Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Austin Chronicle Music Awards poll results are out!

Eric Tessmer Band did pretty damn good. #5 Blues Band, #5 Guitar Player, #18 album and #13 song. Sweet! Was hoping to make the bass player list, but alas skunked again. Even tho it's more a measure of popularity than merit, still feels pretty good that we placed.

Have received the contract from the upstart indie label, still looking over and may have an entertainment lawyer check it out to help clear up some lingo. Seems pretty standard, but I guess if contracts weren't written in gobbledygook there would be no need for entertainment lawyers, heh! Very excited about the whole thing, that is for sure. Contacted Scott Reeder about mastering the re-release of 'Ocean of Stars,' a little name recognition attached to it never hurts.

Thought I was going to have Thur/Fri off, but ETB got called into The Speakeasy and Friends, respectively. No problemo there, still recovering from Jan/Feb which are always a slow time of year to be playing music.

Shows have been good all week as well. The taping at Venue 222 on Tuesday was awesome, can't wait to see the video. Went up and blew out 4 songs, playing our guts out and at top volume! Hope they got my awesome bass toss end of set, heh. During the noise finale my bass Minnie Pearl took a spill. No damage upon visual inspection. Rest of the night was fun as well, good bands playing and fashion shows between sets. I like playing events.

Looks like we will be doing a Wednesday residency at the Speakeasy now. Which has several benefits: better payout than our old Maggie Mae's slot, nice big venue with great stage, don't have to deal with 6th Street, and Russell (ETB sound tech) also runs sound there several nights a week so he's quite familiar with the ins/outs of the sound system. During soundcheck realized very quickly that something was amiss with Minnie. Action all weird and even open strings fretting out. Well shit, guess the spill she took knocked her neck outta whack. Loosened the strings, tightened down the neck screws, reset the action and she was good to go. I love knowing how to work on my own gear. Decent show to the best of my recollection.

Speakeasy called us in for Thursday as well. Sure, why not! Had a decent crowd this time. Our other shows there have suffered a bit from lack of 6th Street foot traffic, and people walking by aren't the kind that would listen to us, or if they did come in it was to go upstairs to the loft bar. But as we started (and we started light) a bunch of people came downstairs, stopped, then all took tables where they stood. Which was funny, cause they partially obscured the path to the stairs, so people coming in would walk past the stage, turn right, then have to double back thru the tables. And this happened all night. But great response from the people there, and the staff all seem pretty cool. Def a venue I hope we can build on, tho less foot traffic we could probably still attract more regulars who don't want to deal with 6th Street.

Then yesterday we found out that we are indeed playing at Friends, which we probably agreed to then canceled as we had same night booked at Maggie's. But then Maggie's gave us the boot and the night was free, and still penciled in apparently. So sure, we'll work some more! And Friday means early set so we could theoretically be done, loaded and leave before they even put the barricades up on 6th Street. Which is exactly what happened. Nice to watch the crowd build. Empty for start. Few people there after 1st song, then increased exponentially as night went on. Great set. Walking the crowd with Eric, some drunk girl got up onstage and started rocking out. Nice that we had that affect on her, but had to watch her out of corner of my eye to make sure she didn't knock anything over... heh. Feels great playing with Rob, and we're really kicking ass as a 3-piece. We also bumped into Michael McDaniel on the way in, was really good to see him, and no hard feelings in the least. He recently split to do his own thing, which worked out for all involved as stylistically he didn't fit as well once we had Rob in the picture. He is also one of the most all-around brilliant musicians I've ever met, so yeah. He will be fine.

In general life news, went to DPS yesterday and got my drivers' license renewed. FINALLY got my hard copy of my Occupational license earlier this week, and was quite confused about it expiring on Friday. So I waited how many months and paid $140 in fees for it to just go BAD right away?!? DPS explained that my period of license suspension ends on 3/25. But calling in it was a 50/50 split if I could go in on Friday to renew, or would have to wait til Monday and not be able to drive AT ALL all weekend. But finally got someone on the horn and went in yesterday. $10 and 90 minutes later and I have a paper copy! ANd the experience wasn't too bad. A good mix of normal people, folks who looked like they just arrived off a Greyhound bus from the pen in Huntsville, and a lovely lady primping for her DL photo with part of a succulent ass cheek peeking from beneath her miniskirt. Worth the price of admission.

SO yea! No more drive log, and no more limited hours I can drive. Have a pretrial court date on Tuesday, which I keep thinking is tomorrow for some reason. That's what happens when you only have one day off after SXSW and then play 6 nights in a row. ETB tonight at BD Riley's, speaking of which.

Monday, March 21, 2011

SXSW Day 4 -- Saturday March 19, 2011

Good Lord.

Woke up Sat morning with my body aching and my ears still screaming. And not just bathroom hand-dryer white noise and a constant high-pitched whine. My right year was reacting to certain noises by adding short bursts of an additional pitch, kinda like the "ping" when you bounce a basketball. Needless to say I had tissue in that ear most of the day whether I was around noise or not.

Day was going to begin early, going by Trophy's with Triniti Young so she could sell merch for Adrian and the Sickness and Bug Girl. Caught a few songs and took a few pics, but had to then go load in to Dogwood for the ETB SX360 event that evening. Turns out was good that I couldn't drop off my PA at storage on Friday evening (got there at 9:09pm and they closed at 9pm), as we needed it for the gig after all. Well that worked. Got everything in the venue, missing the band that was playing who were apparently really really good. But was able to swing back by Trophy's to get T and chill at the house for a bit before heading back downtown. Had a minor coronary when amp rental guy said he'd have my SVT for me at 10pm. Um, I need it at 6pm latest and I've told you that at least twice. But he was able to accommodate and get my amp back to me.

But getting it was a paragraph unto itself. Festival stage set up on 6th Street east of I-35. The street was not blocked off in any way shape or form, but people were wondering into it like cows anyway. Just pulling up next to the fence was a nightmare. One can never underestimate the stupidity of people in large groups. You see my van coming, you just looked at me, and walked right out in front of me anyway. Just, wow. Darwin Award just waiting to happen. But I managed to grab my amp and not kill anyone in the process.

Back to Dogwood on W 6th and loaded my amp in right in time for soundcheck, which was awesome cause I still had to park. Finally parked next to Eric in the McElroy parking lot at West and 10th Street. A four-block walk, but at least no cows wondering into the street.

And we already had a great crowd for the ETB set. Sun going down, cooling off, good sized stage to move around on. Despite my underpowered PA cutting out when driven too hard, we had a great set and brought the house down. Even before the crowd walk drinks began appearing onstage. Which we accepted, of course! We all earned a good drunk at this point, tho Rob took it easy as he still had another set after ours. Had everyone up and moving, Eric walking on the bar. More drinks. Good times! End of set switched out basses to break the strings off my backup -- main bass had new ones from previous night, and backup strings needed to go anyway. I rock, but am also frugal, stings are expensive man!

Good times hanging with people in the crowd afterwards. Caught a little of Rob's set with Street Light Suzie next door through the window en route to collect the van. Looks like they were having a rockin time. Afterwards Rob looked very, very tired. Eric and I quite drunk at this point as well, and like I said it was a good and well-deserved drunk. And neither of us were driving, so bonus! Good times, and we survived another SXSW.

Sunday Night went to Headhunter's for Adrian and the Sickness and One-Eyed Doll. Was not ready to stop rockin just yet, heh.

The door guy John from Sunday was there and very apologetic for Friday night's SNAFU. I told him no worries, wasn't his fault, and we still got to play and had a blast. Too bad Trin and I weren't in much of a get-shitfaced mood, as he was giving us free Lonestars all night. That was very cool of him. Saw same sound guy and pulled him aside to apologize to him in case he thought I was an asshole. He was cool as shit about it, very understanding and no hard feelings whatsoever. That felt good. I was really feeling down that I may have been a dick the other night, especially to the staff of one of my fave watering holes. Then Steve the owner came up and also apologized for the SNAFU and said we really really sounded great. I told him no problem and no worries, we still got to play and we still had a blast when all was said and done.

Good people, man.

SXSW Day 3 -- Friday March 18, 2011

Friday evening began with yet another parking miracle.

Eric Tessmer Band playing Headhunters that night, filling in for the mighty Brewtality Inc, who had to cancel as their singer/guitarist/longtime HH employee continues to battle cancer. We were honored to do so, and were more than happy to get the call.

Driving over the S 1st bridge fireworks were going off on Auditorium Shores. "Wonder how many rejected band SXSW applications paid for that?" I wondered out loud. And downtown was a maelstrom of music-types and tourists. Honked at more than a few dumbasses who would wander into the street into the path of an oncoming and over-loaded van.

But the night began not without hitches. I have done some amp rental in the past with a guy named Travis, good friend of good friends. He had completely re-tubed my SVT in order to bring it back into use. His rental of it didn't quite cover the repair bill, so when he called last minute on Tuesday or so I was more than happy to help out. But in a mix-up he rented my amp out when I needed it for the HH show later that night. No worries, he had a backup. It was an SVT-Classic, which I am not a fan of. But it was a working bass amp and it would not blow the speakers out of my new cab. He needed it back after the show and would have mine ready by Saturday's evening show. Coolio.

And again, snagged an amazing parking spot thanks to my partner in crime Triniti. She saw the space right next to Headhunters as we were three cars back at the light on 8th/Red River. So she ran out and stood. And just like that, I had the perfect space to load/unload for our set later on. Danny G: 2, SXSW: 0!!!

So T and I wade into the sea of bodies to Chupacabra for the Austin 420 Magazine showcase, whom we both write/take pics for. And what a sea of humanity. Street noise, drunk noise, good and terrible bands, a drumline navigating the busy crowd. Saw a familiar tattoo on the bicep of the guy in front of me. Grabbed his shoulder and said, "And then there's THIS guy!!!" It was my good friend and bro JRAB. He was stage managing an earlier festival show and was now free to roam the streets with a buddy of his. He was for sure coming to the ETB midnight set at HH.

Found Chupacabra OK, but didn't find editor Vincent Lopez right away. But found him on the side patio in the merch area, and the three of us caught up and talked business. Vincent tho confined to a wheelchair is an imposing figure, his energy taking up more space then him and his chair combined. He has a greater vision for the Austin 420 Magazine. Wants to lose the stigma of it being a stoner rag with half-assed bands (which it never was to begin with) and turn it into a cultural force to at least raise awareness and at most change the fucking world. Kudos to him, it's awesome to work with people who have a greater vision. And he does have big, big plans for the magazine this year. Which you will all be hearing about very very soon. Makes me feel proud to be a part of something.

Oh, and I gotta mention the Yoda Backpack Guy. Standing on the patio saw a guy with a backpack, like Yoda when Luke Skywalker was carrying him around on his back in Empire Strikes Back. Mentioned it was awesome and had T take our picture. Which then opened a huge can of spaceworms. The guy just uncorked about the site he got it from, barely conataining himself when he mentioned the C3PO backpack like when Chewbacca was carrying him disassembled in Cloud City. And they sell the Taun-Taun sleeping bag, which he sleeps in every night. Uh, check please. Wow. One of us is so NOT getting laid tonight...

But time to go so headed back to HH to see what was going on. This time wisely taking 7th Street to Red River, to avoid the churning river of human beings. Get back to Headhunters, and turns out things are running very, very behind. T and I headed to Valhalla (formerly Room 710, RIP) for a time-killing beer. Can't even make use of the upstairs loft and air hockey table as it is blocked off for a showcase. You gotta have a wristband to use the air hockey table? Well fuck a bunch of that. Smoked ciggies and people watched.

Back at HH things going from bad to worse. Show running VERY VERY late, as there was a label who dropped a sizeable amount of coin to throw a showcase. No problem there, but add onto that bands that play too long, fire marshall visits, and the lack of Billy Milano running the stage, and we are standing outside with our gear and our dicks in our hands at 1:30am. We were supposed to play at midnight, or 12:30 at the latest. A lot of the people who came to see us had to leave after waiting an hour. Needless to say, we were not happy. Even I was pulling people aside and going "What the fuck is going on here?!?" I even had it out with the sound guy as well, which I was not proud of doing so. And it wasn't just a crappy little showcase we were playing with big dreams of maybe getting noticed or signed. All three of us have a connection with that place: the three of us playing multiple shows there, and Rob as a former employee. Add onto that we are doing a favor for an ailing brother in arms, Houston, who's band we were invited to fill in for. That in itself is an honor. But now it is 1:45 and the band before us is still onstage.

But we had a plan in place: we are GOING TO PLAY, we are GOING TO BE FUCKING LOUD, we are going to BLOW THE DOORS OFF THE PLACE, and we would be playing UNTIL THEY DRAGGED US OFFSTAGE.

We did all of those, but the last part was not needed as they let us play from 1:55am until 2:30. With most of the staff rocking out. Even Steve the owner was at the side of the stage. Saw him gesticulating out of the corner of my eye, thought he was pointing to his watch. No, he was dancing \m/,. Awesome. Tho we had no time to soundcheck, I had no time to dial in the loaner head, or tune my bass, or even put in ear plugs. I rocked so hard that 3 songs in I thought I was going to throw up onstage. Which I should have, it's Red River, for fucks' sake! But alas the feeling passed. By end of set we had given every ounce of energy, anger and frustration. And had used that energy to melt everyone's face. It was awesome, glad we stuck it out and showed the out-of-towners who is Boss. Welcome to Austin, Remember to Leave.

Tho I thought that loaner amp sounded less that desirable, immediately had someone in the crowd compliment my bass tone. Well there ya go ;) The tone was dirty as shit, but was fitting for the venue and crowd, and energy. However, without earplugs my ears were SCREAMING from Eric's amps and Rob's cymbals. That was dumb. Hopefully no permanent damage... And with the awesome parking space, getting out of there was a piece of cake. Ha! Take that, barricade Nazis!

SXSW Day 2 -- Thursday March 17, 2011

Had the night off so went with Triniti Young to the Key Bar on W 6th for Adrian and the Sickness.

Pull up at a light and there they are setting up on the outdoor stage. Exchanged yells and threw each other the horns. Triniti spotted an empty parking space across the busy intersection so she ran out to go stand in it. Teamwork. Was parked and in the venue less than 5 minutes after first driving past it. Danny G: 1, SXSW: 0!

They played a great set tho we missed Bug Girl. Rocking out and taking pics some guy taps me on the shoulder and holds out his camera. He had a pic of Eric and I doing a crowd walk from who knows when. Awesome! Great set by Adrian and company, and kudos to Aaron who flew down from Seattle to play drums. Then the collected energies of Adrian and the Sickness and Bug Girl paired together for the rock glory that is Cock N Balls.

Hanging with them afterwards, we watched with dull curiosity a DJ setting up after the show. Who went on to mix classic rocks songs and other weird shit. Amber grabbed a guitar case and pretended it was a bazooka, if that lets you know how we felt about that. But the show was early and there was plenty of time for more mischief so we got the hell out of downtown and met up with them at Adrian and Heather's place for an after party, which began with Jack Daniels and a tub of ice cream and ended with Mexican wrestler masks and the 'Dirty Dancing' soundtrack.


HOWEVER, turns out I completely missed the Small Stone Records showcase, which was that same night at Barbarella on Red River. Which sucked, as it's usually on Friday and it's the one showcase I always get into somehow. Reviewed it 2 years in a row for Rank and Revue Magazine. Was kinda sad to have missed it finally. Well shit, it's usually on Friday! But I could have checked...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SXSW is here!!!

Or something. About to head out to catch Adrian and the Sickness at the Key Bar, so will keep it quick.

Eric Tessmer Band is now a three piece. If you know us you know what happened. And that is all I have to say about that.

Tuesday SXSW kick-off show at Red Eyed Fly was a blast, as it is every year. Family gathering, great bands (Hyde Park Showdown, New Disaster, Amplifed Heat, Broken Teeth, and Honky with guest guitar by "Pat Travers", aka Phil Anselmo from Down/Pantera). Awesome time. I need to finally try to play this show, heh.

Last night ETB did a leisurely set outside the Salt Lick on their tiny outdoor stage. I was using my Fender TB600 and backup 4x10 as my SVT was being rented out and the TB-600 would blow the speakers off my Deitz replica 2x15. So I suffered thru the 4x10, which sounded like total ass. Another dust cap is rattling off the cheap speakers, causing it to sound like a whoopee cushion. And it rattles to bad I can't have the metal speaker grill on it while playing, adding to my desire to kick all the damn speakers in so I'd never have to suffer through that piece of shit ever ever ever again. But we had another gig after this one, so had to keep my cool. Split the difference and just ripped that damn dust cap of said speaker. Problem solved!!!

Not a bad show, decent crowd, decent pay, free barbecue!

Next show was a house party for the owner of Rare Magazine in Austin. We pull up and out front is the black limo that Josh and I jumped off of for a Mother Truckers shoot for same mag a few years back. We set up, and the cops are there before we even begin. Nice. So we wait a few minutes after they leave (give them time to get farther away). Blow into "Ledbetter Heights" to open, and blow the circuit breaker. Then we blew it again, and again, and again. Awesome. Then cops come back, but wait til we are done to shut it all down. "Y'all are bad ass, but we've had 8 noise complaints and we can hear you 2 blocks away." They were cool about it.

So spent rest of evening hanging out, making contacts and drinking for free. Good times.

Friday, March 11, 2011

So many amazing things going on, and I can't really fully talk about them. Awesome.

I can say that there is an upstart indie label interested in "Ocean of Stars" and me as a solo artist. Holy shit, that is awesome. Very validating feeling to know that I poured my heart and soul into a home recorded album which was thrown together in 28 days as a musical exercise which I have barely promoted myself (was waiting for a reason to, now I have one!) has gotten enough notice to land an album deal. Details pending, but have been on Cloud 9 last few days. Very excited, and feels good that all of my efforts are paying off. Will be contacting Ty Tabor and Scott Reeder about doing a proper mastering job to it. And have another album's worth of material waiting in the wings.

Big things coming in ETB, and again details pending. Until then, I need to shower/shave and head out for an early set at Friends tonight, 7:30 til 11pm.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

So we had Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee sit in with ETB last night at friends. That was awesome!

Our publicist Suzanne Penley also does publicity for Motorhead so her and her husband John brought Mikkey by. He was awesome. And what a great monday night. We've been having Rob Williamson (ex-New Disaster, Hyde Park Showdown) sit-in on drums and he's doing great! Good times and a great crowd which I felt like we destroyed.

ETB also played Saturday at the Texas Independence Fest in Maxwell TX. That was a blast as well! We headlined last year, and evidently they've expanded since then, as it is now a 2-day event with David Allan Coe headlining Friday night and Down headlining Saturday. We played at 3pm, which wasn't too bad. Crowd starting to gather by then, and we could hit it and quit it then hang out the rest of the night. Which we did. Great, short fun set. Nevermind my wireless decided to finally crap out beginning of the first song... I had replaced the input jack and it finally failed after being problematic for last few gigs. So much for my repair theory of "if tape doesn't work, try more tape." Ah well.

Was cool that Pepper Keenan from Down/COC was checking our set out with their techs Bobby Rock (guitar for Honky) and Carter (saviour of my stricken Les Paul Studio). Then Pepper came and watched from side stage behind the PA speakers. Awesome. We played for 40 minutes, ripped our strings off and got the fuck off stage. Pepper came and shot the shit with us afterwards, that was cool. Gave us a huge complement: "You guys got me off the bus!" Nice! Took pics with him which I will post soon.

Hung out rest of the night drinking $4 beers and having a blast. The venue (The Cotton Gin) is in the middle of nowhere on a farm with pens conatining cows, bulls, and some kind of zebra/donkey hybrid. Awesome. Great sets by Honky, Dixie Witch and of course Down. Good times tho it got real cold real fast after the sun went down.

So much I want to talk about but can't. Either for professional reasons (band business) or personal reasons (my mom reads this blog). I try to be as open, honest and unmerciful, but at the same time their are things which I simply cannot talk about here. Too public. So I am trying to keep this a blow-by-blow account of the day-to-day activities of a working musician, but the filter is set to "HIGH." So fuck it, I will talk about what I want to talk about (within reason, heh).

In general life is good. Admitted defeat for the RPM challenge this year, got sick last few days and was too damn tired/had life shit to deal with to complete it. But who cares, came up with a bunch of good shit I will finish right in my own time.

In the meantime will be talking to a small label interested in my solo stuff, so that's fucking killer. ETB has a busy year which I am now very optimistic about for reasons I will reveal when the time is right. I am finally happy with my bass rig and tone for the first time in a long time, thank you John Mergilli. That helps as well. Am talking another session with Tim Abbott from The Figurados. More music, more opportunites, and a little more coin in my coffer. Win/win/win.

Will be pulling some strings to get into the Motorhead show tonight, wish me luck!