We have wanted to play an acoustic show for years now, and this past weekend we had the opportunity to play two. The last acoustic show that Semeron played was in 2009 before I was even in the band. We are hoping this kicks off what we’re calling Semeron’s Winter Acoustic Vagabond Tour!
S.O.B.E.R. IN ST. PAUL
First up was a Friday night benefit gig for the non-profit S.O.B.E.R. Foundation (Solving Obstacles By Empowering Recovery) at Wild Tymes in St. Paul. Opening for us was the band Family Feedbag. They were a solid cover band & a bunch of nice dudes despite being lawyers. (please don’t sue)
SET LIST & SONG NOTES
Shchedryk/Carol of the Bells: Given that Santa was attending this gig, we felt compelled to open with some holiday music. Our cover was inspired by a solo guitar arrangement by Dylan Schorer.
Days at the Depot: We brought out this classic from Semeron’s first album because it sounds awesome in the acoustic format. As Jeff says, “It’s a simpler song from a simpler time.”
No Excuses: Alice in Chains is a huge influence for us, and we’ve been jamming on this song forever. It was a blast to play live.
Cannonball: This was the 2nd time the band has played this new song live, & it will likely be included on our next album. If you can tell me what piece the opening chord progression was inspired by, I’ll pay you $20.
Frank the Monster: We didn’t plan an encore, so we pulled out Frank. Although we’d never played this one acousticly, it turned out to be one of the best performances of the night.
Our Saturday night gig was another benefit, this time for Craig Peterson, a young Navy veteran who is battling pancreatic cancer. Craig serves in the same reserve unit as my brother Mark, so we were more than happy to help raise funds for Craig’s medical expenses.
We had a few logistical hiccups when we arrived to set up. There was a giant aircraft carrier cake right in the middle of the stage area. Just like real life, it took a team of sailors to move it out of the way.
SET LIST & SONG NOTES
We worked off of the same set list as Friday night, but dropped both Ship of Fools (too minor for this event) and Trees (for time). We did get to work in some fun jams as we played around the fundraising events. I finally got to play St. Jon’s Wart (a country rag by my college guitar instructor, Jon Finn ) live all the way through. At one point Jesse started playing a groove similar to Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song which we all picked up immediately & pretty much vamped on an F# minor chord. Kids, practice your improvisation if you ever plan to play live events.
Craig’s benefit was a big success with 500 confirmed people throughout the course of the night, and they raised upwards of 15k-20k.
Playing our first acoustic show in 5 years meant a big shift in our gear. For both gigs, JR played his Taylor GS5, and I dusted off my Godin Multiac ACS Slim SA. We both plugged into direct boxes for the first gig at Wild Tymes. Normally, I don’t like playing direct as it takes the control for my sound out of my hands, but we were trying to keep it simple that night.
At the VFW, we played through smaller amps we had so as not to overpower the crowd, but everything still sounded great. For bass, Jeff used his normal setup as none of us own a quality acoustic bass. Jesse played his usual kit, but with hot sticks to reign in the thunder of his usual playing.
Overall, we’re happy with how our music translated to the acoustic style & we’re going to book more acoustic gigs this winter. Local breweries, we’re looking at you.