Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Retrospective

2012. Man this year came and went.

I've always felt that time seemed to run fast while on tour, which can feel like time-travelling. But this is the longest break I've had from music-related travel in a few years.

But anyway. This year has had it's ups and downs, but not as much as recent years.

This has been a pretty good year.

Even with this year being a long break from travel, the time home has been very well spent. Triniti and I moved into the Hobbit Hole in January. After being more or less uprooted since Nov 2009 during my separation, I and we finally have a home. Have lived with and stayed with some amazing people, but this is our space. And that's a really good feeling.

Did some cool shit. Recorded a session with J Yeunger from White Zombie, and got to record with Frenchie Smith. Wanted to play guitar more, so played gigs with Shandon Sahm, Thunderosa, an Ironclad reunion as well as many performances with Timothy Abbott & Arcana Mundi. And still busy playing bass full time with Eric Tessmer Band. Did a weekend of shows with JT Coldfire as well, very fun.

Did the RPM Challenge again this year, released a new solo album "Leap of Faith" as well as re-released "Ocean of Stars." ETB has busy locally and been getting good shows at the Saxon Pub and recorded a forth-coming live album there.

My birthday at Headhunters in September was an absolute blast! Feel so greatly blessed to have so many beautiful and talented musical friends and family in my life.

My thumb feels much better since being in a brace for a bit back in March. Still having forearm/elbow problems but working on remedying them. Had a very likely case of West Nile Virus over the summer. That kicked my ass. But in general I feel in good health, even if gaining a little weight. That or my jeans shrunk.

Dealt with some personal ups n downs, and seems a lot of friends have lost friends recently. But in general I feel good mentally as well.

So this wasn't too bad a year at all. I will gladly take more like it.

In the meantime, goals for next year: get Ocean of Stars up and running as a side-project. See what ETB has planned and plan accordingly, new album etc. Continue moving onwards and upwards and just make good music. Or as good of music as I can, heh.

Adios 2012

Weekend recap.

Quick recap of this weekend, 2012 retrospective coming in a bit.

Had a really good holiday vacation with my family. One of the longest visits I've had in a while and one of the longest breaks from gigging as well.

Was hoping a 10-day break from playing would help my elbows/forearms but no dice. But did figure out that using my cellphone while laying down isn't helping at all. Damn you, Angry Birds Star Wars. So at least I know that.

In the meantime saw Kymmie, the Chinese medicine doctor Triniti has been seeing. Did acupuncture and suggested some dietary changes. Turns out ingesting a lot of foods which cause inflammation. Also that I need to add certain oils as part of the problem is my tendons are drying out.

Jumped back into the saddle with 2 nights gigging, my hands and arms felt pretty good.

ETB Friday at Friends was pretty damn good for it being cold. Really good crowd, and we felt pretty in the pocket considering we hadn't played in a week and a half. Fun set.

I need to always pay attention to the little voice in my head as I'm setting up that asks how long has it been since I'd changed the batteries in my wireless unit... Sure enough was in the middle of Armadillo Strut and about to go outside for a ciggie (mid-song) when the batteries cut out. Had to go back onstage to plug in direct. Then wait for a part of the jam where I can run to my bass case for more batteries. Got them changed, but should have done that before we started, heh.

ETB Saturday at Saxon Pub was also a really good show. Really good crowd, Seth Walker had the placed packed during his set before us. Most of the crowd stayed.

We definitely bring a different energy to shows like the Saxon. We all know that this isn't a long set on 6th Street, this is a paying audience that knows they will hear great music at the Saxon Pub. So let's deliver.

And we still keep it loose, no setlist this time. Just played for 2 hours straight. Which almost feels short since I'm so used to 3+ hour nights. But mixed it up and did "Right Place, Wrong Time" which we hand't played in forever, ended with "Taildragger". "Are You Experienced" felt really god as well. Had a lot of good friends in attendance, and seems everyone left happy.

A really good weekend of playing music, very glad I am able to do what I do.

Friday, December 21, 2012

ETB makes History last weekend, the music and the damage done (to my body)

So last weekend was a long one for ETB.

A long Thursday night set at Friends. A double on Friday (3 hr sets and Friends and BD Riley's), then a long set at Saxon Pub Saturday.

Seems counterproductive and even overkill to play that much in your home town -- thinning the crowd, over-exposure, etc. Why would people pay $10 to see you at one place when you play for free at other places weekly?


1. We don't promote our shows on 6th Street. We play to foot traffic and a few friends that come out. Allows us to play several shows a week, and still have a great turnout for gigs like Saxon Pub. Bills don't pay themselves, and this allows us to make a living by playing all the time, even if staying close to home.

2. Shows with a cover charge (like Saxon Pub) we play a different show than the 6th Street shows, and you get to see us in a reputable venue on a real stage with a great sound system. The 6th Street shows are more laid back and loose (no setlist), while we keep it tighter for places you pay to see us.

Not knocking places like Friends and BD's in the least. But hearing ETB through a high-dollar PA run by a reputable Front Of House engineer with awesome lighting is a different experience than a place where the PA is smaller and we set up mics ourselves.

So yeah.

Thursday played for 3+ hours with a short set break. Friday an early set at Friends (7:30-10:30). Then a brief break where we tore down gear as fast as we could amidst the terrible and loud DJ music that comes on right when the band quits, rolled it 2 doors down, then set up to play for another 3 hours at BD Riley's. Then Saturday we played for about 3 hours at Saxon Pub, as we started at 10pm and there was no midnight band. All ETB.

We try not to do that too much, but again. Bills don't pay themselves.

So I was in energy conservation mode most of last week.

Thursday went alright, decent set to a decent crowd. Got to leave our gear at Friends which was really nice. Rolled in Friday and my green winter hat was still sitting on the sub that's on my corner of the stage. Nice! Early set at Friends went well, slow to build but it built. Our good friend photographer Clayton Hodges was out, great to see him.

Photos courtesy of Clayton Hodges

We joked about playing whatever set we played at Friends earlier backwards at BD's but we abandoned that, as we couldnt remember what we played anyway (no setlist) but we battled through our fatigue and tore the place up. By an hour/half in BD's set my forearms and hands were starting to ache. We ended slightly early cause Rob's body had given out by then.

Yeah bass is tearing up my hands/forearms/elbows/neck. But I can't imagine playing drums the way Rob does for as long as he does. But he is 8 years younger than me, heh.

So we really had to rally for the Saxon Pub show. Especially because before we had added the early Friday set at Friends last minute, we had all committed to helping the ETB Merch Girl Extraordinaire, Loranda, move into her new place.

Holy Aching Body, Batman.

We survived, and despite being dead on our collective feet it felt really good to help her for all the help she's given us over the years.

So then we had to play one more long set at Saxon. And we joked about having a terrible sweater contest, but Eric had no luck finding entries for him and myself at Thift Town. But he HAD hatched a plan to make History that night...!

Saxon Pub had a great crowd that night (aforementioned non-promotion of free 6th Street shows, and heavy promo of gigs like Saxon). We actually took a set break that night (aforementioned no midnight band, all ETB after 10pm).

Getting back onstage Eric waited for the right moment to plug in his new quesadilla maker.

That's right. Eric Tessmer was going to make a quesadilla onstage at the Saxon Pub. We had promoted that, so we HAD to deliver. Fuck the sweater contest.



During "Sissy Strut" Eric prepared the tortillas and cheese on one of Rob's floor toms during the drum solo. It was awesome, and caught on video by Triinti Young:

I had some of it, and it was delicious. And yeah, people are still talking about it!

Good times.

So yeah. Sunday morning I was wrecked. Neck ached from headbanging. Forearms and elbows stiff, hands sore. The fingertips of my right fore- and middle fingers felt like I was trying to finger-fuck a stove burner, and the calluses looked as if they were skin grafts from the bottom of an old man's feet.

But this is what I feel most of the time, just less severe.

I have an acupuncture appointment with the Chinese medicine doctor Trin has been seeing (who is also the sister of Bobby from Honky, keeping it in the family). I'm getting worsening Tennis Elbow on my left arm now (have sought medical treatment for it in my right elbow years back). And wtf, Tennis Elbow? I don't even own a racket!

Left elbow feels stiff when I've kept it bent for too long (i.e. when I sleep). Reaching out and grasping an object with any kind of weight results in sharp pains. On my shoulders where all the forearm/finger muscles attach has similar aches and sharp pains.

Pretty much anything I do with my hands/arms that doesn't involve playing bass for 3 hours hurts. And from years of headbanging my neck sounds like wrenching a sheet of bubble wrap when I stretch it out.

Yeah, I will be going in to my acupuncture appointment with a laundry list of ailments. In the meantime I am glad I have 10+ days off from playing due to Christmas holiday, and we got a big bottle of Zyflammend on the way down here. There's only so much Ibuprofin you can take every day, and Zyflammend works on repairing joints as well as easing inflammation.

Keep you all posted.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mon Dec 17, 2012 -- Last Gig (Before The End of The World)

No I do not in any way believe the resetting of the Mayan Calendar will bring about the end of the world or the end of civilization as I/we know it.

But just in case the world DID end this Friday, here is how my last ever musical performance played out:

Pulled up to Friends on 6th Street for the ETB monday residency about 8:15pm. Eric Tessmer helped me load my gear into the venue. Sitting outside the front door on our merch tubs, I had him sign the picture of him and a kid from Dallas whose parents took him to see Eric at Sundown at Granada a few weeks back. He signed it: "Keep the Dream Supreme."

As he signed it one of the local street sketch artists poised himself to draw either me, or Eric, or both of us. There are two of them. One is Art Randall, who Trintiti and I have several works from. He is awesome, great style, and quick as a flash. Then there is the other guy, who is not so much.

Stood outside with Eric waiting for parking to open on 6th Street so I could stow Goldie Hawn, smoking a cigarette, sketch artist working for almost a full 10 minutes. And I thought it was the Art Randall guy until I saw his sketch. Totally was the OTHER guy. Art Randall is more Ritchie Havens-looking now that I recall. It was Eric and I, just our heads/shoulders. And we looked like Beavis and Butthead. Dammit.

Oh well. Gave him a few bucks (for art classes) and found parking around the corner.

Kind of slow crowd-wise starting off, and we took our time loading on. But started to slowly fill after we began the first set with "Love is Taking It's Toll" by Anders Osborn. Felt good in general, we were definitely still tight from our long weekend of shows (another post for another time, which will include ETB's history-making set at the Saxon Pub...). But I was still feeling the effects of so many long sets in such a short amount of time.

By now our friend and Amplified Heat roadie Moses Blues had made an appearance. Always good to see him!

Halfway thru whatever funk Muddy Waters song we do my fret hand started to go tingly. Not good. My elbows/forearms have been problematic as of late (will go more into detail in aforementioned post for another time). But was able to shake it off and go on, and was not a problem for the rest of the set.

By the first crowd walk the place was pretty swinging for a slow Monday night. Eric managed to park his '49 International ("Olive Oyl") right in front of Friends after I pulled my van around the block, which is good for the show because I have taken to climbing into the back when I'm out smoking a cigarette mid-song. Works every time.

When we were done with that one our friend Dave Scher came up with his iPhone showing the stop-watch function: "You guys were playing for 28 minutes and 33.9 seconds!!!"

Yeah that sounds about right, heh!

Things started to slow down crowd wise in the songs that followed. Which was good cause we were all still recovering from the weekend and could use a breather. Caught up with our friend Kelley Premeaux (tattoo artist) and got talking outside to Gary the bartender about tattoos, tattoo studios and artists. And of course Trin has only been working for Republic Tattoo supply for 2 weeks now which was more than enough time for me to brain-fart on the name of the company, much less tell him about Kelley. Well shit.

By the start of the second set our good friend Roberto Balderrama stopped by. He's a really good dude and true music-lover. We need more people like him.

Second set is by now a blur. You play for 3 hours without a setlist and it becomes hard to remember exactly what you played. "White Room" by Cream is sounding stronger. Some guy tipped us handsomely to play "How Many More Times" by Led Zeppelin, which is incorporated into our walk-around. So we did that section again. And we finally closed with "Love Is Taking It's Toll" again, only this time we decided to play it completely different, and did it as a chill jam. Fun.

All in all my last performance before the end of the world was typical for a decent Monday night. Got to see some good friends, got to make some good music with some good people, got to assist in helping a kid in Dallas Keep the Dream Supreme, and had a rather terrible final portrait of myself and Eric drawn.

Adios world, you've certainly been fun, and what a ride.

I plan to spend Final Friday at the beach in Corpus Christi with Triniti, her son and GF, not giving a fuck. If the Gulf of Mexico starts to recede, I've lived on the coast long enough to spot the warning signs of a Tsunami. If some big meteor or something flies over head, I'll try to get pics of it.

Other than that, I plan to drink a beer or three and relax. And strongly urge the rest of you to do the same.

Take care and rock on, Danny G

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

ETB in Dallas last Saturday

Eric Tessmer Band ventured north to Dallas to play Sundown at the Granada Theater.

This gig was a bit of a wild card for us, we hadn't played Dallas in a year and we'd never played the Sundown stage. Needless to say we were unsure how the turnout would be as well as how much money we'd be returning home with. But we hoped for some good spillover from the Monte Montgomery show on the main stage. Eric made the trek up a day early, so the rest of us traveled in my trusty van Goldie Hawn.

Like any trip north on I-35, a stop at the Czech Stop in West, TX (exit 353) is MANDATORY. The way up and the way back. It is an institution. Amazing colaches!

Granada Theater is in a trendy part of Dallas. Valet parking part of town. Had to kill an hour hanging in the parking lot before the Sundown stage was cleared from the dinner crowd. The Sundown stage/venue was very nice and upscale, but in a good way if that makes sense. We've had bad experiences playing upscale places in the past, but the vibe was very different there.

Pulled up to load in and suddenly there were two employees helping carry gear. Wow, that is awesome and a rare treat... help! But here's the kicker: they weren't just designated load-in guys. This was Mike the owner, and Nick the sound engineer.

Yeah. I had to do a double-take as well. This is unprecedented. I have never been in any band playing any venue where the owner and front of house guy helped the band load in. And they were very nice and very professional. Again, just wow.

We were slightly concerned about the size/shape of the place and our overall sound level (loud as fuck). But the state of the art sound system quickly put our concerns to rest. I looked around for the sound board and only saw a cashier station: Nick was operating sound via an iPad. Technology!

We were slated for 2 70 minute sets starting at 11pm. We started at the appropriate time. The venue sounded amazing and the place quickly filled. Before we knew it we'd played an hour and a half. And it was even MORE packed. We were destroying the place, and the crowd LOVED us. So we nixed the idea of taking a break and blew the doors off the place until 2am. 3 hours straight. And Mike the owner was sitting by the side of the stage most of the night. Needless to say we made a really good impression.

So the gig was an overwhelming success, we will definitely be back, and we walked away with the equivalent of my rent per man. Amazing.

The overnight drive back was uneventful save for a pesky headwind, which was jostling around my fully-loaded van like an empty tallboy. Helped me stay awake. I was usually on overnight drive shift on the ETB tour last summer, so no problemo there.

And of course, we stopped at the Czech Stop again. It's open 24 hours!

Shandon is back, last gig with Arcana Mundi

Busy weekend last week.

Thursday had a double header, my last gig with Arcana Mundi and then Shandon Sahm doing a Sahm Covers Sahm set at the Continental Club. The ETB show in Dallas the next night is a story unto itself, stay tuned (writing it out after this).

Wednesday had final rehearsal for the Shandon show. Jim Ortiz of Amplified Heat was able to make this gig, first time playing with him in Shandon's band in probably 2 years at least. Good to jam with him again! Have been playing shows with Amplified Heat since they were Blues Condition back in the Southern Gun Culture days. 12 years. Wow.

Where the hell has time gone?!?

Gig Thursday evening with Arcana Mundi I was retarded late in showing up for, and for that I felt and still feel terrible. Very unprofessional of me. Got there just in time to set up for the first song. Played all electric that night to save time.

There was an African guy named Abraham assisting in setting up the PA, good friends of the percussionist Brannan Lane. He went to the front of Sahara Lounge and returned brandishing an instrument I'd never seen before and which he built himself. Looked like a cross between a sitar and banjo with aspects of the harp. Employed by holding it against the front of your lower abdomen like a large phallus and plucking the strings with both thumbs. He told me what it was called, but I couldn't understand due to his rich and musical accent.

It was the damndest thing I'd ever seen, and sounded absolutely beautiful.

Without any introduction Abraham launched into a song, singing and plucking the contraption. The rest of us joined in. I don't know what the song was called or what Abraham was so passionately singing about, but it was in C to A minor. We wished we could have had him sit in for the rest of the set!

Which rest of the set went off without a hitch, has been really good playing with Tim and company. But alas I must clear some of my schedule to put Ocean of Stars together, something I've been putting off for far too long.

Arrived later at the Continental Club to catch most of The Bluebonnets' set. This is the all-girl rock brainchild of Kathy Valentine of Go-Go's fame. She produced the last Adrian and the Sickness record (B.F.D.) and I've seen her before, but never met her. And I've been wanting to meet her as a player, rather than just another random crowd member who is "good friends with Adrian and Heather."

Talked to her briefly after her set, she was really cool and took time from wrapping cables to chat a bit and get a pic with me so Triniti and I could send it to my sister, who was a huge Go-Go's fan back in the day, just to blow her mind!

Set with Shandon went really well! Good crowd, and good to be back onstage at the Continental Club. How long has it been... probably since I was in the Mother Truckers. Even saw some familiar faces from Truckers crowd, spillover from the earlier Whiskey Sisters (Teal from TMT) happy hour set, whom I had to miss due to my earlier Arcana Mundi gig.

Doug Sahm tunes are damn fun to play.

Even more fun when sung by Shandon, his youngest son, in full glam rock getup: silver high heeled space boots, silver pants, black feather boa, and some makeup which lasts about halfway thru the first song. And he OWNS that shit. I don't know how he does it, but he does it WELL. You are laughing your ass off, but WITH him. He pokes fun at the early 70's glam thing but also portrays it so passionately that he also rocks your world with it. Respect!

Great fun show, so great to play with Jim and Shandon as well as Gary from Beaumonts (drums) and newer addition bassist Tony (also from Beaumonts). Even got to do a little head-cutting with Jim during near the end of "She's About a Mover." FUN! Good times with great musicians and great people.

Loves my crazy rock n roll life!