basements

Sometimes we play stages on the ground floor, and sometimes we play lofts in consignment stores. And we’ve played gymnasiums and coffee shop corners and beer gardens and outdoor markets and regal dinners.

But I think we were destined for basements. Recently we moved into Tim’s basement, at least for quick but invasive visits for rehearsing. It’s the perfect space, complete with equipment and centrally located for the four of us. The neighbors haven’t complained. The rest of his family hides away, except for the very faithful dog, Lila, who loves to settle in next to Tim’s bass amp until we hit a note that’s just too piercing, and then she gets up and leaves. She’s unapologetic. We’re grateful for the space and the support, even if it’s contingent on us hitting the right notes.

But now, our favorite basement might be at the Funk ‘n Dive in Ogden. In spite of the effort to haul gear downstairs, we had a great time on their centrally located stage and with their welcoming staff, especially Matt, who ran sound and welcomed us to the green room and the stage, and handed out our tickets for drinks and food. And then we were greeted by artifacts like this:

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Message from Funk ‘N Dive to bands headed to the stage.

We rocked it “supa hard,” indeed. There was talk about “blowing the roof off the place” but then we changed our minds, since we were a few floors below the roof, and heaven only knows how much brick was above our heads. We still turned it up as much as Matt would allow. More important, it sounded good. A few die hards stayed late and we played a few extra songs, and a couple in the audience asked us later if we could play their wedding — and we really hope that works out, even if they don’t get married in a basement.

From backstage, with Caryn silhouetted but Ian in the glow of a red spotlight. (Photo credit: Scott Rogers)

Besides discovering that we like playing in basements, and the Funk ‘n Dive in particular, there were some gems of joy from Friday night. Nothing big, just those things that you hold onto after a show, like when people were singing along to us doing a piece from Sesame Street. Or, in spite of the fact that Caryn’s pointed out that people forget to applaud if we do an instrumental when she’s not on the stage (this was an awkward truth at one gig), the good folks of FnD cheered out after an instrumental riff — whistling and clapping and all that. Our friend, Aaron, was celebrating passing the bar in Utah, and we were delighted to dedicate “At Last” to him. We got to do new songs that were roughly themed around Halloween, but it turns out that now we think we’ll keep them in constant rotation, we like them so much. And then there was this realization that I had (though I haven’t talked to the band about this, they’ll just have to admit that it’s true now that I’ve put it into writing): Caryn often polls the audience to see if they can name a re-creation of a pop tune that we’ve completely changed. It turns out that this is really hard for people, and I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter — and maybe we shouldn’t even bother asking — if they recognize the song’s origin or not. We can let the people who know the song feel like they’re in on a little secret, and everyone else can twist their head with that partial recognition that this might be a Katy Perry song — but it couldn’t be because there’s a swing to the bass line and I play more than three notes in the chords. Maybe it was Katy who first did it, but maybe it was Ella. It’s hard to say.

And then there was a final compliment from someone who stayed late: “‘Orange Colored Sky’ was great,” she gushed. The thing is, that’s a fairly obscure song, even as a jazz standard. There’s a good chance she’d never heard it before. But it is a really good song, in a delightfully obscure and kooky kind of way. We’re excited that we get to learn these kinds of tunes and try to do them justice. So we’ll keep playing this and other jazz covers and other new inventions, in basements or otherwise. We’re looking forward to bringing it all back to Funk ‘n Dive the next chance we get.

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