Did you ever repeat a class, not because you flunked, just because you wanted to? Either you really liked the professor or the subject was surprisingly interesting and you knew you’d probably get even more out of it the second (or third or fourth) time around it than you did the first? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. In my “Class in Session” blog series I’ve experienced up close and personal, some greatly talented peeps and I’ve come away from each experience feeling like I’ve learned something valuable, something that could really help me to become a better performer/writer, but there is only one band that I seem to continually seek out and that’s NeedToBreathe.
There is something about their sound, their looks and their mannerisms that I feel very much at home with and never seem to tire of. I don’t know if it’s the way Bo gets lost in the meaning of the music and looks as if he’s going to thrust his whole being into the mic or if it’s Bear’s ability to reach deep down and belt out the words like he’s pleading for his soul’s redemption, or maybe it’s his undeniable wit and charm that draws me in . To tell you the truth, there’s something alluring about each and every one of them. For starters, they don’t look like every other band out there. Granted, Bear is a fashion hound and seemingly hopeful trendsetter, but they each have their own unique style and seem very comfortable in it.
They’re from South Carolina and they emanate that traditional southern upbringing of well intentioned, young men who love their moms and do their best to honor their commitments to each other, to their families and to their fans (old and new). It’s funny how every time I go to one of their concerts I end up becoming instant friends with random strangers. I think the band evokes that sense of community that invites that kind of genuine warmth from unknowns. For example, some guy just walked up and asked about my Nikon and lens (with the kind of relaxed demeanor of a friend) and was dying to know whether I could actually see the surfers way down there on the water through the lens. I immediately responded and let him see for himself. I know it’s a risk, but I get such a kick out of the joy on people’s faces when I share what I get to experience with others. I wouldn’t say yes to just anyone either, but you get a feel for who you can trust not to break or run off with your not so easily replaced stuff. And the topic among our new friends is generally the same, the wishing them stardom, but liking them so much you hope they stay that well kept secret and slightly attainable just a bit longer, that Seth is “sooooooo pretty” and “what (thefk) is the keyboard players name and when did he become part of the band?”. Top three, for sure.
Several peeps in the crew (affectionate name for our band of friends here in Oceanside) are fans, but this time it was only M and I that could make the show. This one was held at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego. Gorgeous place. The kind that if you stop to soak in just how beautiful it is and that you are actually standing in it, it’ll bring a tear to your eye. I hope I was able to capture some of it on film. They host their concerts outdoors and I was late getting there so I didn’t walk through the aquarium itself to get shots of the fishes. Trust me though, the place is gorgeous inside and out.
Now, the last time we saw them was on one of the Hornblower cruises (see home page image for www.aligilmore.com) where M got her CD signed by 3 of the 5, but Bo and Bear (the brothers) were dragging their butts getting up to the signing area after their performance so only the quick and aggressive (she is neither) got their autographs before the boat docked and the unsympathetic (and rather surly) ship’s crew shooed everyone off the boat. She was really disappointed and had been stewing over it since. I asked her when we caught up at the aquarium if she’d brought her CD cover and she produced it on cue with a big smile.
After a walk about we ended up in the spot behind the stage where a lone bar table stood, and unoccupied (which was rare because by this time the place is packed). We hung out there for a while, chatting to our unknown friends (seriously, some really lovely people) and then M walked off toward the bathrooms when I heard her shout “Ali…Ali…Up…Ali!”. I looked up from my drink and the boys were just strolling past me. Dammit~ I fumbled for the camera, but by the time I had it focused on them they were marching up the stairs and onto the stage. You could just feel the electricity in the air emitting from those in the know and familiar view of the first timers taking notice of the shift.
I can’t remember too many details of the rest of the evening because once I have my eye in the camera and my ears in the music I sort of get wrapped up in it all (chemo brain or no). I do remember some of the women we made friends with earlier had snagged a bench to the left of the stage. I offered one the camera to take some shots for me, but she wouldn’t hear it and insisted I take her spot and get some good shots in. As that was going on a guy with his gal standing next to the bench said he wouldn’t have declined that offer…so I had to give him a chance with the camera too. After all, this wasn’t a job I was on so I didn’t have to worry about accidentally taking credit for someone else’s shot. It’s all good, all part of the one common thread. The one moment that stood out the most though was that when they started playing Stones over rushing water, my heart skipped a beat for a second there. Y’see I make it a habit of posting on their fb page (like a good lil stalker) whenever I’m going to be at one of their shows and offering up my vocals if they’re in need of them on that song (he originally recorded it with Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek). What, it’s part of my self imposed therapy for breaking through my stage fright and c’mon, what female singer in her right mind wouldn’t have “sing duet with Bear from NeedToBreathe” on their “How fkng cool would that be?” list. Well, anyway, I did post it and so for just a second I thought they were repeating the intro over and over because they were mulling over whether or not to throw caution to the wind and invite me up on stage. Or maybe…they’d responded with “Give us a shout when we start the song and we’ll let you” and I missed it (yes, I’m just that delusional that it did actually cross my mind and yes, I didn’t even go so far as to check their page this morning to see, but no…no response, no likes, no nothing but my active and rather bold imagination). Then, they started singing and M looked over at me and smiled that “it’s ok, maybe next time” kind of cheering smile.
I know. I sound like a 12 year old with a puppy luv crush. Ok, I’ll get back to the project. What did I learn (or re-learn) from this particular Class in Session? I was reminded to put all my breath into my voice when I sing (I tend to pull back from the mic), I was reminded that when something goes wrong, like a mic goes out, to keep your cool, don’t let a beat drop and wing it til it’s fixed. In other words, never break the momentum. I also like that they introduce themselves “we know we may be new to some of you” and they acknowledged and thanked those of who do know them for coming back. They’re good at engaging the audience and keeping them engaged. They also reminded me how important it is to wrap it up neatly. It’s the one downer is you never know if/when they’ll be available after for autographs and pics. I think it would be great to announce it toward the end, like just before the last song so people know to stick around and where to gravitate to and I see it’s important the band stick together on that. In that instance they seem really disconnected. If my trio and I ever get to perform at these kinds of venues (y’know…my trio…the one I’m so going to form on day…) then I will remember to say goodnight or stay for a nightcap before exiting the stage and be sure the lads (oh yeah, in my trio there are 2 guys, probably one will have a beard) are in on it.
A couple examples of the night’s captures: Bear (L) Rinehart, making sure even those in the back row get their money’s worth and Bo (R) Rinehart, showing his appreciation for the wave of love the crowd was sending his way.
Head on over to the Ali Gilmore Music Facebook page for the rest of the photos and hey, to you new found friends…if you see yourself or someone you know, feel free to enter names and tag people. Sharing is encouraged and if I didn’t say it before, it was awesome spending time with you all. See you at the next one 🙂
As for me, I’m off to feed the fishies (Fish Joint Open Mic) to put what I just learned into practice and late as usual. Till next time~