Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Links Of Interest

Some shit you might find interesting.  I know I did.

  • Robin Thicke may not be an actual rapist, but he plays one on TV.
  • Here's a comic I can relate to.  Somewhere there are recordings of me, my siblings and some friends acting like jackasses like this.  If I can find it, and if I can digitize it, you'll be the first to hear it.  You might not like me for it, but hey:  you'll be the first to not like me for it.
  • Check out this rather dope performance by The Ace of Cups, courtesy of Notes Toward Everything.
  • What do Kayne West and Joy Division have in common?  Peter Saville.

Long Overdue Trowar Report

I flew out on Sept. 4th to Redmond, Washington for rehearsals and a gig.  Here's what happened.

My personal goals for this trip were as follows:
  • Stay hungry.  Literally (I'm close to meeting my weight loss goals; must resist urge to pig out/eat garbage) and metaphorically (always be looking for ways to improve, practice as though my life depended upon it). 
  • Keep my mouth shut.  Absorb everything.  Leave assessment of performance to everyone else.
  • Be ready for anything.  . . . and embrace it with zeal.
  • Find joy in the process.  If you don't enjoy (or at least value) even the tedium of the process, then the end product will not work.
Rehearsals for a Saturday night gig began in earnest on Sept. 5th. Things were different this time as Fred brought in a vocal coach to work with him on singing.  After our last gig, bringing vocals out became a priority.   That was to continue this trip, as was the movement towards refining the blues power trio sound we are working on.  

I wanted tightening my bas playing, and I tried my hand at some vocal harmonies.  I feel like this added a welcome dimension to the songs.  When I was hitting the harmonies, the songs began to feel more refined, more "finished".  When I can pull it off, I love singing and playing at the same time, but that is particularly hard for me. Still, the taste of even small successes in rehearsals proved addictive, so I was not shy about stepping up to the mic to sing.

The set itself was the same set from the last gig plus a new tune that has a reggae feel.  I was a little leery of the reggae tune as I don't listen to reggae on a regular basis and wasn't sure I could find a bass run for it.  I did, and John and Fred loved it.  I'm pretty proud of it too, truth to be told.  I found myself thinking "not bad for some whitebread dude from a land locked state."  

Our rehearsals were as intense and as long as ever, and none of us would have it any other way.  Fred was under additional pressure to make sure he was staying on the mic. Emily (vocal coach) was there to remind him.  I felt bad for Fred in a way - there was no hiding behind solos this time, not with Emily in the room being a taskmaster!  Fred was under a lot of pressure.

The gig itself was at Pete's again, a venue we had had some sound struggles at before.  After the opening act came and did their thing (and they played great!), we took the stage and were beginning to have a bad sort of deja vu: mics not working, a wall of undefined sound kept Fred and I from locking in any vocals.  I found myself backing away from the microphone, opting for no harmonies instead of shitty harmonies.  Fred soldiered through, doing the best he could, wrecking his voice in the process.  Still, he stuck it out even though he was not at all in his comfort zone and was displeased with the sound.

About halfway through the set, the ship was righted.  The sound got better as did our respective vocal and instrumental performances.  Fred put John on the spot and John improvised a monster drum solo.  Although John later stated he was not please with his solo, I credit it with reviving our set energy-wise (and I say this as a person who is not the biggest fan of drum solos).  I'd say we ended much stronger than we started, and to the small crowd gathered there, we sounded great.  This was one of our strongest public showings to date.

We met briefly after the gig to discuss the show and the direction of the band.  We decided that we are in fact improving significantly, and we need to plunge ahead with the path we've set laid out, specifically:
1. Continued vocal work
2. Background vocal work
3. Tighten up a couple minor arrangement sections and tighten up the endings
4. Work on the song segues  going into each other 
Speaking for myself, I'm getting more and more excited about this project.  I've seen glimpses of where we are going, and it should be pretty amazing if we keep at it on a regular basis.

What of my personal goals?  I'd assess my own performance this way:
  • Stay hungry = B.  There is always more that can be done. Always.
  • Keep mouth shut = B+.  To stretch a metaphor, my two cents is worth more if I'm not squandering my intellectual capital on a myriad of topics.
  • Be ready for anything = C+.  I needed to react better to the sound morass I found myself in.  It was obvious a few times I was discombobulated.
  • Find joy in the process = A.  I'm definitely pumped about the direction this band is going.  I hope we can pick up the pace even more.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Swansong

As the crisp, fall morning warmed to a stunning fall day, and after the final notes of Fred Eaglesmith's "Before I Go" were offered to the Bloomington Farmer's Market crowd; Dan, Kevin and I nodded at each other and began taking down our gear.  This was the last Creekdogs gig for the foreseeable future; maybe the last ever Creekdogs gig.  This past Saturday couldn't have been more perfect (at least weather-wise) for it.
One last sound check.
I've had time to emotionally prepare for this, so I was able to enjoy the gig.  You have to understand I've been playing with Dan and Kevin since something like 2005, possibly earlier.  Knowing that this was our last gig was really hard on me for awhile.  I thought about it real hard - what was it that was making me so heart broken about it?  I mean, I could literally feel pain in my chest when I thought about the fact we only had one more gig left to do.

I determined that it wasn't so much that I'll miss the music, although that is certainly a huge part of it.  I have really come to love those two.  The thought that I will no longer be interacting with them on a regular basis has really bummed me out pretty badly.  There was a great deal of comfort with those guys and I never, ever took for granted a single moment I had with them.  My greatest gigs and musical moments have happened because of them, and I will always be indebted to both of them because of it.

As my wife has pointed out, you never know what the future will bring.  Maybe this will not be the last of the Creekdogs.  But for now, I believe it probably is.  And that's okay.  I'm not as sad as I once was about it.  Now I am just grateful beyond words.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let Us Conclude 80s Overload Week

I'm not going to lie to you:  it feels like 80s Overload Weeks is going out with a whimper - even the once mighty fell into the crap morass of the Reagan years (I'm looking at you, Rolling Stones and the Who).  Maybe I did actually OD on 80s music, because my enthusiasm for the songs gradually waned.  Still, it was fun to dig many of these out, and I'm glad to have them all in one place.  I hope you enjoyed this trip back to the Golden Age of Music Video (and Independent Music as well).

  1. Sheila E. - “Glamorous Life
  2. Daryl Hall - “Dream Time
  3. Rockwell - “Somebody’s Watching Me
  4. Eurythmics - “Here Comes The Rain Again
  5. Dan Hartman - “I Can Dream About You
  6. John Lennon - “Nobody Told Me
  7. The Rolling Stones - “Undercover of the Night
  8. The Pointer Sisters - “Automatic
  9. Phillip Bailey - “Easy Lover

Friday, September 13, 2013

80s Overload Continues: The Good, The Bad, And Mostly Ugly

80s overload continues.  It's getting out of hand. . . .
  1. Musical Youth - “Pass The Dutchie
  2. Eddie Grant - “Electric Avenue
  3. Sergio Mendes - “Alibis
  4. Toto - “Rosanna
  5. Suzanne Vega - “Luka
  6. Kajagoogoo - “Too Shy
  7. Mr. Mister - “Kyrie
  8. Steve Miller - “Abracadabra
  9. Pete Townshend - “Slit Skirts
  10. The Who - “You Better You Bet
  11. Culture Club - “Time (Clock of the Heart)
  12. Chaka Khan - “I Feel For You
  13. Billy Joel - “Allentown
  14. Belinda Carlise - “Heaven Is A Place On Earth
  15. Eric Carmen - “Hungry Eyes
  16. Power Station - “Some Like It Hot
  17. Icehouse - “Electric Blue
  18. Pet Shop Boys - “Always On My Mind
  19. Level 42 - “Something About You
20. Dream Academy - “Life In A Northern Town

By all means - make your suggestions in the comments below.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

80s Overload Week Continues: Day Five Is College Radio Day

I exempt independent/college from any barbs I directed at 80s music in general.  The 80s were the Golden Age of Independent Music.  It's audience was less fragmented and very loyal - they spent money on the records, the shows, and the merch.  There was a sincere attempt to move some of the artistic goal posts, and the musicianship ranged from amazing to thought provoking.  There was a strong, independent network of record stores and venues carrying the torch of independent music.  Let's take a break from the commercial stuff and take a listen to what was generally the polar opposite of commercial radio both in sound and vision.

  1. The Jam - “A Town Called Malice
  2. The Cure - “Just Like Heaven
  3. The Smiths - “How Soon Is Now?
  4. REM - “Catapult
  5. Elvis Costello - “Everyday I Write The Book
  6. Camper Van Beethoven - “She Divines Water
  7. The Dead Kennedys - “Terminal Preppie
  8. The Bodeans - “Runaway
  9. Public Enemy - “Night of the Living Baseheads
  10. NWA - “Express Yourself
  11. The Long Ryders - “10-5-60
  12. Robyn Hitchcok and the Egyptians - “Balloon Man
  13. The Pretenders - “Back on the Chain Gang
  14. The Clash - “Rock The Cashbah
  15. Peter Gabriel - “Solsbury Hill”
  16. Wall of Voodoo - “Mexican Radio
  17. The Waterboys - “Fisherman’s Blues
  18. Psychadelic Furs - “Heartbreak Beat”, “Pretty In Pink
  19. New Order - “Age of Consent”, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
  20. The Replacements - “Rattlesnake
  21. XTC - “Respectable Street
  22. Big Audio Dynamite - “Medicine Show
  23. Echo And The Bunnymen - “Lips Like Sugar
  24. The Squeeze - “Pulling Mussels From A Shell
  25. The La’s - “There She Goes
  26. Modern English - “I Melt With You
  27. They Might Be Giants - “Ana Ng
  28. The Violent Femmes - “Blister In the Sun
  29. Midnight Oil - “U.S. Forces
  30. De La Soul - “Me Myself and I
  31. The Stone Roses - “Fool’s Gold
  32. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin - “Gray Cell Green
  33. Blondie - “Dreaming
  34. Husker Du - “Celebrated Summer
  35. 10,000 Maniacs - “Like The Weather
  36. The Red Hot Chili Peppers - “Hollywood, Africa
  37. Jane’s Addiction - “Classic Girl”
  38. Sinead O’Conner - “Mandika
  39. OMD - “If You Leave
  40. The Pixies - “Debaser
  41. Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper - “Stuffin’ Martha’s Muffin

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

80s Overload Week Continues: Day Four

Still more 80s music - you're bound to find SOMETHING you like.
  1. A Flock of Seagulls - “Space Age Love Song
  2. Marshall Crenshaw - “Someday, Someway
  3. Paul Hardcastle - “19
  4. Theme from “Greatest American Hero
  5. Crowded House - “Don’t Dream It’s Over”
  6. Asia - “Only Time Will Tell
  7. Patti Smythe and Scandal - “Goodbye To You
  8. Pat Benetar - “We Belong
  9. Jackson Brown - “Somebyody’s Babe
  10. Phil Collins - “Against All Odds
  11. Bruce Springsteen - “Dancin’ In The Dark
  12. Sheena Easton - “For Your Eyes Only
  13. Deniece Williams - “Let’s Hear It For The Boy
  14. Soft Cell - “Tainted Love
  15. Ray Parker Jr - “A Woman Needs Love
  16. Christopher Cross - “Sailing
  17. Cathy Dennis - “Touch Me All Night Long
  18. J. Geils Band - “Freeze Frame
  19. The Kinks - “Come Dancing
20. Def Leppard - “Photograph

Other pertinent links if you're new to this celebration of 80s crap music: