Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lonesome County by Marques Bovre and Evil Twins

"Lonesome County" , Marques Bovre and the Evil Twins

Marques Bovre & SoDangYang | MySpace Music Videos

Lessons, Week 65

EN agreed to teach me how to play all of the Marques Bovre & SoDangYang tunes. Then it will be up to me to decide whether to audition for the spot he's vacating in August...and up to them if they want me. So we went over a few. More to come.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

CJ, 5/19/10 High Noon Saloon

Crackity Jones played its second gig last night at High Noon Saloon. We started playing together as a 4 piece on March 24th...had our first gig with 15 tunes on April 24th...and our second gig with 22 tunes on May 19th. I'd say that's the most dense ramp up I've ever been party to. Whenever possible, we've been practicing 2-3 times per week...though there have been several weeks where we've only managed one rehearsal...or only a rehearsal with a portion of the players.

I wasn't sure what to expect last night. Our opening act had been a pain to book...we couldn't find a band to do it. Kind of at the last minute The Sesters accepted the slot...only to have tragedy strike the day before the show and to have their drummer have to bail. Amazingly they found a sub and played as planned. They were really good too.

By the time they got done there were a couple of dozen people in the hall and I was resigning myself to that turnout when we took the stage. By night's end, though, I had heard that 47 or so people had paid the cover. In a venue that holds something like 400, this is not a ton of people, but it is a good turnout for a happy hour show. I was pleased with the turnout. We charge $4 cover and we took away $17 per person...or $136...after the door and sound guys had been paid.

The set went pretty well with no huge mistakes. I don't recall too much going wrong for me. The mic was really hot and the monitors were good, so I had very little problem singing harmony.

I ate lunch, but not dinner. Arrived for load in at 5pm. Had 2 PBRs before the show. Had a Jager during the show and 3 more beers AFTER the show. Ran the bass through my amp, but also DI'ed it via a DI box they provided. I thought the bass sounded good, but no idea how it sounded in the house. Ditto that for vocals. I wore a UCLA t-shirt like Deal wore at the 5/1/88 London Pixie's show, jeans, and my canvas Keen's. Also wore a black wig, which worked out ok but I probably won't do that again just cause it's cheesy. It was funny...but it won't be funny again for some time.

About half way through the show I looked out and had the feeling like the room was pretty full. People were standing up by the stage and dancing. During Chet's solo some dude was head banging up by the front of the stage. People cheered when Gigantic and Here Comes Your Man started. By the time we hit the last song, Where Is My Mind...people were actually fucking singing along. I've never had that happen before. It was bizarre. People were actually not just there because they were our friends and were trying to be nice. People were actually there to hear the music and they were going nuts over it. After the show I/we got lots of compliments. The gal that books Mickey's came to the show and talked to us about a gig in June. We couldn't do any of the dates she had, so she said she'd open an extra date just for us because it was THAT important to her that we play.

It really was a most remarkable experience. I understand now why people play popular songs in lame cover bands. That's what the people want. In our case at least we're working with a more refined musical demographic...but it is a similar situation. People love what they know. I worry, of course, that they just love the songs and not the way that we play them...but it was undeniable that people seemed pleased with our portrayal.

It's nice to be on a winning team. It happens so infrequently in my life.

Bone Machine
Break My Body
Brick Is Red
Broken Face
Ed Is Dead
Here Comes Your Man
Holiday Song
I'm Amazed
Isla De Encanta
I've Been Tired
Nimrod's Son
Oh My Golly!
River Euphrates
Something Against You
Tony's Theme
Wave of Mutilation
Where Is My Mind?
Encore (by popular demand): Levitate Me

This entire show is now on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Crackity+Jones+High+Noon+Saloon&aq=f

Bands, Bands, Bands

I got four bands going at the moment...
#1 punk covers, well established, plays out once a month, I play drums
#2 just getting started (but with a bang and already 2 shows in a month) tribute band, I play bass
#3 also just getting started, first show June 19th, rock covers, I play drums
#4 on-again-off-again folksy/bluesy/jammy ensemble in which I play drums. We're playing for friends this weekend and a low key benefit June 5th

You'd think this would be enough, but I'm still looking around a bit. I have word in to a Pogues/Kissers type originals band to play bass (though I think they'd rather I play drums) and to NM's side project to play bass. Also thinking about auditioning for a more upscale group on drums. Waiting to get some advice on that before I go for it though.

At the moment I'm having the most fun with the tribute band. Comparatively speaking, the bass...at least when I'm playing parts someone else wrote and that I can find tab for...feels easier than the drums. Less exposed too. Vocal harmonies are hard for me, but I'm working through that and it is a limited portion of the gig.

I'd like to play bass in another group to expand my understanding of the instrument.
I still consider drums my primary instrument, but it is also hard work. I think I may be avoiding it a little bit.

Why am I still looking for other projects? I'm not sure. I think it is because I'm in the position to do so. And also because most of my groups are at a place where we have our basic set lists down pretty well. I may be looking for new experiences. But I don't really know why I'm still looking. Maybe because I don't want to miss out on "the big chance" at something really great.

Lessons, Week 64

Went over Elvin Jones

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rearviewmirror Part 2

It's a sign that you're too busy when you start forgetting things. Last night when the band decided to play Rearviewmirror I realized that I had completely forgotten that we were doing this song, and as such hadn't been working on it. So, yeah, better get on that. Luckily, it isn't too hard.

Lessons, Week 63

Went over some Weather Report stuff...and some funk.

EN informed me that he's leaving Madison in August. His girlfriend got a job out east.

So I'll soon find myself at a cross roads on the lessons front. The choice being to start up with a new instructor or to take some time off. There are other good folks at Madison Music Foundry to take up with...but I am leaning towards time off. As it is I feel like I don't "practice" enough anymore. I've got over a year of lessons under my belt and I haven't REALLY worked on any of the concepts presented in that time. There's a pile of instructional books sitting unused. The best use of my time would undoubtably be to spend 30-60 minutes a week working on those things. Of course, that's the rub. Self discipline is harder than just showing up to a lesson once a week and having someone crack the whip on you.

My purpose in starting lessons this most recent go around was three fold...to improve my skills, get "serious" about drums, and to get an outside assessment of my skill level. It succeeded in all of that, but more importantly, it succeeded in helping me get my mojo back after the crushing blow to my ego that getting booted from SPB handed me. In retrospect, leaving that band was the best possible thing that could have happened for my drumming, because it pushed me to work harder and freed me to explore other genres and styles...and got me playing with other people. It's been almost two years now since I left SPB and about a year and a half since I started lessons. But I feel like I've made five or more years worth of progress...both in skills and in attitude.

I'll admit that the lessons have gotten routine, though, and that I'm not trying as hard as I did at the start. I'm not pushing myself and I'm not practicing really at all. In large part it's just recent circumstances causing the lull...too many bands, too many trips out of town...not enough time in the day. But the craziness of learning new set lists for two new bands is nearly over and the travelling season will be done soon too. Time to return to the woodshed and make sure that I don't start taking things for granted and getting sloppy. Bass has been a pleasant diversion, and I'll continue with that, but drums are still the primary instrument. And there's so much more improvement to be had. Getting back to practicing an hour or two a day would be a great goal...or at least to get that done 3-4 times a week.

It's been a good chapter, this time with EN, but I think my adventure with drum lessons may be ending for a while. I'm sure I'll return to them, but it's a good time to stop and take stock of where I'm at and what I'm trying to accomplish, and to rededicate myself to my own personal practice.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Success: Floor Tom to Bass Conversion

I have a self-esteem problem. I nearly always fear I'm incompetent. Or, more accurately, I fear that OTHERS think I'm incompentent. Ironically, in most things, I'm actually pretty well skilled. I can do just about anything that I set my mind to...really. And without much effort. I'm not GREAT at everything...but I can get things done. "Jack of all trades, master of none" kind of thing.

But sometimes I surprise even myself. Sometimes I'm kind of fucking brilliant.

So I've been mulling the floor tom to bass conversion question. Did research yesterday online and was shocked to see no DIY solutions that don't involve buying a conversion kit (note to those kids...buying a conversion kit is NOT a DIY solution...so stop posting it as such). Took five minutes on Monday night to take a look at my drum and pedal...using a pillow to test height and such. Spent five minutes yesterday doing some drawings. Got home around 6pm last night and headed to the garage to see what supplies I had. I emerged about an hour later, and only two lumber cuts, with a working conversion. It doesn't look bad either. In my usual style, I threw it together with nearly no measurements taken and haphazard sawing, drilling, and screwing.

Here it is in all its glory (complete set of detailed photos here):

The specs (in retrospect):
Two 17" x 3.5" x 0.75" boards
One 15.5" x 3.5" x 0.75" board
Two 15.5" x 4" x 4" cedar posts
Assembly: all screws, some toed and some straight screwed. I forget the length, 1 and 5/8 inch I think. I pre-drilled all the screw holes.
Total finished weight: about 5 pounds

As planned, I put this together with my 16" x 16" floor tom. I took the legs off. The hardware that holds the legs on rests on the top of the board on either side. The third leg holder can face top or bottom, but I built it with it on top, so not sure if it fits as well the opposite way. There's 7 screws across the front holding the board into the post. Each leg has 2 screws holding them to post (I put 3 on one leg but figured out quickly that this didn't work because of the angles). Each board is held to the other boards with 2 screws.

There was some luck or divine intervention involved here. Just about a week ago a delivery of 4x4 cedar posts arrived to my house intended for fire wood. They were cut to different lengths. There were two...just two...that were exactly the right size for this project. The other boards I had laying around. The front one too was exactly the right length and didn't need cutting. Only the two side boards needed cutting and I happened to have a board that was just the right length (plus a few inches) to provide both sides when cut. Quite remarkable really. And a good thing too, because my circular saw is dying and barely made the two cuts I needed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Drummers: Moe Tucker

Reading through the latest edition of Modern Drummer I happened across an article about Maureen “Moe” Tucker, the drummer for Velvet Underground.

People make a big deal out of women being drummers, but more and more I find that they exist, but just aren't very well known. Other than singers or the occasional guitar player or pianist...you don't see women promenently in rock and roll in the "early" days...or even today. It's not just drums. But they are there if you look.

It's worth stating that she seems to have some kind of non-binary gender presentation.

From Wiki:
Tucker's style of playing was unconventional. She played standing up rather than seated (for easier access to the bass drum[1]), using a simplified drum kit of tom toms, a snare drum and an upturned bass drum, playing with mallets rather than drumsticks. She rarely used cymbals; she claimed that since she felt the purpose of a drummer was simply to "keep time," cymbals were unnecessary for this purpose and drowned out the other instruments

Andy Warhol filmed rehearsal of Waiting for My Man:

Dane Drummers

I don't know if I've mentioned this here before, but I've been doing a monthly column on local drummers at Dane101 called Dane Drummers.

I've done four so far:
Paul Marcou
Jordan Cohen
Alex Murrell
Brian Bentley

Lessons, Week 62

Missed two lessons for being outta town.

We went over some songs for the next student jam. I won't be going, but we did it anyway. American Girl by Tom Petty...and two others I'm forgetting at moment. Last was a shuffle. Talked alot about how to improve my shuffle.

Getting Into Character

So in a good faith effort to be a dutiful tribute band member, I've been searching for ways to make myself look more like Kim Deal. Thinking about growing my hair out for a circa 1980s KD look...but that'll take a while (I have a wig that fits the bill, but who can stand to wear a wig on a hot stage...millions of actors perhaps, but not me). Lucky for me she cut her hair short a few years back, so I can just say I'm doing her later days look.

How to dress is harder to pin down. Early on she seemed to wear some cute little girlie tops, but eventually it devolved into t-shirts...and lately into longer sleeves/vests/coats. She must get cold on stage now. Not me. I'm a sweaty, sweaty man.

The one thing I've had to latch onto is concert footage from London in 1988. It's all over YouTube and I think it might have been made into a concert film. At that show she's wearing a grey UCLA t-shirt:

I spent a LONG time looking for this, seemingly common, shirt online with no luck. I found a similiar shirt, but it didn't come in grey and was more money than I wanted to spend. Finally I settled on the closest thing I could find for under $20. It is now on its way to me, hopefully in time for the May 19th gig:

Floor Tom to Bass Tom Conversion

So I've got a couple of gigs coming up where I'd like to play a quieter, stripped down kit. A benefit and a camping trip with my on-again-off-again folk/rock/blues/jam band. My plan is to use the high hat and snare and attach a splash via boom arm to the high hat stand. Then I'd use a 16" floor tom as a bass drum with a pedal. I figured out last night that a fully open high hat cymbal makes a sufficient ride for my purposes as well.

Gibraltar and Pearl (and others) make conversion kits to do such a thing (convert a floor tom to a bass drum)...but you either end up having to drill holes in the tom or buy extra hardware...and you come out around $100 down the line with something that, from reviews, is only marginally satisfactory.

My inclination, of course, is to make my own.

The easiest and most available material I have at my disposal is wood. I'm planning to use three 1x4's (front and sides to keep drum from sliding forward or rolling side to side) and two 4x4s (as risers at front and back). There won't be a way to attach a pedal, but I'm not sure how important that is. I think I can just push pedal up flush with riser. If it doesn't stay, I might be able to fashion an attachment. It'll probably end of being a little heavy, but more compact than bringing a full bass drum.

I tried it out last night by putting my tom on some pillows and using the pedal, and even that worked pretty well. So I think I can jerry-rig something that will function, though it won't likely be pretty or super sturdy.

The unbelievable thing is that no where on the internet has anyone posted this kind of project. People post the question to forums and are always directed to just buy a conversion kit. Really? It doesn't seem like it's that hard to make. Internet you disappoint me.

I'm gonna try it out tonight. Pics to come hopefully.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Burning the Candle

Funny old thing, life.

I had a little bit of a crazy few months just past. Added two new bands. Was taking classes two nights a week. Took two major trips.

It all ended with the double header on April 24th and a week of vacation after.

Or so I thought. I thought things would settle down. But it looks like they aren't. Crackity Jones is booked for our second gig May 19th and we have to learn 6 new songs for it. That's six songs in just about two weeks, as our first rehearsal on the new material isn't until May 5th. It is a compressed timeline...but that seems to be how we roll. At this rate (though high hopes that we won't keep this pace up) we'll have the entire Pixies catalog in hand by the end of the year (I'm not kidding).

There's talk about taking my grunge/rock band to 2-a-week rehearsals to prepare for playing out sometime in May/June/July. I think this is a good idea, cause we're kind of just screwing around right now. I thought about having us open on May 19th...but it would be SO nice to only play one set this time. I floated it to the boys, mainly to get us thinking about playing out...hence the 2-a-week idea.

I've tentatively agreed to play a benefit on June 5th...either as a solo act or with the hippy quartet, which only rehearsed together about three times and with whom I haven't sat down with for months. May also play with them at a camping outing May 22nd, likely with no rehearsal. In fact, that'll likely BE our rehearsal for the benefit if we play it.

I'm going to take another class, against my better judgement, for five weeks starting June 22nd. "Singing for Screamers". I had a coupon. Luckily it's 4:30-5:30 once a week...so I won't be there late into the evening and it won't muck up rehearsals.

In a way, it all feels like the new normal...so I think it's okay. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to play so much music with so many different people. Life is good. BUSY...but good.

SSW & CJ, 4/24/10, Frequency

Played my first double header.

Crackity Jones, in which I play bass and sing, opened for Seven Stone Weaklings, in which I play drums and sing. Show started pretty close to 10pm, maybe 10:15. I was home at 12:30am. I ate a good dinner around 6pm. Drank a cup of coffee around 8pm. Had two Bud lights prior to show and a 3rd plus 3/4 of a double Jagermeister on the rocks during the first set. Think I sweated everything out immediately. I also had about 2 pints of water before and 4 pints during show.

Cracity Jones soundchecked without bass. I had them turn up my vocals in my monitor. I did NOT play with ear plugs.

First set went pretty well, but was wiped out for second. Had to modify some drum parts to eliminate fast rolls because I was just too tired to execute. I don't think anyone was the wiser. Set change was a bitch, had to go straight from set one to modifying drum kit for set two. Didn't get to take a break. I played Eric's kit mostly...though I removed his left crash and put up Kathy's straight stand with a splash on it instead and I used my own snare stand (with his snare), throne, and bass pedal (I put on the felt beater). Adjusted his floor tom up and his ride as far left as it could go (still too far right for my tastes, but doable). This worked pretty well. I really am glad I brought my pedal. I don't like his Iron Cobra.

Even though I was tired, my feet worked well and SSW set went pretty good. I was sweating like a whore on dollar day. Got up next morning and caught a 7am flight. This I do not recommend.

We got lots of compliments. People said it was accurate (Pixies) and sound guy said I sounded like Kim Deal (I assume he meant my voice). One guys was pretty crazed, came up and told me how great it was...how Pixies convinced him to play bass...how great we were. I kind of thought he wanted to hug me. I was busy packing out and just said thanks.

Crackity Jones setlist:
1. Bone Machine
2. Break My Body
3. Something Against You
4. Broken Face
5. Gigantic
6. River Euphrates
7. Where Is My Mind?
8. Cactus
9. Tony's Theme
10. Oh My Golly
spoken interlude (You Fucking Die)
11. Vamos
spoken interlude (Field Hockey Players)
12. I'm Amazed
13. Brick Is Red
14. Caribou

SSW setlist: