Catching the Drunk Unk’s at Band Practice

Tonight, I am hanging with the Drunk Unks and pinching myself. As the newly appointed marketing groupie for the band, I had the chance to pop into the Ultra Sound Studios in Manhattan to take a sneak peek at the Drunk Unks beginning their set list and preparations for InfoComm14.

I enjoyed a quick pre-practice warm up with the boys at Café 31 and after a hot bite of cheap buffalo wings and a cheap glass of Pinot Noir, our entourage helped to rescue Steve’s Les Paul from the nearby Park and Lock and chugged over to the studio. With temperatures in the low teens, the guitars needed a bit to defrost, but by 7PM, the boys were in tune and had set their sights on a new number Kenny Rogers’ “ I Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition Was In.”

At the helm, tuning and teaching was Mr. Robinson, AVI-SPL VP and legendary Angel rock star – who perfected his B flats and A minors and was quick to pronounce a riff as “sloppy” or ready to progress. A perfectionist and rightfully so, Felix challenges every member of the band to reach into their own inner-rock star and deliver quality music and results that hit the right notes.

Ready and willing and in attendance were Steve Emspak “Aerosmith” songsmith and Mike “The Pie” Phillips, two Legacy Drunk Unkles on guitar. These Unks were joined by Charlie Castro from DSI, on his Fender bass who enthusiastically kicked it in with an In-a-gadda-da-vida lick and jammed with the ‘da boys.

A victim of over scheduled masters, the drums fell silent for the evening except the snare which rattled in the background with every vibration, until this novice groupie silenced the distraction. A metronome would have been nice, but with a tapping foot or two, the group kept time and worked through the song piece by piece.

“We got the cords down but what we don’t have is the feel,” pronounced Felix and hour into the practice. With patience and persistence Felix guided the Unk’s through the new number piece by piece, playing together, isolating guitars and then focusing on missing or errant notes. He knew what he wanted to hear, and he wasn’t stopping until he got it. A quick, conversational snippet and detour in the mix, and he quickly refocused the group, knowing too well how easy it is to lose the band and your way if you don’t diligently stay the course.

Taking it from the top, they broke the song down over and over and ever demanding but albeit patient, Felix had the boys work through the riff, until, yes they felt it. I had to bolt out early, but ndeed, I am certain that this will be ringing in my ears well into the wee hours of the morning.

Of their commitment to quality practices, Felix had this to say, “I know what it takes to be ready to hit the stage, and our event is a highlight party during InfoComm and the event raises a nice chunk of money for the NSCA Education Foundation. We can’t just “show up” and play.  No matter how good we think we are, we have to make every performance better than the last. This is how we grow as a band.” Adds Steven, “our hope is to secure the brand longevity of the Drunk Unks, so that we stay true to our mission to always be an important fundraiser for The Foundation.” All of the band members and their kissing cousins and honorary “Unks” agree on the importance of their mission. The band must play on… and play on they do.

What a great night, and hell, I just dropped in, to see what condition the Drunk Unk’s condition was in…and they were ….in rare form! Til next time, rock on DU fans!