5.27.2015

Did That Weekend Really Happen, or Was it a Pleasant Dream?

I think I had the most fun and action packed weekend EVER last weekend, which was Memorial Day weekend.

I took Friday off from work, planning to head up to Maybash, a camping and rocknroll fest on private property in Rio WI, early in the morning.

However, due to my dog’s recent medical issues (eye injury and some other stuff), I had to go to the vet on Friday morning. As a result, I was not able to drop Foster (my dog) off at Sherry’s (the dog sitter) until mid-afternoon.

In any case, I got to Maybash about 4 pm, ample time to set up my tent while there was still daylight and good camping spots left near the stage area. I grabbed a spot next to my buddy Tim’s tent and had my gear set up in a matter of minutes. I cracked a beer and set about enjoying the music fest.

I won’t even waste any time trying to describe the awesomeness of Maybash here, because I could write a book. But suffice to say, the mostly punk and metal bands started performing about 5 PM and there was much merriment all night. My punk rock band, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, played a solid set around 11 PM, opening for the headlining band LORDS OF THE TRIDENT, our faux arch rivals. I had a virtually biff free performance and the sound and lights were excellent (kudos to the pro sound team).

After the bands were done, there was much partying around the camp fire (it was a chilly night). I didn’t retire until the sky was already brightening with a pre-dawn glow and I did not sleep very long before I was up again to enjoy the better part of Saturday at Maybash.

Sadly, I had to leave Maybash Saturday afternoon because I had a gig with cover band BABY ROCKET in the Wisconsin Dells on Saturday night. That gig went OK, for what it was. I am sick and tired of playing covers as I get older and appreciate all the local original music that is out there. But it was what it was and the Chicago tourists enjoyed the music and danced. BABY ROCKET definitely has their demographic dialed in.

Next year, I am committing to all of Maybash. No cover band gigs. I might not even play with BABY ROCKET next year. We’ll see how this year goes. I agreed to a handful of dates. The money’s good. It would have to be…

Driving back home from the Dells I was so tired due to lack of sleep from Maybash the night before that I had to really concentrate on the road. The traffic was light and I wasn’t really afraid of falling asleep at the wheel, but I was so looking forward to my bed. I slept until about 1:30 in the afternoon on Sunday, getting up only to feed Foster and let him out (Sherry had dropped him off that morning).

The weather on Friday and Saturday had been awesome. Sunny and cool. Really perfect in most respects. Sunday it rained. I had planned to do a Sunday morning bike ride with Sherry called the Riley Pancake Ride. She went, but I was too tired from the gigs and I don’t like riding in the rain either, although I would have if I had not been so exhausted. Plus, I was still fighting the cold I had had for about a week. I needed the sleep.

Around 4 PM on Sunday, I went to Bratfest and saw my favorite local band (other than my own) SUNSPOT perform. The rain ceased for most of their set, which was awesome and proves that God likes good rock-n-roll. I had a couple of beers and brats. Rita Witter from my embryonic band THE RITA WITTER BAND was there and after SUNSPOT we went to another stage and watched cover band PILOT play. They were good, albeit a cover band. They kept their lineup simple: guitar, bass, drums, and singer, with some harmonies from the other musicians.

Rita had been at Maybash too, as part of the COUGAR TOWN burlesque troupe. She arrived at Maybash on Saturday, so we only had a little while to socialize before I had to go play the sellout cover band gig.

Sunday night, I headed over to Funks Pub for the open jam and jammed a set with guitarist/singer Phil “Why Does My” Dickert and drummer MG Sherry. We used to play in a band together ages ago. The set went well and we decided to rekindle an impromptu band called MG’s HENCHMEN, that will basically only perform at the Funks jam and we will learn the songs we want to do at home on our own time. Essentially a band that rehearses live every week.

In some ways, this is similar to HIATVS, my band that is always on hiatus and performs only a couple times a year, in that we learn the material on our own and pretty much play it live when we get together. But at least MG’s HENCHMEN will have a gig every week, albeit a short 20-30 minute one for no pay. Not many bands can play 52 shows a year. MG’s HENCHMEN will be the proxy for GUPPY EFFECT, which used to play the Funks jam every week, until the other members lost interest, unfortunately.

On Monday, it being a holiday, I got up early and drove to Sherry’s with my bike on the rack of my car. We rode our bikes over to Olbrich Park and met the Wisconsin Bicycling Group for a Memorial Day social ride around Lake Monona, followed by a picnic. The weather was gray and misty but it was not full on raining, so we braved it, cooking meats, veggies, and veggie burgers on a small charcoal grill.

I went home after the picnic, but in the late afternoon I biked down the Southwest Commuter trail and met Sherry and Alissa for live music on the patio of the Come Back Inn. On a whim, I invited a woman named Deb who I had connected with on an online dating site, but had not yet met in person. I was surprised when she agreed to join us, not knowing me very well or my friends at all. But she was cool and after the meet and greet, Deb and I went out to dinner at the Great Dane at Hilldale Mall. We hit it off great and talked for a long time. Optimistic.

Now it is Wednesday and Deb is actually coming to pick me up for lunch in 5 minutes, so I need to sign off. I wish I could elaborate on the awesomeness of the weekend. I hope yours was awesome too. Bye now.

Kudos to My Microbial Passengers

I have to admit my admiration for the pathological microbes that have been infecting my corporeal being for the past week and a half. From a purely Darwinian perspective, they are awesome.

However, from my perspective, this chest cold is not so awesome, and thus I have applied one of several tools of human evolution designed to decimate infectious bacterial populations.

In this case, that tool is a prescription of doxycycline from my doctor who thinks I have pneumonitis, which I believe is a combination of bronchitis and walking pneumonia.

Usually, my colds progress from head cold to chest cold. I don’t usually get a cold this bad so late in the spring. I can usually conquer them on my own, but I needed help this time.

My friend Sherry had the same cold, which she may have caught on a business trip out west, and she probably infected me a couple days after she became contagious.

Her doctor prescribed the same medication and thinks she has walking pneumonia too.

After just a day and a half of the meds (3 pills), I can already tell the pathogen’s grip on my lungs is loosening, with a commensurate production of lung butter that I am now hacking up. I realize that’s TMI.

Good day.

5.16.2015

The Show Last Night

I got to the Frequency about 7:15 last night, after circling the block several times waiting for some "rock star parking" to open up, which it inevitably did. The spot was near the alley behind the Madison music venue, so I entered through the back door, my favorite way to enter, with my guitar and band mate Tim's guitar amp head. I had to make a second trip to retrieve my own amp and the suit jacket I would wear later, when my band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE performed.

After the gear was safely inside the venue, I chilled at the bar, while the first band, BRON SAGE, sound checked in the stage area. I ordered a veggie pizza and ate 5/8ths of it. While I was eating, a young lady came into the venue and sidled up to the bar next to me to order a drink. I introduced myself and we got to talking. Her name was Meg, a self employed seamstress who was flying solo for the night.

Later in the evening, I introduced her to my friend Sherry so she would have someone to socialize with while I was doing the band thing and performing. I was glad to make a new friend.

There were 5 bands last night and they were all superb. It was DEVIL TO DRAG's EP release party, although SEXY ESTER headlined the show. EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE played third, preceded by BRON SAGE and a band called BASEMENT FIRE.

I had a blast.

Saturday's Borderline Threat of Crummy Weather

I sat in one of the deck chairs on my back patio, while my dog Foster explored the backyard. He wore a plastic cone around his head, the consequence of an eye infection he picked up about three weeks prior that ulcerated his cornea. The injury had more or less healed, but the cone was to prevent him from scratching his eye with his paws, risking re-infection or further eye damage.

I contemplated the sky. It was mostly filled with clouds, though small patches of blue occurred here and there. The air was cool but muggy. I had wanted to go on a bike ride today, but the forecast called for periodic thunderstorms and I had no doubt that as soon as I tooled off on my bike, the forces of nature would see to it that I be soaked down something fierce.

An occasional rain drop pinged the bare skin of my legs and forearm, clothed as I was in a tee shirt and shorts. I sipped the coffee I had picked up earlier in the morning, coming back from the bank with the money to pay my house keeper, Mary, who was currently scrubbing down my kitchen.

It would be a good day, but bike riding was very unlikely to be a part of it.

5.15.2015

Shaping Up To Be a Great Weekend

There is a threat of storms Saturday and Sunday this weekend. That's concerning. However, there has been a threat of storms on and off for the past fortnight, and nothing has really come of it.

Tonight, EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE plays a punk rock set at the Frequency in Madison WI, in support of another band's (DEVIL TO DRAG) EP release party. Three other bands will also be performing, for a total of five. I am not sure where EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE falls in the lineup of bands, but it stands to be a fun night.

Weather permitting, I want to get at least one decent bike ride in this Saturday. I was thinking it would be fun to bike downtown along the Southwest Commuter Bike Path, some six odd miles one way, and go to the farmer's market on the Capital Square on Saturday morning. It might actually be preferable to do this if it is raining a little bit, because there will be less hordes of people clogging the outdoor market throughfares. I need to stock up on fresh veggies and Paleo-friendly meats like bison, elk, and emu. I will, naturally, consume the better part of a full bag of squeaky cheese curds while I surf the culinary merchandise. I realized, as I was writing that last sentence, that I have virtually completely cut cheese out of my diet the past few months, with the exception of pizza and cheeseburgers when I occasionally dine out. So a bag of cheese curds will be a rare treat.

I might try to go see a matinee of the new Mad Max movie on Saturday or Sunday, if I can find some interested peeps to go with. After the gig tonight, my weekend is pretty wide open until the Funks Pub Open Jam on Sunday evening, starting about 4 PM. I will do some writing and music as time permits.

I'll probably mow the lawn and tend the garden a bit, if the weather cooperates. The garden is in pretty good shape right now though, and some rain will only foster its awesomeness.

My dog Foster seems to be almost fully recovered from the eye injury he got about three weeks ago, after great veterinary expense. Luckily, he did not need surgery, or else I would be in the poor house. He'll get his last few rounds of antibiotic drops, which he hates, this weekend, and then on Monday I expect him to get a clean bill of health from the vet. His next major expense will probably be a teeth cleaning. I found some meaty flavored nylabones at the pet store that he seems to like and that may help clean his teeth a bit, but he is wearing a protective head cone right now, because of the eye, and can't maneuver the bone to his mouth with his paws as a result. While this makes the bone ineffective for teeth cleaning, it is quite amusing to watch him try to manipulate the bone.

In a fortnight, on Saturday May 30, I am hosting another house concert, featuring HIATVS. I am trying to raise money for the food and beer (mainly beer) with a fundraising campaign online. But so far no takers. I may have to modify the suggested donation to a lower amount to garner more interest.

That's about all.

5.13.2015

A Quick Touch Base

I am feeling pretty good this week. I bike commuted twice so far. The garden is in and survived last night’s threat of frost.

Foster’s bum eye is on the mend and healing properly. He still needs to wear the cone and get eye drops through this weekend, then the vet will examine him one last time next Monday.

I have been enjoying making a few bucks Ubering people around Madison. Tonight I have a short GUPPY EFFECT band practice and I am going to take it easy after that.

After work tomorrow there are a couple of social outings I will try to hit if I can fit them both in. I may Uber Thursday night, and this weekend looks like a good one for Ubering too, because it is graduation at the UW Madison. Lots of people coming and going.

EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE has a show on Friday night. I hope to get a bike ride in with Sherry this weekend. That’s a quick and dirty run down.

Now I have to go bike commute home and let Foster out before going to help Sherry with a task.

Ciao!

5.12.2015

It's Time for a HIATVS House Concert (Saturday May 30)

It's time...

On Saturday May 30, prepare to be rock-n-rolled.



You're welcome!

5.11.2015

A Mother's Day Post

Happy Mothers' Day. I am never sure whether to use an apostrophe or not when writing that. If it is just the day we honor all mothers, collectively, then it would just be the plural of mother. No apostrophe. But if the day belongs to all mothers - possessive - then there would be an apostrophe, placed after the S. I personally feel it is the former, the day of recognizing and appreciating all mothers, but I used the apostrophe for illustrative purposes.

I tried calling my mom last night and this morning, but she wasn't home, no doubt off doing fun things. I will try again later.

This weekend has been potent. Friday night, I went to a social for Madison professionals aged 30 to 40. Not sure the age cohort matters, but there is a sort of underlying matchmaking subtext to these things. After that, I went to Mother Fools coffee shoppe to hear a couple of female singer/songwriters perform.

Between and after the shows, I earned a few bucks Ubering. Very enjoyable.

On Saturday, I met my friends Wendy and Dan for lunch, after which we went to Menards and scored some vegetable seedlings and seeds. The seedlings were tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli. The seeds were yellow squash and zucchini. I got both organic and conventional seeds to do a little experiment to see which do better. 

We hit Metcalfe's Market for some gardening beer and went back to my house to garden. It only took about 30 minutes for us to till and plant my small garden. We also put some of the plants in the concrete planter strip that runs along the sunny side of my patio. 

I am optimistic for some good garden yield this year. I couldn't have a decent garden last year because I moved to my new house on July 1 and that was perfectly timed to be too late to plant anything at my new house or harvest anything at my old house (I knew I was moving by May, so I didn't even plant anything at my old house).

After the garden was in, we chilled a while on the patio, until Tim (aka Eddie) of EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE, my punk rock band, arrived. After he ate the Subway sandwich he had brought, Wendy bolted and EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE had a phenomenal band practice.

I had considered going to an open mic night at Mother Fools on Saturday night, which I had found out about the night before at my friend's show, but decided instead to get some grillable meats at the nearby HyVee and relax at home.

On Sunday morning, I tried calling my mom again. Still no answer. Then I mowed the lawn, notwithstanding a slight bit of drizzle and cooler temperatures on Sunday. I had a block of time between mowing the lawn and RITA WITTER BAND practice at 4 PM, so I showered and dressed presentably and Ubered for a while.

RITA WITTER BAND rehearsal was fun, although the band still has a ton of biffs. I am not sure how to correct that. We try. We seem to get a pretty good handle on things at practice, but then as soon as practice ends, it is like everything is out the window again and we have to start all over at the next practice.

Anyway, after RWB finished, we went over to Funk's Pub and played a showcase set at the open jam. It went OK, but as predicted, a lot of the nuances we had honed at the afternoon practice never came to fruition on stage. We'll really have to work on that.

5.08.2015

Driving Uber - Day 1

I was accepted as an Uber rideshare partner this week, and today I gave my first Uber ride over lunch. It was fantastic.

I was leaving work to go pick up my bike from the shop, so I turned on the Uber app on my phone and made myself available for rides. Almost immediately, the Uber app jingled to let me know someone nearby needed a ride. I accepted, and began driving toward the pickup location as indicated by the Uber app on my phone. The app is synchronized with the phone’s GPS, so it gave me step by step directions.

My passenger was a vision impaired man with a guide dog, and his pick up location was quite close to where I work in Middleton. He was standing by the opposite side of the road with his dog, waiting, when I arrived.

I rolled down my driver’s side window and asked, “Did you call Uber?”

“Yes, I did,” he said. “That was fast.”

“I’ll turn around so you don’t have to cross the road,” I told him. I turned around in the nearby parking lot of the Claddagh Irish Pub and pulled up at the curb next to him.

“I can get out and assist you,” I offered.

“No need,” the man said. “Are you OK with a guide dog?”

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I have a dog of my own.” In fact, by law I could not refuse a guide animal in my car, but I wouldn’t even if I could.

He was going downtown to meet a friend for lunch and we had a nice conversation as I drove him. He was a very friendly guy. He liked good music and we talked a bit about Nashville and country music. He works in the hearing/vision impaired industry, which makes sense. His dog was a golden retriever. It took me about 25 minutes to drive him downtown and I made $16 via Uber, after they extracted their cut of the fare. If I had had time to pick up another fare downtown, I could have possibly cleared $25 for an hour’s work.

I think Uber will be a fairly lucrative and fun supplement to my side business income. When I am not playing gigs with the band(s), I can offer Uber rides and probably make a lot more money than I do at music (or even my day job…it’s about the same per hour…). Because Uber is app based and all monetary transactions are online, the risks are minimal. No money changes hands and there is no tipping. Everyone involved is registered with Uber and both drivers and passengers are rated on a five point scale, so it behooves everyone to be cool and cooperative. My passenger at lunch gave me full marks, the full five stars, so I am off to a good start. I am sure there will be some dickheads occasionally, but you’d really be biting the hand that feeds (or killing the goose that laid the golden eggs) if you treated Uber drivers poorly. But there is no way to get stiffed on a rideshare fare, because the passengers have to be enrolled in Uber with a legitimate form of electronic payment. So I am getting paid whether the person is difficult or not.

I am officially now a private contractor in the transportation industry. So far it’s a blast. Kind of addictive actually. I want to do it again ASAP. When I leave work today, I will probably turn on the app. Who knows, maybe a co-worker needs an Uber home and I will be right there to get them. Rush hour has got to be a high Uber time of day, right?

This weekend is also graduation at the UW Madison, so there will likely be a lot of families trying to get around town for various things. Since I have no gigs or pressing responsibilities, I will make myself available to give rides and begin filling the business coffer.

5.05.2015

Thanks Cosmos

Thanks Cosmos, for making the basement water issue problem relatively minor, solvable, and free (thanks to the sewer line warranty coverage I had through the city water department). I appreciate it. Now if you could just expediently cure my dog Foster of his eye issue(s), at minimal cost, that would be great.

5.04.2015

Why the Venue Won't Book Us Even Though They Sincerely Love Us

My high energy/gravity fun rocknroll cover band, HIATVS, took a hiatus from a lengthy hiatus last night (Sunday) to rock a short 30 minute (60 minutes from the audience's perspective, due to the law of general relativity in the viscinity of our massive time/space warping egos) showcase set at a music venue near my house that shall remain unnamed for reasons that will become apparent.

It was an incredibly potent set, notwithstanding the many biffs. There were actually fewer biffs than predicted, given that we haven't played or practiced in a long time. Everyone in attendance expressed enthusiasm and there was even some dancing, albeit somewhat coerced.

This band, HIATVS, would be a very desirable band for most sports bars that offer live music to the hoi poloi, such as this venue we played at last night. In the past, I have queried this bar about having one of my many good bands play a show there on a Friday or Saturday night and I could never get a straight answer. It seemed the only day/time they had any interest in us playing was the Sunday night open jam/stage and music showcase, a very "low profile" gig.

A few nights ago, I met the organizer of the Sunday jam, who is not affiliated with the paid venue staff, for a couple of drinks, so he could pick my brain on ways to improve the jam event and garner more audience draw. It was during these discussions that he disclosed that the venue in question may not be paying their annual dues to the performing rights organizations (PROs: BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, etc.), required by law of venues that have live music, in compliance with copyright and royalty payment laws. These laws apply to cover bands more than original bands for reasons beyond the scope of this post. So with that knowledge, it started to make sense why this venue would not want to actively book and promote a cover band. They could turn a blind eye on a Sunday night under the guise of an open forum type event that did not actually endorse the royalty-free performance of cover songs. Additionally, the chances of a PRO representative randomly dropping in to an "open mic type thing" at a remote suburban sports bar on a Sunday night would be slim at best, and not a huge risk for the venue. Plus, the owner never attends the open jam, allowing him to claim culpable deniability if he ever was called out on it.

"Open jam? What open jam? Are those deadbeat hippies squatting on my stage again? Curses!"

So that's my working theory why this venue never books my excellent cover bands, even though they profess to love our performances.

5.02.2015

Today Unfolds in a Not Unpredictable Manner

Today unfolds as follows...

1. Mow the lawn.
2. Practice music.
3. Go to a writer's group social.
4. Practice some more music.
5. Produce a crude basement music video and post.

Note that #2 may be changed to "Go on a bike ride," resulting in #3 being modified to "Practice music."

5.01.2015

Rock Fodder

Hi. It’s Joe.

I am writing this from work, near the end of my lunch break, on a Friday. I am looking forward to this weekend immensely. It will culminate on Sunday night, when my fun rock cover band HIATVS takes a brief hiatus from perpetual hiatus to reunite at Funk’s Pub for the open jam/stage around 8 PM. In the afternoon on Sunday, Brian “AquaMunkee” Morse and I will rehearse with our chosen drummer for this event, one Andrew “Fee” Gunderson. The goal is to solidify 10 songs at a minimum and then showcase these at Funk’s, hopefully with a break for dinner between the two things. Well, there will definitely be a break for dinner, it is just a question of whether we get through everything by then. I am trusting Aqua and Fee to do their pre-prep homework and arrive at my house ready to rock on Sunday.

On Saturday, I plan to go on a bike ride with Sherry at some point and spend the rest of my time that day learning and honing songs. My bass playing skills are also being called upon by another group that will be at the Funk’s jam on Sunday, with Fee on drums. This group is playing four Grateful Dead songs I have to learn. I’ll also be joining the house band at Funk’s Sunday to render a few additional tunes, but most of these I already know and have solid enough.

Tonight, I will become an Uber driver for the first time. Uber is a 21st century ride sharing program completely administered through smart phones that appears to be revolutionizing the transportation industry and providing a side stream of income for people with a qualified background and automobile (must be a car older than 2002 and with 4 doors…my Prius not only qualifies, but also has a bike rack as a perk for cyclists). Basically, when you are ready to do some ride sharing, you sign into the Uber app on your phone and when people hail a ride via their own smart phones, you have the option to take the fare. All the money is transferred electronically on the Internet, so nothing changes hands, minimizing hassles and risks for everyone. I thought it would be a neat way to make some money on weekends when I don’t have a gig. I can still socialize with friends and just be “on call” to go give rides here and there.

I have always been a good DD for my friends on the weekends, and I like helping out by driving people around on the weekends so they can party without worrying about driving drunk. The beauty of Uber is that you are your own boss, beholden to no one, once you clear Uber’s security background check and verify all your legal and financial documents with them. Because the rides are crowd sourced (many people in a city available to give rides via Uber), you can set your own hours and only drive when you want to. Much fodder for blog posts, me thinks, while earning up to $25/hr. If it sucks, I can always stop doing it.

The weather is so nice today. I bike commuted all week. I cannot wait to get home tonight and start the weekend fun.