Sunday, April 19, 2009

D & C's house concert

dean and carla's house concert was one of the most enjoyable
shows i've ever had
thank you to all who attended
and especially to D & C for all the hard work
you put into making this an amazing night for all involved
i'm very grateful to have friends like you

the hat of random songs spun some more surprises
opening with "love is all around"
one of C's faves but one i would never had selected as an opener
if i'd been in charge!
then the 10 gallon Stetson dealt some tried and true faves like
"1978" with the Monotones on "sha-la-la's"
and some rare ones like
"missing funerals"
everyone was with me every step of the way
a rare but beautiful occurrence
i was totally in the moment even on "be here now"
now there are only 2 more shows before i leave for europe
soon i'll be writing you from there
it seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago that i was just toasting Basti
with Mr. Bread
like the cliche
life is strange...
nevertheless i love it
and love you



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

curse of D - OVER!

i played Dan's Silverleaf in Denton last night
with Paul Slavens
he joined me for the whole set
even though we'd only had time to run through 4 songs beforehand
Dan's has a badass vibe
dimly lit
art strewn about
a nice stage with black velvet curtains in the back
this place is as cool as any club anywhere in the world
it wouldn't matter if it were in South Dakota
i'd want to play here
Paul sat at his piano
i flanked him stage right
we opened with "Western Hills"
there was a nice crowd gathered
a lot of familiar, smiling faces
the sound was impeccable
"She'd Walk a Mile" was one of my favorites
with Slaven's deliberately paced, swinging piano
after "1978" he went into the verse all "DA-DA-DA-DA!!! DA-DA-DAAA!"
it kinda reminded me of the Boss for some reason
so i sang over it "let's go back to 1978, oh yeah
that's the year the Boss was still great, oh yeah
before born in the USA
when the Boss went totally gay..."
it was some good spontaneous fun
i guess you really had to be there

we closed our set with 3 of the ones we'd actually practice
"Endless Dream Days"
"Never Say Never"
and "Saint Georges"
i thought Georges was particularly nice
afterwards i got to talk to a lot of my Denton friends
i was even approached by an ex-UNT teacher of mine
whom i hadn't seen in about 15 years
it was really nice of him to come out and say hi

Paul's set was riotous
people wrote down absurd song titles
presented them at the front of the stage to him
scrawled on a napkin
Paul and his band would then instantly come up with the song
and perform it
i've never seen anything like it
totally original and brilliant
i hung out and listened to them play
until 1am
then i headed back to Dallas
i drove really slowly
i was paranoid that a ticket on the way home could ruin
my successful night
but i made it back A-ok
the curse of Denton - officially lifted!!!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

the dolphins vs. guns of the navarone

at 6:30am the hotel clock radio
started blasting tejano music
"bop, bitty, bop, bitty, bop, bop!!!"
it scared the hell outta me
and i never quite got back to sleep after that
when 8am rolled 'round
it was time to wake J and G up
we had a big day planned
to take Gavin to Seaworld
we had a nice breakfast in the Tropicano restuarant
still feeling very much like Miami
not San Antonio
at 9:30 we were on our way
Seaworld opened at 10
the weather was still great
clear blue sky
the first site we hit was the dolphin pool
i'd never seen a dolphin in person
it was like a sitting with the Dalai Lama
what an awe inspiring creature
full of peace and joy for life
anyone capable of hurting an animal like this is pure evil in my book
for the next 4 hours we enjoyed the day
and our son's enthusiasm for all of these things he'd only seen in books o on TV
we saw the shark tank (which was G's favorite)
Shamu and the whale show (were he was very concerned about avoiding getting splashed)
the penguins
alligators (which smelled bad)
got some cotton candy (which G devoured like a rabid bear)
road on the slow as hell teacup ride (because our son was having no part in getting on a scary ride like his mom wanted him to do)
we had a great time and being able to take G to Seaworld
already made the entire trip worthwhile

we left at 2pm for Houston
the last time i'd played the big H was March 21, 2001
when the Happiness Factor opened for the Old 97s
at Fitzgerald's
i barely remember that show it was so long ago
Vanessa had us booked at a place called Rudyard's
i was hopeful but with low expectations based on my past experiences
our hotel for the night
the Magnolia
was swanky
downtown highrise
a herd of valet guys greeted us eagerly out front
inside the lobby was Texas mod
very fancy but not too pretensious
when we got to our room it hit us
how absolutely wiped out we were
after only 5 hours of sleep
4 hours walking all over Seaworld
and then the 3 hour drive
i had that shaky bones aching feeling
how on earth was i gonna find the energy to stay up late and play a decent show?
i laid down on the comfy bed and woke up and hour later
feeling much better from my disco nap
Jayme had done the same while Gavin played LOUDLY
we cleaned up
and then went looking for a good place to eat
a couple of blocks up the street we went into
a nice Japanese restaurant called Azuma
the decor reminded me a bit of Teppo in Dallas
my favourite place to eat
we had some great rolls
especially the spicy spider roll
Gavin tried a California roll and then enthusiastically
proclaimed he loved it!!! (even though he really didn't)
we ordered a bowl of rice for him which he enthusiastically proclaimed
he loved!!!
but then he only nibbled a couple of teeny bites of it and made a schrunchy face
on the way out i happened to pick up an ENVY magazine from a stand next to the front door
the first page i flipped to had a picture and article on a particular Dallas songwriter/producer
with the opening line "why aren't i a banker?"
i felt a bit like David Bowie at the moment
quite possibly for the very first
(and last) time in my life

i got to Rudyard's around 8:30
just past sunset
it was a short and simple drive from the hotel
only about 5 minutes
i pulled into a parking space right in front of the club
and Dean was right there already to lend a hand with my gear
wow- this is the way i like it!
Rudyard's had a kind of pub vibe to it
like i'd pictured
the stage was upstairs
with a nice vibe and sound system
i thought it would be fun to play a couple of songs
with Manuel Schicchi tonight
he'd played on the recording of "Dreaming" but we'd never
had a chance to perform live
we ducked through a door next to the bar and found ourselves
a spot at the top of this long stairwell
where we could practice
then Alberto (aka: Guomo) joined us and started dancing about
and playing some air-drums
Dean videotaped this great spontaneous moment for you here

after our joyful (and triumphal) racket making
i christened my new Italian band the GUNS OF NAVARONE
tonight would be our first appearance together
history making in Houston!!
my set felt great
the sound was impeccable
the crowd easy to connect with
appreciative and quiet
at the ends the Guns of Navarone joined me for
"don't be afraid"
and "1978"
it was rollicking good fun
a great end to a really solid gig
i even got to see my friend Bernd
who made it out to the show at the last minute
what more could i ask for on my return to Houston?


Sunday, April 05, 2009

the Mini sized Texas tour (part 1)

we left dallas around 11am
and headed for San Antonio
i hadn't played SA since april 21st, 2006
when Chris Holt and i played the Red Room
to about 7 people
i used to play SA in the early nineties
when dufilho was in 13
the MF would show swap with his band
(give them a Dallas gig for a SA gig)
we'd always drive back the same night
we were young foolish and broke
there would be no roughing it this time!
it was our first road trip in the mocha Mini
i-pod cranked
sun roof open
no worries about breaking down on the road
it felt good to be leaving town for a few days
anyway i'd just about given up on SA
but now there's Buttercup
a reason for me to go there
to see my friends and play a show with them
to get anyone interested in SA to listen to Constellation
we got to the El Tropicano hotel around 4
i knew Jayme would like the tiki/mod vibe of the place
she did!
it felt a bit like Miami to me
lot's of white and brown tile
a couple of iguana's and parrots in a bamboo filled atrium
lots of elderly people hanging about
our room had a nice view of the cabana and pool
they were blasting salsa music
further re-enforcing the miami vibe
Gavin sat on a colorful plastic chair on the balcony
excited to be "on vacation!"
he sipped his wild cherry juice box and held his little stuffed piggie
he was in kid bliss
after Jayme and i got all of our stuff organized
we went downstairs for a complimentary pineapple juice
and then walked across the street
down some stairs
to the riverwalk
the weather couldn't have been any more perfect
70ish and clear
G loved it
as we made our way through the winding canal
he raced a boat taxi
got a long fallen branch and tried to "fish"
whooped and sang silly songs
we eventually found the popular touristy part of the walk
had some ice cream
people watched
took our time site seeing
around 5:45 we caught a river taxi
(to G's delight and insistence)
and went back to the el tropicano
Joe Reyes called the second we stepped back into our hotel room
he was heading over to take us out for some tex mex food
we went to the picante grill with him
where i ordered the cacerola
it was delicious but i nick-named it
"heart attack in a bowl"
i could only bring myself to eat half
the guilt was too much
we had a great time talking with joe
who has tons of funny and interesting stories from
all of his years as a musician
after dinner
we took the Mini back to the hotel
dropped J and G off
and grabbed my pedal board
guitar and merch case
joe drove me to FARM
only about a mile or two away from the hotel
FARM is a really cool little venue
situated in an old house that's been converted
into a recording studio/music venue
buttercup had set up their drums and amps
in the front room
the vibe was perfect for an acoustic show
some rope lights and candles
dark but not too dark
it felt nice
Vanessa Peters played around 9:30
with Manuel on baritone guitar
and Alberto (aka guomo) on drums
they sounded fantastic
like a stereo really
Joe sat in with me for my set
we opened with "western hills"
and ripped through a bunch of the new ones
his harmonies on "stranger in my own skin" were spot on
the highlight though was "she'd walk a mile"
in which the entire room of about 40
joined in with handclaps
foot-stomping and floor drumming
they kept it going for the duration
bringing the volume up and down as joe and i led the way
of all the times i've played this song
(all over the world)
this was my favorite performance of it
an incredible moment for me
guomo then joined us for "1978" and few others
it was relaxed and fun
the crowd was really appreciative and listened intently
a beautiful gig
Buttercup took the stage last
it was awesome to see them in their element
in front of adoring fans and friends
i think this was my favorite show of theirs that i've witnessed so far
it was so much fun
"it's in the way"
and "i am a tiger" ruled
they sounded tighter than hell
and with all 4 of them singing
Erik was in particularly fine voice and form
with hilarious and theatrical between-song banter
i felt like it couldn't have been a better return to San Antonio for me
an incredible night of music in a cool music venue
with a bunch of friends whom i love
who could ask for more?
Joe dropped me off at the el tropicano around 1:30am
and i passed out
happily exhausted

Thursday, April 02, 2009

the Listening Room

when i showed up around 5pm last night
to the listening room
it looked like the wreck of the Hesperus
a couple of guys on tall ladders trying to hang the PA speakers
workers everywhere
carrying things
drills going off intermittently
construction debris everywhere
absolute chaos!!!
we have a show in ummm...let's see...
3 hours!!!!??!!!!

so we started our frantic push to get the room looking half decent by 8!
vanessa ran to target for cleaning supplies and standing fans
manuel and i started cleaning up
ben was hanging lights
mark, the soundman, methodically set up the PA
the crew kept painting and hammering
by 8 we actually had the place looking all cleaned up
we were still tweaking the lighting even up to the last minute
rip on a ladder by the stage
the cleaning guy racing to find a colored bulb for the light over the bar
it was hectic but we made it
the people gathering in club dada were let into the listening room just past 8pm
winslow and hank went on at 8:09
not bad considering the state this place was in just a few hours earlier
the room looked beautiful
ben and i nearly passed out from relief!
i gotta say he did an amazing job decorating this room (which had been a pit for years!)
tiger bamboo floors
a granite bar top
nice relaxing dark green paint
and cool art scattered throughout
he kept the cool-as-all-get-out brick walls intact too
you don't see walls like this anywhere!!
the sound was already really good from the start
mark is a badass
much better than i'd expected for the opening night
stu dicious and vanessa peters played half hour sets
to a packed and appreciative house
then chris holt and i were on
we were under a bit of a time crunch because chris had to get to barley
for his show there by 11

no matter how cool a room is i always wonder how it will
feel from the stage (sometimes not as good as you expect)
the second chris and i broke into our opening song
"western hills"
at 10:05
i knew this place was going to host many, many incredible nights of music
it felt great on stage
the perfect view of the entire room
and easy to see and feel connected to every single person in the room
the sound was perfect too
we ended up having one of our best duo sets ever
with a round of requests that pushed us to play "endless dream days"
without the piano part it's based around
chris add-libbed the oh,oh, oh keyboard line with volume swells on his gibson 335
while the entire room went dead silent
they were all with us for every single note
it was a great moment
on "saint georges" everyone sang the chorus with us
on "1978" clapping and sha-la-la's
we closed with a rousing version of "pictures collected"
which we'd never done before as a duo
the whole crowd clapped
and smiled
it was the perfect ending to a perfect night