The full story of Craig Davis and the Invaders
On our previous episode…
Dawn Lee had wanted Craig to come play a gig for a series of outdoor concerts. Craig had recorded 3 cd’s but used studio musicians and didn’t really have a band. Dawn Lee said she would find him a band. She called some local musicians to recruit them for the project including Donnie, the keyboard/guitar player for my band. Donnie didn’t really think he was up to it (he underestimates himself) and referred her to me. I was then hired to play keyboards. Turns out, the bass player had a previous engagement so I took over bass guitar and pulled Donnie back in on keys.
Once we started rehearsing Craig wanted me on guitar since that’s my primary instrument and he liked my playing, so I switched to guitar. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a train wreck without some severe and quick organization, so I found myself quickly being appointed the band leader by everyone else involved which was cool with me. The drummer knew a bass player so I called him, and he said that he thought the drummer and him were already booked. I called the drummer, and he didn’t think they were, so he went to sort that out. Turns out they WERE booked, so with only about 3 weeks until our debut gig, and 30 songs to learn we suddenly had no drummer or bass player. I knew of a couple, but there were some conflicts and questions about aspects of their reputations and reliability. However it soon became apparent we had no other choice so I hired them in. I burned CD’s of the set list for everyone, and Craig was driving down from Austin every weekend to practice. We never got to practice with the drummer or bass player but they had the CD’s to learn the tunes. The week of our gig, it was pissing down rain here, and since the venue was outdoors, they decided to postpone the gig until the next week, when my other band was going to play, and then we would just do a big double bill, which was cool for me and Donnie, because that meant we only had to set up once, but got to play and get paid twice. Well, with the gig being moved, our bass player was not available for the new date. This left us with only one choice. The bass player for my other band was in Europe vacationing but would return about a week before the gig. I wrote out all the chords to all 30 songs so he could have some assistance, and when he got back from Europe we had a grand total of 2 rehearsals to run over the 30 tunes we were playing.
Friday November 1. Gig day. 7:00 AM. It’s raining. The drummer calls to see what the plan is. I tell him we’re going through with it one way or another, and that it will probably clear up anyway. I make some calls and find out that we have a back up location in case of rain so all is good. The rain clears up and the weather turns pretty damn nice, so that’s bodes well.
4:25 PM. We are scheduled to set up at 5:00 and start playing at 7:00. The drummer calls me to tell me he’s hung up at work and wants to know if I can get my other band’s drummer to do the gig. I tell him that Craig (the other drummer) has not even ever listened to these 30 original songs. Remember those conflicts and questionable reputations I mentioned earlier? This was what I was referring too. This drummer had developed a big reputation for being very unreliable and flaky, but he had never screwed me before so I didn’t want to be prejudiced against him for things he’d done in the past that didn’t involve me. I was determined to trust him until he gave me, personally, a reason not to. Well here it was. 30 minutes to set up time and he was trying to bail out. I talked with Craig and we both agreed to just do the gig and pray for the best and I told the first drummer to just forget about it, and that Craig would do the gig. For the record, the “work” he was hung up in was actually another gig he had committed to first, then tried to bail out on them to play with me, but then when the other band couldn’t find another drummer they told him “Look, you committed to us first so you need to play with us”. I will not be calling him for any more gigs.
4:30 PM. Craig and I have about 30 minutes to go over 30 songs. He starts making notes as I fast forward the CD’s to major parts in the songs such as “tempo change here”, “half time here”, “different beat here”. We work out some body language signals that I can give him to guide him along so he can watch me for stops, tempo changes, etc., while we’re playing. We end up cramming until about 5:30 then rush to set up. We bring a portable CD player, and thank the gods for the fact that I had thought to burn CD’s of our set list in the exact playing order, because before each song during the gig, Craig puts on the portable CD player and listens to the first 10-15 seconds of each song to get a clue about how it goes. During the gig I’m playing lead guitar parts, singing harmony parts, and simultaneously directing the entire band with signals, gestures, and body language. I feel like I’m walking a tight rope while juggling and spinning plates. The gig actually goes very well, especially considering the bass player has rehearsed a grand total of twice, the drummer has never even heard the songs before that afternoon, and the rest of us only rehearsed maybe 4 or 5 times. It’s rough, but by no means a train wreck. In fact, we come off very well, and end up sounding quite good and impressing a lot of people. We play from 7-9, and then my other band plays from 9-12. The second gig was pure gold. I would rate it as one of our best gigs ever. Everything sounded great everyone played and sang their asses off and it was one of those nights where I impressed myself and couldn’t believe how absolutely incredible this band is. Even despite the fact that is was a bit cold outside that night, we had a good crowd, and put on a hell of a show. By the end of the night me and 3 of the other guys had played a grand total of 5 hours between 2 bands. I went home, showered, and promptly collapsed into a coma like sleep. Yeah, that’s right, I’m a wild rock star. Showers and sleep, baby.
We hope to continue rehearsing and begin playing in Austin and elsewhere. Notlame records has been very good so far and sold a lot of Craig Davis’ CD’s and put him in touch with some good people including the guy who mentioned us possibly playing the International Pop Overthrow Festival in Chicago. Who knows where this might lead. You can go to Notlame Records and search for Craig Davis and listen to some sound clips if you like. Good stuff. I’m quite excited about this project. Maybe we’ll be coming to a city near you soon!