Funny PRS Sighting

Proteus

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I spent the weekend at the Abbey Road on the River festival across the river from Louisville; if you're not familiar, you might surmise from the name that it's a Beatles thing. But it's expanded to encompass all the music of the 60s, much of the 70s, and a bit into the 80s.

Lots of Beatle cover bands, of course, from wig-and-suit bands of all Beatle eras (fewer wigs than in past years, I think), but also non-costume outfits that just play Beatles, some faithfully, others in reimagined arrangements. Usually a "real-thing" headliner or two from the era, some with few original members, others with more.

Probably 20-30 bands this year. You see a lot of gear. The most faithful Beatleers wield period-correct actual Beatle-associated instruments (some in original form, others reissue): Gretsch Jets, Gents, and Tennies; Rickenbacker 325s (and 4001 bass); Rocky-painted Strats, Casinos (both sunburst and stripped-to-natural, as the era dictates), an SG. No doubt a rosewood Tele for the Rooftop Concert set (though I can't confirm it). The players range from 20-something to old as the hills, but most of the cover bands try to stick to at least the look of the period instruments. You don't expect to see PRS.

But it turns out the actual bands-full-of-old-guys don't care about period correctness. So it was that headliners the Cyrkle ("Red Rubber Ball," "Turn Down Day"), took the stage with decidedly modern instruments. 79-year old lead singer/guitarist/head man Don Dannemann played a Jackson; another guitarist sported a Parker Fly - and the lead guy (probably a hired gun, but no spring chicken) played an SE Custom 22 Semi in Santana Yellow. Sounded good!
 

Stray Strummer

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For some reason the coming "This Is Spinal Tap 2" jumped into my brain reading the last paragraph. I thought there was an age limit on being allowed on stage with a Jackson.

I'm stunned to learn that the Cyrkle is still together and making music. I still have the 45 that I bought when Red Rubber Ball came out. Geez, that had to be 50-some years ago!
 

Proteus

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I thought there was an age limit on being allowed on stage with a Jackson.

You'd hope so, wouldn't you?

I'm stunned to learn that the Cyrkle is still together and making music. I still have the 45 that I bought when Red Rubber Ball came out. Geez, that had to be 50-some years ago!

I'm not sure the Cyrkle is "still" together, but at least some of the originals are together again (along with hired guns), and have been for a few years. Or, rather, they're together for the purposes of such appearances. I'm not expecting any new studio work. And yeah, RRB was 1966. 50-some for sure.

The first song of their set was as expected - ie, the second-highest selling of their two most memorable hits, saving Wed Wubber Ball for last. The second song was a teeth-kicking, accurate, and soulful version of Blood Sweat & Tears' "Vehicle" featuring the keyboard player on vocals. He hit unbelievable notes. Figured he must've been a younger fill-in, but turned out he was the original. Monster organ stuff out of his modern keyboard, too. Impressive performances that give me hope for the encroaching golden years, and encouragement to get my voice (such as it is) working again.

Tommy James & the Shondells were the other headliner (other than The Fab Four, who were).

It's funny how all the "tribute" bands try to be faithful to the instruments, arrangements, tones, and even sonic surface of the originals - but Old Guys Still Doing It have no such respect. James & Co weren't exactly up to date in texture, timbre, arrangement, and general drive - but they had by no means stopped evolving in the 60s. Sounded more like a mid-70s hard rock band. Songs were faster, harder, and crunchier than in the original versions, with screamin' leads. "Mony Mony" became an extended jam with long meandering solos for everyone.

They also brought the once-standard heavy artillery of stadium rock: TWO SVT rigs for the bassist, TWO Marshall half-stacks for one of the guitarists, and an actual B3 with Leslie cab. Bass and guitar probably didn't even need to be mic'ed, but of course they were. Thunder and lightning. I was aware that it could be the last time I ever hear that iron deployed in earnest. Pretty magnificent.

But it also seemed anachronistic.
 
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aamefford

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You'd hope so, wouldn't you?



I'm not sure the Cyrkle is "still" together, but at least some of the originals are together again (along with hired guns), and have been for a few years. Or, rather, they're together for the purposes of such appearances. I'm not expecting any new studio work. And yeah, RRB was 1966. 50-some for sure.

The first song of their set was as expected - ie, the second-highest selling of their two most memorable hits, saving Wed Wubber Ball for last. The second song was a teeth-kicking, accurate, and soulful version of Blood Sweat & Tears' "Vehicle" featuring the keyboard player on vocals. He hit unbelievable notes. Figured he must've been a younger fill-in, but turned out he was the original. Monster organ stuff out of his modern keyboard, too. Impressive performances that give me hope for the encroaching golden years, and encouragement to get my voice (such as it is) working again.

Tommy James & the Shondells were the other headliner (other than The Fab Four, who were).

It's funny how all the "tribute" bands try to be faithful to the instruments, arrangements, tones, and even sonic surface of the originals - but Old Guys Still Doing It have no such respect. James & Co weren't exactly up to date in texture, timbre, arrangement, and general drive - but they had by no means stopped evolving in the 60s. Sounded more like a mid-70s hard rock band. Songs were faster, harder, and crunchier than in the original versions, with screamin' leads. "Mony Mony" became an extended jam with long meandering solos for everyone.

They also brought the once-standard heavy artillery of stadium rock: TWO SVT rigs for the bassist, TWO Marshall half-stacks for one of the guitarists, and an actual B3 with Leslie cab. Bass and guitar probably didn't even need to be mic'ed, but of course they were. Thunder and lightning. I was aware that it could be the last time I ever hear that iron deployed in earnest. Pretty magnificent.

But it also seemed anachronistic.
A real Hammond with a Leslie! It takes a guy on each corner to move one of those things! (I know this from experience). And then 2 or 3 of you have to back for the Leslie…. Good gracious that’s ambitious.
 

Proteus

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The B3 is a beast, no doubt.

Can its function be substituted by lighter gear? Absolutely. In a band mix, any polysynth since the 80s will have sounds that are faithful enough, and any number of dedicated digital boxes will get you there.

The best of the modern B3 emulations also satisfy, even on close listening, when recorded. Dirty keys and contacts, vagaries in percussion, internal self-noise, tuning discrepancies, the drawbars (of course) have all been faithfully reproduced. Their Leslie modeling even works when listening with headphones. Some Leslie pedals (or rotating speaker algorithms in modelers) even get the job done - if you're listening to them amplified through a sound system, or on a large stage, they're there. (That is, it sounds as good as it does when recorded.)

But there's the crux of it. Special as the tonewheel sound of a B (and other Hammond series) is, it's only part of the whole experience. It's the Leslie that really spins up the magic. NOTHING I've heard can fully duplicate the complexity of a rotating speaker as the ears hear it when in close proximity. The singularity and richness of that experience doesn't survive post amplification or recorded reproduction, at least not in mere stereo. (Surround might get there - I don't have any experience with that.) There's just so much going on, the slight doppler pitch shift of various frequencies, the omni-dimensional swirl. I don't think mics get it all, at least not in a way that stereo reproduction can capture. Takes a pair of ears, in a head, in the room with it.

It's kinda one of audio life's unique and inimitable experiences. I'm sure every organist who managed to wrangle a Hammond and a Leslie from place to place absolutely thought it was worth it. Their bandmates and/or roadies? Maybe a little less so.
______

Likewise SVT. In the early-mid 80s I was in a band which practiced in the bassist's basement (bassment?) - actually more like a cellar. Rickety steps from the kitchen with a landing in the middle and a 90° change of direction. Sweating concrete block walls, damp brick floor apparently with dirt for mortar, low ceiling joists, big old furnace with all the huge ductwork, bare bulbs dangling. Dank crawling basement smell.

And, of course, he could use nothing but an SVT, with both 8-10 cabinets and the 90 lb head. For practice, just one cab. (The bass? Ric 4001, of course.) I don't think the cab would have made the turn at the stairs landing, and none of us would have trusted the stairs to bear the weight of cab and carrier together.

So he had busted out enough concrete blocks from a wall at the front of the basement, below the sill plate, to fit the cabinet through, when lying on its back. Dug a sufficient trench through the dirt under the front porch, cut out and hinged a section of the lattice under the front porch. The whole band had to show up on gig days to load gear (including PA). We'd hoist the 8-10 coffin up through the hole in the wall, where its wheels would rest on the plywood runner which paved the trench, and push the cab forward under the porch. Someone at the other end would retrieve it and pull it across the ivy-covered embankment, down the rise to the sidewalk, and across to the waiting Dodge van.

We really wanted to play those lousy gigs.
 
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Doug B

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Another thing about an un-mic'ed in-the-room Leslie - that beautiful swirliness fills the room, bouncing off the walls, etc. A mic'ed Leslie can *sound* good, but you won't get that 3-D swirliness with just stereo. Like Proteus said, maybe surround sound will get you partially there.

Man, I wish I still had my Leslie.
 

aamefford

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Lol! I once saw a southern rock band load a B3 and Leslies up three stories on a fire escape stairway.
Wow. OMFG is all I can say. Beast doesn’t begin to cove Hammond B3. The evil part of me would like to watch that. The stupid part of me would make me try to help….
 

Daveporter33765

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Lol! I once saw a southern rock band load a B3 and Leslies up three stories on a fire escape stairway.
Many gigs were held in upstairs clubs in the 1960s in the North East US. In those days, when I was young and stupid, my band mates and I lifted a Hammond C3 plus a Leslie plus a Fender Bassman Amp, a VOX AC30, and two Lansing Voice of the Theater PA cabinets up 2 and 3 flights of stairs every weekend. By the time we were set up we were bushed! What an ordeal that was! lol

Interestingly the keyboard player for one of the bands playing at Abby Road on the River this year, Union Jack, was the band mate that owned and played the C3 and Leslie in those days! Union Jack is a great British Invasion cover band. They have also been booked to play at the International Beatleweek 2022 in Liverpool England.
 
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sergiodeblanc

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Many gigs were held in upstairs clubs in the 1960s in the North East US. In those days, when I was young and stupid, my band mates and I lifted a Hammond C3 plus a Leslie plus a Fender Bassman Amp, a VOX AC30, and tow JBL Voice of the Theater PA cabinets up 2 and 3 flights of stairs every weekend. By the time we were set up we were bushed! What an ordeal that was! lol

Interestingly the keyboard player for one of the bands playing at Abby Road on the River this year, Union Jack, was the band mate that owned and played the C3 and Leslie in those days! Union Jack is a great British Invasion cover band. They have also been booked to play at the International Beatleweek 2022 in Liverpool England.
Yeah, I mean… I was watching them because I was at the bottom of the fire escape with my bass amp. :(
 

Daveporter33765

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You must have been smarter than me…I was one of the younger band members and was always conned into being on the load-in and load-out team! lol
 

Proteus

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Oh yeah, the fire escape load-ins and outs. There were too many.

Or three interminable flights of traffic-worn interior steps to "ballrooms" with creaking hardwood floors, high stages with no steps (because they were blocked by the bingo machine or the fraternal organization's event popcorn trolley), constant haze of blue cigarette smoke, bored and indifferent "audiences" of drinkers who'd tired of their own company decades earlier, requests to turn down before we'd set up ... WTH was wrong with us?

Played for awhile with a guy who flat refused to help with any load-in/out - nor did he expect help with his gear: a Les Paul in one hand and a Fender Super Reverb (the original tube variety) in the other. He was shorter than me - which means he HAD to exercise his arms to lift the amp up high enough to even clear the ground, whereas I could leave my arm at full extension and just lean over a little to haul my Bandmaster cab), and I once saw him sling the amp up over the closed tailgate of his Ford pickemup truck (in the vernacular of the time and place). Dude was a force of nature (and the best Allman Brother country rocker I ever played with).

The image of outside fire escapes made me think of him. Flashes of an Eagles/Elks/American Legion/whatever gig in a small Ohio River town, bleak November, spittin' wintry mix, potholed alley to get to the back of the venerable old pile of bricks...and the fire escape snaking up to the top floor, glistening and sweaty in the visible atmosphere. Black Les Paul in black Les Paul case in one hand, Fender in the other, up he went, smoking a Marlboro. Epic.

(I feel like Rutger Hauer at the end of Bladerunner: "I've seen things you humans can't imagine. Troop ships off the arm of Orion...")

Yeah, ok, sorry. I'll let myself out.
 

Daveporter33765

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It’s amazing how many of us (now all old-farts) played the same gigs at the same venues only they were a thousand miles apart. I was playing these gigs in Massachusetts and New York in the 60s and 70s. I remember all too well why we played them…an agent told us we had to pay our dues before we would move up to the big time. By the mid-70s I had moved on to session work and engineering and left live gigs behind…until about 10 years ago when I got the urge again to play live gigs to relive my youth! lol
 
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