Friday, November 14, 2008


I had planned to spend the next few days showcasing some new art from the OilCan Drive books, particularly the four main character shots that will begin each book. I was going to show off one character a day and talk a bit about each of them. And I still plan to. But, something came up.

OilCan Drive got a live gig.

Well, not really. But, my friend Lou, who I've talked about a few times on the blog, had his birthday tonight. And, to celebrate, he put on a music show at The Laughing Goat, a local bar/coffee house. But, not just a regular Lou show. He invited guest performers. People he was a fan of. Real musicians who could get up there and play some original music.

And he invited me.

The last time I played live was three years ago at a Halloween gig were I just played guitar and didn't even sing. And, the last time I played an open mike where I got up on stage and played and sang, over five years ago, it went so bad that I bunkered down in my house and didn't surface for three months. I was unprepared, didn't know how to sing into a mike, and froze up when the sound tech pushed the mike closer to my face. Nothing worse than stopping right in the middle of a song, then hearing some odd clapping from the audience before announcing, "I'm not done yet." It was just horrible.

On top of that, there was all the nice comments I got from the internet for the last song I wrote and recorded. That kind of messed up my head for a bit.

So, yeah, when Lou wanted me to play in his show, and Lou is a guy who really won't take "no" for an answer, I's the word?.....oh yea....scared shitless.

He asked on a Monday and the show was on Thursday. Some of the songs I had written and recorded I didn't even know the words to anymore. I thought about not showing up more than once. But, I knew I'd hate myself if I didn't try. I'd much rather get up on stage and fall on my face then feel the regret of not trying at all. Plus, I figured if I really royally screwed up and bunkered down again at least I'd get a lot of drawing done. So, I remembered the lyrics and played a lot of guitar. Between inking all week on a kid's book and playing my guitar my hands got quite a work out.

Lou and I got together on Wednesday night to run through the three songs I was going to play. He wanted to play bass on them during the show and this gave him the chance to see what he was in for. My original set list was "Walk Away", "Tour Guide", and "Toxic Waltz". We practiced those for a bit and he left me with some words of advice..."wake up tomorrow and play through the set once, then forget about it until you play the show."

So, I woke up this morning and played the songs. And nothing came out right. There wasn't one song that I played through that I didn't mess up. I would forget words, play the wrong chords, and just screw up in general. Thoughts of leaving the state entered my mind. The worst was playing "Walk Away". The problem was that the whole song is based upon a D arpeggio chord. That means it's a basic D chord but playing the individual strings in the chord in a specific pattern. And playing them over and over again. And playing them fast.

And it just wasn't working!

I couldn't keep up that pace without screwing it up somewhere. I was planning on opening the set with that song and I couldn't play it right. A botched first song does not bode well for the rest of the night. My stomach did flip flops. My mind was racing. I was once again wondering how far away from Boulder I could get before show time.

So, I did what I thought best. I dropped "Walk Away" from the set list.

And, I felt much much better.

Well, not much better. I was still scared. But, my stomach settled down a bit.

I packed up my gear, put on my OilCan Drive t-shirt, and headed out the door.

Monika and I showed up to the Laughing Goat, set up, and found a table to sit at and watch the show until it was my turn. We watched Lou perform a few songs to warm up the crowd. Then, a very talented friend of his, Ali Crockett, got up and played a really long set of songs. She plays guitar amazingly and sings like an angel so it was pretty intimidating. After her, another guy went up and played a short set. All this time, about two hours, I would get up from our table, walk around, and eye the back door located next to the bathroom.

But, I sucked it up and stayed. And, I was glad I did. Finally, it was my turn and I could get up and face my imaginary firing squad. And, you know what? It didn't go that bad. I messed up the first song right away and stopped. Looking back, I think I messed up because I was listening to Lou when he was playing bass. Doing that, I kind of forgot what I was supposed to do next. But, I counted back in and started the song again right away. No one booed. No one threw anything. And, from there, it went off without a hitch.

I honestly had no idea how I did when I came off stage. I kind of blur out when I perform, I guess. I had to ask Monika if I did OK and if anyone's ears, did in fact, bleed. But, listening back to the recording, I really like they way I pulled it off. You can hear my voice gaining courage even after the first verse of "Tour Guide". And, in the little talking parts between songs, I was even kind of funny.

When introducing the music before the set:

Me- "This is music I did for a cartoon band called OilCan Drive" ...pointing the the characters on my t-shirt... "Tonight, I'll be playing the part of the guy in the Avalanche jersey and Lou will be playing the part of the gorilla...on the bass."

Lou- "Shit yeah!"

And, my favorite little bit. After playing "Tour Guide", Lou requested I give "Walk Away" a shot:

Lou- "Nicely Done. Do Walk Away, do Walk Away."

Me- "I can't do Walk Away."

Lou- "Do it for me."

Me- "I can't do Walk Away because it's a song I wrote and the whole thing is this weird little D arpeggio...for the whole song...and I can't keep it up for three minutes. I know it's a bad thing for a guy to say...but I can't keep it up for three minutes."

That got a laugh out of a lady in the audience so my work was done. From there, we went on to play "Toxic Waltz" which I thought really started out well for two guys who only practiced it for ten minutes together the night before.

Lou- "You wanna do Toxic Waltz? Let's do Toxic Waltz. Give me the bass line first."

But, why type about it when you can hear it for yourself?

So, here, for your listening pleasure, is a very crappy recording of the show that I got from an old tape recorder I put on my table. The whole thing is about ten minutes long and features three songs: "Tour Guide", "Toxic Waltz", and "Out of my Mind".

So, if you have the time, you're in the right place, and you don't mind risking bleeding ears, give it a listen. Back to the art next time, I promise. The next OilCan Drive live show is probably about three years away :)


rob! said...

WOW! how f**king cool is that?!? congrats on even having the guts to get on stage in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Nice job man, that took some balls! Sounded pretty good too.