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?
with the pot” – I returned to the Lloydholme exhausted, elated, and relieved. It doesn’t FEEL like July. It’s grey and the air conditioning lets us forget what kind of temperature might be lurking outdoors. Chelsea’s dad doesn’t sleep. I’m seeing morning for what feels like the first time in weeks. Months. And the grey weather is keeping my eyes from glistening with consciousness.
9.30am and Chuck and David are up and frolicking in their morningness – David’s making bacon, and Chuck is talking about amplifiers and guitars and African rhythms. I’m just not ready for it yet.
My thoughts are still whirling from that kiss. Damn you Jason. Damn you Slanga.
Says it all really. I don’t even remember why it happened. But Jason kissed me. He needs to quit smoking before he gets any more sugar from me.
Yesterday was a long day. The yardsale, making food, preparing for the night. I had my first art opening in four years. It was an incredible night.
The opening itself, at the 1448 Gallery, was a great success. Michael Vain and Kali were just – immensely wonderful to invite me to show with them, and then to have the opportunity to play as well… Audrey and I once had a show like that, at a Borders Books. Her watercolours covered half the space, and my scary scritch art covered the other half, and then we played a show at the end of the month, with her in front of her work, and me in front of mine. I remember it being a Lovely night. I did something similar in a gatehouse show back in the Commons at MICA, and then again at the Moon Cafe in Annapolis, but eventually the shows petered out because I was having too much work stolen.
So now I’m reinvigourated. The show went so well – not many familiar faces, but a decently filled room – and the faces that WERE familiar were old favourites. It was strange to think that Kali and Terri and Michael have known me from the Beginning. Back when I ONLY played shows at the Rabbit and the New Deal Cafe, they came to each of those shows, and encouraged me with accolades and cake. It’s strange to think that it’s been so long, back from the Audrey era.
It was good to see Michael, usually so serious and unapproachable, really getting into Will – rocking out in the back of the room. It’s one thing when one can move the audience, but when one can move the artists around you – and KEEP moving them years after their first exposure – that made me feel really powerful. Like I was accomplishing something GREAT.
Terri watched from the back, like she always does. She’s an unobtrusive willowy creature of eye-contact and hair. My parents are the opposite – smack-dab in the middle of the room, my mother mouthing the words. Yeah, a room full of People from the Beginning. It felt like some sort of anniversary, or a birthday, or … I don’t know. Very much a celebration of accomplishment.
It was almost like a big thank you show to the people who’d REALLY supported me over the years. Longer than almost anyone else, with the exception of Amy. The room felt incomplete until I noticed that my portrait of Amy had been set unobtrusively against the wall, facing the stage. The beautiful Raven Jen even appeared from my past and wandered in near the end of the night.
A very good night.
And then we had to race to PLOJ.
I don’t think I’ve ever been very late to PLOJ before. I usually aim to get there by 4, and I’ve frequently been later than THAT – but I don’t think I’ve ever arrived AFTER things had gotten started. Until last night.
It was bizarre walking into things Already In Progress. It was hard having to greet everyone all at the same time, rather than getting my greet on one by one as people straggle in. All in all, I’d say it was probably (as much as I hate to say it) my least favourite PLOJ. Very formless, meandering, drum heavy… and a pathetic spread. Almost no food at ALL! Thank God my tabouli rocked as hard as it always does. Thank God Dan’s chili was as scrumptious as it was… thank Richard and Kelly for THEIR chili. And of course, Mara’s chocolate chip cake. I guess, really when it comes down to it… that made everything okay.
With PLOJ XXIX ending at 2.30am or so, returning to the Lloydholme with the Kerwaths in tow (Chelsea and Beau and Chelsea’s WHOLE family!!) and being awakened by David making breakfast at 9am (no complaints mind you, some of the finest bacon I’ve ever had… but 9.30 am isn’t REALLY a time to me anymore) – today’s band practice was a threat on my personal horizon. I was eager for it, but going INTO practice exhausted isn’t a good start.
Because of random circumstances, Heather and I actually end up arriving at Sharif’s house for practice separately. I navigate my car into his little Bowie neighbourhood, pick my parking space with care, and avoid a tiny obstacle.
A tiny, grey, furry obstacle. Rumpled fur and a trail of viscera that stretches almost to the curb – there’s very little in the world that’s as sad as a roadkill kitten, and I was thankful that I’d gotten there ahead of Heather. I knew it would break her heart to see the tiny body, and I didn’t know WHAT to do. It was right in front of the house, and there was no way she was going to miss it when she arrived – Sharif didn’t have a shovel or anything, and I’m not of SUCH a strong constitution that I’m able to pick up a dead kitten and throw it in the trash, or even a bush.
I’m not sure if I did the right thing. When the neighbours weren’t looking I stole a big empty pot from the yard and overturned it over the kitten in the middle of the street. It’s not the right thing, really – but it meant that Heather wouldn’t see it, and no-one else was going to smear it further along the street.
The pot wasn’t QUITE large enough, and the emotions that roiled through me when I felt the giving squish as I set it down on the kitten’s tail are indescribable and unpleasant.
Band practice itself was fantastic. A great day spent with friends, jamming on music that you Love. That’s the way band practice is SUPPOSED to be, and I don’t think it’s BEEN that way for a long time. It’s made me all the more eager for Tuesday’s Funk Box show. I was fearful everytime that Heather stepped outside – I was afraid she’d move the pot, but I didn’t want to tell her, and I couldn’t just say “don’t mess with the pot” – I returned to the Lloydholme exhausted, elated, and relieved.
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.
Hell, it’s been Christmas. What a funny sentance that is.
Many adventures. Most of Christmas/Hannukah was spent with Heather’s family, extended and otherwise (sorry Mara, you’re Otherwise – though that would be kind of cool codename for you…. cause it also works as a threat… “You do what I say… Otherwise” – and then you come into the room and go all David on their ass… so maybe just David should be Otherwise… hrm… I’m going to get in trouble over this sentiment anywho). I met some fish and babies.
I forgot to drop my parents at the airport, but I did remember to pick them up, so that’s ok. There was cat-catching drama, and there were nights of mirth with Firedean. I got the Extended Lord of the Rings DVD trilogy for Christmas and am looking forward to spending about fifty hours straight watching ALL of it. I’ve watched a LOT of Friends. Tried to watch a lot of James Bond, but his mystique just isn’t what it was, and listened to the soundtrack instead.
We had an awesome Magic: the Gathering night last Thursday. Richard came over and made INCREDIBLE chicken parmesan – savoury, lucious, moist, dripping, curving, cunningly Lovely…. sinful… // ahem, and we combined that with the typically poor gamer fare of chips and salsa and chips and dips and chips and cheese and a bit of hummus. I won perhaps more than I lost, I think. But a couple of the losses were truly painful. I feel that I handed out more ass than I recieved, but it was a rough night, and I was sore by the time we went our separate ways.
It was a good burn. So good.
So, rather abruptly, this brings us to New Year’s Eve: Gwen threw a cocktail party, and Heather and I got all dressed up, shockingly clean and stunningly pretty, and took our finery out on the the town. Charm City stepped aside to admire our passage.
It was kind of fun to dress up, come downstairs, tell Mara to close her eyes – let her open them and, with Heather on my arm, use my Suave (pronounced “Swayvay”) voice to say “Yes, we’re ilyAIMY”. Gwen’s party was home to cool little presents, scorpions, a very odd gift exchange that began with an intense battle over “the Breakfast Club” and apparently ended with Heather recieving naked pictures of famous people. LJ made some announcements, but so as to not steal her thunder, I’ll not mention them here…
And speaking of LJ – the first word of 2005 was “Fuck” and this immediately proceeded the launch of a champagne cork into the television, a ricochet, and ultimately a VERY nice catch by Brennan. I was impressed by his seemingly inhuman reflexes. I now believe he MIGHT be a mandroid. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve suspected this.
And that leads us less abruptly to What I Did Last Night…
PLOJ XXXI – as always, I was freaking out pre-PLOJ. I am paranoid, and get really depressed, and my usual fear is that like… 20 new people will show up over the course of the night, but really spread out, and that NO REGULARS show up so that there’s nothing for the new people to see. I always have these nightmarish visions of empty rooms and disappointed, perhaps even disgusted faces.
PLOJ XXXI was the 6th Year Anniversary of our Pot Luck Open Jams, and it goes down in PLOJ history as one of the best.
It was a rough start. I think Brennan and I have a slight disconnect on start time. I tell people that it starts at 6.30 or so – and Brennan tells people that things get rolling a little later. Now – Brennan’s theory is obviously that people shouldn’t be invited to get there until things are actually happening. My theory is that we’re inviting musicians, and that musicians are always late. Often REALLY late, and so I’ve brought my usual method of dealing with lateness to PLOJ and tell every one that it starts about two hours before I actually expect them.
And often, in fits of honesty, I ALSO mention that “things don’t actually get rolling till nine”.
Ah, foolish, foolish rob.
This, of course, leads to a lot of lead time where me and a couple of other friends are sitting around, wondering if ANYONE is going to come. I mean, that gave me extra time to and help Tori with the cookies, and to sit outside and think about the error of my ways, and to flirt with people I didn’t know, but all in all – I stress myself over PLOJ far too much. And invariably, people show up, have a great time, and prove my fears foolish.
The night began with only a couple of musicians – Brennan and I and Tim and Rowan. I consider “critical mass” (start-point of PLOJ) to be when you’ve got four singer/songwriters there to go around. And Tim, though a consummate musician, isn’t really a solo performer, so I was REALLY nervous about starting, but … it was like 8pm or so, and something HAD to happen. And so I kicked off the night with “Rob’s Lament”, figuring there was no better way to start the night with a song about a car wreck that could turn into a train wreck since I didn’t know it very well. Slowly, things fired up – and PLOJ XXXI slowly grew into one of the best, and one of the most unique PLOJes ever, methinks.
The last couple of Pot Lucks have been ending by 1am, and I’ve sort of missed the real late-night Pot Lucks that just go on forever. It’s one of the things I truly miss about Living in Edgewater and having the PLOJs out there – not having to go home. Just playing until you’re exhausted and not giving a FUCK about what time it is. Last night was like that. And sure enough, I was shocked to look at the clock and see that it was 2.30am. It felt like 11 or something – and we went well past 3.
By the time we actually quit, I was exhausted, Brennan was sort of like the walking dead, and Heather just sort of collapsed.
The next morning (and by morning I mean noon) Tim popped by – he and Dave Smith had been absolute bad-asses the night before – Tim played on EVERYTHING, swapping between his Guild and the various basses that were floating around. I just stand amazed, watching him play. Somewhere he just exploded into being a guitar virtuoso – I guess he just hears the music in his head, and knows exactly how to put what’s in his head down on the fretboard. I could take lessons from him and be kind of blissfully happy – if I could keep up. Dave Smith was busy being pretty amazing too.
PLOJ XXXII went down last night. It was awesome. Sort of a Start of Spring Music Thing – there was an incredible energy there that hasn’t been around for a long time. A lot of people showed up that I hadn’t seen in a while, and …. well, also it was the first PLOJ in a long time – fucking fantastic night. Actually started a little earlier than usual, with people showing up and starting up at around 7, and we stayed up and playing later than usual. I went upstairs to bed at around 4am.
ilyAIMY at Puresound Studio in Odenton, MD. I’m not going to put much about that in here as that will be part of the new Studio Journal. Ignore the fact that Rowan is reorganizing Magic cards. He’s not a geek. Any other Magic players out there?
The time is slipping swiftly, and inevitably, as the days pass by, more and more of you complain about the lack of Journal entries. The ilyAIMY Journal seems to be a popular item to do for the Bored-At-Work crowd, and this… this I understand. Afterall, I would become truly frustrated with web comics that petered off – Sinfest? You know who you are. You got less funny. And I got tired. Sexy Losers? Oh your perversity has always been grand – to the point that I was somewhat afraid of viewing you at work… but then updates were only once a month, and then rarer and rarer – and eventually I stopped checking. Maybe I’ll check today.
In any case – let me upDate you, dear reader…
now, again – a lot of what’s been going on in my world has been family-oriented. I can’t really go on about it here. Those of you who know, already know, and for those of you who don’t, let’s just say me and my family are grateful for any positive energy you choose to send us. In any case, because I tend to just type whatever’s on my mind, and my family has been occupying my brain to my brainhilt recently, that’s why I’ve been bad about writing.
Last Saturday was PLOJ XXXII. That means the next one gets to be three x’s and three I’s, and that’s appealing to me. Numbers have a lot of power in my head, and I’m always a bit overjoyed when they add up just right. The beauty of rounded figures in Life and arithmitic is something programmed into me at a visceral level. It explains a lot, really.
PLOJ XXXII was one of the best, I think. I’m afraid I might say that about ever PLOJ, but this one especially just fit my head well. There’s a wonder to things that happen at just the right time. This PLOJ brought together a lot of old friends, and a lot of people that I hadn’t seen in a long time – I was overjoyed to have a night so full of flirtation and music. It could have been perfected by old-school presences like Syl and Audrey and maybe even Little Michael, but it wasn’t destined to be.
In the process of setting up the Exclusive ilyANGEL stuff, I’ve been sorting through old, old recordings. Things made in dorm rooms, and even recordings made from the first rwo Pot Lucks. I worry about the NSA as I’ve been playing SOME of these songs for a long, long, looong time.
In any case, I’m truly amazed that Chuck (Chelsea’s Dad) came all the way up from Richmond. He’s made us a regular stop now – he doesn’t miss the PLOJes, and I think that that’s awesome. JR even stopped in – he’s visiting breifly, back from Sedona. Arizona has really agreed with him. He’s vibrant and frenetic and his fingers (if possible) are even FASTER. We played an awesome, jaw-dropping version of LooseN.
In any case, the PLOJ went on till around 3am, and then we hung out (actual friends!!! ACTUALLY hanging out!! – when did I get so old that things like THAT didn’t happen anymore?!!?). (that’s the wrong question, as I think it’s now that most of my friends have day jobs, and THEY can’t do it anymore…). It was a good feeling, collapsing on couches and wishing the mess away.
In the far, dim, back of some of these pictures you can see Rachel. Oh Rachel of the fanciful dreadlocked hair… we met her in a bar in Fell’s Point, I think. She was there to see another band, and worked at a Starbucks. Now she tours the country further than we do, supporting another acoustic act. She Lives at a farm and radiates freedom and carefree – beyond that that I can even aspire too. I just get too uptight.
And yet she’s melancholy, sometimes. She watches from the back. Always so quiet. She’s a Lovely presence, and falls into the category of People That I Never Expect to See.
PLOJ XXXIII was a success, though – as always – very different from what I expected. We had gotten a huge article in the Washington Times which I had semi-hoped would result in a lot of new faces.
I did then get a bunch of emails about the article, but I don’t think any of those emails translated into exciting new, warm bodies.
But that’s all separate from the actual PLOJ. We DID have exciting new warm bodies – they just came from where they were SUPPOSED to come from – i.e. slowly spreading word of mouth!
It was the first PLOJ in forever that I actually taped – Brennan set up some mics and we just let the recorder run all night. I’m going through the recordings now. A lot of good stuff.
In any case, despite the new faces, kind of a small PLOJ, which was fine – a little more intimate. The only really negative side was that we had lots of PLAYERS but few writers, which means there was a lot more dead space, trying to sort of figure what was going to happen next, than usual.
We ended pretty early, tired and sleepy and a little moody, depressed, I cleared out of there by about 2 in the morning and went back to my mom’s house to collapse and slow
ly totally fail to actually fall asleep.
Jason and Heather dancing to “the Stray Cat Strut” at the College Perk at PLOJ XXXIII.
The last couple of days have been Lovely, but very full. I’ve been falling asleep at around 7am this past week, and then Saturday morning I had to wake up at 7.45am to go to a meeting for the Emergenza festivals. Saturday was also PLOJ so I knew I was going to be up late, late, late… after PLOJ I even went over to a friends’ house and hung out till dawn.
I’m very, very tired.
It’s Heather’s birthday weekend and so we’re also eating. A lot. Of everything. And it was PLOJ. And Joylene likes to make sure people are fed. Oh God.
Friday night, Heather and I played with Dan Layman-Kennedy back at the Cup in Bel Air, MD. We played hard and fast and won over a lot of people. A woman remarked that I reminded her of Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars III. I’m not sure if I’m flattered by that or not (Episode I? Hell yeah!) but at least I’m not the cone-headed one or small and green.
Her response? When I start introducing music with “Play you this song I will” THEN I’ll be in trouble.
After the show I went over to Chris and Joylene’s to expose them to the Chicken. The Robot Chicken. Thank GOD they wore out after about 6 episodes. After that I find that my attention span becomes eroded for the next couple of days. As it was, Chris and I still sat around singing the theme song, voices dropping with fatigue.
The next day, this Emergenza thing, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.
On the one hand, I like the ideas behind it – Indie, I like how organized it is. On the other hand, I really hate all these competitions, and this is a little closer to a Battle of the Bands than any of these competitive folk festivals we’ve done over the course of this year.
I don’t have high hopes of getting anywhere in it, but it could be really really cool – and even if we only get through the first stage, well, it’d be a huge coup to play some of these venues that perhaps we couldn’t get into on our own. Of course, then my own internal competitive side speaks up – the vicious side – that knows that if we DON’T make it through the first round I’ll internally compare us (unfavourably) to the accomplishments of the Dreamscapes Project. I hate it when I do that. I worry that somewhere in my subconscious, my brain is plotting harm to my friends’ bands.
Saturday night was PLOJ XXXIV. Ugh. We ended at around 1 in the morning, which is really, really early to end the PLOJ – there simply wasn’t any enthusiasm left. I’m beginning to think of moving the whole thing some place else, at least during the school year – I miss having the Pot Lucks at a private home, but simply have no friends that have a large enough space.
We just didn’t have the numbers of songwriters this time around to hit that critical mass where the jams shift and form and drop and there’s a lot of real variety. The last couple of PLOJes have been mostly glorified mass sing-alongs, more appropriate to camp fires than to what PLOJ has always been. That aspect is welcome, but when it becomes the focus… and the older writers I think just don’t appreciate the atmosphere of Perk.
I don’t know if that’s really true, but I’ve had a couple of people remark that they don’t plan to come to another PLOJ as long as it’s held there… but I don’t really know where to turn just yet…