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Holidaze.

Maybe ‘hollidaise’.. since this time of year tends to beat me into a sauce-like consistency..

Anyway. Its been several months yet again. Really proud of the girls, who are doing very well in school. Particularly Anna, who had a bit of an uphill last year with staying interested and this year seems to be much, much better.

The gear parade goes on. Gone are the X50 and the Club King, and in are the M50 and the Charger and the cheap Guyatone console lap steel. Still need to make some moves, but getting closer.

Still paralyzed by the house and the general recording process. No dedicated space, no motivation or energy to fix the situation. Rinse, repeat. I suck.

I think part of it, honestly, is that all these ideas are better in my head than they could possibly be on tape, and in holding to the ideal of such things I’m scared of making the effort and ruining the illusion of the potential. Which is idiotic. But there it is.

Oh. A Bullshit Artist!

Minutes ago, 5year-old Maggie brought me a 1/4-full Coke Zero bottle. A bottle that was probably 3/4-full when I put it in the fridge.

“Daddy?”

What.

“I’m going to make sure it isn’t poison.”

Really.

She takes the cap off and takes a swig.

Nice.

Then she gives it to me. Flat and kinda backwashy.
No thanks kid, all yours. You win.

Now she’s trying to pass off ‘Diary Of A Wimpy Kid’ as her own diary that she wrote herself.

“Look – my handwriting is really good!”

There’s Always Room For Cello

Anna is eight, and is a few weeks into the third grade. Tonight was her first night of orchestra.

I was never an orchestra or (marching) band person, but RSW was. She was a bassoonist of whatever the higher orders of bassooning* would be.

Bassooning. You know, like ‘ballooning’. Its a word. Shut up.

So. A few weeks ago a cellist friend of mine on facebook linked a youtube video called ‘Always Room 4 Cello‘ , which is basically a rap video featuring some introductory cello techniques. I showed it to Anna one afternoon and its pretty much her favorite thing ever.

Now, truth be told, about three months ago as I was beating the hell out of my poor mandolin trying to figure thatout, I had a brief mental flirtation with learning cello. Just about any obscure instrument that appeared on either Cayamo and would make me more rounded as a musician has appealed to me at some point, and with 4 or 5 top-notch cellists in that environment it was inevitable that I’d have a flash of interest.

Anna is enthralled with the idea. And since I still want to learn, I think we’re going to more or less learn together. I found a very nice 3/4 size cello on Craigslist for $100 so I don’t have to rent, and I don’t have to worry about Maggs defacing it.

During my personal little cello hot flash, I discovered this lesson series on YouTube. Once you get over the inherent goofiness of the instructor guy, its really very well taught. I’ve watched it entirely a few times and hope to help Anna as she reaches the various points of progress.

And I may steal the axe and figure some stuff out on my own as well..

My Fantasy Team..

.. got rolled. Epic Fail.

The beauty of week one – starting established guys like Frank Gore and DeAngelo Williams so that you feel smart when Arian Foster puts up 42 points on your bench.

At least I actually have Arian Foster…

I sorta dreaded this trip, honestly. Not because I don’t like visiting the Cities, but because it got put together as a 24-hour trip with about half of it airports and running around.

But it worked. We made it work, at least. I got about 15 friends to the 400 Bar show after 10 came to dinner. I got to walk the useful length of Hennepin trying to find the LRT station. Got home in time to see Girlyman at the Dove.

I was looking forward to football this morning, but right around the time the games started I learned of the death of D. Scott Morris, one of the nicest guys in the local music scene – a gifted guitarist, wonderful dude. He’d battled cancer and other odd complications for years. The day I met him was at a Trampolines show somewhere and he’d just had surgery to remove something in his shoulder and had pretty much lost his voice. But he pressed on, and dammit, I think he had everyone – probably including himself – that all was okay.

Needless to say, everyone in my immediate local world is in mourning, and I’m sure we will celebrate him soon.

The thread remembering D.Scott on the Denver Music Board is
here..

A Good Place

As usual, its been a while. That’s okay. It’s been a good while.

We’re now just a week past 3 years since I left The Trampolines, and in a week or two they too will be done. So its a good time for me to reflect on where I have gotten from that start point.

As you’ve read (or not), its been a roller coaster – lots of moments of doubt, age, concern, doubt, and did I mention doubt? That’s okay. I’ve grown, I’ve learned, i’ve failed, I’ve succeeded. I’ve been challenged, I’ve become a better player in every way on every instrument.

I came out of that situation not really knowing what I wanted. I came home from Cayamo 2009 knowing what I wanted and not sure how to make it happen. I came home from Cayamo 2010 a little confused, yet strangely empowered.

One of the first things that occurred to me when I became band-less was that Something Underground was the band I wanted to associate with, one way or another. And my last three years have been defined by my relationship with the Larson Brothers and Trevor in many ways. They’ve provided me a home on stage when I needed one. They’ve provided me a venue to play, to sing, to interact, to make myself better. They’ve kept me musically alive, allowing me to share in their harmonies, experiment in their sessions, stay connected to the other musicians in the SUG-Jam community. I got to play with John Popper. I’ve played Red Rocks twice. They gave me huge amounts of responsibility and freedom in assembling the Beatles tribute.

Tomorrow, I will sing with them in Minneapolis at the 400 Bar, a weird circle completed in a way. I lived in Minneapolis for 6 years, and Silent Iris played the 400 Bar once – without me. It was a Saturday night show in February of 2001, and during the week my Grandmother passed in upstate NY. I attended the memorial service in Olean on that Saturday morning, then was driven to Buffalo to fly home. Weather delays at O’Hare held me up in Chicago, and I arrived as the band was getting the last pieces of equipment off stage. Rebekah was downstairs On The Eve Of A Meltdown.

They’d never tried to play without me, especially after the CD had come out, so they had to pretty much rearrange the entire set on the fly. I kinda wish I’d been there to hear that, maybe more than I wish I’d made it in time to play.

So. I’ve never played the 400. And SUG wasn’t really supposed to either – this date was originally set up for the Fine Line – the longtime home of Silent Iris during our peak. But the Fine Line is closed for renovations, and here we are.

So I will try to return the favor by being there personally, by bringing some of my old friends and fans out to see and support these guys who have helped keep me together and bring me past where I was.

Gear

Every now and then I drop my latest gear updates here. Stuff I love to go on and on about, but no one else much cares about. That said, here we go.

Keys:

Still living and loving the Nord Stage, of course. Its my bread and butter, and its my instrument, much more than piano or organ or synth. For more than 10 years now, my style had revolved around combining and layering Hammond and piano sounds. The Nord allows me to do that on-board without patch bays and MIDI setups and chains and crap. Its awesome – I can’t say enough about it.

My Korg X50 is at Scooter’s getting repaired, and once I get it 100% again I will sell it and upgrade to a Korg M50, which I hope to use much more frequently. I love the versatility of it, and will probably use it for jam gigs and smaller situations where the Nord isn’t necessary.

Keyboard amp:
I got an awesome old-school TOA KB2 that some dude was selling out of his garage for $20. Who am I to ask questions. 🙂 I also have the old Alesis Sumos I used in the Trampolines days, and I keep one functional just in case I need to play bass.

Electric guitars:

I don’t think I’ve posted here about the FrankenBari. I was at Go-Round several months ago and encountered this Danelectro bari monstrosity behind the counter and pretty much bought it on the spot before they could even put it out on the floor. Its not a Dano bari, or at least it didn’t start as one. Its a U1 single-pickup that some brave person threw a bari neck on, then installed a dog-ear P90, a full roller bridged Bigsby, and locking Grover tuners. It is the king of the trio gigs I play with MSB right now, and its my favorite axe by far.

The Reverend Flatroc is my main standard electric. I’m trying to sell my Reverend Club King 290 to cover the cost of the M50. I have two beaters that I really like as well – a Peavey Generation Tele that is currently getting a GFS lipstick and a Duncan P90 installed on it, and a total crap Kramer Focus Floyd Rose strat copy that is actually a really awesome player for some reason. Once the Tele is done I will battle those two and keep the winner.

Electric Amps:
Recently sold the Lab Series L5, now I have a ZT Lunchbox and a lovely Hughes & Kettner Tube 20 that I’m experimenting with. I have a trade lined up for a X3 Pro, but that might be a while.

Acoustics:

I have fallen in love with the Fishman Neo-D soundhole humbucker pickup. It sounds great and its passive. I tentatively plan on hardwire installing these on everything I own. Right now, I have one for my Epiphone Chet Atkins (which is weird because its a solid guitar, but its an older one with the faux soundhole and it actually works. So well in fact that I plan on eventually removing the Ellipse in my Alvarez 12 and replacing it with one of these so that everything is consistent.

Acoustic Amp:
Bruce scored my Crate from someone’s garage. It rocks.

Bass:
I have an Ibanez acoustic electric that I scored at Gear Guys for not much, and a Greg Bennett short scale PJ thing that I got from some dude for 85 bucks. Works for me.

That’s the basics of it. Lots of pedals and stuff still, consolidating regularly.

Spurts and Fits

One of these days I’ll get into a rhythm here. I guess it would help if I had something to write about.

The cruise, now 4 months past, was interesting. too short – five days doesn’t work for that format at all. Felt a lot of good music, got in the heads of Shawn mullins and Chuck Cannon a bit, experienced Robert Earl Keen and his drunken moron fans. Belize didn’t suck. I got to see a great deal of the Gulf of Mexico prior to BP fucking it up.

I’m still a bit adrift, but things are a lot better. I’ve begun the whole MSB experiment, and found a real home in the acoustic trio format playing my baritone. The full band version is still a bit sketchy, but the jobber factor is lessening slightly.

Still looking to get things going on my own, or find the right collaboration. Not sweating it, though. Things are absurdly busy for work this month, and I just need to get through June intact, and then I can look around a bit. A few interesting possibilities out there, with Russ and Jody both hatching projects.

My own music is what it is, but I’m slowly teaching myself to simplify. I’m really good at writing music that I can’t play, and as fun as those songs are for me, I really need to develop some material that works for what I want to do and let those crazier more intricate songs live on another plane for now.

Gear is getting down to the basics – still trying to swap the CK290 for a keyboard with nominal success, but everything else is getting down to what it should be.

And, thanks to the brothers, I get to play Red Rocks again.

On the home front, Anna is a couple day short of finishing second grade. Maggie will start kindergarten next year. Its all going by rather quickly.

MIL was recently laid off from her overnight nursing position, which though a bit traumatic really isn’t the end of the world – she’s in good financial shape and can take or leave whatever comes next, and she gets as much girlie time as she wants this summer as long as she stays free. I should be so lucky.

RSW and I have been together in some capacity for 14 years now. That’s more or less astounding. No one should have to put up with me that long.

The house is still a bit of a struggle, in that the original landscaping has been decimated by the prairie winds and rolling storms, and the weeds and rabbits are having a blast with our yard. More and more tempted to just pave the whole thing over.

Money and time remain the biggest issues at the house – I’m working a lot and on a bad schedule, when I really don’t get home before 6:30 most nights and barely see the girls at all, especially if they’re outside. Its straining pretty much everything. We all pass like ships. I’ve declined several musical projects knowing that I simply can’t spare any more family time .

2010 has been interesting so far.

I’ve been playing and practicing and writing. I have two of my songs basically completed, with lyrics and everything. I’ve decided that, though it may not be what I want to do, I definitely want to be able to be a solo performer and lead singer. That ambition will make me better at what I already do, and soaking myself in lyrics and taking myself out of my element and pushing my limits is already paying off.

I’m going into the cruise week (10 days away) with a mission.\

While that happens, I’ve had all sorts of referrals and recommendations come my way, which is very cool. I was recommended for Goldie’s band, for The Motif by Morris, played with Stu on his solo show, just did the casino gig with SUG.

Laura was up here last week and basically carried me around to Buckhorn and to the Dove for Roger Clyne with Hickman/Dalton. Great show – really got some nice perspective, really enjoyed being at a good show where I didn’t know any of the songs and was still impressed.

And I might have found a new theme song..


Caught a birth
Caught a funeral
Caught a wedding bell
I can walk a straight line in a dizzy spell
I’m screening my calls
I’m whitening my teeth
I’ve got a smile for every stranger that I meet
I can leap the tallest mortgage in a single bound

Hey now
Hey now
Look at me
I’m captain suburbia
I’m ligthting all the birthday candles in utopia
I’m a bird
I’m a plane
I’m captain suburbia
The weeds will grow
The grey will show
and my garage will overflow
Now lucky me I’m captain suburbia

I’m not too young for anything anymore
I meet all my friends and neighbors at the liquor store
I’m mechanically inclined
I’m blissfully insane
I’m rescuing the sacred from the jaws of the mundane
I’m living the dream
Now I can sleep through anything

Hey now (hey now) x4
Look at me
I’m captain suburbia
I’m blowing out all the birthday candles in utopia
I’m a bird
I’m a plane
I’m captain suburbia
The weeds will grow
The grey will show
and my garage will overflow
Lucky me I’m captain suburbia

I’m tucking in the kids
We’re running out of beer
and honey, we need to talk
are the only words I fear

Today was a strange day of almosts. I almost saw Brandi at Casselmans. I almost stayed home all night instead of going out. I almost saw Goldie. I almost saw Savage.
I thought I would see CC but he was stuck home with foot issues.

I did see SUG, which was nice I guess, and I did see most of the Evergreen regulars who had migrated into town for the show, which was nice, but overall I just didn’t feel comfortable sticking around, so I left right after the set.

Almost talked to D2 about stuff.

Almost drove 40 miles randomly for no reason, ended up home and almost got online to waste a bunch of hours, but decided to take the Chet Atkins upstairs and beat the piss out of it for a good three hours.

I can almost feel my fingers. They’re almost-green from the bronze oxidizing.
I almost played everything I knew and almost played well.