6.30.2014

A Homeless Half Day

I am homeless as I write this. But only for about the next 4 hours or so. I just sold my house of eight years in Cambridge WI this morning to some nice people. I hope they like it as much as I did. It is a solid house. I received a phat check from my buyers, most of which will go toward the down payment on my new house in Madison WI later this afternoon.

It is not technically a full half day of homelessness. It is only about six or seven hours of homelessness, but a homeless half day flows off the tongue a little better that a homeless quarter of a day. It's also not a very stressful state of homelessness. Most of my belongings are already in the garage at my new house, because the seller of that house was kind enough to let me move my stuff in there over the weekend, in advance of closing.

If he had not done so, I would have had to move twice, putting my stuff into storage until after the closing and then moving it from storage to my new house.

My awesome group of friends volunteered to help me load and unload a gigantic Uhaul truck on Saturday. It was a fun time, like when Tom Sawyer convinced his friends that whitewashing his aunt's picket fence would be more fun than going down to the swimming hole. Indeed, it turned out to be. After we loaded the truck in Cambridge, I took them all out for lunch on me. After we unloaded the truck at my new house in Madison, I took them out for a few drinks (after I returned the Uhaul, of course). I only had a suitcase and few essential items to load into my car this morning before I went to the closing on the sale of my Cambridge house. Even those few things still filled my car to the brim. In a few minutes here, I am going to pay a visit to the garage of the new house and unload a lot of it, before I go to the afternoon closing on the buying of the new house. I am excited to start moving in and especially getting the music gear set up.

On Saturday, when we were unloading the truck at the new place, I met the next door neighbors and they seem very nice. Sara and Jason are their names. They have at least one child and apparently a niece who is living with them transiently. I told them I play in a band, but not to worry about noise. I don't like to rock out too loud at band practice. Lower volume is better for nuances and hearing the music, so you can improve it. Anyway, that's a topic for another post.

Buddy and Foster are in the kennel today. I did not want to have to deal with them while I was homeless, because it is rather muggy out and they would have to be in the car. It is actually Foster's first time at the kennel. He is a very sensitive dog and I do not like to put him in the kennel if it can be avoided. However, this is only for one day and he is in a kennel run right next to Buddy. The kennel lady, Debbie, even said she would put them in the same run together, if it looked like Foster was having anxiety. I am going to try to pick them up tonight, if I can get back to the kennel before 6 PM. That is the latest they will allow pickup on a weeknight, although they might allow special arrangements in some situations, like the one I am in. But I am pretty sure I can get there by 6 if the afternoon closing goes smoothly and I am out of there by 5 PM.

Moving is a good thing because it helped me to reduce my material belongings and think about simplifying my life. Even though I will not be paying much less in monthly mortgage payments than I was at the house I just sold, I will have much lower travel expenses and a higher quality of life. First, I can bike commute to work. A lot. I bike commuted before the move, but I had to drive part way, from Cambridge to the east side of Madison, before I could jump on my bike and pedal across town. I was still putting 40 to 50 miles on my car every day that I bike commuted, not to mention the 60+ miles of daily commute when I did not bike, and now I won't have to do that unless the weather is super bad. I can even take a bus that picks up not too horribly far from my new house. That won't really save me any money over driving, because bus fare is ridiculously high in Madison, but it will reduce stress because I can read and write on the bus while someone else does the work of getting me to my destination. I am amazed that more people do not take the bus. It's like having a chauffeur. But that also is a topic for another post (and you can be sure it will be).

Well, it's 12:30 PM. I suppose I will cruise on over the the garage at the new place and ditch this load of stuff in my car. Tonight I will begin the task of unpacking. The cable Internet gets set up on Wednesday morning. I need to figure out when garbage gets picked up, and also change my address with as many people and organizations as I can think to change it with, mostly online I would guess.

Tomorrow night I have band practice, but even though I have a sweet new jam space in my new house, we will be having practice over at the drummer Jon's house, mainly because he currently has my drum kit and a bunch of my music gear. I will take some of said gear home to my new house after that practice. Then I should be well on my way to getting the jam space set up in my new house. The country band is practicing on Wednesday night, also at drummer Jon's, but due to the urgency of unpacking my stuff and also the fact that they are training a sub bass player for a gig I cannot play in late July (because I will be on RAGBRAI), I probably will only pop in for a brief time and get them set up with the small PA rig they will be using transiently.

Thursday night is like Friday night this week, because the July 4 holiday is on Friday. So I will do some mad unpacking late into the night on Thursday, and on Friday I am going camping in Rome WI with a group of friends. It is a dog friendly camp ground, so I will see if I can manage to bring Buddy and Foster. Weather and especially heat are a consideration. They will need to be crated.

Then my folks are coming out on Saturday or Sunday and they will stay a night or two at my new place and check it out, before they go up to the cabin, which I hope to do the following weekend, July 12-13. RAGBRAI (the bike ride across Iowa for a week) is kind of my main focus for the month. I have a friend who offered to mow my lawn while I am gone and a couple others who said they will stop by the house and make sure everything is secure and good. Nice friends I have.

OK, off to make shite happen. Ciao!

6.27.2014

The Big Move is Nigh

I should be losing my mind right now. I am not sure why I am not, but I like it.

This weekend, on Saturday, I am moving all of my current belongings to the garage of my new house in Madison WI, with the help of some good friends. I can’t technically move into the new house until after Monday afternoon’s closing, but the seller of my new house was cool enough to rent me back two days use of the garage to store my stuff until then. My realtor is going to hand off the garage door opener once my friends and I arrive at the house with a Uhaul truck full of stuff early Saturday afternoon. Then I can come and go freely from the garage. The only exception to this is that I am doing my pre-closing walk through inspection on Saturday afternoon as well. This will be an opportunity for my friends to get a glimpse of the inside of the new house and see the basement jam space that I plan to make full use of for house concerts.

I had reserved a 26’ Uhaul truck for this Saturday’s move about a month ago and crossed my fingers. At first, it looked like I wasn’t going to get one for the time frame I needed it on Saturday. I hastily rescheduled my friends for Sunday instead, and luckily most of them were flexible. However, I then got word that I could get the truck for when I needed it, and I hastily rescheduled my friends for the original time frame, and they came through for me again. The truck was one of the variables I was worried about and it looks like the cosmos came through for me in the end, but it was touch and go.

Saturday morning, my friend Sherry and I will carpool to Janesville WI, the nearest Uhaul dispensary with a 26’ truck, I guess. Once I have it, she will follow me back to Cambridge and when my other friends arrive, we will begin loading the beast, probably from about 11 AM to 1 PM, if we can be expedient. I then plan to take everyone to lunch before we convoy to the new house, I meet the realtor for the garage opener handoff, and we unload the truck. I also offered to take them all out for beer and pizza afterwards, optional.

Buddy will be in the kennel during the move, but Foster will be with me. Foster is small and manageable. What I have not figured out yet is what to do with Foster on Monday when the closings happen. I close on my house at 10 AM and then I don’t close on my new house until 4 PM. So I will be transiently homeless for a few hours. My friend Danielle offered to dog sit Foster on Monday and that will probably work. I will have to drop him off at her place before or after the open jam on Sunday night probably. Another option is that I can just take Foster with me and mill about, weather permitting. Maybe I will walk my new neighborhood and check it out.

The closings should go smoothly, because all the paperwork is lined up already, and if the moving goes smoothly on Saturday, I will actually get a brief respite from stress and worry Saturday night and Sunday. I might go to Rhythm and Booms on Saturday night, the annual fireworks display in anticipation of the July 4 holiday. On Sunday, Sherry and I plan to go on a RAGBRAI training ride, since we are doing the full week of it at the end of July. It is a week long bike ride across Iowa, if you are not familiar with it. Extremely fun. I fully plan to hit the Funk’s Pub open jam on Sunday night as well, though I won’t stay out too late. I need to be fresh for my closings on Monday.

My buyer agent realtor is a great guy, really sharp and motivated and customer focused. He is always there for me and flexible to my schedule. That is great customer service and I will highly recommend him to my friends who are buying houses in Madison going forward. That’s karmic payback for awesomeness.

So, the battle is about to begin to get me into my new house on Monday night. The troops are in place and the battle plans are written up. In a few minutes I am going to bike commute from work back to my car on the east side of Madison and then drive home. I might order a pizza in celebration. I might even go out to a show in Madison later tonight, if I am not too tired. But I do have to get up butt early in the morning, so I will probably take it easy, watch some Netflix, and chill.

6.26.2014

Rock Religion

I had a thought related to THIS last weekend.

My country band, DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS, was performing an awesome show at the Victorian Village Tiki bar in Elkhart Lake, WI. We were rocking hard, totally “in the pocket,” as they say in the vernacular. The sound guys were making us sound awesome and the audience was compelled to dance in bacchanalian abandon. The weather was perfect and everything gelled. I remember having a sort of out of body moment, where I said to myself, “Joe man, this is what it is all about…this is why I rock out my heart and soul, regardless of money or fame.”

The truth is, at heart, my calling is performing live rock-n-roll music. I can’t pretend it is something else. I am a decent writer, and I enjoy it, but that skill mainly pays the bills.

When I am playing music though, I am totally in my element and in the moment. There is no past, no future, only NOW. For me, that is a very zen-like religious experience, which may explain why I do it religiously and don’t really care what other people think or if I am getting paid to do it. When I don’t do it for a period of time, I get angsty and stressed out. I am compelled to rock and I have often considered it to be something of an addiction, in as much as it sometimes causes me to avoid certain responsibilities and neglect important relationships. But as addictions go, it is still a fairly health one.

Sometimes rocking can be frustrating. Often rocking involves collaborating with other musicians to create quality rock-n-roll. I cannot expect other musicians to share my passion for rocking for its own sake. One example is the open jam that I like to attend at Funk’s Pub in Fitchburg WI on Sunday nights. The venue provides a sound system and a full backline for the guest musicians to use, so it is really convenient to show up with my bass, plug in, and rock. It is ironically my weekly exercise of my rock-n-roll “religion,” as I alluded to above. It’s a good outlet to satisfy my compulsion to rock often. While I would prefer to play a full rock-n-roll show on a Friday or Saturday night, these are not easy to come by because venues are not cooperative and my bandmates have other totally understandable commitments. So the Sunday jam is to my rock addiction like methadone is to a heroin addict…not the same as the real thing, but it gets the job done. My band mates find the weekly open jam to be somewhat inconvenient, for some very valid reasons (working on Monday morning, for one thing, even though the jam does not go particularly late at night). So I don’t always get to perform fully in my element with my pwer trio rock-n-roll band GUPPY EFFECT, and satisfy my urges by guest bass playing with the house band and other available jammers on any given night. I respect my band mates’ desire to do the jam less often and do not judge it, though I do not understand it because of my own biases and the fact that nothing could be easier than showing up at a local pub with all the gear provided and rocking out 4 or 5 songs. Not everyone is the same as me though, and I appreciate that fact. But it is frustrating, because I love rocking songs live in front of people with my band as often as possible, and the Funk’s jam is just like shooting fish in a barrel in that regard.

6.25.2014

Happy

I suppose it is time for a daily installment. Thanks for continuing to be loyal readers. I have no idea how many people that actually is, though I could check the analytics if I had a mind to. But honestly, I don’t really care, because even if just one person gets some value from my posts, I am happy. To be perfectly honest with you, I am pretty happy regardless, even if no one is reading this post. If a blog post appears on the Internet, and there is no one there to read it, does it have any impact? Clearly not.

Why am I so happy? No idea. I just am. I should probably be filled with anxiety and paralyzed by fear, because this weekend I am moving to Madison WI and a lot of shite has to come together for that to happen smoothly, but my stress levels are pretty low-moderate. In part, this is because I did my due diligence preparing for the move. I gave away a bunch of belongings to friends and Goodwill and complete strangers (in the instances where I simply put an item of furniture on the curb outside my current house and it magically disappeared within 24 hours, including a BBQ grill and a dog crate). I secured a pantload of boxes that my buddy Brian had left over after his move last year, and filled said boxes with my remaining stuff. A few good friends let me store some stuff transitionally at their homes, including Danielle and Jon in Madison, and Todd in Oshkosh. A lot of that was music gear that is cumbersome and not easily packed, saving me the hassle of having to load it onto the Uhaul this Saturday.

I recruited six to eight friends to volunteer to help me with the move on Saturday. I’ll treat them to lunch and more than likely dinner for their kind help.

I am trusting that Uhaul will come through for me on a 26 foot truck, as promised. They have never let me down before, but this move is a bit more critical than moves past. It’s easy to worry irrationally that something will go wrong and I will be sans truck on Saturday. But then I realize that is an unnecessary worry. No news is good news, and as far as I know I am getting a truck. Even if the truck were to fall through, I bet my volunteers and I could muster the transportational firepower to get the job done. Both Wendy Staats and Ken Anderson (not coincidentally both drummers) have access to large trailers for gear hauling. Wendy’s is used for hauling her band SUNSPOT’s gear all over the place when they tour, and they even stored it in my driveway for a few months over the winter due to Madison’s draconian parking hassles. Ken deals in drum kits and he is also a drum tech for bands, so I speculate his trailer is often put to the task of hauling drums all over God’s green earth. In a pinch, I bet one or both of these trailers could be called into service. Rockstars never quit or back down.

I think mostly I am happy and low-stress because I was able to bike commute to work both today and yesterday. Exercise makes me feel like a million bucks, because of the natural endorphin release (aka “runner’s high”) and it also acts as a constitutional or “adaptogen” for being more stress resistant. I have a theory about stress called the STRESS CUP THEORY. Your ability to handle stress is like a cup. If you fill it too full of stress, it overflows = angst/anxiety. So there are three options to avoid the negative consequences of stressors.

1. Avoid stressors, thus filling the cup more slowly.
2. Get good sleep, thus emptying the cup more fully.
3. Get exercise, thus increasing the size of the cup and the amount of stress it can handle.

Maybe I am happy because my band is covering the feel good pop song "HAPPY" by Pharrell Williams. It's a contagiously happy song, much as that pains me.

I am also happy because I am moving to Madison. I will be nearer to good friends, cool things, and my musical projects and peers. It’s like a new beginning, and even though any metamorphosis is somewhat painful, it is only so transitionally. Then a butterfly hatches out and everyone gets all touchy feely and thinks it is groovy and posts the meme on Facebook for all to see.

Ciao!

6.23.2014

Country Band Road Gig

DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS, the country band I perform with, had a couple of good shows this past weekend.

On Saturday, we road tripped to the Minocqua Brewing Company in northern Wisconsin and played there for a decent enough crowd. After about 11, the crowd kind of petered out, so we did an all acoustic set for the handful of people who stuck around until the end. Our demographic seems to be a slightly more mature music fan, over 30, with a curfew. They really seem to enjoy it while it lasts, but at some point they get sleepy and go home, so it works better for us if we can start playing earlier and hit our best material before everyone bails. We had a cadre of younger 20-somethings there too, but this demographic never seems to be musically sophisticated and this was evidenced by the fact that most of them left mid-way through our show to go and party at the more “uncivilized” local dance clubs in the town, because they wanted stuff you could “shake your booty to,” as one girl put it. There was nothing stopping them from shaking their booties to our music, but they had different tastes in live music. That’s OK. We want our fans to appreciate our music and we don’t sell out to appeal to unappreciative audiences. That’s a no win situation.

After the show, we overnighted at a nearby cabin owned by the proprietor of the brewing company, I believe. We camped out on the floor and I got a decent night of sleep. In the morning, we went to the Black Bear Bar and Grill in Minocqua for a greasy spoon kind of breakfast before we all headed back down to Elkhart Lake WI, near the Fox Valley, to perform an early evening show at a tiki bar on a lake that was part of a resort complex known as Victorian Village.

We played from 4:30 to 8:30 PM. There was a nice breeze coming off the lake and as people got done with their water sports, they started rolling into the tiki bar. We had hired a sound crew for this show and they did a great job making us sound good, except for a couple episodes of minor feedback. Because of the earlier time slot, there were a lot of people there, many of them good and saucy from a day of drinking on the lake. Our music was particularly solid and energized because we had essentially live rehearsed it the night before in Minocqua. So people loved it and lots of people danced.

After the Victorian Village performance, I drove back to Oshkosh, where my buddy Todd was dog sitting my Boston terrier Foster for me for the weekend. Since it wasn’t a super late night, I had planned to drive back to Cambridge after picking up Foster. But when I got to Todd’s, I realized I was quite tired from the long weekend of road tripping and rocking. So Todd let me stay overnight to rest up in his guest bedroom. I got up early and cruised back to Cambridge with Foster, grabbing some much needed coffee at a gas station along the way. One of Todd’s friends has a parrot and I got to meet it late on Sunday night. It was pretty cool.

The Victorian Village tiki bar show was the superior of the two shows because of the time slot and the high appreciation of the crowd for our music. It’s great when an audience appreciates your brand of music without a lot of presumption or expectation. That’s priceless. But we also made a decent amount of money for the weekend too. Granted, after mileage costs at the IRS rate, which I have to log in my spreadsheet for accounting reasons, I think I netted $86. But that is better than nothing, and definitely better than losing money, which tends to happen at low paying gigs around Madison WI. I don’t play those gigs anymore, because I am in bands that are excellent and draw good crowds, so I don’t have to settle for peanuts.

6.20.2014

When Namesakes Sully Reputations

Someone else in Wisconsin with the same name as me has been a rather irresponsible douchebag, failing to pay years of child support. I know this only because I am in the process of buying a new house and due to the State of Wisconsin's poor court records system and my namesake's poor decision making, the title of the house I am trying to sell had a lien put on it. This matter was expediently resolved by supplying the title company with my personal identifiers, DoB and SSN. However, I do not appreciate the sullying of my good name and the albeit minor jumping through hoops that resulted from it.

I have all but the bare essentials packed in boxes for my move at the end of June. Moving day is Saturday June 28. On Sunday June 29, my cleaning lady and I will join forces to clean my current house inside and out, and I will move any residual items to the new house. The closings all go down on Monday June 30. My only worries at this point are that the buyers of my current home, or their agents, will drop the ball on something important at the last minute and screw everything up. It is not a big worry, but I sense that none of these parties are focused on my best interests and the imperative that everything go to plan because I am closing on my new house with the proceeds from the closing on my current house.

Luckily, I have a secret weapon in place as a backup for incompetency. I cannot disclose this wild card, lest the forces of ineptitude try to undermine that as well. But suffice to say, this secret weapon essentially decouples the dependence of the second closing on the first.

This weekend, I will spend Friday night rehearsing songs for the back to back DRIVEWAY THRIFTDWELLERS shows on Saturday in Minocqua WI and Sunday in Elkhart Lake WI. Saturday morning, I will do a bit more packing and some bills (if my ISP fixes whatever is kiboshing my Internet service right now...I thought technology was supposed to get better with time), before taking Foster up to Oshkosh where my buddy Todd will dog sit for me during the country band minitour. Oshkosh is sort of on the way back from Elkhart Lake so it makes sense to begin the rocking road trip there. My drummer will meet me at Todd's on Saturday afternoon and we will carpool up to the Minocqua Brewing Company in his SUV, returning to Todd's on Sunday night so I can reclaim Foster and return home in my car. It will be a late night but not heinously so. I would have the option to stay over at Todd's Sunday night if I needed to but I would have to get up butt early for work on Monday.

6.18.2014

Tornadic Activity and Meteorological Charlatanry

For the second day in a row, severe storms tore through central and southeast Wisconsin.

On Monday night, a small to medium sized tornado touched down in Madison WI just about a mile northeast of the new house I am moving into at the end of June. It's not my house yet, so no risk to me, but I would very much like there to be a house there when I move.

This morning I looked at the weather map and it indicated I had a window of opportunity to bike commute today. However, it was completely incorrect. Not even close.

I threw my bike in the backseat of my car and drove toward Madison where I planned to park at a buddy's house and bike in from there. Mother Nature had other plans.

I could tell from the darkening skies that a bike commute would not be wise and opted to continue driving toward work as conditions worsened. Soon I was in the middle of a massive downpour. It was like someone was hoisting buckets of water onto my windshield and visibility was virtually zero, even with the wipers going at full speed.

The roads couldn't handle all the water, which began to pool in low places and made navigation of the car even more difficult. I pulled into a gas station to fill up my car and got about half way through that operation when strong straightline winds and rain forced me to run into the gas station and hunker down with other diverted motorists. Since my rational brain knew that my statistical risk of death by tornado was fairly slim, I was not especially scared, but being around others and commisserating gave my reptilian brainstem a sense of security and safety in any case.

It turned out I had driven through a severe tornado warning area. My smart phone had, in fact, alerted me to this, but there was not much I could do about it since I was already driving, other than pull my car under the gas station pump awning for some slight respite from the weather. It was the failure to find any actual respite there that led me to cease pumping gas and go inside. I went to the bathroom and bought a cup of coffee, while the handful of us in the store waited out the tornado warning.

I asked one of the employees what the disaster plan would be if a tornado actually did arrive at our location. She said, "We would probably go into the car wash...because it is made of solid concrete and does not have any windows." There was no basement at the gas station, as it turned out.

While I was at the gas station, my friend Sherry texted me that the next stop on the tornado warning's path was somewhere near Lake Mills and Cambridge Wisconsin, where both she and I have homes we are in the process of selling. I knew that if Mother Nature decided to free me from home ownership, there was not a lot I could do about it, but I worried about my two dogs, who were home alone.

I am at work now. At lunch time, I plan to drive home and check things out. Then I will probably work from home the rest of the day and hope the inclement weather is on the decline.

The weather forecast indicated the bad weather would be around through tomorrow. But based on the poor predictive meteorological performance thus far, I will just use my physical senses to determine what is really going on. Looking out the windows at work, it's sunny now. It was supposed to be sunny this morning (it wasn't) and storm around now (it isn't). I hypothesize that global warming has made meteorological modeling algorithms moot. My hypothesis is based on the theory that meteorological models do not adequately account for global warming effects on local weather. Since global warming is a debated topic politically, I surmise that the largely government underwritten weather prediction software downplays the effect of global warming. I can't scientifically test my hypothesis, but it does seem like weather prediction is becoming increasingly sketchy these days.

6.13.2014

Sunspots and Solar Flares

When I put on my SUNSPOT t-shirt this morning, getting dressed for work, it was not with conscious intent, although there may have been some kind of subconscious compulsion. But in very conscious retrospective 20/20 hindsight, it is very appropos that I did.

Earlier this week, the star closest to the Earth, and in whose gravitational field we reside, unleashed a fury of solar flares, all headed straight toward our little planet, of course. These coronal mass ejections as they are called, arrived at Earth today. Since these solar flares correlate with sunspot activity, my band t-shirt is fitting...pun intended.

It also happens to be a full moon and Friday the 13th. Those things are quite irrelevant and unrelated to my wardrobe and the activity of the sun. But they are interesting coincidences. As I walked to Roman Candle for my late lunch, I perceived a lot of poor driving behavior of the motorists traveling through Middleton WI. Full moons are supposed to correlate with more traffic accidents but I do not think it is a solid connection. Or if it is, then it may be more of a self fulfilling prophecy by superstitious automobile drivers. My perception of more roadway idiocy may even have been biased by an increased awareness of the urban myth. In any case, my crossing of a roadway was quite perilous at one point due to some very narrow minded driving skills.

My cell phone reception was also spotty today and that was probably most definitely attributable to sunspots.

6.12.2014

Everyone's an Expert

I write this as I sit at the Roman Candle pizzeria in Middleton WI, reminiscing about the days when my band HIATVS used to dine on our signature pizza, The Hiatvs, here. The Hiatvs had mushrooms, feta cheese, banana peppers, and a random fourth topping that was usually garlic. It was a sassy 'za and we were working hard on RC's management to get The Hiatvs added to the menu as a signature pizza. We thought it was worthy to be a main menu item, because we ate at RC a lot and got the same goddam toppings every time. We felt we were experts on what made a pizza worthy of the RC menu. But we were not experts. RC is expert at pizza and the marketing that supports it. We should let them handle pizza menu decisions. Maybe if we had been a band with a longer tenure and larger fan base, we might have gained some traction.

A lot of musicians think they are experts at things they are not experts at. One thing is understanding what makes music fans tick so they can be encouraged to come to shows. If musicians were really expert at this, people would come to shows, but they usually don't. The mistake that musicians make is that they focus on the product rather than the marketing of the product. They think that if they produce good music and a solid live performance, people will come to shows. But it is a catch 22. In order for fans to know your music rocks, they have to first come see you rock. But in order to first come see you rock, they have to know your music rocks (or at least believe it does).

So just rocking amazingly well is not enough. People won't know that and they won't spontaneously come to your shows, except maybe in very small numbers by random chance completely unrelated to your music. Even promoting to people that your music is excellent is not very compelling. Every band thinks they are excellent and fans need something more convincing than your say so.

So the initial focus should not be on the product, it should be getting people in the door of the venue. That is compelled in ways other than the quality of the music.

People need to associate coming to your show with some selfish need that makes them feel good. Once they are in the door and feeling good from whatever that incentive is, that is when you can get them to associate feeling good with your music. It helps if your music does not make them feel bad, but rather augments their good feelings - make them laugh or dance or feel special.

So bands need to think about ways to get people in the door and then keep them there by making them realize that their good feelings will noticeably diminish if they leave.

My band would play a show for free if they money we would normally get paid was used to offer a free drink tab to attendees first come first served. Better yet, the venue could pay us in the form of one or two kegs of good beer at a discounted price. The beer is free as long as the keg(s) last(s). Once people are there and having a blast, they will stay even after the beer is gone, unless your music really sucks.

So you do need to have good "product." But that is necessary but not sufficient.

Incentivize.

6.10.2014

Bike Commuting for a Better Earth

This morning I got up an hour early because I wanted to bike commute to work to redeem myself for not riding to work yesterday, when the weather was superb. The forecast for today was also for more superb, so I wanted to make the most of it.

Because I live in Cambridge WI (at least until the end of the month), I usually put my mountain bike in my car and drive part way to one of the locations on the east side of Madison, from whence I bike commute across town to my job on the west side (actually, Middleton, a far west suburb). It’s a pretty easy bike commute, mostly on bike lanes, bike paths, and bicycle boulevards (city roads on which cyclists have full rights to the entire width of the road without exception). There are only a couple of places where the biking is unpleasant, mostly around the Capitol Square and the end of State Street, where you have to navigate circuitously to avoid some ridiculous construction near the student union that has been going on forever (with little to show for it). As you may have noticed, I am pretty down on road construction lately. It never seems to yield benefits in excess of its costs. I seek to avoid it whenever I can. But I digress.

This morning, en route to my Cottage Grove parking spot, I swung through the Madison Clean Sweep chemical waste recycling facility. I had collected a whole bunch of household waste last night in anticipation of my June 30 move to Madison, and a little bit of Internet research had told me that the Madison Clean Sweep operates almost daily, except for Mondays, and opens at 7 AM most days. It being Tuesday, and me being up early to bike commute, it made sense to swing by with my two boxes of chemical waste. The only thing I forgot to include was the gasoline for my lawn mower, which is now old and really out of date.

It cost me $10 to deposit that waste, but not having to move it to my new house or throw it in the trash was priceless.

My bike commute was fairly uneventful and I was filled with energy and glee, I think because I biked almost 50 miles on Sunday and had given my legs about 36 hours of recovery before my Tuesday morning commute, so they were feeling rejuvenated. I was really hammering and I pounded out the 15.64 miles to work in about 72 minutes. It usually take closer to 80 minutes, because I am a fair weather biker and not in a hurry usually. The sky was a little bit overcast and the air temperature was cooler than I expected. The forecast had been for a sunny day when I checked it the night before, so I assumed the clouds would burn off and I’d have a nice toasty ride back to my car after work.

I had a lunch date with my friend Danielle, and so a little before noon (actually 11:30), I hopped on my bike, still in work clothes, and pedaled over to the FREE HOUSE in Middleton. I was surprised to see that it was still overcast and the air seemed even cooler than it had in the morning. At lunch, I pulled my weather app up on my phone and it now suggested that the forecast was going to deteriorate in the afternoon, with a better than 50% chance of rain by the time I biked back to my car after work.

Danielle pulled up her weather app though, a different one I guess, and hers said that the day would get progressively better, with more sunshine. I decided to put more faith in her weather app than my own, although I realize that will have no bearing on reality, which is going to do what it is going to do. If it is raining when I leave work, there will be nothing for it but to crank on through it and get wet. Hopefully, the warmth I generate via exercise will counteract any chilling effect of the early summer rains.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain, according to my weather app. That jibes well with my plan to drive to work tomorrow so that I can bring some stuff in my car to store in Danielle’s basement until after my move. These would be mainly musical instruments and some bikes, possibly a bass cabinet. Since she was so nice to let me do that, I bought her lunch.

6.09.2014

Bike Commuting is Awesome

I love bike commuting. This love is amplified 50 fold when there is massive construction on Madison WI roadways that makes car travel impossible. This is the current situation in and around Madison WI these days, so I am really loving my bike.


Although I do not understand why more people do not bike commute, I try my best to respect it. They must have their reasons to suffer in torment at the hands of other wayliad drivers stuck in construction-induced traffic. Very important reasons, no doubt. For that is a high mental and physical price to pay.

On the other hand, maybe it is good that only a handful of people bike commute. If the bike lanes and trails around Madison became as congested with bikes as the roads are with cars, it would null and void some (but not all) of the benefits of bike commuting. A great thing about bike commuting is the lightly populated bike thoroughfares that allow one to breeze through at a respectable clip.

When I bike commute, I satisfy two requirements in my life simultaneously. The first is commuting to work, where I earn my keep. The second is getting ample exercise for my health and well being. If I can get all my required exercise while commuting - something I have to do anyway - all the better. That means I do not have to try to carve out additional time during my busy week for exercise. It's like double dipping on life.

I wish I had bike commuted today. The weather is perfect - sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s. I only drove today because I wanted to get a good night's sleep last night after a tiring weekend of packing for my move at the end of June. On the other hand, the stress relief of an hour long morning bike ride to work would also have been a great benefit to my mental health. So I kind of regret sleeping later instead.

Conversely, as it turns out, the weather forecast indicates this whole week will be pretty gosh darn awesome weather for biking, even into the weekend. Upper 70s and mostly sunny.

So it looks like big time bike commuting the rest of the week for me.