Saturday, July 29th / Austin, TX
Been having a nice summer. I was able to at least start a few projects, surfed at Nland a few times and miraculously got better at it (and took a few hard hits), refinished the deck, practiced a lot, wrote a couple of not very good tunes, walked the dogs a lot in the heat (it's going to be 106° in Austin today), worked on my pedalboards, played a few gigs, built a strat, worked on the Willmott polyrhythms class for the fall....
Like the majority of the world I've been very disturbed by the political firestorm in the US and around the globe - disturbed by the fucking president, by his supporters, by all the greedy, cruel, immature, vindictive, soul-less motherfucking assholes. You know who you are.
Heard Rotem Sivam at Lamberts last night and was really happy that I went. A lot of creative, different stuff going on and Rotem is a very good guy. Daniel Dufour and Richard Mikel on drums and bass respectively. I sat in on a couple of tunes and I'm happy with the way the Collings Soco is sounding. Been taking four or five guitars out of their cases and leaving them around my studio and picking up a different instrument every hour or so. The Collings seems to be winner most of the time. It's lightweight, the treble strings have a sound similar to a 335, maybe not quite as much output and bloom, while the bass side has more clarity and separation than a 335. It's a little "electric" sounding at times which is strange but something I've noticed from the Buscarino I sometimes play.Strangely enough, the carved top guitars do sound a little more electric than a tele or strat. The bottom line is that I have way too many very good guitars and probably not enough years left in me as a player to do them justice.
Thursday, August 3 / Austin
I'm growing discouraged on many fronts but lately what discourages me, personally, the most, is the lack of respect I'm getting from some local Austin musicians. I'm not talking about not getting asked to do gigs or people not wanting to do my gigs (although I'm confused and hurt by that - I must really suck), I'm talking about common courtesy. I'm used to disrepect from the audience although I have to say audiences have been very appreciative in the past year. Getting dissed by some of my peers digs a lot deeper than disses from audiences I don't necessarily expect to be knowledgeable critics. Just getting a yes or no answer about paying gigs from players can take forever in Austin. Yesterday the bass player bagged on my gig the morning of because, and I shit you not, according to him the music was too hard and he wanted more money before he would spend time with the charts. What the fucking fuck! I was paying the band out of my own pocket, I sent the music to him a week in advance and he was basically holding me for ransom unless I came up with more money. First he disrepects me by not looking at the music (which I told him was tricky) until the last minute, then again by saying the gig doesn't pay enough for him to work on the music, then again after I told him the money was out of my own pocket. I hate admitting that I'm doing gigs that pay nothing but I'll pay the guys myself if they are willing to come out and play. I get to call the tunes, I get to work on my sound, maybe sell a few CDs, get my name around a bit. I was only paying bass and drums $40 each but one set, 7 or 8 tunes, no pressure except to maybe look at the music a bit (or learn how to read music motherfucker). The main thing is that I had a great set planned out with some killing arrangements and tunes. Adam Kolker's arrangement of Green Chimneys, Joe's Gazelle, a couple of mine, a standard or two, Crepuscule with Nellie.....nice tunes. Did it not occur to this guy that by learning the music he could grow as a musician and one day, just maybe, he would be half as good as Hans Glawischnig who was playing on Green Chimneys. Nope. This guy is content and has mastered music. I didn't tell him that I was on that recording with Hans and he read the fucking difficult soli down, I didn't want to tell him about all the gigs I played for very little or no money but was honored and overjoyed to be asked to play with players I respected and admired. Or tell him about the time I was playing with Alan Ferber's nonet at Smalls and John Riley, right off the plane from a Bob Mintzer big band tour, subbed on the band and fucking nailed it. For $35. He obviously checked out the music in advance and just fucking nailed every little thing. He had to drive from Westchester or wherever he lived, find parking in the Village, lug his drums, etc.
I'm assuming this bass guy had no respect for me which, while it's a drag, is not as fucked up as his lack of respect for the music. I posted the charts and mp3s way in advance and working out the set and organizing the music took me some fucking time and then more time when I had to find another instrument (organ) to play the gig and then work out a set for this new group on the afternoon of the gig. I didn't tell him that because he is a musician he automatically has my respect and my disrepect has to be earned. Congratulations, fuckface, you've now earned it.
I didn't tell him any of that. What I texted was "I'm sorry I can't afford to pay you more and that the music is difficult but I don't want to play all standards. I'll try to find someone else."
Okay, then I get to the gig (Hole in the Wall). Remember, I'm doing this gig at a potential -$80 loss because I'm paying the organ and drums and the gig pays 5% of the bar for the 1:15" set. (I ended getting about $30 back - so the gig was -$50). There is a duo on the stage, supposed to be done at 8:45, we set up and start 9:15. They play till about 8:45 then say "2 more". Okay. Play 2 more now it's 8:55. "We'll do one more but it's an 18" song so we'll go into the next bands set - somebody buy them a beer!" Okay, gotcha, fuck you, too. They are finally, mercifully, blessedly done, take their sweet drunk singer-songwriter time moving their hurdy-gurdy or whatever from the stage and we thread our way through the tables, their equipment and both of their adoring fans (two more than I got) with our heavy-ass crap (I have the Vibrolux - more about this later). Hole in the Wall likes turn the lights way down between sets so I'm stumbling around in the dark trying to stay out of the way of Daniel and Terry, both trying to set up their shit on this pretty tiny stage. Finally get ready to play and "ta da!" my Vibrolux is powering on but no sound. I had loaned the amp to a NY guitar player in town and he played it pretty hard for a few gigs - Daniel had been playing with him on those gigs and Daniel was nice enough to bring the amp to the gig with me so I could play it. Which didn't give me an opportunity to vet the amp out before the gig, something I always try to do. You can picture me up on stage in the dark, peering into the back of my amp trying to figure out what the fuck was wrong. Once I got it home I discovered the rectifier tube had popped out - due to low light and stress I missed this obvious amp problem and was focused on the speaker wires. I did have the foresight to bring a Pro Junior, currently in my car parked a couple of blocks away. No denying that my Vibrolux is fucked for the gig, though, and after the amp, the bass player thing, the fact that not one person came out to hear us after all the work and time I put into getting an original set and then the new set together, not to mention the texting, emails and calls dealing with the bass asshole and then finding someone else to do the gig the day of, after all this my sails were flapping. Or would have been if there had been a breeze.
After a moment of contemplation I walked through the sticky body-temperature air of Austin to my car, grabbed the Pro Junior, walked, fairly slowly, back to the club (yes, I was vaping). While I was gone the band asked the "sound guy" about me using the house amp (a circuit board Fender of some kind - Deluxe?"). Club said it was okay to use so I bailed on the Jr and plugged into the house amp and played the first tune (my Like This) with the controls on the amp set: Bass/10- Mid/2- Treble-0. What fun! The glamour! The lights! or lack of them. Eventually we did have fun, or at least I did. I identified some things about my playing that I could improve, learned how to try and have fun even if things are going wrong, learned some things (good and bad) about the Fractal FX8 that I brought to the gig, some of the guys at the bar dug the music, I got to play music with some nice players whether they enjoyed it or not, I wasn't sitting at home watching TV like the bass player who will never be any better than he is now if he doesn't figure out why he plays music. I play music because I have to. If I'm not playing music then I'm already dead. And compared with what most of the worlds population has to endure each and every day I feel like I'm just about the luckiest guy on the planet.