I mentioned this to a few people before hand and there was a lot of "so when are you going to rehearse?" This surprised me, because I was quite sure that if I meet him 5 minutes before we went on stage and sketch out a quick game plan, it will all be just fine.
So I spoke to Mike just before we jumped on stage, I mentioned how I only ever play solo and my tempo is all over the place, and I probably wouldn't notice if I was drifting, so it was probably safer if he followed me rather than I follow him. And that my endings to songs are generally a slow down, perhaps I just nod to indicate to rit? And I rattled off a list of songs to see if he knew them, a few he was familiar with but "I'll follow in with something appropriate". I thought it was a good game plan.
Away we went, and I think it worked out well. A few of the usual things happened when I've played with other musicians - I started playing hard because I felt my sound was being drowned out, kinda "we are competing". The house drum kit is acoustic, but he was playing with brushes to keep it low. After the first song I got Shaun to crank up my feedback speaker which helped me hear myself better and I then eased off a little. When I start digging in I start making more mistakes as I am less relaxed. Performance nerves already make you tense, you don't need anything to make you more tense.
I called out to him between songs what we were tackling next, and started, and he jumped in at the speed I was playing. On a few of the songs I realised I went in too slow, or too fast, but since we were sync'ing up pretty well I felt I couldn't just move tempo, so I played out the songs at a speed I wasn't completely comfortable with.
See, it's all solo performer control freak nature ;-)
I'm super critical of myself, but I've learnt to let it go (to a degree) and the bottom line is he is a fantastic drummer, and made everything work. Some of his drum work was very close to the studio version, some was just nicely improvised. I enjoyed it a lot, and would certainly do it again, I'm sure with practise I would loosen up and get more of a feel for playing with a drummer.
...but at the same time, it reinforced my love for solo instrumental. If I had to choose, would I try to integrate into a duo/trio/fullband or would I stay solo? The answer is, after 35+ years of being a soloist, it's all I know and I've learnt to love it.
After my set the house band (drummer, bassist, guitarist) took to the stage with an open mic singer, she had a great voice, and they rocked out! During their set patrons to the joint wandered in and I could see they were enjoying the show. And why wouldn't you, they were great fun, entertaining and sounded really good.
So yeah, I need to get back into my cafe background music style gig. There is a place for rockin' out with the full band, and a place for nice background music :-)
I really enjoyed the experience, and would do it again, but my love still lies in solo instrumental fingerstyle, in a venue where it fits.
...Oh, I set my microphone up and recorded the whole set. 10 songs, about 40 minutes, here is a few that I think worked out well (ignore my nervous mistakes). I didn't place the microphone particularly well, so the mix isn't amazing, not to mention the background noise.
Enjoy, if you dare!
The Beatles, "Get Back"
Australian Crawl, "The Boys Light Up"
The Beatles, "Something"