What to Expect From a Band Member' Point of View
2½ hrs a week for most of the year... We rarely miss a practice session. You would think this would be plenty of time to practice all of the 130 plus songs that we perform, but this is not always the case. There have been a few songs that they "blow the dust off" and want to perform at one of our shows. I typically find this out while Craig is making the set list (usually less than 10 min before the show). I then mention that I have never practiced or performed the song with them. He smiles (and chuckles) and turn to me and says "it will be OK", and if it isn't, it is Bilge Pump funny
Learning new songs
Yearly, there are new songs that are introduced to the band to be considered for performing. Most of the time there is a resistance because it's going to require work as a considerable amount of time goes into having the outcome we desire. Vocals, harmony, drums, guitar, bass and song filking are carefully chosen. There have been a few times that Dave has sent me a message a couple of weeks before a gig on a song he would like to "try" during the gig. No pressure, huh? During one particular show, a fan kept shouting out "Freebird". So, during the break, Dave filked the lyrics as I worked on how to play it. The next show, we gave them our version of "Freebird".
Long drive to gigs
We seem to be pretty centrally located to most of the gigs we play at. That can sometimes be a bad thing as most of the gigs we perform at are not local. This is typical when we go to the Louisiana Renaissance Festival in Hammond, LA. We meet up late afternoon, all the gear is packed (crammed is more like it) into the urban assault vehicle, then we start out 8 hr journey to show up at the hotel in the wee hours of the morning. Craig is just amazing on these as I have never seen him sleep on a road trip and he keeps us entertained with story after story (and he never repeats). Dave and Nathan, however, are asleep before we are out of Dallas. After a full weekend of performing we head back after our last show on Sunday and are dragging at work on Monday
Practice on your own
I am often asked "how long do you practice?" My answer: "as much as it takes". I still am learning, so I practice anywhere from 5 hrs to 12 hrs a week. I have an equal amount of non Bilge Pump songs (yes, get over it) in my library that I play. I've also been learning bass, electric guitar, and learning how to use the effect pedals.
Recording in hot conditions
I'm sure most of you have a perception of what it's like in a recording studio. We call ours "Sweatbox Studio" for a good reason. Our studio consists of a 6x6 room with foam sound absorbing insulation and 1 window. On the recording day, Craig arrives and starts going to work setting up the equipment. The next step is for him to lay down either a drum or bass track. Each of the members take a turn in the studio as the temperature slowly rises. As the day rolls on, you hope that you are not one of the last members to record a track. At the last recording session, I entered the room about 3p.m. and the heat, humidity, and stench of everyone's perspiration nearly caused me to black out. My guitar gets plugged in and the levels are all set. As I'm playing a song, the sweat is dripping off my forehead, stinging my eyes, and dripping down my back and into the unknown. The guitar pick starts to slip as you're doing everything humanly possible to keep a beat and not make a mistake so as not to prolong the torture.
Fashion, new clothing to keep up
When I first became a Bilge Pump, I had a very short time before my first gig (Dickens). I had decided on a "look" that suited me. The outfit I ordered was back-ordered 4 days before the gig. I went thru my closet and put together something suitable. The Steampunk hat was the topper. The compliments I received from the first outing suggested that an entire Pirate/Steampunk was the correct look for me, so I've gone with it ever since.
Performing in adverse conditions
If it's a Bilge Pump event, you can expect rain. We do not always perform indoors or under large stages with canopies. Most of our shows are outdoors, and that comes with the challenges of playing in wind, cold, pouring rain, heat and any other conditions known to man. I remember one very wet weekend that we were all huddled under a small tarp (trying to keep the guitar dry) and Craig was pounding away on his steel drum (from which he had to poor out the water after a song)
My hand at filking a songs
Dave is one of the best song filkers I know. He and Craig are very talented at coming up new lyrics on the fly. So, imagine my concern when I showed them 3 songs that I had filked. Craig and Dave were both impressed and we'll be recording on of those as a new Christmas song this month.
Why Do I do It?
- Jack the Rum Runner
Is it the tremendous amount of money we get? LOL (usually it's enough to pay the expenses). Is it that I have nothing better to do with my time? (not hardly).
The truth is that I have the pleasure of working with some very talented people (and they will deny this at all costs) that took me under their wing and gave me a change to enjoy what they do. I consider us part of a big family and each of the members brings his own unique element to the band.
Ted is the comic relief. I never know what he will do. The crowd enjoys his antics.
Nathan: great singer, part time drummer, and his wife is and excellent baker that brings us goodies to shows.
Dave: the most colorful one. Needs no microphone unless he is singing; our song filker.
Christopher: the cheeriest one of the bunch (not). Great guitar player, bass, electric and acoustic. Great at vocals and figuring out where a song needs to be improved
Craig (or Greg as we like to call him): the most talented of the group. Singer, acoustic guitar, bass, drums, steel drums, didjeridu, and anything else you can throw at him (which we do)
And most importantly, we do it for you, our beloved fans.