Free Strain / Shaker Reunion Gig - July 18, 2009


I played the gig at my 20-year high school reunion with some dear friends of mine who also went to the same high school as me, but who graduated a couple years before I did. In the early days, when I was still in high school and really just learning how to play the guitar, we did a couple of projects and played a couple of gigs when Jeff, the lead guitarist, was away studying music at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was a big deal for me to take on Jeff's guitar duties as he was an amazing guitarist and his band mates were just as top-notch. They were super tight and had been playing together already for a number of years at that time.

I was really out of my league and cut my teeth during those early sessions, but it was a great learning opportunity. Their band Atrius, and later known as Free Strain, were a real inspiration for me during my formative years as a guitarist. They really showed me how it was done and acted as a guide for my musical development.

After high school Free Strain and I got to know each other better and we became friends. They were (and probably still are) the best musicians in the Albany area and we played together once in a while but only informally when I was back visiting Albany. I never officially joined the band.

Many years later, after I had been living in Boulder for quite some time, I contacted these guys and asked them if they would like to come and play the gig with me at the reunion for my class of '89. It was the only way I was going to go to the damn thing. I mean, who actually wants to go to their 20-year high school reunion? Anyway, I thought it would be a good excuse for us to be a band again even if it was only for a day and they thought so too!

So, in the summer of 2009, I flew back to New York to play the gig. The four of us gathered over at Jeff's house in his basement the day before and we rehearsed for a couple of hours. The next day we showed up to the country club where the reunion was being held, set our stuff up and then proceeded to rock the house for the next 3 or 4 hours. I must admit, singing Pink Floyd's 'In The Flesh' to my graduating class was very therapeutic for me.

We played a lot of songs from the bands that inspired us to play when we were in high school. We thought this was fitting as we were playing at a high school reunion. As a side note, I actually hired Free Strain to come and play for my high school graduation party back in '89. I even got up and played with them on a few numbers. So, this gig really brought an odd symmetry to all of that.

At the reunion we played a lot of Beatles, Pink Floyd, of course, and even a couple of Who tunes. Jeff also brought in more contemporary stuff which was a great way to round out our sets. It was a real treat for me even if most of the folks at the reunion sat in the bar in a different room after we played our first set. So, it was really the four of us playing together for ourselves, but that was alright. We were a band again and we sounded great. My brother even came to the gig and so did Tim's (he did the light-show). We all partied and we had a lot of fun, so it really was a reunion for us and I think we captured some of the cool vibes we used to have back in high school in Jeff's old basement jamming old Floyd tunes and whatnot.

Anyway, here it is... the set-list I put together of the material that we played, along with a couple of shots of the old band back together again!

FREE STRAIN

Atrius Free Strain - 18-Jul-2009
Jeff (guitar/vocals), Gabriel (guitar/vocals), Brian (drums/vocals), and Tim (bass) ~ 18-Jul-2009

Set One:

  1. In The Flesh
  2. Yell Fire
  3. For You Blue  (Acoustic Guitar Intro TAB)
  4. Hash Pipe - [lyrics], [chart]
  5. Come Together
  6. The Seeker - Pg. 1, Pg. 2
  7. Raise My Rent
  8. Sunken-Eyed Girl
  9. Beautiful Way - [lyrics], [chart]
  10. Coma Girl
  11. Why Don't We Do It in the Road?

Set Two:
  1. Train In Vain
  2. Rock Away Beach
  3. Stop Spending Our Children's Inheritance
  4. Life At Two - Bass Solo in A Dorian, 12/8 time ==> ||:   A-9   |   A-9   |   D7/A   |   D7/A   :||
  5. Travel Far
  6.  The "Yeah Yeah Yeah" Song  (We will most likely NOT perform this song.)
  7. Long Live Rock - Pg. 1, Pg. 2, [lyrics]
  8. Preachin', Prayin', and Singin'
  9. I Know What I Know
  10. Touch of Grey - Jerry Low Riff,  (An excellent tutorial on how to play the guitar solo.)
  11. Fire On The Mountain ==> ||:   A    |   G   :||
  12. Surrender (Play a whole-step down from the recording.)
  13. Junior's Farm
  14. While My Guitar Gently Weeps  (Check out this cool concert footage of this tune.)

Set Three:
  1. Breathe
  2. On The Run (Play like the Rainbow '72 Jam.)
  3. Time
  4. Lay Down Sally
  5. Out On The Tiles (Instrumental) >>
  6. Moby Dick (Ending Only - Play Riff in E, not D) >>
  7. Drum Solo >>
  8. Zappa Apostrophe Jam >>
  9. Pigs (3 Different Ones) Jam ==> ||:  Em7  |  C   :|| (Another possible jam.)
  10. Doesn't Remind Me (in E), (In D major)
  11. Money
  12. Wish You Were Here (Tim takes first solo. Tim and Gabriel take turns soloing on 2nd solo.)
  13. Brain Damage / Eclipse

Encores:
  1. Comfortably Numb
  2. Hey Jude (Play in the key of D instead of F.)
  3. Sgt. Pepper's Reprise (Play in the key of D instead of F.)

Dance Tunes - 50's Set:
  1. Wooly Bully - 'Sam The Sham and the Pharos' Vid
  2. Louie Louie - 'The Kingsmen' in 1965
  3. Wipe Out - 'The Ventures' Live
  4. Johnny B. Goode - 'Chuck Berry' Vid

Miscellaneous:
Atrius Free Strain - 18-Jul-2009
Jeff, Gabriel, Brian, and Tim ~ 18-Jul-2009

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