Last night, we played Butler ’s Coffee in Palmdale (www.butlerscoffee.com). They’ve really got their sound system together out there. I loved the fact that each of us singers had our own little monitor perched on a waist-high stand. That really helps when you’re harmonizing.
We weren’t scheduled to go on until 8, but we got there at 5 for a serious sound check. Wayne Slater Lunsford (DesertSong Productions – https://desertsong.net) worked with us, and it really got good. Dave Edwards (Wayne ’s partner in crime) was handling a mixer which he had in the back of the house in a cute little semi-enclosed child nursery area. Dave also plays a mean jews harp from back there.
So we really got our sound worked out beforehand. Unfortunately, because there’s an open mic before the featured act (us), all the stuff we set up was changed. There’s got to be a way to deal with that. That’s a problem at several places we’ve played. I guess agreed upon levels should be written down. The sound ended up great, but it took a few songs to get it all back to those great sound check levels.
Butler’s has a stage, which is cool. It’s quite small. Besides the Reinforcements — Lorie Doswell and Gene Lippmann, I often bring a stand-up bass player, John Cartwright.*). Last night I also brought John O’Kennedy who plays mandolin, dobro and Weisenborn. The five of us were very crowded up there! Fortunately, my drummer, Doug Knoll, was out of town. We definitely missed him, but where would we have put him? Next time we play there, he will be with us. Yikes.
The acts before us were quite varied. There are some good songwriters out there in Palmdale. A guy named Dave played two very tasteful acoustic guitar instrumentals. Lennie Dodge, (a dynamic guitar man who I remembered from Kulak’s Woodshed in North Hollywood), did two songs. A young guy named Marlon James played with his dad, Paul — (who looked way too young for that), and a percussionist whose name I don’t know but who was really enjoying himself. Marlon plays guitar and sings. He has a really good, memorable sound. They did a John Mayer song, then an original and ended with “Free Falling.” There was even a harpist in the Open Mic named William Blair. I forgot how much I love that sound.
By the time we started, there were maybe 30-35 people there. Admission is free at Butler ’s, but there’s a tip jar. They sell sandwiches and coffee drinks. Also, ice cream and shakes. A lot of people ordered the shakes. I have the feeling it’s a specialty there. One guy had a chocolate-mint shake that looked pretty good to me. He had a big smile on his face after his first sip. I’ll get that next time.
The audience was very attentive and appreciative. I felt like they followed every word I sang. Big laughs for “Waffle Boy” and my carpool song; tears during “Laraine.” One thing I loved: My song about Merle Haggard, “Table Nine,” really hit a nerve out there. Plus, everyone knew who the song was about! That doesn’t always happen. The Reinforcements each sang an original, too. Lorie did “Dream Drivin’,” which is the title song on her new CD (www.loriedoswell.com). And Gene did his one and only finished song, “I Can’t Seem to Dial You In.” They were both really good, as always, and well received.
I have to mention that some of the sight lines are a bit of a problem in that room. There’s a big display shelf right in the middle of everything. I think on music nights, the whole thing could be slid to the back wall, so that another few tables could be put in and everyone would be able to see. I hope they can do that next time we play. The owners, Pam and Dave Logan, seemed to enjoy the show. Maybe they’ll agree to that. (Pam is part of a trio with her sisters called The Brown Sisters. Celtic, I think. I hope to hear them soon.)
Oh! Damn! I meant to buy a Butler ’s Coffee cup! The black one with the white inside and the Butler ’s Coffee logo on it. Oh, well. Next time.
* John Cartwright was Harry Belafonte’s bass player for 35 years!
Am I lucky or what?