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Chris Orbach: Blog

The Quintet Invades The Rockwood - September 2, 2005

Howdy, folks!

Well, September 1st brought us to that little jewel of a spot, The Rockwood Music Hall. Stew and I had played there before as a duo and this time we were back with John, Graham, and Tim Regusis on (this was a switch) acoustic piano.

Admittedly, we might have been a bit too loud for the room, but Ken Rockwood still managed to give us a good mix, bless him. I had a little trouble hearing myself onstage, so I just tried to relax into it. Not all gigs feel great to do, but later, after hearing a recording of part of one of the tunes, it was clear that we sounded just fine. In spite of a couple of brain-farts and miscues, we had fun. A brand new song, "All Away", was also played for the first time. I even managed another chair-clearing jump on the last tune, with a clean soft landing that would have made both my Kung Fu teacher and my podiatrist..well, relieved if not proud.

Friend, high school secret-keeper, and fan extraordinaire Avril Korman took some great photos as well as a snippet of video. It wasn't a big turnout, likely due to the impending holiday weekend, but those who were there got into it good.

But the best news is....it wasn't until after we were finished that I found out that one of the members of our small audience was none other than the peerless Ritchie Havens!! I think he had come to check out the act after us, but he caught us from the second or third tune up to the end, and as I left, he gave me a handshake, a smile, and a thumbs-up.

That just made my night.

So, on to the next one. Stay tuned. As those famous composite constructs, Bartles and James used to say..."Thank you for your support!"

xo Chris

Pianos -- Lounging and grooving and donuts (oh my!) - July 31, 2005

Hey there, gang. Thanks to everyone who showed up at Pianos this past saturday.

It was a usual gig day, in that I was an inconsolable bucket o' stress from the moment my eyes opened that morning until the moment we hit.

We loaded in and checked by 630ish. After that with an hour and a half to kill, I treated the band to dinner at El Sombrero just down the street, where we all ogled the waitstaff and, well, shot the shit. I do love hanging with these boys. Graham was in his element with respect to his love of spicy food, which to me is akin to an extreme sport. My friend Adam showed up to the area super early and ended up joining us there. Three guys at the table ordered the sizzling fajitas, the smoke from which seemed destined to travel solely in the direction of the lead singer's lungs. It was worth it though. Damn tasty. My mom got down there early as well, and joined us in the restaurant towards the end of the meal. We got back at about 8:25 and got down to business.

As it turned out, we were sonically too much for the upstairs lounge -- a few miscommuncations and misunderstandings led to our 5-piece band being in a room that we were a bit too loud for, try as we did to keep a lid on it. Still, I thought it was a fun fun show. And, to my knowledge, no one was harmed. My pal Sarah-Jane brought some of the old swing-dance crew, Amy Kantor took some photos, Jamie O. and Adam T. were digging it, and about 10 people from my old kung fu school showed up! That was great. I hadn't seen some of them in months, and it was very good to catch up a little. Plus, they're just good to have around in case some trouble starts! Hehe.

The nicest part was that we didn't have to rush. We got to play for about an hour and a quarter, so we got to do all the songs off the CD, as well as add a few extra solos and tidbits. We were pleased to have Tim Regusis back on keys and he did a fine job...so did everybody else -- as usual! Stew got to strut his stuff, and strut it he did. Graham and John were rock solid and tasty. John even took a solo at the top of "I Outdid You". Moments like that make me think of a family car with a fighter-jet engine under the hood. John barely lets you know what he's got -- but when he lets it out, ohhh man!!

We also slightly extended "Some Friend" and added a keyboard solo onto the end, which Tim executed mighty tastily. But my favorite moment was at the end of that tune when, purely on its own, the thing ended completely differently. We all just seemed to have the same idea at the same time. I've heard jazz musicians talk about things like that. Not being a jazz musician myself, it was kind of a new feeling for me, and baby wants MORE! It's hard to describe, but it was one of those moments that make all the expenses, headaches, and hauling your gear up and downstairs worthwhile.

I think they might have us back there at Pianos, albeit in the downstairs space where volume isn't as much of an issue. I hope so.

My friend, DJ Mr. Blue took over the room after we finished, and he was spinning some fun stuff. I wanted to hang around, but my voice was pretty hoarse after the show and I couldn't talk over the music for very long, so I reluctantly made an earlier departure than I'd hoped. John and I ended up hanging at my place, eating donuts and drinking coffee, and talking about how it is that nearly every club in NYC seems to be morally and ethically opposed to acoustically treating rooms in which music is played. Not that we have a problem with that or anything -- it was just an observation...

Anyway, the coffee and donuts part of that was completely insane, because that kept me up till 5AM. Then I was awakened at 8 by my dog Sonny, who had some tummy trouble and needed to go out...poor little boy! All in all, a decent night.

Looks like the next full band show will be at the Rockwood Music Hall on Thursday, September 1st at 8PM. Hope to see you there! Stew and I might try and do an acoustic duo show between now and then. Stay tuned for news on that.

Thanks for stopping by!

xo Chris

Unplugged (through a shitload of effects) - July 27, 2005

Did I ever mention to you guys how much I HATE the heat? I can't take much more of it. Drivin' me nuts.

Annnyway, thanks to my friends who came out to The Rockwood Music Hall on the 22nd. It was super-late but fun, except for the two people in the audience who had to yak rather loudly the entire time. This just made things a bit harder to execute.

We got through it -- I mean, they weren't so loud that I couldn't hear my own vocals or anything, and it was all in all a fun show. See, I'd been dreading doing an acoustic show but the gig was on short notice and Graham and John weren't available. Acoustic shows always feel weird to me. I think I need to have drums kicking me in the ass, inciting me to jump and sway. When they're not there I feel odd..like I'm not wearing underwear or something. But I wanted to make inroads into the Rockwood just because I liked the place a lot, so I took the date and gave 'em what I had acoustically.

Thankfully, we accomplished our mission -- they really dug us and we'll be back there with the band in early Sept. Stay tuned for the date. And you know what? I was pleasantly surprised by the show sonically..it was actually pretty satisfying in the end, in spite of the drunken networking going on at the lip of the stage. I will probably do more acoustic duo shows in the future. I mean the things I do to my guitar sound still mess around with it in a nice way, and acoustic shows are logistically easier and uh --cheaper-- to put on. But I will have bass and drums (and keys!) this saturday, July 30th at PIANOS! I'll be there at 830 sharp in the upstairs lounge with a five-piece band. Hope you guys can make it!

Alright. Time to put my feet in two buckets of ice before I head out to my auditions...be well, and xo!

Chris

TWO MORE SHOWS! - July 14, 2005

Hey folks! Just to let you all know, we'll be playing two shows very very soon. The first will be an ACOUSTIC DUO on Friday July 22nd at Midnight at a remarkable new venue, The Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen St. bet. E. Houston & Stanton. Me and Stew haven't done the duo thing in ages, and I think it's going to be nice. Come down after your movie and dinner and wind-down with us in this wood and brick jewel-box.

The next one is a full-band show on Saturday July 30th at 8PM at Pianos, 158 Ludlow st. in the upstairs lounge. This will be a "hornless" show, as the room is small and horns frighten them (wimps!) but we will have a secret weapon -- Tim Regusis will rejoin us on keyboards after a long hiatus.

I've been wanting to play at both of these venues for some time, so I hope you can come see us at one or the other or both. And best of all -- no cover for either show! Now, come on. : )

I'll be looking forward to making inroads at The Rockwood. I saw my fabulous bass player, John Montagna play with a great singer-songwriter there named Michael Leonhart. I'd never been to the place before, and I really liked the vibe a lot. Turns out the owner/operator is himself a musician, and the hallmarks are evident: good house gear, good sound system, nice house drum kit.

The Pianos gig promises to be fun as well -- my good friend Mr. Blue is the DJ up there in the lounge, so after we're done playing he'll be spinning some nice tunes.

Sadly, though, both of these places are on the small side, so there'll (probably) be no wireless-inspired jumps over chairs and tables.

If you haven't done so already, check out the photos section -- you'll see nice new live shots from our last gig by Avril Korman, and a great new shot of Sonny the dog taken by Amy Kantor.

Hope everyone is having a decent summer...stay outa trouble, you crazy kids!

xo Chris

No injuries this time. - July 2, 2005

Hey there folks. Thanks to everyone who came out to CB's Gallery on June 30th. It was a fine show, I think. I never really know how it's going while I'm doing it -- but everybody seemed to dig it. I'll admit, as I jumped over two chairs in the front of the stage (thanks to my wireless rig) I had a thought, in midair-- "you're 36, you have a heel-spur, and this is a 3,200 dollar guitar." I guess I really am a crazy bastard. I must be. But, the crowd's reaction was worth it, though - that's for sure. I guess when the music moves you, anything goes.

There were several highlights to the whole affair. David Poe, one of my favorite singer/songwriters, showed up -- he hadn't heard me play in literally a decade, and I was thrilled he could make it. I'll be checking out his show on L.I. in mid-july. Check it on his website -- www.davidpoe.org .

It was also just great having so many good friends in one place. Thanks again for coming out!

xoxo Chris

Back at The Gallery - June 9, 2005

Hey folks! First off, just to let you know, me and the boys will be at CB'S Gallery, 313 Bowery, on Thursday June 30th at 8PM sharp. Come on down if you're free! I'm thrilled to have Graham Hawthorne on drums and John Montagna on bass...god bless them-- they're both in TOWN! Plus mainstays Stew Cutler on lead gitter and Tony Orbach and Paul Vercesi on the reeds. I hope you guys can make it.

CB's needs all the support you can give, as this historic venue is in danger of shutting down! Please go to my "links" page for details on what you can do to keep this special place going.

Hope everybody's doing well.

xo Chris

I LOST MY CELL PHONE!!!! - May 16, 2005

Hey folks. I lost my cell phone. Anybody who's normally in touch with me telephonically, please give me a buzz soon and give me your # again, in case I lost it!

All those annoying things that I used to say.."Well, THAT will never happen to me.." are all happening. UGH.

More gigs coming soon. Thanks for visiting!

xoxo Chris

What's the latest? - May 5, 2005

Hey folks. Well, I guess it's been a while since the last show -- you know, the one where I busted my head? Still waiting on a number of factors, including who's in town, which venue, etc. Not to mention that my brother and I went to Portugal to settle our late grandmother's affairs, which sidetracked things a little also. It ended up being a fun trip, as Tony and I can crack each other up pretty much non-stop. When we weren't being mauled by her cats (which we brought back to the states) we had ourselves a decent time, and got a lot of business done too.

So, back in the swing of things. My friend and drummer Graham Hawthorne is going to be doing an every tuesday late night gig with his you-name-it-as-long-as-it-grooves project, ASTROGLIDE. Starting May 10th, they'll be rocking out at "17", which is at 37 W 17th. I plan to be there for as many of the shows as possible. Joining him in the band is my keyboard player, the most tasty Tim Regusis.

There will be at least one or two gigs in the city this summer with the full band, plus a couple of duo shows with Stew Cutler. Also in the works, possibly, a few gigs up in Maine, where hopefully I'll be able to play with my dear old friend, Justin Page -- who's just returning from a long exile away from his drum kit. Details will of course be posted up here as soon as they're confirmed. I'll also email everybody on the list!

So, back to the drawng board I go. Trying to work on some new tunes, but I keep heading to the computer to look at land upstate. I guess Baby Boy needs a change of scenery. All in good time. Just want to thank all my friends and fans for helping me through this ridiculously difficult year with so much love and support and slack. It's appreciated.

Hope everybody's well. Enjoy the weather.

xo Chris

Post-show blues.. - March 22, 2005

Hey there! Thanks again to everyone who came to the last show. Please read the previous entry for the crazy stuff that went down!

Right now, I'm listening to Poise, the CD of a very talented friend of mine, jazz bass player and composer Sean Smith.

So, what's new? Well, a pretty ridiculous day today, dealing with AIRLINES! My brother and I have to travel to Portugal to settle our late grandmother's affairs, and getting out of town is getting more and more difficult. We had to change our ticket because of some logistical issues and it was a real mess.

Between hours on the phone with airlines and family dramas I had a couple of voiceover auditions and also got a haircut. I kind of miss it being long, but when it starts falling into your soda, it's time to get a trim, I guess.

A close friend of mine is a world-class hairdresser, and he cuts my hair in exchange for chinese food. I went to his swank salon, fighting my way through the tourists and shoppers. It's always a study in incongruities, me sauntering in there wearing my Dickie's pants and Brooklyn Industries T-Shirt, surrounded by the leather-pant wearing, huge-diamond sporting wives of the rich. I think my friend just likes me to come in there for shock value. We'll be hitting Grand Sichuan pretty soon. I mean, if he can get a few thousand a pop from movie stars, I think I can spring for the Kung Pow chicken!!

I want to thank Jennifer for posting that she'd like to see me do a duet with Gwen Stefani. I, uh, wouldn't mind that myself! I'd probably forget a few lyrics though, on account of being...well...distracted!

I suppose it would be an interesting (if less than effective) fusion of styles. But, in all seriousness, I have nothing but love and respect for Gwen -- for one very personal reason...

Years ago, my brother Tony, who now plays in my band, used to play in a great band called Urban Blight. Just before they broke up, they tried to play a few shows out west. According to him, the tour was a disaster -- promotional mix-ups and other unfortunate turns straight out of "Spinal Tap." But Tony told me that at one show in California, almost nobody showed up -- maybe 15 to 30 people....But at the front of this small "crowd" were none other than Gwen Stefani and the rest of No Doubt. This was years before they had their first hit.

Apparently, Gwen and the boys stayed for the whole show and danced and cheered the whole time. So, for having my brother's back on a slow night, she can do no wrong.

I'll be booking another show soon, and when I do, I'll announce it here. I sure do wish I could play more often. But for now, I'll just have to make these few shows count as much as possible. I mean, god forbid someone from the music industry should show up!!!

(Images of pigs flying, cats and dogs meditating together, peace and plenty enveloping the world)

We can all dream, folks.

Anyway, till next time, xoxoxo

Chris

A head-smacking good time.. - March 12, 2005

Hey there, folks. For those of you who missed the March 11th show, here's what went down.

I was very tense but excited about our March 11th show at CB's Gallery, as this was the first gig I actually got some press for. Graham Hawthorne was back on drums and a lot of old friends were threatening to turn up, and god bless them, they did!!

So it was the usual rigamarole of my super-obsessive "day of the gig" freaking out. Pack up my gear, cables, etc. Walk the dog, feed the cat, vocalize, buy picks, all that normal stuff. Stew Cutler picked me up at 6:20 and we drove down to the gig...

As we were loading the stuff out of his car, I took a hasty turn to get something out of the back seat and dinged the top of my head right into the sharp corner of the open car door. I started bleeding pretty badly. All I could think was "Damn! I was all keyed up to play..." Basically, I ended up holding a compress over the wound and it stopped bleeding. My heroic brother Tony did a drugstore run and sanitized me. Micheline (who I think was pretty freaked by the whole affair..we all were, let's face it) furnished me with a CB's T-shirt so I could change out of my blood-stained duds. I figured there was no concussion, I still knew my name, and I felt o.k., except for a little stinging. I knew that if I went to the emergency room right then and cancelled the show, they'd have had me sit there for two hours anyway, so--the heck with it, let's play the set!

What ended up happening was that we played one of our very best shows. The boys all sounded great, and aside from a few mishaps and ANOTHER broken string, I felt pretty good too. I felt a little loopy, but I didn't forget any words. I did curse a few times though, until I was reined in somewhat by something my bass player, John Montagna, said, into his mike--"The one night my 82-year old GRANDMA comes to the show, and you bring your POTTY MOUTH!" That got a bunch of laughs, especially when I responded, "Well, my mother is Sicilian--curses are a lullaby to me." Much to my relief, John's grandma, who's a very hip and wise and neat lady, wasn't offended. I did rein in the curses though, even though my stinging headwound was making me want to enlarge my vocabulary in all sorts of ways. John played great, Stew played his ass off, and Graham did things that I'm still trying to catch up with they were so hip. Tony and Paul did their share on the tunes with horns and horn solos, although I must find a way to use them a little more.

I feel that all these guys are way ahead of me as players, so I really just try to learn and keep up and not get overwhelmed, but also to enjoy every bit of what they're doing. It was a fine fine set, all in all.

Afterwards, my dear friend Amy Kantor, who is a veterinary surgeon, had a look at the top of my head and told me to go to the hospital because it would need to be stitched or stapled. I was bummed because I wanted to hang with all the great people who came down--there were three people from high school I hadn't seen in years, and two folks from my old old job who were there that I would have loved to hang with. But I followed Amy's recommendation. Tony and his daughter Sarah-Kate gave me and a couple of friends a lift to St. Vincent's. He was kind enough to run my gear back home for me. I mean, I didn't want to be in the waiting room with a behemoth JC 120, even if there were friendlies there to watch it. So after about two hours (and some very interesting drama in the ER involving a drug-crazed woman hurling epithets and divulging quite a bit too much about her personal life) I was cleaned up, stapled, and sent on my way. We went to the Galaxy Diner and laughed about the whole thing over shakes, fries, comfort food.

So now as I write this, the local anesthetic is wearing off and the stinging may make it difficult to sleep, but I'll try. Either way, I'm pleased that I was able to do the show in spite of a two-inch scalping! And a lesson learned -- don't get too crazy-stressed when carrying heavy objects out of cars on busy streets.

Sleep tight, folks. And for those who came out last night -- a thousand thanks!

xo Chris

The boys are back - March 9, 2005

Hey there, folks..after a rocky couple of months, I've finally gotten off my butt and booked another show. Me and the old gang will be back at it Friday, Match 11th, 8PM Sharp at CB's Gallery. I'm very pleased to announce the return of Graham Hawthorne on drums and John Montagna on bass. Graham was on tour with David Byrne for a solid year, and John was on tour with the Alan Parsons Live Project. I'm thrilled to have these guys back, who complete the original rhythm section who played on my record. Joining in will be my brother Tony Orbach on tenor and soprano saxes, and Paul Vercesi on alto sax -- as well as the mainstay-- Stew Cutler on lead guitar. I've tended to refer to all of the musicians I've worked with as "The bunch of badasses", and I still feel that way. Mo Roberts has done a fantastic job on drums for us in Graham's absence, and I look forward to working with him again. Percussionists Joe Cardello and Danny Sadownik have also done great work, as have bassists Booker King and Mark Peterson.

Playing at the Gallery is always a good time. Micheline and the staff really make us feel welcome. I'll be playing with a six-piece band this time....in the recent past, I've played with as many as nine pieces. The stage at the Gallery is a bit smaller than some of the other places we've played, so a nine-piece band would leave very little room to jump around (which, well bless my soul I just can't HELP!).

It looks like I've finally settled into something of a permanent guitar rig for myself, after years of trial and error. My main guitar is now a Paul Reed Smith McCarty Hollowbody, played through a few choice pedals and plugged into a Roland JC-120 amp. JC-120's have gotten a bad rap for years from rock and roll purists who crave the old-school pure tube sound, but I chose to ignore such snobbery and just embrace the fact that I really like the way the damn thing sounds, a lot...I grew up hearing artists who used 'em and that's that, I guess. The move from acoustic to electric guitar was necessary in a growing band. My guitar parts were being lost when I was playing acoustic. Now, with the McCarty, I can really be heard. Stew said to me, on my first gig with the new rig, "I could actually HEAR you....you play pretty good!" This from a man I've played with steadily for 12 years...hehe..

Anyway, that's just some of what's new in the world for me. I hope you like the new website. It's a little less slick than what I had before, but at least I can update it without having to bother my techie friends!
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