A black-and-white portrait of KenKen ZinserMake sense and make better

Kiefer Lettuce Showbox

A funk band’s live set on a Saturday night is a fine place to see creative humans in a state of flow.

Band members, one by one or as a pair, come to the forefront and demonstrate their skills, like pressing the shift key on a typewriter. The other band members adjust their style to support the featured players.

The horn players turn towards each other and away from the mic, to play their notes so only they can hear and coordinate the next verse. They talk to each other over the music to clarify a disparity and offer each other guidance and gratitude. The saxophone wore a green sweat suit and a green five panel hat with a pattern of logos. Clean shaven except for a thin mustache hugging his upper lip. The trumpet looks like Frodo Baggins dressed as Steve Zissou (in a good way). Later on they call out to each other when they’re about to synchronize. “Hey Ben!” as he motioned over his shoulder to signal his partner. At another point, the trumpet signals to the saxophone with his arm extended with fingers pointing to note the count. The saxophone sees it, glancing between puffs. The trumpet poses with his feet together while slowly shaking his hips.

The roadie—beanie, black shirt, baggy pants—plays the part of a spotter, there to catch band members should they fall. He hunches over in a trench between the crowd and the band, moving from one end of the stage and back. He fixes the drum kit, twisting tubes and tightening wing nuts while the drummer keeps drumming. The band trusts him completely.

The keyboard has a solo with vocals and he hits the long, high note. The audience is ecstatic and he steps back from the keys feeling a sense of accomplishment. The music waits for him to re-settle.

The roadie shines a flashlight on the steps as band members walk off the stage. What are the chances of an encore? He’s not breaking anything down. He’s adding to it.

They come back out with a special guest on guitar, who is grateful for getting to re-live his years inside the groove. Standing stiff and straight, he subtly turns his head to the beat while his fingers dance on the guitar strings. He has a solo and it is a religious experience. If it were a museum exhibit, photography would be prohibited.

From this point on, strive to get a spot in the very front row at everything.

Now stand in front of a sushi restaurant, no lights on, clearly closed, and wonder how close you are to that one restaurant you like and whether it’s open? Turn around, say nope.