The Bleu Note

Wednesday  

Good morning! About 9:15 on this Hump Day. As I remember, our daily  office memos included Hump Day as well as a TGIF on Friday. That structure has long since gone out with the bathwater. having retired back in mid-2013. The week is now pretty much an amorphous mass of time, the only structure being Jeopardy every weekday.( 4:30- time for Trebek! )and exercise every Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday is also my Get Things Done day- that is, if I have things that need getting done. Monday is now a quiet day if I can help it, a second Sunday. Well, I guess there's a little structure in there...

Music news. My new CD Near-Miracle on 33rd Street is still the top story. It's supposed to go live on Spotify on November 1st, just 4 days from now. I'm assuming it'll be available on all the other 'platforms' like iTunes and Amazon and so forth. You can hear all the selections in their entirety on the website on my Sam Crain & Friends page on Facebook. And, as I've said before, I've got the CDs here. $12.50 if I mail it to you, and $10 if you stop by the house to pick it up. 

I'm also at work on another collection of tunes, these more in the fusion/smooth/eclectic bag. I hardly ever write a whole CD's worth of music at once. It's more of an accumulation of material. The challenge here is making all this disparate stuff fit together. Every song should lead you into the next one. It can be a maddening process, with many drafts and revisions. But the other side of it is that you keep polishing and polishing until you have something. And once you're there, you almost forget about all the 'grief' you went through to get there. 

And still trying to get better on the guitar. This one's a lifetime pursuit. But I have made some headway since retiring, finally having the time to practice. Time enough at last. Out of all 158 Twilight Zone episodes, that's the only one I can't stand.  My personal version of Time Enough at Last has a much rosier outcome. So I continue to work away at the guitar. YouTube is fairly well-stocked with posts. 

Well that's what I've got for the moment in the way of news. Still hanging in there. Like most of you, I have my times when I feel "I've got this"(a phrase I'm getting pretty tired of hearing in TV ads)and other times where I don't have a clue. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I really appreciate it. Happy Hump Day to you! For now, my coffee cup beckons me to refill it. :Thank you sir, may I have another? I'm outa here. More later.  Today's pic was taken by Ed Clark, year unknown. From the wedding ring on my finger, it would've been between 1988 and 1993. He's taken a number of pictures of me, and we might just be due for another session. Wonderful photographer, highly recommended. 

Tuesday  

Good morning! About nine-thirty in the a.m. on this beautiful Tuesday. When I worked for the State, our manager would come in on a day like this and say, "It's a beautiful day out there!" He later admitted to me that he was trying to convince himself. I know the feeling..

Music news. I am actually working on yet another album. PIerre Boulez called form in music an "accumulation of material". Not sure if I agree with that remark, but it sorta works in this context. My CDs are often just an "accumulation of material". When I've built up enough stuff, my mind starts putting it together into some sort of package. This one is more in the fusion/smooth/eclectic genre.( I'm really tired of the word genre, though it is funny to hear Alex Trebek pronounce it.)

This new one will also feature more keyboard solos, as I'm starting to get more keyboard chops from all this messing around. When I first started making recordings(way back in 1984), my best facility was on the keyboard and the bass. I was playing mainly bass gigs back then. I had a lot of facility on the guitar, but no control. Couldn't play a double-time figure to save my life. There are a couple such early recordings on my new CD Near-Miracle on 33rd Street, where the 'time' on guitar is kinda all over the place. But I'm proud of the tunes. 

When I first retired, back in 2013, I immersed myself in gigs. 6-10 every month. Exactly what a musician should do the minute they leave the World of Work. And there was a nice variety of gigs to be had: worked with the Dan Rivero Trio until its end in 2016, subbed with Jukehouse two years running, played the Dana Thomas House 2 years running, the Alamo 2 years in a row, and an assortment of other things. 

But I guess things just run their course. Jukehouse's guitarist retired, so he was able to make all their gigs. Dana Thomas House brought in someone else, and I never heard back from the Alamo. The Dan Rivero Trio broke up in I think 2016, as did the Sam Crain Trio. These past couple years I've been in Sideman Mode, playing local gigs someone else has booked. That's okay for a while, but you eventually get the itch to do your own program, call your own shots. So I declared myself a free man last Summer. Even got a new trio. We were supposed to play Robbie's in May of this year, and then November. 

At the moment, I'm enjoying the hell out of working from home. I do miss the other musicians though, and some of the folks who'd come to hear us. One of those folks, who has always been supportive of my efforts, got a shout on my new CD. He'll be getting his copy on the house. That's the policy here at samcrain.com. If you get a shout in the liner notes, the CD is free of charge. Everybody else can pay the exorbitant rate of $10..

Okay, I think I've covered the major news stories here. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Tuesday to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later. 

PS Today's pic was taken at Robbie's, date unknown. Dan Rivero, Wayne Carter and me.

The enclosed tune is from my CD Tele-ology, which is all jazz(and some eclectic pieces)played on a Fender Telecaster guitar. Jazz with twang....

un-manic Monday  

Good morning! Just after eight on this dismal Monday. A very Monday Monday. Oh no, another song reference. The Mamas and the Papas. . A friend of my Dad's commented that Mama Cass's death was a case of Divine Retribution, since she was Jewish and eating a ham sandwich. Terrible...But it still makes me laugh. 

Music news. Just thinking about the fact that all the pop groups I know were from back in the 60s and 70s. As a kid, I liked the Lovin' Spoonful and The Animals and The Young Rascals, Jefferson Airplane and of course The Beatles. Then later, Hendrix, Cream, Jethro Tull, Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter and many others. We had bands with sillyass names like Strawberry Alarm Clock and Music Machine, which probably sound even sillier today. 

As far as the pop groups and singers  of today, I haven't the foggiest idea. With questions on Jeopardy I usually miss by a country mile. I did try to listen to Nirvana once, as my then-stepson was into them. Got through a couple tunes. Didn't make it to Nirvana. Still stuck in Samsara...

I do try and keep up with the emerging guitarists out there. Jostein Gulbrandsen from Norway, and Matteo Mancuso from Sicily, to name two. And Guthrie Govan, to name another. Govan plays in a band called The Aristocrats. . I share their stuff on my FB page.  So in this area, I'm relatively up to date. 

As far as my own musical news. not much is new since yesterday. I have a goodly number of things to listen to from yesterday's practice session, and might just have a winner for today. So it will go up on YouTube, and I'll share it from there. 

Skimpy as it may be, that's my news for today. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Monday to you, if that's possible! For now, I'm outa here. More later. Today's pic was taken at Lime St Cafe, year unknown. This picture was taken by James Isley, a childhood friend who passed away last year. Virgil Rhodes me, Kevin Ellis, Kevin Hart, Don Cochran. The glare definitely gives the picture a surrealistic touch..

Sunday  

Good morning! Just coming on nine o'clock on this Sunday. Overcast skies for the moment. I'm not going to make any kind of declaration here because Mother Nature will make a monkey out of me again by being all sunny and whatnot fifteen minutes later. 

Music news. I've got a new one from the Music Lab. Just some one-chord funk. I called it Funky Monochordia, which sounds like a serious illness. "I'm sorry, Mrs Jones. Your husband has Stage Four Funky Monochordia".Well I suppose it could be a purely musical ailment, characterized by the inability to play anything with more than one chord change. That would be curable, of course, but might require a significant effort on the part of the one afflicted. Might have to have a few sessions with a Music Therapist. Okay, I'll stop with that one.

With my Muse on apparent hiatus, I've gotten back on track with the guitar. She comes first, but the guitar is a very close second.(Resisting throwing in a double-entendre of some kind here),. Back hittin' those scales n' arpeggios, and my "castor oil" picking exercises. If I'm gonna make all these recordings, I want to keep improving. Tough sometimes trying to be a writer and player- tough to do concurrently, at any rate. Best when I alternate between the two. 

My new CD Near-Miracle on 33rd Street is still for sale. $12.50 if I mail it to you(and that includes sending it across the Pond), and $10 if you come by the house to pick it up. I'm not going to make a big announcement until it's hooked up with Spotify and the other digital companies, but I'll mention it in here. Nice having it all done. Off my desk, so to speak. 

And fool that I am, I've already started on another album of all originals, which will probably be available next year about this time. So this has become my game plan: lots of download-only recordings throughout the year and then a CD at the end. 

So that's wazzup with me these days. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Sunday to you, whatever it decides to do! Until next time, I'm outa here. More later. 

PS Today's pic dates back to 1986. The Blacks, Whites and Blues Festival which went on for three days every year, held in the now-defunct John Hay Homes. From left to right: me, Dianna Thompson, David Hoffman, Art Carey, Larry Nelson(whom we called Hubba), Jeff Davis, Frank Vanes. 

Saturday  

Good morning! About 9:30 in the a.m. on this soon-to-be-rainy Saturday. A big ol' raincloud sits portentously in the sky, just waiting to drench our asses. There was a song by Chicago called Approaching Storm. I think it was one of their earlier hits, along with 25 or 6 to 4. As far as "jazz rock", I was more partial to BS & T, but still a Chicago fan. There was also a band around at that time called Dreams, which featured the likes of Michael Brecker and John Abercrombie.

Music news. Well the top story is still my new album Near-Miracle on 33rd Street. Not yet online as far as iTunes or Amazon or any of them, but I do have the CDs. A hundred of them. And at least for now, I'm selling them right from here. $12.50 if I mail it to you and $10 if you stop by to pick up your copy. It's supposed to go up on Spotify on November 1st.

Last year about this time I released a CD, so this is becoming a tradition. Download-only recordings for most of the year, and then a CD at the end. The one last year was also straight-ahead jazz, and is called Jazz Guitar Vol 4. My song and CD titles are either somewhat off-the-wall or very boring and functional. But I figure if people like what they hear on Vol 4, they'll be that much more inclined to check out the other three volumes. I know-shrewd marketing strategy here. 

I let the guitar practice slip a bit making this new recording. Not too rusty, but I can feel it. Since retiring, I've been able to get in a lot more time on the instrument and have made some real progress. Better execution, ,better phrasing,  much better time-feel. All well and good. The thing is, you have to keep practicing to maintain what you've built or you lose it. Much like building up your physique with weights. A lapse in workouts may well make you lose your gains- or, worse, turn to flab.

So I'm back on the stick. Scales, arpeggios, playalong recordings(like I share on YouTube), and some picking exercised I devised myself I call them my '"castor oil exercises". . They're pretty gnarly and I hate doing them but they help make sure my right hand--my picking hand--is where it should be. Not only am I my own worst critic, I'm my own torturer....

That's about all the music news I can muster for now. Outside the world of music, I'm just hanging on like most everyone else. I've already voted, and am watching--again, like most everyone else--to see how it all plays out. A nation divided....

Anyway! Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Saturday to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later. 

PS Today's pic was taken at the Carriage House restaurant on 8th St near Lincoln's Home. Great food, good atmosphere. A little bit crowded on the 'bandstand', but otherwise a great evening. 

Friday  

Good morning! It's about 10:30 on this overcast Friday. This is about an hour later than I usually post, but I've been sleeping more lately. Eight hours, as opposed to my usual seven and change. Lots of crazy dreams. I hardly ever remember them, but I look forward to 'dreamland' as I'm falling asleep. A lot seems to go on in those adventures.. I think I'm busier asleep than I am when I'm awake..

Music news. It's here! My new CD Near-Miracle on 33rd Street is now in my grubby little hands, 100 copies. I've given it that hard critical listen, and all the music works!(I knew it did, but just one of those precautionary things..) It's due to go up on Spotify on November 1st, and I figure the other companies--Apple, iTunes, Deezer--will all follow suit. And the cover art works as well. One typo on the back page, but otherwise fine. 

You can purchase a CD directly from me if so desired. They're $12.50 if I mail to you, and $10 if you drop by to pick it up. You can hear all the cuts in their entirety from the album's website on my Sam Crain & Friends page on Facebook. I'll probably post it on the regular FB page as well. PM me for more.

 That's the top story. In other music news, I have a collection of fusion/smooth tunes to share at some point. With these, we go back to the download-only format. Much cheaper to produce, and none of those messy boxes of CDs hanging around. There is little-to-no cowbell in this recording, but there is more keyboard. My keyboard chops have gotten better from all this fooling around, so I'm taking more solos. Definitely adds some variety to the recording, adding another solo voice in there. 

And still hanging in there as a guitar player.. Still haven't played anywhere since March 13th, but am holding forth here in the Music Lab. My circuit was basically Robbie's and the nursing/assisted living facilities, all of which has been wiped out in one way or another. I also did occasional gigs with the Samba Llamas, which were a lot of fun. As I've gotten older--and perhaps crabbier--I've been doing more  from home, but I still like to keep my hand in there as far as playing out. So I'll be someplace eventually...

So that's my two cents on this rainyass Friday. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Friday to you! I'm outa here. More later. 

Thursday  

Good morning! About 9:40 in the a.m. A beautiful day out there for a change. Good for morale- which is a tough thing to maintain in these times. A Pandemic is easier to handle on a sunny day...

Music news. My new CD, Near-Miracle on 33rd Street, is supposed to hit the porch today(hopefully not too hard!), via UPS. As far as anything online, it's due to go up on Spotify on November 1st, and has been submitted to Apple and Deezer and iTunes, Amazon, and God knows who else. In the meantime, CDs are available through me. Just PM me if interested. They're $12.50 if I mail it to you, and $10 if you just come by here to pick it up. 

Also, there are a few shouts, acknowledgements of folks who've been kind and supportive, or just cool in general. . If you got a shout in the liner notes, your money's no good here. This one is on the house. One of our policies here at samcrain.com. 

As far as the Music Lab, I think I've shot my wad for the time being. The end of a creative binge. I can always tell when my Muse has left the building. My stuff starts to get formulaic, by-the-numbers. Time to pack it in for awhile. But I have a goodly number of Fusion/Smooth pieces from it, which I share on the Music page here at Sam Central. 

One of my coping devices is to alternate between several different areas. I do this 'across the board', but as far as music, it's between writing and playing., Some time is spent on composition and then I switch gears and work on guitar playing. So it's time to get back to those scales and arpeggios. I even devise my own technical exercises, which I try to make as gnarly as possible--what I call Castor Oil exercises. Love 'em/hate 'em...

And  that's my basic stuff for now. A friend of mine, also a musician, remarked to me that I haven't "come back" as far as playing anywhere. My last engagement was March 13th at Robbie's. And my gigs were either there or various nursing/assisted living facilities, both of which are closed indefinitely. So for the time being, I'm a Man Without a Country as far as that goes.

Before I do play out again, I want to clean up a little bit. Haven't had a haircut since February, and need to buy some new duds. I don't think I'm the only one who's gotten shaggier over the last couple months. So this is on the agenda. 

Okay! Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Thor's Day to you! I'm outa here. More later. 

 

Today's pic was taken back in 2013 or so. A nice little restaurant/bar between Spring and Edwards. Dan Rivero, Frank Parker, Wayne Carter, me.

Wednesday  

Good morning! About nine-thirty in the a.m. on this Hump Day. Current weather: grim(but subject to change!).I usually sleep about 7 hours, give or take in either direction, which is plenty to fuel me for the day. Last night was more like eight. I can feel the difference. Just a little more rested. Actually remembered a fragment from my dreams, which usually evaporate upon waking. Walking toward the back door of the office carrying one of my cats and other stuff, and a girl I worked with holds the door for me. "I still read your  stuff", she says, "about every two weeks". And then I woke up. 

I haven't worked in that office since the middle of 2013, and the cat I was carrying died last November. The workplace is one of my familiar dream scenarios(wonderfully symbolic of day-to-day existence), but that's the first appearance for that cat.

Music news.  The top story is still my new CD Near-Miracle on 33rd Street.  I have a nice website for my new album, provided by a company called HearNow. CD Baby, my main place for many years, is starting to out-source more of their services. The models they show you have links to Spotify and Apple and Deezer and more, but the catch is that they have to request that stuff themselves, so they don't automatically show up on your page. Currently waiting for that to happen. But once that's all in place, it looks like it's going to be very helpful as far as getting listens, and maybe even sales. 

Supposed to get the actual CDs in the next couple days. I'll have 100. Another box of CDs here in the house, but at least a smaller one. When I first started making recordings, I had an unrealistic idea of how many would sell, and placed a couple orders in there for 500 or 1000. I've since learned my lesson, and am working a lot smarter these days.

I'm still on a roll as far as working in the Music Lab, continuing to make these little 2 and 3-minute pieces. They've 'morphed' over the course of the year, from weirdo electronic pieces to fusion/smooth things, now to funky jams featuring the keyboard and the guitar. I post them on the Music page of the site here, and also share to Facebook. 

Also still practicing guitar, and posting to YouTube. My favorite playalongs are those with just bass and drums. The SCVT, or Sam Crain Virtual Trio. 

I hope this isn't too much to read. Thanks for stopping in and reading it though. Happy Hump Day to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later. 

Today's pic is an "artsy" one I took of my cat Cindy yesterday, basking in the sunlight. Running out of music pictures. Need to make some more. 

Today's tune is called Ubangi Mi Bangi, and is a funky thing based on an old tune of mine called Kimber Lee. It's on the CD Spring into Swing Redux. Operators are standing by to take your order....

And Tuesday's Just the Same  

Good morning! It's just a couple minutes after ten, overcast but still sunny. Temperatures are dropping as we begin our descent into Winter. Iowa already has snow. Not that I wish it on anyone else, but I hope it stays north of us--until March! I've already broken out the thermal dermis, and am as ready as I ever am  for this next Season. I can get out in it if I  have to, but am really a Cold Weather Wuss at heart...

Music news. Well I suppose the "top story" would be this new CD I've just released. Near-Miracle on 33rd Street. All jazz, and all original material, though a couple things in there are based on standards. It's nice, tuneful stuff, nothing too 'far out' or anything(I have other recordings for that!). Unlike my last couple efforts, which have been download-only, this time I made actual CDs. 100 of them. They should hit the porch in the next couple days. 

I like the CD format for a couple reasons. One, you can sell them at gigs. And two, I like to write liner notes- and in so doing, send out shouts to various folks who've been supportive or just cool in general. Not everybody's going to be in your corner- one of life's tougher lessons- so you take care of those who are, and cherish them all the more. 

Still on a roll with the home-studio thing. I'm just starting to put together another CD much like the one I just released- all originals, all jazz(though there may also be some funk in this one).It'll be well into next year before I have another album, but I hope to have something as good or better than this new one. 

And I'm still turning out these little 2 and 3-minute pieces that I share on the Music page here, and on Facebook. Their content has changed as the year has progressed(or perhaps regressed), from 'creepy' electronic stuff to more 'fusion' or 'smooth' jazz.. And I'm sort of entering another phase, where the keyboard plays a bigger part. My keyboard chops have improved from all this messing around, so I'm gaining the courage to try a few solos. This adds a great deal to the songs, having two solo voices instead of just the same one over and over.  

And that's my two cents for today! Eventually I figure I'll have something to invite you guys to(and maybe even sell you a CD), but for the moment continuing to work from home. I do miss having a nice place, a simpatico place like Robbie's to play in. And I miss some of the folks I'd make music with. These things will work themselves out, sooner or later. 

Okay! Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Tuesday to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later.  PS Today's pic was taken sometime in 1985. I was in a band called Scoundrel, which played all across the country. We were on our way from somewhere to somewhere, and I was zoning out on the keyboard(wearing headphones of course).

Oh no! It's Monday!  

Good morning! Just a shade after nine on this dark and dismal Monday. Weather befitting Edgar Allan Poe and other pluviophiles. Now wait, isn't that one of those creepy guys who hangs around  the playground at a Grade School? No, jenius. A pluviophile is someone who loves dark and rainy days. I suppose they could be a pedophilic pluviophile(or pluviophilic pedophile, if you prefer)and hang around the playground when it's raining. But in their purest definition, they just love the weather most of the rest of us hate. 

Music news. Still plugging away here at casa de Sam. Home recording is a great love of mine, and it also seems to be my therapy for 2020. And my little home creations have changed- from weirdo electronic pieces to smoother jazz sounds to more eclectic stuff with more keyboard. My keyboard chops are getting better from all this messing around, and I'm gaining the courage to try a few solos here and there. 

On keyboard, I have some facility already, but  haven't done the endless practicing of scales and arpeggios  I have on guitar. So I have fairly nimble fingers that just don't quite know where to go some of the time. But I'm learning. 

Today looks like a great day to just hole up here in the Lab and make some more sounds- hopefully sounds that will translate into some kind of music. One goal of mine is to make more 'group' CDs, or at least add people to my recordings. And I'd love to do another trio CD- which may be a good thing to shoot for in this coming year. I've got the bass player and drummer, who've both worked with me before. 

This is probably a good place to wrap this up. Not much for news on this gloomyass Monday. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy gloomyass Monday to you! For now, je suis outa here. More later.