Saturday, November 29, 2003

Flying to Miami

I was so tired this morning when I woke up... actually I don't think I slept. I went from Tim's house to home and then grabbed my bags and headed for the airport. I don't remember much of the flight... so I must have slept. The next thing I knew I was in Miami standing in line waiting for my bag to appear in a half daze. I got on a bus to the rental car... I nodded off. I got into the rental car like a brainless automaton and sat dazed as we drove through South Beach. It was cold in Miami. If its cold here, then it doesn't bode well for the rest of the US. And it was. Even in my hoodie I was cold.
I managed to find some surf. Finding it is easy. You'll see hundreds of boards makin' there way down the street when its kickin'.
As we were driving past South Beach I noticed surfboards popping out of cars that looked far too small to fit them and guys in wet suits crossing the street. We had to make a pit stop. Sure I'm tired, but I haven't watched surf in a long time. I haven't been to a decent beach in a long time, but today for 25 minutes or so... I watched a bunch of kids and adults surf what I would consider wind and beach break. The waves were maybe 3 feet at best and they closed out so quickly that it was difficult to make a run of 'em, but even 3 seconds of fun before having to paddle out is still 3 seconds of fun. I watched alot of surfers with bad ettiquette, cutting in on each other. They were alot nicer to eachother than I've seen. I've seen peoples leashes get cut forcably removing them from surfing the rest of the day.
It was very cool and bordering on cold, so I got back to the car and stayed awake all the way to The Rubell Hotel. Where I crashed on the couch while I waited for roomservice to make up my bed. Next thing I knew it was time to go out in the city for dinner. My father, mother and I checked out a restaurant and then went to Lincoln Road. I don't claim to know Miami, but there has got to be better places to chill than this. Its a mall with a few bars dotted here and there. I can't say its anything special, but it was fun. My parents went to a jazz bar, that featured the Billy Marcus Trio, who I wasn't interested in seeing... plus if I was going to make it through this trip, I had to get some major away from the P's time.
You can party your ass off in Miami, I did...
I went to the first Irish sounding pub I could find... it's called Finnigan's. There was this crappy rock band that reminded me of the one that Jack Black went off on in School of Rock when they replaced him with some dumbass buff guitarist (glam)... It was very difficult to render judgement on them. They definitely sucked. One girl said they were the worst band ever. I would be inclined to agree, but there are certainly worse like the many shitty bands come outta Orlando. We were in Florida and there was a fair chance of some sort of Orlando connection. I mean, they were playing in a mall. How much closer to Debbie Gibson do you have to be before you load the revolver and off yourself? To give these guys a little credit, they were trying to rock... they dressed the part... they had tatoos... they had the hair... they were kinda buff, but they were really sloppy.
Their covers were ok-ish... I mean they played Small Town by John Cougar Mellancamp... and later they played Creep by Radiohead. BTW, did I ever mention that I worked hard to get a bunch of Radiohead for someone who likes them, even though I didn't. I said I liked them, but now if I hear that song, I'll remember the whole sorted affair and well... puke!
I wasn't there to listen to music... so I had another glass of Jameson and another black 'n tan (thank you Ireland). I heard these guys betting on who can name the next song they were to play. I got in on the action and should have won about 30 bucks, but wound up meeting a whole bunch of people who invited me to chill with them the rest of the night. Geni & Chandler, and Jenny & Chris... we drank, joked, drank some more. We jumped to a couple of different spots before finally landing at the Abbey Bar... and I met more people. One of which was this girl that went to UW at the same time as me. She really liked Pat McCurdy (whose a little campy and fun if you like a sing along). Eventually I was invited back to Chris's place a few blocks away for some drinks. We hung out on their porch. Chris busted out a guitar. It was really nice. These people were definitely inviting. I was all ready to go when they offered the couch, but I had to get going. It was already daybreak and I had to meet my parents to head out to Naples, FL where they'd be looking at houses and I would be crashing on the beach... so I said farewell and jumped a cab back to Rubell Hotel (I think Rubell has something to do with the creator of Studio 54, Steve Rubell, but I'm not quite sure).

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Sweet Relief at the Abbey Pub

I've had the luxury of sitting down with musicians and talking shop. Not just the music they play, but the actual day to day affairs of musicians. Its important that everything flows together well. There are Tshirts to be printed. CDs and merch to be sold. The publicist needs to work hard on the phone to ensure their artists get all the exposure they can muster. Booking agents need to make sure tours are put together and the musician is playing in the right room at the right time for the right price. Managers are constantly busy keeping tabs on everyone else and pushing forward, while at the same time being the artist's best friend, but for all of the work that goes into being an artist... sometimes things get left out of the plan. Sometimes accidents happen, and health fails and our beloved artists become patients. Now, try being a patient without insurance. Whatever progress you've made in building cash enough for a big push on an album is muted by tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical expenses. Not every musician is fortunate enough to have a friend that talks shop about insurance. I've always encouraged it on some level.
Clyde Stubblefield, the original drummer for James Brown and the Horns, the one that came up with that beat we call the funk, is one such gentleman who didn't have insurance when fate came knocking. After treatment for the cancer that formed on his bladder, he was left with a huge bill which reached $89,000.
Sweet Relief lends assistance to musicians in cases like these. They are a well organized group worthy of high praise... even if they're affiliated with Sony.
Last night Tortoise, The Eternals, and Hypnotic with DJ Matt Fields played at the Abbey Pub. Tortoise is one of my underground Chicago favs. not everyone has heard of them, not everyone listens to them, but people are always asking who they are when they're being played. They compose full fledge instrumental pieces of art... Dubelectro-jazzadellic-sympholounge music... yeah... there is your 4 word summary of what type of music they play. The show was incredible, they put forth a great performance to a small and packed room. Great bands, great cause, great hangover the next morning when I got on the plane to Miami.
Here's a Rollingstone's Magazine Article on Tortoise

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Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thanksgiving Day

I tossed out a bulletin on friendster, so what I'm writing here is rehash:
I'm constantly reminded that I'm no longer in my safe haven, which is Madison, WI. Even if I were there, I would miss the nearly countless friends that have moved away. To you, that I no longer see, but remember... cheers.
There is no greater duty than that of returning thanks.
This is my favorite holiday, not just because of the bounty of food, but because of friends and family. Many of my friends are latter day hippie/jamband kids who prefer not to be online, but for those of you I can reach today, I want you to know, I wouldn't have gone far, taken the risks or reaped the rewards with out your support and friendship.
I can only hope continue to be there for you no matter where I am.
If you're like me, you're spending time with friends and family... take a moment tonight for your old friends past, the ones you see everyday, and those en route. Now, go back to your festivities, football games, cooking or whatever, but enjoy!
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -JFK

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The Detroit Cobras

The Detroit Cobras - Wednesday 11/26/03 @ Double Door, Chicago, IL, USA
I love seeing bands for the first time and getting that first impression of them up on stage. If you have a good recommendation from someone you trust... you listen. Leah, who I have a ton of respect for, was that someone that night. If you met her in college, then it meant that you were having fun. I don't think I ever saw her around when I wasn't, but anyway... I think she's always done her own thing. Lately, she's transcended the fun times into something really respectful. She's fostered the development of a major city newspaper, City Link, from a small time shopper to a free ad-sponsored weekly, which is expanding all the time. And of course, her paper has a nice music section where a bit of light is being shined on bands like the Detroit Cobras.
Before I go on about the Cobras I should first say there were two opening bands...
Then the Detroit Cobras took the stage.
There are two ways I like my covers, just like my whiskey, better and different. If I'm ever served a watered down whiskey, you're gonna hear about it and its going to be loud. If I ask for whiskey and you give me a good tequila, I might look at you funny, but if its good and I enjoy it... then I've enjoyed something new... and thank you. Detroit Cobras are kinda like the latter.
I didn't know what to expect from the Detroit Cobras outside that I heard that they play some covers, but its the way they play their covers and the attitude they put out on stage that set them apart. Its a garage-rockabilly take on Motown hits of the fifties and it works. They played an old Otis Redding Tune "Bama Lama" loud, hard and fast. The stage dynamics were different. The lead singer, Rachel Nagy, has this blond Betty Page feel to her and she exudes this saucy, tenured, no shit attitude that immediately reminded me of an older southern madame I once met at a gallery opening in Atlanta. She was mature and filled my ears with a long story of impovershed living which built her to the woman she was that day, and then refered to a painting behind me which was for sale for many thousands of dollars. She was the subject of the painting... but I digress.
The band as a whole rocked it about 80% of the time. Between the songs you could hear Rachel say "blah, blah, blah." and then make a face that either said "can't wait to get off stage, cause these shoes are killing me." or "well, that was lame." followed by "take it or leave it." I could sense there was a little bit of contempt for the crowd... small for the day before Thanksgiving.
At the end of their set, Nash Kato (sp) rallied the crowd for an encore from the Cobras and then... la fin.

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Sunday, November 23, 2003

Travel Schedule

Its a rainy day in Chicago, a good day to read and plan.
Below are a list of places I'd like to go and the dates I will go there.

Miami - Leave Nov. 29th - Return to Chicago Dec 3 (via somewhere else?)
Boulder - Leave Dec 14th - Return Dec 20th
San Francisco -
Los Angeles -
New Orleans - Leave Feb 20th - Return Feb 25th
- Last weekend in April - First weekend in May
San Diego -
Bogata Colombia-

Move March 15th. Where to go, what to do?

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Friday, November 21, 2003

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to several friends! Strange that so many Scorpios on the cusp of Sag have passed through my life... all born on around the same day. So what happened 9 months ago that could account for this surge of births? Oh, wait... thats right VALENTINE'S DAY... February 14th... that is if my math doesn't fail me.
Just as a point of interest, Valentine's day is celebrated in Brazil on June 12th, my B-Day.

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Thursday, November 20, 2003

Cornmeal

I saw Cornmeal at the Boulevard Cafe in Chicago. This is my first time to their long standing weekly gig there. Laci had the biggest crush on their bass player and was always telling me that I should go check them out. My priorities brought me to other venues and destinations. I tossed Cornmeal on the back burner.
They play bluegrass and rock it out quite a bit. They do a couple of covers bluegrass style brought in from other genres which falls them squarely into the jam-band circuit. They look like they could do an awesome job with "One More Cup Of Coffee" (Dylan) which they didn't play. They have all the makings of a successful jamgrass project. They are very friendly guys. My first introduction to their music was through the Big Wu who had them as their opening act in Madison. I think this was in 2000. They have progressed nicely since then and they're music is more solid and they've picked up a fiddle player
They have been together for over 3 years (min requirement)
They are willing road warriors with all equipment needed for extended tour.
They have solid stage presence.
They have an entirely original set list that they can draw from.
They are excellent communicators and very sociable.
They do solid publicity work.
They are well known regionally.
They have personal as well as professional connections with many bands in the current jam-bluegrass band circuit.
They are professional.
There are many criteria I look for before booking a band. I haven't done more than a short tour in a long time, but I feel like they really want a shot at it, maybe I can help them by convincing a well founded booking agent to pick them up on their roster. This might require a bit of work. I'd need to sell an agent on a band. While I'm at it, I may as well help Natty Nation out of their booking predicament too.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2003

PLMA Show

Monday and Tuesday I worked the PLMA show. Its a convention / trade show for people who produce goods for other companies using their own logo or private label. My feet are sore for standing all day. My throat is soar from talking... or I'm coming down with a cold. Probably the former.
Most of the exhibitors were in the Health and Beauty sector (OTC drugs and cleansers) or they were in food items. The buyers were mainly from pharmacies, dollar stores, and a few big chain stores. The show was light on traffic, but strong on quality leads. Regardless, I have a whole slew of potential customers to contact tomorrow. We'll see if I can't land a whopper from this stack of leads.
I got to play with a chimpanzee! He was a cute little 4 year old Chimp that wore a diaper and went by the name Ocia. I and his trainers (more like his Mom & Dad) played with him during the day. At one point he tried to groom my hair and later he gave me a big hug. He was so excited! He kept climbing up this four foot ladder and jumping off onto the ground, then running around it and climbing up and jumping off again. He is so cute. I snapped a picture of him before the show closed. In retrospect, I should have gotten one of me and him together. I haven't played with a chimpanzee in a very long time... it was fun! Who else here wants a chimp?!

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Sunday, November 16, 2003

SCRATCH TOUR: DJ Q-BERT, Z-Trip, Jazzy Jeff & The X-Ecutioners @ The Metro Sat 11/15/03

This show deserved a review that took some time to write. Here are the basics:

First set:
Video Intro
Jazzy Jeff
Second set:
Video Intro
Q-Bert
Third set:
Z-Trip
Forth set:
The X-Ecutioners
Tim was feelin' pretty ill from drinkin' the day before with work buds, but I wasn't gonna let him miss this one. So I dragged his sorry ass off the couch and tossed him in the car and drove off to the Metro. When we got there the line wasn't that bad, but by the time we found parking (which wasn't that much later) there was a line that went down the block, past the alley... to the end of the block... around the corner... and down the next block. We were lucky the line kept growing until it was ridiculously long to the next corner. It took 112 steps to get to the front doors... and those steps took 45 minutes. We joked about the line constantly with the people around us. The box office window was staffed by one person. We made the best of the line and got to know the people infront and behind us. There were some ladies dressed to impress and boys who nearly tripped on their lower lip when they walked up a flight of stairs into the venue.
The show didn't start until the room was good and crowded.
The first DJ up was Jazzy Jeff. There was a video clip that preceded his entrance... he told a bit about who he was, what he was about. He flashed a gold record to the camera from some track he laid down with LL. Basically, he was spreading the knowledge that he is old skool and everyone appreciated that (even the Will Smith stuff).
His set was solid... its what you'd expect from someone who's earned a spot in the history of hip hop. You could tell right away that the crowd was respectful, but here to see the work of the other spinners. He busted out some Furious Five, Sly & the Family Stone, Queen (Rock You) amongst other break beat classics. The crowd rocked it out with him. They threw their hands up and bounced. I got my groove on too... it was a solid set. He had the shortest aplause at the end of his set compared to the other spinners. Don't feel bad for him though, cause you know he's going home to a nice place with a bad ass sound system and walls of black stax of wax to work.
Next up was DJ QBert. The kid is unreal... it was a jazzyscratchop. I first saw him several years ago after reading about him in the Onion. I was hoping for a repeat performance... but he didn't. He did better. Before he hit the turntable there was a short informational session where his buddy came out and described the technical details of the single turntable he was about to spin on.
He sat on a box front and center of the stage. He winked at someone in the crowd, pulled up his sleeves and went to work. He phrased all of his scratches in time with the music, just like an mc... you could almost hear him play the moment when the breath should have been taken. He controlled the pitch of each tiny scratch like a virtuoso. Then he started cooking... his phrases grew in length and bounced around octaves... he hit every note, and not sloppy... tight... real tight. He would dance around playing the fifth... you knew it was coming but he dangled it in front of you until the very very last note of the phrase before giving the audience a release. I've been fortunate enough to see some incredible jazz musicians... and that is what he was doing. Funky jazz licks! Holla! The whole crowd ate it up. Ravenous applause at the end... and he deserved every bit of it. I have been enlightened... again! Go see Q-Bert play, you'll be glad ya did!
DJ Z-Trip came up next... also preceded by a short video of him in a LPbrary. My mind was still buzzin' from QBert, so I'll sum it up by saying it was a tough act to follow, and maybe I'm not giving him credit. I'm sure I'll wind up seeing him again at some point when I could be more attentive to his playing. He played the hits of the 80s and 90s. I wanted to be impressed with him. I heard he was dope from people whose opinions I respect and I wanted him to be. It was fun... I mean I liked his song selection. He played songs that would seemingly go together by title... "Wait a minute... You know you make me want to... Shout Out Let it All out these are the..." you get the picture? Its a lil gimmicky and you really need to know your pop tunes to enjoy it. It was Z-Trip was pleasant. The crowd were clearly people there whose only goal it was to see him spin.
Tim & I walked downstairs walked by QBert who also made his way downstairs to chat. I had to give him props for the shit he just laid down. QBert isn't a big guy. He's a 5'4" Asian dude who was wearing matching white adidas cap 'n hoodie. He rings of good times. His tag is QBert, but his name is Richard Quitevis.
"Yo, lots of love for what you put down out there... it was sweet." I said. He extended his hand out for a shake which with the double pound on his chest as if to say it hit the heart. He probably gets this all the time.
"Thanks man... I really tried to throw it down tonight. I'm glad you liked it." QBert said.
"I see alot of DJs and I talk to alot of them. They say your the best." I said.
"Nah, I just got a little light shined on me, thats all." He went on "There are alot of DJs who are doin' mad stuff that would blow me away."
"Dude, you're being modest... anyway its about how you use the light when you got it right? And your using it!"
"I'm usin' it!" He stretched out his arms and threw back his head with this big ol' cheezy grin on his face like then and there some spotlight burned on him and came back. "I love this shit!" He was obviously unbelievably lucky, happy, confident... I know that look... joy!
"So, ehm... Who are these other guys?"
"Eh, there all over the place... but lets try to keep the light on me!" he grinned loudly "We better not tell anyone about them."
"Well if they're better than you, then they're bound to creap out sooner or later." I said... he let out a chuckle. "So hey, I was checking out your friendster site!" Just then a guy turned to QBert and announced that he was one of his friendsters... we had a quick laugh. "Its like every hot girl on that list claims to be your cousin... exactly how much family to do you have?" The guy said he was his cousin as they gave eachother a short hug.
"I have family in Hawaii and in California, but I probably don't know 7/8ths of the people on that list. I don't know what people write. Its probably true 'nuff."
"Right on... I gotta go back and check out Z-trip's set... Thanks again." I shook my head like I thought he might be the luckiest man I've ever met... but then, a few steps later, I remembered that he's like under 5'4" and anyone that short can't be the luckiest in every department. I made my way back upstairs to see the start of the next set.
Three guys came up on stage, The X-Ecutioners stepped up. You'd think from they're name that they might use violent imagery but they're name stems from they're ability to execute moves on the turntables. I'm not exactly being honest there. They do battle, but not in the same sense that you think I mean or maybe it is... depends on who is reading. Their set was hot. They each could mimic eachother's licks to the T. They would step up to the turn tables and try to out do each other. Each of the three could mimic, then expand on the previous spinner (battle). Sometimes they would play a call and response to eachother on stage, and then to the crowd. They had their moves well choreographed... finely tuned like a sports team. The crowd was still hoppin', but you could tell the crowd was having a harder time keepin' up... we'd been nonstop since 11pm.
It was well after 4am by the time we made it into the cool November air. I was spent from dancin' & drinkin'. Tim, who didn't drink or anything all night, drove back and in the process became my personal savior! Thanks Tim!

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Thursday, November 13, 2003

Made it Back from New York

I'm back home... we drove safely and everyone is doing well. Franklin and I hit the road on the 12th and made it back the morning of the 13th. You should read Franklin's rendition of the treck. I was a good navigator and part time driver. Franklin took the wheel most of the way. We made alot of pitstops. Including one at exit 118 in Ohio, the birthplace of Edison which wound up setting us back an hour. We made it to Chicago in 14 hours which is pretty decent time. Franklin was off to cross paths with Ben & Tasha in Madison, so we said a quick goodbye and he was off.
So here I am back again. It won't be long until my next journey and there is alot to do between now and then. First order of business is... I'm gonna crash out for a few hours... When was the last time I slept?

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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

What you are looking for...

...is no longer here.
Well, what fun this has been, eh?
You're no fun anymore.

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Sunday, November 02, 2003

H'ween In Madison, WI

Why is it that this crowd winds up having clashes with the po po in Madison? Being a former promoter of events and concerts I'm pretty good at guessing how many people are in attendence and key factors in an event. Undoubtably, there are many functions that are much bigger than Madison's Halloween that go off without a hitch. The key factors of the riot include numbers, rioter actions, and police response.

Similar to last year's festivities gone awry, some Halloween party-goers threw bottles, started fires, broke windows, damaged small businesses, which forced police to use tear gas to disperse the mobs. What has happened in the past three years that makes the police find gassing innocent bystanders a justified response to disperse those who are creating havoc?

The police arrested over two hundred people for an array of offenses, but the majority were taken down for underage drinking. Its easy enough to blame young UW-Madison students who don't know better or Madison Police Officers, but they are generally not the factor. I contend that its not UW-Madison students soley, but mostly other college students (many in the UW system) and high school students who drive downtown for the night or weekend holiday that create the disturbances.

The city at large has not identified Halloween as a major holiday for the adult / college population (17 and over). City officials have to start talking and deciding about this night months in advance, and not weeks in advance. There are no suprises here. There are simply not enough places for attendees to go during "the witching hours" hours between 11pm - 2am. The University of Wisconsin and the City of Madison have not subsidized events on Halloween that would draw people away from State street between the . The right event at the Memorial Union, or any event eight blocks east or west would effectively prevent the bottleneck on State St.

If we look at the history of this event, then we see a corrolation between crowd densities and days of the week. Due to the fact that Madison had a lower drinking age into the late 1980s and had many more bars on State Street, there have only been a couple of examples of this cycle since. This cycle occurs every several years when Halloween approaches the weekend. When Halloween is on saturday (2009, 1998, 1992, 1987) the cycle is at its apex and the crowds are expected to be their largest. When Halloween falls on a Sunday (This will happen again in 2004) the crowd begins to wain and when on Monday, the returns to low levels (this will happen again in 2005). During the week, students will celebrate the holiday on the weekend before and after which will diminish their overall numbers on any given weekend night. Past cycles did not include the use of gas.

Many Madison Police Officers have opted for additional training in controlling mob activity since the Mifflin St. riot of 1996, but since the 2002 Mayor's Conference (ala WTO protests, Homeland Security etc...) we have seen the resurgence of gas as an available resource for crowd dispersal. I am bothered by the laissez-faire attitude taken by the media regarding these extreme measures. New Orleans Mardi Gras does not end their events by using gas to clear the streets. They use a parade fashioned by police horses, streetsweepers and fire trucks followed by officers clearing the streets. They use small defensive strategies placed at key nodes with a network of business owners attending their stores and monitoring the streets outside. Halloween can be a big revenue day for these local businesses. So can a well minded plan curb future festivities from the same dire ends? I think there is a strong chance ti will work.

Oh, yeah... unnamed city officials... I told you so.

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