by John Rowe (The John Rowe Show)
Well here we are in the eye of the storm at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Half way through our 3-week run of The John Rowe Show @thespaceUK.
It’s our first time at the Fringe and it’s been a wild ride. There’s literally thousands of shows across hundreds of venues in Edinburgh at this time of year, and the things you have to do to be noticed in all the noise makes the festival an incredibly busy and challenging time. Photo shoots, radio calls, guest spots on other shows, promotional spots on portable stage venue and events, plus our own daily late-night show spot (the thing we are actually here for). And in between all of this is organising the logistics of our show: coordinating our special guests, deciding on our nightly set list (which is ever changing) and accommodating the musical and technical requirements of our guest artists.
I mention all of this because in the manic daily run around, it’s easy to forget about the things we really don’t have to think about at all but that are key to the success of a music- based show like ours.
One of these things is our Casio PXS3000 keyboards (we have 2 – one for Stefan as musical director, and one for me so I can jump in here and there throughout the show in between hosting and singing). I can’t imagine being here doing what we do without them. Each night we have 15 minutes to set up an entire lounge room on stage, including our two Casio pianos, a lounge chair, coffee tables, lamp, 2 computers, guitar, and various props. In all of that panic, the element that requires the least effort and thought are our PXS3000’s. We throw them on our back in their back pack, run into the venue, pull them out and set them up in a flash and away we go. By far the lightest professional keyboards on the market, there simply isn’t another fully weighted piano I know of we could do this with.
And once set up they just look, well… cool. There’s no other way to describe it. Sleek, slimline, black, elegant. Seamlessly blending in on our crowded little stage and not demanding any attention.
So, before the show, we don’t have to give much thought to our little Casio marvels – they’re just there making our lives easy in all the madness.
But, nobody keeps baby in the corner, and when the music starts, we are immediately reminded why we choose to tour with Casio. First is the sound: brilliant piano samples (the best yet on this generation in my opinion). We have a relatively organic / semi acoustic vibe going with many of our show arrangements (given the lounge room setting), so the pianos, EP’s and organs get the most use and they sound simply brilliant. In fact, our sound technician has commented about not having to do any equalisation on the keyboard channels at all… just plug and play: a real god-send. Paired with acoustic and electric guitar and a bed track of bass and drums, the Casio is a sonic wonder.
Both Stefan and I have owned and used the PX5s, PX560, PX300 between us, and we are both thrilled with the touch and feel of the new PXS3000. A new, tighter feel makes playing feel really natural, probably aided by the new tri-pedal and the way it handles the samples, making it feel and sound like we’ve installed 2 acoustic pianos into the set-up.
Our Casio’s have attracted a lot of attention too. We share our venue with a number of other musicians and we get asked a lot about our pianos, especially when they see us throwing them on our backs with ease before the gig.
Another added and unexpected side bonus of our PXS3000’s is the built-in speakers. They have enables us to use our keyboards back in our hotel for quick rehearsals , and on stage they allow us to get playing immediately, even before the audio technician has patched up the DI’s, allowing for some last-minute run through’s during the tight set-up.
It’s been so nice to have the comfort of all this musical ease during the mayhem of the Edinburgh Fringe. I know it sounds corny, but when everything else around us is full of the stress of this whirlwind festival, it’s just so nice to make music on an instrument that has become somewhat of an old friend at 11.15pm every night when our show starts. The most magical example of this was when our guest, Irish singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy, performed a beautiful acoustic version of his hit song Christopher Street, and our musical director Stefan Nowak, armed with nothing but his Casio PXS3000 and his immense musical talent, decided to improvise along. Brian was so taken with the moment that he doubled the instrumental section to allow Stef to solo… an amazing moment to witness and to hear. The solo was heartfelt and the piano was divine. It made my day…. it may have even made my festival.
THE JOHN ROWE SHOW is playing at thespaceUK@Sympoisum Hall and the Surgeons’ Hall Grand Theatre 2-24 August for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Starring - John Rowe
Musical direction / piano – Stefan Nowak
Guitar – Jake Bisognin
Tickets are available at: bit.ly/jrshowtix
More info on the show at www.johnroweshow.com