Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mid-year update

It's the early days of summer now, about a week after the 4th of July, coming up on the All-Star break in major league baseball. I've been pretty busy since the year began. I've been working on spinning up a trio with bassist and vocalist Adrian McMahon. We've found a drummer who seems to be working out, we've been working out repertoire, and we're starting to sound pretty good. For the first time I am doing a significant amount of vocalizing, which is something I have been successfully avoiding for most of my life, ever since someone told me many, many years ago that I shouldn't try to sing - that I should just stick with the guitar playing. That really stuck in my gut and every time I've tried to push past it over the years, I always fell short and backed off from it. So it feels gratifying to have it start coming together, finally. I am singing pretty simple backing parts on a number of songs, and singing lead on one so far, a couple more pretty soon.

I have also been trying to put together a workable jazz trio. It's been hard to get off the ground but I have a bass player and a drummer interested. My notion is to play together and record it, and from that come up with a demo that I can use to shop it around and find some gigs. Ideally I'd prefer a classic organ trio format, where the organist can play bass, chords and melodies and solo as well. Guitar/bass/drums is cool but it leaves me having to work a lot harder.

Meanwhile, SNUG has not had much action this year, alas. There was a private party in June, and another benefit show coming up in August, but so far that's it.

On the recording front, I continue to have several things hovering in varying degrees of completion, including a couple of Weather Report tunes. One is "Cucumber Slumber," on which my son David plays drums. We recorded the basic tracks a year ago when he was home from school for the summer and we still had his uncle Ted's drum set in the house. I've overdubbed bass and a few guitar parts, and it's close to being ready if I could only find the time to finish it. The other two are "Mysterious Traveler" (which I've been threatening for years to work up as half of a medley combined with the Meters' "Cissy Strut"), and "Black Market," which I've wanted to learn for many years and finally have.

All this, along with working on solo playing and trying to find some cycles to also write some material of my own, leaves me with an overly-full plate, considering I'm trying to keep all these balls rolling while also working about 45-50 hours a week at my new (as of April 1st) day job.

There was a fun jam that Stan Erhart had going in a bar in San Mateo, just a little over a mile away from home, on Sunday nights, but after several months, the bar pulled the plug on it in late June. I attend the Wednesday night jam at the Club Fox only once in a great while, and so far have still not made it back this year to the Sunday early-evening jam at the Pioneer in Woodside and some of the other jams that I have been to only once or twice (especially the Thursday Grand Dell jam in Cupertino, which has turned out to be a pretty big deal). Jamming is sometimes a lot of fun and sometimes not, but it is time-consuming, too, and the other stuff I outlined above is more important to me.

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