Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Christmas Frustration

Now that the holidays, the busiest time of year with the whole music career thing, are passing I already feel the clench of that hand around my neck squeezing away my ability to relax and be comfortable.  Why am I determined to work without job security?  I traded one kind of stress with another kind just as paralyzing and lethal and I still like to think it was the right choice.

And then there is the recorder.  For Christmas I got a "Pocket Studio".  A digital recorder I can jot down ideas, play with current compositions, tape gigs or rehearsals for learning purposes.  After 24 hours of playing with overdubbing my voice 8 times and making little 30 second snippets my terrible impersonation of Bobby McFerrin, I decided to hook it up to the old piano and try my hand at a swinging number I wrote back in August and have been doing live ever since.

I layed down some piano, a bass track, some bad guitar and then organ track complete with wailing solo in the middle.  I put down the vocal track: so far so good.  I've got a little bug and I sound a little hoarse but I am pleasantly surprised with the recording.  Now I just have to mix it down and create my master track.  All this recording lingo is new to me as I have managed to remain completely ignorant to the entire process and what it actually requires.  I feel comfortable.  I punch up the menu and go to create the master track. I must listen for the entire play through and turn the organ up for its solo and back down after.  One and a half minutes into the four minute track the music skips, like a record needle jumped back, only once.  Then an error message "I / F Error : Please Power Down".  Which I do.  I have been running on batteries all day and figure it's a power issue.  I was on one out of four bars on the LCD display.  So I plug in with the wall adaptor (NOT INCLUDED) to discover that my entire project is gone.  Erased somehow.

I record again.  It wasn't as fluid as the first time.  Mistakes ooze from all but one track.  The piano part is sloppy or robotic.  Nothing ever truly find the pocket that we all hung out in first take.  And then...  Mother Puss Bucket...  As I was completing the organ track: The playback skips once and I am met with silence and my "I/F" bullschittake mushrooms.

Maybe this song is just plain doomed to fail.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

kidding letter

For the past two days I have been laid up, in bed, with a fever and congestion and loss of appetite and loss of voice.  I ventured out of the house this evening for a gig at the Tavern on the Hill that I could not miss.  I already knew that some people were coming to congratulate me for winning the Philly Hot List Local Celebrity Internet contest.  I put this so bluntly not to toot my own horn but to explain my decision to actually leave the house in this condition.  Any other time I would have probably tried to switch nights with the musician who was playing tomorrow.  Unfortunately as I write this I realize that I wouldn't have been able to switch because I have another engagement tomorrow evening.  So I guess it worked out for the best.

However... ... ....

At 11am I was in bed hacking a few lungs while spitting mucus in an empty shot glass I had found conveniently found next to my bed.  My beautiful wife enters the room, actually: ducks in by leaning holding the door frame, "Your Mother is on the phone.  She is going out to visit your grandparents and wants to know if there is anything she can pick up for you."

I think for a moment, pondering the possibilities my requested request.  Suddenly it hits me: I realize, "Cat litter!" and exclaim it proudly.  After scowling at me for a moment Kristen responds: "What can she bring for you, idiot.  You are sick.  Cat litter? What the hell is wrong with you?"

After some aspirin, anti-histamines and DayQuill I brave the outside world.  Forty five minutes into my gig I begin to feel the Cold Remedy Cocktail mixing with the whiskey I began drinking when I got to the bar.  The sluggish nights ends four hours later when I say goodnight to Kristen and wish her morning well.  The poor girl has to wake up at 6:30am tomorrow and Sunday for her shifts at Macy*s.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

carbon paper

Seventeen years ago this would have all been written down and had carbon paper to help someone else remember it.  Seventeen years ago I would not have to have waited for this "notebook" to turn on, for the operating system to warm up, for the keys to function.  Hell, fifteen years ago I could have rotated that chair in our basement to the right and still have been able to use that fancy typewriter with the carbon paper instead of the Macintosh SE or whatever it was my parents had at that point, blocked off in the corner of the unfinished basement.  The computer being the driving reason to finish that basement and make it more than a room for the kids to play NINTENDO in.

But in the time it took to have this computer completely turn on and warm up and greet me with the desktop screen that I know will eventually turn on me, killing my only allies I cannot help but wonder.

I no longer recall what I desired to write about.  What was it?  I am starting to recall but to remember proper I require more time.  I will think on the subject.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tonight's Healthy Summer Dinner Salad

    1/2 cup grapefruit juice (FRESH ONLY)
    1/4 cup veg oil
    1.5 tablespoon mustard
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    7 or 8 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    Salt & Pepper to taste

Grab some fresh spinach and on top add some sliced cucumbers, thinly sliced red onion, thinly sliced leftover steak (in this care medium rare London Broil that was grilled, not broiled) and sliced strawberries.  Toss with dressing and serve with a nice Malbec or any red wine that's on the sweeter, perfumey side.  You will have some left-over dressing that will probably keep for a week or so.
I came up with this when my wife requested a salad with cabbage with the leftover steak in the fridge.  Wouldn't you know it: the local fresh produce market didn't have any cabbage.  They did have incredibly perfectly plump strawberries and loose spinach.  I didn't feel like dropping $15 for a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette dressing so I figured grapefruit plus rice wine vinegar could possibly go well together.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

the best day ever

About a month ago the City of Philadelphia decided to remove the "heads" off all the parking meters on Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy.  I point out that it is just Germantown Avenue because the two of three meters that are on side streets were left.  I guess it costs more to do two streets at once.  Last week they used jackhammers 7am-3pm and on two nights 10pm-midnight to remove the polls of the parking meters.  The "body" of the parking meters to keep my previous analogy.  Okay.  Now we're getting a little loud.

Yesterday morning I wake up and don't look out the window immediately.  My wife, Kristen, with iced coffee in hand wearing that cute bathrobe with hair still a mess from dreaming, lets out a loud, "Oh duuuude: WHAT THE FUCK?" and starts giggling and yells for me to come to our front windows that overlook Germantown Avenue.  Needless to say we literally held prisoner in our own home.  Wet cement was EVERYWHERE.  My front door is directly to the left of the wet cement in the first picture.

Down the Ave
Up the Ave.

Today I am all sorts of prepared for my gig out in York, PA.  Springettesbury to be exact.  I planned the longish drive days ago.  I even scoped out places to grab a quick, cheap, and locally loved bite to eat.  My plan was to arrive around 5pm so I could eat and still make the 5:45pm load in.  Alright.  Anything else on the to-do list before I head out of town.  I finished the milk with breakfast but Kristen was handling that one. 

The XBOX!  I got the dreaded "Red Ring of Death" two Saturdays ago and have had my UPS call tag in my inbox since.  It was a great time to hit up the UPS store.  They were very helpful and knew how to pack it etc etc...  Before they rang me up they warned that credit cards weren't going through.  I'll try it once.  I only had a few dollars on me that I planned on using for dinner.  I was rung up for $80.10 and not the $8.10 that the register said I owed AND (check this out) aaaand since it was debit and not credit the refund can take up to two weeks to register with my bank account.  Considering there was only $70 and change in that account I am so happy that TDBank offers until 6pm the next business day before charging me the newly re-labeled "Convenience Fee".

Onwards to York.  I should be arriving by 5:15 or so.  Everything good to go.  I've got the new Keith Jarrett / Charlie Haden album spinning and the drive is relaxing.  Until I decide to pass these people in front of me.  Too many people in a small car with two arms and a barefoot leg out a window and I'm betting they just may be reckless.  I get stuck in the left lane when one of those trucks that carries a lot of cars gets on the Turnpike to my right.  As I speed up to make my exit, which followed immediately after, I am thwarted by someone a few cars up suddenly slow down.  I miss my exit.  And then the sign: Next Exit 46 miles.  The GPS beeps with a newly calculated ETA of 6:17pm.  I drive fast and get to the location by 5:58.  It's ten after six by the time I figure out how to get my car to the amphitheatre to unload.

The gig went well.  Mike Vogelman joined the Mighty Rhythm Kings tonight as new official bassist.  He did a great job and I can't wait until we get a chance to do it again.  After the gig I get stuck in the rain.  The drive home sucked as I get lost, again and end up at a Burger King that lost it's power.  After getting home I say goodnight to Kristen and stick one of them Red Baron frozen pizzas in the oven.  It cooks.  It overcooked, technically.  I get it out and cut it and bite into melted cheese and warm raw gooey dough. 

The end of the best day ever. 

Friday, July 30, 2010


Alan Broadbent once emailed me saying that he had found my website from a blog post I had written on a previous server.  I had met him randomly while he was visiting Philadelphia.  He had googled his own name for, what I believe he called, a vanity fix.  I loved his brute honesty.

Tonight I went out for my own vanity fix when I stumbled upon an odd search result.  The title of the website was "Non Stop ABBA Dance Mix".  Notice that people who purchased that album also purchased the trio record I did with Brad Truby and Bryan Besse.  I wonder which of the two was purchased while drunk.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

the website from the future...

Looking over the "add/remove programs" menu in the control panels of my computer I came across this.  I don't know what freaks me out more...  1) the fact that I use this frequently or 2) the fact I last used it on November tenth, two thousand seventy two....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Lately I have been forced to deal with some gruff and mean comments from people.  This is one thing I have tried long to avoid and do pretty well at it.  I had to fire a drummer a few weeks back and still have yet to actually do it.  I think I am just hoping, maybe, he just won't show up to that gig.  He has a family and is probably counting on the money.  He'll show up to work and someone else will already be in his chair.  Oh!  How about I just tell him two hours later that the correct time: he'll show up and we'll already be playing!  That'll teach him to skip on my rehearsals! 

Who am I kidding?  I'm not James Brown, or Betty Carter...  I can't be the hard ass. 

At least all that's what I used to think before I chose to just lose my mind instead.  Now I've been cancelling the scheduled rehearsals before I make them.  I even prepare dinner for seven and end up throwing the extra away on those assholes from the salon who smoke under my living room windows.  I always make pho that day.  Don't come over because I want leftovers.

What's with the high school friend who decides it's time, after four years of silence, to insult my business?  Perks are left and right in this business and you, of all the people I know from that time should know this.  Wanna know what happened?:  Two months ago I am playing a recently opened, but long owned, xbox game:  the sabeteur.  tuer?  Fuck it.  Either way I get a message about that website asking if I had an account or did I own the game.  I answer that I got did music for Electronic Arts and got it.  Well two months later I get all this crap about getting free schitt and "did EA send you that?" and all this other crap.  It was in a gift bag last January.  Along with other items that I dare mention in public because of the skeptics and their opinions.  I even feel the need to warm other companies who have hired me to play at private, or public, functions...  Watch out: ESPN, Harley Davidson of Glenside, PA, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, University of Pennsylvania, Republican Party of Montgomery County (yes...  I know.  I am a registered Libertarian.  It is what it is.  And, last I check, still a free market.), Mirage Casino, Harrah's Casino, City of Philadelphia, Chestnut Hill Business Association, Longwood Gardens, Chadds Ford Winery, Guilford College North Carolina, and countless bars and restaurants the past 11 years:  because I am a phony and claim to get residuals from two bands that I was never in (the A-Sides & Bloodfeathers).  At least that's what Brendan Burke claimed.  And I can't think of another time that I have ever been so insulted in my life.

Mock my height, or me.  Tell me that I am a terrible pianist.  Just don't lie about me.