We showed up at the CKS plaza for our Saturday evening gig, and we learned that a quality performance was required. While waiting for our sound check with Maestro Christoph, we watched a team of ace diablistas expertly tossing their spinning, oversize yo-yos back and forth across the stage. They had raised the bar high.
At one o’clock it was our turn on the stage, and we worked through an hour-long test of the sound system that worked out all of the bugs and left us with just the right amount of monitor mix on stage and an even balance of our own microphone levels for the audience later that evening. An appreciative crowd of early-birds snapped up our juicy worms.
Then it was into the backstage area, in the bowels of the National Concert Hall, to store our instruments and grab a quick lunchbox meal courtesy of the promoters. This was followed by a warm-up session along the walkway that runs along the inside of the wall around the CKS plaza. We attracted a crowd of locals and several Spanish circus performers with our acoustic jamming. After an hour or so, we all felt that we were ready for the performance on stage.
Sandy and Conor went home to relax and get changed, while TC and Will and I found a quiet corner of the park for a picnic. Two hours later, when we made it back to the Concert Hall to get dressed and grab our instruments, the Betel Nut Brothers were on stage. We hung out to the side of stage and looked at the large audience that had assembled. They completely filled the steps in front of the stage. Dave accompanied the Brothers on their last number. And then it was our turn.
Emcees usually figure that we are ready to start performing long before we really are, and the young woman hosting this show was no exception. To keep the audience entertained for a few minutes while we got everyone plugged in and sorted out, Will began a little tap dance number on his board, and then Dave and I jumped in to play along. While we were busy at that, the emcee finally made her final announcement, and we were on.
The next hour went by in a blur, at least from my perspective now. Things were right and tight. We started off with Walk Right In (I know this because I watched this video) and we finished up with the Taiwan Song. The Betel Nut Brothers were up there with us for the finale song, and it went down in a fine style.
There were fans who wanted photographs with us (and our instruments) waiting at the rear of the stage, so we spent several minutes posing with them, and signing a few autographs. (Okay, I signed one.)
Then, we returned to the backstage area to eat another free meal and grab our stuff. We wanted to hang around the plaza because there was an after-party for the performers that we thought would be interesting. TC headed off with Jojo to a Harbin-style restaurant while Conor, Slim, Sandman, and myself had another picnic in the park. When it was time for the party, we went up to where it was being held.
Trees had laid out a buffet of sorts (I limited myself to fruit) and there was a crowd of musicians, circus performers, stage hands, and others mingling and talking. I spoke to several people, including one Belgian gentleman who manages several world music acts, including one of the MBR’s favorites, Tarif de Haidouks, a band of Roma. I also chatted with Christian, the director of the Cirque d’ Baroque and several of its performers.
After enjoying the big party for a while, Will and I took it upon our ourselves to entertain the affable Cirquists. We found the rocky shoreline of a fishpond and set up a camp of revelers under the moon. There were several runs made to a nearby convenience store for more supplies, and we passed several more hours in good spirits. By this time the square was empty and the moon was hanging low in the lightening sky.
We bid our new friends adieu, and before we knew it, a quick taxi driver had Will and I in Hsindian. Willy got out by the swimming pool, I headed up onto the mountain for a few hours of sleep.
Coming up next: Blues Bash 3