Monday, May 25, 2015

Cell Phone Dump: Photos From The Acoustic Roots Gig

Here are some photos my wife Mary Beth took at the gig.
Left to Right:  Mark Stonechiper, Misty Stevens, me, and Mike Curtis.

Note the poor placement of the mic - it should
be in front of the sound hole.  I tried to no avail to move it up during the show  multiple
times .

Hanging with my bear cub after the show.  She
loves to dance!

Gig Report: M&M&MM At The Acoustic Roots Festival

As mentioned previously, I had a gig this past Saturday at Upland Brewery at the Acoustic Roots Festival.  I'm pleased to report we played very well; and for once, I can look back on my own performance and say it was almost error free.We had a very short set - 30 minutes - so I didn't have much time to screw up, that's for sure.  I felt like we played a little faster than we normally do, but that's to be expected - the nerves always account for a little bit of extra speed.  The weather was fantastic - lower 80s and mostly sunny.  The whole set up was very professional, from special "artist" areas to local food vendors and even a "green room" with snacks for the performers.
My artist pass and vouchers for two
free beers. 
Probably my only complaint was despite the good publicity for this show, there weren't a whole lot of people there, at least not when we played.  Since most people like to hit the road or have other things to do on Memorial Day, perhaps it is not the best weekend for this event.  I took off after having a beer, eating some Delicious pork tacos, and hanging with the family for a little while (about an hour).  It may have gotten packed as the sun began to set; but I'm not sure.  I have to admit that if I didn't have this gig, I'd be up in Michigan helping prep the cottage for the summer.
Bessie - that's our set list you see taped to her shoulder.  Photo
by Marina.
This was my first gig with Mark and Misty and the Midnight Munchers*, and it couldn't have gone much better.  The one screw up that I can think of that was pretty obvious was when I tried to follow someone else who was also messing up.  I second guessed myself and followed 'em off the cliff, but we quickly got back to where we were supposed to be.  I doubt that too many people noticed.
Packin' up, post gig.   I basically tried
to dress like Dan Willems for this gig-
old combat boots, jeans, undershirt and
cowboy shirt.  Photo by Auggie.
The bassist in the band that played after us played this nifty
little bass.  I guess there's a guy in Brown county that makes
these.  I can't remember the name of the bassist, his band, or the
luthier in Brown county who makes these.  Getting old is
I haven't asked to see if WFHB live streamed it, or if they're going to upload an archive of the show.  I'll check into it and post it if they do.  Other than that, not much else to report.  It was a great - if under attended - show at a great venue with great food and great weather.  This was a definite win.

*-Oddly, though it's my first gig with them, it is my second to last.  I'm going to perform with them at Monroe County Fair on July 31st and call it a day.  So come to that one - you won't regret it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: Anonymous On Why The Link I Sent Him Is Bullshit

I forwarded this link to a small group of my college buddies for the sole reason of trying to provoke some sort of argument that would inevitably devolve into a series of homoerotic jokes.  While I didn't really get the desired reaction, I did get this particularly strong take on the list of "100 Greatest One Hit Wonders Of The 80s" - I thought it was good enough to share.

My friend - who wishes to remain anonymous - writes:

This list is fucked. Allow me to explain...
I'm not about to say that Twisted Sister doesn't suck ballz, but they had at least two songs that got some airplay - so sucking is irrelevant when you can't be put in this particular box.  I think "Easy Lover" by the two Phils shouldn't count because both of them had crazy success in their respective genres.  One-hit-wonder means you popped up with a solitary song and then your career went absolutely nowhere...or you just up and died of AIDS (Jermaine Stewart) or Alcoholism (Stuart Adamson - Big Country) or a car crash (Falco...and why in the fuck is he not on this list?).  One-hit-wonder means you had ONE really popular song and never had anything else one the radar.  Dexy's and Soft Cell are are perfect examples: they had one single that hit big but otherwise there was nothing.
Chris DeBurgh should not be on this list because he had a song that got airplay with "Don't pay the ferryman." The Georgia Satellites had "Hippy hippy shake" (and Dan Baird had a pretty good solo album that got some play), The Outfield had a few songs do reasonably well on the charts and so that completely disqualifies them from onehitwonderdom.  
Others that don't qualify:
  • Clarence Clemons & Jackson Brown - success elsewhere
  • Fabulous Thunderbirds - had two songs
  • John Waite - had plenty of success both solo and with Bad English
  • Dead or Alive - had two songs
  • A-ha - had two songs
  • Cutting Crew - had two songs (that were top ten
  • John Parr - had two hits
  • Club Nouveau - two songs (and I don't pretend to have ever heard the other one.  I'm not THAT gay.  Ok, that's bullshit - I AM that gay...I went to Sur la Table today with three college girls and I spent $50 on a chef's knife while chatting with "Mark", who was nothing short of flamboyant, and I didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable.  I'm obviously a card-carrying queer. I did, however, compensate by going to a sporting goods store and buy some ammo.  HOWEVER, this compensation was eliminated because the sporting goods store name?  Wait for it...DICK'S!)  
I need to go watch Cabaret again.

+1 for the "Don't Pay The Ferryman" mention.  You have to dig deep for that one. Well done, my anonymous friend.  Well done.  Have a Bartles and Jaymes on me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Gig At Upland This Weekend

Hello Friends.  Here's your reminder that if you don't have any plans this Saturday, perhaps you should consider swinging by Upland Brewery here in picturesque Bloomington, Indiana, for the Acoustic Roots Festival.  There will be lots of great music, and I'll be taking the stage at 5:15 to play bass for Mark and Misty and the Midnight Munchers.*  We do original bluegrass that is actually good.  Come see for yo'self.  Sure, we may do one or two bluegrass standards, but the great stuff is the original stuff.

This will be broadcast live on WFHB, and I suspect you can probably livestream it on your computer if you live far away.  The Acoustic Roots Festival is a fund raiser for WFHB, so it will cost you twenty five bones (or clams or whatever you call them) to get through the door.  But man, what a deal:  great music, good beer and tasty pub fare await you.  Hope to see you there!

*-Man, don't ask.  I don't know where the name came from either.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Other Racket Around The House

The kids have been making a beautiful noise around the house lately.  Auggie is in piano lessons and though he's only had two lessons so far, he seems to be doing just fine with it.  We've asked that he do formal practice a minimum of ten minutes a day, and this is something he does with no complaints at all.  Often he plays longer, but it usually is ten minutes of formal practice, and another ten minutes or more of riffing around with what he knows.  I think this is healthy and I very much enjoy listening to his improvisations.  I do find that I have to give him some room to find his own way - I worry sometimes that bad habits could form.  For example, the material he's currently learning he has practiced enough to memorize.  As a result, he doesn't always look at the sheet music and read what is there.  But I'm working hard to make certain I'm not the source of music related trauma for him - we've all heard those stories from our friends about how much they hated music lessons because an overbearing adult was always riding their ass.  But so far, so good with Auggie.  He has a great ear, now to just get his reading and theory chops up.

Marina made her singing debut at her school's music jubilee.  This is an event that parents can attend wherein the class sings some group songs, and then individual students are given the chance to show off some of their musical talents.  Marina chose to sing the Beatles' "Let It Be", and I was to accompany her on the ukulele.  Originally, she was going to sing "Here Comes The Sun", but she changed it to "Let It Be" two days before the music jubilee.  I worked with her, and I was delighted at how hard she practiced without being nagged by me to do so.  Often, it was her insisting that we do it again, not me.  When I was ready to quit, she was not.  "Again!" she'd shout with a smile.  She wanted it to be good.

The plan was to sing the first verse, then do the chorus twice.  I was looking on some sheet music on the floor - I should've memorized it.  On the repeat of the chorus, I totally screwed up and lost my place.  I fell out of the song altogether.  To my amazement, she finished the song nice and strong on her own.  She sang so well it looked like we planned it.  I couldn't help but give her a big fat kiss when we were done - she's already performing like a pro.  I was glad another parent caught that moment.  It is below.

Marina will likely be doing children's choir at church, and probably some other music lessons later.  I can't wait to hear both of my kids play, and I hope they ask me to play with them as they continue to get better!

Crappy Guitar Solos: Two Favorites

I was thinking about Greg Ginn's solo on a cover of Madonna's song "Burning Up".  It is so bad.  So, so bad.  I died laughing the first time I heard it.  I couldn't believe they let it stay on the final version of the tune.  I can't find it anywhere on line, otherwise I'd post it.  Man I really wish I could find it because it brought me such joy.  The thing is I grew to love it in all of it's ugly glory, and the song would be pretty unremarkable without it.  It got me thinking about terrible guitar solos that I really like.  Here are a couple - click the links to go straight to the solos.

The Edge's solo on U2's "Twilight".
Neil Young's solo on "Cinnamon Girl".
I'm sure I'll think of many more for future blog entries.  For example, for every great solo that Howe Gelb does, he does one completely corny solo as well.  So there's got to be some in Giant Sand's oeuvre.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thank You, Mom, For Letting Me Be In A Punk Rock Band

Thank you, mom, for letting me be in a punk rock band.  It was a phenomenal creative outlet, and I learned a lot about myself and people in and out of the punk rock scene.  Of course, I see the parental advantages of letting your kids be in bands (you know where they are during practice), but it involves a lot of letting go too.  I suspect that's kind of hard to not intervene when your son's band is doing songs with titles like "Death Meat".

Thank you, mom, for letting us use the house for rehearsals.  It must've really stunk to have to endure the abrasive, high volume, hyper speed noise that was the Unexplained's "music" just to move a load of laundry.  Those once a week, 2+ hours of rehearsal must've felt like an eternity when your subjected to Dan's "singing" and Matt Dixon's "solos".  I doubt that staying at the far end of the house offered much of a reprieve for you.  We auditioned some questionable dudes right there in your laundry room (remember the drummer with the see-through drums?  Lots of stick twirling and hitting himself in the head with his sticks for show), and you rolled with it.  Same with the smoke breaks in the driveway - you probably knew about it, but never let on that you did.

Thank you, mom, for keeping a safe but watchful distance as I sought to forge a personal identity through music.  Let's face it:  I engaged in a lot of behaviors that must've bothered you.  A teen with a real gallows-type humor, wearing combat fatigues, concert t-shirts and smoking cigarettes doesn't exactly spell "winner" for most folks.  I know I didn't always accurately reflect your good upbringing.  Permitting me to listen to music that offended my friends' parents was key; and at the risk of sounding arrogant, I think it paid off.  You raised a son who is open minded, but not easily led.  It was important to me to be exposed to stuff that square culture deemed "garbage", because over time I was able to tell sincere artistic expression from music that was straight shock value only.  It is the sincere music that has stuck with me and informed who I am.  Thanks for letting me sort through it in my own way.

Thank you, mom, for making music a true DIY venture.  I remember asking you and dad to match me dollar for dollar for a bass I desperately wanted.  You listened, and respectfully told me "no".  I would complain that you didn't support me, but the truth is you taught me that I didn't need you for that bass, because I saved and got it anyway.  (Still play it, actually.)  You didn't come to our gigs, you didn't help us load and unload gear.  You didn't dote on us because we would've hated that.   But you listened to our stories and we knew the glory was all ours - because you permitted it.

Thank you for letting me be a mostly free range kid navigating my teens through the medium of punk rock.  Because no matter how much I tried to be Matt Zink, bad ass punk rock bass player, I was and always will be your loving son first and foremost.

Friday, May 1, 2015

R.I.P. Grooveshark

(Sigh.)  Well, it finally happened: the record industry has succeeded in killing off once and for all.  If you go to the website now, there is a farewell message that to me reeks of some sort of coerced confession of guilt.  They fought much longer than I thought they could, but they were no match for the money and resources of the major players.

 I first mentioned this legal battle all the way back in 2011. Seeing the writing on the wall, it was at that time that I stopped embedding links from Grooveshark in this blog, favoring instead You Tube links so that they wouldn't disappear.  (Well, at least most of them wouldn't disappear.)  I don't have great sentimentality for Grooveshark, but it was simple, required no user account, and almost always had the most obscure tracks I could think of.  It wasn't pretty, but it was utilitarian. For that reason, I'm sad to see it go.