January 29th, 2004.

Erf. Dumb night at the Iota’s open mic. So much time for bed.

Dan Zimmerman at Iota's open mic.
Dan Zimmerman at Iota’s open mic.

The next morning leaves me strange with dreams. I’m a little anxious about the gig at Iota’s tonight – moreso than I should be. We rock, that’s what we do. I’m annoyed at myself for not remembering the dreams, and annoyed at being mazed enough to do something weird to my beard. Hrm.

January 30th, 2004.

Last night was incredible. For many reasons. There was the swirl of late night snow, and the swirl of people, and beautiful people at that. There was Nefrit El-Or, who’s band is the first creation since Underfoot to really stir me in person. There was an almost perfect show, there was a beautiful dream.

Nefrit El-Or at Iota in Arlington, VA
Nefrit at Iota. Such a Lovely woman. I need to figure out how to write bizarre rhythms like she does.

Last night’s show at Iota’s was exquisite. For all the stress about time and drumkits and setlists and last minute saxophonists, it all went off pretty much without a hitch. I’d used up all of our shit luck the night before, it seems. We played under the Christmas lights for an audience of many new faces.

Dave's kit for the Iota's gig. Alfred hates playing anything but his own kit, but it was a lot of fun having the sheer power that comes out of a traditional set up like this one.
Dave’s kit for the Iota’s gig. Alfred hates playing anything but his own kit, but it was a lot of fun having the sheer power that comes out of a traditional set up like this one.

The night was 9 short of sold out, and the club was pleased. We made a LOT of new fans last night. I re-encountered (distracted by yelling from downstairs) – I re-encountered a friend from college – well… an acquaintance from college. We got to talk for a little while about how the art college graduates were surviving in their chosen fields. She was beautiful. Much more so than I remembered. The vibrancy of doing what you Love, perhaps.

The band at Iota's, with Junior guesting on saxophone.
The band at Iota’s, with Junior guesting on saxophone.

In which case I must’ve been radiating last night.

Which I may well have been, since I’ve not had THAT much verification from previously unknown females that I was worth something since Living in Annapolis. It felt really good.

Nefrit’s band was incredible. For those of you who didn’t know Underfoot, and most of you would never have had the chance – Underfoot was about the coolest thing ever to come out of Maryland. Unfortunately, with the “discovery” of Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and Good Charlotte, Brian Wagoner’s Underfoot sort of fell through the cracks. I heard that Brian got bitter and discouraged and vanished off to California.

Possibly one of the most frustrating things in my Life.

Anywho, Underfoot was a spectaculr trio, with mystical, sensual lyrics, a driven and passionate lead singer/guitarist, a great bass player, and one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. A power trio that innovated on everything from how they used their instruments, to the bizarre rhythms they choose… to everything.

It’s a point of pride that I got to see their last couple of shows.

Nefrit El-Or has massed together a similar creature. A very similar aesthetic, but with female vocals. A similar middle-Eastern vibe – but her bass player is just – he’s the lead player by far. With a monstrous pedal board (semi-similar to the one that Brian had for his guitar) and the mad bassin skillz… good lord. He’s just a monster.  And elegant, and beautiful.

The same can be said for both Nefrit, and their drummer Dave. Nefrit’s voice, and Dave’s percussion – I’m always jealous of three-pieces, as they create a synergy and tightness that anything larger just… by definition and sprawl can never really acheive.

Oh – and then I had a dream about a blonde.

It was a good night all round.

I’m still sort of worn out from last night. Maybe I’ll rant more later, but Heather and I are going to go record now.


Listening to Heather warm up in the “studio”. It’s inhuman what her voice can do – precision and beauty. The “studio” is actually the Lloyd’s glassed in back porch, and passing traffic is a constant risk – but to see her bundled in a sweater and wool socks, running through scales with a back of white snow and blackened tree limbs.

Ok – the notes she’s hitting now are a bit absurd – I’d best go remind that she’s surrounded by glass. Brittle… sound sensitive… glass.

She’s just written a new song – beautiful, but so so sad. It made me cry the first time I heard it.

February 18th, 2004.

Erf – we played with Firedean tonight. I Love that man. A songwriter that I admire soo much from the performance point of view, and every other point of view as well. He’s just such a fantastic writer. I’m sure I’ve waxed poetic about him before, which is a good thing, because as it’s 2am in a College Park Living room, I’m not feeling terrifically poetic at the moment.

Instead, I’m sitting and listening to a collection of John Williams’ movie scores and being suspicious about a white four-door sedan that keeps hanging out across the street with its lights on. I haven’t lost ALL my Baltimore instincts!

Anywho, it’s always awesome to say that “yeah, we played Iota’s two weeks ago, and … why yes… we’re BACK!!!” It was a flattering invitation.

And what a show! Firedean had a Hell of an opening act – and it sucks, because now I can’t remember their name. Interstellar Velvet or something…? (I better ask Heather – it was InterNATIONAL Velvet) – a sitar and percussion act that caused something of an anomoly at Iota’s – the audience sat down! The whole front of the club was filled with people sitting and sort of… grooving.

The sitar spectacular International Velvet - with Rob Myers. They also had what looked to be a doumbek player and a ... er... box player. Big wooden box.
The sitar spectacular International Velvet – with Rob Myers. They also had what looked to be a doumbek player and a … er… box player. Big wooden box.
Sera and her partner. I was very fortunate to get such a good view - the crowd was just PUSHING to the stage.
Sera and her partner. I was very fortunate to get such a good view – the crowd was just PUSHING to the stage.

The sound was really cool, Rob Myers of Fort Knox Records, was something of a bad-ass sitarist, which I didn’t really know was possible. (I’m already preparing to get a barrage of emails about how “sitarist” isn’t the word…) He fingered it like a bass player or something, with complex double plucking and amazing leads. It was just a wonderful new landscape of droning melody.

Sera and the sword.
Sera and the sword.
Heather TRIED to give Firedean a dollah. I'm wondering if he ran into issues with that song, cause now he refuses everybody's money. Note the cellophane "pickguard" on his Guild there - he's looking to keep the guitar pristine so's he can sell it. A mistake in my opinion, that instrument is one of the best I've ever heard plugged through a sound system.
Heather TRIED to give Firedean a dollah. I’m wondering if he ran into issues with that song, cause now he refuses everybody’s money. Note the cellophane “pickguard” on his Guild there – he’s looking to keep the guitar pristine so’s he can sell it. A mistake in my opinion, that instrument is one of the best I’ve ever heard plugged through a sound system.

The second act was none other than Fire’s girlfriend, Sera – on stage and bellydancing. We’ve gotten to see her before, but usually only accompaning Fire on a tune or two. This was the first time I’ve seen Sera really go at it with the proper music and whatnot – sort of a club-driven, hybrid electronic Middle Eastern sound – she and her partner drove the crowd into a bit of a frenzy with gyrations and pulsings of their… parts.

The great and expressive Firedean.
The great and expressive Firedean.

It’s weird, I guess I’m just conservative enough to feel sort of bad watching the show, but – it must be quite an ego-booster for Firedean. Much like how when Heather and I play together, and I watch guys hit on her, or ask about her… and I’m like “yeah, she’s going home with ME!!!”

Well, I go home with HER, really, but s’ok.

Anywho, the night was awesome even BEFORE Firedean hit the stage. And then when we finally get to the star of the evening, well, I was a little disappointed with how a good deal of the crowd filtered out, but the remainder – I’ve never heard the club so quiet – so attentive. Fire was on rare form tonight – his voice was just beautiful. Firedean had an angel night. – hwah.

I swear that I’ll write more in the morning – and I’ll write from not quite such an exhausted stand-point. I’m dreading pulling this damned fold-out couch out – it’s a great, evil leviathan of couches, and I don’t want to move Heather… but it’s gonna have to be done.

Here goes … (SHOVE – CRRRRRRREEEEAK!!!! CLANK CLANK CLANK – “OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD NOOOOOO!!!!”)

Later that Same Day…
Awakening at the College Park home of WDAV – well, if there’s a LEAST  
convenient time to go to the bathroom, I shall find it. And possibly the LEAST convenient time to suddenly find that the 7-Eleven sub you ate the night before is failing to agree with you, while crashing at a friends’ house, is bloody 7.25am.

This is the time, where perhaps you lie awake for a bit, thinking “maybe I don’t have to go… maybe my sleep-starved body can collapse back in on unconsciousness… maybe it was just the sun that woke me up… maybe… maybe I’d really BETTER GET UP RIGHT NOW!!!”

And no-one else in the house is moving yet, simply your bowels. But you KNOW – at 7.25am, it’s only a matter of time. Anyone with a REAL job, if they’re not up and movin at 7.25am, it’s only because their alarm is set for 7.30am. And what’s the first thing you do when you get up? You head to the friggin bathroom, and the last thing you want to encounter while accomplishing the first thing of your day, is your late-night arrivin’ house-guest already occupying the throne.

Perhaps the benefactor won’t even believe it – I mean – it’s 7.30 in the morning – they got in at 2am or so, why the Hell would they be up and in the bathroom? Maybe the houseguest just left the door shut… it doesn’t lock, afterall – it doesn’t even latch… and at 7.30am, it’s Showertime and minutes are a precious, passing commodity.

Sigh.

This all went through my head, and passed out again quite quickly, as did everything else, so calamity was avoided. I got out of the bathroom, and Partick was up, and not hopping from toe to toe outside of the bathroom, not standing there with towel in hand, ready for his morning ablutions and watching his watch…

no…

and here’s another great mystery solved – the cleanliness of the gay male IS apparently just a very natural state. It’s a stereotype, I know – the gay male is supposedly always well-dressed and well-groomed. Always smelling slightly of something masculine with just an edge of feminine, and never, ever in disarray.

And it’s 7.25am, he hasn’t been in the bathroom at all, and I catch a glimpse of Patrick, apparently rising from bed – immaculate.

I think he’s just perfect 24/7. His face STAYS clean-shaven, his shirts stay wrinkle-free. Women of the world, unite and LAMENT the apparent maintenance-free nature of the immaculate gay male.

Have I offended everybody yet? You shouldn’t be. Remember, I’m just extrapolating on what I see of my friends – they’ll take it as it’s meant – all in good fun, and you bloody well should too.

Hrm, sitting at College Perk, watching Pookie (the cat) eat a plant.  I know she’s not supposed to be eating the plant.  I just don’t feel like doing anything about it.  The strange (Spanish?  Italian?) children’s music playing through the house speakers is rising in intensity, and the cat is eating more and more and MORE!!!

June 3rd, 2004.

Walking into the Common Grounds Coffee and Tea House of Arlington, Virginia – at first glance it’s kind of comical. Laptops have sprung at every table like mushrooms, and the outdoor sunshine is almost drown out by the blue-white computer LCD glow. Even upstairs, where the doors haven’t officially opened yet, there are already three machines churning out their silicon essence.

Jake Stephens with his yellow guitar in a yellow room. I realize now who his voice reminds me of - Will Schaff... and if you don't know who THAT is, you bloody well SHOULD!
Jake Stephens with his yellow guitar in a yellow room. I realize now who his voice reminds me of – Will Schaff… and if you don’t know who THAT is, you bloody well SHOULD!

Most of the time, I feel pretty confident when it comes to the size of my laptop. My screen’s pretty big, and even when I see something that’s obviously got a couple of inches on me, I can walk tall with the confidence that mine works harder. But there’s this Dell in the corner, built on the scale of James’ machine back in Catonsville… big and blocky – and it looks too sleek to be an average performer. I’m feeling a bit of anxiousness, a little bit of Dell envy. My Alienware is worrying that it might not compete with the creature in the corner.

A beautiful girl in the beautiful light.
A beautiful girl in the beautiful light.

Jake starts up, yellow guitar and deep voice that begins to remind me more and more of Will Schaff’s old Noel the Coward voice – and it looks like it’s going to be a rough night. I don’t see anyone we know, and the night’s “filling in” with about ten people here to see Jake.

I started out the night kind of annoyed, since we couldn’t find any of our posters up (we eventually found one – not on the front door or on the bulletin board, but in a darkened stairwell) – not that I’m a great believer in the draw power of posters… I think I’ve only had one person come up to me and say that they’d never heard of us, never heard us, but that they HAD to come because of the poster… I met Rowan Corbett because he “had to see music that sounded like what those posters look like”.  But every bit helps.

And every little hurt… hurts.

Hehe – Jake has a song called “Take it Up the Road Again”. It’s probably only me who finds that amusing, isn’t it? I guess my head has been in this sort of mood – as I’m going through my skull, exploring my stage banter options, I keep coming back to the fact that there are two big reasons why people should buy our CD. Those two reasons are hairy and I’ll show them to people if they ask, but really, let’s just say I need new pants.

My Dad’s going to just shake his head with shame when he reads that.


And of course, whenever I get overconfident, the world cuts me down – but in the same fashion, whenever I’m worried about a show, it goes spectacularly. We got rave responses from all of Jake’s friends, as well as passerbys and the woman who does booking at Common Grounds. We made our quota, and surpassed, and Julia Rose showed up out of nowhere and complimented my eyes.

Sigh.

Life is, indeed… very good. Also, we’ve got the right car adapter for my laptop, and I can either write to you… or play Starcraft alllll the waaay home. Ah – Full moon and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” on the radio. I gotta kill. Sorry.

A FALLING STAR!!! Driving home, north on 95 – meteor streaking down, creating a path down the sky. WISH WISH WISH!!!

September 12th, 2004.

Tonight we went back to Cafe Florian. I haven’t been there in forever, it seems. People were amazed, when last they saw us, Heather and I had been playing together for three weeks, and now it’s been three years. Sharif joined us and we played a really Lovely set, including Heather’s new one “Illinois is Overflowing”. It was gorgeous to be in that room again, even though it’s got kind of a faded glory to me now, with Syl absent, with Mia missing (heh)… but the faces that WERE there were familiar, and it was important to be impressive to these people, who I remember once gave me the impression of wishing I’d go away so they could hear Audrey better – I’ve come home to shine, in a way.


Hrm, sleepy and typing, Rowan looking over my shoulder, watching set up in Arlington, VA at the Galaxy Hut. Very sleepy. Won the festival thingie, perhaps I’ll talk more about that later. I’m mostly typing for the moment so I can put an Arlington, VA location in the TOC, rather than so many MD dates. Makes sense, right?

At the Sense of Wonder show, Den Frumen invited us to come the next night and play as a featured artist at the laid back Cafe Florian.
At the Sense of Wonder show, Den Frumen invited us to come the next night and play as a featured artist at the laid back Cafe Florian.
Firedean at Galaxy Hut.
Austin Stahl heads up Private Eleanor at the Galaxy Hut.
Austin Stahl heads up Private Eleanor at the Galaxy Hut.
C'est moi playing with the blurry Firedean at the Galaxy Hut last night.
C’est moi playing with the blurry Firedean at the Galaxy Hut last night.
Firedean chases an audience member out the door...
Firedean chases an audience member out the door…