The Concert of The Inventors was exactly like what it sounds like, and was one of the most successful moments of the 1st version of the Stickband.
We felt that our popularity had grown to the point where locally at least, people were really taking an interest in us. I’m sure that some people just thought the Stick was just an odd instrument and that our dedicating a band to it was a bit weird, but others found it as fascinating as we did, and were expressing an appreciation for what we were doing.
We were always looking for places to perform, and I started contacting colleges to use their theaters for some of our concerts. Soon after, we started playing at West Valley College in Saratoga, and the venue was fantastic. They had a great performance stage – extremely professional with a really good sound system, which are definitely the things you’re looking for when you’re trying to find venues to perform at. Getting the right sound was part of the magic of making our performances great.
At the same time, I was gaining a personal relationship with both Emmett Chapman and Bill Bernardi, inventors of the Chapman Stick and Lyricon, respectively.
Emmett, aside from being the inventor of the Stick, was and is a premier player, so any opportunity that we could get to play with him was a win, and we where always looking for opportunities. While Bob Culbertson, Bob Cooper and I discussed possibilities for gigs one day, someone came up with the idea that it would really be cool to get both Emmett and Bill to play with us on a show, and boy did it turn out to be a good idea.
First, we had to talk both Bill and Emmett into the idea, and somehow, we actually managed to get both of them to agree to participate. We only scheduled one show, but on the day of the show, as we looked out at the line, it became obvious that we needed to do a second show. It was a huge crowd – every performer’s dream come true.
Emmett was a stellar performer, so there was no problem with him playing the Stick. Bill, although he was a player, did not feel that he could do the instrument justice, so he came to talk to the audience and brought Chuck Greenberg, who was a great player, to perform.
The performances were great – Chuck Greenberg was fantastic both when he played by himself and with Emmett; they knew each other and had played together before.
Stickband, of course, was extremely rehearsed by that point, and we had no problem doing a show of any length from an hour to four hours. We were overflowing with original songs, and used a combination of the instruments that we had. Guitars, electronic and acoustic drums, the Sticks, Bob’s electric violin, and the Lyricon.
Our shows always had so much energy. Our physical chops on the instruments were way up, our songwriting was definitely coming along, and with all of these different instruments we had all these timbres to use to build songs with. We also had eye candy, as it was interesting just to look at all of these new, different strange instruments.