Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Eric Tessmer Band gig last night at Maggie Mae's was really good. Had a bigger crowd than all of our other MM shows put together! Not that the people were actually watching us tho... But we felt on fire and sounded/felt great. Fairly profitable night as well so that's cool too. Were able to wheel our gear down to Friends for our NYE show tonight. Bonus!

But shit shit shit. One of my brand new Eden speakers is sounding farty. And I believe the culprit is my 600w amp driving a 300w cabinet...! Damn. I play a little quieter with the Truckers so that was never an issue last year, but I've been cranking it up with Tessmer. Hence damaging my speakers. Trying to the the SVT-II fixed so I can gig with it, it is only 300w. But the world is an imperfect place.

Speaking of which, went to drop off the aforementioned stricken amp but Austin Vintage Guitars is closed til Monday. Damn! Went to Guitar Center to return the wireless and spent about an hour and a half there. Certainly worse places to wait. Tried out the new Ampeg SVT mini-stack. Sounded pretty mean! Checking the computer they had another Line6 X2 in stock but no idea where it was ("probably in the back next to the Ark of the Covenant" I joked to Chadd Thomas). South location had none in stock. Let's order it online, damn price is higher on unit and warranty. Guitar Center can't match online price. So they called Houston location and ordered one from there. Then Chadd had to recheck cause they wrote down the microphone unit and not the instrument one. Glad they caught that. But they will send it straight to my address so that is awesome, just not sure when.

This week's Bonehead Move: Got home and set the SVT-II outside the garage door to keep it there til monday rather than my van. Then let the dogs out, ate and took a nap. Leaving the house to load in at Maggies I found the SVT-II still sitting outside after almost 2 hours. DAMN. Did the exact thing I tried to remind myself NOT to do. But at least it wasn't raining and I feel very good about our neighborhood. It was sitting in plain sight the whole time since my roomate's car wasn't in the driveway. I guess the Gods of Rock want me to keep the damn thing.

So now I again need to look into my bass amp situation. I can't keep blowing speakers. And I can't put the still-good original Ampeg speaker back in, as it and the Edens are different Ohms. So I will need to:

1. Gig full time with my 70's SVT (best tone, but I want to save some wear and tear)
2. Gig full time with existing rig and keep blowing speakers
3. Buy either a new amp or a new cabinet (ouch $$$)
4. Pray long and hard to the Gods of Rock that the SVT-II comes back into service.

#4 is the optimal option, as the SVT-II sounds mean but is worth less than the 70's SVT so I won't feel bad about the heavy wear and tear. But it has crapped on me entirely too many times, and one more strike and it's out.

Anyway, 2009 has been a fucking interesting year to say the least. So many ups and downs to put it mildly. 2008 was one of the best years of my life, got to quit a full time job with benefits to tour full time with The Mother Truckers.

2009 had me looking for jobs and not finding anything, which is more soul crushing than the worst string of shows. Had 2 well-paying band situations slip through my fingers one after the other. Then had the King's X guitar tech gig literally fall into my lap. Got to ride around on a tour bus all summer with a band I totally dug in high school. Came home and realized my marriage wasn't working any more. Moved out and tentatively started a new life. Had playing full time with the Eric Tessmer Band happen which is keeping me afloat financially while playing in an amazing and worthwhile project. Recorded what will hopefully be a great record with them. Broke a straplock button onstage at Antone's during a Truckers show in front of Dug Pinnick. Has that ever happened, ever? It has been a crazy year.

Hopefully tonight won't get too crazy downtown. It is a full moon, and lunar eclipse tonight. Should be interesting.

Best wishes for the New Year, those of you following this!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bout to run a bunch of errands, will keep it brief.

Christmas was really good, spent some good quality time with my parents and sister. They love Nacho and Nacho loooves my dad. Came back home and bought myself a wireless system, a Line6 X2. It didn't work properly right out of the box so I am taking it back today. Sucks.

Monday night Eric Tessmer Band had a great crowd at Friends. Loading onstage I couldn't help but think how we must look like ants. Bustling about with blankfaced efficiency, never bumping into each other without even looking at each other. Getting ready for just another day at the office rather than about to play a show. Got set up and realized I haven't touched a bass since recording last week Tuesday. A whole week without playing or practice. This oughtta be interesting... But thank the Gods of Rock for muscle memory, forearms got a little tired in certain spots but played like I hadn't missed a day. That was cool. During set break a street artist drew my portrait, rather bang up job. Gave him $10 for it.

Tuesday went back to Ben Blank's studio to do backup and lead vocals. Was worried about my vocal parts because I've always felt singing was my weak point. Have sang lead in the past for Southern Gun Culture and did 2-part harmonies, but was never pleased with anything I put to tape. Kind of gave up on singing for a long time until recently doing the Sahm Cover Sahm set I started singing backup harmonies with Shandon. And holy shit, I can sing! That was cool.

But I still didn't feel confident on the Tessmer stuff, even tho I really had parts on one song. But surprisingly banged them out in no time. My first take felt suspect to me, but in the control room everyone said it sounded great. Awesome! Even Michael with his dog ears trained for pitch said my pitch was spot on and my vibratto was good and right where it needed to be. Sweet! Can't wait to hear it now.

But about to run. Need to take back useless wireless system, drop off my stricken SVT-II again (one more fail and I am putting that thing out to pasture), and do a bunch of other shit and make some calls but nothing business related. Eric Tessmer Band tonight at Maggie Mae's. Hope some people show up for once...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Whoops, time warp.

Have to keep it brief, trying to be on the road in an hour or so to head down to Corpus Christi for Christmas with the family.

Had a great recording session yesterday to lay down bass tracks for Tessmer's forthcoming CD 'Green Diamond'. Got in there at 11am, tracking by 11:30, driving away by 4:45. Ben was great and I've never been happier with my bass tone on a studio session. Later met Amber and Trent at Continental Club to see Alejandro Escovedo, my first time. Great show.

Saturday went to Looney's birthday @ Headhunters. Saw a lot of old friends and saw some great bands: Super Heavy Goat Ass (their last show as, some other band bought the name and paid handsomely), Oklahomos (Looney's band), Blood Royale (JT Drunk Witch's metal band), Butcherwhite (old friends) and who know's who else. Will post pics when I make the time. Saturday was a long day due to life shit, but will spare the details other than it ended better than it began.

Thursday @ Friends was slow but interesting. While doing the crowd walk some guy talked some shit about Tessmer's guitar playing. So Eric said "OK, show me what you can do" and handed him over his '59 Strat. The guy was a decent player but no match for Tessmer. Walked out to watch, shrugged and handed Eric my bass. Then got the Strat from shit-talker and threw down myself. Fucking key of Bb. Well shit, playing between the dots confuses me so I sucked. Ah well.

Can't thing of anything else interesting that happened, and have to go anyway.

Merry Christmas, O loyal readers!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home, 12:28pm

Last night is another of those many instances where I am kicking myself in the ass for not bringing my camera.

Was working Jumbotron cam for a UT basketball game when got a last-minute call from Tessmer about a private event that night. Was trying to wrangle a $1000 guarantee, which we got so we did it. Got home from the Erwin Center with enough time to change and tend to the dogs before Tessmer picked me up in the Saturn en route to Jonestown then the gig in Lago Vista. Not many details, something about it's a Christmas party and on an airport. Maybe in a hangar.

Fog turned into pea soup as we left Eric & Richard's place for the short drive to Lago Vista. Took a wrong turn as per the damn GPS thing and were suddenly on a windy/hilly backroad with fog so thick Tessmer is sticking his head out the window to see. Finally end up where we are going, and yes it is the airport. Sure enough we see a hangar with a buncha cars parked like their's a party. Meet the guy, I think his name is Carl, who takes us thru the house real quick (wow, he LIVES at the airport) which is connected to a sizeable aircraft hangar where we will be playing.

And holy shit. Here's where the kicking-self-in-the-ass thing comes in to play. The centerpiece is a Vietnam era twin engine turbo prop/jet hybrid, designed for surface attacks as later explained to us. Parked behind it is this BADASS black experimental British jet, with wings and cockpit like an F-5 but this weird split tail. Unlike anything I had ever seen. And it was wet, meaning he either just washed it or had taken it for a spin earlier. I am thinking the latter. Also inside were an Army jeep, various jet parts and stripped down fuselages, wings and tail parts stacked against various walls, and a sailboat. Suspended above our heads in the corner we would be playing was a stripped Cessna fuselage. Just, wow. Took some phone pics which I will no doubt post!

The sound wasn't too bad for a big fuckin hangar, heh! Gig was fun, everyone was very nice and the people who dug the music were totally into it. Also free food and free booze. That and being paid $250 to potentially be crushed by a Cessna body mid-song. Living the dream!!! Also nice to have a well-paying gig like that fall in our laps. 6th Street has been very slow and I've been struggling to keep my head above the water financially. This will be a nice chunk of change to pad my acct with.

But I had to miss JB the Mother Truckers super-fan's party last night to do the show. I needed the money so did what I had to do, but made sure to call him and tell him I wouldn't be making it. Called Josh as well since I wouldn't be seeing any of the Truckers family for awhile. He wanted to get together soon and discuss a vague game plan for next year before they go to NorCal for Xmas and to Cambodia for vacation in January. Bring it on, sounds like they want to do another album. Which is great because the new tunes are really good and the last one got some great press and reviews.

What else... Friends on Friday was alright. Picking up but nothing to write home about. But must mention that I was planning on taking it easy that night, but I wasn't even finished with my first beer and drank 1 Jager shot, had 2 more sitting on top my amp and another beer. This was the first song in. And that pattern continued. Needless to say, I got a little tipsy by the end of the night. Call me old fashioned, but turning down free drinks isn't good manners, heh!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Home. 10:52am

Took another mental health day yesterday, was my first day off since last week.

The Kevin McKinney thing at Antone's on Sunday was a blast. It was his 40th Birthday party and a benfit jam. Topaz & Mudphonic were there (they opened for the Truckers few Sat's back), great band. Their drummer got up to sing "Warpigs" and kicked it's ass! Didn't realize that guy could sing, let alone pull off a convincing Ozzy. As for Shandon's band, it was him, me and Gary (drums). I brought a guitar and bass, just in case. Wound up doing three Sir Doug songs with Kevin. Started with "Mendocino" w/Kevin on guitar, and me trying to figure out the bassline on the fly, heh.

Then him and I switched for "You Never Get Too Big" and "She's About a Mover." Kevin had a strobe tuner which confused me (luckily the 79 Iceman was in tune right out of the case, even with new string... LOVE that guitar!) and blackface Fender Super Reverb which hitting a E chord made all my hair stand up. WOW. This amp sounded utterly amazing! Made my job that much easier, heh. Man it felt great to play guitar again. Haven't played guitar live since Ironclad's last show about 3 months ago, and barely have time to touch the thing at home. Earlier that day I made sure that day to refresh as much of the music as I could, and tried to write some cool new solo parts. But it made me think of a cool Charlie Parker quote I'd read earlier that day:

"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail."

No shit. Got up their and just let it rip. Having an amp that good made my job that much easier, didn't have to wrestle with dynamics or pick attack. Whatever I told the guitar to do, the amp responded exactly the way I wanted. Improvised a lot of the solo parts and pulled it off, even playing new licks I've never played before and wasn't sure where they came from, but there they were! Awesome. Now that Shandon is off tour with the Meat Puppets (he became their official new/old drummer few months back, so good for him!) we'll be doing more shows. Will just have to work around Tessmer's schedule.

That and I need to call the Ironclad guys about doing some shows as well. We already have an offer from Deanna and Vixen Productions about doing a SXSW Tuesday kickoff party at Headhunters. Those are always a blast. The Mother Truckers have already been selected for a SXSW showcase as well. But I think Tessmer wants to be on the road for SXSW and out making money rather than playing for free. Which I totally see the reasoning behind. The one year Southern Gun Culture got the eff out of dodge for SXSW2003 we played some of the biggest shows we'd ever played due to all the band traffic coming to and from Austin, and didn't have to deal with parking the whole time.

Monday night at Friends was at least interesting. The band that always plays before us (damn, cant recall the name -- Casey on vox, JT something on guitar, Spanky on bass) had AJ from Thunderosa filling in on drums. Awesome! That guy is one hell of a drummer, one of the first people I called when Ironclad needed a new one. That and he plays with my bro Mike from Tucson on the rare instance his band Love Mound comes through town. Brought that CD with me on the WI Thanksgiving trip and everyone dug it.

Standing outside with Michael, some slightly homeless looking hippie walked right up unannounced and said: "Have you ever watched it snow when you're really really stoned?!?" Wow. That is one of the greatest lines I've ever heard from a homeless person. Me and Michael exchanged knowing looks, tried not to laugh, and let him continue. Talked about being at his apartment watching TV when the snow fell the other day. Then he asked us for 75 cents. Nice.

Our set went well, decent crowd and no bass amp issues (using TB-600). Bout 3 songs in some guy walks up to front of stage on Tessmer's side and started to juggle. And he knew how. It was amusing for about 3 seconds then I started getting pissed off by it. He is distracting us, he is distracting the crowd. WTF?!? I wouldn't go and start playing guitar in front of him while he was juggling for people on the street. Was about to jump offstage and tell him to take that shit to Esther's Follies but the door guy came to escort him out. He almost made a scene. Rest of the set went smooth, had people dancing so all good.

Playing Maggie Mae's tonight and Friends again on Thursday and Friday. Hope it starts picking up, been real slow and haven't been making much. That needs to change!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Home, 2:15pm

Bout to play some guitar and bass to prep for tonight at Antone's. Kevin McKinney from Soulhat is having his birthday party tonight, and Gary (drums) and I will be joining Shandon onstage for a jam on some Sir Doug tunes. Kevin McKinney will also be jamming, as will the guy from Fastball and some others. Should be awesome! Not sure who will be playing what, there will be a little pre-set pow-wow to figure it all out. Need to go refresh some guitar solos and learn some bass lines just in case, heh! Bringing the '79 Iceman cause it will look cooler, heh.

Took apart the stricken SVT-II and Acoustic B200H, nothing visibly amiss on either. B200 still showing red "clip" light and no signal, SVT-II not powering up at all despite both fuses being intact. Will take it in one last time, if it fails again I'll have to put it out to pasture. Not sure the B200 is even worth fixing. But the late 70's SVT is still working fine if a little agressive sounding right now, my Fender rackmount TB-600 is still a reliable workhorse, and the new Eden 10's in my cab sound great.

This, and my van is still parked on Congress Ave downtown from last night, battery connectors are corroded as shit. Tessmer will be coming into town soon to help me fix it, just $5 parts and that guy can fix anything from amps to engines to tractors.

Amp/vehicle problems aside last night at Club One-2-One was really good. Meagan Tubb opening again, that was a cool surprise. Got to talk to the band a little this time, guitarist Jason played in Spankin Grance with Deanna from Velvet Brick, who I used to play bass for. As players in this town we are all connected in some way, heh. They sounded really good, and Meagan is so talented. Sings like a bird and holds her own on guitar with the best of them, good songs too. When they played the Fox Morning Show about 2 years ago I was running camera that day. Seems like a lifetime ago.

We squeezed onto the tiny stage, Michael's awesome new keyboard is thankfully half the size of his old one. Venue has a tiny MarkBass 1x12 bass combo which sounds really good, my rig would have taken up half the stage! Street windows closed due to the cold, so no running around on the sidewalk tonight, ah well... Jumped right into the set and kicked it's ass. We're really starting to gel now that we are playing all the time in a fixed lineup. Everything sounding tight and very powerful. Not a huge crowd (small place) but the people there would totally into it. Felt like we delivered and handed them their asses on a plate, heh!

Was feeling really good the rest of the night til my van wouldn't start, heh. But Tessmer was close by and swung Boss Hoss around. Pushed Goldie Hawn out into the street a bit but no way we could hook up the jumper cables--our batteries were at opposite ends of our respective engines making it impossible to reach. Well shit. Left her there and Tessmer and Richard drove me back to the house. I wasn't too worried about it, have had battery terminal problems with other vehicles in the past and have nothing of value sitting in the van.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Home, 12:47pm

Got home from Arlyn Studios at 6:30am but will get to that.

Tessmer gig at Friends went pretty well, good crowd despite the cold--helped when they finally shut the front door, first band was all bundled up onstage... The SVT-II and the new speakers sounded really good, was even contemplating adding another 12ax7 in it since I could turn it past noon on the volume and still feel like I needed a little more gain. Set going well, people dancing. Then about 2 hours in it totally died on me. Power gone, nothing. SHIT!!! Grabbed the Acoustic B-200H which I brought for just such an occurrence but IT wasn't working either! My trusty backup amp had the red "clip" light going and no signal... Well shit. Thank you good night.

Tried not to be too mad about it, but blowing up 2 amps (one of which I just got out of the shop and was feeling good about, the other a trusty go-to amp) during one show drives me to distraction. That with all the bass amp problems I had last year... Speaking of which, when I went into Strait Music the other day looking for speakers the store manager Clint came up to me and asked if I was having some bass amp/tech issues last year. Which I did.

Long story short, took my SVT to their tech Eli January last year for a re-tube right before the Truckers 6-week winter tour and not only did he lie about when it was ready but it blew up on me first show in for that long run. Went to get my money back from Eli when back in town and he got mad and walking away called me an asshole under his breath cause I wouldn't shake his hand. Luckily he dissappeared in the back or we would have settled the matter in the parking lot. Filed a complaint with Clint but didn't follow through with it to have him fired, figured my word of mouth alone about him would hurt his already shoddy reputation enough. But Clint remembered me from a year and a half ago and came up to inform me that Eli was no longer working there. Wow, now that is customer service.

Anyway. Mood was soured a bit for the recording session after the gig. Caravaned it to Arlyn Studios off South Congress a stone's throw from the Continental Club and loaded in/set up. Goal was to finish the whole damn album (organ and sax for one song, as many bass tracks as I could do, all lead and backing vocals) that night. Seemed a Herculean undertaking but not out of the realm of possibility. But problems immediately arose. Settings on the board all jacked, recordings not labeled in a way that made sense, and nothing seemed to work properly at first. Michael's first pass on 'Green Diamond pt 2' was amazing. They had a Hammond B3 and a Leslie cabinet which words cannot describe how beautiful it sounded. But something went wrong and he had to redo it, about 4 times in all. Sucks to have lost that first take. He nailed his sax part on same track in one pass. Awesome, my turn.

They wanted me to DI using some tube preamp but my SVT and Isovent cab were already set up in an isolation booth, and I just spent $200 on those speakers and damned if I wasn't going to use them! That and my bass tone is an old 70's tube amp sound, which direct-in can't really replicate. That and I use my Big Muff as a boost in places, which engineers have always discouraged me from using any pedals. Well, shit. You aren't recording the guitar straight in with no effects, why should bass be any different?!? Took awhile to sort out some audio prblems before I finally was able to make a pass at it. Which had to be scrapped for technical problems. After about 4 takes we finally got it. But all the technical problems and the weird vibe with the engineer really wasted a lot of time. Evidently there was an issue between Tessmer and engineer, and it took them awhile to sort it out. Which only further spoiled the engineer's already sour mood (late night and gear problems which were totally beyond his control or doing), making him a little hard to be around.

But fuck it, we got one song done. Yay. 7 to go. We already have Saturday Jan 23rd booked at Antone's for a CD release so that's cool. Now we just need to finish the CD, heh! Despite not getting nearly enough done last night and some of the shows being less than desireable, this band is fucking amazing. I don't like playing 6th Street, just not my scene, but if I had to do it I'd want to do it with this band. We already had a good vibe as a three-piece playing occasional shows. But now with Michael on board and us playing 3-6 nights a week, this thing is really taking on a life of it's own. Michael brings an added level of professionalism and musical ability that really carries it to the next level. Can't wait to hear what this record will sound like, since it will be very representative of the band right now as it is developing. That and looks like there will be a lot of touring and bigger shows starting next year. Bring it on.

In my heart I miss playing my own music, which I have so little time (if any) for anymore. But I'd rather play full time than work a job. And this band IS my day job now, and it beats the hell out of playing in an 80's New Wave cover band.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Home, 2:34pm

Just braved the snow (HA! flurries w/sunshine) to pick up a pair of replacement Eden speakers for my Isovent cab. Just got them installed and fired the rig up. Sounds great! Farty rattle sound is GONE. Had to throw them on my credit card, has a zero balance and I consider this an emergency business expense (need them to record TONIGHT and Austin Speaker was only place in town that had 10's).

Yesterday went to Austin Vintage Guitars cause they had some 10's but they were wrong ohmage. Crap! When I called asked if Jesse from Shurman was working, he wasn't. But while I was there he stopped by, saw me and said "Hey man I got your amp!" Sweet! I dropped off my stricken SVT-II to him a few weeks back as he wanted to take a stab at fixing it (making occasional weird staticky/crackly sound like a dirty pot, Dug Pinnick has same amp and stopped using it for same reason). Will try it tonight at Friends and see how it goes. Then we head to the studio to finish the 'Green Diamond' album tonight: bass tracks for as many songs as I can do, saxophone overdubs, and all lead/backing vocals. Going to be a very long night...

Last night at Antone's was great! Good crowd for once despite the nip in the air. We played good even tho Richard was getting a little carried away drumfill-wise at times, heh. Overall a great set and fun show, and profitable as well. Tessmer said a review from the Austinist (online music mag) reviewed our last Antone's show and said this night's show would be the best $8 spent on live music all week. Nice!

Will lay low the rest of the day to save energy for tonight. Load in at Friends around 5:30/6pm.


Just fired up the SVT-II and tuned it a little, swapping around some tubes to get the sound I want. Stock it comes with all 12ax7's for pre-amp tubes, which sounds great for snarly bass tone but makes it almost unuseable past 3 on the volume. Tried a mix of lower gain tubes and found a good mix of clean head room when playing lightly and more grit when I dig into the strings. We'll see how it sounds tonight. Must go sleep for an hour before load in.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Home, 9:46am

So the recording yesterday never materialized, tentative date set for Friday night after our gig at Friends. Will be a long night, but at least we'll be warmed up. Took a mental health day after getting in 2+ good hours of photo editing in. Felt nice to not have to do anything at all for about 12 hours other than wait by the phone and relax in my jammies. Still have a long week ahead (gigs every night from now til bout Tuesday).

Need to start moving my possessions over here, not even sure where to begin. That and my roommate is in Paris all week so I don't have any consultation as to where I can put what. There was some dispute as to where to set up my aquarium, it's a pain in the ass to move and weighs 300 pounds when full, so I'd hate to set it up only to find I should have put it somewhere else.

Would love to take another mental health day to chill but have a lot to do. In the meantime here's pics of Honky @ Red Eyed Fly on 11-20-09. Great show!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Home, 12:50pm

On standby to record with Tessmer today, he wants to finish the album TODAY (as many bass tracks as I can, sax overdubs and all lead vocals) but studio is being a little wishy-washy. Editing and uploading pics to keep myself busy, it's a rainy chilly day so it's def pajama weather. Nothing temp-wise that comes close to Wisconsin last week, that cold goes right to your bones.

Gig at Friends last night kinda meh, very slow night. Sucks cause we were on fire! Inadvertently opened with an improv blues thing we just sort of started playing. Then veered far from usual setlist after that. Need to see about borrowing a cab or maybe buying new speakers to replace to 10's in my isovent cab. One is getting farty despite no apparent cone damage and might as well replace both. Yesterday cashed out an IRA account from my last stint at Fox 7 to pad my checking account until the Tessmer show revenue starts accumulating. Nice to be able to breathe a little, but we also only made $18 a piece last night. OUCH.

Will recap the Wisconsin trip here in a bit. In the meantime here are pics of Shrinebuilder and RAZR13 w/Dug Pinnick, which I will also post in their respective parts of this blog, just so you don't have to dig around for them.

Shrinebuilder @ Emo's

RAZR13 w/Dug Pinnick @ The Dirty Dog, 11-20-09

And a few of Eric Tessmer @ Friends