by Marc Emery – Thursday, July 7 2011
Marc and Jodie, May 30th 2011Saturday July 2nd: I’m so pleased with the prison concert performance by our band “Stuck”! It was 99 degrees out, and flies landed on my nose on four occasions. One time a fly walked up my left arm to my wrist for about two extraordinarily long minutes during a song and I still was able not to be distracted — whew! That sucker would not fly away; I almost thought it might be diggin’ the music. I worked up a real sweat, especially as the afternoon went on.
We got to play much longer than anticipated. We started playing our set of 8 songs at 11:40am and played to 1:00pm, then played the set again from 1:15pm to 2:45pm, almost three hours in the heat outside, and it turned out wonderful! I only lost my way on our first go at Johnny B. Goode, so missed about six measures until I realized where we were. Considering we played every song twice (16 in total), I am feeling really pleased with it.
Terry the leader guitarist, and Grizz, the vocalist and rhythm guitarist, were excellent and said I did fine. In fact, as I performed the afternoon version of Johnny B. Goode the band, without letting me know in advance, doubled the tempo to eight eighth notes from four quarter notes a measure in the last two choruses — a furious pace for me, that they said was my official initiation into the band, and I passed, as I kept up successfully, immediately detecting their mischievousness. Perspiration drops fell on my glasses during that frenetic finale, but I carried on. What a great day for me!!!!!!!
Three hours performing live and loud in a rock and roll band, 45 days after picking up a bass guitar for the first time, and 54 days after picking up a guitar (any musical instrument, for that matter) for the first time in my life. Those four- to five-hour a day practices paid off. I’m so content inside having done it well enough to get the approval of my fellow inmates, and my bandmates whom have 30 years (Grizz), 24 years (Terry), and eight years (Sap, the drummer) experience respectively.
The songs performed were:
Sunshine of Your Love – Cream – 5 minutes
Tightrope – Stevie Ray Vaughan – 7 minutes
Voodoo Child – Hendrix – 18 minute version
Star Spangled Banner – Hendrix – 7 minutes
All Along the Watchtower – Hendrix – 10 minute version
Red House – Hendrix – 18 minute version
Little Wing – Hendrix – 12 minute version
Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry – 9 minute version
As the bassist, my job was to keep up the bass lines, mostly while Terry the lead guitarist did these fabulous virtuoso solos in each song, which were amazing and delighted the audience, and Grizz sang vocals and played rhythm guitar. So I can definitely say my first ever music performance was a tremendously satisfying experience, and nice and long too.
I love playing in a band, especially one with great musicians to mentor me! It’s like a fantasy come true. I’m so gratified Grizz and Terry are happy with my performance and dedication. Yay! for me. I can’t believe I’m in a band! Thanks for everyone’s encouragement!!!! I’m going to relax the next two days. Jodie visits Sunday and Monday, and I’m excited about that!!!
Marc in Yazoo Prison, May 2011For our next concert on the Labor Day weekend, I am already practicing the bass notes to Purple Haze by Hendrix, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, and White Room by Cream. We’ll also be playing Ramble On (Zeppelin), Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix), Black Magic Woman (Santana), Born Under a Bad Sign (Cream), Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits), and Won’t Get Fooled Again (The Who).
Those nine songs will be added to our current repertoire of eight songs to have 16 or 17 songs to play on the Labor Day weekend. Other possibilities are My Head’s In Mississippi by ZZ Top (my favourite ZZ Top song), Turn The Page (by Bob Seger/Metallica), and White Rabbit (by Jefferson Airplane). Sultans of Swing and Won’t Get Fooled Again are fairly complicated, so they may be replaced by others in the “maybe” column if I have too much difficulty with them. But I hope to learn them and be able to play them competently.
All members of the band spend hours a day learning these new songs, together and separately. Our previous drummer, Sap, a very nice guy I enjoyed playing with, agreed to become part of a reggae band but it seems they aren’t coming together, so now we’ve already got a new drummer and that means Sap might be bandless. Damian, our new drummer, is coming along nicely learning the eight songs we’ve already performed, and he is learning the new set list also.
Currently I am reading a biography of Texas blues musicians, and Stevie Ray Vaughan specifically, called Roadhouse Blues. I’m also studying music theory and harmony, learning to read music, understand music theory and how it all works. I passed my GED tests with the highest marks in the class in all subjects, getting close to perfect in all 5 areas. But the tests are shockingly easy, at least for a 53 year old like me who has excellent memory retention.
I have not written any letters to my correspondents, and I feel bad about that, but I spend up to five hours every day practicing the bass, another two to three hours on music theory, and haven’t made time for letter writing. I do appreciate hearing from people, though, as it distracts from the repetitive routines inside prison, so send letters to me at the address posted at www.FreeMarc.ca. Thanks for your support!
MARC EMERY #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY – MEDIUM E-1
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS