Thursday, May 31, 2007

General Blog(whoever he is)

Whew! Almost another week in the books. I wonder if anybody actually checks in here. For almost 2 months now I've been using this site as an alt news page(and other stuff, since you can add pictures in here), due to a "mysterious" problem with my computer. And of course for almost 2 months now I've been meaning to get this problem taken care of.

Well I do get to things when I get sufficiently fed up . Been meaning to start exercising again for the longest time now, and just launched that endeavor in the past 2 days(fed up with the spare tire around my middle), so maybe that resolve will carry over into getting this computer problem taken care of. Then I can go back to writing in the newspage, which people seem to actually read.

Music news:
Sent 6 tunes to a young guitarist in North Carolina this week who'd contacted me through my main website( ), will probably be received tomorrow if not by now. Hickory, NC to be exact. Hopefully some if not all the tunes will work out with the jazz ensemble there.
Got a new CD which is 90% there as far as being finished. Music of Sam Crain Vol 2 is the title, and it's all classical music from 1975 to 2007. I've got the CDs and they sound just fine. Just wrapping up the inserts, which we should have done next week. There's one player on there whose last name escapes me, which I'm going to try to find out in the next couple days. So far she's billed as Beverly Misterioso.
Am working on getting more of my classical music out into the world and am in the process of getting some of it copied. As far as the immediate future, I have a set of 3 short piano pieces, a piano Sonata--big steamy sucker in 4 movements-and 2 bigband charts. These 4 pieces I'd like to see out there getting played once in awhile.
Got a nice surprise email from a friend and fellow student from Peabody days('76-80). Another guitarist, who'd played on one of my tunes(no loitering)and had stumbled onto something of mine via iTunes. He wasn't a composer, at least not that I know of, but did have some fairly wacky ideas, including one for a piece for Guitar, Brake Drums and Salesman. I tried to write something after that, but I think it was one of those things that's a better concept than anything. Once you try to flesh it out you lose it. Or at least I felt like I did...
Picked up a gig I've had for a couple years now, for Horace Mann. This will be our 3rd year doing it. Trio plus alto saxophone(or I suppose tenor or bari). So that makes 2 gigs for June. It's usually the slowest month of the year for CD sales, but can be a busy one for gigs. This year I'm kinda proud of myself as I've taken care of(I think)all the pesky little details I was less efficient on last year. Getting to be a slightly better(or at least less shitty)businessman year by year..

Okay then. I guess that's the news for the moment. One more workday to plow through.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bass Under Pressure

The bass is the most important instrument in the group. It defines the harmony and with the drums defines the rhythmic component as well. The bass is to music what the jab is to boxing: everything else is built off it, from it. You can't have a group(at least none I'd want to hear)without a bass player.

But unfortunately, it's not always the most exciting instrument in the group. Being the foundation of the music much of the time you're supporting things from underneath . While the melody instruments are running across the carpet, you're busy holding up the floors.

So consequently relatively few folks take up this noble instrument. And you have to have a bass player, so somebody's gotta do it. Enter the doubler. Usually, though not always, a guitarist looking for more work. And after all, everybody plays guitar..

What happens here is that you get a ton more gigs, once you double on bass, since everybody needs one and hardly anybody(it seems)plays one. Some folks just go with the flow and become bass players. More power to 'em I say. Others chafe after a time under the gross gig imbalance, with suddenly even fewer gigs on their main instrument--or at least no time to take them.

I myself went through several years of 80% bass gigs and 20% guitar. Of course on the few guitar gigs I got(usually that I had to book myself)I would overplay horribly since it was after all my big chance to play. I was playing a lot more bass than I wanted to and not nearly enough guitar. It was pissing me off.

So it was then(can't remember the damn year, but I'm thinking '94)that I founded Bass Under Pressure, the support group for guitarists and other instrumentalists who take up bass as a second instrument to get more work and consequently get fewer gigs on their main instruments.

The group has five or six members at this point, mostly guitarists but one trumpet player. We've yet to have a meeting but it has been discussed. Just nice to know that there are others out there who share your struggles.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Weekend edition

It always feels good to survive a sorta-tough week of work(as well as a really tough one). Next time I have a happy-hour gig though, I think I'm gonna take a couple hours off from work so as to have time to regroup. We did okay on our gig last night, but I think I'd have done better with just a bit of chill time in there.

So, getting my chill time in now. I have a new CD, called Music of Sam Crain Vol 2, which is going to be available very soon. It's all classical stuff, 7 selections in all. The first 3 are relatively normal, nice and tonal, the second 3 relatively wacked, and the 7th- well you tell me. Got the actual CDs in the mail today, and they sound just fine, so once we get the insert stuff together I'll have a new CD for you.

You who like this kind of music. Fortunately there're folks out there who like all manner of styles and persuasions in their music, so there'll be folks who like my music. They liked the last classical CD at any rate, so hopefully this one will follow suit. Anyway, like a Viagra-inspired weenie, it'll be up very soon.

Sold another CD this week on CD Baby, always a good thing. Jazz Guitar Vol 3 was their wise selection and they hail from Istanbul. My first sale in Turkey, very cool. is where to go to listen to this CD and maybe pick one up yourself, from wherever you hail.

Well I guess that's the news fit to print. Thanks for checking in here, have yourself a nice Memorial Day Weekend, and don't forget to keep your greasy side down.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

baja Friday

Whew! I'm just glad there's one more day left in the work-week. Got a gig tomorrow evening with the Trio, a nice 2-hour Happy Hour affair after which hopefully we'll have our apres-gig dinner/beer swillage at my favorite neighborhood restaurant- Bernie n' Betty's. It's always good. We have nice conversation, much of it about the gig we just played and our various performances both individual and group. No doubt they'll tell me I rushed on something we'd played, although I have also been known to keep it 'in there' as well, pocket-wise..

But the critiques are a good thing, a constructive thing. And of course I critique my two bandmates as well. It's all toward a positive end, nothing said with any oneupsmanship or other hidden agendas. I've worked in bands where that happened, and it can be a royal pain in the keester. There was a bass player years ago who used to do that if he'd hired me(unfortunately his prerogative there)or if we were fellow sidemen(not his prerogative here!), which used to really grate on me. In this latter situation I finally went to the person who'd hired us and said basically "shut him the fuck up or I walk". The next gig we had the situation was rectified, at least as far as I was concerned--he was over telling the drummer how to play! I guess the energy has to go someplace..

Well hell, to give credit where credit's due, this same bass player(mainly a trombonist, which almost gives his identity away--well if anybody actually reads my blog here)would also do damn near anything for you as well. He may drive you bugshit in the process, but was still in your corner. Definitely was supportive of me, and at a time when many others weren't - or so it seemed anyway.

Off on a tangent as usual. Yes in this world you do have difficult people. It's all in how it balances out as far as their other qualities. Fortunately no one in this group is difficult like that. Kinda nice when that happens, when everybody is easy to get along with.

So yeah, just glad this week is almost over with. Not a particularly harrowing one as far as any events, just four-going-on-five days of work. By about Wednesday, you're ready for it to be over, and by Friday you're really ready. A gig right after work on Friday sometimes feels like the last thing you want to do, but once you get started(especially one's own gig)it's really the best thing you could be doing.

There is a young guitarist from North Carolina who wrote to me recently asking about some of my tunes. As soon as I get through this damn week in its entirety, I'm gonna send him some. I get a fair amount of spam, both in my guestbook and just silliness sent to me from the contact page on my website( ), so it's very refreshing to get a real, sincere communication like this. Glad to help.

As a musician-with-a-dayjob, I don't get a lot of such requests or communications. But I do get 'em, and they mean a lot. There's a person from Hong Kong who's bought my CDs a bunch at a time, and just bought another 6 this past week on CD Baby. Thanks to them, Hong Kong is my biggest seller as far as a foreign country(Japan is second, followed by Australia).

Well I guess there's no particular theme or idea behind this blog, besides the fact that it's almost Friday, and I'm ready for a break from the rigors of daygig. 3 whole days. Okay then. Thanks for wading through this drivel. More as it happens.

Monday, May 21, 2007

another CD

Man, I gotta be some kinda fucking idiot! I've got yet another CD that I'm getting ready to spring on the open market(or at least the .001% that buys my stuff..), this one--get the Dunce Cap ready--all classical music.

Well I do have one CD already of all classical stuff, Music of Sam Crain, which is available at (just scroll down aways)which folks have actually bought a few copies of. Not a million copies mind you, just enough to make me think I could sell another such CD..

So in a very short time, here comes Music of Sam Crain Vol 2. The actual CDs are apparently ready to go and en route to chez Rog, and the packaging is- well, it's just embarked upon. Meaning I've got to get all that together. But I did call the nice folks who did the last one(Donna's House of Type)and thus made that first step in the journey.

A fairly simple matter really. I've got the cover picked out(a pic of New Mexico's beautiful 'skyline')and the liner notes should be no problem. Just gotta get off my ass a bit and get all that in motion.

As far as the actual music, it spans a 32-yr period, from 1975 to 2007. The stuff starts off nice and tonal, gets weird and then returns to quasi-tonality at the end. Sort of a full-circle harmonic experience. Hopefully a few people will like it and buy copies once all this is done and all packaged.

You never know, of course. But as a musician(or for that matter any creative artist)ya gotta keep moving forward as far as your output. So here comes CD #19. With, I'm sure, more to come.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Musician With A Job

Being a musician with a daygig is not always an easy thing to be. What's difficult is mainly the hours. You're basically keeping two schedules, which sometimes clash like hell. It's a juggling act, and I sometimes feel like the guy who used to be on HBO jugging an apple, an egg and a bowling ball(no kidding!)- only in my case I get the worst of all three objects I'm juggling. Yeah yeah, the bowling ball lands where it hurts the most...

Case in point: had a nice Thursday gig about a half-hour out of town. Got home about 10:30 in the pm. Wired from playing the gig, trying to wind down with a few beers. The phone's ringing and I'm trying to get my computer going--it's moving slower than smoke off a turd, which isn't helping. The computer finally downloads everything, and I've sold another 6 CDs on CD Baby! Elated over that, which I'm sure jacks up the WindDown-o-Meter. Still wide awake at 2am , 3am and 4am, not sure if I got any shut-eye at all, and was a complete vegetable the next morning. Had to call in to work. They were cool about it, but I hate to screw up like that.

Well, music just stirs you up. Or it should at any rate. Little wonder it takes more than 2 hours to wind down from a very pleasant gig in which much guitar was played by both guitarists. The 3-Legged Dog Cafe is the name of the establishment where we played, in beautiful Jacksonville IL. It was originally a restaurant(back in '94, called Merrigan's--I played solo guitar gigs there for a meal and gas money)and then a bank and now a restaurant again. I guess it'd be logical for the place to be a bank one more time in there, but we'll see on that one..

So it's taken a day, but I have my head back on straight as far as my lunar cycles. I remember playing Lake Tahoe, back in '85, where we had a 3-week engagement and seemed to go to work later every week. The third week we'd start our first set at 1:15am, wrapping things up about 4:45, after which time the bandleader and I would hit the bar for a few belts and head back to our respective rooms around 5:30. You'd wake up around 1-1:30 in the pm, and after a couple days it almost felt normal. Going back to regular am hours felt like we'd gone full cycle, like we'd orbited the Earth..

It is possible to be a musician with a daygig, though the energy factor rears its ugly head as one gets older and thus less able to handle late nights and early mornings. We need those gigs that are over with by 9 during the week and 12 on weekends. Oh yeah, and someone to carry our gear into the club.

Okay, just kidding about that last item- although I wouldn't turn it down. Next gig up is this coming Friday, from 5:30 to 7:30 in the pm. Plenty of time to unwind from this one, and hopefully it'll be such a good gig as to require it. See or for details.

Even though it screws up my hours on occasion, I must say it is nice to have something I feel passionately about to the point it keeps me up. And I feel fortunate in that regard. Makes it easier to have a dayjob, knowing that it's something I leave at the office. And while at the office I have no burning desire to Make Something of Myself, since I already have an area--music--where I'm unimportant.

In that sense, I guess my music and my daygig do feed one another. The daygig makes it so that I don't have to scruff for music gigs, and the music makes it so that I don't have to find meaning in my daygig. Most of the time I'm able to keep everything going, but once in awhile I drop that bowling ball someplace..

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Sam Crain Trio

Remind me to use hair gel next time I get my picture taken. Well, I've had worse hair in pictures, and the expression is okay. Plus, and most importantly, this is the first picture of The Sam Crain Trio we've had to work with. It's only taken us a year and a half, but we're getting there.
From left to right: Bill Schlipf, Sam Crain(aka Roger U Roundly), Don Cochran. Don has been with the group since '98-99 when it was a quartet, first with vocalist and then with tenor saxophone/vocals, occasionally quartet with piano . Since January of '06, the group has been a trio. Our first gig was on January 27th, which as it turned out was Mozart's birthday, kinda cool. A subsequent engagement at the same place honored another birthday but not quite so momentous: Snoop Dogg. Got my mind on my money and my money on my mind... We're playing there again on the 25th of this month, so I'll have to see what kinda celebrity birthdays we've got going then.
But I digress. We're having a nice time playing together. Just like the previous incarnations, this group does jazz standards and originals by moi. But this group is more interactive than many of my other assemblages as far as feedback. With the quartet we started off with noble intentions as far as the different things we were gonna do, but ultimately everybody was kinda going their own ways. We'd just show up and play our setlist and say 'see ya next time', kinda set it and forget it as far as that goes. That gets the job done, but you don't have any growth. So it's cool having a fresh new group, relatively speaking. People speak up more, and thus a rehearsal sometimes becomes like a clinic as far as making changes, with everyone critiquing everyone else.
I have something myself to work on as far as that goes. It's not something I have totally implemented into my own playing just yet of course, but our bassist has suggested I change my posture on the fast numbers. Up until now, it's been sorta scrunched over as if trying to get in out of the rain, basically trying to "maintain" the time. He just brought the tune to a halt at a recent rehearsal and said, " hey, why not try leaning back(so to speak, but it's still a literal physical act)and relaxing into it". Damn, never thought of that..
So anyway, we play things at pretty much all tempos, from ballads to what is in certain circles referred to as tempo di tear-ass. And we try and cover a variety of feels, something else we're working on. It's all good.
Actually, as groups go, I suppose ours is really still in its infancy. We just need to get more gigs to grow. So- trio for hire. Reasonable rates. Plus that classic guitar trio sound. Just remind me to use hair gel if you take our picture.