Friday, March 29, 2013

SXSW 2013: Friday March 15

The three of us piled into Boss Hoss early (for us) on Friday to forge our way downtown to the first of two matinee shows (1-5pm slots) at Agave on 6th Street. We knew what we were up against (closed streets and moving gear a block or two just to get to the venue) and had two dollies in tow.

It was a GORGEOUS day, sunny and cool, and we made our way up South 1st Street to downtown with 2 hours to get there and very high spirits.

Then it happened. Boss Hoss stalled in traffic at the light at South First and Barton Springs. Shit. Would not restart. Shit shit.

We kept our cool, threw it into neutral, and pushed the fully-loaded 15-passenger van about a hundred yards in traffic to a nearby parking lot by Threadgill's World HQ. Laughing the whole time. "Livin the dream!"

Eric pulled the dog house and messed with various engine parts. No luck. But no worries. Couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to be stranded en route to a gig. Eric called Loranda (our merch seller) for assistance, and they left for parts, tools, and tacos. I notified Triniti and had her and Goldie Hawn on standby.

Beautiful day:

Eric and Loranda returned, parts were replaced and tacos were consumed. But Boss Hoss was still dead in the water. So we pushed it further into the parking lot, I called Triniti to bring my van, and we unloaded the gear to await reloading into Goldie, Rob claiming a proper spot for our stricken van with his drum hardware case.

Trinti arrived with Goldie, and we set about unloading the gear in my van (guitar rig, drums, recording gear, etc), put that into Boss Hoss, and loaded the ETB gear into Goldie.

Crisis averted, only an hour late for our show, heh! But Agave had been notified and they were of course understanding. Closest we could get to 6th Street and the venue was the roadblock at 5th and Neches. Trucked our gear a block to the back alley. Of course I didn't know that and went on to 6th Street carting my Dietz 2x15 on a dolly. Couldn't find the venue (Agave changed names to Big Bang for SXSW, they sometimes do that).

Was getting a little peeved about the fucked up loading situation, but was still in good spirits even with our Boss Hoss going belly up. Roadblocks, crowds, cops, and SXSW operatives whisking around in golf carts.

But after my cab fell off the dolly onto the street not once, but TWICE, I was pissed. As a musician I appreciate the city inviting the entire music industry to our fair town for a few days every year. But that also made it fucking impossible to load into a paying show without great difficulty. Which never seems to happen the other 361 days of the year...

Hastily threw our gear into the front corner of the bar, by the open windows. Lots of good foot traffic on 6th Street, so this would be a good show. Even with the concrete floor and weird acoustics.

We threw our frustrations into the music, drew a great crowd and knocked them dead from about 2:30 til 6. We played longer to make good on missing the first hour of the appointed set time. And we weren't close to being done at 5pm anyway, and neither was the crowd. Great set. Drinks flowing again courtesy of our friends from Dallas and enthusiastic audience members.

Loaded out the back door into the alley, weary but victorious, catching our breath and waiting for Triniti to battle traffic to the previous load spot on 5th Street. Rob's back was starting to give him problems. Pushing a van and a long set I'm sure didn't help...

As we rested, up rolls a SXSW golf cart and two SXSW operatives.

Immediately the older lady behind the wheel started giving us shit, and wasn't being nice about it. We needed to clear the alley immediately as this was a fire zone and we were blocking it (our gear took up much of the alley but golf carts could still make it through at least).

We explained to her that we had just gotten offstage, we're waiting for the van, would move the gear shortly, and would CERTAINLY get it the fuck away from the venue if it went up in flames. This response did not please her, and she kept on telling us to move it NOW.

At this point I lost it and yelled at her: "You know? If we could USE YOUR FUCKING GOLF CART TO MOVE OUR GEAR, WE'D BE OUT OF HERE QUICKER!!!" I don't feel great about it, but I feel no remorse whatsoever either. It needed to be fucking said.

She drove off amid a hail of expletives from both sides. And she wasn't a volunteer, she was a SXSW employee. Nice. I can't help but feel that SXSW routinely shits over the local indigenous artists who were originally what the festival was all about, in effort to make it more of a money grab every year. There I said it.

And here is the Eric Tessmer Band, a HARD working local Austin band in the Live Music Capital of the World, who just had to leave their stricken van in a parking lot and STILL made it to the gig, being yelled at by a power-tripping SXSW goon in a golf cart, as if we were some clueless amateur shit band from out of state who drove all the way down here to play one free show to nobody.


Not to mention Rob's tale of Wednesday night during Street Light Suzie's set (one of his other bands) at the outdoor stage for the Texas Rock Fest (non-SXSW affiliated music festival). That's his to tell, however.


Eric and Rob stayed downtown to raise a little hell, I went home with Triniti to get some rest before heading to the '04 Lounge to catch what we thought was a Super Heavy Goat Ass renuion for the Whoopsy Magazine party.

Turns out it was the SHGA offshoot band Fur King. We still had a blast, and yes they do have an actual reunion coming up. That will be fucking awesome. I've know those guys and been playing shows with them since the Southern Gun Culture days way back in 2000.

SXSW 2013: Thursday March 14

On this day ETB had a short set on the back patio of Headhunters, right before the annual Small Stone Records showcase, which I've attended on and off for almost 10 years.

Began my day catching most of Dave Grohl's SXSW keynote speech live on the internet. Just wow. Talk about inspiration and vailidation. I highly recommend musicians, artists and civilians alike all check it out.

Boss Hoss ran great en route to the venue, and downtown was now in full-on madhouse mode with crowds and street closures, and it was only 4 in the afternoon. We had to drive up Congress to 10th or so, hook back down south on the I-35 access road to get to 8th and Red River St where Headhunter's is.

And a miraculous event occured: an empty parking space on 8th, right next to Headhunter's, the meter good for 6 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me explain the significance of this. Bands during SXSW have a  better chance of landing that sought-after major-label record contract than finding reasonable parking for a gig. It's like winning the lottery. It truly was a SXSW miracle! Not only that, but when we were done playing we could throw the gear into the van to get it out of the way of the 6 or so acts after us!

Just, wow.

Boss Hoss as viewed from the load-in door:

So we could actually celebrate our good standing in the Music Poll rather than worry about gear and getting the hell out of downtown right after our set. Again, just wow.

Welcome to SXSW:

And our short set (45 or so) went great. We were on fire. Eric was definitely playing with renewed vigor and confidence (two qualities he certainly does not lack), stepping up and showing why he was voted #2 Guitar Player in town. A crowd steadily gathered on the floor and upstairs in the loft, many of whom were walking by and had to see who was causing all the noise. The Foo Fighters tour bus was parked across the street by Stubb's, and I was hoping Dave Grohl would do the same. But no dice, heh. Drinks were flowing courtesy of some friends from Dallas, and we had a blast.

Loaded gear back into Boss Hoss and went back to the bar. Finally getting to celebrate. Morale was sky high and all of us in good spirits. Caught up with Scott from Small Stone Records before I was too drunk to talk. But this year only caught the first band of the showcase. Left my earplug pouch on the cigarette machine. Oops.

Coordinated with Trinti how she could swing my van around to Headhunters and pick me up so we could catch our good friends Kathy and Ric Furley playing a gig with The Rusticators on the UT Drag. We had never seen them before, and again the parking gods smiled upon us and we found a free meter within a very easy walk.

To the best of my recollection they sounded great. Good to finally see them play after being friends with both of them for many years, heh.

Good times. But now the REAL SXSW experience would begin.

SXSW 2013: Wednesday March 13

The morning began (at 1pm) with a flurry of activity on my iPhone.

Many band chatter texts to catch up on, mostly congratulatory. Huh?

Turns out ETB did rather well this year in the Austin Music Awards poll, the results of which had been published by the Austin Chronicle that morning. Hell, we kicked some ass!

Eric Tessmer Band landed #4 Blues Band and #8 Rock Band (up from #5/#10 last year). Eric Tessmer ranked #2 Guitar Player underneath Gary Clark Jr (up from #5 last year). Eric also placed #8 Austin Musician of the Year. I placed as #5 Bass Player. And surprisingly, Rob's name was absent from the Drummer list. That was weird. Rob was very philosophical, tho Eric and I feel he somehow got shafted (votes for Rob Williamson and Robert Williamson placed in different piles?). Damn.

But wow. My feeling? Validation.

Validation that while last year was very hard on Eric, Rob and myself, all the toil and hard work we did has paid off. I've placed once before in the Bassist category, #8 in 2009 at the height of The Mother Truckers, and that felt pretty damn amazing. But if I can be honest right now, lately it had been feeling as if maybe that had been my peak. And that had me very worried.

The amount of rejection and (especially) self-doubt musicians and artists deal with on a yearly/weekly/daily basis can be crushing. No wonder depression, substance abuse and even mental illness can be rampant in our circles. While some players need their egos stroked, what most musicians need is validation. That what they are doing is what they SHOULD be doing. That all the self-sacrifice and hardship involved in pursuing music or any art as a full-time career have been indeed worth it.

Combined with the momentum we were already feeling from the last few shows and the overhauled business model, ETB felt VERY strong going into SXSW this year. And that felt very validating for us all.

But in the meantime, Triniti and I finally readied ourselves for more music: The Bug X Bug Fest Heavy Metal Pool Party!

BXBF was an event organized by our good friends BugGirl, Australian siblings Amber Saxon (guitar/vox) and Clinno (drums) and Heather Webb (bass) who also plays in Adrian and the Sickness. During the planning their contacts at the Wacken Festival in Europe came aboard, and a modest pool party at a quirky South Austin apartment complex (The Metropolis) metamorphosed into a full-on outdoor mini-festival featuring bands from all over the world.

Unfortunately we missed BugGirl whom we really wanted to see. But pulled into the Metropolis gate and found easy parking at the spot that Clinno suggested. And wondered about the 3-4 cop cars we passed on the way in, parked by the pool area. Did they see the words "Heavy Metal Pool Party" and beef up their security, expecting trouble?

These are the things we pondered as we walked through the Metropolis apartments, following our ears to the music (turns out there was a previous altercation in the parking lot, which eventually dispersed). But a little about the Metropolis: it is a quirky-in-every-sense-of-the-word apartment complex geared towards musicians and artists. Garishy painted, weirdly decorated, oddly designed. Because why the hell not? Keeping the spirit of old South Austin alive.

Climbed the stairs to the pool area and bumped into our good friend Heather Webb (AATS/BugGirl bassist), one of the co-coordinators the the event. We congratulated her on the Chronicle Music Poll. She didn't know what we were talking about. We let her know that AATS placed at #2 Punk Band, and two other projects she is involved in also placed top ten in their respective categories. She laughed and thanked us, had been too busy with BugFest to check the listings.

Caught the rest of Crucified Barbara from Sweden. Metal/rock, tight and professionally executed, great hooks and harmonies, great music. All performed by 4 beautiful women. Having been in several mixed gender bands and being friends with many female players, women in music often have to prove themselves twice as much and work twice as hard to get the same respect from some of their male counterparts. Then on the flipside there are some female players who rely on their gender for exposure, a gimmick. The former always have my utmost respect, the latter I find unfortunate and doing a disservice to the former.

Anyway. Heather Webb acting as MC and did a great job getting the crowd going during set change for Hell's Belles, rallying them and throwing Mardi Gras beads, daring them to jump into the pool ("It's a POOL PARTY!!!) but it was still a little too cold for that...!

Hell's Belles is an all-female AC/DC tribute band, and were one of the pioneers of all-female tribute band trend. They feature BugGirl guitarist/vocalist Amber Saxon as Bon Scott/Brian Johnson and Adrian Conner of Adrian and the Sickness as Angus Young. Amber is a more recent addition but Adrian has been a key member for 10+ years.

And they are fucking amazing. One of THE best AC/DC tribute bands around, and have met AC/DC themselves. Adrian is an absolute monster onstage, Amber nails the vocals, both great performers, and the rest of the band lay down the foundation like a concrete slab. Fuck yeah. At the end of their set Amber carried Adrian on her shoulders around the pool as she played, then Adrian handed off her guitar and jumped in. Thank you and good night! Crowd went nuts, and still nobody else jumped into the pool, heh.

I had shows and dealing with downtown during SXSW to rest up for, so we unfortunately checked out early after Hell's Belles was done. Gettin old, heh.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

ETB 5-Day Weekend

Just in time for recovery from SXSW, ETB had a 5-date string of regional dates starting:

Thursday March 21
Headhunters, Austin TX

Rob was questionable for this string of dates but by Thursday he was feeling up to playing, more or less. ETB played Headhunters inside with Tiebreaker from Norway, a very good young band. Damn they kicked ass. 5-piece rock/blues, drums/guitar/bass/organ with a singer reminiscent of Joe Cocker. All of them 19-20 and excellent musicians. Wow.

They asked ahead of time to borrow our amps and drums, which we were totally fine with as they were a great band, a long way from home, and it'll make set change that much easier. Judging by their smiles, they were pleased.

Our set was short (for us). Didn't feel like we were firing on all cylinders, it happens. But not a terrible set. I could tell Rob was taking it easy on his back, and having him behind me on that corner stage made it harder to be in the pocket since I couldn't easily see him without doing an impersonation of Linda Blair in 'The Exorcist'. That and now I'm trying to get used to Eric without the beard he'd been growing for 6 weeks or so, which suited him. Not that it was affecting my/our playing, but I didn't really get the chance to call him 'Weirdbeard', heh.

Still a decent night, but on to Dallas in mid-afternoon for the next show.

Friday March 22,
Sundown at the Granada, Dallas TX

A trip anywhere on I-35 north of Waco means one thing: Czech Stop!

Boss Hoss was being problematic on the way up. Engine jerking and misfiring, the occasional backfire with a report like a 12-guage shotgun blast. After gorging ourselves on kolaches, Eric popped the hood in the Czech Stop parking lot to czech a few things.  Everything czeched out.

Back on the road. By the time we got to Dallas the engine belt had frayed and made a God-awful sound. Eric detoured to a gas station. We had a spare belt in tow, but Eric was able to make-do by cutting the frayed part with a razor blade. Eric Tessmer can fix anything from a tractor to a tank, so van problems are rarely a problem.

Rolled into the venue on time for load in, tho the Hoss had now also began stalling. Guess the new computer replaced after SXSW did not fix that. Fuck it. We were playing the after party to Jimmie Vaughan on the Granada main stage, time to go to work. Sundown is a great venue run by great people. This was our 3rd visit there.

Show went very well, good crowd and we felt back on track vibe-wise, if that makes sense. Rob's back improving, Eric on fire. Great show. Some of our Dallas friends help us load out end of the night. Which was awesome because Boss Hoss refused to start after loading everything in. So we loaded what we could into our friends' SUV and pickup, and pushed the Hoss backwards into the Sundown parking lot.

Sundown at the Granada:

Well shit. A there-and-back-that-morning trip became overnight stay, with an uncertain ETA for our very important Saxon Pub gig back in Austin next night. So our friends put us up, bought some beer, and Eric got on the horn with the mechanic who replaced the computer. He drove up that night and by late morning he and Eric had the van back up and running. An early morning reload and back on the road.

Everything was fine until we got to Round Rock (just north of Austin). Stalling again. Eric pulled the dog house and from the driver's seat messed with something. That got it working. He handed me a power strip: "When I give you the signal, hit the coil with this. GO!"

And it fucking worked! We made it back to Austin laughing our asses off, me hitting part of motor with a power strip, windows rolled down to air out the engine fumes, the bare engine keeping us warm despite the very unseasonable chill. You can't make this shit up. I would have taken some video with my iPhone but if I dropped it, it would have clanked thru the engine and onto the middle lane of I-35. Awesome.

Snow in March. Welcome to Texas.

Saturday March 23
Saxon Pub, Austin TX

We were a little delirious but in good spirits when we convened at the Saxon Pub to load in. Eric showed up in Boss Hoss. He had replaced the engine belt, coil (what I was banging on with a power strip) and the helix (whatever that it is, hell I don't know what either of them are). Not only has the main problems been finally solved, but Boss Hoss was running better than it had in years. Wow.

And our Saxon show was awesome! Played after bluesman WC Clark. Had the biggest crowd I think we've had to date. It was amazing. We were on fire. Rob's back feeling better and he absolutely slayed. Eric was amazing. I had a blast just trying to keep up! Great crowd and we knocked em dead. Fans passed the tip bucket for us, much appreciated, Eric had them laughing with tales of our crazy Dallas trip the night before. Wow. Amazing show.

Sunday March 24,
Scout Bar, Houston TX

And holy shit, Eric was right. Boss Hoss was running better than it had in years. The trip to Houston I am pleased to say was without incident. We were still laughing about the Dallas trip, and all very grateful that when trouble arises we all take it in stride rather than freaking out, panicking or getting angry. Rob: "Screenwriters in Hollywood could not make that shit up." Me: "Yeah. Or as we like to call it, 'Friday.'"

It is definitely a trip driving through Bastrop County and the burned out sections from the huge wildfire in 2011, which burned out of control for a week. Driving east on Highway 71 there is on the crest of a hill this big smiley face water tower, grinning apocalyptically amid the blackened skeletons of the Lost Pines. Crazy. That and getting passed by a convoy of at least 7 Lamborghinis was noteworthy as well.

Stopped for burritos before arriving at the Scout Bar without incident. Van still running great. Loaded in and got to work killing time, as procedure was to load in and get some amps onstage before the first band started. We left Austin early to allow time for van problems, now it's 9pm, first band starts at 10pm, we're on at 11pm. Lotta "hurry up and wait" in the industry, we're used to it.

Sunday nights at Scout Bar are sponsored by The Buzz 94.5. So they are heavily promoted and draw good crowds. This night was no different. First band sort of modern scream-metal. Young and pretty good at what they did. Crowd really digging them, so wonder what they'd think of us...

Watching them, I leaned over to Eric: "Start with 3/4?" "Yeah." A high-octane instrumental to come out swinging. Discussed a tentative extra-face-melting set, and we usually don't write setlists. This was also a very short set for us (45 mins) so yeah we had to plan it out, heh.

ETB came out with all guns blazing and did great. Crowd really dug us, or as far as I could tell with my hair in my face, heh. We were on fire and squeezed as much ass-kicking and face-melting as we could into the short set. And I will say this, if I haven't said it already: 45 minute sets are more tiring than 4 hour sets. Seems counter-intuitive but that's the troof.

Band after us were locals Downfall Rising, and this was their EP release show. They were really good and had a strong female vocalist. By this time I was almost too tired to enjoy their set. Drive home to Austin was uneventful, or was for me since I was asleep on the back bench.

Monday  March 25
Friends Monday residency, Austin TX

By Monday morning the ache that had been running along my right humerus/shoulder/elbow for the first part of the weekend had eased up and settled into my elbow, and that was greatly diminished as well. Same tendonitis I had back in December, but not as bad. Advil and Zyflamend didn't work but Tiger Balm took care of that shit real quick. Writing that down so I remember next time. Arm/elbow feel great currently as I write.

Rode down to Friends with Eric in Boss Hoss. Our friend JT Coldfire doing a stripped-down set instead of the usual happy hour act Dave Scher Trio. As Rob was setting up his drums over by the soundbooth, JT had him join them onstage. So he threw his kick and snare up behind the amps and jumped right in with a trainbeat. During the song he got my attention to set up his hi hat and bring it onstage, and Eric added a floor tom. Awesome!

Not the usual weekend crowd we often draw on those Mondays, but a great crowd nonetheless. We were on fire from 4 gigs in a row, and everyone stayed during our set break. Dug out "Voodoo Child" for the first time in months and knocked it out of the park. Fun set. And by the end we were dead.

A very good run of shows, and now Tues-Fri off until our gig at Poodie's Hilltop this Saturday. Much needed rest.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

SXSW 2013: Tuesday March 12

ETB had off until Thursday, so the next 2 days would be about hearing some great music.

Red Eyed Fly has a Tuesday SXSW kickoff party which has been an annual occurrence for the past 8+ years. A unified showcase of talent from the Red River Music District. I try to go every year as it's basically a big musical family reunion. 2 stages several bands deep.

Triniti and I cabbed it downtown rather than drive Goldie Hawn and deal with the traffic and parking. Wise choice. Madhouse already at 10:30 on a Tuesday due to road closures and crowds.

Got there in time for Burning Avalanche setting up. Bumped into my old Velvet Brick bandmate Jason Soules near the door, his new band Crimson Devils had just gotten off stage. Damn! But we'd be able to catch his other band Hyde Park Showdown later on, featuring ETB's own Rob Williamson on drums.

Burning Avalanche threw down and meant every note. They are young and hungry and have a lot to prove, and they are proving it. Always refreshing. Good buncha dudes too. 70's arena rock with stoner rock attention to groove. We caught several songs before heading to the outside stage.

Broken Teeth setting up, AC/DC-esque rock with Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys fame on vocals. A longtime staple of Red River, and the REF kickoff. Here is a guy who was on MTV when I was in High School, now standing with a knowing smile on his face and waiting to deliver a snare drum to the stage, as good friend Dave TV and I caught up and blocked his path. Great crowd, too many friends in attendance to name them all. Caught part of their set before heading back inside for the driving rock of Hyde Park Showdown.

Good to see Rob and Eric from ETB on a night we weren't playing, heh. And always cool to see people you play with regularly onstage with other bands. You get to really watch them, really see what they do. Playing-wise as well as stage presence. Playing onstage together is so different. So yeah, getting to WATCH Rob play is always fucking awesome. And he's the kind and caliber of drummer that you WANT to watch, whether as a musician or a music fan. Hyde Park Showdown threw down, and threw down hard. 

Back outside to catch Red River veterans Honky. 3 piece Texas dirt rock. I have been seeing them and sharing bills with them for at least 12 years. And worth it every time. They have a new drummer, ex-Supagroup but can't recall his name. They killed it as they have done every single time I see them. Bassist/vocalist Jeff Pinkus before they launched into their set: "Give it up for Dangerous Teeth! No, I mean Broken Toys!"


But we had to cut out early to cross Red River Street to Headhunter's (aka Metal & Lace) to catch the tail end of our good friends Amplified Heat's set out back on the patio.

Headhunters was recently featured on and made over via the show Bar Rescue. I don't watch TV so had never heard of the show until it was already overhauling my favorite shithole. Anyway.

Went through the front portion to the back patio, a band onstage we don't recognize. I will say this, the new PA for the remodeled inside stage is pretty damn amazing. 

Out back Amplified Heat already blowing the place up with their late-60's fused LOUD Texas blues/boogie/Cream-meets-Motorhead/rock n' fuckin roll. 3 Columbian brothers playing more Marshall stacks than many 70's arena-rock bands back in the day. Carrying the torch.

I've been watching them and sharing bills with them since they were still called Blues Condition in the very early 00's. I've been playing guitar opposite Amp Heat guitarist/vocalist Jim Ortiz in Shandon Sahm's band (son of Texas Music legend Doug Sahm) since about 2004. Bassist Gian Ortiz often fills in for me if I can't make an ETB gig.


And they were on fire, good crowd on the floor and the upstairs deck. Which is where we were when Jim's rig took a shit, mid-song and right before a his guitar solo. Shit. Shit shit shit shit. Been there many times and his reaction was understandable. Try to find the problem while dealing with a growing avalanche of frustration, and try not to break more shit in the process.

Jim finally found the problem after uplugging and re-plugging in all of his pedals several times over, and over, and over. Man that sucks. Jim, your pain was felt by the many musicians in the crowd...! But they picked up the groove where they left off and plowed on once the situation was finally situated.

But he was pissed. While it showed in his body language, that anger translated into his playing as adding gasoline to an already 4 alarm blaze. He and they still sounded fucking amazing the rest of the night.

After the show we talked to them at length, catching up and assuring them they had a good show . Turns out Jim has already spent several hours earlier that day going through his rig to make sure that such a gear failure would not happen during SXSW. Man.

And then before the bar was cleared I saw an amazing thing. Well, several of them.

One was the visual trip of Headhunters employee and Red River Veteran Houston Richeson, a 6'5" shaved head punk rocker, mouthing along to the lyrics of the old school country tune now blaring through the back patio PA (weird enough as is). He saw me looking at him, held my gaze for a moment, gave me an approving nod and went back to what he was doing while singing along silently the whole time. Awesome.

As I was telling this to a delighted Triniti, he came up and told us about the two-step classes he is now teaching. Awesome enough. Then Houston gave her a demonstration of his ability, twirling her around on the back patio floor of Headhunters with mastered proficiency.

She stumbled a few times from the uneven plank floor, laughing. Houston kept her on her feet with ease. "Gotta keep your balance!"  One of the most awesome things I've seen in awhile! My Red River family knows what I'm talking about.

We said our goodbyes to the Ortiz brothers remaining friends and musical family and left to hail a cab home. You'd have needed dynamite to blast the smiles from our faces. What a great night!

(photos coming soon)

SXSW 2013: Monday March 11

ETB's week began around noon on Monday at our rehearsal space.

We were going to run over a few things in prep for 2 long sets at Agave that weekend, have more material at our disposal.

But instead we got to work signing 75 CDs ordered from a corporate party last month. Set up an assembly line to rip the cellophane (me), open the cellophane (Eric), stack and arrange CDs (Rob), then sign them. I tell ya, try writing your name 75 times in a row and see how many you can get through before you start misspelling your own damn name, heh!

After that was done we got the call from Friends that the opener to our Monday residency had cancelled and if we could start early (8pm instead of 9:30pm).

Sure, why the hell not? Austin is still crawling with people still in town from the SXSW Film/Interactive part the previous weekend, and starting to crawl with people coming in for the music portion. We were already anticipating a great crowd that night.

So rehearsal was nixed so we could save energy for the longer set. Eric, Rob and I instead loaded Boss Hoss to go ahead and take the gear down to the venue then instead of after practice as 6th Street was still blocked off from the weekend. We brought 2 dollies to cart the gear a half block from the barricade at 6th and Brazos half a block up to Friends. Downtown was already starting to happen.

Later rode Boss Hoss downtown to the gig. He/She's our infamous beat-to-shit Dodge band van, brought back into service and running so far so good. Pulled up to the posh and historic Driskill Hotel at 6th and Brazos and had them valet park it for $30. Take good care of her, heh! Not having to deal with parking or crazy bullshit traffic at the end of the night was worth the extra expense.

Show was great. Downtown was packed more than most weekends. Had a great crowd that filled Friends immediately and stayed packed even during our break. Then filled even more. We felt like we were on fire and had a blast playing.

Band morale and camaraderie are very high, especially after how amazing our Saxon show 2 days previous went. And that has been translating into our music and onstage chemistry. Which carries over into increased audience reaction. That increase in audience reaction raises OUR energy level. Which carries over into increased audience reaction. And so on.

So yeah, great fuckin night! Kind of a blur now as it was a 5 1/2 hour total marathon of face melting. Wow.

But no rest for the wicked or weary, SXSW week was upon us...

300 posts

Wow. This snuck up on me.

Didn't have a big speech planned, heh. But thank you all for reading this. This is my life.

About to work on SXSW 2013 report, finally get that completed in a timely manner (or at all...). That will be an epic tale in and of itself, full of bands, gigs, van breakdowns and goons in golf carts. Coming soon.

For now I will use Post 300 to recap ETB Monday residency gig last night at Friends.

Our drummer Rob's back is out of commission. He'll be OK, but will possibly be out all week. More about that in forthcoming SXSW report.

We had our good friend Adrian Meyers fill in on drums for Rob. He's young, a great player and fun to watch. Check him out in Dave Scher Trio, who often plays the early set before ETB at Friends. So he was already doing double duty last night.

Adrian has filled in once or twice before, but no actual practice. Rob was definitely missed. But knowing we couldn't do most of the originals (or so we thought) it was fun to just jam with Adrian onstage in front of a crowd.

Was a blast! Adrian did great. Put a cool Latin beat to "Love Is Taking It's Toll," was able to follow along well enough with the originals that the crowd didn't know that he'd probably never even played them before. Lots of extended jams, lots of improvisation.

Definitely had to adjust my playing as I'm so used to playing with Rob and so used to the way he plays. I've played with Adrian maybe once before and wasn't super familiar with his style, especially during improv, so that kept me on my toes all night.

And it was awesome. Even Dave Scher (an accomplished guitarist/bassist/drummer himself) got up and played 2 songs with us on drums. Good times. Great crowd and they loved it. We played right up until close (ETB usually gets done around 1:30). Fun.

A good night all around. Anyway, I gotta run and work on SXSW report before my memory gets too foggy.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SXSW is here

Yes it is.

The music portion starts next week but the interactive/movie part starts this weekend.

Already crowds downtown, lines to get into places snaking around city blocks, 6th Street and adjacent roads blocked off. And this was Friday trying to load into BD Riley's. ETB had a good crowd that night, thanks to the temporary increase in the population. But load in/out was bad and will only get worse (roads blocked off, nobody thru the barricades...).

Grumpy Cat is indeed in town. SXSW used to be about local Austin cats, just sayin...

Last night ETB at the Saxon was amazing. Didn't have to deal with downtown traffic/roadblocks. Line of storms bearing down on us, but no one cared. Great crowd, probably the biggest we've played to there. All tables full and people standing all the way back to the bar. Awesome! We were on fire and played a great set. Good times all around.

But now South By Southwest really begins.

SXSW for me used to be about playing as many shows with as many different bands as I could, because I could. That would equate to 7-8 shows with 3-4 diff bands on average. But as time went on I'd see that half those shows could have been skipped altogether as it just wasn't worth the time and effort to get there, load in, play to nobody, and load out to the next one. So I started scaling it back and taking it easy, or maybe I'm just getting old ;)

Here is my schedule for SXSW 2013:

Mon March 11: ETB Monday residency at Friends (6th Street is blocked off, load in will suck)

Tues March 12: Attend the Red Eyed Fly SXSW kickoff show, been going to that one for years

Wed March 13: Attend BugByBug Fest, thrown by good friends Bug Girl, pool party/music fest

Thur March 14: 5:30pm ETB plays Metal&Lace, right before Small Stone Records showcase out back

Fri March 15: 1-5pm ETB plays an early matinee at Agave (6th Street)

Sat March 16: 1-5pm ETB plays an early matinee at Agave (6th Street)
                        10pm ETB plays Moontower Saloon

Yeah, this SXSW will be pretty chill, heh!

I will do my best to report in and keep y'all posted.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Progress, and Post-RPM Challenge update (sort of)

Whelp, the deadline has come and gone and about as far as I got was demoing out 4 new song ideas on scratch guitar tracks.

With as crazy as February was this time around that's at least progress. But nevertheless, I'm forgoing any kind of deadline and working at my own pace on a new album. It will be nice to take my time! And I have to say, my little Marshall Lead 12 practice amp sounds pretty damn good! May actually keep some of those scratch tracks.

I did finally get the drums out of storage and have been recording on GarageBand at Adrian Conner's place. Trading a place to record for us taking care of her kitty cat. Making progress. Drums getting stronger, recordings sounding better as I dial it in, getting more used to the software. Progress.

In other news I have finalized paperwork for the independent film "White Rabbit" to use part of "House of Leaves pt. 1" for part of one scene. Progress.

Full schedule with Eric Tessmer Band as well. We are in the midst of a major overhaul of the business end, turning ETB into a well-oiled machine. If you prove to managers, booking agents and record labels that you don't need them, it usually gets their attention. We're scheduling weekly band meetings, weekly rehearsals, and getting all our shit square on Artist Growth. Progress.

And speaking of ETB, shows have been good overall, the weather has been nice so people aren't kept home from the cold. Crowds have been good and so has been money. Actually payed rent on time, that hasn't happened past 2+ months... Plus my gear has been working fine tho last week monday my amp cut out RIGHT before Eric's guitar solo in one particular song. Rather than freaking out like I usually do (had a long run of bad gear luck few years back which coincided with being flat broke, you can read about it on this blog somewhere...), unplugged my wireless and plugged straight in. Nope. Check to see if the speaker cable had rattled loose from the back of my cabinet. Bingo! All this while, Rob and Eric holding down the rhythm, and after I got my shit squared away, we picked up where we left off and Eric uncorked on his lead. Professionals.

So much I need to write about and no time right now, need to head downtown in 40 minutes for ETB Monday residency:

NOLA recap
ETB's last time playing Antone's
Ocean of Stars updates
Getting filmed live at BD Riley's for a documentary
Etc Etc Etc

I apologize for neglecting this blog, Oh 11 loyal subscribers. I really need to get my laptop fixed...