Friday, July 21, 2006

Musical Humor

Like many jokes, you hear all kindsa different versions of this one. This is, to my knowledge, THE most complete(i.e. overblown)rendering:

C, E-flat, and G go into a bar. The bartender says: "Sorry, but we don'tserve minors." So the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between them.

After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and the G is outflat. An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough. D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me.I'll just be a second."

Then an A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor.Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar andexclaims, "Get out now. You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight."

The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next night in a 3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender (who used to have anice corporate job until his company downsized) says, "You're looking sharptonight, come on in! This could be a major development."

This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and everything else, and stands there au natural.Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminutionof a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.

On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of anywrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary arebassless.The bartender decides, however, that since he's only had tenor so patrons,and the soprano in the bathroom, everything has become all too much treble; he needs a rest, and closes the bar.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

...and every day is another bite

"The Music Business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."
Source... Unknown

This has made its way to my email from 2 different musicians(known sources), so I thought I'd share it here. Sorta like the old line, "life is a shit sandwich and every day is another bite". The other part to that is of course, "but the more bread you have the less shit you taste".

Personally I try not to be that damned cynical. But it sure seems to be true sometimes.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Life Cycle of the CD

I have a new CD(Solo Jazz Guitar). Have as in got the boxes last Friday, in my possession. From all the things that can(and do)go wrong, I've learned not to count my chickens until they're hatched, so the point of completion is really when UPS drops the boxes off on my front porch. At that point we're there. Or here, at any rate..

No matter what you do to try to streamline things, these projects seem to take about as long as a normal maternity: around 9 months. One of my recordings(Oop Bop Sh' Bang)was interrupted by a maternity and thus took even longer to come to fruition. But normally about 9 months. This one was underway(1st recording session)last November and I got the CDs in July, so 8 months--actually under the mark, though with the various snags and delays it felt like a longer period of time.

And like a kid being hatched, the real fun parts are the conception and the arrival. The in-between stuff is generally a pain in the ass.

So, yeah, this(along with the conception - n'yuk, n'yuk)is the fun part. The cover looks good and everything sounds good. Got my 5 initial copies off to CD Baby(from whence I sell my wares), and other copies off to most of the people involved with the production here. Should be officially online around the end of this week, Friday or Saturday, at which point I'll tell the world.

Well, the infinitesimal portion of it I know anyway...

Funny thing about these recordings. So much of yourself goes into making the music, and in selecting which music to use. You try to put together something lots of people will enjoy(and purchase too, let's hope), based on your best judgment. It's such a personal thing. But once it's off and running, it's pretty much out of your hands as far as the fate of your CD- up to the judgment of people who may have nothing to do with you. Or even less than that.

Again like a kid, it starts to take on a life of its own. Hopefully this 'newborn' CD will flourish, healthy and strong out there in the world . Or at least sell a few copies.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My Favorite Musician Joke

Okay, this is probably my all-time favorite musician joke. A little crude perhaps(well, okay, a lot crude)but funny:

A man walks into the Village Vanguard one afternoon, finds the club owner (who’s heard everybody) sitting at the bar, and walks right up to him.

"I’m the best fuckin’ piano player you ever heard", he tells the club owner, "and I’m here for a job".

The owner resists the urge to just throw his ass out (or perhaps offer him employment washing dishes), figures ‘what’ve I got to lose’."Okay pal, you’ve got 5 minutes", he tells the guy. "Dazzle me or your ass is outa here".

So the guy sits down at the piano, and for the next 5 minutes out comes the most amazing sounds the owner has ever heard-and he’s heard everybody!! The guy finishes playing and the club owner is just flabbergasted. "My God, what was that?"he asks the man.

"Oh yeah", he answers. "That’s one of mine. It’s called ‘I’ve Got a Boil on my Ass and It’s Oozing Pus’ ".

The club owner shudders, swallows heavily. "Okay, what else you got?"

And the guy starts playing a ballad. Just like the first tune, they’re the most amazing sounds the owner has ever heard. It’s almost painfully beautiful. He’s crying by the time the guy finishes playing. "And what in the world was that?" he asks the man.

"Oh yeah", the man replies. "Another one of mine. It’s called 'I Have Hemorrhoids and Diahrrea and My Underwear is Filled with Blood and Shit'."

And once again the club owner shudders. This guy is hands-down the most incredible pianist he’s ever heard, but at the same time the crudest individual he’s ever met. Definitely a sensitive situation.

"Okay, here’s what", he tells the guy. "I can start you this Friday. But you don’t say a word to nobody, got it? You just come in, play your sets and get off the stand."
So Friday rolls around, the guy is playing his first set, people are digging it immensely-as he really is an incredible player. He gets up at the end of his set, and a lady stops him.
"Excuse me, sir", she says, "but do you know your pants are ripped and your balls are showing?"

"Know it?!" he replies, "I fuckin’ wrote it!"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

There's a Point Here Someplace

One thing caught my eye today. I was looking through an old Musician's Friend catalogue and noticed a replica Jaco Pastorius Fender Jazz bass selling for over three thousand dollars! And what you're paying for is their(Fender's)replication process. This is a "tribute bass": looks like(complete with chipped paint-!!), feels like, and hopefully sounds like. I guess this is the musical instrument equivalent of pre-faded jeans(or pre-torn ones), but it's awfully misguided.

What the person thinks they're buying in this $3000.00+ instrument is some kind of psychic transfusion of Jaco's incredible abilities into their fingertips. They think a pre-beat-to-shit Fender Jazz bass(and for an unconscionably marked-up price)is going to turn them into the next Beethoven of the electric bass.

The banged-up condition of Jaco's bass was actually due to the more self-destructive side of his nature--which, unfortunately ended up being the predominant side in the end. You might as well include a dime bag of heroin as long as you're trying to Be Just Like Jaco here. There are qualities to emulate and others to stay a country mile away from..

Best actually to take that $3000 and spend $500 on a decent instrument(maybe even a beat-up old Jazz Bass other than the 'Jaco model')and the other $2500 on lessons.Actually, without going back to the magazine, I seem to remember their Strats go up several thousand dollars with the right endorser's name on it, though you don't get a special banged-up guitar with peeling paint..

Jaco really was a great player, and also a fine composer. I'd love to read a biography on him, and I'm sure one exists somewhere.As far as that line(also used by Kid Rock), "it ain't braggin' if you can back it up", well that's awful damned arrogant. I generally dislike that kind of attitude, and usually the folks who have it(or let's say, agree to disagree but prefer to coexist on different Continents if possible). But as a musician, yes, definitely happening.

I guess my thing with "attitude" is whether or not it's a victimless crime. There was a guy I knew in music school, a fellow composition major, who was an "expert" in pretty much any field of endeavor you could imagine.

Side story: I heard him spouting off in the cafeteria to someone about his accomplishments, and someone at the next table(who'd been to school with him the previous year somewhere else, and thus had heard his line o' bullshit then)said to the other person(same scene),"the ____ story- it goes on and on and on". At a further point, my friend the comp major is saying, "yeah, I rose to the top of the advertising game..", wherein the two guys at the next table started going into the Tooter the Turtle thing where he's yelling for Mr Wizard: duhhh, HELP! HELP! I was sitting by myself at a third table enjoying all this.

Despite this, I got along with him fine, and even did a joint concert one summer: his tunes and my tunes. Why? Because all his shtuff was never at anyone else's expense.

As long as no one gets hurt in the process, I think most anything goes in life.

Okay, got off the track a bit here(there was a track? really?!). If you're going to imitate Jaco, imitate the playing, not the attitude. And save your $3000.00 for something else...

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Weird or Offensive Band Names

(last edit: 06/28/10)
Half the fun of playing in a band(and especially at the beginner garage band level)is coming up with a name. These are some band names I've dreamt up, inspired originally by some of the names of the(ahem)- alternative bands listed in the Village Voice. All of these names are, to the best of my knowledge, original.

This is something I've added to over the years-and, on occasion, even deleted(sometimes a band name is even too offensive for me!). The asterisk indicates a band I actually played in. I am flattered(I think anyway)that my list of band names is fairly infamous in certain local circles..

Anyway.... I should mention here, "Riff Raff", which you'll see down the page, has been used in at least 2 other instances: one a commentator(somehow the comment is now missing although I didn't delete it)the other a friend whose band(not Riff Raff)I play in occasionally. He even sent me a band pic. "Riff Raff" is indicated with a double-asterisk. Any band someone who reads this has played in will be thusly noted(provided they thusly inform my ass).

I had this stuff listed on another, older site of mine, but the nice thing about having it here is that I can make changes to it- additions as other weird/offensive names occur to me, or deletions as things finally even gross me out(and that takes some doing)! So, happy viewing, and don't forget to check back here, as there may be some changes.

The Secretions
The Thought Police
Pussy Patrol
The Bisexual Plumbers
Nick Lenin’s Bloc Party
Zen Dentistry
Trailer Court Lovechild
The Cumstains
Breast Worship
Prince Valium
Glumphular Gleeblox
Da Nucular Guys
Pus Sandwich
Preppy Pricks
Wired for Discipline
Lemon Slime
Laid-back Lifestyle
Missing Body Parts
Frigid Digits
Bucket o’ Brains
That Darn Cat
Musical Dystrophy*
A Dance of Ugliness
Cyst Boom Bah
Dilemma at Dinner
Uncouth Youth
Riff Raff **
Space Cunt
Trail of Suds
Stoned Family Robinson
Breast Wishes
Humpy Buttslam
Phallus in Wonderland
Remo U-holo
Kinda young kinda wow
World Bean Tribe
High Colonic
4-star Genitals
Callous Sophisticates
Taras Vulva
Stud Service
The Butt Factory
Liquid Queer
The Android Sisters
The Spineless Yes-men
Mal Jovi
Youth in Asia
Heat and Serve
Hertz Donut
The Flesh Tones
Shittin’ Pretty
Heinous Anus
Spaz Attack
A Pleasant Sandwich
Skin Condition
Scary Larry
The Sniveling Wretches
Beef Injection
The Wastoids
Lesion of Doom
Table Snot
Kill or be Killed
The Sens-o-techs
Salesmen from Mars
Toilet Trouble
The Salty Seamen
Table Manners
Puke a-go-go
Rectal Relief
Wrong Hole!
Peggy’s Yeast Infection
Yankety Sex
Bone-o-phone Choir
Scum Total
The Groove Council
Guns n’ Cirrhosis
Sonic Debris
Beige like Me
The Stiffies
Bongo Joe
Anglo Saxes
Fistful of Fun
Fat Chicks n’ Cheese
Mexican Jumping Beings
Nervous Retards
The Impolite Ones
The In-Breeders
Shelf Life
Wacs and Wayne
‘57 Gnash
Auntie Maim
Beevis n’ Butt-Plug
Shoes for Queers
Pasta Swastika
Debbie Trenchmouth
Sticky Residue
Teenage Vagina
Rotting Cheese
The Muensters
Music Membrane
Ill Will and the Bad Intentions
The Butt-fuckin' Brady Bunch
Sebaceous Cyst
The Self-Righeous Brothers
Swimmin' in Sewage
The St Vitus Dance Band
The Bestial Boys
Ass Pollen
Pflegm Kadiddlehopper

Bright Lights Big Titties

As a musician I've done a bit of travelling, both on a "weekend warrior" basis and as an actual full-timer, all over the country and then some. The following is an account of a place I played at in Las Vegas, which seemed to bring a few memories:

I haven't been back to Las Vegas since I played on the road in 1984-86. Played guitar in a 7-piece band: vocals, trumpet/vocals, trumpet/keyboard, keyboard/trombone, guitar/bass/keyboard, bass/saxophone/vocal, drums. Originally it was a "showband", doing actual floor shows w/ choreography and everything(my sole duck-walk experience), ended up more a variety band, mainly Top 40 but with some other leanings.We played all over Nevada: Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Elko, Wendover, Laughlin(everywhere but Pahrump *)

Somehow just haven't felt any kinda burning desire to return. The thing about Vegas is that everything is a replication of something else. I mean, you've got a duplicate Eiffel Tower, a duplicate New York skyline, probably a dup Taj Mahal for that matter. You've got Elvis imitators(and for that matter, probably Elvis imitator imitators..), Sinatra imitators, impressionists, psychic dog groomers, etc etc...

If I found myself there, I'd probably have a good time, but I'd just as soon see the real Manhattan skyline(and from a million different vantage points)or the real Eiffel Tower, and would rather listen to the real Sinatra or the real Elvis Presley(not a big Elvis fan per se but I do like the real early stuff, with 2 guitars and doghouse bass).

But I did have a fair time all over Nevada in '85 and 86.One memorable place we played was the Palace Station. The lodging was usually right on the premises, being that we played pretty much all Hotels and Casinos, but on this occasion it was the beauteous Airport Inn.

Heading to our rooms, we couldn't help notice a body outline at the foot of the stairs. Definitely made you want to lock your door.I also remember hearing a gal in the lobby of this illustrious place telling someone about her job doing the 900 phone #'s, the phonesex stuff.

Hey, y'know, they don't really look like the ones in the pictures. At least this one didn't.

As far as the gig itself, the Palace Station definitely got the bang for their buck on us. We played six sets a night! That's a lot. First night was 9pm-3am, then we were back the following day to play 12noon-6pm. We were definitely frazzled on that second day.As I remember, our schedule normalized somewhat after that.

We had one loyal fan, who was there I think every single time we played. She was there closing the bar, pretty loaded at 3am our first gig. I sorta noticed her but didn't think much of her getting smashed, having been smashed my share of times and closed my share of bars. When she was back the next day at(or by)noon when we played again, again getting loaded at the bar, I definitely noticed. Yes, this lady has a problem.

She was also out on the dance floor a good deal, with whatever piece of flotsam she could drag out from the bar. If an eligible partner wasn't available from the pool of cirrhosis candidates, she'd just dance by herself. Always wearing the same white dress, which became progressively more off-white. On a couple occasions, she just took a snooze right in the middle of the dance floor. I think there was even a "continence issue" one of those times.Poor thing..

Another attraction during our time at Palace Station, this one of a more positive nature, was a girl who managed an Ice Cream Shop there in the Casino. She was probably in her early-to-mid twenties,average-nicelooking, brown hair & blue eyes, real short(maybe 5'1")& compactly built, with just about the biggest tits I've ever seen, at least on an otherwise petite woman. They jutted impressively out of her t-shirts and were even more impressive in motion.( Our bandleader made the joke that she could probably nurse Angola.)

Having a lifelong weakness for the buxom female(especially if they're also petite) I was a frequent visitor to the Ice Cream Shop--well, okay I was in there on pretty much every break.. Our keyboardist speculated that by the end of our gig there I'd weigh 300 lbs from all the ice cream consumption.

I have in my life enjoyed the company of several buxom women, on and off the road(and a few not-so-buxom ones too, that's fine too), and certainly hope to meet another one or two-but didn't connect with this one. At least not then. You never know.Maybe she's actually reading this blog and thinking, 'you know I really should've given that guy a shot back in '85. I should go to him now.' Yeah, right.

Okay- seedy motel w/ body outline & 900-callgirl, long hours & drunks, ice cream girl with big "cones"- I guess I've covered everything. Sounds like a quintissential visit to Vegas. I visited a friend there a year or so later, and even stopped by the Palace Station ISO the "cone girl" but was told she'd moved out.

* oh yeah, Pahrump. We caught a band from there doing an audition someplace where we were too--I think The Mint in Las Vegas. Their singer(and apparently leader as well)was a pretty good-sized gal about 5'8" or 5'9", big hair, big tits, and what was noteworthy was that the 4 guys who made up her band were all smaller than she was. Just a kind of unusual look.

Murphy's Law

" Whatever can go wrong will go wrong(in all likelihood)"

This is definitely an important life lesson. I've experienced it as a musician but it would of course to apply to productions of any kind, any time you have to plan events and kinda need 'em to go somewhat your way: Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Plan on it. It may, perchance, NOT go wrong, but you'll at least be somewhat prepared for whatever doesn't work out.

Case in point: my very first studio-type recording session. Back in 1992 or so, done out at Lincolnland Community College's bandroom. We had about 4 hours to work with, and got started late. Then the bass player told me he had to leave an hour early. And then the drummer realized he'd left his cymbals at home, and headed off to go get them--easily a half-hour's drive. As it turned out, his car stalled about 10 minutes from the school, so one of us(probably me)had to go get him and bring him back to the school, where he just played on the school's funky set- with its funky-ass cymbals...I was pretty perturbed at the time, and remember commenting in the midst of this sea of inconvenience(and probably through clenched teeth), "I am NOT a happy camper!"--and most likely en route to pick up the drummer and drive him back to the school, but we still got it done. And I learned a good lesson: whatever can go wrong will(likely)go wrong.

On another recording session, I had to replace the drummer 2 months into it,because he was being a total testa da cazzo and wouldn't make any of the rehearsals. Drummer no.2, not as technically advanced as drummer no.1 but still a decent player- and much easier to work with, made the rehearsals(and actually contributed quite a bit to the record as far as ideas), but the project had to go back on hiatus because his wife had developed complications with her pregnancy. To further complicate things, she was all the way across the country.

So we had to wait for his son to be born before we could pick things back up. And as I remember, after we finally got in the studio, once again the bass player had to leave an hour earlier than anticipated. Ahh, one more hassle for the road. A nice little cherry on top..

Well once again, it got done despite the many setbacks. We produced a nice CD, and drummer no.2 has a happy, healthy young son-whom he can tell, in a few years, that he was born in the middle of a recording project.

But it happens every time out. Something gets stuck in the carpet. Something gets snagged. Problems, setbacks. Projects like this are themselves like having a kid, in that the real fun parts are the conception and when it's delivered. But you get used to those 'grotty' middle steps.One last example here, this a particular exemplification of Murphy's Law(perhaps a whole Chapter in itself):

In this situation, I was a sideman playing guitar for a singer/songwriter doing his original songs. We rehearsed at his place one night a week for some months. After about 6 weeks he fired the drummer, so we had to start over with a different player. So we get a couple more weeks into it, and he quits his job. The project goes on hiatus while he gets a new job and then goes to train for it.

We resume after a 3-or-4 week break, and get in the studio. 2 days, 13 hours in all. Due to feedback problems with the guitar I have to sit in a weird position and wear some kinda contraption on the guitar, plus he's not there for most of the session due to the constraints of this new job. The supervision of the session was given(in a sort of Yoko fashion)to his girlfriend.

After 13 hours in the studio, he tells me he isn't pleased and wants to do some things over, which I offer to do(not too pleased myself, but still willing).About a week later, I'm told they're not using any of the stuff I recorded for them. So, like that first drummer, I get cut myself.

At least on my projects I still get my playing in there, still land on my feet. With this one I landed on my ass. And with that, thought, for the CD someplace( the CD I'm not going to be on as it turns out), a picture of me, butt facing the camera and holding a bottle of Vaseline with the inscription, "thanks a lot, Sam!"

Well, anyway, that's Murphy's Law in its nastiest manifestation. Usually it's a more benevolent pain in the ass. I'm currently finishing up a recording project, the steps of which actually-miraculously- went smoothly until right near the end, when we hit a minor snag, to do with the CD inserts. A bit frustrating, but having had some damn thing happen every other time I've recorded, I was almost relieved. You get so used to the snags and hassles that if they don't happen, you're kind of waiting for that other shoe to drop. As I said before, I'd expect nothing less. Or in this case, nothing more.

Tales from the Bandstand

Well most of the time you show up, play, and go home with not much to distinguish it from any other of 6 thousand gigs you've done. Hopefully made some nice music in the process and had a pleasant time with the others on the gig. That's enough to ask for.But every so often you have a doozy, one that is emblazoned in your memory as an Event. Here are a few of mine, a baker's half dozen :

6)This was out at the Airport, in one of the hangars, giving a lot of space of course. It was for some politician, and there were maybe 30 people in attendance. While he was giving his speech, the keyboardist in the band had set his synthesizer to white noise, that kkkkkkkk kinda static, which, blending into the 30 people applauding at various points in the speech, made it sound more like 300. Or 3000. The guy starts really getting into his speech, until he realizes it's us pumping his applause, and then of course gets kinda pissed off. By this time the whole band is limp from laughing.

5)I had a weekend gig at a fairly upscale hotel, up on the top floor overlooking the city(our only big building), a quartet: guitar, keyboard, bass & drums. The keyboard player , for reasons of his own, had apparently had to hock his amplifier--again, for whatever his reasons. In its place he brought a Home Entertainment Center(!) and hooked his keyboard through there. Kind of a weird look on the bandstand, having a TV/stereo system up there next to the instruments. On the breaks we could play Supernintendo, or tune in "The Jeffersons" or something...

4)Another weekend gig, less ritzy location: a Travelodge at the edge of town. Another quartet gig: guitar, bass, drums and female vocalist. Earlier in the week the drummer calls me with quite a tale: "Hey man, I've just had brain surgery this week(it was benign), and I can still make the gig(!)but I'm gonna look really weird!" I tried to talk him out of it but he insisted--so, the show must go on. His head had been shaved of course, and I'm sure there were angry red lines where they'd cut, but this was covered by a towel. Plus his eyes were all black and blue, so he had dark shades on. Even without knowing what was underneath, it was weird enough seeing someone in a relatively dark room wearing shades, and having a towel wrapped around their head! Just for the fun of seeing their reactions, I didn't tell the bass player or singer what was going on with him. They were shocked, to say the least.

3)This time it was me making musical anecdotal history. I once had a home-made bass which had a nice warm sound but very imperfect electronics. It would squawk at the most inopportune times(right, like there's a time to squawk), and was thus nicknamed the "squawk bass". Okay, so I'm playing a Muni Opera show: Hello Dolly, and it's a quiet dramatic scene with no music, so I set the bass down to watch the show. It immediately goes off with a loud "beeeeeeee" sound, at which point I lunge to turn off the amplifier. Once silence is restored to the pit, I look around and see all the other musicians doubled over in what is no doubt a mixture of hilarity and embarrassment. The next day before the show I went up to the actor whose scene I "ruined" and apologized profusely. "Oh hell", he snorted, putting me at ease. "I thought Dolly just had gas!" The actress playing Dolly, as it turned out, was standing right behind him, looking horrified.

2)This one wasn't actually within a band I was in but an event I was playing. The Calgary Stampede was the event, and this was July of '85, in Calgary, Alberta. I remember seeing people literally falling-down drunk leaving one of the places there. The band in question was a Blues Band playing at the same hotel as us. They'd apparently drunk their entire week's pay(yes yes much like the Blues Brothers movie..)and I did get to see them carry their guitarist off the stage as he was too bombed to play..

1)This was an outdoor event, an evening gig with several bands playing. I was about 18 and the bass player in a 4-pc rock band: 2 gtrs, bass & drums. One of the guitarists, who was also the bandleader, was one of those guys(or gals)who's immensely talented and a little bit nuts. His brother was a saxophonist, not sure of the talent but just as nuts if not more so. So we're waiting to go on, and the guy's brother is off 10 feet from us with his arms outstretched looking up at the sky. I'm pretty sure some hallucinogenic materials were ingested here(remember, too, this was 1972). We ask the bandleader what his brother is doing. "Oh, he thinks he's making this whole thing happen".

Well those are a few of my--well, I don't know about favorite, but certainly memorable gigs. Hopefully they're somewhat entertaining to read about. They were pretty entertaining to experience. I probably could've done without the "squawk bass" experience though....