Monday, October 21, 2013

Busy/Busy/Busier Still, a 1000 Year Old Tree, and I Got A Loop Pedal too

Damn. Didn't realize how much time had elapsed since my last post. Shit. Sorry, loyal readers.

Been busy, which is very good. But I'm starting to run myself ragged.

Hands/arms feeling much improved tho I'm still working them quite hard.

Since my last post:

Picked up a Boss RC-2 Loop Station pedal at South Austin Music, along with a new power supply to replace the one which my neighbor had given me but was not working properly.

Well, it worked. However my Boss tuner pedal (which it was plugged into) the LED would still be half-on even when the pedal was off... not supposed to do that. Also it was creating a buzz in my signal chain which worsened with each effect I turned on. Not good. So I replaced it before I fried everything on my pedal board.

And my schedule being what it has been recently, it was several days before I could really try out the loop pedal at home. But when I finally did (and learned to use it properly...), HOLY SHIT. This is a game changer for Ocean of Stars, my in the works instrumental band. Now we can easily play my music as a four piece. Hell, if I got one of the fancier units, we could play it with 3 members... but I like having a saxophone player cause it's fucking awesome \m/, 

So yeah. Now if my schedule would just ease up a bit so Ocean of Stars can finally fucking rehearse... That won't be til first part of November. Meeting with the prospective bassist again on Thursday. Keep y'all posted.

I put it on my credit card. Fuck it. I had a huge chunk reduced from it since I had to return the ProTools software I bought since Guitar Center didn't bother checking to see if everything was returned with it in the box before they resold it to me. So it was a decent chunk of change for the loop pedal and power supply. They even threw in a free shirt, that was awesome of them. My existing red one already has a huge hole where my belt buckle is from wearing it onstage.

In the meantime I have been up to:

Picked up a last minute gig playing bass for Aaron Navarro on 6th Street Saturday Oct 12.

That was fun, decent money to be thrown on stage with no prep. I knew at least 1/3 of the covers and the originals were pretty basic, and good. Fun night! Not a huge crowd as storms blew in and it was raining quite hard. Got soaked loading out. Got home just in time for the first drips to start in my patio/living room roof. That was good timing.

Was soon bleeding like a stuck pig as Austin got between 7-12 INCHES of rain during that deluge and the one that blew threw around 6am. Just, wow. That Sunday of Austin City Limits fest was cancelled due to flooding. The water on Lady Bird Lake (the stretch of Colorado River running thru downtown Austin) has risen to the foot of the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue on Auditorium Shores. Barton Springs was a wide and flowing torrent.

Mud from the receded flood waters. It's Flooding Down In Texas:

I plan on rebuilding half the roof early November, as I can't be worrying about the rain when I go on tour...

Sunday the 13th had final VineHouse rehearsal. Went well! Learned slide guitar for one song, they said I did great. That was cool. However the gig for that Thursday (Oct 17) fell thru, but I jump ahead of my tale.

Monday Oct 14 played Metal Mondays at Headhunters downtown on bass with Forever Town.

Fun show, pretty good crowd. I give myself a B-, as I was never able to get around to refreshing their music (too fucking busy, and we had just played the week before). Figured I'd be fine, but my hands got tired quick and I was missing shit here and there. Wasn't a bad show tho.

Shared the stage with Mustard Puncher (drummer for Forever Town's other band), which is always a blast. They play good times, high octane, fun PUNK FUCKING ROCK. Tight, energetic, and with a loyal following. Was awesome standing out front smoking a cig watching thru the front door as empty beer cans, ice, cups full of ice, and anything that could be tossed were thrown at them as they play -- and all done out of love. After the show there was even salsa containers and taco foil wrappers and all kinds of weird shit onstage. Good times!

Was getting my cigs out of my van after parking out front to load, slipped and nearly busted my ass in front of a lovely lady getting her bike from the rack. She saw it. I caught myself, but still... I didn't bother trying to strike up a conversation after that, heh...

Tues Oct 15 I missed the Ortiz Brother Blues Jam at the Legendary White Swan, as rain was moving in from the West. Started raining just as I was about to leave, and watched the radar as storms coming in from the Rio Grande Valley were sending a plume of moisture/rain 150+ miles straight towards us. Shit shit shit... Needless to say, it never came. Until 6am. Luckily it woke me up, stayed up for a good 90 mins monitoring the patio leaks...

Wed Oct 16 spent most of the day refreshing and learning music on bass for the Adrian and the Sickness for a rehearsal that night. During the refreshing saw that Mark from Vinehouse was calling me. Couldn't answer as I had a mouthfull of home cooked hamburger, but my gut said it was probably bad news about the show. Calling him back a bit later, it was. Logan's on 6th had fallen behind on renovations and would not be open. Shit. VH tried to relocate to diff venue, but no dice (jump ahead of my tale again).

AATS rehrearsal that night went great, gonna be fun playing with Adrian and Armando (drums) again!

Thursday Oct 17. It was by this time I realized I'd been so busy learning music that I had forgotten to make arrangements for my Chihuahua Nacho to be looked after for the weekend's two Rick Hornyak shows in Rockport TX...!!!!!! Shit! HOWEVER, with the Vinehouse show now postponed indefinitely, I decided it was worth the extra fuel expenditure to drive down myself to my parents' place in Corpus Christi later that day, rather than ride down with Rick. That way Nacho could stay at their place, I could do the Friday show, stay at the hotel in Fulton Beach, do the Saturday show and drive back to my parents that night.

Which is exactly what I did. The RH shows Fri/Sat Oct 18/19 at the Grog Bar went really well, fun sets to decent and good crowds respective of nights. Used the little Trace Elliot Boxer 30 bass combo amp Eric Tessmer gave me awhile back, as my SVT would have been overkill. That little thing kicked ass! Sounded great and never had to turn it up past 2.

My parents came out for the Saturday show, we went out for dinner and drove to nearby Goose Island to see this:

The Goose Island Oak, a native live oak tree estimated to be 1000 years old.

Just, wow. I wish we had more than five minutes there before heading back to load in at Grog Bar. I would like to go back, climb over the fence surrounding it, and touch it for awhile. Just to feel a living thing that is older than a lot of civilizations, and has weathered countless hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and humans for a millenia. That just blows my mind. Nature is awesome.

Sunday Oct 20 had a rough night and rough morning, trouble sleeping and weird dreams. But drove back to Austin, home by 4pm. Enough time to nap, wake up, eat, walk Nacho, then rehearse with Dead Oak 7-9pm. They brought in a second guitar player to try out. He did decent, considering he had little prep and wasn't using his own rig. I was so out of it I don't even remember his name at this point.

Afterwards made an appearance at the house warming/birthday BBQ for Amber Saxon of Hell's Belles/BugGirl, who just moved into a rental with her brother Clinno (BugGirl drummer) and Heather Webb (BugGirl bassist, etc). Caught the tail end and missed most of the jamming, but still good to see some good people. I didn't stay too long, but with as late as I got there I was the last to leave, heh. Great to see all of them! I know some really awesome people and musicians, and for that I am eternally greatful.

Today was spent depositing the check from Rick Hornyak shows, taking out the recycling, and refreshing/learning Thunderosa music for rehearsal this evening in prep for the 3 date/3 state run we are making next weekend. Jam went great. Getting together again on Wednesday.

Rest of my week as follows:

Tomorrow: rest while I can, Ortiz Bros Blues Jam at Legendary White Swan

Wednesday: Work on Thunderosa music, rehearsal with them and probably Dead Oak afterwards

Thursday: Work on Adrian and the Sickness music, meet up with prospective Ocean of Stars bassist in afternoon, rehearse with Adrian and the Sickness that night

Friday: Picked up another Eric Tessmer Band reunion/fill-in at Friends

Saturday: Leave early for Houston with Adrian and the Sickness, we play the Neon Moon Saloon at 6pm

Sunday: Hopefully doing FUCK ALL

And some people don't think playing music full time is a real job...

I should offer people a Rock N Roll fantasy camp, where they follow me around for a week, watching me refresh music, loading my gear for me in and out of rehearsals, loading my gear for me in and out of gigs. Whatever they make in a week at their job, that will be my fee to see what being a musician is actually like. HA!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tiger Balm, No Rest For The Weary

So was posting yesterday about my hands being blown, trying to take it easy on them to not injure myself.

Last night went to see Eric Tessmber Band at their Friends Monday residency. Maryann from Rochester NY, very good friend of the band, was in town visiting and would be at the show.

So as a birthday present to her, I sat in for two songs. A cover of "Shot Down" and the original "Blues Bullets".

 Eric and Maryann, photo courtesy yours truly

I didn't think to bring my own bass, as tho Gian's 60's Gibson SG bass feels nothing whatsoever like my P-Basses (short scale as opposed to long scale, flatwounds as opposed to roundwound strings, he slings his high whereas I wear mine loin-cloth low) it's still an awesome bass to play, and it's always cool doing my thing with someone else's rig and tone.

Not only does he sling his bass high, but apparently I am also a few inches taller than him as well.

My hands and arms were feeling great all day. I figured two songs would be fine.


Both songs are very involved and played fast and hard. I can't play bass slung high or sitting down due to the angles for my arms/hands being all wrong. So I was using all the right muscles in all the wrong ways. Hard.

By the end of "Shot Down" I was kinda hurting. I paused to lengthen Gian's bass strap as low as it would go, which helped a little but not really.

"Blues Bullets" did me in. OUCH.

Now I was concerned. Luckily have no gigs this weekend thusfar, but do have a week of learning music on guitar, and practicing said music on guitar. Plus, tonight is the Ortiz Bros Blues Jam at Legendary White Swan, hosted by Gian and his brothers' other band Amplified Heat.

Last week it didn't happen due to a scheduling conflict. Tonight it is. I want to play, guitar and bass.

However now I am concerned over the shape of my hands/forearms. Well, their shape is the same, they just hurt and are very tired and quite angry at me.

During ETB's second set, Eric asked if I wanted to get up and play some more. I had to decline. I had already been using my glass of ice water and my cold Lonestar as an ice pack, and playing any more would only injure myself for sure.

So when I got home, of course gobbled more Ibuprofin like candy. Getting ready for bed, I spotted my little jar of Tiger Balm on the nightstand.

FUCK!!! How could I have forgotten about Tiger Balm?!?

I could have used some after getting home Saturday night, applied more Sunday morning, more on Sunday afternoon, and more Monday morning...

Back over Christmas when my tennis elbow was acting up something fierce, Tiger Balm was the only thing that improved it almost immediately. Well shit...

See how I feel today, I'll be mainly charting out arrangements for the rest of the Vine House music today as opposed to playing and rehearsing it. Hope my situation improves by tonight. Because I really WANT TO PLAY at the jam...

Not only that, but I have a very busy month ahead. No rest for the weary:

Tomorrow I will be meeting up with the prospecting Ocean of Stars bassist. Thursday have rehearsal with Dead Oak. And in between now and Sunday afternoon when VH rehearsal scheduled, have another 10-12 songs to learn and practice for Vine House, in addition to the 10-12 I have already learned.

Then, next week will be spent mastering the VH music for a Thursday Oct 17 gig. As well as refreshing the Rick Hornyak music on bass for two gigs in Rockport TX that weekend, the 18th/19th.

Week after that will be spent learning/refreshing music and a rehearsal on bass with Adrian and the Sickness for gig in Houston on the 26th. In between I will be learning and refreshing music and having rehearsal last week of October on bass with Thuderosa for a three-date/three-state run October 31st-Nov 2nd.

And there will be Dead Oak and Ocean of Stars rehearsals during this entire time as well.

Hence my concern over my hands and forearms.

If I injure myself, I cannot play.

If I cannot play, I cannot pay my bills...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Self-imposed rest after a busy weekend, Ibuprofin

So Eric Tessmer Band picked up an early set at Friends before the 10:30pm set at BD Riley's on 6th Street this past Saturday.

Bring it on.

I've done doubles like that with ETB many times before, and while my body was more than a little angry with me the next morning for playing back-to-back 3 hours sets punctuated only by the mad dash to tear down the gear and wheel it two doors down and throw it onstage at BD Riley's, my bank account was quite jubilant. That and I wisely downed 3 Ibuprofin before leaving the house.

Again, really fun to be playing with Eric and Rob again. Setting up at Friends took my main P-Bass (Minnie Pearl) out of the case to find it was still in Eb, from the last ETB show I did 2 weeks ago. Meaning: I haven't touched my bass in two weeks.

Wow. Hands/arms-wise, that second set is going to hurt...!

And I forgot to stretch out before the first set. Shit! My whole body was going to hurt.

Friends set was a blast, the BD Riley's set we on fire and totally destroyed.

Kind of a blur for the whole night. 6 hours of high energy blues rock. All I knew is my hands were starting to hurt a few songs into the second set but there was nothing that could be done about it except keep going, keep going, keep going.

I don't think our energy wavered a millisecond that whole second set. All I know is we improved the first song, and played a few things the second set that we didn't play for the first.

Next morning I had to be up bright and early for 11:30am rehearsal in far North Austin on guitar with Vine House, only to leave there at 3:30 to haul ass back downtown for a short set with Forever Town.

I wasn't as on point for the VH rehearsal as I would have liked. Have been going over the first half of their material and was going to start with the second half Saturday during the day. That changed with the early set added to ETB's night, and had to forgo charting out songs and learning them to go into energy-conservation mode for the long night and day ahead.

That and my frethand and arm were blown from playing 6 hours the previous night. But got through it and it sounded as good as it could have. Turns out Matt their drummer and I played briefly together in Shandon Sahm's band, and he is in two videos we shot several years ago.

'Everything's Cool'  Shandon/myself/Jim Ortiz/Amy/Matt

'Rock N Roll Demon'

I didn't play on the recording of 'Everything's Cool' but I did supply the guitar solo for 'Rock N Roll Demon.'


Pretty much dead on my feet by the time I rolled in to Red Eyed Fly for the Forever Town set. And thank God is was short.

Soldiered through that one best I could. After the first song both my hands were blown and I was feeling a little loopy from having only eaten a single breakfast taco in the past 24 hours on top of the massive energy expenditure the previous night.

But mission accomplished, I hung for a bit but had to grab my gear and head out so I could go home, get some food, eat some more Ibuprofin, and rest.

Today was a self-imposed day off. More Ibuprofin this morning.

I need to work on the rest of the Vine House music, but don't want to press my luck with my hands. I often have to remind myself that when I need to take a day off, that is still DOING SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE. Usually my head will swim with all the things I need to do and should be doing.

But when I have the opportunity for some much-needed downtime, I need to take it.

Mission accomplished there. I feel really good. And gobbling around 2000mg of Ibuprofin the past day and a half, my body feels pretty damn good too. I feel very fortunate to feel very good physically for being 39.

Adding to my feeling of general well-being, I was able to pay my rent in a timely manner this month. That hasn't happened in awhile. Things are looking up, and I hope that trend continues.

Also looks like Ocean of Stars will still be on hiatus for the next two weeks, as life and schedules aren't allowing for rehearsal this week or the next. Not the end of the world. This will give me the opportunity to sit down with the prospective bassist and work with her personally to bring her up to speed, rather than just throw her into the mix and hope she kicks its ass.

So yeah. Today was nice, on many levels.

Finally cooling off here in Central Texas, have had the Hobbit Hole open for the last two days, and had to get an extra blanket and wear pajamas for warmth last night. #awesome

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Spike in Traffic, 6 strings vs 4 strings, Busy, Inner Voice and Ocean of Stars

Wow, I don't know what the hell I did differently, but the page views for my last post are currently over 530...!?!

Usually its around 500 less than that, as I don't advertise this thing much.

Especially after my Adsense account got pulled due to my GF at the time "trying to help" by clicking on the ads, heh. Guess I need to finally look into other platforms for that, as if this traffic keeps up I might be able to supplement my income via this blog, which would be amazing. Financially, I need all the help I can get...

October is picking up, and that is good.

Been playing more guitar lately, more than I have in years probably, and that is VERY good. Have done two shows with good friend and ex-SGC bandmate Amber Lucille, which were fun and reminded me how out of shape I am on a 6-string. My fret fingertips hurt for a day and a half after both shows.

But all this week I've been hitting the Vine House music hard in prep for the two rapidly approaching Sunday rehearsals and a gig at Logan's on 6th Street on Thursday Oct 17. God damn it feels great to play guitar. Three days in and I can already feel my hands getting back in shape. Feels good to get my chops back. Can't wait to see how I do on my own damn music when Ocean of Stars rehearsals resume \m/,

Haven't run over it today yet, I was up til 6:30am due to insomnia and a heavy mind. Financial worries, decompressing still from the breakup, etc.

Dead Oak rehearsals are resuming tonight at 7pm, I've already tried to take one nap today after waking up around 11:30. No dice. May try again here pretty soon after finally having breakfast at 4pm...

But my mental state is faring much better today, as gigs that were falling thru are falling right back into place, other gigs are coming my way, and gigs that have been on the books are still happening (so far). Also just picked up another BD Riley's bass gig this Saturday with my former full time project Eric Tessmer Band, that will be a blast, as was the one two weeks ago \m/,

So yeah, October is shaping up to be a pretty damn good month.

Maybe I won't need a SNAP card for food assistance now, especially after I finally applied just in time for the Govt Shutdown! Gee thanks, you fucking self-serving assholes.

Anyway. In other news, I have a bass player I will be trying out for Ocean of Stars. Don't want to reveal any details because I don't like talking about things only for them to fall through, making me look like a jackass.

But I will say, this individual has the right energy for the project, and digs the music.

And having the right kind of energy for this project is very important, while the Ocean of Stars music is loud and heavy more often than not, the overall energy of it is very Yin (passive/feminine/negative pole of the battery) as opposed to Yang (active/male/positive pole of the battery).

And having the right mix of energy is very important, and to be honest I couldn't really tell you why. I always follow my inner voice/heart/gut instincts when I feel them telling me something important. My inner voice has been telling me that the OoS bass position has to have the right energy, and should be a woman. Earth mother energy? I don't know. My inner voice speaks, I listen and act accordingly.

Unless my inner voice is telling me to do something obviously stupid, which hasn't happened so far... at least I dont think!