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, September 18, 2010

Fundraiser - FRO Foundation - Gig at Chuy's in Camarillo

Jim is chanelling the "talent juice"

Hector & his rig

Los borrachos - again! LOL!

There are good shots...then there is THIS.

Where ARE those TACOS!

Best. Tequila. Ever
What a GREAT day. We played at Chuy's in Camarillo. The day was perfect, not too hot and just lovely after the haze burned off. The Colonel & I got there at 10 sharp. We met Kevin, a very nice young man who showed us where we were going to be playing, and helped us set up by moving tables etc. The palapas (umbrellas with palm fronds for shades) were bolted down but provided a nice shade. We unloaded all of our CRAP (and folks, when I say "CRAP," it's amazing how much stuff it takes to put on a show--PA system-which is a car-load unto itself-guitar stands, mikes & stands, speakers & monitors, enough cables to encircle the earth a couple of times, my guitar, keyboard & amp, the Colonel's guitar & goes ON and ON) then started setting up...and up...and up. We were joined by Pat & Danny around 10:30, and Rob & Hector shortly thereafter. After we set up, tuned, and were ready to go, I ran across the parking lot to Trader Joe's, where I bought a bottle of 100% agave reposado tequila. THIS WAS THE BEST TEQUILA UNDER $20 I HAVE EVER TASTED. And the Colonel, Danny, Pat, and Rob corroborated that the tequila was, indeed, very tasty. The go-go juice did its magic, the talent started started flowing, and the show was more or less ready to go on about 12:40; we did "Angel Baby" as a sound check, with the Colonel sitting in the audience to check levels--a novel experience for him, and one I suspect that he would like to emulate more frequently ;-) We started our set, per our usual way, with "Big Me/Runaway Train." We like running these numbers together, as I've said before--it makes us sound like we know what we're doing (and since we always know these go together, it lessens the nerve factor. ;-)

We ran into some trouble with "Just Like Heaven," unfortunately--Hector had a beautiful new Fender Precision bass, but--his usual axe, the Ibanez--has *5* strings, while the Precision had 4, making him off-key. Poor Hec! We took our lumps and soldiered on. He changed back to the Ibanez & we ran through the rest of the set with a minimum of problems. One of the problems was--right after we did "Suavecito," which Pat does beautifully and is probably my favorite song we do (when all the planets are in alignment, and everyone is on the same page, it's a freaking work of aural art, literally) we ran "Black Magic Woman" onto the end. This would have been fine--had I been turned up loud enough for Jim & Hector to hear me :-P. I realized the problem immediately, and cranked the amp up to 11 - then started feeding back! ARRRGH! So, I turned back down to a level just below feedback, stood behind my amp, and delivered my personal best. Afterward, a gal came up and high-fived me, saying she couldn't believe it was me doing the lead, then clarified the statement by saying I did a good job and telling me, "You go, girl!" That was some very welcome recognition! I may not be Ruyters Sighs (guitar player for Nashville P) but I can play 'Black Magic Woman.'  ;-)
The Colonel praised my work and then, just to add pressure, announced that on the next song, I would be playing guitar, harmonica, and performing the lead for "I Should Have Known Better." I retorted that the lead was rather easier on that song than Black Magic Woman.

Let me say a bit here about the fundraiser & why we were there. Jeff Flores is an Air Force vet and a corrections officer. He is originally from Camarillo, then moved (with his family) to Las Vegas a few years ago, where after landing his dream job of being a police officer, was diagnosed a few months later with leukemia. He has been fortunate enough to locate a marrow donor, and with luck will be home with his family (after being in the hospital for 5 months) in another month or so. The fundraiser was organized by a friend of mine from work, Lisa Ayala, who's best friends with Jeff's wife Tracy (apologies if I got the name wrong.) There were raffle prizes, the venue Chuy's offered a $10 chicken dinner with 1/2 the proceeds going to the family (and the food was DELICIOUS) and a LOT of my friends from work showed up. It is SO cool to see people you normally see only in the workplace, out and about on the weekend. Here's a (partial, and I say that because it's now 10:22 and I may not remember everyone tonight--if you were there & I didn't list you, PLEASE let me know & I'll update this post ;-) list of folks I knew that were there today (again, apologies if I get the names wrong!)

Lisa Ayala (of course :-)
Laurie and Bruce
Marie, her son, and her sister-in-law Shelley
Laura H and her friend Bill
Marla, Laura B and Kristen
Kim W & hubby Greg W
Mike J

We ended the first set an hour after we started, so Lisa could pull some raffle tickets and give away some prizes. There were some happy people in the crowd! We took about a 20-minute break, wherein we all punished the tequila bottle some more and then kicked back to a playlist the Colonel had pre-recorded on his iPod, which included Muddy Waters, Avril Levine, Mel Torme, Chuck Berry, and Howling Wolf (among others.) The Colonel went through a slight trepidation at the possibility that there might have been some Black Sabbath on the playlist, but we dodged the bullet. We had heard "Fairies Wear Boots" on the way to the gig, and one just doesn't have luck like that, to hear 2 epically great Black Sabbath songs like that in one 4-hour period (although I heard 'Planet Caravan' later that night, and my life was fulfilled.)

We came on strong with "Evil Ways," "Heaven," "Seminole Wind" and "Listen to the Music" (by the Doobie Brothers.) The Colonel had watched a Frank Sinatra special, where The Chairman Of The Board stated one should play 2 fast songs, then 2 slow songs, so we tried to kind of adhere to that, but with this set, we went to the mat with everything we could bring. I was proud of my rendition of "Hippy Hippy Shake," and the crowd seemed to like it, considering the number of folks gyrating, hooting and hollering. "Smoke on the Water" started with it's usual schtick ("Jim, wrong song!") and we made the audience laugh, which was all that mattered. Rob busted out "Spill the Wine" very competently, and I defy ANYONE to try and play drums while singing! We played another hour, and Lisa came up and picked some more raffle winners. We kind of ripped through our last set, making a great impression on the crowd. Probably the best crowd reactions came from "Play that Funky Music," "Love Shack," and "What I Like About You." Which makes sense, being as they are really great songs. ;-)

Per our usual, we ended with "La Bamba." ALWAYS a crowd pleaser. I sing half and Pat sings half, and Jim does his incomparable guitar work on it, and Danny is really dead-on (he plays an extra F chord that just makes the song work) and Rob and Hector are rock solid, so there's nowhere else to go but up. We took our bows, said, "Camarillo, GOOD NIGHT!" and the crowd went wild. And screamed. And screamed. Lisa finally came out and asked us to play for another half hour, because we were doing so well (well, they were doing so well at the bar & with food. ;-) We returned with '29 Palms,' after a very moving speech from Jim saying 'Thank You' to all of the veterans in the audience--freedom is NOT free, and those who served paid the price, some of them the ultimate, for us to have the freedom that we enjoy. As most of you know, our son is in the Marines, and is currently serving in Afghanistan, so this was rather hard to listen to and then have to sing--I cry at dog food commercials, folks, so you can imagine what this did to my nerves. Pat and Danny were very supportive, and hugged me. I managed to pull it off without too much waterworks and fanfare. Our songs were: 29 Palms, Talking In Your Sleep, and Running Down a Dream.

We got MORE Encore calls! WHAT A KICK! The audience was SO great, yelling "ENCORE, ENCORE!" Lisa came up to us and said, "OK, ONE more!" We looked at each other, dumbfounded. This has NEVER occurred in our career. We immediately launched into an argument over the last song. We were hissing our song choices at each other. I wanted "Long Cool Woman." Danny wanted "Pink Cadillac." Rob wanted something different. I finally said, "Come on you guys--" and Rob said, "Yeah! "Come On Let's Go!" That was PERFECT. We ended with 'Blitzkreig Bop' and then immediately pulled the plug. Dudes, we played 47 effing songs today, not counting repeats--we did our best today, and our best did NOT suck. Whew! I'm going to bed now. ;-)

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