6.28.2013

Jazz and Country Music That Rocks

I am definitely a rocker, by trade. I prefer to write, learn, and perform good ol' rock-n-roll music. The more energetic it is, the better.

But I have been doing a lot of jazz lately, and jazz is great for the bass chops as far as jamming and improvisation. I am also playing at Summerfest with an alt country Americana band, the Driveway Thriftdwellers. It looks like I might play some future shows with them as well. They do a variety of covers from old school Merle Haggard songs to jammy stuff like the Flying Burrito Brothers. But I really like the original songs. These also range from folky straight country to more Americana indie pop and ballads.

I have all of next week off from work. I won't miss it one bit. I have a jazz gig tonight at the Come Back Inn in Madison that will kick off my weekend. Saturday and Sunday, I will furiously practice songs for the Summerfest show, which is on Thursday July 4th. I want that to be 95% awesome or better. So I have to get biff free by Sunday night, which is when we have a marathon rehearsal to finalize everything. We are also having a dress rehearsal in Madison on Wednesday July 3rd, for our friends and fans who cannot make it to Summerfest on Thursday. But the dress rehearsal has to go down just like it is going to go down at Summerfest, because it is a dress rehearsal. So I want to have all the songs honed by the Sunday practice. And I will, because I am just that kind of diligent musician. I wish I knew more diligent musicians who would focus on making awesome music instead of slacking. I know a few, but they are rare and usually doing other projects that preclude them from rocking with me.

Anyway, it's a solid week of jazz and country starting tonight (Friday June 28) at 5 PM and ending some time in the middle of the afternoon on Thursday July 4th. Then I can rest and relax.

Joe

6.27.2013

A Smart Man Would Get an Early Night, But I Am Not a Smart Man

This morning at work I was insanely productive. I annihilated my workload and launched everything into other peoples' courts by lunchtime. The goal of successful work is eliminating everything you are responsible for by either completing it or delegating it to someone else. Actually, it's not really delegation. In a team environment, several people might be involved in a given project. The goal is to successfully complete you portion and then hand it off to other responsible (or as is more often the case, irresponsible) people. It is actually better when the ball is in the court of lazy or irresponsible or even imbecilic coworkers. Because then they will have it in their court for longer, and that frees me up for longer.

I want to get an early night tonight, but I am not sure I will. I could make myself go to bed early, and certainly I could use the sleep after such a busy week, but next week will be even bigger and I have a substantial to do list to get through before the weekend. I need to do dishes and tons of laundry. I need to practice jazz songs and load music gear for the jazz gig tomorrow. I need to prep for my parents visiting on Monday. I could wait until the weekend to do these things though. I will certainly have more time then.

So on second thought, I probably will get an early night tonight. I plan to bike commute tomorrow, notwithstanding the fact that the jazz gig is at 5 PM and I need to be there by 4:30 at the latest. That means I will have to leave work about 3 PM. That should be fine. My company is closing down for the entire Fourth of July week, next week, and many of my coworkers will be buggin' out early for sure. Also I do not give a crap. My work is pretty much done.

Joe

6.25.2013

Bike Commuting Roulette

So far I have been quite lucky in playing BIKE COMMUTING ROULETTE with the weather.

Yesterday I bike commuted, even with the threat of storms, and avoided getting rained on. The weather actually cleared up pretty nicely in the afternoon yesterday for the return trip.

Last week, I timed my bike commute (with the help of weather.com) to avoid a big fat storm that rolled in just as I rolled up to one of the buildings at work. I had only seconds to spare, but I was totally safe and dry. The whole ride in it was overcast and there was distant thunder. I totally could have been inundated and deluged at any time.

I was going to bike commute this morning, but wisely decided against it. During the time period I would have been biking, there was a torrential downpour in Madison, and more importantly…LIGHTNING. I hate lightning. It was super windy too. As I was driving in my Prius, the wind and rain was buffeting me pretty hard.

The plan is to bike commute tomorrow, with my buddy Mike. That might be the commute that undoes my stretch of good luck. But I will be ready, with plastic baggies for my phone and wallet, and plastic shopping bags for my clothes. I will also have the buddy system. Mike is a pretty savvy bike commuter and will probably have wise advice if we encounter anything overly stormy, like, “Hey, let’s go into that Copps grocery store and avoid this rain, wind, and lightning.” Sagely.

Joe

6.24.2013

A Cup of Tea

I am work, but I have a meeting in about five minutes and no useful work that I can do in that 5 minutes. So instead, I made myself a cup of tea and I decided to write a quick blog post. After this meeting I am going to bike commute home. They are having a fitness challenge at work right now to log about 600 minutes of exercise in a month. I should easily be able to hit that unless there is some kind of disaster that prevents it, like a zombie apocalypse. When I get home, I am going to make some dinner, then practice music until bedtime. Hopefully, I can avoid distractions.

Joe

Band Stuff and Bike Commuting

I pretty much destroyed my workload today, before noon even. So the rest of the day is gravy.

The key to successful work productivity is to get as many balls into other peoples’ courts as possible. It’s not the same as outsourcing or delegating. You are doing your part of the work, but very effectively, and then getting it as quickly as possible into someone else’s work flow and out of your own. The other people have no such high yield productivity and work ethic, so you can be fairly certain you are off the hook on work for a few hours at least.

A good paper trail is important to being effective and productive at work, to document where your various “balls” (projects) are situated. We use Sharepoint where I work. Anything that I need to work on is marked “In Progress.” The goal is simply to get everything out of the in progress state, because all the other states represent someone else’s portion of the work flow.

I did that before noon today. In a perfect world, having completed all my required duties with a maximum of quality, I should be able to take the afternoon off, like the corporate upper managers do. In point of fact, I may do that. But there is no urgency. I have time to do some creative stuff, like writing this blog post.
I bike commuted to work this morning. I rode at a leisurely pace and covered 11.8 miles in about 55 minutes. I think that ends up being something like 12.2 mph, average speed. I rode in at a fairly busy time this morning, leaving my buddy Mike’s house, where I park, about 7:45 AM and hitting some mad rush hour car and bike traffic. But I navigated it successfully.

From the vantage point of a cyclist, I cannot fathom why people suffer through automobile commuting in Madison at that time of day. It’s atrocious. I am amazed there is not more road rage.

I am going to try to bug out of here as early as I can this afternoon. I have to practice some jazz material for Tuesday Jazz Night at Mason Lounge tomorrow. On top of that, I need to work on songs for the country band, Driveway Thriftdwellers, that I am playing at Summerfest with. We have 3 more rehearsals before the show. One is this Wednesday and then we will have a marathon one on Sunday, where everything will need to be pretty well polished. Next Wednesday, we are doing a live dress rehearsal at the Mason Lounge at 8 PM. That will pretty much determine where we are at for the show on Thursday July 4th at Summerfest. I want it to be 95% or better, including both my bass parts and harmonies. A few of the musicians have been missing a lot of the practices, so I hope they have their backstrokin’ tightened up to par. But that’s not my department. I just want to make sure I am the strongest link in the chain, not the weakest.

That’s about it.

Joe

6.23.2013

Country Americana

I am enjoying learning the country songs that I will be performing with the Driveway Thriftdwellers at Summerfest. Some of it is more Americana than country, but the country stuff is old school. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard are actually enjoyable compared with modern pop weak sauce country. But modern pop anything is weak sauce, with rare exceptions. Anything targeted at the lowest common denominator tends to be bland and generic by design. It can't alienate or shock anyone too much or it will lose its mass appeal and profitability.

My music tends to be targeted at a niche audience. I have no idea who that niche audience is exactly, but it will have people who enjoy a little shock and awe in their musical repertoire. Just a little. It's not over the top.

In any case, I am madly learning the songs for Summerfest. They are not hard but I have to sing harmonies as well as play bass, so I need to get to the point where it is all second nature. Then it will blow some minds.

6.22.2013

Saturday

It's Saturday. It's almost noon. I got a late start today because we had storms last night and the power went out, which meant my alarm did not go off, which meant I overslept. I decided not to do the social bike ride today because of the threat of rain and the fact that I need to practice a bunch of songs for all my various bass playing gigs. I am going to work on some jazz piano for a while after I finish this post. Then I will learn some new songs for Tuesday night jazz and refresh the harder ones. Then I hope to spend some time on B4 the Storm cover songs. B4 the Storm is my buddy Phil's band. The song selections are not the right style for GUPPY EFFECT. As for GUPPY EFFECT, I think I am going to go to a kind of crowd sourcing model with that. It's been very hard to coordinate people's schedules. So I am going to alleviate that problem by having multiple incarnations, particularly a revolving door of drummers. Drummers have always been the biggest problem for GUPPY EFFECT (and I think most bands everywhere, hahaha), so I may as well embrace that instead of fighting it. The crowd sourcing approach also allows for some variations on the theme. Although I will kind of be in charge of the set list and repertoire, we can have guest musicians on some songs. This might open it up to people who don't want to fully invest in a band, but wouldn't mind performing on like 3 to 5 songs. I think I will have a requirement that any guest musician has to perform on a prime number of songs. So, 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, or 11 songs. I don't know why. I just like having some sort of arbitrary guideline like that, so I seem obsessive compulsive to everyone.

Joe

p.s. I know what I am doing is not technically "crowd sourcing," but I could not think of a better description. I am sourcing from the crowd, but not in the traditional sense. True crowd sourcing would be to have all my music fans "recommend" musicians to perform with me. I think that would be a total disaster, given the reliability of most musicians.

6.21.2013

My Cardiovascular Fitness Quota

I almost chickened out and did not bike commute today (Friday), which also happens to be the summer solstice. But I took a gamble and bike commuted anyway. I had not ridden since Tuesday and so I was behind on achieving my cardiovsacular fitness quota of a minimum of three 45-minute aerobic workouts per week. Bike commuting is an easy way to hit the goal, combining my workout and commute. I even did the long route, knowing that it would take me past my buddy Mike's house, in case I needed emergency shelter from bad weather.

I lucked out. The skies were grey around me the whole ride and I heard faint rumblings of thunder a few times. However, because of the weather, the bike paths were uncluttered with bike traffic and I was able to crank out a decent 14.5 mph average pace over the 16.5 miles to work. It took about 70 minutes. It will probably take me a little longer going back, because I won't be in a rush (the sun is shining now and the risk of rain has greatly diminished since this morning).

I arrived at work this morning just moments before this...



...rolled in. That beast of a wall cloud unleashed a furious downpour, but I was safe within one of the buildings at work and very relieved. It was a close call and I really would have been within my rights to bail on bike commuting today. I make no bones that I am a fair weather biker, unlike these Madison hippies, who all, incidentally, whimped out, as evidenced by the apocalyptically empty bike paths. But anyway, I did it, and I hit my quota.

Since I did the long commute, I will technically achieve three 45-minute works today since 45 times 3 is 135 minutes and 70 times 2 is 140 minutes. So I will exceed three 45-minute workouts today by 5 minutes. However, it is generally my policy to only allow up to two 45-minute workouts in a 24 hour period, even if I exceed it considerably. This is to keep me honest. On Tuesday, I did the short commute, only 50 minutes each way, for two 45-minute workouts. So I easily achieved my third during the morning commute today, and since that is my quota, anything beyond that is gravy.

I plan to do a social bike ride with a group of people tomorrow, which will sadly be the first shortened day leading to the winter solstice six months from now. I hope I live somewhere tropical someday. Although if global warming continues unabated, WI will be tropical someday. So maybe I just wait it out.

Joe

6.19.2013

Time for a Much Needed Blog Post

June is flying by way too fast. Pretty soon my piano teacher is going to be back from his trip in Colorado and I am going to have a lesson. I need to have something to show for this. I have been doing some practice, but with all the other music stuff going on, it's tough to block out time for piano. But tonight I am going to practice a bunch of piano. I am hoping to keep at it for two hours, if I can stay awake that long.

You see, it's Wednesday. That means last night was Tuesday Jazz Night at the Mason Lounge and that means I was up far past my bed time laying down tasty funk jams for less than minimum wage. So I am very tired today. I didn't bike to work today, although I should have. This allowed me to eek out maybe another hour of sleep last night, but it was not enough. I was very disciplined though. I went right to bed when I got home from jazz, but with tearing down the gear, and loading it in the car, and dropping Charlie off at home after the gig, that wasn't until almost 2 AM. Then I awoke at 7. But then I reset the alarm for 8, deciding that I could still get to work on time if I was expedient about getting ready.

Monday night was kind of a late one too. I had Americana country band practice with the DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS and it went pretty late, then I was up mixing practice song demo recordings until almost midnight. I did bike to work on Tuesday, so I did get up extra early for that, at like 6 AM on Tuesday. Suffice to say, I am going to practice piano tonight, but I also want to get a decent night of sleep.

Foster has a vet appointment tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM. I think I am pretty much going to get up at 7 and take him right over to the vet. Then I will shower and get ready for work after we get back home. He might have to stay at the vet for a few hours, if they can't clip his nails without hurting him and need to put him under the juice. I'd actually prefer that. Then they can surgically cut the nails way back and cauterize the quicks. It sounds painful to think about, but he won't feel a think under the juice and he will be a much happier dog for a longer period of time, if we do that.

Well, believe it or not, I am still at work and that's only because I was trying to avoid rush hour traffic. But the rush hour period is in it's rapidly dying phase, so I am going to risk it.

I wish you all very much luck in the pursuit of your dreams and stay happy.

Joe

6.17.2013

Productive Morning

I needed a "mental health" day today, to get caught up on minor errands and relieve stress. I had a dermatology doctor's appointment this morning, and even though the appointment was right near work, I did not want to go today. My time could be much better spent on the multiple errands in my errand hopper.

Work load at my job is currently light and Monday is when my work team is forced to attend a most banal and useless meeting in the afternoon. I'd rather skip that and do USEFUL things today.

Right now I am at my local mechanic Terry's autoshop for an oil change that may parlay into a set of new tires. So it is a good opportunity to kill 2 proverbial birds and write a blog post.

It's 11 AM right now and I have so far accomplished most of my errand list. I mailed a wedding RSVP. I went to my dermatologist appointment (clean bill of health and the doc said she does not need to see me for like 5 years...so I am doing something right). I deposited the gig money from the GUPPY EFFECT performance at RockFest this past Saturday and I dropped off some dry cleaning. After this oil change, I am going to get a few things at Piggly Wiggly and hopefully be done with all my errands and home by noon. Then I will put some laundry in, eat some lunch and spend the afternoon rehearsing country songs on bass, in anticipation of the Driveway Thriftdweller's band rehearsal tonight and subsequent gig at Summerfest on July 4th.

If there's time, I will practice some jazz piano too.

Joe

6.16.2013

Father's Day Australian Style

Do they have Father's Day in Australia? Is it a worldwide thing?

Anyway, I sure do love my Pops, who is Australian by birth and upbringing. I love my Mom too, and my sister and my niece and nephew. And lots of other people, though perhaps in a different way than I love immediate family.

But today is Father's Day, so a tribute to my pops is in order. I quite admire my pops and all his accomplishments. He has invented and patented a new kind of trombone valve and tried to turn the world of weights and measures on its head by publishing some papers about Avogadro's number and how the rest of the world is in error on some things. I don't have the brain power to understand it all, and that's the cool thing about my pops. He is a scientific genius, clever and creative and really good at math, which I never was. Math intimidated me in school. I would always make dumb calculation errors and get wrong answers and bad grades as a result, so it was discouraging, and I finally turned off my mind to ever being good at math. I understand and respect math, though. And it is thanks to my Pops that that is true.

My dad is also super good at handy man stuff around the house. As part of his own dad being an auto body repair guy and my dad being a mechanical engineer, he is just superb at meticulous home repair types of tasks. I admire that and wish I had those skills. But alas, I am relegated to outsourcing the things I have no talent for.

So that's another area where I appreciate my dad. I learned from him to know your limits. Give it a try, but if it is too beyond the scope of what you are capable of, get help.

As it turns out, I may be able to return the favor soon. My dad is trying to market his patented trombone valve, mentioned above, to trombone manufacturers who might want to license it, when they see its value. Even though I am not fully clear on the value, I sense that is has value, and several trombonists agree, though not enough to want to license the thing yet. But in time...I am optimistic.

So my pops wants to start an LLC and develop an online web presence, and maybe a blog, to promote the new trombone valve design and its benefits, in hopes of picking up a backer. I have a pretty strong set of skills in both home business (LLC) management with regard to my music stuff, and also web design and blog knowledge. I don't think I'd be talented enough to design and maintain an actual web page. But I am all over blog based web page design, which is virtually no cost, and just requires purchasing an appropriately keyword relevant URL to which the free blog can be directed and masked.

Anyway, my Pops is awesome. We are different (after all, I am 50% my mom's genes and upbringing) but in many ways mutually complimentary. We don't usually bond in many of the traditional ways, like beer drinking (I relate more to my mom on this) or fishing (although we did some of this on trips when I was younger, mostly ocean fishing...) or sports (I have no interest in sports, and he's marginally interested in Commonwealth country sports, like cricket and Australian rules football, since he was raised Aussie). But we have good talks about science and the cosmos and the nature of the Big Bang and the Laws of Physics.

I am working on a biographical memoir of my Mom and Pops. In a couple of weeks here, they will be visiting me en route to our summer cabin in northern Wisconsin. When they arrive, I will have the entire week off from work, so that will be a good time to get caught up and do some biographical interviews. My pops doesn't like to share anything too personal, but hopefully he will open up a bit on things I don't know about his past and my childhood era.

I was not the best kid growing up and I think I caused my folks' a lot of angst, especially my Pops, and especially as a teenager. In retrospect, it's regrettable that I was a somewhat delinquent teen. But if you look at it another way, my anti-authoritarian and rebellious personality kind of stems from my Pop's quiet scientific skepticism and always asking questions and not believing what you are told without exploring it for yourself. I guess, I took it in a less productive direction.

I think I turned out alright, and I like to think he would agree. I am not much like my Pops extrinsically, but on the inside, where it counts, I think I have a solid foundation that comes from him.

In October, my Mom and Pops and I are going to Europe for two weeks for a bicycle tour of the Czech Republic and some other places. My passport is renewed and I am excited to be going with them. Both my folks are in their 70s and in relatively awesome health. They still exercise and have all their faculties, so it's cool that we can still be happy and do fun things together.

Joe

p.s. Note that the title of this post stems from Market Samurai, which indicated this was a good keyword for SEO. Since my dad is Australian, it kind of works.

6.14.2013

From Pi O'clock to Beer O'clock

My heavens. It is “Pi” o’clock, as I start this post. That’s 3:14 pm. That happens in the AM too.

I am done with my work for the day. I want to leave and go play some jazz at Come Back Inn. The Charlie Painter Group has a jazz show there from 5 to 7 PM tonight, and I am the slated bass player.

That’s sort of in the HAPPY HOUR time frame, so I am going to call the 2 hours between 5 and 7 PM “beer o’clock.”

The sooner I get down there, the more time I will have to set up my gear before beer o’clock starts.

I had fish ‘n’ chips for lunch today, but I “healthified” it by getting baked and unbreaded fish and green beans instead of fries.

I just ate a small bag o’ pretzels and I have another one lined up for the trip down to Come Back Inn.

Well, I am definitely not staying here past 3:30 PM. There is nothing to do and it’s a beautiful day out. THE MAN may not understand, because he is not a real man, but he can still go pound sand up his arse.

Joe

There is No Excuse to be Bored Because Everything is a Game

Today, I have some philosophical ramblings for how you can get into better physical shape. More abstractions than specifics, but there you go.

THE MAN annoys me. He doesn’t mean to. He isn’t even a real man. But he still annoys me.

My inner circle of work peeps wanted to have a nice outdoor patio lunch today, because the weather is superb.

THE MAN, as manifested through our boss, scheduled a dumbshit meeting for 1 PM, which means there is now a time boundary on our lunch team building activities.

That sucks.

However, we will still have a good 90 minutes of socializing before the boring meeting.

Tonight, the jazz group I play with is performing from 5 to 7 PM at the Come Back Inn, downtown Madison WI. We will be playing outside on the patio, which means I will get more outside weather enjoyment in spite of THE MAN’s foreshortening of our lunch break.

I am going to power walk to lunch, even though I have already exceeded my quota for physical activity for this week.

On Tuesday, I bike commuted the short route of about 25 miles, round trip. That counted toward two of the minimum three workouts of 45 minutes or more that I needed to get this week. It’s about 50 minutes or so each way.

On Thursday, I bike commuted the longer route of about 35 miles, round trip. Since the total time was almost three hours of biking, I should be within my rights to count that as four workouts. But I am only going to count it as three, since it wasn’t quite four.

So as of today, I have hit five workouts of 45 minutes or greater, of moderate physical exercise. If I power walk to lunch it will be probably less than 45 minutes, so I can’t technically count it. But I don’t need to, because I already hit my quota.

I think if more people looked at physical exercise as a game, they would get more exercise. My week starts on a Monday, and the sooner I can achieve my quota of three 45-minute workouts, I win. Three is the minimum, and I can stop counting after I hit the quota. But if I get more workouts in during the week, all the better for feeling good, losing weight, and staying healthy.

Joe

6.13.2013

Music and Quality

I am hoping to get out into the sun shortly. I have pretty much crushed my workload for the day, as usual, and there is no benefit to being at my desk when I can use the time for mental health improvement, stress reduction, and thus better work performance later on.

I am doing a lot of music lately. As you know, if you have been following along, and I hope you have, I am the regular bass player for Tuesday Night Jazz at Mason Lounge in Madison WI now. It’s a late night on Tuesdays, but a really good gig that lets me practice my jamming and improvisation skills. Although my band HIATVS is going on actual permanent hiatus, because the guitarist is moving to Iowa for a new job (he does not hold the band sacrosanct, clearly), I am starting up a new cover band with this guy that I played with years ago. He still likes crappy pop cover tunes, but they are pretty easy, and I don’t have to sing, which is nice. So I can focus on theatrics. I am doing absolutely zero booking and promotion for that band, beyond social media, if we happen to land a gig. I also have no intention of running any sound at shows. I have decided that I am going to focus on my core competencies of bass skills and stage presence. I have a finite amount of brain power and physical energy to devote to this, so I am not going to sacrifice it for these other things that are not my forte. I fully believe in hiring passionate professionals to get the job done.

I know some people who run a pro sound company and I would fully hire them to run sound for any of my bands, even if it cuts into our take, because that is quality. When bands try to run their own sound and are incompetent at doing it, quality suffers, so even though you might make more money, you will lose fans who expect and deserve quality.

You know I am right about this, so don’t even argue. Music is art. It has to be high quality and fun. If it isn’t, then it’s work, and I can make a lot more money working for THE MAN than being a musician. So I will not let music become work. I leave the business end of things to others, because I suck at that stuff, and I accept that I suck at it and choose to focus on what I am good at. That way, quality will be maximized.

Joe

6.11.2013

I Want to Work for an Employer Who Sees Two Weeks in Europe as a Virtue, Not a Hindrance

I am going to Europe for two weeks in October and you can F right off if you don't like it, because it's Europe. Only a moron would pass up a trip to Europe and only a douchebag hater would hold it against someone for taking a two week trip to Europe.

I am a very autonomous and independent person, beholden to no one. I do not let fear guide my decisions. When I was invited to go on a two week bike trip in Europe with my parents, I did not even think twice about it and I am glad I didn't. I am applying for jobs right now. If I had given the Europe trip any kind of thought before committing to plunge right in, I might have experienced some fear and anxiety regarding my job search, because anyone I start working for between now and mid-October is going to have to deal with the fact of my two week absence as part of the terms of employment. I am not going to deceive anyone and I will be very up front with potential employers about my trip. Here is my logic.

Not telling potential employers about my trip serves no purpose. It would not change the fact that I am going to Europe. Period. So trying to hide it would be a deception, and how uncool would it be to start a new job with a deception? That would make me feel dirty and take the shine off any cool new job.

Naturally, many corporate employers have drunk the capitalist coolaid and if they have a choice between a fearful and dispensible cube drone vs. an autonomous, travel loving, creative and free thinking person who will be out of commission for two weeks in October, of course such weak sauce employers are going to take the hopeless and fearful drone, knowing they can more easily exploit them than the jet setter, even though the jet setter may be more qualified and is almost by definition more awesome, because he or she is going to f-ing bike around Europe for two weeks.

It is a rare employer who recognizes a creative, exploratory, risk taking employee as an asset, and that is who I should be working for. So if an employer turns me down for being awesome, they lose and I win. It is one more employer out of the running for my talents, making it a lot easier for the quality innovative and forward thinking employers to land me. That is a win-win for the cool company and me.

I realize the chances of finding such an employer these days, especially in a geographic area that I want to live in, are slim. No problem. I have a job right now and even though it is not very fulfilling since the company was bought out by greasy corporate charlatans a couple of years ago, I have the advantage of time and flexibility, since they are paying me a ridiculous amount of money to do fairly straightforward work. They frown on autonomous and creative thinking, which is why I eventually must leave. But while they are underwriting my kickass life, I have no complaints.

Let the weak sauce employers snatch up the dispensible weak sauce automatons. Then they will be neutralized by the crappy jobs, leaving the good ones for a deserving person like me.

No fear! Your life will be a lot better.

Tuesday Jazz Night at Mason Lounge (Madison WI)

Tonight is Tuesday Jazz Night at Mason Lounge, 416 S. Park St in Madison WI. I will be laying down some groovy bass lines. We might even attempt a Frank Zappa tune. I am amazed that some of these local musicians will accept such low wages for performing great music. I realize they have no organization or union backing. But that is too bad because it creates a race to the bottom as far as available local music. Venues always hire the lowest bidder and if you aren’t willing to suffer slave wages, you won’t perform. But if you do suffer low wages, you can’t survive as a working musician. Sad. We should bring back the musicians’ unions of yore. They should rough up venue owners when they try to short musicians or hire scabs. The latter is just my opinion, wishful thinking that will never happen.


But local music lovers should still come out and support the great music. The quality of the music is not correlated to the low wages, because it is art. Artists take pride in their presentation, even if people do not put a monetary value on it. They won’t do less than their best, even for no reward.

I made about $15 cash at last week’s jazz night, barely enough to cover my gas. But I also got 3 free beers from the venue, a retail value of $15 (the high quality micros at Mason are all about $5 each). That means I effectively got $30, only $15 of which is taxable by the goons at the IRS. I’d actually prefer to perform for barter more often, provided the provisions bartered were useful to me.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know that tonight is jazz night, so you can come if you want to.

6.07.2013

I Rescind What I Said About My Bands of Late

I want reality to follow a certain pathway that is highly correlated with my beliefs about how reality should be. By the same token, I sometimes challenge reality to prove me wrong, and in this case reality came through. Unlike most people, I am willing to admit when I am wrong and reality is right. In fact, I might be the only human being capable of this, but I challenge reality to prove me wrong on that too.

Recently, I have been griping about how my band never practices and thus lacks momentum and thus doesn't get better and learn new material. This is only 50% correct. While it is true, almost by definition, that not practicing precludes the learning of new material, it is not, as it turns out, true that not practicing makes the band not get better. I realize there are a lot of double negatives there, so let me be direct.

HIATVS, one of my bands, came up with our name for a totally different reason than the fact that we rarely practice, even though the latter is true in retrospect. My guitarist buddy Brian was in a different band than me at the time. His drummer told him that he "needed a hiatus" from rocking at about the same time that my guitar player in GUPPY EFFECT told me that he "needed a hiatus" from rocking for whatever reason.

In rock-n-roll parlance, a "hiatus" is really just a polite word for saying you just aren't really into it, and it is essentially the same as "I quit." It's actually the band equivalent of when a woman you have been dating says, "I think we should just be friends." What she really means is, "this sucks and I want to go do something else." It's the same with bands, and once you are able to interpret the hidden meaning, it's all good. The woman does not really want to be friends and the musician does not really have any intention of ever rocking with you again. However, there is breakup sex in both cases. For example, GUPPY EFFECT still reunites for occasional shows, even though we are not technically a band anymore.

As an aside, I find it difficult to embrace the idea that any musician would not want to play in a band that has my sick bass skills fully available. But by the same token, I can't understand why any woman would not want to date me either. It's just one of those things where some people make choices and their beliefs don't correlate with the reality of how awesome their life is with me in it, whether playing bass or putting the shoes to ya.

Bringing it back to the thesis of this post...sometimes a band name takes on additional meanings in the course of the life of the thing. After Brian and I had these band mates go on "hiatus," we were both kind of sans band. Drums and guitar, as it turns out, are fairly critical to a functioning rock-n-roll band, especially one that plays covers.

So Brian and I were at lunch one day, and we were talking about how our bands were both on hiatus because of musicians pursuing other interests. We decided to join forces and so we did, and we called the band HIATVS to pay homage to the prior bands. Well, HIATVS picked up a drummer named John, also a coworker. He liked to rock, but his schedule was not very conducive to regular practices.

Strangely, we discovered that the longer we did NOT practice, the better we were when we finally were able to practice. Basically, the longer the band practice HIATUS, the better we became when we did eventually secure time to practice.

This defies logic and my belief in how a band should be. A band that does not practice for two (2) months should totally suck when they finally get together. But recently, HIATVS had a practice after more than two (2) months of not practicing, and we somehow managed to pull THIS song off, almost effortlessly. It is a cover of "Stinkfist" by Tool. It's almost demo worthy. To the untrained ear, it IS demo worthy.

So my prediction that we might suck at band practice as a result of not practicing was totally false. Granted, we did not add any new material. That's impossible anyway, because our drummer has almost no musical tastes in common with Brian and me. But on the songs we already had down, we were tizzight. It's not logical, but it is true.

So, I must humbly admit being wrong and you will admire me for it, because even though our society views being wrong as a weakness, which is why everyone is full of shit, REALITY waits for no one. You are either "on the bus or off the bus."

6.06.2013

FYI, I Have Some Gigs Coming Up

I have some gigs coming up. There’s no obligation for you to attend, but I think you might really enjoy them, so I wanted to let you know about them.

First of all, I am now the house bass player with 5 Points Jazz Collective and will be performing at Mason Lounge Jazz Night in Madison every Tuesday going forward. It is from 9 PM to midnight and a very chill and relaxed environment, with tons of great microbrews on tap. I not so much amazed by how many people attend this great event, because a lot do, but by how many people DON’T, because it is the best time on the face of the earth on Tuesday nights, hands down. If you find something more fun to do on a Tuesday night, we want you to go do that. But since I know you will not find anything funner, I fully expect to see you at Jazz Night, at least for a little while.

This Saturday, June 8th, my band HIATVS, featuring two different drummers, will be performing at an outdoor party in Mt. Horeb WI, complete with a 5’-wide slip-n-slide. Slip-n-slide + rock-n-roll = a lot of ‘n’ going on. This is a private party, but we are allowed to bring some friends. So if you want to be an exclusive VIP groupie of the band, let me know.

On Saturday, June 15th, GUPPY EFFECT v1.0 is re-uniting to perform RockFest in Delevan WI, a show we get together for every year, even though we are no longer a band, officially on paper. SUNSPOT is also playing. It is at the Phoenix Park Bandshell in Delevan, which foolishly bans open alcoholic beverages. So mix up those rums and cokes at home and put them in a Nalgene or bicycle water bottle. HAHAHA. Breakin’ the law! Of course, HIATVS cannot officially endorse such bad behavior. So naturally, we do not. DON’T DO WHAT I JUST SAID.

HIATVS might host a rock-n-roll house concert at HIATVS HQ in Cross Plains WI on Saturday June 29th. It’s probably 75% likely and I will for sure update you when it is confirmed, so stay tuned.

On Wednesday, July 3rd, GUPPY EFFECT v1.0 is performing at a farm party in Delevan WI. We did this last year and it was fun. This is also one of those semi-private parties where we can invite immediate friends as VIPS.

That’s all I know of with any confidence at this time. I was tentatively invited to play bass with a country cover band at Summerfest on July 4th, but it’s very sketch right now. I have not heard from the chaps about the set list or rehearsals. I would love to do it though.

My buddy Tim is doing a cool punk rock side project I want to play bass for, but he is still working out the details and it’s very early in the developmental stages.

Are we good?

Good.

6.01.2013

Eno Vino Was Not Bad

Check out my post "The Genetically Modified Food Pros - Monsanto," about more corporate irresponsibility from the GMO crop giant. What a bunch of douche nuggets. Looks like I will have to stop eating tofu (Monsanto monopolizes the soybean market too).

Remember in my post from yesterday, how I said I was going to Eno Vino with some friends? It was a good time. Good conversation. Good food. Relatively modest cost. My friend, Anth, had a coupon for a free flatbread, which saved us a good $20. I had some sort of duck dumpling that was slightly gamy, but quite good. I'd give the place high marks for atmosphere. It would be a good place to take a date. It's also good for large groups where you can distribute the exorbitantly overpriced fare amongst several people.

Eno Vino is not the kind of place to go if you are just looking for a belly full of food. It's tasteful - quality vs. quantity. Go there to taste and enjoy foods and wines, not to indulge. I actually did not drink any wine while I was there. I should have. I looked at the wine list and I saw a Pinot Noir from New Zealand that sounded intriguing. But I simply forgot to order it.

I am fighting a mild head cold by drinking lots of water and pounding vitamins and ibuprofen. I seem to be keeping it at bay for now. This follows on the heels of the stomach flu I had on Wednesday night. I think that pathogenic invasion knocked out my immune system, allowing this cold virus to sneak in. But now my immunity has recovered and together we are battling for dominion over my body.

I was going to hit the farmer's market this morning, but I didn't quite feel well enough. Plus, I have to drive to Madison tonight for a HIATVS band practice with Hammer. We have two drummers in HIATVS and he is one of them, the one that can never make the time to practice and doesn't really practice at home very much either. He's a good enough drummer that he doesn't have to, but he also never improves or pushes the envelope because he doesn't experiment.

It's neither here nor there, because HIATVS is just about the fun of rocking. It looks like the guitar player might move away from Wisconsin for another job. At least, that is definitely on the table. With that kind of commitment to the band, I don't have much mental investment in it. I learned a long time ago that investing in local bands is a waste of time. No one prioritizes rocking and this is a weakness of the music scene around here. It's ephemeral and short lived. The only band I have seen prioritize and commit to rocking in Madison is SUNSPOT. And it is shameful how little recognition they get, because they are awesome. But that is the problem. Local music fans in Wisconsin are not used to original music bands that give it their all. The only bands they know that stick around are generic cover bands. SUNSPOT invests so much time and energy and resources in their amazing brand of rock. If people only knew.

That said, SUNSPOT does have a core of dedicated fans that appreciate what they do. I have a lot of cognitive dissonance with that, myself, because I always want to support them whenever they perform, but often they do not perform in Madison, and even when they do, it's quite a drive from Cambridge. But when I do not have rock-n-roll commitments of my own, I make every effort to see SUNSPOT live when I can.

Joe