point I took over from the child banging on them while the professionals played (because I had a good rhythm idea) and as I played they both glanced over a few times with encouraging, pleasing smiles. It was a pretty neat experience altogether to play along with really good, competent musicians, and contribute alongside them to a harmonious sound or beat.

The only thing the night lacked was some good images; the room was so dark I couldn't take any image unless I used a stable surface and took a long exposure, or used flash, which I didn't want to use (my mother, who attended, could have picked it up and taken some images with it otherwise). It was an unusual, rare instance where both my parents were both watching me at the same time (the only other instance being last year's photography exhibition). Even my 8th grade homeroom teacher from Sir Winston, Riaz Mohommed, came along and enjoyed the whole thing despite knowing no one but me and my mother. He's another rare person I can instantly talk to about anything, with ease of conversation, on an equal level. Both my parents were happy and encouraging and obviously proud - which is, like I said, rare to see at the same time for the same thing, together.

I hope to do something like that again in the future. While I do like the idea of getting to a point where I'm my own one-man band save for singer, it really is fun, comfortable, and rewarding playing with others. I felt perfectly comfortable behind the drums, and almost just as so on the bass. Which is unusual, because I tend to think of myself as a natural bass player - and only adequate on the drums.

Anyway, 'An Evening with Red Cloud' was definitely a success, musically, technically, and in bringing people together and creating great things like memories and music.

Red Cloud
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