So the call went out among our contacts that I was going to be holding auditions for drummers in New York. But we still hadn’t made any firm decisions about the rest of the instrumentation. Horns? Backing singers? Auxiliary percussion? I wasn’t going to make those decisions without talking to Ziggy and Barrett again, now that I’d heard the record.
I still didn’t love Ziggy’s album, but I at least had gotten used to it. I’d started writing out musical ideas for transitions and live arrangements. I had software for the Mac that would make a nice-looking score but did I use it? No. It was still too time consuming when I could chicken-scratch out stuff with a pencil on staff paper much much faster, and hopefully pay someone later to make it into readable charts.
I had a tendency to do this crosslegged in my underwear on my futon with headphones on, a guitar in my lap, and papers scattered across the sheets. One day Courtney came in and said, “Do you think it’s in the budget to buy you an air conditioner for your window? It’s fucking June, Dar’.”
“Um?” I pulled my headphones off. “Yeah, I guess.”
“You’re not sweltering?”
“Well, a little. How much does an air conditioner cost, anyway?”
She shrugged. “Dunno. Two hundred, maybe?”
“Do you have one in your room?”
“No, but I’m on the shady side of the house.”
“Pfft.” I pulled the cigar box out of the bookshelf in the headboard of the bed, flattened out a suitable number of wrinkled and wadded twenty dollar bills, and handed them to her. “That should be enough for two AC units and to pay you for the production assistant time to get them and install them. If it’s not, tell me.” There was probably another five hundred in the box.
She gave me a look she had learned from Carynne, the I-love-you-but I-can’t-believe-you-just-did-that look. “Are you dealing drugs on the side or something?”
“Why do you have a shoebox of cash?”
“It’s a cigar box not a shoebox and where else should I put all the per diem cash that ends up in my pockets?”
“Oh, I dunno, there’s this newfangled thing called a bank?”
“Which I’d have to take the time to walk to, and then when I need cash, have to go get it again. If it was more I’d deposit it, Court. But it’s not that much. C’mon. You know how it works.”
“You save all your P.D.s? Oh, wait, I forgot, you never eat anything that they don’t stick in front of your face.” She shoved the wad of cash down into the pocket of her cutoff shorts. “Anything else you need while I’m out? Batteries? Pencils?”
“Actually, now that you mention it, I could use a better pencil sharpener. And probably some pencils wouldn’t hurt either.” I held up the one in my hand and it was only about three inches long and the eraser was down to a stub.
When she was gone I called Barrett’s office, was told he wasn’t in but they’d page him, and then I paged Ziggy.
Barrett called back first. I was taking a break, lying flat on my back, picking idly at the guitar on my chest but not really getting all the way to a tune, when the phone rang. “Yellow.”
“It’s Barrett, returning your call? Daron?”
“Yes.” I sat up.
“I wondered who would be calling me from a 617 number I didn’t recognize.”
“So I have questions about what you want for this touring band. And what Zig wants.”
“That’s kind of up to you.”
“No, I’m not the one determining what kind of show this is. But if we’re talking full on dance-troupe–”
“Which we are.”
“–then, you know, do we go all the way to having a string quartet up there, too, or what. That’s what I’m saying. Because we could go real minimal with just five of us, but–”
“Minimal is not a word I’d use for anything we’re doing here.”
“Got it.” I crossed out the number 5 on the top page of my notebook. “I’ve got two backup singers I’d like to hire to give the choruses more oomph. I’ve got a keyboard player on tap already but I think live horns would give us the kind of big-show production value that it sounds kind of like you’re aiming for.”
“Definitely. Big and bold. Slick.” He coughed. “Okay, well, not as big and bold as, say, Madonna, because we don’t have half her budget, but let’s just say don’t skimp.”
“Okay, it’s just, you know, there’s a huge difference between a five-person band and a ten-person band and budget aside I just want to make sure. But speaking of budget, and timing, I hit the road again July 20th or something like that, and I know we said it was feasible to rehearse now and then have more rehearsals later, but that probably cuts down the talent pool some.”
“So you said.” Barrett sounded impatient. “Do you want to talk numbers? I’ll fax Carynne some numbers she can plug into the spreadsheet.”
“Yes, but here’s what I’m saying. I think if we promise folks full pay during the rehearsal period instead of the usual, I can convince more of them to work on their own while I’m gone.”
“You mean send them the album?”
“I mean make a tape of the arrangements we’re going to do, which your dancers are going to need so you can work on that while I’m gone, anyway.”
“Ah. Of course.”
“But that leads me to these arrangements. Which now that I know we’re just pulling out all the stops on, well, okay, no string quartet. I was only kidding about that one.”
“I wasn’t, but okay.”
“I’ll make plans for orchestrating the larger band.” I lay back down and looked at the ceiling, switching the phone to my other ear. “I have ideas but they will make more sense when I can play them for you than trying to describe them over the phone. And I want Ziggy involved in the musical decisions. Is he with you by any chance?”
“I’ll be seeing him tonight.”
“Tell him to call me.”
“I thought you said you needed to play the ideas instead of talking over the phone.”
“For you. Ziggy will understand what I’m saying.”
“Ah. I’ll tell him.”
“Okay.” We then set the date for auditions on Monday, June 3. I copied down the address of the warehouse/rehearsal space to make sure I could accurately pass it on, and then I got off the phone.
By the time I talked to Ziggy that night, Courtney had returned triumphant from her AC-hunting expedition and I had a window unit buzzing loudly. Which was kind of a pain, actually, and I turned it off once I realized who was on the phone. It was cool enough in the room for a little while, anyway.
I didn’t beat around the bush. “Barrett says I should go for it and hire all the horns and backing vocalists I want. Agree? Disagree?”
“Oh, agree. Definitely agree.”
“It’s probably going to be a ten-piece band by the time I’m done, then.”
Huh. Apparently I was the only one who thought there were drawbacks to a band that large. Then again, this wasn’t a rock band on tour, this was a concert production. “So how’ve you been?”
“Eh. A little bored. You?”
“Um, played a benefit show the other day that ended in a riot.”
“Played a benefi–”
“I heard you, I just don’t… Are you all right?”
“Black eye. No other injuries on me. Colin had some scraped knuckles, too. Speaking of which, I asked him about coming on the road with us and he said he’d think it over. I didn’t really give him much in the way of details since I didn’t have any.”
“I’m going to have Tony, but there are times when a scary white guy is more what you need than a scary black guy.”
“So we should hire him as security?”
“General purpose tour personnel whose duties include personal bodyguard for you.”
“I’ll have Flip, too. But I get the feeling Colin is not convinced he should come along.”
“Did you tell him how well we’re getting along now?”
“Yes?” I think I did, anyway. “I don’t think it’s you and me he’s iffy about.”
“Well, what’s he iffy about, then?”
“I guess I’ll have to ask him.”
Then neither of us said anything and did the corny thing of just sitting there in silence, listening to each other breathe, because I guess neither of us wanted to hang up. It was starting to get a little stuffy in my room though, and I wanted to turn the AC unit back on. I eventually gave in.
“Auditions are going to be on the third,” I said. “I’ll probably show up the Friday before. Assuming you’re around that weekend.”
“I’ll check with Barrett but I should be. Is that the next time I’ll see you?”
“Probably? Unless you want to come to Boston for a while.”
“That’s a great word. Too bad Squeeze has already cornered the market on using it in song lyrics.”
Ziggy laughed. “Write me a song with the word Squeeze in it instead.”
“Will do. I should go now, though.”
“Okay, ciao.” He made a kissing sound. “I love you.”
I could not make a kissing sound without wanting to gag afterward so I settled for saying, “Love you, too.”
(So, I saw Adam Lambert live last week, and when I tried to write a concert review what came out was a 5,000-word treatise on queer identity, subcultures in America, authenticity, capitalism, and the entertainment business. You can read it here: http://blog.ceciliatan.com/archives/2776. In other news, the bonus post donation tracker is up to $29 right now. To see it go up even more, Paypal any amount you wish to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the button below to give one of the popular increments!