I’m sitting at the College Perk, worrying about little things and big things, and watching the cat sleep on a pretty woman’s knee. Stubby tailed and contrary, I don’t remember the beast’s name off the top of my head – but it’s something like “Poopsy” or something equally painful.
Anywho, chatting with Shane on IM, our friend from Philadelphia. He’s a spectacularly connected creature, and is working on getting us a local TV spot of some sort. I know not to get TOO excited about that sort of thing, as local TV generally doesn’t translate into TOO much publicity or anything, and really – the most I’ve gotten out of past TV spots are video cassettes that I have to hide from friends, years later.
Damned Dirty Black Diamonds.
Recently we’ve been working on the Trio format. More mobile and cheaper to feed than the full band – more punch and more versatility than Heather and I alone. I’m very happy with the balance. Heather goes back and forth between percussion and guitar and is surprisingly enough, having little if any trouble with the singing while drumming, and Sharif is swapping between keyboard and bass.
Only I get stuck still playing the same thing.
Sigh. Maybe I’LL get a tambourine? No.
Anywho, I Love this sound, and at the moment, I think it’s my favourite ilyAIMY format.
A lot of good musical stuff at the moment: I’m really looking forward to this Saturday at the Music Junction. We just dropped off the posters and I always enjoy seeing Simon – he’s just – a very friendly man, and I like watching his face as he talks. There’s also an Iota show coming up, and I’ve been talking to Firedean about playing with him… the Trio is wonderful, and STUFF – and of course, there was also…
Open mics are my absolute favourite way to pass the time. Like this wonderful buffet table of music. The PLOJes are even better, with so many changes so swiftly – never get bored. Pling. Tonight, the star of the show for me is Dan Zimmerman. Just a spectacular lyricist – tonight he’s got something that reminds me of an old poem of Heather’s… something about “underground snakes posing as trains consuming commuters” – How can you NOT Love a man who writes like THAT?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The storm hit us at around 5.30 this morning, ripping trees apart and marching raindrops down upon us. The damned things didn’t queue up, they fought to get to us. Raindrop fistfights broke out hundreds of feet above our head as they argued who would get down to us first. The roof sang with it.
And the day shows little of the fury of last night. The air has cleared, if not the sky, and the wind has grown more capricious, if less malicious. Yesterday we attended a JP Folks meeting, and the night before that, we had a pretty taxing gig, so today, we relax do some catching up. Offload photographs, update webpages, watch James Bond. For all the crap that “Spike TV” usually plays, they have decent, and more importantly, frequent James Bond marathons.
I am, however in a mutual relationship, so soon James will be replaced by a Sex in the City marathon instead. I guess that’s ok. Afterall, we’re just in the Sean Connery fan, and when it comes down to it… I’ve really Loved Pierce Brosnan… (bring on the hate mail from my mom… sigh).
Wanderlust has always been one of my favorite words in the English language. It tumbles more than rolls off the tounge and sounds exactly like what it means. There is a musky dust in that word, a gentle eroticism and a sense of non-directed, ambling purpose. It’s not a beautiful word – the German roots of “wander” make it a bit harsh as words go. The perfect word for what it implies: A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.
In one year we have been to 19 states, in which we have played 72 different open mics and 98 different venues. We have been as far as 1,712 miles away from home and as far as 8,000 feet above sea level. We have seen the shores of Great Lakes Erie and Michigan, the peaks of Rockies and crossed the Mississippi River four times. We have traveled by boat, by train, by car and by foot, but we have yet to take a plane. We’ve been through one Saturn, two car stereos, one break-in, two flat tires, and have just replaced a third.
We’ve been visited by five local fans and one bandmate while performing on the road. Jason Slanga has the honor of being the only one to visit us twice. We’ve received three care packages, including the bubble-wrapped-yet-still-ill-fated pumpkin pie my mother tried to send me for my first family-less Thanksgiving in Colorado. We’ve been tipped with strings, drinks, love, jeans, places to sleep, and I still can’t decide whether my favorite is the $100 check from the guy who finally got laid while listening to our CD, or the crystal-covered rock someone tossed into my guitar case at a PHISH concert in Indiana.
We’ve handed out 2,165 ilyAIMY postcards, and the way rob and I figure it, we have played “Deep in the AM” in front of about 170 different audiences.
We’ve been through two hurricanes, one at the beginning of the year and one at the end, but the wettest we have ever been was camping just outside of Indianapolis when it rained three inches in one morning. Rob disagrees and says it was getting stuck in the storm while boating the Cape Fear River. Though we’ve suffered through numerous mosquito bites, spider bites, and bites of unidentifiable origin, the weirdest thing rob has ever been bitten by is a fiddler crab. The biggest irony we ever encountered was the illegality of smoking at the Tobacco Road bar in Hell’s Kitchen (Incidentally, I ran into their open mic host in Charles Town, WV, two weeks ago and he told me they eventually had to close. Go figure.). The biggest coincidence was either running into the “Spider Drummer” from rob’s old band in Indiana, or the frightening fact that the worst car accident we ever witnessed in our travels happened Oct. 7, 2003, exactly 7 months before our own giant wreck May 7, 2004. 777. Shiver. I’m currently rethinking the choice of 7 as my lucky number.
The smallest place we’ve ever been would probably be Paxton, NE, population about 600, which does not keep it from producing the best steak sandwich I’ve ever had (and I had four of those). The biggest misunderstanding was the time I thought a packaged wet nap on the floor of Shane’s Drexel University dorm was a condom. The scariest-but-exciting thing we’ve ever gotten to do was to tour the bowels of Omaha’s Magic Theatre by flashlight. The best clouds were in Colorado, along with the most amazing sunrise. The biggest array of furry creatures was the dog park in Providence, RI. The most famous person we ever met or stayed with was likely my good old friend from college, Jayson Blair. The most content person we met would either be the art teacher-luthier, Greg Decoteau, in Londonderry, NH, or the minister-minstrel, Kyle Knapp, in Omaha, NE. The only extrapolating I will do there is that maybe you need to have a hyphenated life to be truly content.
I’m fairly proud that the only things we’ve lost have been one ebow (which I thank Tyler for replacing), one quarter inch cable, about 15 pounds, two gas caps and a sweater. The thing I most frequently forget to pack is a towel, but other than that I’ve gotten pretty good, really.
The place I love the most and will live when I run off somewhere to settle down? Don’t even get me started on the list.
At 24,359 miles traveled, we have just completed our second trip around the world, after a fashion. And at this rate, rob says, it will take us 15 years to get to the Moon.
PLOJ XXX was a success much greater than 29. Good musicians, really very good food. It ended a bit early, but no complaints there, as I truly was ready for a night OFF. We got started right at 6.30 (people were on time!!?) but ended pretty early.
By 11pm, it was pretty much me, Sharif, Brennan and Alex Colvin. It sort of stuck that way for a couple of hours, but I finally retired at around 1.30am, but I heard Alex through the floor till around 3.
Highlights of PLOJ XXX? Well, in keeping with the triple-X theme, some how there were three strings broken, and they were ALL G-strings. Heather and I showed off our new Firedean knowledge by playing “Tell the Truth”. I think we played it at about double speed, and there was a lot of “hrm hrm hrm”s where we couldn’t remember the words. Rowan and Sharif doing “Count the Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the Wardrums”, the amazing dumplings that I didn’t get any of (but heard SO much about), Mara’s chocolate chip cake… it was an awesome night.
All in all, I’m back and forth on whether or not I’m a huge fan of continuing PLOJ at College Perk. It was the first PLOJ with school in session, and I felt the massive pressure of having some forty people in the coffee house that really didn’t give a fuck that music was occuring, and perhaps even really wanted to know why it was going on and when it will stop. We caught a couple of people, but I think that generally the PLOJ is a little unstructured for your random passerby.
I’m staying with Rowan tonight, perhaps in danger of giving meat to all those rumours. I’m glad I’m here. He’s off with his lady but will come back in time to do some hanging out before it’s time for unconsciousness. Well… officially time… it was time to be unconscious hours ago, but I persevere for the sake of cartoons and silliness.
I really miss Living with Rowan – and one of the biggest reasons was that we discovered the absurdity that is Adult Swim together – and it’s somehow just not the same, watching it with out his huge laughs or his “ohhhoho”s of horror.
In any case, I’m just barely staying awake, no matter how eager.
It’s been a long couple of days. And the kitchen has just been the start of it. I’ve been doing a lot of painting of kitchen ceilings and walls. I’ve been avoiding flooring. I’ve done a lot of hauling of kitchen parts into and out of my Mom’s house. And I feel bad, because I’ve made my escape, but my uncle is still hanging in there.
Yesterday was the infamous College Perk 8.13 Festival. It’s a long story about the name . It doesn’t actually involve my hamster. That was a lie. Let’s just say that 8.13 is a number of great significance, and has been for a long, long time. Vast occult significance it has. I fear though, that Brennan’s useage of it could make the gods angry and he might be struck with lankyness…. oh. Yeah, well, it’s MEANT to be FUNNY.
The 8.13 Festival was a marvel of musical collection. Brennan’s a genius when it comes to dragging cool people together, and it was stupid, stupid, dumb luck that the weather conspired against him so heavily. I just don’t think that any of us were going to win against a 105 degree heat index. The bands actually ended up starting indoors to avoid the heat, and then eventually moved outside when things got a little less oppressive.
I was in a weird mood, mostly from the heat. Just …. artistic… you know, ups and downs for no apparently reason. I fear I was a bit of an asshole here and there. If I could’ve fucked the air conditioner I would’ve, but even if it was putting out, I still wouldn’t have treated it well..
But the show was awesome. We didn’t let the heat stop us, and I feel like we put on a pretty damned good show.
Same thing went for today in Richmond. The heat was INSANE. Hell, at 8pm, driving to Rowan’s, the bank thermometers were STILL reading 98 degrees, and that’s just not RIGHT. I Love watching people preparing for a boring little acoustic set and then getting their asses handed to them by strings and drum.
It’s arrogance, but I’m beginning to think it’s earned. In any case, fatigue is setting in, so I think I’m going to stop babbling, post a picture or two, and take a nap so I’ll be fresh, so fresh for Rowan.
New Year’s Eve. Exciting and fun, and perhaps not cathartic but still pretty satisfying. A night of mood swings and battle like any other, maybe, and I came out of it okay, but unsure if it’s a signal that 2006 is any better than its predecessor.
It started off with a trip to the mall and feeling like a rock star. I had a mission, one that has not been satisfied. I finally got my camera back, and I’d sworn to the Gods of Sony that I would get a case to protect it. I went to the mall, strode mightily to where I thought the camera store was, strode mightily to the Information placard, got turned around (mightily) around one of the look-alike department stores, strode around in circles thinking “I can’t go to Suncoast till AFTER I finish my mission!” and then finally arrived at my destination. (Mightily?)
I got a case. There was much deliberation. I wanted something that wouldn’t come off my belt too easily, and would protect the camera without being too big. I eventually went with the one suggested by the guy behind the counter. The thing that hadn’t occurred to me is that I also wanted something that wouldn’t look too much like a “fanny pack” and in this I unthinkingly failed. I should’ve spent some time staring at Sharif’s loaded and stylishly adorned waist before shopping, and chosen something in leather with slimmer lines.
It’ll do for being an American in Mexico , but I think it’s just not Rock Star enough. Unfortunately, I’m rather hit or miss with my own personal style, often giving up once I see there’s nothing leather and adorned in flames. This is a failing.
So, task completed, I stop in at Suncoast to look for / at toys, and the guy behind the counter gives me a look of recognition and then does that thing which I Love… “Aren’t you… aren’t you the guitarist for ilyAIMY ?”
David had seen us the previous week at Java Mamma’s and Loved our music and unfortunately couldn’t make it down for New Year’s Eve, but really wanted to. He wanted to find me a cool toy in his shop (“it’s cool that you shop here!”) but he’d sold the last plush face-hugger earlier today, and that was really all I was interested in.
He said something that made my week. When I told him “thanks, you’ve totally made me feel like a rockstar today” he replied “you ARE a rockstar!”.
Feed my ego.
In any case, from there I dropped in on the knit shop, said goodbye to Mara, and headed South to 2006 and whatever it might hold.
Arriving at the gig 2 hours early isn’t so strange for me, and I had a good time sitting around and sitting with the equally prematurely-timed Tim (of Might Could). We sat around, set up, sat around, pushed some furniture around. A nice, relaxed set-up and sound check. I think that the night’s sound was some of the best the College Perk has ever had (if I do say so myself) – though perhaps also one of the louder nights they’ve ever had… I properly rob bed the acoustics.
The show went well – and almost without a hitch. I talked well (with one exception which wiped out any rockstar cool that was earlier acquired) and Heather talked well and we jammed well and Dan Zimmerman played bass with us for a tune or two. Might Could kicked us off in true Might Could style – i.e. with guitar work that stuns my fingers into show-offyness. Dan Zimmerman ‘s set was just beautiful – with Sharif backing him up on piano, his music is doubly powerful. He writes simply but intensely and he shoved some moodiness into me. When he plays I think too much.
We played with a ferocity that almost made up for our lack of Rowan. We missed him, but we were playing to a room of friends and it was just really, really good. DJ Killian pointed out that the room was mostly owned by us, and that we should ditch the original plan of having us quit at 11.30 or so and letting him play us into the New Year… instead… we played till we broke too many strings to continue and then I got to count us down.
At first I was really nervous being the MC, but I ended up having a really, really good time, and afterwards, when it occurred to me that I’d “dropped the ball” (in a good way) at the Perk, it actually made me feel pretty special. Like. REALLY special!
From there we had a couple of good hours. Hung out, flirted, smacked some people around. There were some good dresses and appreciative glances, shots of something that I never DID identify (sweet and with whipped cream on top though, I was okay with that), great music. A little too much back-slapping from people bigger than me in embraces too manly to be pleasant, and as the night progressed, maybe there were a couple of people drunker than I would’ve liked to see them.
However, Sharif falling asleep somewhere around 1.30am meant that Dan sat in on bass for much of our last set and we got to jam back and forth. I was sloppy but we play off each other really well, and had a fucking awesome time.
Dan’s second set was a lot of fun, and he got Heather and I got our groove on behind him, dancing up a storm.
Someone has a video, apparently.
Sigh – now if only the whole night could’ve been all about that.
First off – my moment of real embarrassment happened after I got close to one of the women I’d been teasing from the stage and realized that it wasn’t actually someone I knew. I went up to apologize because I had been teasing her a little more than I should’ve, and then was mortified when I realized that it really was NOT the person I thought it was. She bought a CD, but really sort of kept her distance for the rest of the night.
Second off, I KNOW I’ll hear about how my stance on alcohol is too strict and that I’m a terrible person, but I saw some people acting like first-class idiots and beyond last night. Nothing college-crazy – no-one lit themselves on fire or tried to navigate Route 1 with their underwear on their head. No fights broke out or anything, but some people were simply not their normal charming selves at all, and no matter how much you say “ohhh, I’m soooo drunk” – it doesn’t make it any cuter, nor make it any more fun for the people taking care of you.
Erf. I guess, last night I really, really saw a huge difference between people drinking and people getting drunk, and it wasn’t an atmosphere that really felt good at Perk. A lot of spilled drinks and puddles of beer. A lot of people muzzily apologizing to me and standing far, far too close.
Afterwards the Perk was a quiet place, with people sleeping in various darkened nooks and crannies. Sharif and Joanne curled together on one couch. I’m obviously not yet USED to having my camera back, because I didn’t take a photograph of the cutest damned couple I know… sigh…
And so I’m at my mom’s house now, having a little panic attack about flying out to San Diego tomorrow. We’ve packed, we’ve shopped for last-minute items (someone out there will someday get lucky enough to get to see my new AC/DC BOXERS!!!). We’ve copied all of our passports and VISA card numbers and drivers licenses and have multiple copies in our luggage and in this place and that. We’ve called to make sure I can carry my guitar on the plane, though I’m a little frustrated with that – one woman said “oh, it’ll be fine! Just make sure that guitar fits these dimensions” (which it did) and another woman said “oh no, you HAVE to check it” which is just about unacceptable. In the latter case, I’ll be glad to have a beater guitar, and I’ll avoid sitting near the baggage door, so I don’t have to watch it getting flung onto the conveyer.
I’m freaking out a bit about not being in control of my destiny for the next couple of weeks. I went to bed quite early, to get a nap before the flight this morning, and woke up disoriented (I thought it was like, 1 in the morning or so, 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off, but it turned out to be 8.58pm ) with cramping shoulders and spine and tensed legs. I felt heavy and frightened and terrified, and I’m realizing I’m actually getting pretty panicked about even getting on the plane… it’s absurd, I mean, I used to fly from Baltimore to LAX three or four times a year, no problem. Now I’m genuinely freaking out about it.
Sean and I on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t manage to get my New Year’s kiss, much to my lament, not that there weren’t a couple of offers… but… but not Sean… he’s nice and all… but… er… no. He reminds me of my brother!
Talked to my uncle about it a bit. He had no sympathy, but felt it necessary to point out that we’d be flying back on the 13th… which is a Friday. Sigh.
And perhaps that’s why this is a long, long entry. If it’s my last one, I figure it better be good.
By the nature of my profession and my schooling, the paths I creep are almost exclusively populated by other artists and musicians. It’s been that way for… Christ… 17 years… ever since I first stepped foot in an art school. These creatures are beautiful and individual, firey and fey and passionately, thoroughly alive… and used to being told about it.
I’m not saying we get sick of our compliments – it just means that sometimes we don’t believe them, especially from other artists and musicians. Somewhere along the line, a lot of that became far too political. It’s like a beautiful woman being told that she’s beautiful – can she take the compliment without feeling like there’s just a penis behind it?
I try to give compliments where they’re due. It’s easier with Heather in tow, because of course it’s less threatening (if you’re saying someone’s hot) and more convincing (when you’re telling someone they play great) perhaps because it’s always easier to take a compliment from a gorgeous woman…
In any case, this is about Loving other artists. I remember first encountering it with Will Schaff, though it was sort of a different thing. I felt like my opinion didn’t really matter at first… and then suddenly, when he invited me into I Love You And I Miss You – the original project, it was this huge glow! I remember playing the open mic at the New Deal Cafe, and liking Richard McMullins’ music, but I don’t know that he ever took my admiration seriously, simply because you HAVE to suck up to the guy who books the venue, right? And I WAS dating his daughter… soooo…
Let’s not even discuss trying to compliment Steve Key. Brushed off with a disbelieving glance cause you HAVE to suck up to the host of the Jammin Java open mic, right?
In any case, a friend of mine in Illinois was on the receiving end of a new song recently, and she sent me a glowing email about how she Loved being allowed into this kitchen recording session – she writes “Thank you, rob, for letting me hang in the kitchen with you today and hear you practice the new song….you have no idea, really, do you?”
I do have an idea, and it’s one of the things that I think is a shame about most of my fellow performers. They’ve lost that sense of wonder – and sometimes I’m afraid that I’m losing it too…
I’m one of the few “fanboys” left in my profession, I think. And as such, I think it’s sometimes hard for Brian Gundersdorf, or Steve Key, or Zoe Mulford, or whoever else, to take it seriously that I’m standing there thinking that they’re the best thing since really, really good sliced bread.
I ran across Zoe at the College Perk on my birthday, and she played me a tune off her new CD – something about keeping angels from the storm that was just stunning. A beautiful song, and the giddiness that came from being exposed to this sneak preview is hard to express.
In any case, Susan, I really DO get it. I really DO have some idea, because I sit in awe of my friends and peers, and I still can’t believe that they invite me into their confidences. Sitting in the studio with Audrey and listening to the perfect crystallizations of old, old songs – I’m in Love with the things these people do. And I send things to the people that I think can appreciate this sort of thing on the same level. The glow of a person in the presence of our product – that means more than any tip or good press or slurred bar room compliment. It’s close to the most important thing of all.
Coffeehouses are such funny things. It’s the 15th by virtue of being after midnight, and Valentine’s Day has died for those of us who don’t have anything to do with a partner. For those couples out there, their efforts will no doubt prolong the Hallmark Holiday to dawn and beyond. For me, it’s just the dying reminder of a snow day, leaving ice and skid marks.
At the College Perk we’re pushing through the night with anyone declaring “this is a song for Valentine’s Day” getting a little bit of audience angst.
I’m constantly amazed by the talent of the people around me. Keegan is a man that I’ve known for a long, long time – and I really have no idea how he’s slipped past my attention for so long. His voice is strong and emotive and full of power. His writing is beautiful – thanks to Emilie for smacking me around the head with his lyrics. I’m getting to be a slacker when it comes to giving back what I crave.
And Dan Zimmerman? You’re new song is genius – “I’m sorry for your loss, I was going too fast”. I admire Dan’s writing so much, and I think he does a lot of what I want to do – maybe people don’t get the exact meaning, but the emotional content, the contact, the earnestness, comes through loud and clear.