zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Had another of those nights where live music lifted me to that place where i love to be...

Feeling bored, i decided to venture out on a Saturday night for a couple of beers and what i thought would be the usual local fare of listening to boring talk of football and getting hit on by redneck men drunk on Budweiser and testosterone. fortunately, i can say that i got lucky and the evening went otherwise...
On impulse, i went to a pool hall bar that in years past had a reputation as a place of barroom brawls ... what the hell, i was feeling adventurous and wanting to break my boredom, so why not check the place out. upon entering, i was surprised when asked to pay a $3 cover charge. i was delighted to discover that i had chanced upon one of the rare occasions to hear live music in this near music-barren town. woohoo! what a great unexpected treat to break my boredom.
I gladly paid the $3 charge to hear 'Free Shots', the talented cover band who i had the good fortune of hearing for the first time a couple of weeks or so ago (see 20 november 2005 entry of this blog).
It was a great evening... the crowd was friendly, happy, dancing and totally into the music, no fights occurred, there was no boring talk of football and everybody was very warmly socializing and interacting with each other. there was no negative vibe in the air and it seemed all were having a good time.
It was a very enjoyable 4 hours of hearing great covers of rockin' tunes by a great variety of '70s & '80's bands including (but not limited to) Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Guns 'n Roses, AC/DC, Van Halen, ZZ Top, Golden Earring, Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Eric Clapton, Neil Young... so many great songs. there was even some fun one-hit-wonder songs like Wild Cherry's 'Play That Funky Music' and that 'Jenny 8675309' song (who did that one?). hehee, a highlight for me, personally, was when the two rhythm guitarists and the bass player left the stage area and stood right in front of me playing during the finale.... i felt like they were playing to me and i loved it! :D i guess the evening was as fun for Free Shots as it was for the crowd because the band responded to an encore request before saying goodbye and calling it an evening. there was a nice connection between band and audience, indeed.

A real standout feature of Free Shots is their amazing ability to recreate the illusion that you are hearing the original band perform.... for instance, i can say with absolutely no hesitation that there is no AC/DC tribute band that could out perform Free Shots either musically or vocally. Free Shots do an amazing job of covering all the songs on their extensive playlist, but something uncanny happens when the rhythm guitarist straps on the bass guitar and the bass player takes front stage behind the mic for AC/DC and Guns 'n Roses tunes... i find it incredible that anybody can hit those high notes with such completeness and consistency. wow, gotta hear it to believe it.
I used to (erroneously) think cover bands and the musicians who play in cover bands to be a bit inferior to bands and musicians who play original music. but, my opinion regarding cover bands has been changing over the last few years and experiencing Free Shots is truly reinforcing my growing respect for good cover bands. i'm realizing that good cover band musicians are like good studio musicians.... although under-rated, under-appreciated and under-recognized for their skills and contributions, it takes a lot of talent to effectively duplicate a particular and recognized sound. i asked why Free Shots doesn't perform original music (they are certainly talented enough) and various members of the band said that even though they do write original material they cannot get together to rehearse due to scheduling conflicts with their individual day jobs. further reinforces how skilled these guys are as musicians since they only get together to play when they are working a gig. wow!
The major characteristics that make Free Shots so successful and incredibly appealing as an act is the versatility among the members as far as the ability to play multiple instruments and their diversity of vocal range and confidence to do lead vocals. it's this aspect of multiple skills that sets Free Shots apart from other cover bands that i've heard and lends them the freedom to cover songs of a great spectrum of bands..... this diversity and the fact that they've got an awesome lead guitarist who knows how to use a fretboard well beyond amateur status.
I've always been a drummer & bass player kinda fan, but i do appreciate good guitar playing when i hear/see it. and, Free Shots has one helluva lead guitarist, J.Z. Lucas... quite accomplished at playing in a clean, fast style using tapping and legato to capture and captivate. J.Z.'s skill definitely plays a big part in Free Shots' ability to cover songs by Van Halen and other high profile rock-guitar bands that most cover bands might be hesitant to attempt. interestingly enough, J.Z. plays left-handed guitar even though he is right-handed! ? [gotta find out more about how this came about next time i see them play!] truly amazing stuff. keeping true to the versatility that sets Free Shots apart, J.Z. plays more than lead guitar... he also plays keyboard, and, [this is my favorite part!], he plays drums, too. i'm not sure why, but to the music fan inside me there is something especially captivating about an accomplished tapping-and-legato-playing guitarist who can also pick up drumsticks and play a drumkit with skill.
Anyway, i'm happy to have found a good band to look forward to hearing from time to time since moving back to this hick hometown of mine. it's really reassuring to me that i'm not the only one around here that loves music and finds a way to pursue the passion while holding down a day job... i may not have the talent to play, but i do have the appreciation for how music touches and moves the soul. my contribution to the whole music vibe is to be a fan... and i'm looking forward to the next time i can see/hear Free Shots play, again :)

Btw, another cool thing about that unexpectedly fun Saturday night was the fact that during the evening we got our first real snow of the season... my first snow in 12 years since returning from living in Florida. it was pretty to see the snow falling and refreshing to feel the snowflakes on my face. there was already about 2 inches (5 centimetres) of snow on the ground and it was my first time to drive on snow in 12 years. i made it home without incident feeling quite content with the events of the evening. lol, but, the next day i suffered when i had to shovel the snow from the front walkway of my apartment :p


  1. Good of you to share another story. Nice bands are always a good find...

    i regularly check your blog, however.. been a bit busy... so not to many comments there..

    keep up the work (update more regularly ;))

  2. Hoi Prof. :)
    it's a busy time of year for everybody, so it's really nice to hear from ya.
    heeheehe, i'll try to find some more interesting stuff in my life to write about.... but, seems i'm in a drought as for as inspiration :(
    ironically enough, i have been feeling somewhat inspired to write about about how uninspiring returning 'home' after 15 years away has been for me....

  3. Will look out for your inspiring story about the uninspiring return... that should be one hell of a story to read ;).. wonder how you'll manage it..

  4. heheee, ok Prof., will try to find time to write about how i can feel inspired by the uninspiring... kinda curious to see how i'll manage it, too! :p

  5. Tommy Tutone did the 8675309 song you referred to.

  6. oh, yeah, Tommy Tutone, that's it! thanks, James! was hoping a reader could help me out with that music trivia :)

  7. I worry about people who find HL amusing...I mean, I'm his biggest fan, sure...but we all know I'm unstable.

    Good to meetcha and good to know there are people out there LOOKING for good music. Grin.

  8. donna.. 20 day's and no update.. everything allright? merry x-mas to you and have a good 2006 filled with lots of blogging..

  9. aaaw, Prof., thanks for missing my updates :) everything's ok, just not much interesting happening in my life at the mo... guess i've been given more incentive to make that next trip that i cannot stop thinking of so i will have sumthin' inspiring to write about.... hehehee, or maybe i will pursue the theme of being inspired to write about how uninspiring moving 'back home' is for me.

    i wish you and yours a very merry christmas, happy holidays and a wonderful New Year 2006 filled with good health, properity, happiness, fun and adventure!