Monday, September 29, 2014

Back to business

Got back to work after my doldrums had subsided.

Last week:

Tuesday rehearsed with Jason Patten and Derek Hensley in prep for an imminent album recording with Chet Himes. Jason and his lady made me a chunk of German chocolate cake, laden with candles so it looked like a sea urchin. Awesome! That was really nice of them and made my day! Update on that situation, looks like we hit the studio tomorrow, which will conflict with rehearsal with Heather Bishop tomorrow night in prep for her birthday show at Saxon Pub next Wednesday. Shit.

Wednesday had afternoon rehearsal with Ulrich Ellison before a gig at Hanover's in Pflugerville that night. Both went well. Despite my rookie mistake of leaving my pedalboard (containing all pertinent cables for the gig) at his practice space. Well shit. Had a tuner in my phone and borrowed cables so not the end of the world. Having my bass drive does come in handy for giving my hands a break. Was able to function without it and dig in more with my attack to get the extra volume. But lets just say my hands/forearms hurt like hell the next morning. Which sucked because:

Thursday had 11am rehearsal again with Ulrich and this time the keyboard player (all gigs save Sat at Maggie Mae's were trio gigs). My hands were blown by the time we were done. And I still had a 4-hour recording session with Sean Evan to bass for 4 more tracks on his album. Spent the day resting and not playing music. Listened to the 4 songs before heading out, wrote down the charts Sean had emailed me for a guideline.

Went in there with little to no prep and still knocked them all out by the third take. Felt really good about that. Once I locked into the kick/snare pattern, the bass line fell into place. Went back to clean up a blown change or two, but still made quick work of the tunes.

In between all this was trying to settle a booking controversy for Oct 4. Had a Hooka Hey show which I agreed to, but then had two other offers come in the same time which unfortunately would have paid much more. But Hooka Hey doesn't have the roster of possible subs that the other two bands do, and to back out would mean cancellation of the date (an outdoor festival in Victoria TX at 9pm) altogether. Shit. So I did what I should have done to begin with, keep the date I initially accepted and explained the situation to the other two situations.

Friday played Anderson Mill Tavern with Ulrich. Spent the day resting, then doing some much-needed housework. Oh yeah, we're having a dinner party coming up this week. We need to clean!!!

Saturday was supposed to play an early private party for some bikers in Del Valle, but that got rained out en route. They still paid us half which was really cool of them. Got the news just as I was pulling into a gas station for a 5-Hour Energy and wondering how I was going to get through the day. Back was really bothering me, hands still hurting, and really really wanted a nap...

So we killed some time here, then loaded in at Maggie's early to avoid the clusterfuck of Pecan Street Festival going on downtown. Uli dropped me off back home and he ran to do a short set with Nakia Reynosa. Finally got a nap. Headed back downtown (this time with my damn cable box, thought my cables were in my pedalboard... glad I noticed that loading in, my hands would have killed me) in Heather's car (smaller than my van and could fit my rig) with plenty of time to find parking and have a leisurely set up.

Gig went great! Good crowd all night, and was cool to finally have the keyboard player onstage as well, kind of gave me a bit of a break from holding down rhythms, heh. Was really fun playing with Ulrich and Michael Davila and Bill Commander. Glad Ulrich's wife Sabine (usual bassist) will be ok and home soon to begin their upcoming tour. But I had a blast playing with them and kinda bummed the shows are over :)

Sunday resumed rehearsals with Dead Oak. Good to see them, been awhile. They may be hooking me up with three days of freelance work next week for a handsome paycheck.

Which is great as October was looking light so far...

This week, rinse and repeat. Rehearsal tonight. Recording tomorrow. Hooka Hey rehearsal on Wednesday. Joint birthday dinner party for Heather and myself here at the Hobbit Hole on Thurs (invite only, there is not much space here hahaha), Friday probably with Sean Evan at Dizzy Rooster, Saturday in Victoria with Hooka Hey. Sunday Dead Oak rehearsal. Mon-Wed could be working freelance 9-5pm. Rehearsal with Heather on Tues for her birthday show at Saxon on Wednesday.

Maybe late next week I'll have another day off finally. See what happens.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Been awhile...! Just turned 40 as well

Greetings loyal reader(s), it's been awhile.

Not that nothing worth writing about has been going on, but have been so busy lately I simply haven't had the time/energy to write.

Busy is good. Busy means bills aren't as delinquent as they usually are (but I'm still late as shit on some things... Ugh)

End of August I took my first actual vacation since March, got back and hit the streets running with gigs, recording, new projects, old projects, etc etc etc. Just had to learn 40 songs for shows around the general Houston vicinity with 100 Miles Gone. Then learn another 20 for gigs with Ulrich Ellison and Tribe, as Ulrich's wife/bassist had to fly home to Austria for health reasons (expected to make full recovery and be back for their touring in October).

Last week I turned 40 with little to no fanfare. The show I'd been trying to book I had to cancel as all the bands I asked had prior commitments. Decided to have a night off and just invite friends out for drinks at various shows I wanted to attend. Then was offered an Eric Tessmer Band gig at The Roost up north for that night. Which then fell through a few hours from downbeat due to the flooding rains. Fuck me dead.

So went out to see Amplified Heat and just hung out. Was fun and low-key. Then while nursing a rather brutal hangover in spite of my modest alcohol consumption the previous night, drove with Heather to Houston for a gig with 100 Miles Gone. Would have rode with the drummer or guitar player but one was staying for gig next night, the other had things to do in Houston the next day, and I had to be back in Austin by 1pm Satruday to ride with Ulrich to San Angelo for a gig at Sealy Flats. Only to be back in Austin the next day for a last-minute early 3pm show with Deann Rene Band at Saxon Pub. Had tentative plans to invite people out for belated birthday drinks afterwards. But I was too fucking tired. Maybe next year I'll have a party.

So yes, I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to stay on top of bills and still failing miserably.

I keep working harder and harder and am not making any more money or any dent in my bills. I don't know what else to do, music is my most marketable job skill and I make more money doing it hour-for-hour than I was working full time at a TV station. And gig offers come in all the time. But I can't take all of them. Cancelled gigs are the bane of my existence. Just had to spend $600+ on amp repairs with money I don't have and one still isn't functioning properly. I could get a part time job, but doing what?!? Who the hell is going to hire a 40-year old college graduate who hasn't worked a straight job in 7 years? And I would have to work 3 days for the amount I'd get paid doing one gig.

My main problem is none of the bands I am involved in are full time (10-20 gigs per month, touring etc). So I'm having to take what I can get, keep searching, and try to stay positive and hope for the best, when the reality of the situation is if things don't change by the end of the year then it is Game Over. My credit cards (already drowning under those payments) will be maxed out. I have no savings. No 401k. I live gig-to-gig and can barely survive. And this is with me working as hard as I possibly can, doing what I am best at. And it's not enough.

Don't mean to be negative. Just explaining my current reality. I'm 40 years old now and starting to feel like Don Quixote. I can't keep this up the way I have been going all year. I am exhausted and reaching my wits' end.

Just trying to count my blessings in the meantime. I have a roof over my head which I own. It leaks but it's mine. I still have my health and feel in very good shape for 4 decades, tho with my back/abdomen still causing aches and stiffness I'm starting to feel older. I have a loving family, supportive friends, and am spending my time with a woman who is a wonderful human being (as opposed to the energy vampire I was with previous).

I am living in poverty, but my life is rich beyond measure in all the areas that really matter. And I have to remind myself that several times a day.

Here's to another 40 years. May they be better than the previous 40 (and those previous 40 weren't all that bad).