SAMY'S FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
"Hey….. It’s Samy.
Most of you know me. But for those who don’t… this will be my third year on CTTE, and my second as the “New Player Liaison” on the CTTE Late Night Production & Grid Team. I'm here to answer any questions you may have concerning The Grid, as well as Late-Night Live. Sarcasm is one of the many services I offer. So, I encourage you to ask stupid questions as well. Either way, you are guaranteed an answer from me.
Below are a few of the questions that we are asked most often, along with my responses. In order to get you acclimated to the process quickly, I'm gonna tell it to you straight….so if you're easily offended, please scroll down to the last question on this page and get back to me.
1.) HOW DO I SIGN UP TO PLAY?
First of all, you DO NOT need to register or audition if you are ALUMNI (having previously performed on Late Night Live). Despite this, a number of our past performers continue to do this every year. It appears that the one time we asked them how DUMB they could be, they took it as a challenge. So, once again…JUST STOP…. PLEASE…. Simply go right to “The Song Grid” tab on this website and choose the relevant link to propose new songs and/or join existing songs. If we have any issues with your submissions, or recall any concerns involving your personal hygiene (particularly halitosis), you will hear from us very quickly. At some point, you will also be asked to provide your CTTE reservation number in order to substantiate that you are actually booked on the cruise. Lastly - there is still great value in refreshing yourself with the details below, as we update this page annually with new information.
NEWCOMERS must use the "NEW PLAYER SIGN-UP" link to submit a video of yourself singing or playing the instrument you'd like to add to The Grid.
Within 2 to 3 days, the Production Team will let you know if we need to see more, or if you are welcome to proceed onto the Song Grid.
BOTH of these things must happen before you can be added to The Grid:
You submitted an audition video -AND- The Production Team has responded to your submission AND informed you that you can proceed with your song selections. In other words, you cannot submit songs as “placeholders” while your audition is under review.
2.) SO, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THE "CTTE LATE NIGHT LIVE PROG EXPERIENCE"?
The whole buzz about Late Night Live is that it has attracted not only passengers, but also CTTE Feature Artists who attend nightly as audience members and/or performers. This is a production that is pre-planned with a set schedule, requiring participants to individually pre-rehearse at home for several weeks, or even months leading up to the CTTE sailing. Late Night Live is a multi-faceted event put together by the CTTE Production Team and a small group of volunteer musicians in order provide other passengers (who are also musicians) the chance to give it their all every night after the headlining acts. It is now going into its 5th year as one of the most popular features on Cruise to the Edge. Hundreds of CTTE Alumni, as well as numerous Feature Artists actually consider this nightly event to be the biggest highlight of their CTTE experience. There will be lots of surprises, and opportunities to perform with some of the Featured Artists.
What makes this event particularly impressive is that it is the equivalent of an “extreme sport”. For example, Feature Artists are mainly on CTTE to perform scheduled concerts throughout the day for passengers, featuring music that they wrote and recorded themselves. They rehearse their own material for many days (sometimes weeks) before touring or performing at festivals like CTTE. So, it’s only natural to anticipate that they would pull off a flawless show. On the other hand, the vast majority of Grid performers (possibly you) would be practicing and learning established Prog songs from home on their own, without having the chance to rehearse in person with their fellow performers. They are then scheduled to perform as a band for the first and only time on stage during Late Night Live. So, it doesn’t get more extreme than this… and that’s what makes it super cool.
Many Feature Artists are continuously blown away watching some very tough songs (including epics) get pulled off my CTTE passengers. In fact, Tony Levin recently blogged details as to why this was THE highlight of his CTTE 2018 experience.
3.) DO I HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?
CTTE Late Night LIVE is for any talented musician who is up for learning some challenging songs and performing them in front of a large crowd of Progressive Rock fans and musicians. We try to be very inclusive (even allowing self-proclaimed Vegans to audition) and are always here to answer your questions and concerns, as well as coach you if needed. The level of musicianship is semi-pro to professional level, so you will need to be sure to bring your personal A-game! The best way to find out if you’re the right fit is to sign up and submit your audition link(s).
4.) WHAT DOES THE AUDITION PROCESS ENTAIL?
First off, your audition does not necessarily have to be a high budget production. Some auditions have been nothing more than footage of themselves playing along to a song while in front of a cellular phone or iPad, while others have provided full-on concert-quality footage.
This is what the Production Committee will be evaluating: You should submit one or two links on the sign-up form, preferably a minute or two of video showcasing your singing or performing ability. You should be performing a song that would be considered PROGRESSIVE ROCK. If there is a song that you would particularly like to play on CTTE, by all means, submit a portion of that song. This is NOT the Monsters of Rock Cruise, or the New Kids on the Block Cruise. The Production Team must be able to gauge your credibility when it comes to performing with others that would rely on your understanding of things like syncopation, odd meters and various changes. They should also feel comfortable with your ability to sing that well-known falsetto, or that legendary guitar lick, bass solo, keyboard interlude, or drum-fill that fans of that song/artist would come to expect. You do NOT need to be a virtuoso; however, you do need to have the skill and confidence to be able to competently perform the parts you commit to when you sign up, with the understanding that there are NO REHEARSALS.
Oh, and please don’t submit a keyboard audition if you’re going to end up proposing only drum parts on The Grid. Yes, this actually happened. Just imagine…. about 10 million sperm raced to create this individual…and look what the fastest one yielded? As I mentioned at the beginning of this page, we will let you know within 2 to 3 days if we need to see/hear more, or if you are welcome to proceed with jumping onto the song GRID.
5.) OK… SO YOU WERE ACCEPTED ON THE GRID. WELCOME TO THE FAMILY! HERE'S MY BEST ADVICE FOR YOU…....
FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES AND EVERYTHING WILL BE GOLDEN….CAPICHE?
a.) Whether you are a Newcomer or Alumni, don’t choose the same player(s) to get onto all of your songs with. Part of the fun for the audience is watching different combinations of players on each song.
b.) Make sure you fully read and understand the entire “HOW IT WORKS” section and ask questions if you are unclear on anything. You can post your questions on the CTTE GRID Facebook page, as well as reach out directly to myself or Bill.
c.) DO NOT PARTICIPATE IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO LEARN YOUR SONGS AT THE LAST MINUTE. We’ve seen it all. People (who signed up for songs months prior), but only get around to start learning them around the beginning of the cruise. You may have the technical ability play your guitar like Steve Hackett, or the tasteful drumming chops of Gavin Harrison, or even the angelic voice and bass-playing ability of John Wetton…... but if you don't practice, take this thing seriously and prepare, you will be the reason that the song fails, and there will be about 5 different videos on YouTube afterwards to prove it.. So if you don't think you are disciplined enough to methodically learn these songs, then this is NOT for you.
Remember, the other players are counting on you, and your potential to miss your cues/forget the changes will piss a lot of people off. We see examples of this every year where some performers have assumed their musical ability and experience is more than enough to carry the song; however, they let their band mates down when they come in too early (or too late) into a new section, chord progression, etc. Their fellow performers may have worked so hard – practicing to nail that certain guitar lick or drum fill - only to have to miss playing it because someone else forgot the section altogether and the decision was made (or forced) by the band to move forward in order to save the flow of the song. It’s really disheartening. Don’t get us wrong. Nerves and adrenaline can get the best of us, and mistakes can happen. That’s ok. However, it’s easy to tell if someone got just around to “learning” the song merely days before the event, or even during the cruise. Even if you have been familiar with a song for years, you NEED to practice well in advance of Late Night Live. When you travel to CTTE, you should already know every one of your songs in your sleep…. PERIOD. Otherwise, this can severely impact your credibility with other performers, who may not want to play with you in the future.
SO LET US BE CLEAR – performers much prefer to play with others that are reliable enough to stay true to the songs, versus “virtuosos” that assume their technical ability is good enough to “wing” the song. Once you and your fellow members agree on the version of the song, the key to a successful performance is for everyone to know exactly how many measures there are between changes, when to come in, what the chord progressions are, etc.
6.) I HAPPEN TO KNOW A COUPLE OF THE FEATURED ARTISTS. HOW 'BOUT I ASK THEM TO PLAY A FEW SONGS WITH ME AT LATE NIGHT LIVE?
Can you say TABOO? How about Forbidden? Prohibited? Unacceptable? Are we clear? An act of this nature is considered even worse than being Rosie O’Donnell’s loofah. If you happen to have a connection to a Featured Artist (either directly, or through a friend-of-a-friend), DO NOT (I repeat), DO NOT reach out to them by any means, asking them to jump on any of your songs. These artists may have contractual obligations that prohibit such solicitations. Rest assured, there will be plenty of moments where artists will proactively jump on the GRID, and you will have the chance to join them. Featured Artists are always made aware of Late Night Live through via the proper channels and make their own decisions to jump aboard. We must continue to ensure that we foster a great relationship with the promoters of CTTE, and refrain from jeopardizing this featured event from continuing. Therefore, any attempts to take a “back-door” method and solicit an artist directly may result in your permanent removal from Late Night Live performances. Should you have any further enquiries about this matter, please reach out to Rob Rutz directly.
7.) WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?
Bring yourself – fully prepared to perform your songs. There will be instruments provided by CTTE Management. However, if you prefer to use your own guitar, bass, keyboards or effects, you are welcome to bring them; and a spare set of strings and a battery is always encouraged. Amps, drums, keyboards, monitors and full PA will be provided. Drummers should bring their own sticks. If you're bringing gear you'd like to share, let us know.
8.) LET'S MOVE THIS ALONG WITH A LIGHTNING ROUND Q&A ABOUT GOING GREEN:
"What guarantees that a song will Go Green?" A song is completed and "GOES GREEN" as soon as ALL players are in position, regardless of what color chip they placed on the song. When a song goes GREEN, all players are locked in place and should start rehearsing their parts!
"What happens if the song I've chosen has not gone GREEN by the time the Grid closes?" While we can't guarantee every song will be completed, we have contingencies in place that will ensure enough songs get completed to fill The Grid timeslots. Each song on The Grid will have a link to the version chosen by the original poster of the song to use as a learning tool. Your group is responsible for contacting each other (usually via a Facebook or Facebook Messenger) to discuss specifics of key, endings, performing a live version, etc. Groups that meet regularly on Facebook Messenger (or alternate platform) to coordinate their parts and discuss progress have a much better chance to pull off a flawless show.
"I signed up for a part in a song, but now I want to switch. What do I do?" No problem! There is a new button The Grid this year that allows you to drop or switch a song. HOWEVER, you can't switch into a song that has gone GREEN; and once YOUR song goes GREEN, you are obligated to stay with it (unless you can find another musician who agrees to take your place.)
9.) I SIGNED UP FOR CTTE, BUT NOW I FIND I'M NOT ABLE TO GO, WHAT DO I DO?
Please let us know as soon as possible, so we can collectively determine how to fill your vacant spots. Otherwise, any songs you're on will have to be dropped at the last minute, and there will be some seriously pissed-off people who are at risk of not being able to perform their songs.
10.) IT'S DECEMBER AND THE GRID IS CLOSED, BUT I JUST FOUND OUT ABOUT IT AND WANT TO PLAY. CAN I?
If you are a Newcomer to CTTE, there is no harm in contacting us, and we'll see what we can do! We encourage CTTE newcomers to join and will try to find a kind player who may be willing to give you their slot on a song. This has worked out many times. We make no promises, but we'll try our best! You will still be required to follow the sign/up audition process; but we cannot make any guarantees.
11.) HOW WILL I KNOW WHAT DAY/TIME I WILL BE PERFORMING?
A schedule will be posted shortly before the sailing with the songs to be played, as well as the dates and approximate times they are scheduled.
You are responsible to be in the showroom well before your song begins; especially in cases where the schedule is pushed ahead due to varying circumstances. Please be the designated aside-stage “Pit Area” with your gear, ready to plug in one song prior to going on. The schedule will flex in case we need to accommodate a Featured Artist who may be performing with us. Please don't count on all of your songs being chained together, although it is possible.
12.) I HAD TOO MUCH GOING ON AND DIDN'T LEARN MY PARTS TOO WELL. CAN I JUST WING IT?
Be prepared to be prepared - or please don't sign up!!! There are people counting on you to have done your homework! Other performers take this seriously and practice their hearts out with the expectation that their fellow performers will make the same effort to learn the songs and pull of a great performance. If you fail to learn the agreed version of a song or sound crappy, you embarrass yourself and make everybody on stage sound crappy with you. DON’T BE THAT GUY.
13.) SOMEWHERE ON THE SHIP, ONE OF MY FAVORITE FEATURE ARTISTS’ SCHEDULED SET SPILLS OVER INTO THE TIME OF MY SCHEDULED SONG(S), OR I'M WAY TO DRUNK TO PERFORM. CAN I SKIP PLAYING?
So even at this point, I’m not going to call you stupid, and merely assume that you have bad luck thinking. Everyone has worked intensely for months to make these songs sound as perfect as possible. Signing up for this is a COMMITMENT that you are making to the other participating musicians. Take into account a possible conflict in schedules BEFORE you sign up. Do you really want to tell your song-team that their efforts aren't as important as seeing Band X, or because you are too hammered? DON’T BE THAT GUY.
14.) HEY SAMY. SOME OF YOUR ANSWERS ON THIS FAQ PAGE OFFENDED ME. WHO DO I SPEAK TO REAGARDING THIS CONCERN?
Please jot down exactly what bothered you on some extra soft paper and leave it next to my toilet.