Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday mornin' coming down

Two shows with Johnny Dilks were really a treat. Friday we packed Shea's. Apologies for the short set/early finish. I guess we have a reputation of playing all night, so folks weren't ready for the on-time start and one hour set. Last night we played one of the coolest bars I've ever been to, the historic Owl Club in Roseville, CA. Great ambience, great 'live' room with hardwood floors and lots of windows. I was tormented knowing the Saddle Tramps played without me. This will continue to be a balancing act between the bands and I know it won't be easy. It will be great.

I always talk Dave Gleason's ear off. I'm not sure why, but it may be that he's just one of those unpretentious pure spirits. He guests during our sets because he just loves to play guitar. I was proud to stand next to him for these shows.

I got new pickups for my bass. Jazz basses have two pickups, a volume knob for each and a tone knob. I wired the pickups together, directly to one volume knob. I removed the tone circuit and have been running my amp flat (that is no EQ). It is a gratifying to see a simple idea turn out like I imagined. It's like this: I think that tone comes from the musicians hands primarily, coupled with the instrument's innate characteristics. So I strive to have as little in the way between the mechanism of the instrument and the sound it makes. Some other examples of how I see this through: for a long time I ran my Telecaster with one pickup wired directly to the output jack. Similarly, I try to get the back of mandolin off my body so it can resonate entirely.

The Jazz sounds so sweet. I was a pure joy to play this weekend, particularly Friday. I am fortunate to play with such talented guys all the damn time. My fingers are trashed because I haven't played bass for three weeks. I've got blisters on my right hand. My left fingers are worn from the Saddle Tramps mandolin sessions. They are very, very funny guys. Our personal mix is comfortable and a continuous running joke.

My film production classes are over. That turned out less than I'd hoped in some ways, more in other ways. I'm looking forward to 'the project' that inspires me to get down to business with it. I've much to learn but am equipped to get there. I digitized some of my VHS collection, and was inspired again by Rowland Salley's documentary Why The Artist Creates. I didn't find the thing he said that has been stuck in my head. After little digging I found it on his website. He wrote this about inspiration: There are literally thousands of inspirational events for any musician...for me they go from Stephen Foster to Howlin' Wolf and back again several times a day. Also...I think it's a good thing to fall in love with your waitress once in awhile. Well put Roly. I can find a moment in so many songs where one musician did something that touches me and inspires me. Particularly in band-oriented music; that is to say albums that are recordings of a band versus a collection of studio musicians. I believe great albums can communicate to us the telepathy that the band members have with each other. I know it's real because on stage, Chico reads my mind all the time. Likewise, I read Leroy's. That's why we're a good band -- the rhythm section is 'one thing.'

I've been way out on the creative edge for the last two weeks. Way out. I've never laughed so much or played so much. It is exhausting being so far out here. I played as well as I think I am capable for the studio sessions last week. I was displeased with some of the technical aspects, but mostly I just wrestled with the notion of trying to maintain what I do. I had to constantly tell myself to 'just play; that's why I'm in the band'. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors that erode self-confidence are always lurking. What we recorded sounds good. It is a new, very different sound. It is good. It will be fun to develop the live show in the months to come. Tim O'Brien has said that bluegrass is a strong spice. It's not for everyone and that's a good thing. The spice gets mellowed with just one bluegrass instrument in the band but it's still strong.

This one is a tough read and I thank you for getting this far.

Sending out the good vibrations,

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