As I write this blog entry I am in a rather large van heading to Columbus, Ohio. It’s a pleasant day, with a lot of big puffy low-hanging clouds and warm sunshine peeking out from behind them. There is a pretty girl sitting in the front passenger seat. Her name is Priscilla Ahn, and she happens to be an amazing singer/songwriter/indie rock musician that I have had the good fortune to be able to play with.
Let’s back up a bit. At the beginning of this summer I was trading emails back an forth with an old colleague from CalArts when he wrote that he was giving my info to a singer whom he had done some stuff with that was looking for a keyboard player. I thought it might be fun, I hadn’t done many non-jazz gigs and anything John Wood was working on would be worthwhile, since he’s one of the best rock keyboardists I know personally. I thought I would be a show in town somewhere, probably a little club in Echo Park or something.
The next day, Priscilla emails me and asked me if I wanted to go to Korea and Singapore with her. What?
Of course I said yes and promptly got her recordings to start researching. Her music has a lot of quirky synth sounds, almost toy-like in nature, so much of my preparation went into leaning how to emulate those sounds as best I could. As a jazz pianist who primarily deals with finding the best delay effect for my Wurlitzer, this was a refreshing departure from my day to day routine. I ended up using some soft samples on my computer and an old Yamaha toy keyboard that I had as a kid, then sold, then bought again at a pawn shop a few years back cause I thought it might come in handy one day…
The shows in Asia were awesome. The Jisan Valley Rock Festival outside of Seoul, Korea was overwhelming, with thousands of fans all there to see Priscilla. She’s pretty big in Korea, with a number one record there and a very loyal fan base. In Singapore we played at Esplanade, a beautiful recital hall with great sound and a great piano that I was able to add to my synth setup. There was a lot of down time so I got to see a lot of both cities in the short amount of time we were there.
And then it was over. One week, two shows halfway around the world. When I was in high school I wanted to do essentially three things: Go to grad school and maybe teach in college, get married and start a family, and tour around the world playing music. In one week, I had accomplished that elusive third goal. It was a great little trip and I came back ready to resume my humble little life as an anonymous jazz musician and educator.
Then one night I got a text from Priscilla asking me if I wanted to go on tour with her. For a musician, A callback is probably the best compliment you can receive, and I was thrilled that she wanted to keep me around for a little while. Only problem, the tour was three weeks, not even a month into the new term at CalState Northridge, where I teach classes. It took a bit of last-minute pleading, but I was able to take a leave of absence to do this trip.
So here we are, a week into the tour, in Ohio. This post was supposed to be a review of the first week of the tour, but it’s already too long, so I’ll do it on a later post. But now you know how I got here in the first place.