Inside, Carynne was already talking with Louis, which was to say Louis was talking and she was nodding a lot. He was gesturing toward the rafters but I couldn’t make out what he was actually saying. He hadn’t struck me as the talkative type so it must have been important.
I laid the guitar case on the stage and then went to join them. Chris started adjusting drums. Ziggy prowled the edges of the space and the stage like a cat, checking everything out.
“Basically what I’m telling the boss here,” Louis said, as I stood next to him, “is that what I’m going to set up in here is like a toy piano, but when we get on the road it’ll be more like a Rick Wakeman set-up.”
“What I’m going to do, basically, is learn your set, so I can, for lack of a better term, play along. Except I’ll be playing with lights instead of sound.”
Ziggy wandered into the conversation.
“There’ll be some specific cues you want, colors, or effects, and I’ll work those in, but you know, a lot of it will be mixed live.”
“Waitasec, you mean you do it by hand?” Ziggy said. “You play the light board like an instrument?”
I was glad Zig was the one who asked that, since I hadn’t quite realized it was going to be that intensive.
“Some of the stuff, we really need to work out together, though,” Louis said. “Like you mentioned you had that one effect, Daron, some show with a single white spotlight? That you liked a lot.”
Ziggy and I both nodded.
“If it’s a spot from above, it can be a great effect, but only if you can hit your mark.” He said this last to Ziggy. “We’ll have a follow spot on you too, of course, most of the time. But this sort of thing, you have to get back to center stage, and of course every stage is going to be different.” He shook his head a little. “Come on up and I’ll show you the way I mark the stage.”
Bart was up there, chatting with Chris.
“Are we going to use fog at all?”
“I don’t think so,” I said. I glanced around at the others. “Definitely not.”
“Good. You’ll be less likely to lose these then, too. Some guys just use an ‘X’ for each mark, or three parallel lines that show the angle of the front of the stage. I use your initials so if you wander around you don’t get lost.”
We chuckled at that–he’d said it like a joke–but I got the feeling it was no joke.
Next to my mic stand was a ‘D’ made with two different colors of tape stuck to the boards.
“You guys make it fairly easy since you’ve each got a stand, but just in case.” Louis pointed upward. “I hung some cans; I’ll play with them tonight. But ignore me. Do whatever you have to do; don’t be stopping or starting a song just because I’m screwing around. I’ll have plenty of time to figure out the whole set.”
I slung the new Stratocaster over my shoulder.
“One more thing, the song we need to talk about the most, though, is Candlelight.”
“You think?” I asked.
“Yeah, I think. It’s going to be the song the crowd knows best. It needs something special, and especially since it’s got so many mentions of light and dark in the lyrics. We don’t have to talk about it now, but we’ll need to soon.”
“That’s my spiel. G’wan, get to it, I’ll get out of your way now.” He hopped off the stage and back to where he’d set up his “toy piano”–a control board about the width of a DX-7 but twice as deep.
I turned to Ziggy. “What do you want to warm up with?”
He stood with his feet crossed, hands in his pockets, thinking. “How about ‘Walking in Time?’ An oldie but a goodie.”
We hadn’t played the song in approximately forever, but it was easy on the voice compared to a lot of our songs so it made sense. I doubted we’d play it on the tour, either. But, well, I had asked him what he wanted to do.
I turned to Chris. “Hit it.”
It’s a simple song, just a basic one-four-five blues progression, and a song any of us could’ve faked our way through if we didn’t remember. But that made it easy to remember.
And Ziggy took it as a warm up, just breezing through the lyrics without too much effort, at least for the first two verses. I started to noodle a little, playing a countermelody without really thinking about it, echoing off the last few notes of each line. When we reached the bridge, I had thought we might break off since I didn’t intend to play a solo, but he answered me right back, picking out pieces of the lyrics and sort of scatting them back at me, more melodic than a rap but less wordy. Chris and Bart just kept chugging along and letting us fly. And at some point we changed from me answering his vocal riffs note for note to unison, and I couldn’t have told you which one of us was leading that improvised melody.
When the song came to a close, the silence of the small theater seemed loud. So did my heart and breath. We were standing face to face, maybe a foot apart.
Yeah, I missed you, too.