Oktoberfest, here we come, flying blind as hell! I mean, we really only had ONE rehearsal as a unit, but I wasn’t worried a damn bit. The biggest concern with any band is the rhythm section. Remember back when I said I wished I had a pic of the smile on Mike’s face the first time he got to play with Trey? The reason was because of how fantastic of a player Trey is. I’ve always known how special he is as a musician, but Mike’s smile and the fun we had reaffirmed that. Mike is a very seasoned musician and knows immediately when there is special chemistry.
Trey’s biggest concern was how he and Rob would mesh, because as he has said many times, you can’t predict chemistry. I had to disagree with this band because I hand-picked these guys knowing the chemistry would be unique and real. He can hold down a jam with the best of the best, and Rob knows my playing like the back of his hand. I obviously knew all the originals and my job was to lock in with Trey and Rob, so once that happened we were dug in, and you couldn’t have knocked us off that rhythm with a baseball bat. Chip got in there and it was as if he had been rehearsing with us all along. He and I have been playing together since 1990, so he is always the least of my worries.
Our energy and chemistry on stage were off the charts! It was really the first time in my entire musical journey that I was completely relaxed and only worried about my part in the band. The crowd bought in and helped make it an incredible show. One of my main concerns was improvisation. Our blend of Southern soul rock and roll leaves room for some jamming and improv. Before I knew what was going on, Rob took one of the songs we were playing and yelled out “MACEO!” and started grooving a jam from Maceo Parker’s “Life on Planet Groove” from 1992. This was completely unrehearsed, and I’m not even sure whether Mike or Trey had ever heard the damn song. I thought “Oh shit! We ’bout to find out what this rhythm section is made of!” We KILLED it, and Trey and Rob held it down like they had been in a band together for years. Improvisation is one of my favorite things about music. It keeps everything fresh, and it gives each show something different for both us and the fans.
Ultimately there were some mistakes here and there, but that was to be expected. I was more concerned with the chemistry and our stage presence, because I knew the music would hold its own.
I once did a keynote speech at a business conference based on how hiring the right people, putting them in the right places, and communicating with them will make your team ROCK. Well, what I pulled off with this unit was just that. I left that show with large dreams, expectations, and one hell of a BOLD idea that no one had a clue I was about to lay on them.