Category Archives: Music

Gettin’ on the culture train

In my web travels yesterday, I came across the Library of Congress website and noticed their “Lifelong Literacy” project. Of course I didn’t follow the link. But I did start thinking about what and how and when I read to The Boy and to myself. I decided that I need to start a deliberate campaign of introducing new reading material several times a week to both The Boy and the me.

Here’s my plan: Every couple of days, I’m gonna swing by one of the local public libraries and raid the children’s section and take a few new books home. I’m also going to (re)start reading fiction and poetry, and maybe even essays along with all the technical mumbo-jumbo I already have on my bookshelf. In addition, I’m going to order a few magazines for The Boy and for me, so there’s another source of fresh information and ideas coming into the house. I’m also going to try to print a poem a day to read to The Boy and The Wife. I’ll start with Billy Collins’s Poetry 180 website.

All this thinking about reading naturally led to me thinking about music, visual art, and performing art, too. Basically, it all comes down to wanting more contact with art in my life, and in The Boy’s life. I’m pretty sure The Wife won’t object either. I want to expose The Boy to at least one new song a day, as well as listening to favorites, and it’d be great if I can figure out a hi-fi way to get visual and performing arts a part of our daily diet, too.

Of course, all the tech stuff and other bits and bobs needs to stay in our lives, too, along with a healthy dose of running around, screaming like banshees, brandishing trains.

Maybe I don’t suck *quite* as much as I thought

The second half of last night’s gig went way better than the first half, thank god.

We didn’t have any major train wrecks, managed to end everything pretty much together, and I even had a few decent solos. Hell, we even had a few couples on the dance floor.

But what it comes down to is the same thing: If I’m gonna keep performing (which no matter how I bitch, whine, and complain going into the gig, I really enjoy), then I need to get serious about practicing and building both my technical skills and repertoire.

As a bonus, I’m sort of thinking that if The Boy sees and hears me practicing on a regular basis, maybe it’ll seem like one of those things everyone just does, and he’ll practice diligently (more or less) right from the get-go, instead of getting serious 20-something years into it.

I suck

I’m currently in the two-hour wait between performances with a little ad-hoc jazz combo I’m playing with today, and I’m hoping there’s a hole somewhere around for me to crawl into.

I haven’t played my horn at all for about three months, and golly gosh, it sure sounds like it. It doesn’t help that I can’t really hear steady time coming from the drummer or bassist, but the main problem is that I suck. At least today.

And while I was standing up there sucking, especially on the last song, it occured to me: I’m really trying to do a lot of things with a lot of people instead of focusing on a few things and doing them really well.

For a long time (pretty much since I left high school), I’ve relied on my innate talent and the little fish, tiny pond phenomenon to carry me through with my music. I’ve never really practiced, and I think it’s starting to show. As I try to expand my computer skills and really crack the books at work, I find that I’m dropping other stuff by the wayside, and music is one of them, and that makes me unhappy and nervous.

What else have I dropped, and why haven’t I noticed before now? And holy hell, I don’t want to give up my recreational jazz. I love the music, and I love playing for people. If I’m going to keep going, though, I’m going to have to practice for real, because otherwise I’m going to keep embarrassing myself when I perform, and it’s a small community up here.

Thinking about practicisng regularly, though, has me concerned too. I mean, I’m trying to get into better shape, and working out takes time. I’d really like to improve my computer skills, but that takes time. I will be a good father and husband, and there’s time there, too. I’d like to write, work on the house, go hiking/camping/paddling, train the dogs, pimp my ride, play with my ham radio, blah, blah, blah.

So I’ve definitely got my list of things I want to do. Now I have to make some decisions.


Well, it finally happened. After all my years of playing jazz gigs, someone in the audience finally managed to intimidate me into sucking it up.

I played a wedding gig in a beautiful old home in Bayfield last night as part of a great little accoustic quartet. During the middle of the second set, a couple guys were standing in the doorway of the room, pretty close to me, one telling the other how jazz worked and what we were (supposedly) doing. I was close enough to hear him pretty clearly outlining the chord structure of the songs we were playing and telling his friend how we had put in years of diciplined practice (ummm…) to master the ability to chose a note to include in our solo line by glancing at the chart, reading the chord symbol, creating the chord, expanding it to a scale, changing it to reflect the dominant voicing from the rhythm section, and making sure it leads into the next notes from the next scales.

Holy crap! I do all that while I’m playing? Here I thought I just showed up and let ‘er rip.

So of course I start getting self-conscious about what I’m doing and worrying about making a bad choice, and of course that leads to making bad choices, and before you can say “fuck!” I’m lost in the form and sounding like Sun Ra on a bad day.

But that was only for about three songs or so. The first set was awesome. We jelled as a group immediately and sounded really great. The beginning and end of the second set was pretty tight, too. I guess we wound up following the musicians’ golden rule: Start strong; Finish strong.

In Lieu of Paper

So I’m thinking about this wedding gig I have tomorrow, and I gotta make notes, but have no paper. Since it’s early, and I’m too uncaffinated and generally lazy to go hunting for said thin, flat tree, I’ll just post my notes here. Disregard or not; you’ve been alerted.

  • need to leave at 5:30
  • do laundry –> something semi-formal; black is good (remember socks!)
  • Saturday: write write write: only eight songs to transpose. You can do eet!
  • bring:
    • sax
    • music stand
    • clothes pins
    • music
    • sax stand
    • water bottle
  • set phone to vibrate