Portland Megaband 2024
Rehearsal Report #1
January 7, 2024
We’re off to such a great start. It’s really pretty amazing that a group as big and as varied as ours could play so well together right off the bat. Excellent work, everybody! Thanks so much for your attention and very quick understanding of what we were asking in terms of the music!!
As usual, there is a ton of info to send out in this message. Please read it all. First are some updates since the rehearsal and also things to look for in all the verbiage below:
- T-shirts—Ron Swick has volunteered to create the design, and Syd has once again stepped forward to manage the whole print and distribution schedule. Thank you, Ron and Syd!
- Potluck and session next Sunday 5:00 – 9:00 at Sue and Lanny’s, 4405 SW Redondo Ave, Portland. Test before you come if you plan on not wearing a mask or taking it off to eat.
- Inclement weather. I hope not, but the forecast for this weekend reminded me of that possibility. It is sometimes really hard to decide whether or not we need to cancel, but if it seems likely, I will let you know one way or the other by 10:30 on rehearsal day.
- Opting your contact info out of the band roster. See below.
- The detailed rehearsal schedule is attached to this message. We will now work on the tunes in sets more than as single tunes. The sets are listed in alphabetical order, not in the order we will rehearse them. Please arrange your music in sets and organize the sets so that you can quickly get from one to another.
- Changes to the music. Two tunes only—Old Time Son and Louis Cyr. The updated notation is attached—single tunes and medleys (also updated) are all in one file. The updated Louis Cyr is different than the way we practiced it last Sunday. The dates on these tunes and on the first page of the medley formats should say 1-9-24. The changes are so minor, you can probably just write them into your music instead of reprinting. The easier chords for Reel Béloeil are also attached.
Be sure to read the information about PCDC, grants, and options for playing along and listening to our sets.
There are many references to websites throughout the report below. I am going to send a separate message with links to everything mentioned here. (Including all the links makes this message too cumbersome.)
Hope to see a lot of you this Sunday! If we need to cancel because of snow, I will let you know by 2:00 pm.
Rehearsal Report #1
January 9, 2024
by Erik Weberg
Introductions: Erik Weberg, joint director; Gordy Euler, joint conductor; Bill Tomczak, webmaster; Therese Vogel, recordings assistant; Lisa Scott, keyboard player; eleven new band members and several returning members who have been away for a while.
Parking: Leave spaces out front for those with heavy equipment. Use the Fulton lot or the church lot across the street (unless church is in session).
Instrument Cases: Put your cases along the back of the rehearsal space. Leave the aisles on the sides clear.
No entrance to the classrooms is allowed. It is a breach of our contract with Fulton.
Seating: You can sit anywhere you want during the first four rehearsals. Front rows are reserved, and the front area on the left (as you face the stage) is needed for the miked back up (bass, keyboard, guitar), cello, and percussion.
Bathrooms: Both mens’ and womens’ are down the stairs to the left of the stage (in Fulton)
Covid: Don’t come if you’re feeling sick or test positive. Your choice to test or mask. Testing is on the honor system. Take test kits as you need them and order from the gov.
Products to sell/Announcements: Bring stuff you want to sell or flyers for events. We don’t make any announcements for events or products—just Megaband announcements (which are plenty).
Advance Tickets: After February 1st, band members will be able to buy tickets for family/friends at rehearsal. You will also be able to purchase tickets online on the public Megaband page. The admission price has been set at a suggested price of $25 per person but on a sliding scale of $15 – $40 per person.
Portland Country Dance Community: PCDC sponsors the Megaband dance. There are many reasons to join this organization that supports and promotes traditional music and dance in Portland and near-by areas.
PCDC Grants: PCDC members of six-month duration are eligible for grants to attend music/dance events. These grants are not need based—you need merely to apply for one. Links to PCDC general information, Membership, and Grant Applications are at the very end of this message.
Band Roster: We will have a roster of band members in the next couple of weeks. The roster will include name, instrument, email address, phone number, and zip code. If there is any part of this information you do not want shared, please let Sue know immediately what you do not want shared. The deadline for that is Sunday, January 14. Your name and instrument will still be on the roster. The roster will be shared as an email attachment rather than being posted on the website.
Label your belongings: If you leave something behind, we want to know whose it is—binders, music stands, etc.
- Be on time!
- No tuning or noodling while leaders are speaking
- Read your email and check the web site for much information.
- No unsupervised small children
Observers are ok; no playing along. Observers must follow Covid protocols just as band members do (test or mask).
Learning the Music
Easier versions of many of the tunes will be posted on the web site. If you are having difficulty with any tune or any part of a tune, don’t hesitate to play the simplified version instead. It is much better to play fewer notes (or chords) on time and with good emphasis than to play all the notes or chords. There are several listening options:
- Play along with the practice recordings. The website offers the option of playback at several speeds, both slower and faster.
- You can also download the practice tracks and play them at any speed you would like using the Amazing Slow Downer tool.
- Listen to and play along with recordings made at the 2023 dance—taken directly from the board and mixed by Bill Tomczak. These recordings are exceptionally clear and reflect both the seed we will be playing at the dance and the number of times we will play each tune. This is what we are aiming for! You will also hear sections come in and out and get familiar with some of the arrangements.
- You can also find links to videos of the band in this same area.
Next Rehearsal: January 21, 1:45 – 3:15. We can access the hall at 1:30 and will start as soon after that as possible.
Music Details from Rehearsal
Wellerman / War Hent / Screech Owl
Be sure to emphasize the dotted swingy feel and lift where appropriate.
Ain’t Broke / Old-Time Son / Goat Groove
Make the tunes gritty and edgy, not pretty.
Go ahead and smooth out the half notes that start the phrasing in the C part of Ain’t Broke.
In Old-Time Son, emphasize the syncopation and especially emphasize the syncopated note.
Same tune, make bar B1-5 match bar B1-1 and bar B2-1. The updated music is attached—the only changes are in the B part, measure 5.
Syncopation in Goat Groove as well.
Lounge Bar / Rakers
Lounge Bar: To emphasize the syncopation, when a quarter note precedes a tied pair of eighth notes, lift off the quarter note to be able to lean into the following syncopated note. For example, in bar A1, lift off the quarter note E so that the tied D gets the attention it so clearly deserves.
(I’ll try to not anthropomorphize music; it hates that!)
Rakers: Bar A5-6, emphasize the upper note in that rocking pattern. Same in B1, 7-8.
Really watch the syncopation in the last three bars of Rakers. It’s different from the rest of the tune. In effect, you have pairs of quarter notes (considering the tied eighth notes as a quarter note), a B, an A, then two eighth notes, then quarter notes D and B. We need to all do that the same way to keep from sounding muddy.
Flutes/whistles, stay in the lower octave in the B1 to provide contrast once we get to the B2. All melody players can leave off notes dower than the D above middle C without sacificing any of the music. Just carry over the note before the ones you are omitting.
Louis Cyr / Reel Beloeil
Louis Cyr: The attached updated music is different from the way we played it in rehearsal. The only changes are in meas A1 and A5, which now match each other. Bar B4 you can leave out those low Ds if you want. Bars B7-8 use staccato.
Reel Beloeil: (Beloeil is pronounced “Beh-loy”. The other word is pronounced “Ree-uhl”)
Keep the dotted swingy feel throughout, even in the arpeggiated B part.
William Blake / Live Oak / William Blake
In William Blake piano and bass stay in the lower register even once everyone else goes to the upper octave. If we’re too top-heavy the whole band will tip over and roll down to the river.
At the switch from William to Live Oak, use the transition bar written in at the bottom. It includes the pickups to Live Oak. Pop off the D, leave a tiny sliver of silence, then the quarter notes E and F#.
At the switch from Live Oak into the high William Blake, backups play a block chord on that last G eighth note then backups drop out and leave the pickups to William Blake to the melody players. Backups, come back in on bar 1 of William Blake.