A special gig... (Full Version)

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Miguel de Maria -> A special gig... (May 10 2005 15:40:36)

Last night was the tail end of a 5-in a row series of gigs. So I took my advil and went in at 7:00 for the 3.5 hr gig. I got there early, set up, and left to find a nice secluded area of the beautiful Royal Palms resort, which looks like an elegant hacienda in Mexico. There I relaxed for 15 minutes adn studied the 1st Prelude of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. I love Bach!

When I returned to my equipment, there were several people sitting at the bar--an audience. I sat down and began to play, and they all looked to see me, then turned back to their drinks. one young man, an old man, and two slightly older black gentlemen. As I played, I watched a scene at the bar unfold--a girl came and started talking to the two black gentlemen, and got excited. Although I couldn't really hear, from the way she was talking I put two and two together and decided I thought they were blues musicians from a blues festival that I knew was going on.

Now--I have suffered from stage fright all my life, and having a musician sitting there while you are playing is doubly stresseful. You have to be on your best behavior! I finished my song, and started playing Romanza, and one of the men, wearing a flowery blue shirt, stuck his head up and yelled "That's my favorite song! That one took me a year to learn!" I smiled and figured he was a sax player or something, which did make it easier on me after all.

I played on, feeling a little pressure because when musicians are playing you know they are going to know if you mess up! A few songs in, the blue shirt guy stuck his head up again. "Young man, I just want you to know I am listening--I may be talking, but I haven't missed a single note! In fact, I know you messed up about 8 bars ago! Just kidding!"

It went on like this.. I played Manana de Carnaval. At the end of it, he stuck his head back again. "I love that song! It was written by my great friend Luis Bonfi. We were hanging out one time in LA and the police pulled us over and took their guns out at us!"

At the end of the set, I turned on the background music, and went to say hi to the guys. The guy in the blue shirt said, "What kind of instrument you got over there? LEt me see it!" I brought over the Francisco Navarro. "Is this your main instrument?" "No, just a gig guitar."

He took the guitar, balanced it on his knee, almost flamenco style, and proceeded to play the HELL out of it. Obviously he was a jazz guitarist of incredible proportions, whizzing up and down and playing more chords in two seconds than I would play in two minutes, punctuating and connecting them with "picado" runs, very fast, that he somehow executed with his thumb!

The other man started singing in a deep and mellifluous voice, and the blue shirted guy accompanied him--some jazz standard I vaguely recognized. I sat there with a frozen smile on my face, my eyes just staring at his hands as he played the guitar like I wished I could, the ther guy sinigng so sweet and soulfully. They had everyone's attention and I found myself wishing I could sit down and listen to them play for hours. I got that spine-tingling sensation of watching a true master at work.

After they finished, the blue shirted guy was raving about my guitar. I told him it was a Navarro from paracho, and that actually my friend MOnty had some others he could sell it to him. I gave him my card and told him to call me and I could hook them up.

"What a great instrument! What a nice neck on this thing... Miguel de Maria, huh? Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you," I said, feeling a little silly, "What's your name again?"

"George Benson, man!"

I had slightly suspected that this was the man. But he looked too young, in his forties it seemed. Anyways, he aged well! We chatted a little longer. I was trying to tell him about Monte's band, and he said, "Okay, I'll give you a call and we can go see him together sometime!"

The next set was infinitely harder. The first set I knew there were musicians were around...the second set I knew George Benson was around...and listneing to every note! I calmed myself by saying that I can't be George Benson, all I can play is play like myself. So, I got through it.

George was very complimentary of my right hand technique, mentioning it several times. When I played a bulerias, he was in wonder and wanted to know what the second chord is... I had to show it him slowly, I guess because it was so weird and nonsensical to a jazz musician (You know, the Bb7 chord with the barre lifted so the g and e is open). "This man's giving me a guitar lesson," he hooted loudly and jovially. I wished he would show me some stuff!

I said, "Didn't Tomatito show you that?" and he said, "No, he didn't show me that one!!" He seemed thrilled that I had heard him play on Tomatito's album, and wanted to know if I really liked it or not. Actually, I didn't like it that much but I didn't say so. "I didn't think it was that good," he said, "I thought it sounded weird when I played there. He just kind of sprung it on me!!"

Well, eventually George and his friend (Freddy Cole, brother of Nat King, it turns out!) left.... and the lounge was pretty empty. I played another set or two, while one couple was there and clapped enthusiastically. That was nice.

At the end of the night, they left and I said goodbye. The man introduced himself to me and gave me his card. "we really enjoyed your music. I'm a movie producer. If you ever do any composing, and are interested in working in the movies, give me a call!"

I said hell yeah I'm interested! It's a good thing I have been working on my composing lately.

Anyways, that must have been one of the more interesting gigs I've ever had!

Kate -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 16:24:12)

Wow great story, I love George Benson.


Mark2 -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 16:33:57)

Awesome Miguel-that's what it's all about! Those kinds of experiences are the payback for all your hard work. Great story!

sorin popovici -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 16:59:58)

Damn , u know George Benson ? Cool man ...can I tell to my friends that I have a friend that knows George Benson ?

flyeogh -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 17:03:23)

Just to let you know I read all your gig reports/stories. The're interesting, entertaining and even a beginner like me can extract useful info as well. Keep up the good work (and keep us up-to-date with the movie career). It is appreciated[:)]

Florian -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 17:25:46)

Thats brilliant Miguel make sure you take advantage of that !

ToddK -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 18:56:43)

WOW!!! That guy is a true guitar GOD.

My fingers would have siezed right up in front of him!!

You're right, a very special gig indeed!


gerundino63 -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 19:46:31)

Great story Miguel!

When do you write yout first book?

The way to make a movie from it lies in front of you!


sorin popovici -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 19:59:38)

that's a good observation .....the man has some good storytelling skills(I hope this is still english )

Ron.M -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 20:43:51)

Wow Mike,
These adventures of yours get more and more extreme!
There's gotta be a couple of Gods smiling upon you from above!
If you see an ancient, grey haired crone at one of your concerts here in Europe, please don't dismiss me offhand, but look a little closer and perhaps sign sign my walking stick?[:D]
Wishing you all the luck Mike!



Mark2 -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 20:55:32)

Speaking of GB, he was a very respected straight ahead jazz player before becoming famous as a singer-guitarist with "Masquarade" and "On Broadway" I have a few lp's where he just plays guitar and he smokes. After his huge success, he got heat from some jazz purists. He came out and said something like "Why do you think what I do is so important that I should sacrifice my family's well being?" My respect for him shot up even more. What an incredible talent. Has anyone been able to improvise so fluidly while scatting at the same time? What an ear it takes to do that!!

Miguel de Maria -> RE: A special gig... (May 10 2005 21:27:02)

His ears have ears. It's amazing seeing him at work, the levels of complexity of what he must be thinking!

aloysius -> RE: A special gig... (May 11 2005 2:06:57)

Awesome. If that happened to me I'd be ****ting bricks! It's good to know that George seems like a cool dude as well.
- Aloysius

eslastra -> RE: A special gig... (May 12 2005 8:14:58)

That's a great story. Your perseverance is paying off. Who knows who might be in the room on your next gig? PdL, Gerardo, Tomatito......

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