Monday, October 22, 2007

More about Seattle

So, on Saturday, I had a list of things to do.

1. Drop off rented speakers & stands at Apple Music.
2. Arrange to rent replacement headset mic for one more day.
3. Get caf and decaf beans from Stumptown.
4. Load self and compadres into van.
5. Go to Seattle.
6. Play gig.
7. Hang.

In addition to these things I did the driving from Portland to Seattle. It rained cats and dogs, but that didn't exactly come as a surprise to me. We listened to a number of Bill's CDs. We made really good time despite the rain, and there was no slow traffic at all.

The downside (there always is one) was that our show was in direct conflict with a much bigger show, happening on the same night, across town, and appealing to the same audience. But, there is something to be learned from every encounter. I learned several things:

1. Arriving in your destination town to find no flyer in the venue window and no promo done except for newspaper listings (and not very many of those) is every bit as depressing in 2007 as it was in 1993 when I first experienced it.
2. Pho is really good! (It was my first time. I was a pho virgin up until Saturday.)
3. It takes about 3 shows for everyone you're working with to learn all your lyrics and start making fun of them. :)
4. Tom Baker has a fretless Gibson guitar.
5. Raw coffee beans are really hard to find, even in Seattle!
6. The rain in the Northwest will stop on the day after your final gig there.

After our hang with the performers from the Much Bigger Show at Murphy's at 45th and Meridian, we drove back to Portland in advance of Jim's flight back to Kentucky the next morning. After dropping Jim off at the airport the rest of us made the drive back to the Bay Area, listening to Miles Davis, more Bollywood music, a mad Frenchman from the 70s whose name escapes me, and Glenn Gould.

I treated the lads to lunch at the Morning Glory Cafe, that magical place in downtown Eugene right by the Amtrak station. Amar and Bill took photos of Mount Shasta and Black Butte at sunset. The lads (especially Bill) bought many olives and olive-related things at the Olive Pit.

And now we are all safely home, and I'm looking forward to reviewing the recordings Clyde made of each and every show, to see if there is enough material there for a live CD release.

Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest

Paula, who is originally from Seattle, informed me that the above statement about the origins of the city is the traditional mnemonic for remembering the names of pairs of downtown Seattle streets. It turns out we never actually had to deal with those downtown streets, but I thought it would make a cool subject line for a blog post.

I'll write more about Seattle later on. First I wanted to tell you about our gig in Astoria.

It was a rainy yet scenic drive there from Portland, after spending the night on K and Paula's floor. We listened to Thelonius Monk and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time while winding slowly along highways 103 and 202. After my post from the Sea Star internet cafe, tanning salon, and Dish Network dealership, Carol Newman interviewed me and our host, Paul Hoskin, on her show, Arts Live and Local, on KMUN.

We were all really pleased to see how much work had gone into promoting our performance -- in addition to the radio spot on Carol's show, and the flyers posted all over downtown, we were written up in the local weekly and monthly newspapers. We had dinner at a Peruvian restaurant downtown and, when we came out, we stumbled on a traditional small-town high school Homecoming parade, complete with a pep band playing on a flatbed truck, pep squads cheers and throwing Halloween candy, the Homecoming court, and clown cars careening around.

The performance space at the Astoria Visual Arts Center was like an aquarium, exposing the band visually through its glass walls to any curious onlookers walking by on the street. After Amar's thoughtful opening set, we gave my personal favorite performance of the tour. The audience was attentive and listened hard and even laughed a lot!

Our host, Paul, went the extra mile making us feel welcome, and shared a wealth of information and stories about new music in NYC and Seattle going way back. It turns out we are just the latest in a succession of Bay Area performers to play his Creative Music Series. I hope we'll be back soon.

Amar's blog has more about our experience there on Friday, and includes pictures.

Friday, October 19, 2007


We spent Wednesday driving from the Bay Area to Portland.

We barely got all five people, their luggage, and our gear into the van. It turned out we had to leave our main speakers and stands behind, since they wouldn't fit! We listened to the Ken Burns Duke Ellington CD and Brahms' piano trios; plus the Very Best Bollywood Songs compilation, which was definitely my favorite.

We made good time and arrived at the home of our gracious hosts, K and Paula, at about a quarter to 10 p.m. Delicious vegan chili, corn bread, and fresh carrots and radishes were waiting for us and we collapsed almost immediately onto their floor.

Next morning our first task was to rent mains and stands at Apple Music (thanks to Luis of the rental department there). Then we hit Powell's Books, Moonstruck, and the Greek Cusina before going back to our host home to practice.

We liked the spacious stage at Rotture and the mural which we posed in front of. We suffered no more than an average amount of technical difficulties and there was an actual audience there besides the other musicians. It rained really hard during our set, and it was audible between songs...and it was enough to make me say by accident during Suspension, "There's no RAIN, 'cause those parts don't feel," instead of "pain".

I was really happy to see John "the big JS" Savage in the audience, and enjoyed talking to him afterwards. It turned out he was a special guest of the final band on the bill, Resolution 57, so I got to hear him play alto sax, too.

Now we've made our drive to Astoria, OR and we're all sitting in an internet cafe. Our show tonight will be at the Astoria Visual Arts Center as part of the Creative Music Series. Walking around downtown, it's been fun seeing flyers in all the local storefronts advertising the concert.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One down, three to go

The trio configuration delivered the goods last night at the 1510 Performance Space in Oakland.

And as so often happens, Amar has beat me to blogging about it. His post has pictures, too!

Since Bill wasn't able to join us, Jim and Amar needed to expand their roles in the texture. Amar brought another laptop and contributed some sounds I hadn't heard before in rehearsal. Amar also served as our opening artist with about a half-hour's worth of meditative solo electronica. He also improvised with his own electronic sounds acoustically on the 1510 piano.

All four of us (once we're reunited with Bill) will spend tomorrow traveling and play our next concert on Thursday night at Rotture in Portland. We'll be sharing the stage with Resolution 57, Emily Hay and her group, and a duo of Brad Dutz and Wayne Peet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

All together now!

Jim Carr arrived from Kentucky Saturday morning! Now we are four!

So Jim, Amar, marvelous new guitarist Bill Wolter, and I spent the weekend rehearsing and we're all ready and psyched for our tour this week. We have three gigs in three days in each of Portland, Astoria, and Seattle. For some folks I've talked to, this qualifies it as a "whirlwind tour". There's certainly going to be plenty of driving involved.

Clyde, as our our road manager, will be along to coordinate all tech and logistical madness, sell our CDs, and record each of our performances on his own custom ProTools rig. Since the Astoria Visual Arts Center doesn't have a sound system, we're having to bring our own P.A. just for that show. All that gear, plus instruments, five people, and their luggage, is going to be an advanced game of Tetris in the van.

Bill has a conflict this evening, so Jim, Amar, and I will be holding down the fort in trio fashion at the 1510 Performance Space in Oakland. Amar will play a solo electronica set to open up.

Our set will consist of (1) pieces with composed text and improvisation cues for the instrumentalists; and (2) improvisations that grow out of each of those. We'll also be playing a cover of "Little Red Riding Hood". If that final statement makes no sense to you, you'd better come out and hear what it sounds like. :)