Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Retrospective

Wow, what a year. Not even sure where to begin.

So here is a bunch of noteworthy events and accomplishments, in no particular order.

There was a huge sea change in my professional and personal life, with resulting tremendous ups and downs, as I moved on from Eric Tessmer Band and ended a relationship, both of which started around the same time and ended the same time. Weird parallel there.

Was voted #5 Bassist for the Austin Music Awards in March. That was definitely a high point.

Did not complete the RPM Challenge this year as February was so busy for me. And didn't even come close either. Only the second time that's happened in the 5 years I've participated.

I have no idea how many shows I played, but it was a lot. But I was able to count the number of bands I performed with this year, which was 15. That has to be a record for me, listed as follows:

Eric Tessmer Band
Shandon Sahm
Forever Town
Adrian and the Sickness
Rick Hornyak
Planet Casper
Diesel and Dixie
Amber Lucille and the Selfless Cover Band
Aaron Navarro
Vine House
Shannon Lee Nelson
Skyline Drive
Sean Evan and His Very Handsome Band
Deann Rene

I was able to finally put together a line-up for Ocean of Stars, which I have been trying to do for the last 4-5 years. THAT is a huge accomplishment. Have almost scrapped the idea repeatedly over the years out of frustration. Glad I stuck to my guns.

I got to jam improv with the legendary Greg Ginn (Black Flag) for 90 minutes with his drummer, and from a Craigslist ad no less. That was awesome.

Despite still not having a full-time project I am able to still keep myself in business and pay my bills and support myself and my lil dog. THAT is a huge accomplishment as well. September was the leanest month money-wise in the last 5 years. I made it through tho.

I played a lot of great music with a lot of great people. Recorded the Patten album with legendary producer Chet Himes, have yet to hear it but I was very proud of my playing on it.

Got to do another last minute one-song session with Dead Oak, and work with J Yeunger again. That was a pleasant surprise.

Went to a lot of towns in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that I'd never heard of with Rick Hornyak. Got to go to New Orleans again with Forever Town.

Had a typically negative experience during SXSW, but that is no surprise and not exactly an accomplishment. Just happened.

Trying to think of other things that have happened but as my head currently feels like a cinderblock, I am drawing a blank.

So this is me signing off for 2013.

My resolutions are much the same as every year:  (1) Kick Ass, and (2) Not Die.

Take care of yourselves, and each other. Follow your heart. Love more, live more and see more live bands.

Danny G
11:06pm CDT
Dec 31, 2013

Another cool night (and day) in a much more literal sense

SO this past weekend had my first gig with Deann Rene Band, my last gig filling in with Sean Evan and his Very Handsome Band, and a photo shoot with Forever Town yesterday.

And now I have a cold.

Deann Rene set went great, considering the last rehearsal was a full week previous and I didn't have much time to go over the music while on Christmas vacation. Deann was happy, Ric and Kyle were happy, the sound guy at Baker St Pub was happy, I was happy. Good times with good people playing good music.

Tho my van left a huge pool of coolant in their parking lot.

My heater core went out while heading back to Austin from Corpus and I would be taking it in the following morning. Had I found out before I left town, or while I was down there, I may have either missed my nephew's first Christmas trying to find a mechanic on Dec 23, or missed the gigs trying to find a mechanic in Corpus Christi on Dec 26...

So while the drive back was nerve racking, everything worked perfectly.

Saturday night was Sean Evan at Pat O'Brien's in San Antonio. Had never been there. The unseasonable chill is still going on, this has already been a weirdly cold winter down here, and has been going on for a month. Had I known we were playing outside, I would have worn long johns and bundled up more...

Rode down with Johnny Glass, who is a a huge history buff. Apparently the location where Pat O'Briens sits is where General Santa Ana addressed and readied his troops to begin the seige on The Alamo, which is a few blocks away. I found this fascinating, as I love history.

And driving into downtown San Antone, I came to a realization: I really like downtown San Antonio. It has so much more history than Austin, The Alamo being a pivotal historic location for one, but also rounding the corner to park in front of the venue and suddenly most of the buildings are easily 200 years old. I love that.

An old church, taken on my iPhone from the window of Johnny's truck

The fountain on Pat O'Briens patio. Fire and water

Tried to get a shot of The Alamo, but no dice.

The gig was fun, cool night for first part of set but they had lots of those big butane heater things. The Dietz cab only spit my speaker cable out three times this gig (and I am totally fixing that this week...). But during the last third of the set I played in my thermal hoodie, hat and fingerless gloves. Have never needed to play in fingerless gloves and didn't know if it would even work. It did, and my hands were very happy about that.

After the show, I had to retreat into the venue a few times to get warm. Felt like I was coming down with something. Shit.

Didn't feel too bad on Sunday, fighting something off but not anything worth complaining on Facebook about, hahaha! Got a ride from a friend to Guitar Center (van still in shop, and I had a gift card) so I could fix the problem with my bass cabinet. While they did not have the actual jack, I did get a 1/4" to Speakon cable and some guitar strings. Laid low other than that.

Monday had a photo shoot with Forever Town in Wimberley TX at Pioneer Town, this weird wild west movie set looking place. Tho I was prepared and wearing long johns under my jeans and black pearl snap,  it still wasn't enough. Was about 42 degrees and overcast (GREAT for the lighting). But as I am skinny, thin-blooded and have lived south of the Mason-Dixon line all my life, it got to me and went straight to my bones. While my body was not amused by the chill on Saturday, now it was pissed. The Ramsay brothers took it in stride, and in short sleeves...!

Pioneer Town, Wimberley TX

Driving back to Austin from the FT compound in San Marcos, I was planning on driving straight home and getting into bed, but opted to go to Home Depot as I don't know where my drill bits are. I may have replaced them, my ex may have took them. Probably the former, but who knows. I needed them to work on my bass cab.

GLAD I DID. The thick layer of stratus clouds had started to move off to the south, allowing the sun to peek through just before it set. Cast a gorgeous amber/gold light on the top halves of any buidling over two stories, and had washed the sky in orange and purple by the time I was leaving the store. Just WOW. One of the most breathtaking sunsets I've seen in awhile!

Not music-related. But fuck you, it was beautiful!

Friday, December 27, 2013

However, this was a cool night:

So Sunday Dec 22 I had the second of two shows with Sean Evans and his Very Handsome Band on bass for that weekend.

Played the Dizzy Rooster on 6th Street, covers, but fuck it.

I like those guys, had fun playing, and made some money. While I would not like to play full time in a cover band, I am not opposed to it here and there, as being out and playing and making some money (and learning new songs which may have things that I can apply musically to my own playing) is always preferable than sitting home not playing and not making money.

So it was a fun night, tho the Parking Gods were not very favorable on a Sunday which was weird, drove around for 15+ minutes just trying to find a goddamn spot. WTH?!?

But got out early enough that I could catch ETB at the Saxon Pub, practically on the way home.

Rolled in, and the door guy let me in for free. Sweet! Grab a Lonestar tallboy at the bar, which turned out to be the only drink I actually paid for the rest of the night. Sweet!

ETB already onstage. I take a seat, Eric sees me from the stage and points me out to everyone. Which garners a round of applause. HA! Awesome :) Eric commented over the mic: "Damn dude, you just walk in here and get cheered!" Heh!

Was a good night, lots of good friends in the crowd, hence all the free drinks hahaha.

Then, thankfully before I was too drunk to do so, I was asked to sit in. Awesome! And since I had just come from a gig I had my bass in the van and was already tuned to E flat as well as warmed up. Sweet!

Played "White Room" by Cream and the original instrumental "Three-Four" and just destroyed the place. Holy shit that was fun! Always good to play with Eric n Rob. But also cool seeing Gian up there with them as well, as our styles draw from similar roots but are apples and oranges in their execution.

It's cool seeing Gian play with ETB, because he plays the songs his way. And I wouldn't want him to try to play my parts or play like me, as that would be a disservice to his own unique style. And also it's cool to hear a totally different interpretation of what the bass can do for songs that I've been playing for years.

We're all musically family, and one of the things I love about Austin is the vast amount of mutual respect between the players.

That was a good night!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gear trouble at an Eric Tessmer Band show. Shocking, I know!

So I recently had my new run Acoustic B200H serviced by a tech, after being non-functional for 3+ years.

Blown solder joint to voltage regulator. $30. Well shit. I could have come up with $30 back then hahaha.

Have had it back for a few weeks but haven't been able to properly try it out, and have been brainstorming on how to rack-mount it.

So I finally fired it up at Dead Oak rehearsal Wednesday night of last week (Dec 18). Holy fucking shitballs. Forgot how awesome it sounded!

As I've been using the SWR/8x10 amp in their jam room, I tried it out on the fridge cab. Blew the SWR out of the water. It was loud. Like, stupid loud. Not bad for a modest 200 watts (the SWR was 350 and I still couldn't hear myself). Needless to say, I had to keep turning down to avoid overpowering the rest of the band, which is usually Kirk's job with his guitar rig, hahaha.

So yeah. I was happy, they were happy.

Thursday night had a last minute Eric Tessmer Band gig fall into my lap at Friends on 6th Street. Which was good as I can always use the money and love playing with them. And an early set so I could still catch Amplified Heat and Alien Knife Fight after our set.

But then we are informed the later band has cancelled and we could play all night if we wished, and we opted to do so.

I was stoked cause I could finally fire up the B200H at a gig, and I hadn't used it in battle since it became my main amp when my SVT was having trouble back in the Mother Truckers days in 2008/9. Sweet!

Sounded great sound-checking! YES!!! It liked the 8x10 cab in the Dead Oak room, but it LOVED my Dietz 2x15. Needless to say, I was stoked to play it all night and see what happened.

Looked pretty cool, heh!

We launch into the first song, and after about 4 notes the trouble began. Cut out immediately. Shit. Still has power, thats good. Peak light not staying on like when it was previously fucked, that's good.

I switch to the SVT and fire it up, plug in speaker cable. Still nothing. What the hell?

AH. Speaker cable probably rattled out.

Happens sometimes. Checked the back of my cab. AHA! Plugged it back in, switched back to the Acoustic, rejoined the song for a few more notes. Then it cut out again. Pushed the cable back into the jack. Hit a few notes, and it was spit right back out.

That jack must be getting loosey-goosey from years of use. It has two inputs, and the nut holding the other long since fell off and of course the jack retreated back into the speaker cab. I'll have to remedy that on break.

In the meantime I get gaff tape from Eric and tape the fucker into the input. It works, sort of. And this was the first song. It continued to cut out intermittently which was funny for the first hour, but not so much for a 4-hour set. Shit. Even the SVT was spitting the cable out at this point. Shit.

Did the best I could but the cutting out kept getting worse and worse. Play a few notes. Cuts out. Reach back and fiddle with the cable. Which became less effective as time went on. OK, starting to get pissed.

Eric had a cordless electric drill on hand. The problem with the Dietz was that the jackplate itself does not screw onto the cab from the back, but from the inside. Which means in order to swap out the speaker jacks and get thru the set I would either have to:

(a) pull the entire front of the speaker cabinet off, switch the jacks, and close it back up


(b) take a chance on just removing the side handle and hope to Cthullu I can access the jackplate that way.

And this would all have to be done mid-song.

So I spent most of 'Armadillo Strut' removing the screws from the speaker handle. No big deal. HOWEVER: I removed all of them except 2 which stripped out in the process. Fuck.

So I flip the cab over and try to remove the other handle. Same fucking deal. You got to be kidding me.

SO I flip the cab BACK over, as those stripped screws are in a more favorable position for me to use my screwdriver to PRY THE GODDAMN HANDLE OFF.

It worked, and I was able to not only access the jackplate with much appreciated ease, but got the jacks swapped out no problemo.

Then I switched to the SVT, as I theorized the B200H was producing some weird extra frequency which was the main culprit in the jack plate constantly spitting out the speaker cable. Which was probably the case, cause I had no problems whatsoever the rest of the night...

Fucking hell.

SO. I have since come up with a solution to make sure this never ever ever ever EVER fucking happens again:

I will, when I have the time to take the Dietz damn near apart and get the proper part, I will route out the jackplate on one side and install a speak-on connector, and get a speaker cable that is 1/4" on one side and speak-on on the other.

Those twist and lock into place. Problem fucking solved. The B200H sounded great while it worked, and is a worthy back up amp that I wouldn't mind using for a gig once all this is done.

So yeah. And I still have some of the screws from the side handles rattling around on my pedalboard.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Busy Week, Another Busy Week...

Busy week+ already in full swing, but more on that in a bit.

Last week was busy as well, but with the cold snap it just felt like I didn't do much. Just lacking in motivation. Fighting off hibernation I suppose.

Went to the Ortiz Brothers jam on Tuesday, that was fun as always.

Not as big a crowd as the Hendrix birthday one few weeks back but still plenty of friends and players and filled up not long after I got there. Jammed some bass and got in some good time playing guitar, jamming improv as a three piece with Beky Hayes of the Surleys on bass and a drummer who I never caught his name because Chris Ortiz (Amplified Heat, Jamey Simms Band) got up to play drums with us as well. Fun!

Wednesday made an appearance at the Recording Conservatory/Grammy Committee Christmas party at the Gibson Showroom not far from where I live. Ocean of Stars bassist Melanie Martinez had a plus one and asked me to go. Awesome!

Was fun, tho I am terrible at mixing/networking events. And of course, she had to split early so I was going to be left alone. Well shit. I didn't last long after that, heh. But we got to see Patricia Vonne do a short set, and I finally bumped into someone I knew (Lonnie from Whiskey Sisters/South Austin Moonlighters) but he was talking to some people and I was on my way to get a free hotdog, so the exchange was brief.

Patricia Vonne

Maybe Austin Community College offers an online course in schmoozing... Cause I need it.

Thursday experimenting at home I found I could use a Boss tuner pedal as a poor man's ABY switcher to run the Loop Station pedal into it's own amp so I can play stuff on top of it through a separate amp. Part of the problem with using it in rehearsals is it gets hard to hear the loop with it and me both playing out of my one halfstack.

Eureka! But now the problem is I have two 4x12 cabinets, but only one Marshall JCM800. Shit.

Friday worked on Ocean of Stars music with Melanie, as Ric Furley is down in Corpus Christi doing a string of orchestra gigs (pun intended). Worked on "Brief Ties To Space", "Leap of Faith" and an older song called "Laguna Madre."  5 songs total being worked in already. Progress!

Also spent much of Friday and Saturday physically preparing myself for the Eric Tessmer Band double on Saturday night. Early 7:30 set at Friends followed by a 10:30-ish set at BD Rileys. 3 hour set punctuated by tearing down gear/throwing it onstage and another 3 hour set. And the first half of the BD's sets on nights like that are usually amazing, second half can be a mixed bag depending on our energy reserves and alcohol consumption, hahaha

So yeah. I took it the fuck easy Friday and Saturday, energy conservation mode.

Rolled into Friends, started getting gear inside when a spot on 6th Street a few yards back opened. The night was already off to a great start! Such gigs like this usually result in a parking ticket if forced to use grab a meter somewhere...

Resumed loading in only to realize I forgot my damn rack, containing my wireless unit.

Left at home because I was trying to figure out how to mount my newly repaired (after 3 years) Acoustic B200H.

Shit. Now this was a dilemma.

I scored a primo parking spot, meaning I don't have to deal with parking tickets or the barricades that go up to close off 6th Street. End of the night load out, my vehicle is right there.

However... The wireless system is part of our stage show pretty much. I join Eric for shots at the bar, I go smoke cigarettes outside while playing, etc. Adds to the fun. The more fun we have, the more fun the crowd has. The more fun the crowd has, the more money we and the bar make at the end of the night.

Fuck the parking spot, I need to pay my rent (still)...

But then Eric informs us it was double booked at Friends, and we are only doing the BD Riley's set.

Well. That at least solved the problem about retrieving my rack from home, hahaha! However, that means the payout will only be half what it usually is, as one show has been cancelled. My body was VERY happy to only have a 3 hour set to look forward to after running home to eat and nap. My bank account, not so much...

Anyway. BD's was still a fun show. Always fun to play with Eric and Rob. Had a blast, had a good night musically as well as financially. Ripped off my bass strings at the end of the set, they needed to be changed. And I've had a new set, but merely changing them wouldn't be a fitting enough end for the long months of service this particular set has endured, heh.

And did I mention that upon my return downtown to BD Riley's, after a leisurely load in (bass rig already at BD's except my rack and my basses) I got the front row Joe rock star parking spot right in front of the place. HA! Awesome.

SO NOW the aforementioned busy week+ that lies ahead:

Earlier today had a sit-down rehearsal with Deann Rene and her guitarist Kyle. Went great! Still learning the songs but they are pretty straight forward, and I've seen her enough that I remember most of them.

Tuesday work on Deann Rene music and start on the setlist songs for bass gigs with Johnny Glass downtown this weekend. Maybe hit the Ortiz Brothers jam that night.

Wednesday work on music. Rehearsal with Dead Oak that evening followed by Ocean of Stars rehearsal later that night.

Thursday Deann Rene rehearsal during the day. Then ETB gig at Friends that evening.

Friday work on music, gig with Johnny Glass that night.

Saturday still up in the air. A gig would be nice, but Melanie from Ocean of Stars is having a party that night too...

Sunday gig with Johnny Glass.

Monday head home to the coast for Christmas.

Return to Austin on Friday Dec 27 for first gig with Deann Rene Band.

Saturday Dec 28 gig in San Antonio with Johnny Glass.

Got just about all my Xmas shopping done today. Took advantage of some time off the get that taken care of. Felt good, I usually wait til last minute!

Also been doing other constructive things around the house. Changed strings on my bass and my '79 Iceman, both have been needing it BAD. Also treated the rosewood fretboards with lemon oil, also much needed. Also did lots of other chores yesterday and today. That felt good.

Lately my energy level and motivation has been in the shitter, haven't felt like doing much of ANYTHING. But the cold snap is finally lifted, so maybe the hibernation mode is wearing off. Mentally I feel decent to good. Financial trouble, but scraping by. The gigs and the money are always there.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

This week was pretty awesome, Updates

Currently in the grips of some unseasonable arctic chill.

Usually doesn't get this cold in Austin until February, and this is the coldest its been in the 2 years I've lived at the Hobbit Hole. My pipes are currently frozen and have been so all day. But had plenty of bottled water to make coffee so that was good.

Some really cool things happened soon after my arrival back in town from Thanksgiving.

Had to sign a bunch of paperwork via scan/email as ETB was hired to be on the NBC show Revolution, and the scene called for a 4th band member and a song to be recorded. So I was added on as 2nd guitar player. Awesome!

Got back into town on Monday long enough to unpack, take a nap, then head to Arlyn Studios to record an acoustic rendition of "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. Hell yeah! What we concocted was this weird crazy acoustic jug band reinterpretation of it. Just, wow.

Got there early with Eric to do guitars. He used his Harmony (?) acoustic electric, I messed around with another old acoustic until Gian arrived with another Harmony elec/acoustic. Half the strings would fret out but it was perfect for the vibe of the track.

Gian used a wash tub bass he and Eric built early that afternoon. It sounded great, and he learned how to play it while he was tracking.

By the time Rob arrived, flying in from family gathering in LA, percussion was ready to go. So he did one track hitting an old 28" kick drum with a mallet, another with him hitting an old ammunition crate with his shoe, and a third snare drum track.

Then Rob, Gian and I added gang vocals and harmonies to Eric's main vocal track

Wish I could post the rough mix cause it is pretty damn awesome. That was fun and glad I was able to be a part of it \m/,

Tuesday and Wednesday were originally slated to be on set shooting for the show. Tues was going to be with Brett Michaels, us backing him acoustic and doing Every Rose Has Its Thorn and probably a few others. But that fell through, as scene re-written to be him solo. Wednesday was slated for ETB to be preforming Ring of Fire. But that was re-written as well and nixed. Well shit.

Either or both would have been cool. Apparently the show is still using the song so that's awesome as well.

Tuesday night I was planning on hitting the Ortiz Brothers jam, but decided against it as at the time I thought shooting for next two days was a go and wanted to be rested for that. So relegated to get into my pajamas and at least play some guitar at the house. Or that was the plan.

There's a spot on my wrist that is a problem from time to time, and seems I aggravated it Monday night recording, playing an acoustic I've never played before, and picking very close to the bridge for the distinctive sound. Was in prep to play some guitar, closing the windows for the benefit of my neighbors, when it screamed to life as I locked a window lock. Shit.

Needless to say I didn't play. Put my wrist in a brace as a precaution and started taking ibuprofin. Still have recording on bass with Dead Oak coming up, not to mention possible gigs for the weekend... Decided to maybe take the weekend off if possible, plus the weather was going to be shit. 

So come Thursday, Dead Oak recording had already been rescheduled a few times, when 9pm that night is settled upon instead of early-ish on Friday.

That afternoon Deann Rene (rock singer/songwriter) got in touch asking about a gig we'd talk about me playing bass for on Dec 27th, and if I was available tonight to come by and rehearse. Yes, I was!

So settled on 6:30 as I could spend some time with her band before heading to record with Dead Oak. Checked out the drop box link she'd sent and played along to a few tunes. Wrist felt OK to play, even wearing the brace. That was good.

Met up at Karl the guitar player's home and played with him, Deann and drummer Ric Furley (my good friend and Ocean of Stars/Rick Hornyak bandmate) for several hours, as Dead Oak was pushed back til Friday eve. Was fun playing with them and sounded great! Looks like I'll be playing shows with Deann now \m/,

Friday rolls around, as has the cold. No gigs for the weekend (unless something falls into my lap), kinda happy about that cause holy shitballs it's fucking cold!

Drive to Kirk's new place in SW Austin, which he's been investing in recording gear. Walk into his place, and his good friend J Yeunger (White Zombie guitarist) is there to engineer! Awesome!

(And shit, maybe I should have done more prep work... heh!)

But the set up they had going at Kirk's place was legit as fuck, and it was a very easy one song session, laying down bass for a track called "Dance of the Elves." Silly name, but seriously rocking song.

Plugged straight into a DI setup they had, no amp needed and no problems with neighbors calling the cops, heh. Ran through it for three takes and pretty much nailed it on the third. Only thing we went back to change was adding my bass wah on the closing chord \m/,

What a blast. Probably spent more time afterwards hanging out with Kirk and J than I did actually tracking the song. Can't wait to hear it.

Today doing what I can to stay home (never made it above 32 degrees today), tho will have to venture out for water at some point, coffee creamer too. Hoping tomorrow my pipes will thaw out undamaged (all PVC and all outside, and easily replaceable), COLDPOCALYPSE 2013!!!

Other things in the works are an Adrian and the Sickness tour in February and more Thunderosa dates for January.

And lots of things going on the deserve their own post. More to come.