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Do It Live

13 Jan

DoItLiveLast night, I had the privilege of performing a reading as part of the venerable Writers with Drinks spoken word/variety show. The event is put on by fellow Gawker-er Charlie Jane Anders (io9), and takes place monthly at the Makeout Room in the Mission. WWD has been going on for more than a decade, and I, because I am a huge loser, have never been. After last night, I’ll probably never miss another one as long as live in San Francisco. It was a BLAST.

The setup is more or less this: Each month, four or five writers go up to the mic and read their stuff for about 10-15 minutes each. It can be a chapter from a book, or a few poems, or some spoken word thing, or a comedy routine, or an essay or article. When Charlie Jane asked me to participate early last week, my first thought was, “Okay!” My second thought was, “What the fuck am I going to read?”

For a while I considered throwing together some new thing, something about teaching, or music, or life in the city… the hidden message behind those ideas being, Christ, anything but video games. Then, my daily schedule being what it is, it became clear that I wasn’t going to have time to write 10 or 15 minutes’ worth of new material by Saturday in addition to writing for work. So, video games it was.

I wound up adapting a couple of older things I’d written: First was an essay about Pac-Man, lines, the Japanese visual art suibokuga, and jazz called “Onward, Pac-Man!” I also did a rendition of “Fisher-Fest 2010″, which is a breakdown of the ridiculous dialogue in Splinter Cell: Conviction. I asked my friend Dan to come up to read the dialogue from Fisher-Fest with me, to shake things up. How would this go? Would we tank? Would anyone care? God only knew.

Okay, so: I get to the Makeout Room and it’s packed. There are like 80 people there, and they’re all Here To Listen To People Read Things. Um. So I’m going to get in front of this huge group of people and read an essay about Pac-Man. Right. Then, it turns out that the person who was supposed to kick us off hasn’t shown up, so I’m going to go FIRST. Good lord.

wwdfallingI’ve actually performed at the Makeout Room before, but every time I’ve done it, it’s been with my band. I’ve had a guitar or a saxophone to hide behind, and a whole band to back me up. There’s something so naked about getting up on stage with a sheaf of papers and just sort of… reading.

So I go up there to read, and about thirty seconds in it becomes clear–praise be–that this crowd totally gets it. They are on board. They want to hear about Pac-Man and jazz. They’re laughing at Fisher-Fest. (Money line from Dan: “You’ll die on your knees, like a SCIENTIST!”) And the whole time I’m on stage, vaguely thinking, “Here I am, reading an essay about Pac-Man and making jokes about Splinter Cell, and this audience is super into it? What the fuck planet am I on?”

Anyway, it was grand. I now fully understand why readings are A Thing. Other readers included Jan Richman doing a chapter from her book Thrill-Bent, Ramez Naam sharing a hilarious sci-fi sexual misadventure from his book Nexus, Wired‘s Erin Biba reading this article about the history and future of prenatal genetic testing, and another writer (who wasn’t on the bill and so whose name I’m tracking down) who filled in for an empty slot with a riveting story of a woman traveling on a bus to an extramarital tryst, only to have one of the passengers go missing.

During all of the readings, particularly that last one, I was struck by how the very vulnerability I was so nervous about going in–No instruments! No band! Just words and a mic!–actually became a strength. Because there wasn’t any loud music playing, people were quiet. Because there was only one thing to pay attention to, the audience was focused. We hung on every word, laughed at every joke. It was remarkable.

I was also surprised at how helpful it was for me to rework my writing into something that’d work for a live audience. It’s always useful to read your work out loud, but I’d never really taken an article or essay of mine and asked of it, “Could I read this out loud to a bar full of people? Would they get it? Would it work?”

The changes I made to both essays helped them flow, and removed assumed knowledge and jargon without in any way changing their gist or substance. The Pac-Man essay still articulates a concept I remain enamored of even a couple of years after I wrote the piece, but my actual writing in it feels clunky and effortful now. It’s overly purple, like I was trying to impress everyone. (Guess what: I was.) I say too little with too many words, and in the lede I assume that readers know both Splinter Cell and Minecraft. In making the article work for last night’s performance, I didn’t just make it more accessible, I also made it better.

So, there’s a cool exercise in there. Next time you’re writing something, ask of it: “Could I read this out loud? To a club full of ordinary people? Would they get it?” Granted, the approach won’t do much for, say, a review of a new graphics card, but if you’re going for broad appeal with whatever you’re writing, it’s a helpful measuring stick.

Anyway. Writers With Drinks was a lot of fun. If you live in SF, you should come out to the next one. I’ll be there!

The Stage Lights Are Beckoning

11 Feb

Last weekend at the Brava Theater I did another episode of “915 Cayuga,” the live radio/theatrical/musical show that I started last year with my creative partner, the fabulous actor/writer Khamara Pettus. Khamara produces, writes, acts, and directs the show while I serve as musical director, sing and play a bunch of instruments, and write some of the skits.

I’m joined onstage by my friends and longtime bandmates Lindsay Garfield, Dan Apczynski and Dan Nervo. A bunch of other wonderful people contribute as well; it’s really becoming quite a production.

Below are some cool pictures from last week; they were taken by Carrina Maree. (You can view the full Flickr set here.) We’ll have a full recording online soon, and I’ll be sure to holler when it’s up.

The next performance will be at the Brava somewhere around the end of March, and you should come.

Oh, Cayuga!

22 Jul

This Sunday, July 24th, I’ll be leading my band in the first-ever performance of the live musical radio show 915 Cayuga! The show is a project that my collaborative partner Khamara Pettus and I have been working on for a while, and it’s gonna be super-fun. It’s basically a radio variety show, featuring musicians (me, Dan, Nervo and Lindsay), actors (Khamara and the cast), and other acts (dancing, call-in advice, storytelling, monologuing), all performed and recorded in front of a live studio audience (you (hopefully)).

Basically, imagine “Prairie Home Companion” moved to the city and minus the midwestern fetish and all the Lutheran jokes, and you’ve got 915 Cayuga. I really hope you can make it out – we’re planning to do the show pretty regularly, and would love to have a great audience for our maiden voyage.

Show info is as follows:

Date: Sunday, July 24th, 7:00 PM
Venue: Main Street Theater, 915 Cayuga, SF (Near Balboa Park BART)
Cover: $10 door
Age: 21+, wine/beer available at the theater’s cash bar
Advance tickets at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/186816
Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=210891268956699

On a related note, I have finally updated my mailing list using the free mailing-list service MailChimp. I think it looks pretty good – if you’d like to sign up, you can do so here.

Hope to see you all Sunday!

The Spring Concert

13 Apr

Last week was the Urban School’s spring concert at Herbst Theatre. We always have a great time at these shows, but this year’s felt somehow special. My kids played their asses off, as did the other student groups. And there was this certain vibe, a joyfulness to the proceedings that was tough to describe but impossible to miss.

John Hefti, the father of one of my pianists, took some fantastic photos of the show. You can see them all here, but I thought I’d post a few of my favorites as well.

And my personal favorite, of our drummer Xander taking his ripping DS solo at the start of our closing number:

The Exited Door, On Sale

9 Mar

In honor of all the new friends I’ve made over the past six months, I’ve decided to make my first solo record, “The Exited Door,” 50% off at Bandcamp. For the rest of this week, it’s selling for $5 (though you can name your price, should you want to pay more). You can also stream the whole thing for free on the site, or even listen to it right here:

I had no label, no producer, no mixing engineer, no professional studio—only me, my best musician friends, and anyone else I could convince to pitch in. I guess the word “indie” has taken a bit of a beating lately, but I’m not sure it gets more indie than how I made this album.

If you’re curious, I wrote a detailed, seven-part series about the process of making the album which was fun to write and is worth checking out. Even though I hope to work with a producer and a professional engineering team on my next album (and don’t doubt that the album would have been “better” had I had them), it is a point of pride for me that I managed to make it at all, and I’m really glad that I took the time to document the process.

We also do this stuff live, and I’ve made a video montage of a show we did a year and a half ago. I seriously, mega need to do another big show like this one; it was way too much fun.

 

Huge thanks to everyone who’s bought the record so far; I hope you are enjoying it. Your support is hugely valued, so please spread the word to anyone you think might like it!

Shadows and Whispers

14 Jan

When I was in music school, I was in a few saxophone quartets. At the University of Miami there is usually a freshman quartet, with the four freshman jazz saxophone principles assuming the four chairs in the group. It’s a great way to focus on intonation and blend. I’d never played in a “proper” rehearsing quartet before, and it was a challenging and exceedingly valuable experience.

My senior year, a group of upperclassmen actually put together an advanced quartet in order to tackle some really challenging music. The group consisted of me on tenor, Dan Kinzleman on soprano, Chris Shade on alto and Paul Roth on bari. UM Sax Prof Gary Keller directed us.

. We played a bunch of serious modern repertoire, including a Dave Liebman quartet that was as “out” as out can be. Lieb actually came down and listened to us play it, which was awesome and a bit harrowing. And in the spring, composer Jim Mcneely was the guest artist for the Concert Jazz Band, in which I was playing second tenor. Before the concert, our sax quartet took it upon ourselves to learn the final movement from a Mcneely piece called “Shadows and Whispers; Slash and Burn.”

We recorded it live at Gusman hall in early 2003. Every time I come back to the recording I’m struck by just how incredible Mcneely’s writing is, and how advanced the music was. His big band writing is equally cool, but something about the purity of the quartet really brings out what he does so well.

A (fantastic) student of mine named Ben is applying to UM, and Gary really likes his playing. Which is so very cool to hear. I saw Gary last week in New Orleans at the JEN convention, and we talked fondly about the Mcneely quartet. Gary went ahead and forward the recording along to Ben, so I thought I’d share it here, as well.

As you listen to it, bear in mind that there is no improvising in the piece – all of the notes were written. Check out how it goes in and out of focus, going from unison to harmony to rhythmic disjointedness and back. (Update: if you would like to purchase it, it is available via Advance Music.)

“Shadows and Whispers; Slash and Burn” by Jim Mcneely:

Musical Happenings

17 Aug

I’ve been working on a lot of different things, so I thought I’d take a minute to detail them here. Also, as you can see from that image, I’ve come down with a mild case of Scott Pilgrim Fever.

SF Songbird Festival Show @ The Blue Macaw

First up is a show we did a couple of weeks at at the groovy Blue Macaw in the Mission. It used to be called 12 Galaxies, and I actually haven’t been to the club since they changed names. Fortunately, the super cool Mz. Urban Therese (whom I have gotten to know as “Therese”) was putting together a bill for her Songbird Festival and asked if I’d like to participate.

We played alongside Debby Gipsman, Juliet Strong, and Jascha Hoffman, all of whom sounded great and were really cool. Debby opened with a solo acoustic set – girl has a really strong voice, sounds somewhat like Natalie Merchant, but better? And I don’t mean that in a silly way, I like Natalie Merchant’s voice, but Debby actually has a really cool quality that I dug. Juliet brought a really big, eclectic band, with accordion, cello, flute (who killed it and was a total babe to boot), cajón, upright bass and herself on keys and vocals. She sounded great, and has written some neat songs – check her stuff out! Jascha Hoffman played the closing set and gave a really charming performance with a kick-ass band – my bassist Daniel was playing with him, and his guitarist sounded great (his name is Adam Roszkiewicz, he plays with a ton of cats) and his drummer was Jason Slota, a great player from Afrodesia and John Vanderslice. Dang, that dude can freakin’ play the drums.

So yeah, our set. It was probably the most relaxed I’ve ever felt going into a show, which was so nice. All of my go-to color instrument folks (Violin, Trumpet, etc) were out of town or booked, so we went with the six-piece. Me, Dan and Lindsay on vocals, Nervo on guitar, Daniel Fabs on bass and Tim McGregor on drums. A killer group, and all friends, so we had a really laid-back vibe in general.

And we killed!  Seriously. I’ve never felt so good about a show – we could do that every night and it’d never get old. I mean, it’d get old, but it feels like it’d never get old. We went through the usual acoustic stuff – “The Darkened Street,” “No Crow, Scarecrow,” “North Kinser,” “Oh, Brother,” “If You’re Feeling Out Of It.”  Most of which are on my record, which hey, if you don’t have it, you should buy it. You know, forget iTunes even – you can actually buy it. Support independent music, man!

Just for kicks, Dan and I did our duo song “The Can Man,” which we wrote together a while back, and it was a ton of fun. We might have to start performing that one more often. And of course, at the end of the set, we played Shoshana. A hit, as always.

There was a really great crowd out, and we were so happy for everyone’s enthusiastic support. Thanks so much for coming, one and all! Thanks also to Therese and the awesome Frankie Burton, who helped run the show and took the pictures here. My next show will most likely be in September, and I’m planning on whipping out some mondo new material later in the fall, too. More on that soon.

Keyboards This Weekend with Blue Rabbit!

Next thing up is a cool one. I’ll be subbing on keyboards with the groovy chamber-pop vocal band Blue Rabbit! This is a band who, if you’ll recall, I described upon first listen as sounding like “the best episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer ever.” (Don’t worry, I elaborated. Or maybe, worry: I elaborated.)

They are awesome, and we’ve been friends since we shared a bill last year at the Rickshaw Stop. Tim, their keyboardist, wasn’t available this weekend, so they needed someone to fill in. They gave me a ring, and even though my first instinct was “Seriously? Can I learn this much keyboard music in a week?” after thinking about it, I realized “Yeah actually, I can!” So I went for it. We rehearsed last night, and the show is going to be a blast.

We’re playing at the Rock Make Street Festival in the mission, going on at noon. The best part about playing keyboards is that I don’t have to bring an instrument – just myself and my middling chops. So, after the set we’ll hang around at the festival and drink beer and listen to music. Come out! Say hi! Meet these people! They are like the nicest band ever!

Info on the festival is here. Do eet. Do eet.

New Songs, New Projects, DRUMS

Last but not least are the new things I’m working on. Mostly, it’s new music. A bootload of it, actually. I’ve got around eight songs in the hopper, and a few more ideas that are slowly working their way into more fully-formed tunes. It’s really, really fun stuff, and I’ve been having a blast finally adding lyrics and finishing up the form. Pretty soon, I’ll have demos out to the band and we can start actually learning this stuff!

It’s bigger, I’d say, than anything on The Exited Door. Not a huge shift in style or anything, just more fully-realized – the tunes take greater advantage of the three vocal parts, as well as the strengths of Lindsay and Dan, my two vocalists. In addition, they’re geared a bit more towards live performance – as fun as “The Bird Women of Golden Gate Park” and “Down By The Water” are, they’re not really songs that always come off amazingly live.

So, ton of new music there, as well as another cool project (or actually, series of projects) I’m working on with Khamara Pettus, the amazing actor/director/producer/force of nature with whom I’ve been working, scheming, planning over the past couple of months. We’re putting together some things to perform at the Brava Theatre, and I’ll have more on that stuff once it’s a bit more ready for the light of day. Suffice to say: it merges a lot of things about which I am quite passionate. Also, Khamara is a rock goddess.

Last, my odyssey into becoming a real-life drummer is all but complete – I’m confident now that I could hold it down in just about any bitchin’ rock band that’d have me. And I want them to have me. Do you know of a kick-ass, stripped-down, glammy rock punk freakout band, preferably with some female energy in the mix, that is in need of a tall, goofy drummer who makes up for his lack of extreme burning chops with energy and musicality? If so, A) I am surprised you know such a specific band and B) GIVE THEM MY NUMBER.

That’s All, Folks

So, that’s it for musical updates. I’ll post some demos and further thoughts on the new songs once I’ve got them in shape to share, and in the meantime, SFers come on out to the Rock Make Festival this Sunday and say hi!

Wide Angles

20 Apr

From last week’s Urban School Spring Concert:

(Click to enlarge)

Sunday’s Show @ The Make-Out Room

24 Feb

…was a crashing success. Wow, what a band! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so confident in my group before performing, nor have I felt as relaxed onstage as I did. It was a blast of a show, and the crowd was so great – thanks to all who came out!

The Nice Guy Trio was amazing as always, opening the night with a killing set and really establishing a laid-back vibe for the rest of the evening. As I’ve mentioned, then show was a potluck in honor of Seaweed Sway hostess Jessie Woletz’s birthday, so there was a table with all sorts of delicious food for folks to sample as the Nice Guys did their thing.

After NGT wrapped up, we went on, and it was just a really fun, relaxed, high-energy set.  Highlights included “Sweet Revenge” (now with 2 more modulations!), “The Darkened Street,” and, of course, “Shoshana.” Having Tim join us on drums added a level of oomph to the tunes that had been lacking from previous acoustic performances, and Marguerite sounded amazing, as always.

I got some good audio from the board, and we also set up a camera to record – the video is kind of weird, since we had to turn on the night-vision setting due to the low lights in the club, andthe result is that it looks like I wore all white when I actually wore almost all black… odd.  This recording of the Nice Guys sitting in on “The Darkened Street” captures the vibe of the night for those who couldn’t make it:

Special thanks to Fred Nervo for working the camera, and to Chris Brague for doing such a fantastic job with the sound.

After our set, Stitchcraft played, and they were really cool, too!  I hadn’t heard much of their stuff, and was expecting a folky kinda thing, but instead they brought a really groovy energy to the stage, lots of percussion and brazillian-ish rhythms, as well as a complete vibraphone. My dinky little xylophone looked on in awe.

All in all a very, very fun night. Thanks one more time to everyone who came out, and hope you enjoy the video!

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday

18 Feb

I am beyond excited for Sunday’s show – let me take a sec to tell you why.  Actually, if you know me at all, you won’t be surprised: I’m excited because of the super awesome band I get to play with.

We cranked out the set last night in rehearsal, and I continue to just feel so lucky to play with musicians who are so good that we only need to get together once to prepare a killer set.

I’ll be joined by Dan and Lindsay, singers from The Exited Door and extreme badasses, as well as my main man Dan Nervo on the guitar.  The set will be acoustic, so Nervo won’t get to do his shredding thing (and, alas, this force him to leave his beautiful new black Les Paul studio at home), but the guy picks a mean solo and is sounding amazing as always.

Also joining the band will be the amazing Daniel Fabricant on the upright bass, Tim McGregor on the drums, and the lovely and incredibly burning Marguerite Ostro on the violin. By adding drums to the acoustic band and removing some of the extra color instruments we had last time, we’ve got a much more focused sound, and the groove is really there. The western-swingish tunes we’re going to play – “The Darkened Street,” “Shoshana,” “North Kinser” – all finally sound as they were meant to.

I should mention that not only is Tim a burning drummer, he’s kind of the best digital graphics guy I’ve ever met. Like, four years ago he was a drummer on tour, opening for Dave Matthews with Jem, and now, well… check this out. It’s his demo reel for 2010, showing the projects he’s done over the past few years and edited together with such style and aplomb that… well, it’s pretty amazing.  Give it a sec to load, then take a gander - so hot right now.

What’s more, Sunday’s show will feature an opening set from the amazing Nice Guy Trio (with whom Daniel Fab also plays, along with trumpeter Darren Johnston and accordionist Rob Reich), and Darren and Rob are going to sit in with me, too!  I’ll also be playing a tune with the Nice Guys on tenor, accompanying the incredible Katy Stephan, who’ll be singing with them.

And that’s not even to mention the groovy headlining group Stitchcraft, or Master of Ceremonies Jeremy Dalmas, who promises to keep things really fun and loose all night, and the fact that the gig is a potluck, so there should be a ton of amazing food there (and you’ll get a discount if you bring something, too)!

God, do you need any more reasons to come out to this show?  No, you do not.  So come out!  There is a Facebook event with the info, it’s at the Make-Out room starting at 7:30 this Sunday.

Rock. Victory. Freedom. America.

The Urban School Winter Concert

15 Dec

Elena "Harmonica" Goldstein

…was totally great!  I thought I’d put up a couple pictures (thanks Howard and Audrey!) and write a little bit about it. I teach jazz at The Urban School of San Francisco, which is a really groovy small private high school in the Haight-Ashbury district.  The ensemble I direct is the younger of two jazz bands, called the Lab Band.

Twice a year, we get to take all of our ensembles (the small chamber ensemble, the Urban Singers, my band, and the Advanced Jazz Band) and do a show at the historic Herbst Theatre on Van Ness.  It’s pretty nutbars that we get to play such a great venue, but each year, it’s felt more and more like my kids have earned their place on that stage. This year was no exception.

I do a lot of writing for my group – for this concert, as with the last two, I arranged all three of the tunes we played.  It’s a really big part of ensemble directing, for me, and I think that having the ability to write specifically to my players’ disparate ability levels goes a long way towards getting the most out of them in performance.  I actually wrote a whole post about my approach after last year’s truly outstanding spring concert.

This year, I have my biggest Band yet (like, they actually almost qualify as a “Big Band”), and I honestly couldn’t believe how well they did – mainly because of my own slow writing process. One of the downsides of writing original arrangements for the group is that  they have to wait until I finish one before we can really learn it.  This year, that meant that my final arrangement for “It Don’t Mean a Thing” dropped on them two weeks before the concert… we’d been playing iterations of the chart, each one with a bit more than the last, but were sill just finalizing things a few days before the show.

And keep in mind, this band has a bunch of students who just started on their instruments!  So, we’ve got trombone and saxophone players trying to digest this part in a matter of days, when they still don’t know how to play all the notes on their instruments… and the ridiculous thing is that they pulled it off! I’m amazed at the resourcefulness.  If the entire year could be as focused and productive as the two weeks before a performance, I can’t even imagine how much we could accomplish.  Maybe the moral here is to perform more often?

Anyhow, they rocked the thunder, and I couldn’t be prouder of them. In addition to “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” we played an arrangement I did of “Summertime” that riffed off of Gil Evans’ famous arrangement for Miles Davis, substituting harmonica for Miles’ harmon mute.  We closed with a funky-ish version of “In Walked Bud.”  Throughout the set, the kids didn’t miss a single beat.

I’m planning on sitting down over the coming holiday break and banging out all of our charts for the spring, as well as one for the Advanced Band, and I really want to take my time with it and get the most out of this huge, great group. Also, this will be our chance to get as weird as possible – clapping is old hat these days, so I think we’ll do some whistling, if I can figure out how to notate it…

Last Week’s Show @ Hotel Utah

15 Oct
Armelodica Detail

Armelodica, in effect.

…was totally great! I thought I’d share some thoughts and pictures.

I love the Utah so much, man – such a great vibe, cool stage, and you gotta love the split-level. Alex Kelly’s opening set was a mind-blower… I’ve worked with Alex for a long time, but hearing him do his solo cello thing for the first time was eye-opening.  This dude is GOOD.  At the CELLO.  Seriously.  I’m going to have to write some more challenging stuff for him to play the next time we play together.

But, even with the simple parts I had for him, it was so cool to have Alex come join us for my set, and the rest of the band was just amazing, too.  Joelle Jaffe was a champ and learned a bunch of vocal parts (and deceptively difficult tambourine parts) in only a few rehearsals and filled in for Lindsay amazingly.  The trio of Dans – Apczynski on vocals, Nervo on guitar, and Fabricant on bass, rocked the house as only Dans can.  Joel Behrman rocked the hell out of the trumpet (no shocker there), and my god, Margeurite Ostro!  On the Violin!  Everyone was raging about her after the show, and I gotta say, I agree – what a badass.  She plays in a couple of other bands around town – go see her!

The set was the usual tunes – “The Darkened Street” really came together with a full acoustic band behind  it, and sounded so much like something you’d hear on Prairie Home Companion that at the end of the song, I wanted to start talking about Powder Milk Biscuits.  “Sweet Revenge” came back, this time in acoustic form, and with a couple of much-needed modulations on the choruses, which gave the tune the extra zing that it needed.  We also played “Shoshana,” in its final performance before I add some new lyrics. The story behind that is deserving of its own post, so stay tuned. It’s gonna be pretty awesome.  Photos after the jump!

Continue reading

Tonight! Tonight! Birthdays! Music!

8 Oct

Hotel UtahSo here we are, getting ready to do another large-ensemble show so soon after that last blowout, and with a completely different band, and all-new arrangements. And it’s going to be so much fun. We had a great rehearsal last night, and I can’t believe how burning the musicians in the band are! Dang!

Check it:  in addition to band regulars Dan Apczynski and Dan Nervo on vocals and guitar, I’ll be joined by my old buddy Daniel Fabricant on upright bass, the amazing Alex Kelly on cello, and Marguerite Ostro on violin.  And you guys.  Marguerite?  Is a shredder.  Woah!  She can, like, go toe to toe with Nervo, shred-wise.  She plays in a bunch of other bands around town, most notably the amazingly named Kugelplex, as well as Pickpocket Ensemble, and damn. Wait ’till you hear her.

And the hits just keep on coming –  Joel Behrman, fellow UM alum who plays ridiculous trombone and trumpet, will be playing the latter horn on the gig, and since Lindsay is on tour with Or, The Whale, the amazing Joelle Jaffe (of BLAMMOS) will be filling in on vocals and percussion.

My cousin Rose came up with an excellent way of describing turning 29. As she put it, “I’m in my 30th year.” Word to that – it feels good. And getting to play this music for everyone is pretty much the best way I can think of to spend my birthday; if you’re in San Francisco, I truly hope you can make it out!

Sweet Revenge Chart

On the menu. Now with more modulations!

As Tiiiiime Goes By…

29 Sep

handAck! No posts for a little while, and such is life. I’ve been getting ready for next week’s show at the Hotel Utah (Facebook event is here), which is going to be super fun, but has eaten up a ton of my time. We’re doing a totally different show this time around, with an acoustic band featuring cello, violin, upright bass, trumpet and trombone, and, of course, three vocalists. Because of that, I have… an entire set’s worth of music to chart out. Again. Hmm. Might not have thought this through.

The upside is that once we do this show, I’ll have a full set of charts for all the music for both full-on electric band and acoustic band, and I probably won’t have to do this sort of marathon chart-writing again.  The downside is… well.. marathon chart-writing.  Blurg.

Anyhow.  I have a few things I want to write about – some good local music, a fun thing I heard about last week’s Mad Men lawnmower incident, some great iPhone games to try, but I won’t be able to find the time until later this week.  Until then, thanks for stopping by, and mark your calendars for next Thursday!

We’re Gonna Need A Montage

16 Sep

South Park Montage 2So, after cutting together a bunch of audio and video from the first-ever performance of “The Exited Door,” it became clear that I had too much of both – I couldn’t really imagine finishing, editing, and posting videos of every song, and I also couldn’t imagine everyone out there sitting there and watching that much video.

It was clear that there was only one thing to do. In the words of Trey Parker and Matt Stone:

The day is approaching
to give it your best
and you’ve got to reach your prime

that’s when you need
to put yourself to the test
and show us a passage of time

we’re gonna need a montage
(montage!)
a show-playing montage
(montage!!)

So, without further ado, I give you the official video montage of last week’s show.  It is seriously good times.

It, and other fun live videos, can all be found in widescreen on my YouTube Channel.  And if the montage-y-ness leaves you wanting to hear more, well… good! Only thing to do is come out to the next one!

Full Band Onstage 2

Pictures and Videos from the Rickshaw Show!

8 Sep

I’m hard at work cutting together video and audio of the show, and I’ve got the first one up – it’s of our opening tune, “Happy Pants,” and I’m really happy with how it came out.  Man, what a horn section:

Thanks again to Tom Nowak for shooting the video! There will be more videos from the show soon, since a bunch of songs are keepers, but I thought it’d be a good idea to pace myself.  Next one will be up today or tomorrow – it’ll either be “The First Time,” Dan’s big show-stopper “The Mayor,” or our closer, “Sweet Revenge.”

Second, I heard from photog-at-large Flip Cassidy about pictures he took from the show, and man, did he get some good ones! I put them all together over on my myspace site, and will probably also get them up on Facebook soon, but in the meantime, here are some highlights:

Lindsay and Ray Charles

Kirk & The Armelodica

Dan Nervo

Brian Fox

Dan Plays Xylo

Lindsay Garfield

Kirk At The Keyboard

Todd Weinman

Lindsay and Kirk

Dan Apczynski

Wailin' on the Clarinet

Thanks, Flip, you rule!

Six Video Stills to Tantalize and Amaze

6 Sep

I’m starting to work on editing the audio and video of last Thursday’s show (shot by the amazing Tom Nowak) and I wanted to share a few stills.

Because dudes. Well… see for yourselves:

Sweet Revenge 2

Happy Pants 1

Khamara Intro

Dan Continues To Be The Mayor

Plunger Horns

Sweet Revenge 4

…Yeah.  It’ll take a little while to get the videos and audio into shape for YouTube, but the finished product is going to be worth the wait.

Cheers, and enjoy your Sunday!

Last Night’s Show @ Rickshaw Stop

4 Sep

Okay, okay. I don’t think I can seriously expect myself to write a cogent break-down of the show or anything… there was just too much. There were many photographers in attendance, as well as a videographer, and we got some great audio from the house and the board, so I’ll be mixing together some video at some point, as well as getting all the pictures together into one place.

But OH. MY. GOD. THAT WAS AMAZING. I can’t believe how many people came out, how warm and awesome the crowd was, how far their energy pushed us. I’m flipping through the pictures that Mike took, and I just I can’t get my head around it. Damn.

Kirk Looping

I can't believe how well the looping went, and how fun it was to finally do the full-band surprise at the end.

Tom and Todd

I can't believe the band that I managed to put together, and how ridiculously well they played after only one (ONE!) full-band rehearsal.

It's peeeeople

I couldn't believe it when I looked out over all the heads,

Kirk And Lindsay

when Lindsay and I sang to them,

Dan IS the Mayor

and when Dan (and Khamara!) brought the HOUSE DOWN on "The Mayor."

Dan Nervo

I can't believe the balls on Dan Nervo.

Tim's Awesome Juno

I can't believe how cool Kevin and Tim from Blue Rabbit were for letting us use their drums and keyboard. I couldn't believe the whole part where I was playing keyboard, actually... I've never done that before.

Timmy On The Drums

I couldn't believe I got to play with Timmy again,

The Foxy Fox

and that I got to be there when he and Fox performed together.

Todd, Danny, and Mike

I couldn't believe the horns.

Mike Olmos!

I couldn't BELIEVE Mike Olmos.

Llama Plays The Xylo

and I couldn't believe how Dan made even playing the xylophone look cool.

Conspiracy of Venus

I STILL can't believe how great Conspiracy of Venus was, how much Blue Rabbit rocked (I'll have pics soon!), and how fun it was to play with them.

line

There are so many more things I can’t believe, but most of all I can’t believe it’s over. We did it! Oh my God! Thank you so much to Waldo, Dan, Christopher, Chris and everyone else at the Rickshaw Stop for rocking so hard, and THANK YOU to everyone who came out… it felt as though every single human I know in this entire amazing city was there, and so many more wonderful new friends… it meant so much, I can’t even say. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I will have video, audio, and many more pictures online in the next few days, and we’ll really try to work out something special with the video. Until then, well… time to start getting ready for the next one. Thank you San Francisco!!

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