Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thin Line Between Love & Hate: 52nd Annual Grammy Awards

I attended the 40th Annual Grammy Awards February 25th, 1998. I was a head seat filler, so I had a lot of friends come and hang being seat fillers. It was a great experience. It was hosted by Kelsey Grammer and had these famous/infamous moments:

1. Wu-Tang Clan member Ol' Dirty Bastard interrupts Shawn Colvin's Song of the Year acceptance speech to protest the Clan's loss in the Best Rap Album category.

2. Immediately after performing "How Do I Live," LeAnn Rimes loses Best Female Country Vocal Performance to Trisha Yearwood's cover version of the exact same song.

3. Aretha Franklin performs the aria "Nessun Dorma" after standing in for Luciano Pavarotti at the last minute.

4. During a Bob Dylan performance, a shirtless backup dancer named Michael Portnoy rushes to the front of the stage with the words "Soy Bomb" written on his chest.

I had a lot of great interactions with famous musicians. I'll have to check my journal for specific stories (one day...). It was the closest I've ever gotten to a Grammy stage. It was maddening, intoxicating and yes a little depressing. I always felt kinda torn about the Grammys. It's like when I lived in New York City. I lived in Brooklyn (Park Slope, Flatbush, Bed-Stuy, Midwood), Queens (Briarwood) and Manhattan (Washington Heights & Soho). A lot of my friends lived in Brooklyn and Queens and made it "cool". All the "hipper than thou"crowd bemoaned how uncool Manhattan was. They loved scraping cash for long ass cab rides, taking the L, G, E, F to outer Mongolia late at night. Yeah, real cool. You know what was cool? Walking home from work, gigs, clubs. You know what was cool? Telling women "We can go back to my place on Sullivan Street, between Prince & Houston.." (Ok what wasn't cool was the rent-$850 for my share of a 4 bedroom joint that was tiered to what each person could pay. My share wasn't the highest and this was 1997-1998.) Most of my friends that liked living in the boroughs couldn't afford to live in Manhattan. They had to make it "cool" to put up with the P.I.TA. factor (pain in the ass...) If they had the bread, 99% would've lived in Manhattan.

It's the same thing with the Grammys. Most of my musicians friends haven't been to the Grammys, been nominated or won. I know a few that have won or were nominated, but they are established acts-nobody I came through the trenches with. It's easy for us independent musicians without deals, press or hits to bag on the Grammys (there's plenty to bag on). The truth is the worst thing about the starving artist thing is the starving. I never pretended that I didn't want more exposure for my work. I believe my role as an artist is to be a reflection of the human condition. I want that reflection to shine on as many people as possible. I want the opportunity to have someone blog about my musical expressions, criticize me, cut me down or love what I do and praise my music. Do I wish I was nominated? Do I wish to win a Grammy one day? Of course I do. Acceptance is not overrated. If just one day or week or year I could have an album that grabs people, it would be cool.

Another aspect of the Grammys plays into the ego. We artists/musicians believe we have something to say. To be honest, must of us think people should listen to us. And hey, we all think we're pretty good or great. We on the outside who think we have talent look at some of the performers and question everything:

Can't I sing better than that? I know I'm a better bassist/guitarist/vocalist/songwriter than these people...Why are they getting Grammys while I've been work Clark Kent jobs for 20 years? Why didn't any of the music projects I was involved with get popular or signed? Why am I still trying to do this?

So is there jealousy involved in watching the Grammys? Absolutely. The elephant in the room when I watch the Grammys with friends or family. I'm just trying to be honest with myself. To admit that my ego doesn't exist is ridiculous.

In the end, I like a celebration of music. I hadn't watched a whole Grammys Show since I moved to Austin. In my music sabbatical, I really checked out on pop music. My friend Megan decided to have a Grammy party and I decided to attend and watch the show with some Gen Yers. They schooled me and caught me up on the stuff I missed. I did tweet the show then watched it again on DVR These are my observations (some of them are tweets I posted)

I should note that I watched a lot of the streaming pre-telecast stuff and liked it very much. Kurt Elling should host more stuff and he has one of the best voices around. His co-host featured a Tia Carrere sighting. The backing band was great and the perfomances were grittier. It probably had to do to the fact that it was a smaller theatre.

The opening performance with Lady Gaga and Elton John

This was the 1st time I saw Lady Gaga. She is what pop stars should be though I wasn't particularly moved by her music. Maybe I'll pick up her record and listen to it, just to see if the kids are all screaming about. I do like the fact that she can sing and play piano. Elton was Elton.

Stephen Colbert made a great point about Susan Boyle. "Remember-you may be the coolest people in the world, but this year your industry was saved by a 48 year old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes."

Man I'm old, I had no idea Green Day is a musical now.
7:32 PM Jan 31st from Tweetie

I guess they are the Gen X version of the Who. Is American Idiot Tommy? I'm not a big fan of musicials, but this performance was aiiight.

Beyonce does Alanis M. Not bad.
7:35 PM Jan 31st from Tweetie

Beyonce was good. I think she outdid Lady Gaga, but Beyonce to me has no personality. She seems like a nice person, she's like a robot. She can sing, but there isn't a lot of there, there. That's why she's such a terrible actress. She can sing her ass off. And she had an all female band. I thing they were all females of color, which is nice to see. I wish Beyonce and the recorded industry would recognize more black rock/alt music (There are books written about the struggle of black rock musicians) By recognize I mean support with albums, marketing, touring, promotion, etc...

People in the audience are like "yo Pink, u know how much my hair cost, this suit and you are pullin' this flash dance sh*t?"
7:47 PM Jan 31st from Tweetie

She was ok, but the song bored me to death.

When did country dudes start dressing like dressed up frat guys? The Best New Artist Zak Brown Band looks like guys that hang out on 6th Street. Good for them, hopefully this doesn't kill their career.

I will never, ever ever ever ever EVER understand the appeal of the Black Eyed Peas. They dress like freaks, their music is like cotton candy-all suger and air. I heard they actually rapped back in the day:

Wha' happen?

Of course Colbert was going to win a Grammy. It's the only reason he showed up to start the show.

Kings of Leon- I know nothing about this band. I guess they are the kings of arena rock now. They music is a was to me. Maybe I need to buy the album the see what kids are all a flutter about. Congrats on the Grammy.

November Rain? With Jamie Fox , Timberland, TI, Slash.... man pop music is weird
8:33 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

WTF was this? I forgot to mention Doug E. Fresh and T-Pain. This performance made me feel so old. I stopped listening to new hip hop after Biggie died. That autotune, dirty south stuff was never my cup of tea. Strong Island, Brooklyn Took It, Boogie Down Bronx-that's me stuff.

Jamie Foxx is a talented dude, though. This guy's an Oscar winner, too.

Leon Russell looks like he's been hanging wth JD Salinger...
8:41 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

Hey Grammy Soundguys, please improve the mix in Taylor Swift's monitor. She is singing kinda flat....
8:50 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

She's sweet. She's cute. She's young. She's tall. And she was not good. I don't know if she sings flat all the time, but with Stevie Nicks (Not exactly the most accurate singer herself) She won big tonight. (Four wins including Album of the Year)

Hudson, Usher, Smokey, Underwood and Dion and a trippy booby Beyonce in the audience... Who needs 3D?
8:58 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

The Michael Jackson tribute was ok. I just wished they picked a better song. Earth Song is kinda a durge of a tune. I didn't have 3D glasses so I couldn't get the full effect. Smoke Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, User, Carrie Underwood and Celion Dion were all adequate enough, I guess. When his kids came out and Prince had the speech down, it was sweet. I guess Michael was a good dad to them. The crowd in 3D glasses was very 50's. Beyonce rocked them....

How did Bon Jovi go from hair metal to country pop? #grammys
9:11 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

RT @thecultureofme: richie sambora looks like an old lesbian these days. #grammys
9:12 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

So can Jon Bon Jovi not hit the high note anymore in Living on a Prayer? He let her take it...
9:16 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

Amen on people paying for music. It costs real money to make music. When recording, mkting & touring r free, music should be free. #grammys
9:46 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

I total agree with Neil Portnow

"Now, what if someone told you they really appreciated your work but didn't think they should have to pay you for it anymore. What would you do? How would you pay your bills, support your family? How would you survive?

This evening, you've seen performances by the most successful artists today. And you know about their generosity and giving back. But standing right behind them are thousands of unknown and up-and-coming music makers who face the question of survival every day (THAT'S ME!!!). In the coming decade, unless they can make a living at their craft, the quality and creativity of the music will be at risk.

Well tonight, we're all fans and music lovers who want to ensure that the future of music is a bright one. New technologies will bring music whenever and wherever you want it.

But as fans, let's all truly value the music and the songs that change our lives by supporting and compensating these gifted creators of the music we treasure. And together, let's make this next decade a time of renaissance for the music that plays as the soundtrack of our lives."

Dave Matthews band has always been a snoozefest for me and their Grammy performance did nothing to wake me up to their music.

Nice to see Maxwell and Roberta Flack together.

Man that Les Paul tribute was weak. They couldn't put a real band with Jeff Beck? Why not Al DiMeola who actually plays jazz on a Les Paul?
10:07 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

Tarantino is in his fat Elvis phrase doing a terrible Samual L Jackson.
10:13 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

I see Little Wayne & I hear "Pants on the Ground.."
10:15 PM Jan 31st from TweetDeck

The should've live twittered it with the lyrics since most of them were muted.

The complete list of winners are here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Week That Was: Birthdays & History

January 24
Aaron Neville

Neil Diamond

(I always loved the melody of this tune)

January 25
Etta James

(Get well soon...)

January 26
Eartha Kitt

Huey "Piano" Smith

(Used in the ending credits of Snatch)

January 27
Elmore James

Bobby "Blue" Bland

Kate Wolf

January 28
Elvis makes debut on national TV on The Dorsey Show

Roy Eldridge

Ruth Brown

January 30
Rooftop Concert for Let It Be marks the Beatles last public performance as a group.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Show Report: Digital Antique at Pie Guys Pizza-Fri. 1-22-2010

Digital Antique is a great instrumental soundscape band. In the small room above the University of Texas campus pizzeria, the band had command of the room.

It wasn't the best sounding room (the bass could've been louder), yet the crowd listened intently.

Here are the guys:

Payton Holekamp-Drums

Joey Reyes-Cello

Parker Randolph-Bass

Travis Kennedy-Guitar

The next show is Thursday February 11 at the Ghost Room in Austin, Texas.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Show Report: Bruce James Soultet at The Continental Gallery-Mon. 1-25-2010

In January 2010 Mondays at the Continental Club Gallery were the home of The Bruce James Soultet. It's always cool for a band to have a residency, it builds fans plus the band gets a chance to stretch and perhaps try new material. This show was the last Monday (January 25) of their residency. A really cool thing about a residency on a non-weekend night with a great band is that brings out the cats to jam and to hang. I love that about a being musician, I love hanging with cats. All of my life I always wanted to be one, a musician respected by my peers. I was hanging with my man Sam a good young keyboard cat.

The lineup of the band:

Bruce James -- Keys and Vocals
Tim Spivey -- Bass
Chris Trafton -- Drums
David Jimenez -- Guitar
Fumi Sugawara -- Guitar
Dave Carrol - Percussion

During the break, I chatted up Chris, found out he saw me play with STM and liked my playing. I introduced him to Sam (Sam was rapping with Bruce about keys and Bruce invited him to come hang and learn with him at one of his solo piano gigs.) I mentioned my jazz/funk project and he was really interested in being a part of it. Very cool...

The band was hot, heavy in the pocket and drenched in soul. I love the 2 guitar line-up of the group. It's a testament to me that a group with 3 chordal instruments never get in each others way. David Jimenez is such a sick soloist. He tells a story all the time, he bends , prods and quotes in his solos (he quoted Blue Monk in one his solo.) Plus Chris and Dave had good rhythmic chemistry. Tim has that great finger-funk style of playing, dancing with the beat and chords. Fumi's guitar tone is nice deep sound texture. Overall this band just kicks ass.

After the show, Sam and I talked with the whole band and 2 other drummers about the biz, music and feel. Everyone changed information and had a good time. The show prompted me to buy one of Bruce's CDs. Some pictures of the show:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Music (To Me) Tuesday-Again!

This little tiny spree was done today. The location was Cheapo Records.

Branford Marsalis-I Heard You Twice the First Time-$7.95

Branford plays the blues with a cast of greats including, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker and his brother Wynton.
Branford really covers the history of blues in the music. After thinking about Branford's influence on me, I decide he is on The Completion List. This album was also a cassette casualty, music that need replacement.

Ron Carter Sextet-Orfeu-$7.95

One night last week I was up brain noodling with band names, lyric writing what have you and I some how ended up on Ron's website listening to his streaming music. I heard tracks of this killa album and reminded myself about how much I love his playing and compositions. When I buy that acoustic bass this year and take lessons on it, his Building Jazz Bass Lines will be parked on my music stand.

Bruce James-The Wayside Drive Sessions-$9.99

This is a GREAT local Austin artist. I went to hear him and his Soultet at the Continental Gallery on Monday January 25, 2010. I was with my man Sam who is a good young keyboard player. Sam loves him and is going to start hanging with him to pick up some pointers. It was a night of hanging with cats. I knew Bruce just put out a new record, but he didn't have any on him that night. So I figure I'd go and pick up one at Cheapo. This disc is an early one, still slammin' though.

Here is a taste of The Bruce James Soultet:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Music (To Me) Tuesday

This is shopping spree is from Tuesday January 19. Some times I'm in completion mode-I buy music to replace stuff I have on cassette (yes I still have cassettes) or top off collections of my favorite artists (I have about 20 artists I gotta have every sound they've ever made on record...more on that list later). Like last week, I went to Waterloo Records.

The Police-Every Breath You Take-The Classics-$5.99

I'm not sure why I bought this. I have all the Police albums and can easily make a Police play list. I didn't have "Don't Stand So Close to Me '86". I know must people think it stinks and for the most part I agree with them. But this is a case of my music addiction. At the 4:12 mark in this track Sting's vocals sound so sweet. I wish they extended it more. Plus Stewart Copeland is in my top 10 for drum influences. To me, he plays drums like Thelonius Monk played piano. Rhythmic obtuse thought, plays the space. Some favorite moments from this collection-

At the 2:11 mark in "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" he drives into the chorus of the tune with 16th notes on the kick drum.

His crashing on the 4 or the and of 4 of measures and leaving space on the 1 of measures. It's everywhere in "Don't Stand So Close to Me" (original). Listen to the outro chorus that starts at the 3:15 mark, especially check his fills at 3:35 and 3:42 very Bernard Purdie

Stewart Copeland is awesome...

Paco de Lucia-John McLaughlin-Al Di Meola-Friday Night in San Francisco-$9.99

This is an album I wore out on cassette. I first heard this hanging out with some guitar players while I was at Berklee, a random dorm night where we dreamed and just got into the majestic, soaring music. This was my introduction to Paco De Lucia.

Isaac Hayes-Black Moses-$10.99

One of the best nicknames ever. This album is epic soul. The string arrangements are grand, his voice was strong. This album marks the man at the pinnacle of his powers. My favorite version of "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Part-Time Love" is just so epic.

Paul McCartney-Good Evening New York City-$14.99

2 CDs & a DVD of the show. Great value here. I think this live collection is very good. Love the song choices. His voice is strong and I always love watching him play and sing. He makes it look so easy. Plus, I love when he "covers" Beatle songs by John and George. His band is great, especially Abe Laboriel, Jr. He was at Berklee College of Music when I was there. I hung with him a few times, though I doubt he'd remember. Nice guy and great drummer.

Fela Kuti-Music is the Weapon-$9.99

This is another cassette that got a workout. Almost all of the text was worn off the plastic. I lost the jacket. All I knew was the title of the album. I got hip to Fela Kuti after he died. It was a case of his death moving to investigate the awesome influence of his music. I need to learn about him and his music. I have a general idea of the scope of him and his influence, but I need to dig deeper.

And the addiction grows....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gig Notes: Soul Track Mind-The Hole in the Wall Sat. 1-23-10

It was a wild one. The place was so packed the fire marshalls had to shut it down.

Both bands packed them in. T-Bird had never played the Hole in the Wall before, which was kinda surprising to me. The fire marshall cut about 20-30 minutes into their set. They fire marshalls were just doing their jobs and seemed cool about it. It was crowed in there, I was hanging in back or the front, not the performing room. While it was shut down, anyone leaving the club wasn't allowed back in and there was a line waiting to get in. I could see friends out side through the storefront like window. We called each other while looking through the glass, like prisoners of music.

After T-Bird performed a smokin' abbreviated set, we went on. The crowd was hyped and ready. We started with a couple of originals, then the set got bogged down because of the shortened time slot. That happens when a band is thrown a monkey wrench in the middle of a gig. All-in-all I thought the gig went well. Still, I had a hard time getting excited about it. The innate problems still exist-the drummer dropping beats, the singer focusing on cover tunes instead of originals, lack of CDs to sell in the club. The core TC's fans were there, which is mainly made of close band friends and they sing the covers. I was looking at the crowd and potential new fans were more into the covers, which is a problem in my opinion. When given the chance to play for such a crowd, the band should've been better prepared-musically focus on originals, have CDs with some stickers or T-shirts to sell, have a person roam/work the crowd and not just dance with friends. Opportunities work best when one is prepared. It's a drum I tried to beat but fell to deaf ears. Oh well, I took my $60 at the end of the night and ate a nice late-night meal at 24 Diner.

I guess it all comes full circle-STM is replacing me temporarily with the guy I replaced last year. He's a nice guy, but kinda a gunslinger on bass-he plays a six string bass, which is cool but his sense of pocket wavers like the drummer's. Like I said, Beat Don't Lie. A whack beat can't fool dancing feet and swinging hips & asses. Pocket & groove sticks and moves the crowd. Good luck to them...

Gig notes:
1. Cody Furr, bassist for T-Bird let me use his rig-Ampeg B-2RE head with a 4 x 10 cab (don't remember what it was...). The sound was good. It was nice not have to lug my Harkte 3500 with my ported Genz Benz XB4 cab. I gotta get a new amp/cabinet combo this year...
2. Played Clyde on the gig-my '78 Fender Jazz.
3. By the way, it irritated me to no end that we never documented the tunes we play or had solid set lists. It's like the key part of the show gets lost in time. Plus STM had a recorder so there was never a reason not to have recordings of the shows to listen to to get better & tighter.
4. It's always weird playing your last gig with a band you got fired from when it slow dawns on people that never really thought of it. "You must so excited about this year! What a gig to start the year off with!" Actually, not with this band....

Page turned.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pardon the Interruption

Cheers to the Saints, the football team for best music city in the United States-New Orleans, Louisiana- for the winning the NFC Championship and making it to the SuperBowl 44

American music really started in New Orleans. Congo Square was the seed of just about all original American music.

I had the great fortune to play in New Orleans a few times with Jim Lampos. I always loved the vibe & spirit of the people of New Orleans.

Some great musicians from New Orleans:

Louis Armstrong:

Professor Longhair:

The Meters:
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Fats Domino:

Branford Marsalis:

I know there are a ton of great musicians from New Orleans, but these 5 came to my mind instantly:

Louis Armstrong-The King of American Music. He is the root from where we all grow.

Professor Longhair-King of News Orleans Piano

The Meters-Cissy Strut changed my concept of rhythm when I was younger.

Fats Domino-Always loved his music and he was a prominent face of Katrina survivors.

Branford Marsalis-The concert that changed my life was in 1986. I saw Sting on his Dream of the Blue Turtles Tour. I was a sax player at the time. I saw Branford Marsalis and I thought he was the coolest musician I'd ever seen. The next day I went out and bought Scenes in the City & Royal Garden Blues. It was in the liner notes where I read that he attended Berklee College of Music. He is the reason I attended Berklee and continue to pursue music as a career.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Aftermath in 4 Parts: Part 4-The Finale?

"This is the end, beautiful friend..."

Tonight I play with Soul Track Mind for the last time, I think. I never say never, especially when it comes to playing with people. We musicians are loyal to music and money. Yeah I said it. Actually, playing on stage is pretty easy. It's the issues with personalities, the music business and all the prep work for the stage performance (writing, arranging, rehearsing music, etc..). All the stuff that puts us on stage to make the performance great. So when you see bands get back together, its for the love of the music and performing on stage. Or it's all that and the fact that a band can make a shit load of money-see The Eagles or The Police. The battles within those bands are legendary, but in the end-music and money can salve a lot of wounds.

The tonight's show at the Hole in the Wall with T-Bird & the Breaks was going to be a nice launching pad for a big 2010. Now, I think it will show the tale of 2 bands-one going up and one going down. There is a very interesting subtext that came to light recently. A little tidbit I got from Sam, the keys man. I'll see how it plays out and report back.

Just cause I'm a sentimental guy, here is a video of Soul Track Mind at Antone's September 7, 2009. The band had some promise and a bright future...Sorry Sam, this is before you got in the band...

The Week That Was: Birthdays

The Week In Birthdays:

January 17
Mick Taylor

(This is a great interview, a lot of relevant stuff even for musicians of today.)

January 18
David Ruffin

(The note he hits at the 57 sec mark is almost holy.)

January 19
Phil Everly

(This song was written by Paul McCartney)

Janis Joplin

Dolly Parton

January 20
Paul Stanley

(Can you take a threat from Paul Stanley seriously dressed like that?)


(Love this tune-Note how he name drops Alan Lomax)

January 21
Richie Havens

(Singing my favorite song of all time.)

Edwin Starr

( Love the line "Now when I kiss her lips, I turna back over flip" classic Motown lyric writing, turning a regular phrase into pop poetry.)

Billy Ocean

(Gotta love the background singers.)

January 22
Sam Cooke

(Love everything about this man's music)

January 23
Anita Pointer

Django Reinhardt

Friday, January 22, 2010

Open Thread

As I walk to the see Digital Antique's gig (it's on/by the UT campus-
the streets are a Myan maze. Impossible to find parking...Headed
toward Pie Guys Pizza... ) I'm thinking about the benefit for Haiti. I
love these kind of shows though I hate the reason for them. I recorded
on cassette the whole 9/11 concert. At least I'll be able to catch the
rerun on YouTube.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gig Notes: Soul Track Mind-TC's Lounge Wed 1-20-10

Well, last night was my last gig at TC's Lounge for awhile at least. I won't say ever because I would love to get back here with the instrumental group i want to do. Our performance was better than last week's, but like B.B. King sings "The Thrill is Gone"

The power of the band at our peak is not there. We're like a married couple going through the motions, passing each other like ships in the night. It's such a shame. I think the crowd felt it tonight. The singer was not connecting with the audience like he's capable of doing. The stories between songs were falling flat. I tried to play as excited as I could. It's hard when the crowd is not hyped up. When that happens, the band would usually feed off of each other's energy, but the energy was sapped. It was a "dead bassist/horn section walking situation". Our gig on Saturday with T-Bird & the Breaks should be energizing since it's my last gig and we want to perform well for T-Bird's crowd.

Random Gig Notes:

1. Played both basses tonight. The P-Bass was thick and gorgeous. Thanks to Chuck at the Bass Emporium for the great set-up.
2. When STM was on it's break from TC's, Mudbone Hustler filled in for us. Jenni Jones (singer) & Mike Steel (Drummer) from the band came out to hang. During the break, they ask me to help with some arranging for the band. They're looking for an experienced outside ear to help them out. I told them I would. It's an honor for me to help musicians out. The opportunity to try some ideas out gets me excited. Kinda like a very very very small time Gil Evans.

That's why the STM break-up sticks in my craw. We were doing pre-production rehearsals for the album. I was going to produce the album because I've done it before. I was the only member of the band that recorded on commercially released material. It was a chance to try some of my ideas out. Oh well, I'll get the chance on more positive projects.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Aftermath in 4 Parts: Part 3

Tonight is my last gig at TC's Lounge with Soul Track Mind.

Weekly gigs can be a grind, especially when you have a Clark Kent to be at in the morning. I was always proud to be part of band with a residency. It is a special thing and not common. People depend on you to provide the soundtrack to their night. Their night could be trying to forget a shitty day, trying to find a spark to light their way to a better place. People dancing, feeling free to find what they want or what they need. Booze, babes whatever. That's thing about being a musician that's so powerful-the chance to matter to somebody. Musicians are stewards of spiritual renewal. It's a responsibility I take seriously. "With great power, comes great responsibility"

It's a topic of one of my songs called "Song" (I tried to think of another title, really)

"Song" (c) GJAS 1997

You come to my world to cleanse your soul.
You come to seek me, to seek my control.
Tears, blood, visions, drugs are mixed in the stew.
Handle with the care of a child as I give it to you.

I carve a great stone.
I paint a thick wood.
My Song is in them.
My Song is in them. 2x's

When you crave a release, a release from a truth.
You come to me, the magic man-your spiritual sleuth.
I twist and churn, freeze and burn so you can be free.
All I need for my hunger feed is some love from you to me.

I carve a great stone.
I paint a thick wood.
My Song is in them.
My Song is in them. 2x's

Freedom from your soul.
Freedom for your pain.

I turn off the valve now, the cipher is drained.
The color schemes from the other world, the other world are gained.
Dreams and fears, standing near the omnipresent gate.
I'm in the constant state-a tour guide for fate.

I carve a great stone.
I paint a thick wood.
My Song is in them.
My Song is in them.

It's why we get into this stupid business. It's why bands get together and break up and marginal players want a piece of it. Every other profession wants to a piece of it (politicians, athletes, CEOs are want to be describe this way). The ultimate description of cool, control, style, culture king or queen, tastemaker, zeitgeist zinger, meme manipulator is


I'm off to lay down rockstar bass....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sign 'o the Times

Not the cool Prince tune/album:

This article by Daniel Wakin from The New York Times highlights a strike by the musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra. The following sentences drill down to the main point-

"In Cleveland, the fight revolves around several thousand dollars a year in salary for each player. But implicit is a debate over the worth of exquisitely trained musical artists in our society and how much we are now willing to pay for them."

As all artists move into the world of easy distribution and expectations of cheap or free content everywhere, our society really needs to answer this question.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Soundtrack Attack

This weekend I took part in filming a web series with some my friends. It's a 12 episode mini-comedy series. It's based on exaggerated versions of ourselves that appear on the LEOG podcast. On of the main creators asked me to create some music for the series. Soundtrack music is a field I've always wanted to get into. I listen to soundtracks all the time. I need to learn more about composing and classical music (I think I might look into taking some courses in composition online from Berklee College of Music)

He's looking for something similar to the Fratellis

Poppy, kinda silly happy rock. Cool stuff. I have some instrumental material like this already. What I need to do is upgrade my home recording gear so I can create soundscapes for images. Another film gig I want is music supervisor. I have a good feel for music & the visual image. What I need to do is get up to date on my copyright and licensing education. Here is a good primer from the LA Times about a career as as music supervisor.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Week That Was: Birthdays & History

The Week In Birthdays:

January 10
Rod Stewart

Max Roach

January 12
Mississippi Fred McDowell

George Duke

January 14
Allen Toussaint

L.L. Cool J

January 15
Captain Beefheart

January 16
Sade (Her new album Soldier of Love drops on February 9, 2010)

And on January 16, 1957 The Cavern Club opens on Matthew Street in Liverpool.

This picture is from 2000. As a HUGE Beatle fan, I was in heaven when I visited the Cavern Club. Yes, it was awesome.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Prepping the P-Bass

I dropped of my 2008 Precision Bass at The Bass Emporium on Wednesday. My man Chuck is a great resource for me. I originally was going set the bass up like James Jamerson's '62 Precision Bass with flat wound strings. Chuck moved me from that idea because slapping on flatwounds sounds dead and I always love the occasional slap & pop to accent lines. Even on the deep, soul, phat lines I love to carveI will throw in a nice rhythmic slap. He recommended I put on Thomastik-Infeld Infeld Superalloy 45-105. They're long lasting and the winding gives the strings the flexibility I'm acostume to with my DR Hi-Beam strings on my '78 Jazz. For the time being, I'm just going to have the set-up and keep the original pick-ups. I was never the type of player that got super into gear. I tend to rely on reviews, what players I like use and knowledgeable people like Chuck.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gig Notes: Soul Track Mind-TC's Lounge Wed 1-13-10

Wish we had him last night.

Beat don't lie. I co-opted that phrase from NBA player/sage philosopher Rasheed Wallace's famous "Ball Don't Lie".

I wrote about it here-6 months ago.

Last night's gig was not good.

We had major tempo problems and dropped beats. We all made mistakes, but beat don't lie. When the drummer stops in the middle of a solo and I have to count us in, there is a problem. When the drummer still makes mistakes on the same songs we've been playing 2x a week since May, there is a problem. When the lead singer has to constantly turn around and scold the drummer about tempo, there is a problem. On the band stand, we all made mistakes. My hand slipped on the fretted board a few times, so did the guitarist's hand. Keys, horns even the lead singer we all made mistakes, but the drummer has made the same consistent mistakes over & over & over again. A house on a faulty foundation cannot stand.

As I was getting fired from the band, I had a frank (and not so subtle rant) about talent and focus. About if a person has "it" or not. A musician needs to have self-awareness of how they fit in a situation. If you haven't played the trap kit since high school, you go to college for music business and play percussion, then move to Austin-how do you expect to keep up with a professional weekly gigging band? The band is too advanced. A drummer needs time in the woodshed-build limb endurance and independence, work on keeping steady time, etc. If a musician is in over his or her head, the right thing to do is to bow out. Plus, lessons never hurt. If you are serious about getting your chops up, you can go to talk to great drummers at gigs, ask around for teachers. If you don't have bread for lessons, there are DVDs, You Tube.

STM had a nice build up of funds, things could've been worked out to help. But when the singer says he values loyalty (which is "do things the way I want even when I have no idea what I'm doing") over talent, one can see the issues that will arise in the future.

When I was at Berklee College of Music, I went as an alto sax major. I worked hard, practiced all the time, transcribed music, listened to all the greats (my fav alto player is Cannonball Adderley), yada, yada. As I was in those sweaty practice rooms, it dawned on me that I didn't have "it" as a sax player. I couldn't get all the sounds out of my head into my fingers. I was taking bass lessons with Ed Friedland outside of Berklee (He's in Austin now, when I buy a upright later this year, I will study with him again to get my chops up on the upright). In those lessons, I saw the light. I felt a better connection to music through the bass. I repeated my study habits for the bass and the results speak for themselves.

This all from my point of view, of course. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Random gig notes:

1. I only took one bass-Clyde ('78 Fender Jazz). The '08 P-Bass is getting set up by Mr. Chuck from The Bass Emporium
2. Crowd was made up of mostly friends and was less than last week. Plus, when announcements are made from the stage, they're falling flat. No album recording, not other big gigs lined up after January 23 with T-Bird and the Breaks.

"Something happening here, but ya don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aftermath in 4 Parts: Part 2

Tonight is the Soul Track Mind gig. It's cold & raining-only music can get me to leave the crib tonight. Only 2 more gigs before my obligation is done. I know they're having a had time replacing me, which I must say, makes me kinda happy. Actually, going on my listening and music buying spree kinda gives me a STM rash. Plus, a bunch of acts are putting out new albums (The Soldier Thread, Spoon, Vampire Weekend, etc...). American Idol is back on the air. The album that we were planning was going to be very good. I had a feeling it was going to be special.

Another thing that drives musicians is a friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) competition. We all want to rock, kick ass on stage. We all want to upstage the band opening for us or coming on after us. We all want our album to change the world. Any musician who doesn't feel that should play in their room. Beatles vs. Stones vs. The Beach Boys, Stax vs Motown, Miles vs. Everybody, Tupac vs. Biggie, Soul Track Mind vs. T-Bird & the Breaks vs. Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys vs. Bruce James Soultet, etc. Truth is all us musicians love being part of the scene-New Orleans in the early 20th Century, Chicago in the '20s, Kansas City in the '30s, New York City ( jazz-'30s to '60s, punk/CBGBs-'70s, hip hop-'80s & '90s, Brooklyn '00s...), England, San Francisco and L.A. in the '60s and Austin, Seattle in the '90s. A hell of a lot of culture changing music came from those scenes (and thousands more). We all want to be part of it, get a taste of it and add some flavor to it.

Damn it's 9PM. Time for me to add some of my spice tonight on bass.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Music (To Me) Tuesday

For 2010, one of my goals is buy some music every week. There is nothing I love more than to comb the aisles of a record store with my iPhone music playlist on shuffle. I drift and dream, letting the waves of music push and pull me towards new adventures or visits to old friends. I love to touch the CDs or Albums, view the artwork and smile to myself about what I loved about the artist as a teenager or what girl I tried to get in bed with the killer mixtape (NOBODY was better with mixtapes than me.) or what respected artist told me to listen and learn a riff, melody or rhythm. That's the magic of music-it brings you forward, stays in the moment and takes you back-all at the same time.

This week's shopping spree was down at Waterloo Records in Austin and a download from iTunes at home (for me, iTunes purchases are total impulse buys)

1. Ten (Legacy Edition)-Pearl Jam: iTunes download
I was never a big Pearl Jam fan. I respect what they stand for and see their talent. This is the only album I really liked. "Jeremy" is such a great song. It moves me, makes me think and I have mad love for Jeff Ament's killer 12 string bass sound. Plus I love how Eddie Vedder holds the 3rd as he starts the the 2nd verse( at the 1:30 mark) of "Even Flow". I also dig "Black".-$16.99

All the rest were bought combing the aisles of Waterloo Records:

2. Contra-Vampire Weekend
I wrote about my 1st listen to this wonderful album here.-$10.99

3. All This Useless Beauty-$5.99

4. When I Was Cruel-$1.00

5. The Delivery Man-$1.00

Catching up on completing my Elvis Costello collection. By the way, Costello has the best artist wiki I've seen. It even has the concert set list when I saw him at the Backyard Oct 6, 2002.

6. Sorcerer-Miles Davis-$7.99

I'm always playing catch-up with the massive Miles Davis discography. I love this quintet-Miles, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams.

7. Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1-Traveling Wilburys-$7.99

In 1988, I was a 17 and my girlfriend at the time couldn't understand why I love the album (tape back then). I made her sit down and listen to it. She said something like, "Why do you like this old guys? I know you like the Beatles, so I give you this-George sounds the best..." Music should always be this easy to make. The feeling of this album is how I wish I can live life-easy, breezy, with a wink and a nod plus a wry sense of humor.

8. Kula-M.I.A.-$11.99

Last Saturday night after seeing a show, I attended an after party at my friend Travis Kennedy's (Hopefully, the engineer of the album I want to put out later this year) place with a group of cool people. We were all chatting and chillin' until Tara Lacy (music writer for and staffer at Austin360) came by and blew up the party. She put on this CD and we all danced to the whole disc. I admit, I'm late to the genius of this woman. "Paper Planes" was huge, but I think it's the worst song on the album. That's not a bad thing, cause that song is very good. Whenever I listen to this album, I will think of the great time I had dancing in the dark drunk with great friends.

Family Snapshots

Not the awesomely creepy Peter Gabrial song

My guitars-

Here are four of them L-R: Blondie (Washburn HB-35 Semi-Hollowbody with Seymour Duncan '59 humbucker pick-ups), Clyde (1978 Fender Jazz, with Nostrand NJ4SV Pick-Ups & 2TEK bridge), My 2008 Fender USA P-Bass and my Washburn acoustic guitar:

The Brothers Bass:

The New Kid on The Block:

I have to get a name for this bass. I'm going to get him set up like James Jamerson's Funk Machine-La Bella Flatwound strings, but a low action. He played a '62 Fender P-Bass. I like this one because of the string-through construction. For me, it give the bass a full sound. I like having a sonically full instrument because when I pull it in and /or add effects, the sound holds up better. In my opinion, it's easier to take off fullness than trying to add it. After it's set up, I play it for the 1st time and then the name will come to me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Listen to This: On the Beat

I listen to On The Beat with Celia Hirschman every week. Her show covers all aspects of the music business. Her show last Wed 1-06-10 was great primer on what I think is the largest challenge for musicians-managing metadata.

This is an issue I've been intrigued with my whole life. The lifeblood of the music business is music. I've been fascinated with the music business since I was a kid-reading about what happened to the Beatles, John Fogerty and others with song rights (not to mention a bunch of blues & jazz artists). Writers & publishers need to keep track of the vital information to track record sales to get paid correctly. The real salvo in the digital rights/payment war was fired when SoundScan was implemented in 1991. The record business changed overnight. The next week when Billboard printed the SoundScan listings, some dude name Garth Brooks was all over the charts. There's always been fishy ways the record industry counted record sales-calling stores, paying DJs for playing singles to boost numbers, using shipping information (and not counting returns), etc.

With digital distribution, a guy like me can release a professional album to the masses, monitor sales and collect funds for those sales. SoundScan, though, figures to be less involved in the future of monitoring these sales. From the transcript of the show:

"Today, SoundScan collects data from their network of participating retailers and creates a myriad of sales reports for their clients. With SoundScan, labels are able to see which albums are selling best in what regions, artists are able to focus their tours in areas which have the greatest sales, and record stores can prioritize their album purchasing. Everyone can see just how well an artists' record is doing. This system works very well within the closed system of the old record business. But the digital age has brought a more disruptive philosophy in the music business. Many do-it-yourself musicians couldn't care less about SoundScan, and that's where the point of sales system falls apart.

Today, artists big and small release their music through digital retailers like iTunes, CD Baby and eMusic. And while these online retailers report all sales to SoundScan, SoundScan only recognizes those titles registered in their system. While the cost to register an album with SoundScan is free, it's that one extra step that many indie bands miss or ignore. And the result is a skewed landscape that doesn't accurately reflect true sales.

While this is disheartening, the SoundScan problem just underscores a much bigger issue in the record business. That is the issue of metadata management. Metadata is the bits of information that surround a song – for instance the publishers, the writers, the label, the musicians, the bar code and the owners. That metadata, while seemingly trivial, is actually the bread and butter of the new business. While protecting intellectual copyright is most definitely the overarching concern of the record industry, it's the good management of information behind the songs that will ultimately seed a strong and fair business environment. According to SoundScan, in 2009, over a billion tracks were sold. That's a lot of data to manage.

While many well-meaning organizations lay claim to managing pieces of the metadata pie, there's not one organization in the US that handles the complete scope. Not one. For musicians, accurately protecting the current landscape is one of the most important issues of the new year."

I'm watching my metadata for 2010.