Sunday, June 06, 2010

Love Letters at Irma Freeman Center

On Friday, work was pretty busy and felt like a constant game of Beat the Clock. If that wasn't enough, I got there nice and early, only to realize - as I was walking across the parking lot - that I had forgotten to pack my change of clothes for the Love Letters show that night. And there was no way I was going to wear a work t-shirt during our set - as much as I love the company that employs me. So I drove home, expletives spewing out that car window, and got the clothes.

The Love Letters played at the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, a really beautifully designed gallery in Garfield. As part of the First Fridays/Unblurred/gallery crawl that happens each month, our set was one of three performances that coincided with an opening of an exhibition of Evan Knauer's paintings. (Evan is the brother of LL's guitarist Buck and is a Pittsburgh music vet himself). I missed Erin Snyder's classical duo since I was still at work, and I arrived as the trio of Bob Wentzel (sax), Emmett Frisbee (bass) and Winston Goode (drums) were playing.

Once I got there, all the stress of the day started to dissipate. I had been looking forward to this show more than I realized and a lot of people whom I was hoping to see were there: my sister, a long lost friend who recently stumbled across me, this friend's mom (who was more like a bonus guest) and another friend who had an art closing that same night and still managed to arrive and turn our set into a dance party.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The room where we played is a converted garage, which looks great but still might be a little boomy and echoey. We weren't worried, though and there was a p.a. for all four vocals so the voices could compete with the instruments. I couldn't hear the voices clearly, so I'm not sure if I was on key but it felt like it. We started with "The Last One," which is a pretty charged-up number when we're firing on all cylinders. And I think we were. It was a good indicator of what was to come.

One of the things that I want to do with the band is dig up songs by old local bands (i.e. my friends) that would otherwise be lost to the ether. This is sort of an extension of playing songs I wrote in previous bands, I suppose. We've done at least three Mofones songs, and one Bone of Contention song. (A new Love Letters song is a rewrite of one of my old songs, but that was conceived about four or five years ago, so maybe that doesn't count.)

So far, we've done a song by Catamount and one by the Smoking Pets (which was never released). A few months ago, Buck has brought up the idea of doing a song or two by his first band, Cousin It. They were a great band, existing right around the time that Bone of Contention first came together, and I always liked them. "Shower of Dreams" is/was a great psychedelic droning pop song with room for a lot of harmonies. Not only was I thrilled to do it, but Buck was going to sing lead. Something he's never done in 24 years of playing in bands.

The last practice before the show, I asked if he was going to introduce the song that night. "Uh, no." Fine with me, because even though a little context would've been nice, I wasn't about to tell him what to do. But sure enough, he gave a nice intro and some background that night. Playing it felt really good. Playing Aimee's new song felt good too, even though I messed it up and only by the grace of Erin our drummer did it hang together while the three of us got our balance.

Then there were the dancers who showed up about 1/3 or halfway through the set and brought more energy to the room. It was a good time. And it made going to work the next day kind of hard. Mostly because I felt a little sore.

We need to book another show.


Ron Strelecki said...

Any recordings? Would love to hear what you are up to.

shanleymusic said...

Ron - We have a couple songs from a live show on WRCT. They sound a little better than the original broadcast because Buck added some reverb, or delay. I forget which. But I can't find our myspace page! When I do, I will forward it.

Thanks for asking. Happy noo year.