Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Down time, recovering from a busy weekend, and a shooting.

Recovering from ETB's Monday residency last night at Friends, wow that was amazing. But will get to that.

Today resting my body but been very busy on music related matters.

Charting out songs from 'Leap of Faith' album for use with Ocean of Stars. Putting that together has been very slow going, but at least when I'm bringing players in I will actually know how my own songs go. That will be a big help.

Also looking into album reviews.

Sending some my CDs to Rank And Revue Magazine, whom I used to be affiliated with as a photographer/writer from 2004-2006. That felt really good to be a part of back in the day, and I only stopped working for them because it was eating into time I wanted to spend working on my music career. Checking the website looks like a lot of the same faces. Awesome!

Anyway. Last night ETB @ Friends was pretty goddamned epic. Friends has been leaving the side window open for a certain amount of the night the past few Mondays and it's been helping our crowd immensely. If people can hear us from across the street, they will come across the street and check us out. You can't really hear us from across the street (or from the next block) if the window is not open.

Win/win. Hopefully they've made a peaceful compromise with APD about the noise. Tired of us getting the club slapped with a warning, or worse.

So yeah.

Friends filled up fast, and stayed packed. We played hard and loud for more than 3 hours straight before finally taking a break, the crowd was that good and we didn't want to lose them. We even got a request for "Armadillo Strut" which is usually a second-set tune, and even a face-melting 30 minute jam with "Green Diamond pt 2" thrown into the middle for some Pink Floyd-esque mellow psychedelia didn't scare the people away. Wow.

Got back up there and threw down even harder. Scott Kelly was in attendance for a few tunes. Do yourself a favor and look him up. It was almost 2am when we finally ended the night. We usually stop around 1:30. Then a guy from "an oil company" asked us how much for one more song. Eric asked me, I threw out $100 as a nice round number, and oil guy gets onto the mic and takes a collection from the audience for $100 into the tip jar for one more song. Wallets appeared like startled bats. Amazing!

We were totally spent, but still got back up to play "Little Wing" again. Knocked em dead. Great night!

Photo courtesy Felicia Molandes:

And I'm still scratching my head as to how the fuck we get away with playing as LOUD and as HARD as we do on 6th Street of all places. We play with the same volume and intensity as any band on Red River. But we do it on 6th Street, and pull in weekend crowds on a Monday night of all nights. We're probably the loudest band on 6th Street. And Eric has comparisons to Stevie Ray Vaughan, yet we play no SRV songs. Crazy! I don't know how we do it, but it's amazing that we can.

In other news the weekend was busy as fuck all. Which is good. Really good. Two gigs a night, two nights back to back. Good to be working that much, this has been a great month financially.

Last week Friday Arcana Mundi did an early set at the Elk's Lodge off of Barton Springs. Tim and Brett (backup vox) are members. We played well, tho I was feeling rushed as hell (had to run home before ETB @ BD Riley's later on).

In our constantly shifting line-up we had Brannan Lane on Percussion, but Mark Epstein was unavailable for bass that night. It's fuller sounding with Mark's bass and occasional guitar, but not having him there makes MJ Torrence (keys/vox) and I rely more on each other as well as Brannan's percussion, as well as alter our playing to fill out the low end a bit. Sometimes we don't even have Brannan either, and MJ and myself are on our own. Those gigs are a really fun challenge.

Hit it and quit it, I had to pack up and run before the set was over (we started late, but the people there were digging it).

Was able to park on 6th before the barricades, across street in front of Chuggin Monkey rather than on same side of street anywhere near BD Riley's. I'll still take it.

Setting up we realized Eric had forgotten our tip bucket (a big metal washtub with band stickers and TIPS in sharpie) so we had to convert one of Rob's drum cases into a make-shift tip jar. Worked like a charm.

Played a great set, really fun show. Made some good money as well, which is always good. Loading gear into my van at the end of the night -- I left it parked where it was, as manuevering through the still blocked-off street is like driving through a herd of cows -- I heard it.


Gunshots. 4 of them, and close. And due to the acorns that have been dropping on our metal patio roof for the past month, I had no reaction whatsoever. Look around and see lots of people ducking for cover.

Behind me at the corner of 6th and San Jacinto, cops with guns drawn arresting a girl as she got out of her car and immediately on the ground. Didn't know what exactly happened or who fired. But decided it was time to go. Ambulance on the scene and crime tape going up as I left for home.

Read the story online next day. Girl pulled out from parking on 6th Street, hit 2 people, and was speeding towards an officer. Who fired into her windshield. Wow.

Here's the latest: http://austin.ynn.com/content/top_stories/288939/apd--no-charges-expected-for-sixth-street-driver-shot-at-by-officer

Saturday double header was an early ETB set at Friends, then rush over to Hole in the Wall for a set at the Amplified Heat tour kickoff party. Again Friends was good now that they've been leaving the window open. Wondered if the fact that the UT game had just started would negatively affect our crowd (people watching the game are going to stay put rather than walk around checking out bars). It didn't. Was decent most of the night and then very good by the end of our 3 hour set.

Then the pack-up-as-fast-as-we-can shuffle. Hoping the UT football game by now ending wouldn't negatively affect parking for Hole in the Wall (situated right across from the UT campus). It didn't.

Good to see the Ortiz Brothers and wish them safe travels. Amplified Heat is hitting the West Coast for 3 weeks. Check them out, you will not regret it.

It's so weird to do a 40 minute set with ETB. We do so many marathon 3 hour high intensity sets, we're just getting warmed up after 40 minutes! But to cram 3 hours worth of energy into a 40 minute set really takes a lot out of me. Those short sets are more tiring to me than a 3 hour set.

Crazy. But I guess it's like being a distance runner trying to sprint. That, and already having played a 3 hour marathon previous to our 40 minute sprint was a recipe for fatigue. I was beat. Add onto that 2 shows the previous night. Sunday I was dead. But felt good still, if that makes sense.

Photo courtesy of Moses Blues:

Eric, Rob and I really have something special. We can feel it. The audience can feel it. It's a really cool thing to be a part of. And being a variable in the equation that converts a humble blues-rock band into a force of nature is really special too.

Friday, October 19, 2012

ACL Fest recap

Sort of.

So back in August or so Triniti won two 3-day passes to ACL Fest at a benefit ETB played for the Without Regrets foundation at Threadgill's World HQ. So as the festival neared we both downloaded the ACL iPhone app and checked the schedule.

And unfortunately, neither of us had ever heard of about 90% of the acts... But hey, Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers)! The Black Keys! Neil Young! That should worth the price of admission right there.

Neither of us had ever been to ACL fest. Mainly cause could not afford too. And as I get older bigger and bigger crowds are starting to get to me. Just going to HEB on crowded day is enough to make me want to just leave the cart mid-aisle and just get the fuck out of there. People all standing in one spot and looking in the same direction = cool. People all moving around in different directions and at different speeds and bumping into each other = anxiety. So we took that into consideration, and with a short list of acts we actually wanted to see cemented our decision to not spend a whole lot of time there.

Both days began and ended with much walking and finally cab fare. We live too close to drive and park, but just far enough away to not want to walk the entire distance. So by the time we got to Zilker Park on Friday evening we arrived just in time to catch 2nd half of Patterson Hood's set.

Good shit. Roots-rocky, not as heavy and dark as much of the DBT catalog.

Trying to meet up with Tim Abbott and his wife Tracey proved to be a challenge. Tim's directions to his location seemed less archaic every time we read them, and I had to recheck the texts several times. Crowd was huge, and many were carrying flags or banners so others in their group could see them from a distance. Genius. Made me think of old school Roman battles of something. Insane amount of people. But we wandered around and still no Tim.

Passing the HUGE pecan tree (again) to the right of the main stage, we laughed hysterically at one particular banner: the biggest pair of tighty whiteys either of us had ever seen. This set of drawers could have been rigged to a ship mast and used as a sail. Enormous! Turns out, Tim was sitting under it and hadn't realized it, hence him not mentioning to LOOK FOR THE UNDERWEAR. Under where? Exactly! So we caught up then got into position to catch the Black Keys.

Which we had never seen before, and I was mostly unfamiliar with their music tho have been hearing about them for years. They were good, I dug them, but not enough to go purchase their entire catalog. Maybe I was just tired and done with the crowd at this point and broke from paying $7 per tall boy. We left before the end of their set. Sorry guys...

Saturday it rained almost all day, causing is to stay in and wait out the weather and miss some earlier acts we might have wanted to see. But we WERE going to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse come Hell or high water. And that is exactly what happened. We saw Neil Young, I mean.

The rain stopped and the sky cleared as we left the house to walk until we caught a cab. Got to Zilker Park in time to navigate through the festival-grounds-turned-huge-mudpit-from-the-all-day-rain and the crowd and get a good spot for NY. Thank Crom for Doc Martens. Many were wallowing through the sleep in flip-flops or even bare feet. Blech!

Attempted to get as close as we could, got claustrophobic after 30 seconds and headed back to the outskirts. Yeah, there was the occasional obstruction of the camera crane, but fuck it. We could BREATHE.

Which we did a lot of during his set, or not. It was hard to tell. All I know is that is one of the most moving musical performances I have seen in a long time. I mean, just, wow. Neil's guitar tone was gorgeous, Crazy Horse fucking brought it, everything sounded better than the albums.

Waiting for Neil Young and Crazy Horse to begin

The Man Himself

I hope that I will rock that hard when I am their age. Holy shit, they looked like a buncha old fuckers getting their High School rock band back together, but I shit you not, the passion they brought schooled the Black Keys and kicked their whippersnapper asses right off the stage. SCHOOLED. And so was I. As a professional musician, I was absolutely blown away. "The Needle and the Damage Done" had me moved to tears 3 chords in. "Cinnamon Girl" was heavy as fuck and gave me chills. It would have taken plastic surgery to get the smile off my face the duration of their set. Neil Young will live forever. It is up to YOU if you see him before you die. And we stayed for the whole set.

iPhone video by Yours Truly

Next day we could have gotten there early to catch Gary Clarke Jr and support one of the few indigenous talents to actually play the festival which bears the city's name. But after walking 5+ miles and spending as much on cab fare as we did on over-priced beer, we took the day off. Yeah we missed The Stooges. Yeah we missed the Chili Peppers. I regret missing the Stooges more, as the Chili Peppers haven't released anything that has moved me since Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Fuck it, a much-needed day off. And it was great.

So Austin City Limits Fest recap:

Acts seen: 3

$7 beers consumed: 6 total

Total number of credit/debit cards we found on the ground: 3

First night we found a Platinum Visa Credit Card on the way out. So we called the number on the back and cancelled it for the owner. Yes, good people do exist in this world still. Second day on the way in 2 young shitfaced drunk girls walked by, one of them leaving a trail of debit cards and dollar bills from her open wallet like a trail of bread crumbs. I gathered her wallet contents while Triniti flagged them down and then tried to explain to their near-incoherent selves what was happening:

"Lady, your wallet was open and all your shit is falling out."

"No, I got my wallet right here." (brandishes wallet and spills more contents)

"No lady, your shit is falling out, credit cards, money."

"No, I got my money right here in my wallet." (brandishes wallet and spills even more contents)

It finally took Triniti holding each individual content in front of the drunk chicks face, then placing said item one by one into said wallet, then struggling to close said wallet for said drunk chick before said drunk chick may have finally noticed what was going on. Or not.


Busy weekend, and Forever Town studio report

Howdy all.

Have a busy weekend starting tonight:

Arcana Mundi plays the Elk's Lodge at 7pm. Then ETB rocks BD Riley's 10:30 til close. Tomorrow night ETB picked up an early set at Friends 7pm til 10pm, then we share the stage at Hole in the Wall with the mighty Amplified Heat for their tour kickoff party. ROCK!!! Gonna be fun, I will be tired come Sunday morning, but bring it on!

Also been promoting the upcoming ETB show at Threadgill's World HQ next week Friday, Oct 26. Here's the poster I whipped up:

Figured a Halloween sort of theme would be good as its the weekend before Halloween. Was either The Exorcist or an old Frankenstein poster which would also have been tits. This is the make-up date for Eric's birthday party which was rained out in a downpour of Old Testament proportions. I have never been so soaked in my life as I became in the brief time it took me (with help) to get my gear into the van which was parked nearby. Crazy. Let's hope history does NOT repeat itself...

In other news, I have wrapped up bass tracking on the Forever Town album at the Bubble. What a great facility, and Frenchie Smith has been awesome to work with. His teenage enthusiasm for all things ROCK def helps in keeping the energy level up and positive, especially on a day like Wednesday when I spent 12 hours non stop finishing up 8 tracks.

By the end of that day I was admittedly exhausted and was having trouble wrapping my brain around the groove of a particularly involved track. So Danny Ramsay stepped up and recorded the bass line himself with a pick, knocking it out in 2 takes. Nice. I had no qualms about that, mainly felt bad for my own frustration. And watching him play it the bass line and groove finally made sense to me. Everything is a learning experience, and whether or not you choose to learn from it is up to the individual \m/,

Frenchie and Donnie, manning the controls:

Jayson Ramsay checking out the sounds, as Danny Ramsay gets some cool video:

Bass rig:

Frenchie's dog Agnes, official mascot of Bubble Recording

Of course I tagged the bathroom Walls of Fame:

Looking forward to hearing the album!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gearing up

Lots to prepare for.

Doing my best to promote ETB's sorta last minute idea of recording our set tomorrow night at the Saxon Pub for a live album. Last minute yes, but very good time to. We're playing Saxon enough to finally be comfortable with the stage, last few gigs this week we've really felt on top of our game, and it sounds amazing there. Win/win/win. Be great to finally capture the energy of our live show and have a limted edition disc to help raise funds for the new album.

Eric should be en route back from New Orleans, where he went Tuesday night after our HAAM benefit set at Sam's Town Point to play a show down there as Anders Osborn's lead guitar player. That is awesome and will lead to bigger things for him and ETB as well. Awesome!

Anders and Eric

Also prepping for recording the Forever Town album starting next week with Frenchie Smith. We're getting together tonight for rehearsal with the man himself overseeing. Been running through the music alot yesterday and today to keep it tight.

HAAM Benefit on Tuesday was a blast. Thanks to Loranda Stuart for putting together such an awesome night of music and being so involved in HAAM. If not for Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, none of us in ETB would have any medical help. Sam's Town Point is also a great venue, so go check it out.

Courtesy of Loranda Stuart

ETB Monday residency at Friends was pretty epic, one of those nights where we were on fire and played almost 2.5 hours before finally taking a break. The crowd stuck around for it and we melted faces the rest of the night. Definitely a good night compared to others the past few months as APD is cracking down on the noise ordinance and Friends cna no longer have the windows behind the stage open. We really depended on our sonic spill-over to get foot traffic in the bar. A few people will come in and leave cause it's too loud (for them) but most people don't seem to mind. Hearing music with your ears is one thing, but feeling it in your BONES is a whole nother experience. Then of course some drunk pissed on the side of my van at the end of the night. Buncha savages in this town...

ETB also had a great set in San Antonio for the Sam's Burger Joint annual block party. We played a blistering 45 minute set and that was it. Wow! So used to playing long sets that we're just getting warmed up after 45 minutes! Had a great crowd and great response on the indoor stage.

Photos by Sonny Saenz

And continuing on this note, ETB also had a great show at the Saxon Pub last Saturday. Good times with good people, we felt great and played great. Rob's first show back with us since getting back from a brief Norway tour with another project. Reunited and it feels so good, heh! The poster Eric made for this show has been selling well, particularly on this night.

Having a large variety of cool posters on sale at the merch booth is definitely helping our sales. The new T-shirts are doing well as well. Having a new disc, and a live album no less, will be a great boon to us. We're still selling 'Green Diamond' which is more than 2 years old and was a completely different band.

Pretty cool that we have been working elements of "Green Diamond II" and "III" into "Armadillo Strut," that'll sound awesome on the live disc \m/,

Arcana Mundi had some good sets last week as well, we finished out our Wednesday September happy hour residency at Gypsy Lounge and had a Dunn Brothers Coffee set previous to the Saturday ETB Saxon show.

The band is really getting tighter, and I'm liking my Epiphone Valve Standard as an amp over the Marshall Lead 12. Just warmer sounding. And thought my Phase 90 was going out, making weird crackle noise on guitar rig all of a sudden. But fixed that right before Dunn Brothers set. Turns out having the acoustic guitar EQ with Treble and Brilliance maxed out was causing interference with the pedal. Weird. Dialed some out and problem solved, and saved me $50 from having to buy another one \m/,