Monday, September 3, 2012

Liquid at Weston Road Labor Day Block Party (09.01.12)


I have played in many bands, going back to my early teen years. Being in a band is a serious commitment... one that takes time and energy. Between all the things in my life (including my own musical solo career), there's no way I could be in a band full time today. However, my good friends and bandmates in my former cover band Liquid -- Randy Harmon, Phil Gilbreth, and Dante J. Silva -- are understanding of that. All of them play in other musical projects... Randy sings for Scoop deVille, Phil rocks with the Pheasant Pluckers, and Dante jams all the time with an ever-revolving collection of old buddies who are also great musicians.

But for the last couple of years, we've managed to get Liquid back together for some special events, and each time has been great. I will tell ya: I love doing what I do as a mostly acoustic solo artist, but the act of cranking it up and completely rocking out fun tunes at high volume is fulfilling in an entirely different way. In many ways, it takes me back to those early years of turning up my amplifier and jamming back in those teen years.

Taking It To The Street
This particular event, the Labor Day block party on Weston Road in Torrance, CA, has some special meaning to us. Back in 2002, it was the first gig we played as a band, and we've played there in the street of this suburban tract a block up from PCH many times since. It's a fun, family-oriented event, with neighbors barbecuing, and dozens of kids and dogs roaming the street during the early part of the day. We actually played quite a bit later than we had at previous Labor Day weekends, which was great because only the first set had us performing under a hot late summer sun.

The Liquid Awards

Dante J. Silva: The "Two Princes of Tempo" Award
Dante and I have played music together for over 25 years, and he never fails to amaze the audience with his drumming skills. At this show, we had a moment of high comedy when The Rocket took off at the start of the song "Two Princes", which we ended up doing at breakneck speed. I laughed through the entire song. But Dante's playing is always a highlight of the show, and I enjoy listening to his virtuosity as much as anyone.

Phil Gilbreth: The "Solid as a Rock" Award
I've played with dozens of bass players, many of them terrific musicians. But few come close to the rock solid reliable greatness of Phil. He can do it all, from keeping the perfect laid-back groove to note-for-note renditions of the most technical bass lines from the world's best players. It's a pleasure to play with him.

Randy Harmon: The "Above & Beyond" Award
If any one person is the heart of Liquid, it's our vocalist. Randy is the one that gets us together now and then, and has always been the main guy to book the shows, provide rehearsal space, and often singlehandedly doing almost all of the setup and teardown. In addition to being a great singer, he keeps Liquid flowing, and I know it won't be too long before Randy drops me a line and we make some Liquid rock once again.

Same Old Song and Dance
Since we're not an active band, there was no way to refresh our set list, but playing those familiar covers is like putting on an old, comfortable pair of slippers. Of course, we weren't quite as tight as when we were playing every other weekend and practicing on weeks in between, but to use another overwrought analogy, it's never hard to get back on the bike and ride. We ended up doing four pretty good-sized sets, and covered a lot of musical ground. I think that there was something there for everyone!

The Set List

Set One:
I Want You to Want Me (Cheap Trick)
California Dreaming (The Mamas & the Papas)
Come Together (Beatles)
Mary Jane's Last Dance (Tom Petty)
My Own Worst Enemy (Lit)
Sweet Emotion (Aerosmith)
Back in the USSR (Beatles)
The Immigrant Song (led Zeppelin)
White Room (Cream)

Set Two:
Vaseline (Stone Temple Pilots)
Heartbreaker/Living Loving Maid (Led Zeppelin)
The Real Me (The Who)
Pinball Wizard (The Who)
Interstate Love Song (Stone Temple Pilots)
Red House (Jimi Hendrix)
Tie Your Mother Down (Queen)
Break On Through (The Doors)
Helter Skelter (Beatles)
Communication Breakdown (Led Zeppelin)

Set Three:
Tush (Z.Z. Top)
Alright Now (Free)
Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
Born to Be Wild (Steppenwolf)
Love Me Two Times (The Doors)
Custard Pie (Led Zeppelin)
You Got Another Thing Coming (Judas Priest)
I Don't Know (Ozzy Osbourne)
*Summertime Blues (The Who)
Man In The Box (Alice in Chains)
Good Times, Bad Times (Led Zeppelin)
Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young)
Fire/Drum Solo (Jimi Hendrix)

Set Four:
Hard to Handle (Black Crowes)
Can't Explain (The Who)
Two Princes (Spin Doctors)
Everybody Wants You (Billy Squier)
Roadhouse Blues (The Doors)
Panama (Van Halen)
Surrender (Cheap Trick)

To all who enjoyed the show, the pleasure was ours! Thanks to the Weston Road neighborhood, and Liquid fans everywhere!

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