Friday, June 26, 2009

Himalayas @ Zeb 6/21/09

There was so much to choose from. But, there was no question when I saw there was some kind of Kenny Wollesen thing going on at Zebulon. It turned out to be a very magical evening with great music and the right audience.

I missed the marching band part. Apparently they marched around Williamsburg, through a beer garden, and ended up under scaffolding after it started raining. It sounded great.

I did get the middle set band, Ladybug. It was OK for a bit, just not my thing. I'm not that into vocals. I did like the concept. It was a female singer playing electric keyboards with a drummer playing the bass line with one hand on a keyboard. It was grooving and I did dance a little, so I was feeling it to an extent. It just felt kind of generic after a while. It certainly wasn't painful to listen to.

Then came 2 spectacular sets of greatness. It started off with everyone playing these small hand-held wooden percussion things. They each had one in each hand and they made sound by shaking them. After a while they would each stop and gradually pick up their instrument and start playing that.

There was a portion during the first set when it was particularly grooving that some people came out to the "dance floor" in between the band and the tables. That was my cue to get up there as well. They were there for a good portion of the piece, but then they had to leave. I asked them to stay, but they ignored me. I then went back to my spot at the bar and at some point realized I had plenty of room to dance as it cleared out a bit.

Tony Scherr was awesome on guitar. He really had me at points. Kenny played a steel drum a lot as well as some other stuff. There were 2 drummers in the back, just going to town. There was of course his usual percussionist, Jennifer. If you've seen any Kenny project, you've seen her. She's always awesome. She had her own steel drum and really had me going at one point during the 2nd set.

There were a variety of saxophones including bass, baritone, 2 tenors, and 2 altos. 2 drummers, one sitting at a full kit, one sitting at a partial kit. The percussionist Jennifer, Kenny, and a woman with a very cool percussion assemblage she carried with a strap on her neck. It was so cool and had many awesome sounds. Then we had Tony and and another guy on guitar. Tony left after the 1st set so I got more about the other guy's greatness the 2nd set.

The last piece (2 pieces?) Sounded a lot like "Amazing Grace" and then one that sounded like "I'll Fly Away". I thought this reminded me of a jazz funeral even though I've never been to one. I found out later it was the same song first played in a mellow version and then in a grooving version. I find that very interesting and I need to explore this NOLA funeral thing a little more.

They were probably going to end the 1st set right then, but after they ended the piece(s), Kenny commented how quiet we all were and asked if he could experiment with us. I was all for that! He had us all do various things like rub our hands together or quickly stomp our feet or play our jaws, etc. It was quiet and fun. It also got me to appreciate the audience. There would be a little talking from time to time, but overall everyone was there for the phenomenal music.
Then it was time for setbreak. Tony left, but everyone else stayed.

I was even more into the 2nd set, which I didn't think was possible. Actually, Kenny handed out these interesting instruments to each and every one of us in the crowd. It was a small cup attached to a string attached to a stick. We all shook the stick in such a way that the cup spun around and it made a really cool sound. It sounded cool no matter how many were doing it. Everyone was doing it for a long time at first, but it did get tiring so people would drift in and out with it after a while. There was another portion where everyone knew it was good to have lots of people doing it, and we just kind of naturally picked it up again. I did it as much as I could, but I was definitely more interested in dancing, so that took priority at times.

There was a female singer who joined them for one. We kept up our crowd instruments for some of that. It was awesome. She's a good singer and it was only one and the band still shined so I was fine with it.

For the last piece, a guy joined them with 3 djembes. Now we're talking! As if I didn't have enough greatness already! I love more drums. Both big drum solos in both sets were off the hook!

It ended at around 1am. The djembe guy had just gotten there and clearly wanted everyone to continue. He was still trying when I left. I assume he wasn't successful, but you never know. It was a wonderful way to end the weekend and well worth the additional tiredness I'm experiencing this week. This is definitely one of my very favorite shows ever.

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