I was vacationing in Mexico when I got the text from Caleb in late November 2016. He asked if I would be available to play both the Daytime Emmy awards and the Creative Arts Emmy shows just like I did last year. I told him that I would be ecstatic to do the show again and that he could count me in.
The band, The Remotes plays classic television theme music. Everything from Happy Days to Knight Rider to 227. It's a load of fun playing with these guys. Many of the band members also work in television as a day job and play in The Remotes as an extension of their love for classic TV. The regular bassist, Aaron is an executive producer for the new $100,000 Pyramid. He was producing the show in New York last year and couldn't play the Emmys so the drummer and my friend Jeff Page referred me to cover for Aaron. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up!
Aaron was once again in New York producing Pyramid and I got the call to cover for him again. This time the show was going to be a bigger production, so everyone had to bring their A game.
Early April 2017
Caleb was the musical director and had to write charts for all of the instruments with assistance from RW, the sax player. My reading skills and my ears had to come to the forefront on this gig. Fortunately, I've been reading notation and using charts since high school and I teach all my bass students to read which keeps the skill up. I'm proud to say that I am a solid notation reader.
Some of the charts were open to interpretation. As long as I am tasteful, musical and don't step on anybodys toes I can improvise around the changes as I deem fit. Take a look below:
The chart above is quick, tight and isn't open to interpretation. The one below is a slap free for all and my only obligation was to remain in key and to hit the root on beat one. I have to be versatile enough to do anything that Caleb calls for.
The material we were working on was theme music for the nominated shows and the nominated actors. We also had original short instrumental cues for bringing people on and off the stage. We had two main longer musical numbers, "Seasons of Love" from Rent and "Hallelujah" from Leonard Cohen.
During this time I was a couple of weeks into radiation therapy. I was tired and fatigued but I couldn't let any of my personal health issues affect the rehearsals or slow down the band. We worked diligently on the material and I made sure to practice the cues frequently during my personal practice time.
Wednesday April 26, 2017
We were able to rehearse at The Pasadena Civic Auditorium where both the shows were being held. I was able to leave my bass cab, amp, music and guitar stand there and the crew would set it up for Friday.
Final edits were made to our parts and rehearsed. On Friday it was go time.
Friday April 28, 2017
11:30 AM- Call time for the band. My amp was already set up on the stage and all I had to do was plug my bass in. We had a very professional audio crew that helped us dial in a good mix for our in ear monitors. Our stage crew was top notch and very helpful.
1 PM- Production rehearsal. We didn't run the show from top to bottom, we simply jumped around as needed and played whatever cues were necessary for the segment we were working on. When working on a production like this you get the distinct feeling that you are only one small part of a much larger effort by the production and crew on set. Your ego doesn't matter, you are either helping the process along or you are hindering it. It's not about you, it's about putting on the best show that you can and everyone there is counting on each other to make it work. It's very different that being in a four piece band, it's more like a hundred piece band!
5 PM- Break for lunch and change. The band was ready to go. The Creative Arts Emmy show is never televised but we still wanted to make it the best show possible for the audience in attendance. This show honors the writers and producers of daytime television, those behind the camera that make these shows come to life.
7 PM- The show begins. This show is a four hour endurance event. There are lots of cues and your ability to focus can often be tested. The lifetime achievement award was given to the producer of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, Harry Friedman. Alex Trebek and Pat Sajack were there and we got to walk them onto the stage with their respective show themes, which was way cool. Everyone had a great time and we were pretty toasted by the end of the show.
Saturday April 29, 2017
10 AM- Call time for show rehearsals. We needed to rehearse Sunday's show opener, Seasons of Love and the In Memoriam, Hallelujah. We also needed to rehearse some other show segments.
3 PM- After the band was done rehearsing the soap stars that were singing with us for the show opener arrived. One of my former piano students, Reign Edwards was going to be in the opener. Reign is one of the stars on The Bold And The Beautiful and she has such a great voice, I couldn't wait to share the stage with her! I stayed behind and caught up with her mom, Perita. The actors sounded great and I caught this little vertical video of them singing.
I went home to enjoy the rest of the evening around 5 PM. Tomorrow was the big day...
Sunday April 30, 2017
8:30 AM- Call time. The entire Pasadena Civic Auditorium was all hustle and bustle with activity. I made my way to the stage and set up all of my gear. By 10 AM we were set to run a full rehearsal. The hosts, Mario Lopez and Sheryl Underwood showed up to run their lines. Sheryl was a complete riot and her improv had everyone on set in hysterics! She was great.
After sorting out some audio issues with our monitors we were tirelessly trying to keep up with the production rehearsal. The producers would jump around from segment to segment and we were doing our best to keep up. Sometimes missing a cue or running the same cue over and over again, then suddenly shifting gears to another segment. It's all part of the process, no need to become impatient and lose focus. The show come first and everyone working on set understood that.
3PM- After an exhaustive rehearsal the crew broke for lunch. It's truly amazing the amount of work everyone puts in to a show like this. After we ate we put on the tuxes and got everything together. The band stepped outside to run the show in order looking through our books. I had a good system set up where I used a pen as a bookmark for my very next cue so I was never more than a page turn away from the next number.
4:30 PM- Final preparations were made and we were ready to go. The doors were open and people made their way from the red carpet to their seats. The band got on stage and got ready to perform. I was only nervous enough to ensure that I performed well. I was focused and ready to give everyone my best performance.
5:10 PM The cameras roll. Mario and Sheryl walk out and read their lines and the opener cues up. Four bar piano intro followed by eight bars of vocals, then the drums and bass kicks in. Hal and I lock into an airtight groove and lay a foundation for the entire band. The song goes great and everyone in the audience is impressed by how strong the opener was. I cannot heap enough praise on Caleb for his excellent arrangement and his tireless effort to coordinate a stunning Emmys show opener.
After the opener, it's like I enter a flow state. The show order is on the left side of my music stand and the book is open on the right side. To confirm the next cue, Caleb calls out the next number to the band over his talkback mic. My ears and eyes are open, my only job is to play the bass parts to the best of my ability. It's the place I've worked my entire musical life to get to.
At a certain point in the show, my focus is broken for a split second when I hear a man with a New Orleans accent mention to Mandel, our pianist,
"Mind if I sit in?"
I turn my head to see that it's Harry Connick Jr.
I geek out and say "Hi Harry!" like a goon. Before Mandel can even react Harry walks off with a grin on his face. Half of the band didn't even see him. My own grin takes up the whole bandstand.
The rest of the show goes great. Everyone in the band nails their cues. Some highlights;
- Playing an original tune "Swag Bag" for Larry King's walk up
- Jim O'Hare's speech and the smile he gave to the bandstand
- Walking Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear!) up then Mary Hart up with the "Entertainment Tonight" theme
- Our In Memoriam at 2:10. It was a beautiful arrangement and Max Ehrich brought the audience to tears with his stunning voice
- I won't soon forget playing "Midnight Train to Georgia" for the legendary Gladys Knight
It was such an amazing experience and I am still in awe that it even happened.
It is such a pleasure to work so incredibly hard on a project and then to see all the efforts come to fruition. Thanks to everyone who had a part in putting on such an excellent show! I am eternally grateful for the opportunity.
Come see the Remotes perform at The Federal Bar and Grill on Friday May 26 at 8 PM!
5303 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood CA. They put on a fantastic show. I won't be performing with the band but I'll be there! Here's the Facebook Invite.