Saturday, July 28, 2012

Been a good coupla days

Gettin lots done and been seeing some great music.

Wednesday had practices with Arcana Mundi and Thunderosa both fall through. So spent the day rewiring and fixing things.

Got my stricken tricked out Crybaby working again. Swapped out a faulty switch probably a year and a half ago and been dead ever since. Thought it was gone for good so was going to harvest parts to trick out the new one I just got from AJ (Thunderosa). But checked switch wiring and I'll be damned. Bonehead-wired it. No woinder it seemed dead. Had that remedied soon as the soldering iron heated up.

Also for shits and giggles added an IC socket to my Marshall Lead 12, so I could swap out op-amps and dial the tone to taste. Really digging it, and sounds much better now that I'm not using fucked up instrument cables with it, heh. Used it for Arcana Mundi's inaugural warm up gig and it did great even tho I was using it more as an acoustic amp. Bought it from South Austin Music a few weeks back.

But the power strip on my pedal board died shortly before set time so that was next on my list. Replaced old (ground connector broke off months ago) with a new one. However no room for my wah pedal on the smaller pedal board I use, and also noticed my already iffy daisy chain power cable was getting iffier. Well crap.

Also looked into tweaky pickup selector switch on Paul Stanley Iceman. Might just have to rewire it again, or just totally rewire the whole guitar, as over the years that thing has had more surgery than Joan Rivers' face. For another day.

Had the night off Thursday, as ETB gig was cancelled for a private party at Friends. So went with Trin to see The Beaumonts and The Hickoids at Hole in the Wall. Good times! The Beaumonts are old friends from the Southern Gun Culture days, they used to play heavy rock as Hognose and did some albums with Arclight Records. As that wound down they for fun started a parody of an outlaw country band, singing some of the most offensive and hilarious country lyrics ever conceived by the human mind.

Then it started to take off. They've since opened for the likes of David Allan Coe, and Ray Wylie Hubbard loves them. Hell yeah, good for them and good to see them as well, been awhile. Their drummer Gary also drums for Shandon Sahm.

Caught a good portion of The Hickoids set but spent much of it catching up with all of our friends there, as I was too rapt and laughing my ass off during The Beaumonts set to make the rounds earlier. Good stuff, good times, good people and great music!

Last night we went downtown to Lucky Lounge to see our good friend Ric Furley play drums for our other friend, singer Deann Renee. More good times with good people playing great music. Deann has an amazing set of pipes, and Ric owns it as always. Towards end of the set got an invite from the Forever Town boys to head to Beauty Ballroom for a showcase of some of producer Frenchie Smith's bands. Sweet! And to think we were contemplating heading home early, heh.

Decided best course of action was to get me a slice of pizza, as I'd forgone dinner in order to get to Lucky Lounge earlier to catch more of the Deann Renee set. But change of plans, and I was getting a headache from lack of fuel. Found a meter at 7th and Trinity, perfect! Hoboken Pie on the way to the venue. Didn't help my headache but at least some something to keep me going. But then it dawned on us... Beauty Bar (which we were walking to) had closed. Where the hell was Beauty Ballroom?!?

So we mapquested it, shit. Off Riverside, 2 miles away. So we abandoned out parking spot and headed south over the river. Very nice place, never been there before. Burning Avalanche onstage when we got there. There was an old hippie doing the old school overhead projector oil/light show. Oh my God was it fucking cool to see that in action by someone who obviously knew exactly what the hell he was doing.

Caught up with Frenchie and Danny and Jayson from Forever Town. Wanted to stay all night or at least catch part of Scorpion Child. But my damn headache prevented either. Well shit. Big show the next evening and dont want to overdo it and get sick.

Tonight is the big Without Regrets benefit at Threadgill's South. We close the night out after The Soldier Thread and Vallejo. Hosted by our good friend B-Doe from KLBJ-FM.

A great lineup at a great venue and all for a great cause. #STOKED

Monday, July 23, 2012

'Leap of Faith' album review

Got my first review for 'Leap of Faith' courtesy of!

Danny G 'Leap of Faith': Pressure and Time

by HP Taskmaster

Leap of Faith is the second full-length from Austin, Texas-based multi-instrumentalist Danny Grochow – aka Danny G. His first outing was 2010’s Ocean of Stars. Like its follow-up, Ocean of Stars was recorded over the course of February’s 28 days with Grochow as a participant in the RPM Challenge to create an album from scratch in a month’s time. No word on whether the extra day he got from 2012 being a leap year gave him a leg up on Leap of Faith, or whether the title is a reference to that, but the fact remains that for being put down on a digital eight-track in a month and for Grochow having played guitar, bass and drums as well as recorded himself and done the full art layout on his own, it’s an impressive feat. That’s not to say it’s perfect, but I don’t think perfection is the idea in the first place, and for what Grochow is playing on Leap of Faith’s six tracks, the kind of self-contained, humble production actually fits really well. Something too overblown wouldn’t work, but the atmosphere on even more active material like “Rare Earth Metals” is intimate, and while the flirtations with psychedelia on opener “Leap of Faith: Symphony in D Standard” don’t really come across with the swirl reaching as far into space as it otherwise might, Grochow is more than able to get his point across, his effectively layered guitar leading the way there and almost at every other point on the entirely instrumental album.

It’s a better headphone listen, as proximity of volume seems to push the songs more to the forefront of consciousness, but part of what makes Leap of Faith work through speakers is the chill factor, that you can put it on and let it zone you out while you listen. That may not be the most in-your-face approach, but the Brant Bjork-style grooves on “Leap of Faith: Symphony in D Standard” or the later “Give us the Key” make it seem like laid back was Grochow’s intent all along, and it’s something these songs have in common with Ocean of Stars. It’s not that the music doesn’t get heavy – “Rare Earth Metals” has more dynamic range on both ends than it might immediately seem following the skillfully played nylon acoustics of “Luna en Sombra” – but that even when it does, the production allows for a consistency of atmosphere. There’s only so far it’s going to go, and indeed, only so far it wants to go. Grochow, whose main gig is playing bass with the blues rocking Eric Tessmer Band, shows a clear love of guitar. Maybe that’s a way for him to shake up his routine, but he’s obviously capable of using the instrument, electrically or acoustic, to set and build ambience. Leap of Faith is solo without being self-indulgent and engaging without losing its underlying lonely sensibility – a surprising balance that deepens the listen. It’s not definitively rock, or heavy rock, but vaguely progressive and an honest-sounding exploration. Somewhere else, some other context, a drumless song like “Krim: The Sound of Kali” might be bedroom-type neo folk.

That song, the closer, reaches nine minutes exactly, and the next closest is the opener at 7:50, but even shorter material like the penultimate “Give us the Key” (4:39) or “Rare Earth Metals” (5:42) has time to breathe and space for some development and progression to take place, and Grochow, though he’s working alone, puts that time to solid use. “Rare Earth Metals” starts out with a chugging riff that serves as the foundation on which the melody is gradually introduced, the drums following suit in straightforward fashion. Curiously for his being a bassist professionally, Leap of Faith isn’t especially heavy on low end, and even its most weighted stretches feel airier than they might were the tones coated in heavy rocking fuzz. Still, there is something heavy underneath all those subdued atmospherics; Grochaw’s minor-key lead in the second half of “Rare Earth Metals” feels like a nod to something more aggressive than bluesy, and I can’t help but think of Slayer’s “Dead Skin Mask” when I hear the ringing tones just about 10 seconds into “Leap of Faith: Symphony in D Standard.” But if he’s working at all with those kinds of influence – and it could just as easily be me reading into it – he’s doing so in restrained fashion, and “Give us the Key”’s rolling groove is about as thunderous as he seems to want to get.

No complaints on that front. The form and the methodology seem to suit Grochow well, and Leap of Faith ultimately benefits from the freshness of its component tracks, all of which were written as well as recorded over the course of that same month earlier this year. Whatever it took Danny G. to get to the point where he went from “zero” to “album” in the span of four weeks, it was a worthwhile excursion, and while I’d wager the more difficult part than the actual recording was writing, mixing, assembling and the rest of what goes into making an album – he seems pretty able to handle his eight-track here, and since it’s not his first time making a record like this, it’s safe to say he has some experience with it – the efforts have still produced endearing results. It isn’t a landmark album, but it wears its humanity on its sleeve, which is rare for a digital self-recording/self-release, and there’s a lot of arguments put to bed quickly by, “Well it was written and recorded in 28 days.” I might be intrigued to hear what Grochow could do with a band behind him, someone either playing bass or guitar and someone on drums in a power trio, since that seems to be what parts of the album are looking to recreate, but I guess that’s a different project altogether. Don’t write it off as impossible, though. We already know Danny G. likes to take on a good challenge every now and then.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Busy is good.

Last week the ETB Saxon Pub gig was awesome, great crowd even though we played there the week before as well. Also the Forever Town gig afterwards at the Dirty Dog went great! Still had plenty of energy reserves left even after the previous blistering 2 hour Saxon set. Finally met and chatted with local producer Frenchie Smith afterwards, really good guy.

ETB @ Saxon,photos courtesy of Dave TV

Forever Town @ Dirty Dog, photos courtesy Triniti Young

Health-wise have been up and down. Sunday and most of Monday felt blah, but not as much in the past. Can't remember if I posted about it, but my retired-nurse mother did some research on my weird symptoms and theorized I am getting over West Nile Virus. Cool, hopefully my first weird tropical disease \m/, Had the ER doc actually TESTED the blood they drew 3 weeks ago I would have known that sooner...

But felt much improved after the ETB Monday gig at Friends, which is saying something. I felt better *after* playing for 3 hours than I did before. Tuesday and Wednesday felt great! Had practice with Arcana Mundi Tues in prep for our inaugural warm-up gig at Kick Butt Coffee tonight.

Wednesday afternoon I had my doctor appointment via HAAM that I had set up the week of my ER visit. Wow, wish the ER visit had gone as well as seeing this doctor. And of course I was feeling fine at the time, go figure. But they took more blood, and will actually be testing it this time. If they find something I will hear from them in a few days. If nada, will hear about it when I receive the results in the mail. See what happens.

Wednesday eve I jammed with Thunderosa, who I will be joining for occasional shows on lead guitar. God it felt good to play. AJ is very interested in drumming for Ocean of Stars as well, so it will be more of an energy trade, as neither can afford to really pay the other for their time, heh. Keep y'all posted on that.

After Thunderosa practice went with Triniti to Headhunters for the BugGirl Euro tour farewell show. Good times with good people, another one of those awesome family reunion type deals. However... No sooner had BugGirl taken the stage that my energy level dropped like a damn rock. Fuck fuck fuck. I sucked it up and had as good a time as I could, but not long after their set we had to say our goodbyes and head out. Dammnit, thought I was over this shit...

Woke Thursday morning from weird dreams and still felt like shit. Went back to a fitful sleep and again woke up feeling like shit. But things turned around shortly before heading to MJ Torrence's for final Arcana Mundi practice and felt fine rest of the day, which is good cause ETB was playing in Killeen that night. Which was a misadventure unto itself. We took my van Goldie Hawn, as I recently had $2700 in radiator and front end work, and just got a new (used) tire to replace the old one that you could practically see the air through. Drive to Killeen uneventful. Get to club, Jokers Icehouse, and began loading onto the outdoor stage. The booker seemed confused. Turns out they were double-booked. Some TX Country band they were "paying a lot of money for". Wow, what are we, chump change? So we could either play an hour for free or just go home. We chose the latter. Not sure where the oversight/miscommunication was, but that shit sucks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Checking in again, and double-duty this Friday

I've been neglecting to update this Blog as of late, and I'd like to apologize to my 2 or 3 faithful readers, heh.

Just because I ain't writing about it doesn't mean nothing is going on.

Health has been up and down, been more than 2 weeks since my better-safe-than-sorry ER visit. Have had good days and bad days. Friday felt like complete and utter shit all day prior to an ETB 9pm prime-time slot at the Saxon Pub. We had my good friend Ric Furley filling in for Rob, who was booked for the Street Light Suzie CD release party.

Felt like I was dragging ass, but we had an AMAZING show with Ric. No preparation other than a brief conversation pre-show to discuss the set list, and pretty much ended with, "Well, we'll just play whatever. You'll be fine!" And not only was Ric fine, he knocked the shit out of the PARK. It was an all covers set since we weren't able to get together with him beforehand to go over originals. No matter. It all felt new and fresh, and Ric absolutely killed it. Awesome!

After the show my energy level was back such that Trin and I went to Headhunters for a much needed-family reunion. Don't get to spend much time there anymore, but great to see so many people I used to see all the time. Too many to list, you know who you are. And if you dont remember, it means you had a good time \m/,

Saturday ETB played a private event in Boerne TX outside San Antonio. We played in a 100 year old school house which now served as a Unitarian Church. I gotta tell ya, if church gigs could ALWAYS be like that I'd do the church-player thing! Great fun and good times, crowd really dug it. Small intimate room that sounded great. Even had the hymn bulletin board on one side and a very very VERY weird rendering of Jesus on the other. Creepy even. I quipped to the crowd, "This next song is called 'Hymn #105'." Heh! By the closer (Voodoo Child) we had everyone on their feet dancing, revival-style. Hell yeah!

Sunday awoke feeling great despite the energy expenditure of the Boerne show. But then I went from great to utter shit in less than 10 minutes. That was weird. Could feel the color draining from my face as if the lifeforce was draining from my body. Had to cancel on Arcana Mundi practice and stay in bed. Fuck fuck fuck.

Monday awoke feeling better, but could felt I could easily go either way at any time. Arrived at Friends after a line a severe storms blew through and still felt iffy by set time. The show was pretty decent despite the thinner crowd due to rain, but still a good night tho.

Yesterday morning awoke feeling ready to take on the world with one arm tied behind my back. Awesome! Spent the day doing some rigorous and involved work on the Hobbit Hole in prep for more rain headed our way. That felt really, really good. I really hope this trend continues. I have a doctor appointment for next week Wednesday, which means I will be feeling fine by then most likely. But better safe than sorry.

Still have an enlarged lymph node on back of my neck which has receded quite a bit but still there. That, and feeling bad wouldnt be so bad if it was something I could put my finger on: body aches, stomach issues, headache, etc. But the whole "I don't know what is wrong other than I feel like total crap for no reason whatsoever" is very much a drag.

In other news I practice with Arcana Mundi in a few hours, and tomorrow is the 3rd and final rehearsal with Forever Town, whom I will be playing bass for at the Dirty Dog Friday night. There music has been a challenge to learn, albeit a very welcome one. I like challenges! A lot of subtle intricacies to their music, no way I can just bullshit my way through it. Which is good.

Plus, checking my bank records yesterday saw a $7.53 payout from ASCAP. Whoah!!! My very first mailbox money!!! Thank you direct deposit for making it very anti-climatic, heh. Guess I'll have to save a screen shot on my phone and print it out so I can hang it on the wall or something. Checking the ASCAP website it doesn't tell me what it was actually from, other than it was owed to me from January of last year. Fuck it, royalties!!!!

That, and ETB picked up the Friday 9pm slot again this week due to a cancellation. Sweet! Danny G double duty this friday!