Saturday, January 31, 2004

Youngblood Brass Band & New Monsoon

Both Youngblood B.B. and New Monsoon are playing tonight. If I get a chance, I'll see YBBB first and then get out to New Monsoon, as its a late night set. Dave Skogen the mc/drummer AKA Obie Won Skogie AKA D-Cipher AKA old roommate was one of the best, cause he was on the road playing his brand of HipHop & New Orleans Big Brass sound. I'm a huge fan of YBBB... if you get a chance then please check out their website. YOUNGBLOOD BRASS BAND
I kind of figured that I might see Todd Hill, another musician roommate, who is an extremely talented bass player. He was one of Richard Davis's students at UW-Madison. He moved down here for work a little while ago.
Between the two of them, I would often come home from working two or three days straight to find a hot pot of coffee on the burner, and a jazz band playing in my living room. Todd and Dave played together for a while in "Jade Elephant" with one of Todd's X's Joy Dresland. They were talented and it was the best thing to come home after long continous days of working with the disabled and brain injured.
The show was off the hook... solid as ever and they got the crowd into it! There were alot of people calling them back to stage, but they were sharing the stage with Bumpus (who are from Chicago) so they bowed offstage gracefully.

Later, I went to the Boulevard Cafe to see New Monsoon. Good show. They blended some Indian rhythms with bluegrass and some carribean/samba beats. I had a good time, danced and had a couple of Nutbrown Smitties.
You might like them if you also like Railroad Earth, String Cheese Incident, Tony Furtado Band, Leftover Salmon, or Yonder Mountain String Band. There were alot of kids that showed up for the show, though I was suprised not to have seen the 3dmas kids there... or maybe they were and I didn't see 'em. I'm trying to stay on West Coast time.


Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Santa Monica - LA

Its awesome here! The Weather... the Sunshine... I mean, c'mon! This is the life! It seems like an eternity ago that I was in Chicago. Lets see about trying to keep it that way, eh?! I've been interviewing with some great companies and dropping resumes like spare change into the bottomless pit, which is human resources. I want to be a pharmaceutical salesman, but barring that I just want to be happy and have some fun in the sun! I REALLY HOPE I GET THE OFFER IN SAN DIEGO!

I owe a huge thanks to Alex, Ben & Tosha, who are just amazing. If we only had more money we'd be living up the nightlife and I'd lending my tongue to champaigne toasts, but its better that we don't because we're hunting for jobs, and the early birds get the worms! After I experience some success, I'll show my thanks.

We've gone out for a drink or two, but nothing more than that. Where we have gone, we've been well received. At Brittania, we met 5 people from WI, including a guy from Kenosha, named Nathan Greno, who was a storyboarder for Brother Bear. He scored major brownie points for offering to buy us a round of drinks. See... again, you never know who you're going to meet until you say hi. On the whole, almost everyone we've met in Santa Monica has been encouraging and offered some sort of advice or assistance.

Ben, Tosha & I have walked along the 3rd St Promenade and all the way along the Venice Beach path. I've seen a few beautiful sunsets, break dancing, drum circles and more.

Alex, our silent benefactor, who has lent us the use of his abode... which can only be considered benevolent and altruistic is travelling out of town until after Valentine's Day. On the downside, I've managed to rack up a couple of parking tickets and the handle broke off on the shower... its still functional thanks to a new use for THE PENCIL GRIP! The final fix will have to be done after Alex's return.

I've extended my ticket to continue my hunt until Friday. There are other applications in the works and its still cold in Chicago and much of the work that I need to do, I can do from here.


Monday, January 26, 2004

A Shave in LA

Ben thought it might be neat to trim his beard a bit and that it might help as he looks for jobs in the area. This city is completely consumed by image and I actually liked Ben's big ol' beard too, but anyway... Ben found a blue collar barber shop on 4th St, just off of Broadway. This beard trimming thing doesn't happen often, and you never know how it may turn out... so I had to take a few pictures:

Ben, uh... are you sure you wanna do this? You look a little pale...

"This will only hurt for a minute... or two."

The shave made you look skinnier. It took 8 years off his face, and maybe a couple of days off his life... that works right?! Ben, it looks good!


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Carl Remde

A couple of years ago Charlie Hunter told me that if I got a chance to get back out to San Francisco that one of his favorite spots in the city was the Elbo Room. I'd thought about going there, but didn't see any occasion to get down to the Mission District and back by way of BART/MUNI... So I was sitting in Border's Book Store, contemplating buying Quicksilver, a book recommended to me by Amy Wojienkowski, a pharmaceutical sales district manager who I am to meet with in a couple of days. Border's was about to close. I was on Powell St. I looked left and up the hill and thought "that way is home." I looked right and down the hill and there is the BART/MUNI enterance. "Am I ready to go home? No, I'm not. I want to get lost for a while." Just then a girl exclaimed that she had just hit her funny bone... "Elbo Room!"

I got there on basic instinct. I knew generally where it was, and guessed at which train I should be on... everything just seemed to flow in that direction. The whole trip there I felt like I was caught up in a current of a strong river... I was just along for a ride. My legs were weightless under my legs and in no time, I was staring this bar in the face.

I walked in expecting it to be huge... and there was this little hole in the wall. How could this be Charlie's favorite club? The bartender referred pointed to a sign that said "upstairs!" Duh! Ok... So I climb up the stairs and I hear the familiar beats of Samba... in fact, they're playing Gilberto Gil! Cool! Its a Brazilian band. I excuse myself past a rather thick crowd with a "con eu sentsai" (though spelled wrong, means excuse me in portuguese) at which people said falo, legal etc... alot of brazilians, but thats not who I run almost directly into... its Carle "MuthaFuckin'" Remde an old friend that played in the band Sunshine Allison in Madison... Completely random and completely cool. We wound up having a couple of drinks, swapping stories and listening to some good samba.
Carl is in a samba band that plays at the Elbo Room the first Tuesday of Every month... If only it were a week later, I would have run into him on stage... but this was better, because he was in his 'home club' and everyone knew him and gave him props as he walked through the crowd... like E.Room Royalty.
Here is Carl &

After the show, we were approached by a member of San Francisco's large homeless population. He was gracious and courteous on his approach. He took off his straw hat and gave us his pitch. He would like to sing us a song. The girl Carl was hitting on told him to sing his favorite. He busted out the Temptations "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" which was entirely too fitting a song for a man spanging on the street. The quality of his voice, firmly placed in the blues, echoed the accumulation of too many winters, packs of cigarettes and bottles liquor, but more so you could hear the loss of love this broken man was thinking of. The song was incredible... he deserved some money for that. Its times like this that I wish I travelled with a microphone instead of a camera, but maybe these pics can help you discern what I heard, saw & felt:


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Jazz Mandolin Project at the House of Blues in Chicago with John Fishman

Jazz Mandolin Project, AKA JMP or Jamie Masefield's Project, was on tour across the East Coast and Midwest featuring Phish drummer John Fishman. I've known these guys for a long time... the better part of the last decade. I first met them when Gabe Jarrett (drums) and Stacey Starkweather (bass) were playing with Jamie (mandolin).
The circumstances of our first meeting were interesting on my end. It started visiting a friend "Pippi" who was about to sell her horse. I don't know how many of you have ever had to sell an animal, but after you've invested so much of your life and love into a pet, who becomes your friend, it hurts. It had to be done... we'd driven from PA to Fairfax, VA and then to Villanova to see the Villanova Jazz Festival in '94. Jazz Mandolin Project was headlining. I knew of them from and a copy of a Bad Hat tape I'd received as part of an online trade. We were late heading out... and we could have used a drink, but by the time we got there, the band was finishing up. We missed them by a drumbeat.
Pippi & I made our introduction to Gabe and asked when they were going to come to the midwest. They said the didn't have anyone to make those calls and book those gigs... I don't know why I thought I was the guy to do it, but I offered up my services and it worked. The next thing I knew, I booked the first midwestern tour for JMP. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I mean, they had a bit of street credit already and I knew a few booking agents who'd be into it.
That was nine years ago... So Jamie remembers my childhood dog Cuddles (a Westie) and my family. Since then I've had the pleasure of working for him and seeing him play some great shows and watch a small crowd bloom into a big one. Blue Note signed them to their label and printed big ads in the NY Times.
I hadn't seen them since I went back to school... so its been a few years. I was just a bit worried that they'd forgotten about me, but a phone call later and it was all warmth and smiles. Chris Friday, Jamie's long time right hand man on the road, rang me up when they hit town. I was on the list plus a guest... and that guest was Franklin.
Franklin had for the most part had set out from NYC to Madison in guise of hanging out with friends, but really I think it was all about Mackenzie's airline booking troubles and the fact is, its cheaper to drive to NYC than fly if you don't have the money. Franklin is a great friend to many people. He's dependable, friendly, and a pleasure to be around always. I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to take him to the HoB.

We'd set out a little late, which is ok, cause there was an opening band... they were ok. A standard funky jazzy project, but they didn't wow or amaze me. We got hooked up by the band with a booth off stage right, and passes for everything. My fears were completely gone after receiving the first hug from Friday. Man, I missed that guy.
In the years everyone seemed to age a bit in the face, or maybe its my memory that has forgotten the tiny lines and cracks that distinguish their trials and tribulations. As you're giving a hug and you're right up close to them you know as they smile a real smile, the kind that comes from gladness and joy, not the fake contribed and controled kind... the little cracks come out. It's beautiful.

Anyway, everyone in our booth were connected by people. I have pictures of two of the girls who know Jamie in a box in the basement who were in the booth with us. Of course, everyone knew the band, but we'd all crossed paths in the past and its always fun trying to figure out where you know someone from.

The show was solid. Kids came out in droves to see Fishman rock the drumset. It was Jamie's job to steal the show back from his special guest which he did earnestly. I hope he created some converts to his brand of jazzy mandolin.

After the show Franklin and I went to the backstage area and hung out with the gang. Being backstage is like being at a small party anywhere else... at the House of Blues there is a well stocked refridgerator filled with refreshments and a few people, mainly friends of each others. After 4am rolled around we made it back to Oak Park where I packed up my gear for San Francisco & Los Angeles. Franklin caught a couple of hours of sleep before 7am rolled around... I slept on the plane.


Friday, January 09, 2004

The Apprentice - Selling Lemonade

When you are selling lemonade on the street you are not selling lemonade.
When children are selling lemonade on the street they aren't selling lemonade...
They are selling an image. Kids are cute, and when adults buy from kids, they are doing so because they like the kids and the sense of innocense, not the lemonade. When adults are selling lemonade, its different. There is nothing fun about buying a cup of lemonade for a dollar from a slick mug jerk in a dark suit all like some Gordon Gecko Wall St. wanna be who looks like he could buy and sell you.
If you watched the first episode of the apprentice you saw the men's team compete against the woman's team in a lemonade contest... and the women cleaned up.
Why? Cause cute gals can sell more lemonade than cute guys...
Sam Solovey nailed it on the head, but his team had given up listening to him. He picked up a cup of lemonade, handed it to a cute girl and said that she had a better chance of selling this cup on the street than he did, because when it comes to impulse buying, men are much more receptive to a woman's wiles than a man's. On the other side of town, the women were raking up the cash... and this rings of truth.

So, when the men met in the board room to discuss who would be fired at the end of the first show, why did they all turn on Sam? Was it because he was shorter, or had a higher voice than the rest of the men? Some people do have the chiselled characteristics of a natural born leader. Some people have savy. Some people know that they can sell a cup of lemonade for a dollar... others know they can sell a cup of lemonade with a kiss for five... Sam tried to sell a cup of lemonade and the American Dream for a cool thousand dollars. He's a risk taker and I liked that about him. He was right about employing women to sell lemonade along with his crew of men, but being right doesn't make a leader. A leader with out followers is just someone takin' a walk.

I make a habit to not watch Reality TV, but I like this show and I'm glad Franklin worked as a production assistant because otherwise I might not have watched it. As a sales and marketing guru, I am really identifying with this show already! Thumbs up for the first episode!


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Favorite Undiscovered Artists of the Year

Ok, so every year I name a few artists that haven't hit the mainstream, yet that I really have dug on throughout the year. Include:
Youngblood Brass Band from Madison, WI
The Soul of John Black from Los Angeles
Kaki King from New York
Natty Nation from Madison, WI


Job Day!

So today I wrote a ton of applications out and heard back almost immediately from a variety of recruiters and employers. My hope is that by the time I leave to CA, that I have wall to wall appointments with hiring managers. Of course the primary locations I'm looking to interview in are San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. I want to be as coastal as possible. This is a sales gig, so I need to be in or near the market I'm working. If anyone has good contacts or leads, feel free to hook me up with contacts! Thanks!


Monday, January 05, 2004

Modern Evil (Part I)

This is off the cuff... feel free to rant me on this if you find flaws... remember this is a semantic/linguistic position:

What kind of person tries to comprehend and define evil? I guess that would be me. It is with great difficulty that I try to answer this question. Evil, as a concept, has been newly revived in the media and in the political circus since the events of September 11th. In our limited view and to our detriment we try to put a face on evil, like Hitler or Saddam and I don't think its fair to believe evil looks a certain way. As ugly is to beautiful, evil is usually described in bipolar opposition to good. There is no universal look to evil which I can explain that will make it any easier to describe?

Its been my perspective that most "evil" is due to people being isolated or marginalized for extended periods of time.
Its the notice of group functionalism as defined in post Hobbesian thought. We live in a world of resources and consumers. This is a world between the haves and the have-nots. There is an equation in place. It takes something to make something. While an investment banker continues to load his pockets and make money in New York, he forgets that the producer, no matter how far away, but the producer is being stripped of a potential quality of life. Its a faceless crime... A banker. I wonder if the Enron, etc... Folks thought people would use their names in the same breath as evil when they were doing what they were doing?
Or what feelings would swell in a nationalist when they find out that the hard labor they are doing makes some rich white man with soft hands more rich still. The point is that evil is defined in retrospect and most people who commit acts of evil don't know they are doing it or lending themselves to it. The problem is that we reserve this word when we see atrocities like the gas chambers, Cambodia, WTC, but its the little atrocities that escape attention. The bandwagon must be stopped or slowed so people can jump off. The bandwagon is essentially the force that drives the pendulum in a given direction... it goes until it begins to swing the other way. Action, reaction.

People use bad logic when defending their actions. People are far too willing to jump on the band wagon in defense of their country against a seeming threat. The Afghanies fought the Communist threat, which was the same threat they were trying to defend against when we invaded. Stories of insurrection abound on the wire in Iraq and Afghanistan, but you don't read about it in the paper... It would be unAmerican for the news to do its job! I do not believe our administration's numbers or figures one bit. I don't believe we have an accurate number of people killed, damage done, or costs to build a sustainable nation that doesn't hate us. I've seen it in the current administration's attempts to justify their foreign policy arrangements and the creation of a nouveau police state. I've seen it in the midwestern lands of broad lawns and narrow minds over the holidays. The further one gets pushed the further the rebound. The bigger the pain, the more the cries for retribution... and then the word comes... Evil. There is no yardstick for evil. Its a sliding scale and a movable feast. It is a consequence of perspective and experience. Essentially, its a shade of grey, but its the little evils and the bandwagon effect that snowball into atrocities.

Good people are made to do terrible things out of "duty," "desperation," and "honor." These feelings swell up when talking about Ethnicity... The components of which are religion and nationalism (church and state). Its not a far stretch to see why people go to religion when facing death, and why words like "retribution and vengeance" play a part when looking to fix blame on the violent and untimely passing of a loved one. Its easy to fix blame, much easier than fixing the problem.

I believe in group functionalism and I think that evil is a semantic and linguistic product of competing groups in a closed system. Its a dangerous term to let fly, because it limits the view of their actions in such a way that peace with them can never exist.


Sunday, January 04, 2004

Chicago Afro-Beat Project & Hip Hop at the Note

The Hip-Hop was a little lack luster. Live hip hop is difficult to pull off. It requires lots of effects and processors, or at least a reasonably linguistic lyricist who raps about something other than his jimmy, sexin' up hoes, and battlin' other crews. Yo' I might just be anotha nigga from the West side, but I've gots some taste 'n class you know what UpG?
Anyway, this ensemble was Y-N-R Featuring U n I, Nameless Entertainment and Wicket and hosted by Cat Wallace (who did a great job as a mc). But I was really there to see Chicago Afro-Beat Project which went until about 5am. The Chicago Afro-Beat Project... well, you know just by hearing their name what they play Kuti music with a mix of jazz and funk thrown in there. Antibalas would be the most reknowned band in the scene behind Femi/Fela's stuff. CABP's sound has filled out nicely in the last year. Its partially due to the addition of new horn players, but its also because they've tightened up their set. I wound up meeting this very sweet dancer named Annie. She taught me one very important lesson: when dancing with a partner, its all about resistance. There is a message in there somewhere.


Saturday, January 03, 2004

Return of the King and more HS sitings

I finaly saw...
You thought I was going to say Return of the King, but no... the girl I had a huge crush on all the way through H.S., Fay Eng. Its been about 10 years since I've seen her and I recognized her right off the bat. She was way too cool for me then. And I should be able to talk to anyone, I mean, come on... this is me we're talking about, but we were on our way into see Return of the King and she was with someone, who I can only guess was her boyfriend so all we did was exchange quick pleasantries. Good thing too, because I felt myself regressing back to my awkward teenage years which I like to avoid as much as humanly possible, but just seeing her I turned into the shy guy who could say anything, except to girls. I've had far too many run ins with too many old faces from Highschool lately. Its good to see old faces, but I'm not certain I want to rekindle all old friendships. I'm far enough down the line that I'd like to make new ones... Fay wasn't a friend in H.S. just admired from afar. I've often said, if you've seen them once, you'll most likely cross paths again, just stay open to it... it will come.
Its bad enough they made a Reality TV show out of our High School Class of '92 using people from my class ('93) and man... let me tell you somethin':
If anyone comes up to you and offers you a spot on Reality TV where you just kinda get put together like Road Rules, The Real World, Big Brother... the Answer is NO! ok? They aren't in the business of making you look good, they're in the business of editing your sentences together to make you look like the biggest shmuck possible so they can ensure viewers for their commercials. They are there to make money and that means manufacturting controversy where there isn't any, making hypocrits out of altruists, and making good girls look like psychos or sluts because they know that sells.
So I wonder if the people who put together the RealTV shows got a hold of the rights to Lord of the Rings how horribly different would it have been? I feel bad for the poor schlups who stand unprepared in the sites of the lens, essentially fodder for the cannons. Don't be that guy/girl!
But I digress...
Anyway, I really liked the movie. They kept fairly true to the book. I'm not going to go on about the little inconsistencies here, cause they're really of no consequence considering the first two of the trilogy. I think the liberties were justified. Anyway, I'm glad they created strong female roles where they were lacking in the book. Its good to know the producers and directors know that todays audiences like women who kick ass and won't stand for the helpless damsel in distress... A classicly styled movie for modern times.


Thursday, January 01, 2004

Bar Vertigo (More Reunion Stuff) - Vandals @ 8th & Wabash

This was a full on Oak Park reunion with all the hats, balls, bells, bands and whistles of a NYE bar rager. I did not expect to meet or see the density of people from my home town as I did, but everyone who did show would be the people I would pick to hang out with for the most part. Tim, Phil and Val had a great time. The drummer from the band Joaquin hired turned out to be an old friend from UW-Madison who heped put together the Funk-Groove Music Series of '95 which included Galactic's first performance in Madison and members of Prince's band peforming as Greazy Meal. Needless to say I had a blast. By the countdown, I had already gotten a couple of kisses which I would dole out freely for the rest of the night. I've been fairly particular about lip balm for the past few weeks and I've been assured that my lips are "smooth," "soft," and "tasty!"

I eventually made my way out to meet up with Seth and his crew after the Cheese show let out. They enjoyed the concert even though there wasn't a big circus, nor a boatload of special guests like they had expected. We chilled for a while trying to find things to do late night. We thought DJ Harry might be pulling out a late late night set, but we couldn't find any listings.

By the time I got into my car at the end of the night... or the beginning of the morning depending on how you look at it, I found my car windshield had been broken. Way to start off the new year, eh? I looked down at the street and figured out that there were some drunkards on the roof of the building next to where I parked my car and they had knocked over or dropped several bottles and cans of Bud Light on the cars all around mine. I realize this wasn't exclusively my car... and I wasn't targetted exclusively... I figured that it was probably a bunch of young kids on the roof with bad aim... and they were gone... and that there wasn't much I could do but to report it when I got home.
I thought about getting angry, but then I thought it would be a waste of my energy... so much about this day is about new beginnings and any negative vibes I put out there would be unfocused and ill-directed... I just decided to deal with it. So the first conversation I had in the first rays of the New Year's Day was to an officer who had worked all night and taken I don't know how many phone calls... and I realize that there were many people who worked while I played. These are the same people who I was one year ago today.
So cheers to you who practice health, safety and caution while the rest of us celebrate, play and party!