How do I begin to describe the live performance video shoot last Sunday?
First of all you have to realize that my calling in life, and how I pursue it makes me, by necessity, a man with split personality syndrome. Often mistakenly called “schizophrenia” (thank you, Ari Shagal, for clarifying for me LOL); split personality is more like when the different voices in your head, that we all have, become actual personalities. I feel, when I assess these Coyote projects that we pull together, like each of my roles/personalities has a different take on the same event. So I’m gonna go with that, and share each personality’s point of view about the shoot (feel free to skip to the personality that works for you)…
First: “The Producer”
The Producer has a vision. Once the project is done, he’s got a list of pros and cons in his head as to what was accomplished given the time, budget, and personnel available.
The vision achieved? I’d say we pulled off quite a miracle considering our indie budget. On the one hand, we lost two crewmembers on the day of the shoot, on the other hand we had Ruthie Turk. She is the woman responsible for the video facility, the extra cameras, and the lighting. She even (on her own) shot a camera angle for us, and went to town TWICE to get food and drink for the band, half of which she donated. Our production has the Ruthie Turk fingerprint all over it.
Our video expert, Atom Fellows, got a 5-camera shoot out of hope and faith, so I’ll take the craft service table in the background of the video…at least we have 5 angles of it. LOL. Yes as a producer, I will always wish certain things were different, but I’m pretty happy we got what we did.
Band Leader/Music Producer:
Now that’s a totally different guy. The band leader/music producer is only thinking about a) how well everyone performs and sounds as individuals and b) how well the band sounds as a group (what the listener will hear in its totality). And fortunately, the band sounded great. I really have to shout out Sergio Bustamante, and Dan Yeager specifically, because they traveled a loooooooooooonnnnnng way to play for free for hours and hours. It’s enough to humble a man. Those two are premo horn players. Rach and I are cool with our rocking and honkin on sax and harp and stuff, but those two gave us the real horn section the video needed. Oh my god. Thank you.
The Manager is the guy that makes the phone calls, that organizes the van rental, who finds the studio, who times it all out, who puts the expenses in the ledger, he drives the van, and he’s is the first one up in the morning and last one to bed…the next morning. The manager deals with the different states of health of the members of the band and makes sure they have what they physically need to make it through the session. Ruthie Turk, again, really took on a lot of the management role while we were in the studio (that she, of course…manages). God bless her. Vanessa, our drummer, was unwell with either food poisoning or a tummy virus throughout the day. While she was a super pro, and muscled through the session, having Ruthie and Rachel to help make sure that Vanessa got what she needed to keep going was a real plus.
Ohhh yes, Rachel. Ohhhhh tail wag, yip yip, face lick. The awesomeness and multiple talents of Rach are without ceiling. I tried really hard to let her be a performer and not an unpaid band manager, as much as possible, for the day. Still, she did a LOT more than just play sax and sing. When we were done Rach and the band helped us wrap a mile of cable up and get a lot of equipment back in the right bags and boxes…while she and the band should have been at a bar knocking back a few, waiting for a crew to do the job.
This manager was impressed with the dedication, the absence of Prima Donna attitude, the stamina, the team effort and the musical payoff from these New York musicians. Managing them was a delight. Pats on the back to all!
Coyote. The Singing Performer:
Hmmmmmm. Well as far as vanity…I don’t look like a total nerd, or a complete idiot in the shots, so I’m okay with that part. Wish I could have found the time for a recent haircut, but its only rock-n-roll so fuggit. It’s a very real video and I feel that me and Rachel and the band come across as authentic (her hair rocks, btw). And that was the point of the video. This is the band, as it is now, for real. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t be hiring us. If they do like us, our videos and shows will be the reason why.
The Singing. I’ll probably never be happy with every note I sing on a given production. But I do like showing up and HAVING to nail it as close as you can possibly get on every take. I loved that experience. I had the same glow about me when we recorded “Rainbow” and “WhatUGonnaDo (w/o Soul) on the debut album. Those were straight to stereo recordings. No mixing. We either nailed or failed. And we nailed! So I think experiences like this are ultimately good for the band. Often these days we often forget how to craft great performances in real time rather than via overdubs.
While I was fairly sure that Rachel and I would do well with vocals, we were playing and harmonizing with a drummer who only had two rehearsals with our band ever. And for Kevin, it was diving in and singing and playing bass with one rehearsal and then a video shoot. Listening to the playback, I think it sounds pretty groovy. I planned for 9 hours of rehearsal and as it turned out, as a complete band we got like 3 at the most. So…I’m really in awe of the talent it takes to come in and do that out of left field. You’ll have to let us know how you think it sounds when you see the finished vid.
The technician is happiest making checklist, schematics, stage plots, and equipment lists. He loves the tools of the trade, and loves it when they are being used to their fullest capacity. He’s the guy that loves saying, “I can fix that!” or “I have a backup, don’t worry!” The technician in me was overjoyed. The studio had to be set up and working in 60-90 mins and I’d say that for the most part, between Jonathan, Rachel and I, about 500 feet of cable was laid, patched, and working. There were about 12 mics and stands, a computer, and numerous pieces of rack gear (my favorite vocal compressor the “Distressor” for the vocals was provided by Atom. THANK YOU BUDDY!). This was all interfaced between the Coyote mixer, a PA system, the college’s wall snake (which, thank God, had no bad channels!), and Jonathan Vergara’s Protools set up. If we were one cable or adaptor short, or one battery down etc, we would have lost a channel or an instrument. It was a case of coming with a plan A and a plan B and enough extras to deal with a plan C. The Technician in me had a fucking rocking day and thought the performer, the manager, the producers etc all needed to go and smoke some weed or something and chill the hell out because all the mics and monitors worked and Vanessa had a good headphone mix for the drums.
The Executive Director:
This guy is responsible for keeping Coyote Love Entertainment, LLC afloat and thriving. It is a mixture of accountant and entrepreneur. He deals with the final results of the labors of all other hats, and he not only reports to the government, but to his wife as well.
How did he feel about it? This was an investment that will pay off a lot more than not making this video would have. We spent about 10 times less than we would have had to if we did this in New York City, rented a video studio, 5 HD cams, and a pro lighting package for 10 hours. So from an Executive Director’s point of view, we got maximum value.
And then there is Hank Coyote. The dude. How did he think it went? I had a 21 hr day, and every hour had to be full-on, on point, in every one of the capacities listed above. This was especially challenging in the last 4 hrs, driving in the van when I just wanted it all to be over and I was a physical wreck for days after. Still, I was blown away by the community that came together to make this happen. And I was relieved that everyone got home safely, if a little tired. I love a good story. Having it be mine to tell is icing on the cake.