King George headlines House of Blues!
Summer of 2014 I got a call about possibly joining a brand new band, called "KING GEORGE: A Tribute to George Strait." Now of course I had to ask, "Why are you calling me? I don't play country music! I can learn it, but it's not 'my thing.'" I was told I had been recommended, and that they were trying to get a "core group" of permanent musicians together for this band, and this was sort of a try-out for that.
I was familiar with a few George Strait songs, but had never actually learned any of them on the fiddle, and I had agreed to do just that. Turned out it was 52 songs. FIFTY-TWO. That's a lot of songs, a lot of fiddle solos. But I got to work.
First step, get the list of the songs.
Second step: getting recordings of all 52 songs. I made a trip to Half Price Books, and found a few old George Strait CDs, and downloaded from where I could, my mother got me the 50 Number Ones CD.
Think about that: FIFTY NUMBER ONE SONGS.
Third step: Listening to the songs non-stop - listening in my car every time I was in it, listening at work when I could, listening at home...then I found all the lyrics with chords, and started sitting down with the Amazing Slow-Downer, writing out each little bit I needed to know, keys, chords, intros, fills, solos, endings....yes, it's a lot. I was nearly feeling overwhelmed, but just kept working.
I pushed through to the first rehearsal, wherein I got to finally meet the guys I was going to play with: Chris McIuan, who put the band together and was the manager/soundman. Dusty Deaton, (who is a passable George Strait look-alike, but mostly a really talented singer and guitar player from the Fort Worth area) is the face of the band and a very sweet young man. Steven Farrington (keyboards) is from the Bedford area. Todd Hanby (drums) is from the eternal spring of great musicians, Denton, TX. Then there was bass player Jacob Doe (also from Denton), with whom I had played once ...no, twice...with The Bodarks, when I was filling in for their fiddler Shelly. Jacob is who recommended me for the job, so it was really nice to see him again. Leland Rooney (guitar), would not be joining us until later.
I had two solid rehearsals with the band, plus one performance at the Carrollton Chopshop - we played nearly all 52 songs that night, and got through it just fine. Then one more rehearsal before HoB, where Leland Rooney (guitar) joined us finally. Jason Tolley (bass) and Burton Lee (steel guitar) would not join us for a rehearsal.
Then the House of Blues show was upon us!!
On arrival at HoB, of course I had to take photos...the big Hob backdrop, the wall of posters out in the big entry way, the stage, etc.
I was in awe of the size of the stage, sound system, etc. Not that I hadn't played on a stage that large before...I think the stage at North Texas Irish Festival may be larger...but it was House of Blues, y'all!! Many other great musicians and singers had graced that stage, and it was exciting to be there!!
Sound check.....check out the gift shop (got Chris a new shirt), dinner (great food, by the way)...get dressed, put on makeup, mess with the hair...OK!! nearly showtime!!
We had all been given tickets to give away, to make sure we had bodies in the audience. I gave away quite a few at work, expecting only a few of them to make. But it was nearly a packed house, I had my own cheering section!!
This photo shows what my view was at that time - Chris is in there somewhere, as are my buddies Steve and Melissa Harrison, and Mark Kenneth, plus a few others (as you can see.)
Chris got this great photo of me by myself on stage, trying to get all my equipment turned on and squared away before starting.
Despite a few snafus (like barely being able to hear the steel guitar), the show went off without a hitch, the audience went crazy for Dusty (as expected), and for me, it was an historic event!!
Evidently the venue liked the band and crowd, they have been asked to perform there again some time later, though I may not be a part of that.
Turns out I didn't make the cut as a "core member," but maybe they'll call me again down the road.
Ah, well. It was still a great experience!!
Check out some photos and videos from House of Blues, Dallas, TX, August 28, 2015.