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 :-)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

*2* gigs for July! =oD private party 7/4 and Mia's 7/17 Public Venue!!!

Hi faithful readers, sorry for the hiaitus in writing...not much to report til now. The Colonel & I celebrated our 24th anniversary of wedded bliss by going to Las Vegas for a few days...what a BLAST. If you've never stayed at a posh 5-star hotel, I HIGHLY recommend it (if they give you a killer deal like what we got, for some crazy reason.) We stayed at the Encore, it was FABULOUS. We couldn't afford to eat, drink or gamble there, but that's what Downtown is for. ;-)
A few quick lines about the bands we saw there, then it's back to all about US.
We saw a band called The Crashers at Harrah's Carnavale; their schtick is they have a bucket where the audience drops in song requests, and the band will play them (if they are so inclined, and if they know the song.) We requested "anything by DIO." We also put on the note, which was written on Terrible Herbst's stationery: "LOOK WHERE WE ARE STAYING. Please, please hear our request." The note was accompanied by a $5 bill. They obliged by playing "Rainbow In The Dark," at least the first verse of it, and they did a pretty good job. They didn't have the keyboard part, nor was the singer anywhere near Dio's caliber, but we were happy anyways.
The next band we saw was at the Fremont St Experience, in Downtown. There was an Eagles Tribute band playing in the street (on a permanent stage.) Now THESE guys were impressive; their harmonies were dead-on, and they had a pedal-steel guitar player who had a contraption for his guitar that was like a vibrato for one string (or something; I'll have to ask the Colonel for more details, if anyone's interested.) They were really fun to watch.
OK, now back to about US. ;-) We have a private party we will be playing for on July 4th, up in sweltering (but beautiful) Ojai. We're always excited about playing on the 4th; it's like an event, but you don't really miss out on presents, the people will usually feed you really well, and it's exciting to see fireworks at night; the whole vibe is really fun. We didn't have a gig last year, and our 4th was kind of blah, so I'm really looking forward to this. Thanks to my brother the stock broker for obtaining us this gig.
The second gig that I'm excited about and looking forward to, we're going back to Mia's Place on Petit and Telephone, where we played last March. Saturday, July 17th!! We had so much fun and it's such a laid back, easy atmosphere. No pressure whatsoever, and the crowd was really responsive. This is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and we'll be on from 3-6 pm. Feel free to drop by, have a smoothie or a cup of coffee, and share some love! Hey, if you have any song requests, drop me a line on the comments section and we'll make sure it gets worked into the set (if we know it...remember, that's part of the 'surprise' element. ;-) We're working on some new tunes, so if you've got a song you'd love to hear played live, let me know ASAP so we can add it in. Hope to see all of you out there!
Much love,
MrsMMars aka Rita :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gig 6/5/10 - Private Party in Oxnard CA

Hi all: Well, I got sick over Memorial Day sick with a VENGEANCE. I haven't been this sick in YEARS. Lost my voice, had a horrible sore throat & headache, but the worst was the utter fatigue. I missed Ronnie James Dio's funeral on 5/28. I called in sick for the first time in 3 years on 6/1. I went home early the rest of the week.
All this is to preface my tale of the gig we did Saturday, 6/5. When I say "I lost my voice," I mean I sounded like a cross between Elmer Fudd and a pubescent teenage boy. I couldn't hold a note if it had handles. That being said, our singer Pat had advised we had a gig for a retirement party for a friend of hers in a very exclusive neighborhood in Teh 'Nard (that would be Oxnard CA, for those of you unfamiliar with Southern California) which I was looking forward to with equal parts dread and excitement. Dread, because of my voice-and excitement, because I experimented with some new sounds on my synthesizer and was looking forward to trying them out.
Well, the day came; I awoke at 4 am unable to sleep and decided to take our daughter to the farm to feed her lamb at 6:30 since I was up anyways. The Colonel was grateful for a few more hours of shuteye, but since he's had this same flu? cold? whatEVER for longer than I, he was up by 7:30. We went to breakfast, then went home & packed up. We got to the venue by 1:45, started setting up--oh horrors, we brought the small PA system & found we were missing an input for an extra mike. RATS. The Colonel enjoys witty repartee onstage and was denied his chance to speak. Seriously, that was a drag, because he usually comes up with some pretty funny stuff. We also realized we were missing a guitar cable. And although I remembered to bring the bag with the percussion instruments...someone (not me) forgot to put the cowbell in it. @%*#$! Oh well, this is part of the learning curve.
The venue was a clubhouse in a gated community (very nice.) The clubhouse was small, and there was not much 'stage' area. We brought the small PA system, as I said, and we were petrified that someone would trip over the speakers. Fortunately this didn't happen. We got to move all the furniture around and set up against a short wall. We were set to go on at 4 pm. We set levels (ha! we ALWAYS get louder!) and waited for folks to show up...
...and finally went on around 4:30, when there were about 10 people there. This was unfortunate because it cut into our playing time, but folks seemed to enjoy our playing; they were up and dancing, hooting and hollering. Around 5pm, we probably had a dozen people dancing in front of us, and maybe 40 or 50 sitting listening (and maybe another 25-30 outside.) A DJ was going on from 6-11, and he showed up about 5, and watched us for awhile. We were keenly aware that we needed to end at 6, so when we called "last song," everyone went "awwwwww..." That was nice. What was even nicer was we got a call for an ENCORE! Yay, that's always an ego boost!
Well, we finished up, thanked the crowd, and went to eat. They had a taquero there (a guy who prepares soft tacos in front of you) serving 3 kinds of meat-carnitas, carne asada, and chicken. There were about 6 different types of sauce, from hot to melt-your-face-off, beans, rice, and all the trimmings. The food was absolutely delicious, and so was the beer (it was HOT in that room!) Best of all, we each earned $31 apiece from the tips jar! I rate this as a very successful gig, even though we only played for about 2 hours total; very few technical difficulties (except I couldn't hear my keyboard after we started getting louder.) Next time I'm bringing my own amp for the keyboard, & we can mike the amp or something. Live and learn!