Anthony Jay Houston

My Weekend with Andy & Jo

My Weekend with Andy & Jo

This past weekend I had the pleasure to play with two of my good friends, Andrew D. Huber and Jo Marie Sison for a great pair of shows. For those who haven’t caught a glimpse of Mercury Gets a Moon, it’s Andy’s latest album and you can hear Jo and I on most of the tracks. I’ve been playing shows with Andy for about 4 years now since I moved back to Illinois, and I am always thrilled to work on new projects.IMG_7928

Friday night, the three of us found ourselves at “4th Fridays” at the Starline Gallery out in Harvard. This monthly event features local artists showcasing their work, and it is always hugely impressive! The first time I played here was with THE Potts & Pans Trio back in 2013. Since, I’ve been back a few times doing solo vibes, a duo with Matt (P&P), and then a duo with Andy. This week was the second time for Andy, Jo & I appearing at the Starline as the trio, and we were stationed in a new upstairs section. The 4th Fridays experience seems to grow everytime I’m there. This month had a steam punk theme, and the costumes were amazing. Although we were just in our regular digs, I definitely was motivated to start playing Theif! again :)

IMG_7941Saturday was another return performance for the three of us, this time out at the Buzz Cafe. The night started off with a Mexican Spice Mocha for me, and a macaroon for Andy (hailed by Jo’s Mom to be the greatest of all macaroons!) We had a few patrons stick around for most of the show, and Christina (P&P) made it out and snagged a performance pic for us! I’ve really gotten some great mileage out of my new cajon by The Box Kit since I purchased it earlier this year, and I am really excited to continue exploring the instrument and our trio’s sound. Be sure to follow me on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with upcoming performances 😀

–AJH

Ursäkta mig! Time to Talk Steelpan

Ursäkta mig! Time to Talk Steelpan

Potts & Pans frequently gets invited to cultural events. We’ve been known to play at general cultural fairs and parades, frequently have performed at Caribbean festivals, and have even found our way into repeated Oktoberfest events. Yesterday, we were thrilled to be part of the Swedish Cultural Society of Chicago’s October Meeting.

After club organizer Per-Hugo Kristenssen saw us perform at the Park Ridge Library, he contacted Matt and was excited to have us play for the Society. Matt and I had the plan together for our regular Potts & Pans duo performance, but as we so often do, realized a way to make the performance even better for our client. Anna “Cammie” Howell, member of our community band who you may remember from GLSF15 performing “Song of Sunrise” with the P&P Professional group, is half Swedish! She also happens to be a rather accomplished uker. All in all, Anna was the perfect way for us to fill out a trio for the Swedish Society. So, as Matt and I were heading out to our various performances on Saturday (Matt had a wedding, and I was playing Timpani in Libertyville), I called Anna and asked if she would be available for a performance with Matt and I the next day. An hour later, she stepped up and said she was good to go – Three cheers for Cammie!IMG_7914

That being said, there’s a reason one of our Community Band hashtags is #cammiefreaksout. When she first arrived to the shop in the morning, Matt and I were bombarded with a long and exaggerated explanation of why she chose black skirt over black pants for the performance. We were able to calm her down and discussed instrumentation options. Anna would stay on Uke, while Matt and I traded sets between Cajon & Seconds. And although it remains that #cammiefreaksout, she did an excellent job jumping in on all of our music in a single rehearsal.

And off to Chicago we went! The Swedish Cultural Society meets monthly at the Irving Park Lutheran Church. This church was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows and an elaborate marble carving made standing in the sanctuary a stunning experience. Upstairs in the reception room, we set up for our performance, while the Society set up for their meeting. Amongst their set up stood a full size United States flag, next to the Swedish flag. Per-Hugo knew the history of these particular flags and told us how that US flag had been flown over the capital building in Washington, and the Swedish flag was personally delivered to the Society by the King of Sweden!

IMG_7912Before our performance, the Society held their monthly meeting, going over financial details and discussing future events. The meeting was flavored with historical stories that Per-Hugo was well versed in. It quickly became clear that he was quite educated in both US and Swedish history, along with most countries that have interacted with either nation! It’s not every gig that comes with a free history lesson – anyone wanting to learn some should check out the Swedish Cultural Society’s next meeting on November 1st!

Once it was time for our performance, we brought in a few history lessons of our own. The Society was thrilled to hear how the steelpan came to its invention in Trinidad & Tobago, and how the instruments are built and tuned. We played calypsos, socas, american rock, jazz standards and bossa charts. We set up my Cajon from TheBoxKit, along with both our sets of seconds with the uke inbetween. The members asked us questions throughout, and were pleasantly interested in the information we had to share, as well as pleased with the music we had to play. Per-Hugo shared more about the countries he’s studied or the stories he’s heard, and then Anna taught Matt and I a few words in Swedish!

The performance ended and we enjoyed coffee and light Swedish fare while getting to talk with the members a bit more about our music as well as the dealings in the Swedish Cultural Society. Overall this performance was a wonderful trade in knowledge, and having such an attentive audience who enjoyed our music so much made it even better.

10.4 Swedish Gig

On the way home we stopped at Olive Garden, a band favorite due to Matt and my own love of endless breadsticks, and grabbed dinner for the three of us. Excellent performance finished, we were again reminded how #cammiefreaksout, only this time we witnessed her go into an endless stream of helpless laughter! Regardless, dinner was a delicious end to a wonderful performance. We went home, and are looking forward to our next adventure. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss all the action!

Until next time,

AJH

August with Potts & Pans

August with Potts & Pans

Summers with Potts & Pans are fantastic! We have so many things going on, that often Matt, Christina and Myself have to split up responsibilities and spread out to cover multiple shows at once! During the month of August, I was able to take lead or do solo performances for a number of really cool gigs. Some of these were private events, but if you missed any of the public ones, you should probably LIKE us of facebook to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore :)

 

WEDDINGS!

Capture2Potts & Pans does a lot of weddings. We offer cocktail hours, reception music, ceremony music, DJ services, or anything else you need to make your wedding the perfect day! We’ll also match your colors, as we have shirts in almost every shade. For me, I had two weddings in August that were both AWESOME! Capture3First up, I went up to the Abbey Resort in Fontanta on Lake Geneva. After our many trips up here to play at Gordy’s Boat House, it was fun to see a bit more of the town. I was happy to work with the Bride, Ashley, to prepare everything for their cocktail hour. This was an outdoors performance playing solo steelpan. I brought my double seconds, and of course, used my 4 PP8b8CF blues from the Steelpan Store (definitely my favorite mallet for seconds!) The big surprise was Ashley wanted me to learn a few Mumford & Sons tunes to play. We are always happy to learn new music for our clients, so when she asked if I could play any Mumford, I looked some up, and put together this quick sample using my iPhone and she loved it. So I got a list of 6 Mumford tunes, mixed it in with some of our Caribbean favorites, and the cocktail hour was a success. To add to the fun, when I got out of my car I noticed I was parked next to a Felix & Fingers car! Mike and Emily were also at the Abbey playing for the reception of another couples wedding. That’s right, we’re taking over!

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The following weekend, I was back in Wisconsin, but this time went all the way up to Kohler. I took our Van, Lolita, who is guarded by Clifford. Look out for the #CliffordGoes hashtag to see where he’s off to next! IMG_7577I had worked with the bride, Cindy, for a long time putting together her wedding. Potts & Pans was there for the entire event. First, I played some solo double seconds for the ceremony down by the lake. The weather was beautiful, and the service was barefoot and flawless. The main attraction was the trio, in which I was joined by P&P members Emily and Aras for a Steelpan/Vibes/Drum group, and we played for a cocktail double hour before dinner. During dinner my guys were able to catch some delicious sandwiches (mine was patiently waiting for me to eat it later), while I went inside for some more solo seconds during the dinner time. With all the moving from place to place to play, the whole night went super smoothly and I was thrilled at the reactions I was hearing from all the guests. One even referred to me as “Joe Locke!” Flattering, undeserved, but still super awesome to hear 😀 After dinner, I rejoined the team and we did another hour of trio work for the final portion of the reception. We were able to grab a nice photo with the couple and our instruments, and talk with some guests afterwards. The couple has always loved the Caribbean and having the steelpan at their wedding was the “perfect addition to the day.” Add on the facts that all of their IMG_7578guests were super polite, receptive to the music, the venue was gorgeous and the weather was ideal, this was a truly enjoyable performance.IMG_7590
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANNUAL SHOW!

Capture4Another particularly exciting show for me last month was my return to the Anvil Club. Last year I performed for their Luau Pig Roast, and everyone loved it, so they had me come back this year! The food, as anticipated, was expertly prepared, and the event was another success. They had door prizes of wine and gift cards, and the guests got to enjoy the beautiful decorations, delicious food, and the great sounds of double seconds throughout the night. Although we had a rainy end to the day, it held off until right at the end of the event, so all the guests had a great time, I just got a little wet while loading my car!

NICHOLAS CONSERVATORY & GARDENS!

This place is awesome! This was the site of my first duo gig with Potts & Pans. This has been the site of a number of great solo, duo, and community band performances. The venue is awesome! If you live anywhere near northern Illinois and you haven’t seen their Green House you need to go immediately! Furthermore, they host a weekly event over the summer called “Tunes on the Terrace” and this year I had two different shows during August. Being able to split roles, I did a full night of Steelpan,Capture5 IMG_7564showcasing its versatility as a solo instrument, it’s ability to perform a wide variety of musical styles, and discuss a bit of its rich, and very very recent history. Later in the month, I returned for a full night of solo vibraphone. This time I focused on Jazz tunes, playing standards in the standard style, mixing in a few newer elements, and even performing a few originals. Both shows were attened by a large and appreciative audience. For the vibraphone show, I was thrilled to hear a lot of “you should’ve seen this guy last time — he plays steelpan!” while I was setting up. I also got to meet a fellow vibes player and world war II vet, Dick, at the vibraphone performance and share stories of moving these things around and playing combo gigs. This was definitely a great way to close out the month for me, and I can’t wait to head back to the gardens next season.

 

That’s all for now folks,

 

AJH