Our new “career” in the limelight continues to grow and I love it. I have always been a ham ever since I was a kid (just ask my mom) and having the time and energy to really cultivate a creative expression has been one facet of our new life that I didn’t exactly expect, but hope continues.
Recently we’ve had some great shows with our band including a Birthday Bubble Bash complete with a cake to dance inside, bubbles, real cake, balloons and lots of fun to celebrate our guitar player’s birthday. His nickname is Shampoo, so the bubbles were a special touch just for him.
Happy birthday Shampoo!
One of our new songs to the set list was “These Boots are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra, so I channeled her in my look. It is so fun to dress up. Around here (in Aguada specifically) there are all sorts of stores that carry the weirdest, most awesome clothes (costumes)! It took me some time to find the boots, however! In Puerto Rico, not many people wear full size boots to the knees (for good reason in this heat). I searched all over and finally found a pair in the children’s section of Shoe Carnival. Good thing I have small feet!
These boots are made for dancing!
Behind the scenes: Making of the cake!
We also stopped by Rafucci Gas for a huge cardboard box to make the dancing cake and spent the morning of the show hanging out in the Harbor area with friends making the funny thing.
With the cake at the show!
The show was a success! It’s so much more exciting to play for a crowd of dancing people than for just a handful of people, or disinterested people. Remember that if you go out to see live music! You are part of the success of the show! Audience engagement and support makes all the difference: the band plays harder, better, longer and it’s just plain more fun! And really, that’s what it should be about. We are the vibe magicians, and our vibe is fun! So if you’re out dancing, clapping, and moving, we feel it and the vibe amplifies!
What a fun night (thanks to Daisy for these pics)
Our next show is tomorrow night again at WIllie’s Bar and Grill with the theme of Flower Power! Just wait till you see my outfit for that one! If you’re in town, come out and dance! It’ll be groovy, man, especially if you come dressed as a hippie!
We’ve been focusing a little more on our music with the band again. It has been somewhat of a slow season for tourism and that has affected everyone’s ability to get gigs. We’ve started trying out a new strategy to help take away some of the risk for the bar owners and it seems to be working. We really do love to play out and I take it as an opportunity not only to play music but for performance art.
Thanks to Squid for this pic
If you are part of a live band, in my opinion, you should treat it as a show. That means gimmicks and fun and lots of engagement with the audience. I love this because it means I get to come up with themes and dress up. It’s like a costume party every gig! I am in my element! The more people who are in on the gag, the more fun it is too! We recently played out at Pool Bar as the opening band for Masking Tape and it was a lot of fun!
Fun details like these thigh high stockings make a huge difference in visual interest
Some people are harder to get encouraged to dress up, but that is how memories are made!
See how much more fun it is to dress up?! (With Mark and Rob)
This past week we had another gig at Willie’s Bar at Club Nautico in the Marina. It was another memorable moment because it really tested our improvisational skills. Pretty much everything you could think to go wrong, did. The new bass amp was buzzing in one of the sockets, so we had to move it. Then our friend the conga player surprised us by arriving late and so we had to fill some air time jamming as he set up. Next, the power went out for a good 20-30 minutes during which time the only unplugged instruments who were Rob on the drums, Humberto on congas and Markus on Trombone continued playing as Roberto, Britton and I played a little percussion.
Then I went out into the crowd and pulled people up to dance in the dark with us to the rhythms of the drums. People from around in the marina area without power all came out to see who was playing in the dark! It was an awesome moment. The craziness wasn’t over even when the power came back though, as the microphones lost sound for two more songs. However, in spite of, and probably because of all of these set backs and our ability to steer (and dance our way) through, we have been invited back for yet another show in a couple of weeks.
Gig at Willie’s(thanks to Daisy for this pic)
My outfit for Willie’s was pirate wench/gypsy esque. The beads on my skirt actually helped when the power went out!
In addition to all of these musical memories, we have had some other magical and fun moments as well.
We like to go out and support other musicians and businesses as well. Hijos de Puntas at Calypso and me with Cindie Rice - a Rincon legend in her own right
We also had our first guests at the cabana and it was a lot of fun showing them around Rincon. It’s cool when internet meets reality!
Fun at the ArtWalk with new friends Petra and Brian!
And what says “Happy Valentine’s Day” more than flowers picked from our own yard!?
Life is ever surprising and such a strange stage for moments big and small, frustrating and amazing. Keep on, keeping on!
Not too much to update. Life has been good. We are still playing music with the band and progressing on the cabin. We’ve also been hanging out and having a good time. We are fortunate to spend time with such a varied group of people we call our friends.
Hanging out with the band in the Jam Space after a jam
This little turkey hatched from a nest over by the cabin and was the sole survivor. Since she has no one else to cuddle with, she snuggles up with me.
Running the electrical wire at the cabin with our friend Papo
The birds making themselves at home at la finca
Enjoying a late night drink and food at Surfer Spot with friends
Lots of fun and friends at the Art Walk in Rincón every Thursday evening
Our experience in Puerto Rico has been somewhat like a dream. Maybe that’s because it really was a dream of ours to move here, but it just seems like a sort of magic occurs more often than not. It’s a convergence of people, energy and just simply being at the right place at the right time mixed together to form experiences that even in the moment you know are special.
The most recent magical experience happened just this week when we recorded one of our band’s original songs. Our singer/guitar player wrote a great, funny song called No GMO (We Want Natural). It is super catchy and fun and we all believe in it -both the message and the song itself. The chorus goes: We don’t want no GMO, just go outside and grow your own! We don’t want no GMO in our food….we want natural!
Anyhow, he made some arrangements with some big names in the musical industry even on a non-existent/ shoestring budget. And we were on our way.
Practicing to the click track at Rob’s House
We spent the last week or so before recording practicing to a click track which is much harder than you might imagine if you’ve never done it before. It is the most annoying metronome sound you can imagine and we had TICK TOCK in our heads for hours on end. Probably is some form of torture. If not it could be!
Habish getting Rob’s drum mics all ready in the studio
Finally the moment came for us to record. We had two full days set aside to do this. We recorded at Spectra Studio in Aguadilla where the owner Habish Rosario welcomed us. It took a while to get all the equipment ready and so there was a lot of hanging out before each of our parts.
We spent a lot of time hanging out under a beautiful flamboyan tree -Kevin, Chris, Me and Britton
One of the special guests of the recording was retired sound engineer Corky Stasiak. Corky’s resume in the musical industry is crazy impressive. He has worked closely with Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Beatles and so many others. He has been retired now for nearly 30 years and lives part time in Rincón. To have him come out and help with our production was quite simply amazing!
Corky Stasiak with a new book about the making of Kiss’s Destroyer album
So not only were we recording in a top-knotch studio where some of the best bands in Puerto Rico have recorded, we were also working with world-renowned industry heavyweights.
Some of the awesome bands that Spectra Studios has worked with!
What was really cool was that our producer/friend Giovanni could totally hang with them. He knew just what and how he wanted things and kept the schedule moving at a great pace.
What a crew on day one! L-R: Rob, Chris, Corky, Giovanni, Cassie, Britton, Habish
In the studio with Britton, Habish, Chris, Mark and Giovanni
Making a studio song is nothing like making live music. It is all deconstructed and then put back together again. We started with the rhythm which meant Rob on drums, Britton on bass, Chris on guitar and Chris and I on scratch vocals. Scratch vocals mean that they use it just for keeping the reference in the song. We would record our full vocals the next day and dub them over.
Britton made the comparison that this first stage is sort of like the batterboards in building a house. You want the song to be right on beat and time to the metronome just like you want your house to be straight and level. Everything else will build from there so it is very important. This was a tough stage and we took many takes. At one point we were so frustrated we had everyone except the band members and Giovanni leave. We finally decided to play it without the click track and we rocked it -but to a slightly higher beats per minute! So Giovanni reluctantly turned up the beats and we were able to finally get a great rhythm base to build the song on.
Camping out under the flamboyan
The day was just flying by! We basically camped out and had a couple of food runs but spent the entirety of the day at the studio. From 10am to 12midnight on day one! We got all the rhythm including some fun stuff like my tambourine part, stomps, and claps.
Cassie on tambourine
Day 2 was another long day. We got through a lot though! We did the lead guitar part, trumpet part, lead vocals from both Chris and me, gang vocals, keyboard and backup vocals. It is sounding awesome!
Mark on lead guitar! Sounds sweet!
I was pretty nervous doing my part solo. When I was with Chris it was a little easier because we are always joking around. But alone it is a little intimidating to have people behind a window that can hear you but you can’t hear what they are saying unless they pipe through to you. I took a few takes and overall I think it went really well. I tried to have fun with it.
On day one when Corky was in the studio I received probably the best compliment about my voice that I have ever heard, especially coming from him! He said I sounded a little like Kate Pierson of the B-52s and that I have a really upbeat bright sound that is fun and will carry in a band because it adds such personality. It’s probably partly because I really do just have so much fun with this band and the music we make! We are always making silly jokes, wittisms and double entredres. So I am constantly cracking up.
Chris and I have a great rapport together and are always joking around
Day two ended pretty late as well at around 11pm. When we were in between parts there was a lot of just chilling out in the barn area or under the tree.
Pizza time! With Kevin, Chris, Rick and Giovanni
And time to chill between parts -Britton, Cassie, Caitlin
What an incredible, dream-like experience! We can’t wait to see where this dream takes us next! Yesh. Tiptop indeed.