Sometime in August, my friend Still Braveheart hit me up on Facebook to ask if I could do a show for the Stand Up To Cancer charity. I told her I'd be happy to, but that my schedule was really nuts. At the time, we were preparing our They Stole My Crayon album for release, and I had a bunch of other stuff going on.
"Also," I wrote back to Still, "I'm heading for the Twin Cities Jam in mid-September, so I can't book anything directly around that time frame."
"The jam is why we are doing it the full month," she replied. "I will be up there too."
So, that was great news. I got to meet Still in person for the first time while in Minnesota -- many hugs were involved -- and we scheduled a date a full week after the Jam ended for me to do a show for the great charity that she champions. I also somehow managed to avoid getting seriously sick, like seemingly 90% of the others at that Jam experienced directly afterwards. So, everything was perfectly ready for me to do a successful fundraising show, right?
Uh, not quite.
See, I'd had a little problem upon my flight home from Minneapolis. Normally when you "gate check" an instrument, it is handed back to you immediately as you step out of the plane. The reason is easy to understand: a gate-checked instrument is not supposed to be stowed in the area with the rest of the luggage. It's usually put where the airplane transports pets, in a pressurized, temperature-controlled areas. Much like puppies and kittens, acoustic guitars don't like the extreme environments of flying 35,000 feet in the air. They also don't like being tossed around and banged against other luggage. So when I stepped off flight 604 at LAX, I was already perturbed that I had to wait for over 20 minutes for the crew to find my guitar. Then, as I walked along, it became obvious that the instrument case was freezing cold, and that there were ding marks on the outside of the brand new case. It had obviously been thrown in with other luggage, and I will never again be able to recommend American Airlines to my fellow musicians who travel with gear.
What does this have to do with my show? Well, this part is my bad: I did not plug in and test the guitar after that flight. I did inspect it thoroughly (it looked fine). I did play it acoustically (it sounded fine). But I didn't plug it in like I would for a show, and we were only four or five songs into that show before I regretted that decision. The guitar started cutting out, or giving a garbled version of its usually beautiful sound. The long story short: while the guitar was banged around in its case during the flight back to LA, the connection to the pickup was loosened. It only took about two minutes to fix it after the show and its perfectly fine now, but for one of the only times in almost ten years of doing live shows in SL, my guitar failed me when I needed it.
I almost had to finish the show a cappella. My guitar kind of participated enough to continue to the end. Photo by Triana Caldera.
That having been said, other than the intermittent and crappy-sounding guitar, the show went fine. We got some cool people to come out and make generous donations, which was the only purpose of the event in any case. I was somewhat forced to change my music-based show into a comedy routine of my screaming at my guitar each time it started cutting out on me, but these things happen. As I told the crowd, the only thing I refuse to do is give up, and I made it through the hour with my crippled instrument limping along with me, and it all turned out okay.
One last note... a really important one. Stand Up To Cancer's mission is "to raise funds to accelerate the pace of groundbreaking translational research that can get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now." It's a charity where 100% of the funds received goes toward its stated goal, and I'm happy and proud to be able to offer whatever small level of support I can.
BS's/Stand Up To Cancer set list...
Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Pink Moon (Nick Drake)
Fire and Rain (James Taylor)
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (Steely Dan)
Underwater Underground (They Stole My Crayon)
Carry Me Ohio (Sun Kil Moon)
Everyday I Write the Book (Elvis Costello)
Blew the Dust Away (They Stole My Crayon)
How Soon is Now (The Smiths)
Shame Chamber (Kurt Vile)
Things Under Trees (They Stole My Crayon)
Huge thanks to all who came out and gave generously