Friday, March 29, 2013

Fat Friday BATTLE ROYALE: Round One Winners

I will do a graphic representation later on down the road, but here are the bassists who advance to the next round of my little contest of bassists featured at this blog.  Here's how the tournament started, and here are the next round's match ups:

The Women's Division:

  • Esperanza Spalding (defeated Aimee Mann) vs. Meshell Ndeleocello (defeated - narrowly - Kim Clarke)
The Unknown Bassists Division:
  • Unknown Bassist from Steppenwolf (defeated Unknown Bassist from Felix Da Housecat) vs. the Unknown Bassist from the Pointer Sisters (who defeated Unknown Dude Demoing A Staggs Electric Upright Bass)
The Dark Horse Division:
  • The Joel Paterson Trio's Beau Sample (defeated Bridget Kearney of Lake Street Dive) vs. the Vince Guaraldi Trio's Fred Marshall (defeated Urban Dance Squad's Silvano Matadin)
The Bass Establishment Division:
  • The Who's John Entwistle (defeated Charles Mingus) vs. Rush's Geddy Lee (defeated Yes's Chris Squire)
I will confess to having no set judging criteria - it was highly subjective.  That being said, it made me think about each individual matchup in a different and unique way, which I think is good.  I looked at each match up and more or less thought about:
  • Which player do I listen to more?
  • Which player has had a bigger influence on both my life and my playing?
  • Which player has the better technical chops?  Which player plays with more feeling/energy?
  • What are other considerations for why I like this player so much?  (Band leader?  Song writer?  Singer?  Activist?
I did disqualify a few people outright to make it competitive.  For example, if Mike Watt was in this bracket, he'd most assuredly win.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Fat Friday Feature BATTLE ROYALE!

Everybody and their sister is doing a bracket, so what the heck:  I'll do it too.  This one is a battle between some of the bass players I have showcased on "Fat Friday Features".  Where will the victor come from?  The Women's division?  The Unknowns division?  The Bass Establishment division?  Or the Dark Horse division?  Over the next few days, I'll update with my picks.  But I'd love to hear your picks for each round - leave 'em in the comments section.
(Click to enlarge.)

Here's a link to a graphical representation if'n you want to print a bracket up.  And below are the contenders, each linked to their respective blog entries.  May that baddest bass player win!


The Women:
The Establishment:
The Random Dudes:
The Dark Horses:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: I'm In Lessons Again

We've got a piano in our house now, the next logical step is lessons.  I can cross piano lessons off the list now:  I start piano lessons next week.  I'm pretty excited.  I need to hit it hard as this will really do a lot to round me out as a musician; it will really make a lot of things come together for me.  My goals are simple and in this order:
  1. Start on theory as soon as possible so that I might be able to improvise, thereby making me a better bass player.  (So yes, I'm learning piano to be a better bass player.)
  2. Start on theory as soon as possible to begin doing some songwriting.
  3. Learn to read music.
My teacher (Sean) is a bass player in the Jacobs School of Music who specializes in jazz.  He'll be finishing his studies soon (I think in December), but I don't care:  I think this will be a good fit and I'm ready to go.  Exciting stuff - I hope it works out!

Now to get the kids enrolled in lessons as well. . .

Monday, March 18, 2013

Off Topic: Some Notes On My NCAA Picks

It is March.  It is the time of year when we have to put up with obnoxious corporately coined and trademarked terms like "March Madness" and "bracketology".  It is the time of year when even your mom can place smarter bets than you and flat screened TVs go on sale ("MARCH MAYHEM SALE!!") for the first time since the Super Bowl.  It is the time when reporters drag out their tired ass stories about all the productivity that will be lost filling out brackets and streaming basketball games on the down low at work.  Of course I'm talking about the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

I'm indifferent at best to basketball, which I'm pretty sure is a prosecutable offense here in the state of Indiana. I do, of course, follow the Indiana Hoosiers and to a lesser extent Notre Dame; but I can't tell you anything about the game itself or regale you with statistics and bullshit opinions.  I was always a "football guy" because I could relate to the brutality and toughness of the sport. Basketball in my estimation required coordination and grace that I could never even dream of, so there are few things in the game that piqued my interest.

That being said, it is the sport of the buzzer beater and the 3-point shot (and the three point buzzer beater).  Leads can swing wildly; "Goliaths" are slain by "Cinderellas".  A perfectly timed, authoritative dunk or block can swing the momentum of the game, and all the crap we like about sports (competition, redemption, drama, etc.) is present in abundance at tournament time.  There's all that, and honestly the Big 10 looks really strong this year - I want to see what happens to those teams. So I did two brackets in cousin Brian's tournament pool.

Here's the low down on my picks:

  • I have Louisville winning one and Michigan winning the other.
  • I have the Big 10 making a strong showing in both brackets, but more so in one bracket than the other.
  • My picks are pretty conservative - I don't have a lot of upsets picked.  Anything I have would be called a "surprise" more than an upset.
  • I tried to remove my heart from the picking process, relying instead on instinct and seed number.
  • Even though I didn't have them winning it all, I am optimistic about Indiana's chances to win it all.
What about your picks - what do they look like?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I'm Durnk/Drunk Blogging

I ranted at one point about assholes who use music stands when they play (of course, there are some exemptions).  I'd link to it, but even my browser is being an asshole.*  Guess what?  I used a music stand for a gig tonight.  I was playing ukulele for a great song called "Hula Blues".  I still sucked.  You know why?  Because I didn't practice.  The music stand didn't help.

Tonight, I watched two bands after us play.  The second one was boring as shit.  I noticed that they had a rhythm player, a lead player, and a bass player.  They all had tuners attached to their headstocks.  What's the common thread you might ask.   It's this:  the tuners on the head stocks, the music stands - they're safety nets.  They're crutches.  There are exceptions, but not many - I've seen video of (but not live) footage of Esperanza Spalding playing with a clip on tuner on her headstock.

Again I say:  fuck your music stand.  Fuck your clip on tuner.  They are distraction.  They belay your lack of confidence.  They tell me you didn't practice/you don't practice/you're scared shitless.  You're still boring/local/not even wedding reception quality.  Practice, practice, practice  - that's the only way.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bad TV Made Me Do It

When I was in college, I went with a bunch of my buddies to camp out on some property near Kokomo, Indiana.  We did what you'd expect a bunch of college dudes to do on a camp out - we drank a bunch, passed out in our tents, then got up and ate breakfast at my buddy's parents'  house.  When that was done - when the stale, cheap beer was farted/shat out, there was interest in target shooting with some hand guns.  I said no thanks and opted to stay in and watch TV - hardly a surprise to anyone who knows me as I have no use for guns.  Heck, I actively hate guns.  There was no way I was going to participate no matter how much ribbing I had to suffer.

I found myself staring blankly at the TV after about fifteen minutes.  Laps and laps around the channels, nothing but soul-sucking trash.  I couldn't find anything on those channels that engaged any part of me in the slightest way.  I was so bored/annoyed that I actually went out and joined the shooters in the cornfield.  It was the first (and only) time in my life I have ever fired a handgun, a device that dispenses only tragedy from it's barrel.*  And bad TV drove me to do it.

Fast forward to 2013.  Our household doesn't have cable; we pretty much just get the public TV channels.  Our current DSL set up delivers speeds too shitty to think about streaming, but with Netflix DVDs to compliment the public TV channels, we don't feel like we're wanting for anything.  There's no need or desire to "upgrade" to cable or satellite (although one day, that DSL is going to have to be upgraded).

But as anyone who listens to public radio or watches public TV knows, at some point you have to suffer through the cursed pledge drive.  Sometimes, this is okay - they might break out some of their best stuff to try and attract donors.  I remember one night watching a great nature documentary followed by Scorsese's Bob Dylan documentary.  It was an excellent, enlightening night.  Tonight, however, was not one of those nights.  Tonight was lots of white dudes in patterned sweaters telling me what I'd get for pledging at the $120 level.  Tonight was Julia Childs.  (Her food looks amazing; I just can't get into her shows for some reason.)  Tonight was a Frontline that I had already seen, and I was too tired to be worked up by it.  We were out of luck on Netflix DVDs because the next batch of new DVDs hadn't arrived yet.  I couldn't talk my wife into watching one of my favorite movies for the millionth time.  I decided to chuck it all and play bass.  I know - I shocked myself with that decision too.

I started by drilling with a metronome and was bored with that in about 15 minutes.  I decide to do a "shoot around":  picking songs from my computer and learning them/playing along with them.  I figured this would last another 15 mins and I'd get pissed off because I couldn't figure out something.  I imagined I'd be in bed before 10 PM.

I am delighted to have been wrong.  Every time I do a shoot around, I wonder why I don't do it more often. It's incredibly enjoyable.  I don't take it too seriously - I'm only looking to have fun.  I finish feeling energized having played bass on some great songs by some great bands.  I learn a little something and my chops get slightly better.  My mood is light and I can go to bed feeling like I didn't waste my night.  I gotta do this more often\lesson learned for the hundredth time.  If you're a musician (or aspire to be a musician), you've gotta do this now and again.  It's a helluva way to blow off steam.

Here's what tonight's shoot around encompassed:

* - I haven't had a desire to shoot a gun since then, and that was the last time I've shot any fire arm.  (Something like 15-20 years.)  That being said, I have to admit it was kinda fun.

[UPDATED] The Asia song is now linked to the correct video.  Even if you hate that song/band, you should watch the video.  It's hilariously bad.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Beware Of Mr. Baker

I'm not necessarily a Cream/Ginger Baker fan, but this movie looks great.  I just added to my Netflix queue though it's not yet available.  The thing is that judging by the trailer, this is the age old rock n' roll lifestyle trajectory.  Alas, it doesn't get old for me for some reason, particularly if the person seems genuinely skilled (Like Ginger Baker).  At any rate, I'm looking forward to checking this out.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Songs From The Golden Age Of Music Video

It was a time when the threat of nuclear annihilation was still present and very real.  It was a time when Ronald Reagan was still a man, not some sort weird folk hero he is thought to be now.  A time when mousse (remember hair mousse?) was in every bathroom closet, allowing bangs to rise up into great tidal waves of hair, constantly threatening to crash down upon foreheads across the nation.  A new art form enjoyed a meteoric rise into our national consciousness, forever changing how we enjoy music.  It was the Golden Age of Music video.

The Ultimate Line Up

It's fun for me to fantasize what this must've been like.  You work all day, come home to your apartment, read for a bit, fix yourself a light dinner, read for a bit more, then walk to the Coltrane gig.  Or Monk.  Or Lightnin' Hopkins.  Can you dig it?  (Source.)