Band Element of Surprise, Ventura County CA

Do you <3 classic rock? Strange pairings of music, such as Richie Valens & the Ramones meet Deep Purple? You may appreciate us. We're the band Element of Surprise! We may get thru the song-or it may go horribly AWRY. You pays yer money & you takes yer chance! We play a very eclectic mix of classic & alt rock...if you live in the SoCal area & listen to either KLOS or KRTH-101, you've heard most of our songs. We're a 6-piece consisting of Pat on vocals & percussion, James on lead guitar, Hector on bass, Rob on drums, newest member Danny on acoustic and electric guitars, and your humble scribe Rita on rhythm guitar/keyboard/harmonica and vocals. We've been together for 5 years (longer than some marriages!) and have had some memorable gigs. I started this blog to keep a list of them--and to chronicle our RISE-TO POWER! Well, not really--all of us have a day job, and we're all over 45 (except for Danny, who is young and impressionable!) so this is more of a hobby. But we all have an abiding love for music, and we have healthy self-images, and some of us are major hams, so here we are. Walking down the street. We get the funniest looks. From everyone we meet. Hey hey--no, stop, that's plagiarism. Anyways, I don't expect anyone (other than MY FRIENDS & FAMILY) to ever read this, but if you do and you have an interest in an elderly garage band on the first level of getting started gigging, welcome and well-met. If YOU have an interest in starting a band and are curious about equipment, etc-let us know. Maybe we can help you avoid a TON of trouble.
Well, cheers, and see you "on the cover of the 'Rolling Stone,'"
Rita aka MrsMMars :-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Yay, we're now a paid bar band!

Moose lodge gig? 3 words: Best. Gig. Ever. We had the usual trouble with feedback (my Martin acoustic guitar did not want to cooperate and I wound up shelving it after 2 songs) and the monitors were causing the mics to feed back we were stuck turning the mics down, which in turn caused us to not hear ourselves, which is a MAJOR recipe for disaster...but we worked it through, managed to recover by turning the monitors away from the mics, and keeping the mics away from the monitors. 3/4s of the way through 'Back On The Chain Gang,' all of a sudden, Pat stopped singing. We looked at her, confused-she showed me the cable had fallen out of the mic! As soon as I realized what had happened, I jumped on the vocals until she could get the mic working again, then she finished. We laughed so hard--you know how you get when it's inappropriate to laugh, and that makes it funnier?
There were about 80 people at the shindig. The Moose folk also had a raffle going, so I bought a ticket. I won a Jagermeister flashing shark brooch, a Jagermeister T-shirt waaay too small for me (is it OK for parents to give their kids T-shirts that advertise liquor? LOL,) a Jagermeister lanyard (which was actually pretty cool & useful,) and a Jagermeister visor cap. Score! Funny part is-I don't like Jager, I think it tastes like cough syrup.
One very amusing moment (well, it amused us anyways) was when it came time to play 'Smoke On The Water.' Jim & I had worked up a (very) little comedy routine--we announce a Deep Purple song next, then Jim deliberately starts playing the intro to 'Lazy.' I stop him and say, "No honey, the OTHER Deep Purple song." He then goes into 'Burn.' I stop him again and say, "NO Jim, the one they won't let you play at Guitar Center anymore." Then he goes into Dant Dant Dah, Dant Dant Dah Dah, Dant Dant Dah, Dah Dah. You know it!
Anyways, we had the usual cast of characters at the dance--the Moose Lodge folk are always so friendly and easygoing, we just love playing for them and watching the antics as the evening progresses (and the beer level on tap goes down.) One couple on the floor were a little too enthusiastic with the dancing, and the lady wound up on her butt on the floor! They got up laughing, though, so I'm sure she was OK, but she'll probably wonder where that HUGE bruise came from later! There was was a fellow dressed in a full-out leprechaun suit, with matching neon green hair, eyebrows, and long shaggy beard; he was going around passing out 'leprechaun gold' (chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil) and he read the raffle ticket numbers. I feel bad I don't remember names, so if you're reading this, guys, sorry but we love you just the same--and if you're the guy in that leprechaun outfit, it's probably just as well that I don't remember, LOL. I had a couple drinks myself (one for the nerves, one for the gig, one because I wasn't get the picture.)
The Moose Lodge folks were serving tasty and filling corned beef and cabbage. I hadn't had such good corned beef & cabbage in several years. The cook told me he cooked 118 lbs of beef!
One fellow named Little Paul tipped us $5, and requested 'Stairway to Heaven.' I told him it wasn't on the setlist, but at an opportune moment, I'd play it for him. That moment came at the end of the night, when we started tearing down. I did a fairly lousy job, but he wasn't hypercritical, quite the opposite-he thanked me for playing it (even tho it was just the first few bars up to the, "there's a lady who's sure" part) and said that he had been in Viet Nam, and the song had a lot of meaning for him. I felt bad I hadn't done better, but he gave me a hug anyways.
It was kind of an interesting crowd. There were some folks from other lodges there (explained to me by a gal in the ladies' room, who had come from the San Fernando Valley lodge) and our setlist had been tailored for the regulars, who are not shy at all about requests, their opinions of which songs should be done next, and since they know our setlist, advising which musical genres were better than others. For instance, one young lady made a request for some hip-hop. We looked at each other. I'm the youngest in the band, at 47. I don't get this hip-hop stuff. But since we do 'Hey Ya' by Outkast, we figured that would be the best we could do. Another gal asked if we did any 'country.' I told her that Tex Mex, Buck Owens, and John Anderson were the closest we got...but we are working on Lady Antebellum's 'Need You Now' so hopefully for next show we'll be able to offer it.
We played straight through from about 8:20 til around 10, when we took a 10-minute break. We started the next set, then were 'interrupted' by the leprechaun who wanted to read the raffle ticket numbers. We offered him a mic, but he scoffed, saying that he 'blew out microphones.' Which he was eminently capable of doing!
We finished up around 12:30 am and we got paid for this gig--most we've ever made! Now we can say we are a band that gets paid to gig! We were also asked to return around June. THAT's the best compliment we can get-even better than getting paid (which is also very cool!)
We started packing up, and got home around 2 am...which, thanks to Daylight Savings Time (which I HATE) made it 3 am. And as we can never just walk in and go straight to sleep, we were up til 4 am, when the Colonel & I finally turned in. As per usual, we just removed our guitars from the car and left the unloading til the morning. We were awakened around 4 hours later by the cats demanding to be let out, let in, fed, petted, etc. I took a nap from 3-5...and may take another one. Man, this is fun but there's no way I could do this for a living--glad I've got a day job!
Til the next gig!

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