Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2016 - What Gives?

2016 is at the three-quarter mark, so I may as well do an update:

I wake up every day and I am still alive - bravo! Also, I have not shat myself in a long time, so I maintain a high head and virtuous overall demeanor. Most of the the time I have been going to work steadily, selling the organics to the grocery stores of the NW. I try not to talk about work too much lest  I jinx it, but I've been enjoying the grind despite it taking up most of my time. I think the fact that I don't currently work with any psyco/sociopaths could play a role in my contentedness in the workplace. When I get bored or need a break, I can walk out in the cooler aisles and commune with the cabbages and parsleys or if I'm feeling indulgent maybe an avocado or a mango. When I start to feel ill I rub myself with garlic and chew on a pungent piece of ginger which really helps to drive away any visitors I might have at my desk. People take note - it is sometimes okay to be repulsive as an efficiency tactic.
My musical life plonders on. TROUBLE CUTS has been soldiering (and soldering) ourselves along through the rugged, rocky AND SOMETIMES coastal gigs that we were required to play because of our middle-aged sense of responsibility and false hope of glory. Memorable was the time we went to Yachats to play at the 10-Mile mountain jam, a gig that will live in infamy. The lights in our faces in the hidden, tye-died cave of a patio in front of an invisible crowd of hippies in their tents and in the shadows, a few bouncing kids and ragged warriors of the rock scene, the soundman's hut doubling as a corn dog dispensary - the gig was marvelous and parts were even documented. We also played at Luckeys in Eugene and kicked some serious asses with our collective sound-boot. Many lives were saved and friendships ended but the night was beautiful and another celebration of bar-band music, drunken debauchery, bro hugs and return to ultra-obscurity. We shared a bagel in the morning and a coffee and we returned to our home-like city to the north, another job done.
My camping-with-family life has been in an upswing. We - Tina, Louis, Henry, mom Cathie and myself tracked down to the Redwoods of Northern California tm and stayed at Jed Smith campground, a favorite of ours. A few - quite a few - friends came along and stayed in adjacent sites. A blast, it was! We ate food, drank beer, let the kids tend the fire (safely of course) and went swimming in the marvelous Smith river a whole bunch. Louis and myself both did some filming with our Nabi square camera:

It was fun. Our super-BFFs Brian and Jen and Bryant and Sarah and all our respective kids did a nice hike through Stout Grove, one of the most beautiful and sacred places in my world. There was a small problem when we realized that the footbridge that normally crossed from the campground side to the South side of the bank where the big trees were was gone, removed only a day before our arrival. With our 3-man raft, Bryant's boy Sammy did a valiant job of shuttling over the other members of our group - 12 or so in total - to the other side. A fun little time to be sure. The redwoods are still there, still alive, still huge and still gorgeous. There is a quiet quality one experiences when walking around the giant trees. I highly recommend it, it's theraputic.
Now this has become my "what did you do this summer essay" but now I am tired and need to finish this beer, you'll have to stay tuned and maybe find out something about our shared world in the process if I ever follow this up.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Preparing for the End Times

Man, I love Eugene Chadbourne. He is one of the most free improvisers of all time. Dig this crazy French documentary from the 1980s:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

the twilight of humanity looms ever near

I've been enjoying my random life lately. Portland has been my home for 2.5 years at this point and the whole time I've been here I have been uber-focused on work, food and day-to-day survival. Nothing that anyone else doesn't have to deal with, but damn, I have a hard time maximizing my social and band lives vs my work and overall family prosperity. Music is lurching into the forefront again: at least I have a few things going on forthcoming: Thundering Asteroids! have a CD coming out with a fun release show this Friday November 7th at teh Tonic in Portland with several of our best friend bands: the Decliners, the Googins and the Vacillators.I'm working on my own CD, which is entitled "Interim" and will be pressed as soon as I can get the funds for the replication. (I'm debating trying a pre-sale fundraiser thing...) BUT... enough about me. Today I rode my bike to work and back in the misty rain, I was cold and drippy and made me grumpy and then after a spell I got over it.  I picked up the boys and their respective bikes over at a friends and rode home from there, again through the misty cloudy drippage and was again grumpy and then again was over it. Back to nice cozy house, heat was turned on, dinner was soon made - beef/mushroom with noodles - kids were brushed and inserted into beds after reading a few books. Really digging the ghostly vibe of the kids' choices in literature these days, very in-tune with the season. Happy November 2nd! Tomorrow marks 39 years since my dad died in Crescent City, I always think of him on November 3d. Peace and goodnight,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Dogs

The Dogs was the first band I had that actually practiced on a regular basis. Formed out of the ashes of a heavy metal trio of Dungeons and Dragon types at my high school, the dogs were Loren Wallen on lead guitar, Matt Ashcraft on bass, myself on guitar and a guy named Robert on drums. Matt and I had been jamming in his trailer for a couple months ahead of time, so I had already learned most of the songs on our heavy-metal playlist - Rock and Roll by Led Zepplin, Rip it Out by Ace Frehley/Kiss, Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Sweet Emotion by Areosmith and Living after Midnight by Judas Priest. That was it - I think those were the only songs we played for 4 or 5 months straight. Maybe there was a foray into some original riff at some point but it was overshadowed by playing Paranoid 5 times in a row to get the solo section correct. The only snippet of a recording that I have left somewhere is about 15 sections of us playing paranoid - a brutal, distorted, teen-aged recording on some dysfunctional 4-track. Anyway, Robert was kind of key to the band because he A.) had a drumset and B.) had an actual, sound-proofed, shag-carpeted jam room in his parent's house. It was awesome! Every saturday at 12, our mom's would drop us off for 2 hours while we worked out our rudimentary chops on our big 5 tunes.One day, we even set up outside on a rare, non-rainy day in Crescent City. We got through 3 songs before a police cruiser rolled up. We finished the song were playing - probably Rip it out - and then we stopped. The officer politely intoned, "I came over to tell you guys to stop, but you sounded so good, you might as well play one more and then quit." I was like a scene out of Happy Days or Andy Griffith. We packed up our gear and went back upstairs, to our carpeted practice room, and finished out the day. probably debating the merits of post-Ozzy Sabbath and post-David Lee Roth Van Halen. Dude, I think my mom's here - I gotta go.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

They Don’t have the Magic – WE have the magic

I remember a friend saying that to me in regards to his mid-90’s band breaking up, a band I was in for awhile but not at the time of the un-ceremonious breakup. “The Magic” was a snippet of a drunk conversation between bandmates overheard while on an ill-fated California tour – “They don’t have the magic – WE have the magic!”, referring, I always assumed, to the other younger, lamer, more successful bands they were playing with. I often think with this kind of curmudgeonly attitude myself when confronted with the fact that the band that appears to be 20 years my junior are the ones cleaning up with the popularity, hipness and the majority of the take of the door at any given show while I’m packing up my gear and getting ready to go to work in a few scant hours after a long drive and a short nap. “They don’t have the magic – WE had it tonight! For a few minutes during our set, we had them in the palm of our collective hand and they had to, NEEDED to dig our rock, because WE had the magic, not THEM!” And, thusly, the true rewards of life, not anything you could account for or anything that would pay some bills, but, “the Magic,” the shit we all love, the sublime joy of making some noise in an emotional context that resonates with others. As my friend Vic would say – "Kool story, bro."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday night review: Robyn Hitchcock @ Doug Fir 10/25/12

I was dog-tired and sick last night, but that didn't prevent me from going out to Doug Fir Lounge to view and hear one of my all-time favorite songwriters, Robyn Hitchcock. upon walking in the door at the club, I was overcome by the thick rock sound of Peter Buck's solo band. Pete sings in a rough voice with a limited range, but it worked well with the mid-tempo, even-handed garage style of his band. Somehow towing the line between professional polish and raw rawk vibe, I caught a few tunes in the midst of the crowd and then quaffed a few beverages for good health and wellness, I didn't at first want to see the Young Fresh Fellows, just because I harbor a somewhat of a grudge against Scott McCaughey  (for being omnipresent in the NW.) That bit of mean-spiritedness aside, YFF totaly rocked my night and I immediately got up from the bar when they started. Duh! Guitarist Kurt Bloch is in the band. I forgot about that. And the drummer's singing and peppy stage presence was great. They covered, "Picturebook," by the Kinks and many of their own classics from the 1980s, including "Mojo Working" and several others that I remembered from long ago. Onward through the night, I slipped into the crowd into the mid-front section and prepared for an experience with one of my all-time heros. His first several songs all sparkle out of his acoustic guitar, his voice purely Robyn, its sound wrapping around all of us present. Something that I love about RH is his ability to sing very low at times, richly delivering his sardonic lyrics. Highlights for me were the opener, "Only the stones remain," along with, "The wreck of the Arthur Lee," which blew my mind with its double-entendre chorus, "Be-lieve in Love.." I hadn't heard that one before last night. Ok...I am a geek. He brought up an additional, fuzzy-haired singer to sing harmonies on, "Queen Elvis," and had the dude up for some time. Later, Colin Malloy from Decemberists got up and sang at one point as well. I kind of lost interest when the additional musicians Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Bill Reiflin came up to support him.I know these guys are all heavies, but the consistency of their back-up band offerings are not lighting my inner torch. I have enjoyed the same style of show from Robyn and his same NW crew for several go-rounds now. Its a big friend-fest, but I long for some new direction from RH that will blow my mind, something different, either solo or with some stranger musical amalgamation. Maybe I should have submitted my request on a bar napkin - a nasty note, requesting his submission to this particular fan's needs, but no. I understand the complexities of balancing the delivery of music-by-rote when life's other demands seem to be beating the louder drum. I just like it when my heroes evolve and indulge their whimsy in new ways. Oh well, I am a hypocrite - I like the greatest hits package-shows too. I am real happy that I even went. It's a struggle against habit to go out sometimes, but we all need to be reminded of what the other people in our town look like, what they drink, how they talk, how they smell and also how they comment to their friends about music that you are intimate with. People always talk about 'Portland hipsters', but honestly most everyone looked pretty normal at last night's show. Normal, middle-aged-and-younger crowd, wearing sweaters and glasses. I always feel like a geek inside when I go mentally through my day; turns out I am just one of many geeks. Viva geek homogenization!

Monday, October 15, 2012

October Blues

My oldest brother used to often say to me, "there are three main things you do: input, output and make money." I feel like I've been spending all my time (at least trying to) make money and inputting; outputting, not so much. So here goes: since re-committing myself to my job, I feel like the music side of my life has slid off the map. I guess that's not entirely true, since I am still setting up shows with the Underlings and making it to band practice once in awhile, but I think in my previous life, I sacrificed my work-side rewards by putting music above my work. and I wasn't necessarily happier, but I somehow carved out my own slacker ethos and allowed my music to rule my worktime, not the other way around. That being said, I'm having fun at my job for the first time in years. I'm assigned with organizing the produce coolers at work, which is kind of a big deal. I also am on the team that is working on configuring the company's Warehouse Management system, which is complicated, frustrating and yet also rewarding. It is fun to work on a team of intelligent people who are dedicated to getting the project off the ground, I often wonder if the whole thing is too far above my head, but I think I am hanging in there. I can't wait until the project is done and I can focus on quietly blending in at work, maybe apply some of my creative skillz to the mix of Organic produce and eccentric personalities. GOOD NEWS: I got a new record player and now my record collection is no longer collecting dust. I am on a mission to listen to every piece of vinyl I have, from Roy Orbison to Kraftwerk, Landspeed Record to In a Silent Way. I am a square - I have had the same mediocre Sony turntable for 10 years. I finally pony'd up and bought a vintage refurbished Dual 1249 turntable; kind of a medium-grade audiofile deck from the late 1970's. Belt driven and good enough for me, I am stoked and we've all been hearing a lot more music around the house. Next step: get some blank cassettes and make some mix tapes for friends. Mebbe X Mas? Happy Rocktober,