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Live Music


Outside of the Comfort Zone

Earlier this week I spoke on being prepared when opportunity presents itself in the most random times and really asking yourself Are You Ready if it does? Opportunity is interesting to me...It seems to always show up when you least expect it. I believe self doubt and not being prepared are big culprits of missing out on life changing opportunities.

Picking up where I left off.....I returned from Detroit on high after learning I would be Slum Village's keyboardist/vocalist on there upcoming European tour. I spoke with their manager and was scheduled to go to Detroit for a rehearsal in April. April came and that rehearsal was rescheduled for May....and then for June...long story short we never had a rehearsal.

I recall coming home from work in late June 2006 and receiving a call from T3 that went something like this:

T3: Ab...What up man!!

Me: Wassup T3

T3: nothin chillin....We got a show in DC tonight at this club called Mirrors. Can you come out and perform with us?

Me: yeah (I had a million things to do), what time?

T3: 11pm but be there around 9pm.

Me: Ok cool.

T3: We need you to sing on Tainted & Selfish bro!

Me: Bet! see you then.

This show was so random! You would think I would know if they were coming to town as a fan but I didn't. I showed up at Club Mirrors and everybody I could think of on the DC music scene was there. It was interesting to perform in front of all my DC music peers. It's amazing how people look at you differently after someone co-signs you. It was like they viewed me in a different light after T3 said "I want to bring my man Ab up here to do these next two joints. He's going to be joining us on our European tour so give it up for him." It's not that they didn't respect me before but the respect was different after that. To this day people on the scene ask me how I got the Slum Village gig?? I performed Tainted & Selfish with Slum Village and the evening was really dope.

Fast forward to July and I'm on a plane from DC to London Heathrow Airport. I arrived, went through customs, walked up to the man holding the Aaron Abernathy sign, and hopped in the car with him headed to the Holiday Inn in Camden Town. I had no clue how our first show at the historic London Jazz Cafe' was going to go that night. We never had ONE rehearsal. Hex, the road manager called me when he got to the hotel and told me to be downstairs at 5pm for soundcheck.

We went to soundcheck and literally figured out the entire 60 - 75 minute set there. I discovered that there wasn't a band. The DJ (DJ Dez) doubled as a drummer and we were the duo creating the music. As we were creating the show T3 kept asking me what I knew how to play? What hip hop classics? What soul classics? Do you know how to play this? Do you know how to play that? I found myself adding parts of my "Ab & The Souljourners" show to their show. I couldn't believe he was asking me what I thought about playing this and that as a transition to the next section. We created the show and went through it one time....then time was up.

I believe in rehearsal before shows and lots of it but I was out of my comfort zone on this evening. Out of my element in a historic venue in London performing with a classic hip hop group. Oh...and the show was sold out! Talk about pressure. My expertise was sought out in soundcheck and I was challenged to see how fast I learn...I felt like they were putting me on spot to see how much of a professional musician I was.

I remember the food being really good that night before hitting the stage...Some type of baked chicken, potatoes, and sauteed green beans that was ridiculously delicious....I hit the stage and I was nervous...something that usually doesn't happen. I had to remind myself that this was no different from what I do with my group and being faithful to the little things had already prepared me for this moment.

We hit the stage to a sold out crowd and I played the show we created in sound check. The audience was pleased with the show and wanted an encore. Of course I was excited. I really didn’t know I was a professional musician until that moment. I should’ve known before hand but I was downplaying myself. I honestly believe that T3 chose me for the job because he knew I was a professional musician….I wonder why I didn’t know that….I’m sure it’s because I was looking for approval in all of the wrong places starting with my peers on the DC music scene. In all honesty, I never saw myself playing in a band with Slum Village…my plan was to stay focused on making Ab & The Souljourners the next big thing but God had other plans and this new door he had just opened for me was a door that would keep giving back….

I’ll explain more about this door next week.