My apologies for the lapses in the blog. How quickly things can change in this business – it truly is a whirlwind.
17 Tuesday was a split show, with the opera-singing duo and the Kenny G protégé. As always, we receive the charts at rehearsal. I have learned that I need to get ready for the shows prior to rehearsal, so that I have time to set patches for the synth. I had to split the keyboard for a Toto tune, soft pad low, marimba high. Of course, no manual – just guts and an old computer masters degree. At the first show, the patches were great, but my marimba jam left some to be desired – nailed it in the second show. My headset failure in the first show didn’t help matters – although we were playing live for the first part, I couldn’t hear the mix, second night in a row (second pair of phones). Wiggled the cord between acts and got it back in time for tracks – had to be a bad jack.
18 Wednesday answered my questions regarding my transfer to the Queen Elizabeth. I learned that I would meet her in Southampton on 10 May and that I would have guest accommodations until then. I was in full practice mode, realizing that I would need at least an hour of classical repertoire and plenty of pop, Broadway, and jazz at the ready – each room and event would require its own musical identity, subject to modification based on clientele and requests.
We were in port in Dubai, but I had the first shift of in port management. I was scheduled to play my first high tea in the Queen’s Room. My mostly-classical set was ready. The guests applauded after every piece. Things were great, until I found out that the United Arab Emirates requires face-to-face immigration from everyone on the ship at docking (I had assumed that I would just go the next day. Wrong.) My music director sent me during the set. I jogged the length of the crew deck, disembarked, showed my passport and paperwork at the port, jogged back – ten minutes elapsed. My director – a guitarist – announced that he would be filling in and playing very slowly. He was admirably surviving Beatles tunes to a guest-less room upon my arrival (which I discovered after I finished my next piece).
The evening’s show featured our singers and dancers to a medley of Sting tunes, the orchestra’s only commitment. Patch creation was easy. I realized that I didn’t know any of the Sting tunes, save for the grooves. (Yep, that old.) I had two big solo licks with the tracks.- and whiffed on both in the first show. I was not a happy camper. Made sure it was clean between shows. Started the second show, played it perfectly, but no one heard the first lick. I had assumed headset failure – but I never enabled the patch (I either missed it or double-clutched it). Not the musical image that I wanted to leave the group with. I was embarrassed – and steaming.
19 Thursday I received the early phone call to change rooms. Off to Deck 4 with my music director to a private interior (no windows) guest room. I figured that this had to be in error, but was assured that this was my room (I’m still in disbelief). My roommate helped me bring my things up and then we left to tour Dubai. Several shuttle buses are provided by the cruise line. Our error was in taking one that was not – instead, it was sponsored by a small shopping mall near the beach, where we could have stayed. Instead, we walked about a mile and a half to the Mall of Dubai and the nearby Berg Khalifa, the tallest building in the world (China is building a taller one, so the Berg’s owner is building even-taller twin towers nearby – apparently, everything is bigger in Dubai). We saw the aquarium in the Mall, soaked up enough air conditioning (just like the locals), and hopped on the metro (as instructed) to get back to the beach.
The instructions were incorrect. We rode the metro all the way across Dubai, for naught (saw plenty of the city, though). At one point, we ended up in the Gold level car at the front. Facing a 100 AED fine, we moved to the next car. All women. An English-speaking nurse in scrubs told us that we had to move to the next car or face a fine. Off we squeezed through the car, much to the disdain of every Emirate female. Ultimately we took a cab back to the rogue shuttle (lesson learned). My roommate went swimming, I went to get a nap and get ready for my evening, playing three sets with the Queen’s Room Orchestra – which will be my ballroom dance gig on the Queen Elizabeth. I studied the music and played it down – a fun gig.
As an aside, the rogue shuttle passed by our Queen Elizabeth 2, which has just opened as a floating restaurant and hotel, permanently docked here.
Solo gigs to begin. More to come.