Monday, August 30, 2010

In The Closet

I was doing a show in Kerrville last week and the club's stage power wasn't working.
A bartender led me to the different breaker boxes and one of them was in a closet.

This is what we found:

The bartender didn't think it was real, which is a natural reaction when you see a moth the size of a small bird.
It was pretty mellow--I was able to open the door, reset the breakers, and close it again before going to get my camera.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Stolen Chair Project

This is inspired by those silly Brits who had a fad a few years back where they would borrow someone's garden gnome, take it on vacation, then return it with a packet of prints showing his amazing adventures.
(The reason Travelocity uses a garden gnome as it's spokesman, by the way.)

There's one club we play in SA that is cramped for space, so I have no room for light tripods--I have to hang them all from the rafters. Thankfully, the seating in this club is these really sturdy and tall wooden chairs that make excellent improvised ladders.
I have yet to fall from one and break a rib, unlike real ladders (twice) and swiveling stools (once).

Last Saturday, one of the chairs in question ended up in the back of our truck somehow, and has been getting all kinds of late night action.
The plan is to leave it on their doorstep right before opening, with prints of all these pics. Not really sure how we can witness the reaction/payoff without getting busted, though.

On With The Show!
(in chronological order)

What I did was shoot 2-4 pics every night this week.
And since it's also an exercise designed to get me back into taking pictures regularly I decided to handicap myself by working very quickly and also keep PhotoChopping to the bare minimum.
And to only use the 50mm lens, which isn't a problem since my other two have been gathering dust since I bought it.

It was very hard to come up with so many locations indoors, and I fell back on my usual props thus far, but I still have plenty of future photo-ops when I start taking the chair around town next week.
Any suggestions gratefully considered!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wasps and New Bass Day

It's Our Turn!
For twice-yearly brush and oversized trash pickup, that is.

Yesterday I put out some tree clippings and our old grill.
The BBQ was someone else's gas-type that had been left to rot until all of the burners had rusted to dust. It was given to me and with my brother's welding help I converted it to use charcoal--served us well for many years.
But we decided that it's time for a nice new one--smaller, cleaner, and the kind I want instead of the one I just happened to end up with.

Now, I knew there were wasp nests in it and under it.
In fact, when I rolled it off the patio, the little thump when it dropped an inch off the slab seemed to anger the flying and stinging pricks.
I was soon able to resume my journey around the house, and despite some banging at the fence gate and a few impacts while rolling over exposed roots I got it to the corner of our yard without getting stung.
This is good, because I'm kind of allergic. One Yellow Jacket sting will lay me out for a solid week.

Not 15 minutes later I heard a loud bang/rattle/clank from the front yard and peeked out the window:
The grill was as you see it, in the street, dragged over the curb by a guy who was already running across the neighbor's yard while waving his arms and slapping at his neck and arms and legs!
I couldn't stop watching this dude performing his version of St. Vitus's Dance, twisting and turning, running and slapping, stopping and spinning, crouching and jumping--it was quite the show!

Eventually he made it back to his Suburban, which was parked just to the right of my BBQ with it's back doors open.
After a few false starts and some bonus stings, he finally got in and drove three houses down the street before stopping to close the doors.

By this time I was able to stop laughing and get a camera to shoot a parting shot as he got the hell out of Dodge:
Yes, that's a Winnie The Pooh mailbox flag.

At first I felt guilty for not killing the wasps first, but at the time it just hadn't occurred to me.
Then I got mad because I had to go out there and spray those jerks three times, risking multiple stings and the loss of a productive week or two.
But when I went to get the grill back out of the street it was gone!
Not my problem anymore.

Sylvia said "Serves him right for digging in people's trash".

That was yesterday, this is today:

UPS brought my new bass this afternoon, and I really like it.
Plays good, sounds good, and is very pretty in a dark and smoky way.
The quiled maple is sexy, as is the satin chrome hardware.
It's the 4-string (normal?) version of my decidedly abnormal 8-string, so I feel right at home playing her already.
Thanks for the donations, Sylvia, Selma and Josie!

Is it bad that I've still got the hots for a guitar I saw last Saturday?
It's a steal, so I can always sell it at a profit.
A smart investment, right?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Long Strange Trip...

Now that it's August 1, the other high point of this special weekend is upon us.

When I was 16-17 my older musician friends would sneak me into their club gigs to play a few RUSH songs, so I had some bar experience. Their girlfriends would hide me in the dressing room or coat room with a pitcher of beer (and stuff) while I waited to go onstage scared out of my pants.
In New York the drinking age was 18, and not long after I graduated from high school my band ONYX started playing regularly.
My very first legal club gig was on August 1, 1980 at Sullivan's on Route 50 in Scotia.
I was the rhythm guitarist because the band had 3 brothers in it and the youngest played lead guitar. Their call since they owned all the sound and light gear, although fun times ensued because he was underage and their dad had to be at the shows. Dad liked the young girls a bit too much.

Anyway, I finally got to play a guitar solo and was excited and nervous but determined to do my best.
In the middle of my big moment, some guy right in front of me broke a beer bottle on a table and slashed another dude's neck wide open.
Blood gushed everywhere, and I even got some on me and my white Ibanez 6/12 string doubleneck guitar.
It took over half an hour to stabilize him in an ambulance before they could take him to a hospital.
Never found out if he lived or died...

At the end of our show I remember thinking "It can't get any worse" and after 30 years in this crazy business it turns out that I was right.
Do you remember the scene in the movie The World According To Garp where Robin Williams and his wife are house-hunting and a small plane crashes into the house they are looking at?
He gets all excited because the house is "pre-disastered", meaning that the odds are good that nothing tragic will happen again.
All kinds of crazy shit has gone down, but that was the low point and I was "pre-disastered" on my very first night.

Here's a picture of me a month or two into my career (playing the guitar I still have) with ONYX at Foxy's in Schenectady NY:
Chris Rattazzi loaned me his Peavey Mace amp so that I would have two, although this was definitely overkill.
Mine is currently sitting a few feet away as I type this and is going into the shop soon so that I can use it again.

This is me at Tiger's in Clifton Park playing the doubleneck.
Mark Nolan lent me his Peavey 2x15" speaker cabinet for this show, to augment my pair of 4x12" cabs. More overkill but I was young and hadn't run sound yet, which would have taught me to keep the volume under control.
By this time us non-brothers in ONYX had split off and formed the band Dirty Art. We also testified in court (while massively hungover) to win a lawsuit against our former bandmates.
Darryl Williams and Robert Kohler were our singer and soundman.
Dwayne Distal was our drummer and the driving force behind my early career in upstate New York, and is the only person mentioned by name in this post who isn't a friend on FaceBook yet.

Here I am playing bass with BLISS tonight at the Loop 1604 SILO.
Rikk was kind enough to lend me his left hand, which sounds like the start of a filthy joke.
Right before we started the song, some girl in the audience came up to me and asked if it was really my birthday.
While the answer should have been no, technically, I was smart enough to say yes.
She flashed me her boobs.
Not a single member of the band or our group of friends saw this happen, but I can assure you it did and was just one more freebie in a long list of them this weekend.

This picture sums it up--I love to make music!
If I wasn't known as the best soundman in San Antonio I might get to play onstage more often, but the people I work with depend on my skills to make sure that The Show MUST Go On!!

The stories I've accumulated are endless.
Put me next to another soundman/guitar-bassist/douchebag at a party and his stories will remind me of a few hundred more.
Ask me about touring Newfoundland Canada for a month--there's 45 minutes of laughs right there.
Or about how the amazing drummer Bill Bruford (YES, King Crimson, etc) walked into our dressing room and saw my weiner--big stars get "All Access", I guess.
What about when the late great Dimebag Darrell of Pantera tried to hire me as his guitar tech before they even had a deal with a record label?
Then there was the night I captured legendary guitarist Neal Schon of Journey (& Santana) complimenting me on a cassette recorder.

I now have exactly 30 years worth of (legal) tall tales.