Monday, June 14, 2010

Notes From St Croix Part Two

Here is the rest from my trip, from which I am re-attempting to return from today. More on that another time and once the airlines actually get me home...

St Croix Day Four – Excuse me, we are having technical difficulties. Please stand by…

So what have we learned so far?

--Island time = things running a bit slow. Be patient.
--It’s easier to freshen up by jumping in the pool, b/c you sweat coming out of the shower anyway.
--Bug spray – almost as important as food.

Technical difficulties. Ah yes… Be patient with this as well. Between the power service on the island being a little spotty and the interesting, creative condition of the roads, yesterday was pretty entertaining.

Early in the day we drove to the airport to drop off a roommate for a return trip to Chicago for a wedding. Given the Stanley Cup upset, I advised him to please flip over a cop car for me.

Not a mile later, we blow a tire. No tire iron, and this is Vrba’s second blowout this week. I could blame the condition of his car (a 90s Olds), but I have to blame the roads here, which are barely paved and rife with potholes. One hitch to the station later to borrow a tire iron, and we are back on the road.

Later that night is our next gig, at the Sports Bar, which is on the Christiansted Boardwalk -- a very hopping stretch of shops, bars and restaurants. The first set is OK but sure enough those power demons rear their heads, with the power cutting out here and there. Our guitar cables are struggling with the climate and we have to switch a few crackly ones out, and of course there are some broken strings to boot.

But after a sort of challenging first set, we take a break, work it all out and the rest of the night goes smoothly. Show times on the islands are much earlier than in the States and we are out of there at the shockingly early hour of 11 p.m., with plenty of time to come home and run over more tunes in preparation for Saturday’s recording. Luckily we encounter NO problems with cars, guitars or power once we get home!


St Croix Wrap Up – The Moment of Truth

The last couple of days on the Island were pretty eventful, but mostly in preparation for the Saturday house concert/live CD recording. Matt and I ran over the 20 songs he wanted to record. Some of them were pretty straight, or I had been playing them for a long time. Others were brand new or required me to double Matt’s chords higher up on the guitar using different voicings. Whatever the case, I felt 100 percent ready when the sound crew showed up at about noon Saturday.

These guys were total pros – Padraic Coursey and his company Aqua Sounds for those of you keeping track. Not only did Aqua Sounds provide a sweet PA system, monitors, a crew and the whole works for the live gig, but they brought the recording gear as well – Mac with Pro Tools, loads of great mics, etc.

What this meant is that the audience had excellent live sound, and the Aqua guys also captured the performance in high quality audio for the CD. Best of both worlds. My favorite detail is that they recorded all the tracks separately, which means my guitar is on its own track – so if I made a mistake they could just delete it in the mix. Whew! I love having that option!

Lots of friends kicked in to help get the place ready, set up the seats, serve drinks, take donations, clean up etc. It was a real group effort so all Matt and I had to do was focus on the music.

So, we started the concert with three tried and true Vrba warhorses to get warmed up. Then we dove into 10 of the new songs. For the most part it went great. The very last tune, a song about life on the island, was a real barn burner but there were a few mistakes so we did it again at the end of the second set. Otherwise we didn’t have to repeat any songs to get good takes. The second set was 10 more tunes and then it was over.

Out of the 20 new recorded songs, all Matt has to do it find roughly 12 that don’t suck and there’s the CD. I am confident he’ll be able to pull it off successfully. The audience was a bit of a “this is your life” from my week on the island, as many folks I had met at various times and places all gathered at Vrba’s for the gig. That was cool.

And while I had lots of fun, played loads of music, saw some sights and met some great people, I am very eager to get home to my family and get back to my “real” life. Just 11 hours of travel and it’ll all be a memory!


Seano said...

Coming out of a week long slump to comment and congratulate you for being part of the band that made it happen in St. Croix. How did you hook up with Mr. Vrba anyway?

Isorski said...

Thanks, Sean. It was a great week and it's tough to get back to work, I can tell you that!

I hooked up with Matt while he was living in Portland. My drummer, David, played in Vrba's band too and sort of roped me in. With a full band, Matt's stuff to me is like Exile-era country Stones, although he bills himself as "high octance Americana" whatever you make of that. My contributions to his stuff are for sure Mick Taylor influenced. Think Torn and Frayed or Shine A Light.

He moved to Nashville after making it to the last round of a recent Nashville Star show, and from there hit the islands. So any time he comes back through Portland I play with him at his shows, and this St Croix thing came about through work, as you know.

Hang in there dude. I hope this week treats you right!