Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Away Team at Summer Solstice Festival in Santa Barbara


Summer Solstice. It was a beautiful day.  After a week of June gloom, a familiar weather pattern in Santa Barbara, the sun came out for Solstice.  It always does.   Nik and I got down to Alameda Park, loaded in quickly, the stage manager and folks were really great - helpful, friendly and seemed to know what they were doing.  I parked the car about three blocks away while Nik set up.   

This was our first gig in a while, and our first gig using a computer as a sequencer and a software program called “Ableton Live”.  In the days preceeding the show, Nik was doing the all the programming because I was so busy on the logistics side of things for Solstice.  The sequencing program had acquired a new name: “Evilton Live” or “Ableton Evil.”

Twenty-five minutes before we were supposed to start, Nik was hunched over the computer screen, barely visible in sunlight, in headphones, frowning.   There was a glitch*:  there was no audio coming from our sequencer - not through the external interface nor through the native audio out of the computer. 

I went to park the car, helped Dawn set up two cameras, spoke to someone in volunteer check-in, and looked at dancing fairy wings.   About five minutes before we were supposed to perform,  I returned and looked at Nik’s body language - I knew he had fixed it*- Sighs of relief: we were not “The Away Team” unplugged.   The show went on.    

I couldn't really see much from the stage - the sun was blotting out my vision. I took off my purple tinted prescription sunglasses because they were falling down my nose; then I really couldn't see.  I'm fairly nearsighted, anything past about twelve inches becomes wonderful impressionist painting.

About one minute into the first song, the stage monitor mixer-guy turned up the volume in my monitors so loud with only  the backing track, the sound was only a loud rumble - almost impossible to tell what was going on- I was straining to distinguish between distorted rhythms and tonality.   I couldn't hear my vocals at all.  Neither could Nik; he was lip reading.  The mixer guy kept messing with the monitor mix; it got worse.  Finally I turned around and asked him to turn it down.  Things got better after that.


Then after the show, even though our "official band packet" said that we could load and unload on Micheltorena Street right behind the stage between 11 a.m. and 6 pm, the cops were officious and would not let us get near the loading area.  Finally, after an hour or so, and three requests to cops and traffic wardens, two trips to pick up car and driving around, one of the traffic patrol people said she could open the barricade for me, but then threatened to call an officer over to arrest me if I even looked like I was heading closer to Santa Barbara street (still a block away).   It took us 3 hours to get our stuff out of there.  Because they wouldn't let us load out when it was "safe", now we had to wait for the parade to be completely over.  Some guy who had heard us at some other gig --got a few of his friends to help us carry all the equipment.  Otherwise Nik would have had to have done it all by himself, since I needed to be guarding the equipment. Even backstage with a stage manager and bouncer,  it's not really safe to leave things unattended.   In the past, I've had $300 mics and miscellaneous other things disappear during the load and unload between bands.

I thought I would get to film the parade, but I didn't even get to see it cause I was dealing with trying to get our gear out.  I spoke with the Festival Director, who says she has trouble with them every year. When the organizers all sat down together in their meeting with the police regarding the event, this was discussed and they agreed to let bands in, but that information obviously did not filter down to the lowly little fascists on the street.   Nik told one of the traffic wardens that they "were exercising power just because they could". She aksed: “Why didn’t the organizers take care of this?” Nik said, “They did, but why has everything changed.?” The cop said it “was the fault of the organizers.”    Why this failure to communicate down the ranks?  Intentional or not, other bands certainly would be having a similar problem.

Other than that, it was a beautiful day.  ;-)

We're thinking of having a house party concert in the next couple weeks where we have control of the sound, the elements.

*For geeks and musicos who deal with technology, all of the audio preferences in Ableton had changed.  Nik is not quite sure exactly why this happened.   It must have been the heat of the moment.   

Posted via email from theawayteam's posterous

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Away Team at Summer Solstice Festival

We’re “live” again! We are performing songs from our new album “Topsy Turvy World” for the first time at this year’s Summer Solstice Festival on June 25, at 12:15 in Alameda Park in Santa Barbara. 

"We’re  honored to play at the Solstice Festival --  it’s a celebration of life, art, music, culture which is truly unique and special. Solstice embodies the spirit of cooperation, creativity, is people powered, green, and a whole lot of fun - and for me, work ;-) 

The Summer Solstice Celebration, in it’s 37th year, is Santa Barbara County's largest arts event, bringing 100,000 people to the street to see the parade, and 40,000 plus to the Festival in the park which for the first time has expanded to a 3 day event, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The theme this year is "jungle" and it's looking like it's going to be huge parade and fantastic festival. For more info on the Festival:

We’re also just releasing our album digitally through JMD Records/NGrovve (a partner of Universal Music Group)Below is a June 19, 2011 press release from them.

The Away Team is singer-songwriter Penny Little and musician Nik Green, both keyboard savants that turned tickling the ivories into danceable, quirky pop rock ditties. They come from different worlds but together they create a new one, a topsy-turvy realm that cannot be ignored.

How did The Away Team's Penny Little and Nik Green come from playing classical piano end up doing heavy rock? It seems a long way but it was a journey worth the destination.

Penny Little aka Little Savage used to be a solo pianist mixing in improvisations with classical pieces. After touring in Japan, she met guitarist Ben Hurley in Hawaii and they recorded the album 'In a Light Garden'. She became the vocalist for band White Feather and toured around Europe. When she returned to the US, she also dabbled into film making, including working with Academy Award winner Barbara Trent on the documentary short, 'Waging Peace'.

Then there's Nik Green, a native of the UK who has been producing electronic dance/ambient music since the 1980's. He recorded and toured with the band Blue Murder for seven years and engineered several hit albums. Nik considers John Adams, Charles Ives, Steve Reich, and Percy Grainger as his music influences. 

In 1994, Nik and Penny formed The Away Team and as a duo they've performed in the Unconventional Tour 2008, joined by other musicians during their eight-city 7,200-mile tour of the US. For their latest album 'Topsy Turvy World', Nik and Penny collaborated with Ben Hurley yet again, producing a collection of modern pop songs with splashes of dance, country, jam, rock, world, and lyrics that are at times personal and political. The Away Team performs anywhere: rallies, festivals, anti-war demonstrations, clubs, house parties - you name it, they've probably played it.

If The Away Team were to describe their sound, it's definitely 'out there' and that's not exactly a bad thing. The Away Team is not boring and they've got the music and talents to back it up.

Download The Away Team's album 'Topsy Turvy World' at iTunes distributed by JMD Records/INgrooves (a partner of Universal Music Group).

Enter The Away Team's world at the following:
CONTACT them at:
Email: home ( @ ) theawayteam dot com
Phone number: 805 320 7981

VISIT their Official Website: