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 :-)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mia's Place!

dang it, the sign was supposed to say "ELEMENT OF SURPRISE" or "Rita McKinney Enterprises PRESENTS ELEMENT OF SURPRISE" LOL!!

Had a BLAST at Mia's today. Some good friends showed up and we were really grateful!
<--isn't Pat pretty? Love her "Betty Page" look LOL!

We went easy & just used the majority of the setlist from the 4th. Jim & I were scrambling to get out of Santa Paula early on; Jim didn't realize that we were going on at 3 (not 4) and at noon he realized we still had to get our kid to the Citrus Festival (where she was doing volunteer work for the FFA) so we went into super YIKES! mode and got everything busted down and into the Element, while I took Lilli to her job. We made it to Mia's about 1:15. Setup took about an hour, and we actually started our first set at 2:45. Laurie, whose hubby Bruce is an awesome singer BTW, was at her sister's salon next door! And came over to say hi & let us know she'd be doing her homework outside, so could we keep it down LOL! Just kidding!

<--Elba, Hector's wife, sits in for a couple of numbers, while Hector was doing something else.

Here's a little secret about us, folks: Element of Surprise are a bit superstitious and have a few traditions we are religious about following, in order to ensure good luck for the gig. One is that the Colonel and I always have Taco Bell before we go. I figure the stomach ache will neutralize the nerves LOL. Another tradition is that the Colonel always provides the crew with a couple of shots of teh-kill-ya prior to going on. If the Taco Bell doesn't eradicate the nerves, the tequila does. HURRRRRR. It's pretty raspy but it does make your hands stop shaking.
<--Los borrachos! (Google it!)

We played for about a half hour--then the proprietor Gina's friends showed up with some homemade eggrolls and Gina invited us to have some. THEY WERE AWESOME. We took a 5-minute break and just as we did, my friend Laura & her hubby Barney walked in. She was amused--"Break already, huh?" but we explained we were about to scarf eggrolls. They went on the patio and we resumed.
I was really, really happy to see Krishna and Marla show up--Kris has been reassigned to a different campus and I miss his wry viewpoint and hysterical running commentary on all that is crazy about work and life in general. He informed me he was going to yell 'Freebird!' but knew that unfortunately, it no longer fazes us; if you play covers and classic rock, you hear it every gig! ;-)
Marla is my next-desk neighbor (she's in IT, I'm in the Police Dept at work) and she probably hears the most about the band, other than those who are actually in it. She even goes with me to the beach at lunchtime and endures while I practice my guitar. I was very happy to see her there and able to see what all the hoopla is about.
Another couple of folks I must give a shout-out to: some of you may know I've been translating children's online books into Spanish for this awesome company, MightyBook Jr. The Colonel & I have also sung some songs and written music for this outfit. These folks are teaching early childhood literacy and really doing good work. Well, Greg and Cliff (and his lovely girlfriend Nancy) actually came out to see us. I was blown away; Greg came from the San Fernando area (understandable why he'd want to come out actually--he said it was 102 in the Valley :-( ) and Cliff and Nancy came from the eastern County area. I was very pleased to meet these guys and have them check out what we can do (besides 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' LOL. ;-) If you have little ones that would benefit from learning how to read at an early age, or love music, or like to write their own stories! Check out They have literally hundreds of books, music, games and puzzles, and are very entertaining. Our contributions are: "Alberta La Gorrion," "El Fulgon Dijo," and a couple of songs: "Cinco Elefantes" and "Elefantes Balanceaba." More to come and I'll be talking about that later, because this is a really cool website that your little ones can benefit from (and not just because the Colonel & I are involved, ha ha.)
We started playing 'Smooth Operator,' and the Colonel informed me that it was his song, as he is The Smooth Operator; then when we finished up, he realized that Gina was much Smoothier than he is. So we dedicated it to Gina and her delicious concoctions. Here's to you, Gina -- The Smoothiest Operator. ;-)
Some friends of Pat's from her work showed up, too, as well as Hector's favorite sister Amy and his lovely wife Elba. Elba held Hec's bass while he ran a errand; we got some cute shots.
This is probably TMI, but we have a 'schtick' for 'Smoke On The Water.' We get a big kick out of this; we announce we're going to do a Deep Purple number. Jim immediately launches into 'Burn' and we stop him; he appears befuddles, apologizes and then immediately launches into 'Lazy.' We stop him again; and I tell him, "No, honey--the one they won't let you play at Guitar Center anymore!" He goes, "Oh yah," and starts Smoke On the Water. Corny but fun! One guy in the audience 'got it,' then asked Jim to play 'Burn.' For reals. :-(
It was warm, and it was work; but ultimately it is very rewarding. There's something very (dare I say?) elemental about performing in front of people. It's so cool to show people "hey, this is what we love, hope you like what we are doing" and get their feedback. And of course, it's always a rush to hear people clap and yell for you.
I probably liked 'Wicked Game' best. Danny can play this already very well, and it frees me to concentrate on my singing; probably the best number I did all day. I screwed up the ending to '29 Palms' but thought I did fairly well on the vocals. Pat's best number was undoubtedly 'I Got The Music In Me,' and we got through it ok.
There was a fellow in the audience from Florida (a singer/songwriter in his own write) who was
offering quite a bit of sage advice; at one point he said "Why don't you guys do The Romantics' 'What I Like'?" I told him he had to be patient and wait, and just smiled. When we busted it out, he clapped and cheered. We also performed 'Seminole Wind' for his edification, and he was very appreciative.
Danny (aka Esteban) has a new fan! One of the gals in the audience took a shine to him and told him, "You are SO CUTE!" Then she looked at the rest of us and said, "And you're all cute, in your own way!" LOL well, it's better than being told, "DAMN you're all a bunch of old farts!"
Lessons learned: #1. The Colonel MUST have a mic to make witty repartee; otherwise the poor folks just sit there and watch us go, "What's next?" "Wait, I have to tune." "What key is that in?" "Do I play on this one?"
#2 - In a small venue like this, we can perform the more 'radio-friendly' numbers; no one's dancing, so the songs you would normally save for the beginning of the set (when folks are eating, not there, or being otherwise distracted) work well. Examples would be 'Can't Get Enough' by Bad Company; 'Cinnamon Girl' by Neil Young & Crazy Horse; and 'Runaway Train' by Soul Asylum.
We closed with 'Volver Volver' (the Mexican version of Freebird) and 'I Saw Her Standing There' by the Beatles. Gina was very gracious and appreciative, and told us we could practice there ANY TIME. She even sent us all home with tasty eggrolls :-) mmmmmm, eggrolls.....
We plan on being back there in a month or two, and will let everyone know when we're out again! Looking forward to it!
I want to thank again, all my friends who came out to support us. We TOTALLY LOVE YOU GUYS and really appreciate the kind comments on Facebook (NOTE: I post as Metalhaid.) You've all gained super uber mega-Karma-points and I'm sure you've all contributed to your mansion in Heaven. See ya around!

No comments:

Post a Comment