The Bleu Note


Good morning! 9:40 on this cloudy Sunday.. Workin' that coffee cup and bringing the world into focus. Okay, not too much. Our new administration has hit the ground running. So much still to fix. I' was crossing my fingers until the 20th, and now that it's happened, am still breathing a huge sigh of relief. Continuing to watch the news, but with much less intensity. 

Remembering one of my oldest and dearest but most intense friends, whom I visited some years back in Seattle. He had the TV going the whole time, always news programs, About every other minute he'd call bullshit on something someone said, and issue his rebuttal. And now, 25 years later(!), here I am watching primarily news shows(except for Jeopardy), and talking back to my TV, issuing my own rebuttals. Sometimes, instead of turning into your parents, you turn into one of your friends...

Music news. Concentrating more on the guitar these days. I've got more than enough recordings out there, and soon to be out there. at least for the time being. Lots of playing yesterday, and also lots of taping. I've been favoring one of my skinnier guitars- a Takamine electric. I know people like the Big Guitar, and I do too, but  it's a lot of guitar to reach around.. Beautiful tone though. The girth was an adjustment at first, and will be an adjustment getting back with it. So sooner or later. In the meantime, having fun with my skinny minnie guitar. Much more to come on YouTube. 

And that'll do 'er for this installment. Thanks as ever for stopping in and wading through all this. Happy Sunday to you! Ich bin outa here. More later. 

PS Today's pic goes back to the 80s. Union Station was the place. Frank Vanes on piano(and my synthesizer), me, Jeff Davis and Rich Olson. Those are Rich's drums, so he's nearby. Wish I could stlll find those boots. I liked being 5'6".

PPS Today's tune is from my CD Jazz Guitar Vol 4. A sort of free-form guitar duo over All the Things You Are. For what it's worth, this recording also has a bonus track, made in 2008. It features Perry Rask, Andy Burtschi and Brian Justison. It's up on CD Baby and probably Amazon and so forth. Operators are standing by to take your order.....



Good morning! 8:43 on this sunny-but-cold Saturday. 16 degrees outside, a temperature best viewed from inside. Not yet  back to my usual 7 hours and change, but still better rested. You can function on five-or-so hours of sleep, but everything is just a little more irritating or worrisome. So this morning the world is a slightly more hospitable place. 

Music news. I will soon have two new recordings to share with you. One is a live CD of the quartet I had from 2000-2005, and the other is something I started back in 2007 but never followed through as far as having it available digitally. That's where it's at anymore, streams and the occasional download.. And I've been jumping through the various hoops to get it all processed just so.

Spoke yesterday to a very nice young lady at Easy Song Licensing, somewhere in Minnesota,  who fixed my baby-boomer computer mistakes(gotta blame it on something!) and got me all squared away. I've now done two projects with them, the second of which I got right. So I'm getting better as I go. Live and learn...

December 27th is still the next day this year I play someplace outside the house. Eventually we'll be back in business with some central spot like Robbie's(or maybe even Robbie's itself), I do have a gig coming from the Uptown Friday Night series, whenever that gets rescheduled, and am looking forward to that. Got new tunes and new albums to share. But before I come back in any real way, I've gotta take care of a few things. 

First and foremost is some kind of social life. I let that go during my working years, particularly the last half. My job was a stressful one, and it got to be that I'd need every weekend just to decompress. Kept all my friends, just lost getting together with them. So this is what's needed. As problems go, this is a pretty fixable one. But it's the first one I'm addressing. 

Second is getting together and making music with other people, regardless of whether there's an audience. There's a bass player, lives in Poland(!)but has family here, who's come over and played tunes. On my YouTube page, under playlists(go to playlists and then created playlists)called Sam and Raj. Hope to do some more playing with Raj, among others. 

So these things will take care of themselves. In the meantime, I always have something going here in the Music Lab to share with you. Sometimes nice and tuneful, sometimes weird as hell.

An introspective post today. Thanks as ever for stopping in and wading through it. Happy Saturday to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later. PS Today's pic is another band picture from 2004 or so. I think Ed Clark was the photographer. And it was at Lime St. PPS Today's tune was done in 1989 or 1990. Wayne Coniglio is the trombonist. Enjoy!





Good morning!  8:52 on this cold, sunny Friday. I'm the original Cold Weather Wuss, but I'll take sunshine over clouds any day. I had one of those nights when you wake up in the middle of the night and can't quite get back to sleep. Of course in that moment, your mind recalls everything anybody ever said to piss you off, or everything you said to piss off someone else.  A little crispy around the edges this morning, but otherwise more or less present and accounted for.. Like a third of the population(and my Dad),  I have this occasional problem. Last September was the last time it happened, so I could be doing a lot worse..

Music news. Trying to get a couple new recordings off the ground. CD Baby, the company from which I sell my wares, is sometimes a pain in the ass as far as their Inspection Process. It's very exacting as far as how things have to be data-entered. Remembering having to turn in Quarterly Reports working for the State, which would invariably get sent back for corrections- sometimes several times. All this punctilious horsehockey gets on my last nerves, but you do what you gotta do. So this is mein kampf for now, my struggle. And probably why I got a shitty night's sleep last night. 

The good news is that they're re-opening their warehouse, which had been closed since last March. Maybe it'll get easier to get someone on the phone. I can sympathize with those folks who used to complain about the unemployment office and how you couldn't get an answer out of anybody. I've walked the walk, as it were. 

Skimpy as it is, that's my news for now. Still in a pretty good groove working from home, except for the 'grotty' stuff I mentioned earlier. Once this stuff passes muster, , I'll have some new stuff to share with you: The Sam Crain Quartet, which is a live album; and one called A Walk on the Mild Side, which is various trios. 

Okay. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Friday to you, especially if you've worked all week! For now, I'm outa here. More coffee. More later. 

PS Today's pic was taken in Japan, 1995. A group of us--actually three bands--spent a week in Ashikaga, Japan. Much fun. PPS The tune du jour is  from my album Tele-ology(jazz with twang)a rendition of Out of Nowhere which I called Out of Mohair. One of Bill Schlipf's  "alternative titles". He had a million of 'em. 

Thirsty Thursday  

Good morning! 9:48 here in the capital city, a nice sunny Winter day out there. I think the magalomaniacs left all 50 of our state capitals alone yesterday. Their Cult Leader was down at Mar-a-Lago enjoying a sulky game of golf. But enough of him! We have people in the White House now who actually know how to do their jobs, and will bring people into their cabinet  based on qualifications rather than connections. It's all good- for a change. 'Nuff said. 

Music news. Got my CDs in the mail around 3:30 yesterday afternoon, after having waited a day and a half. The Sam Crain Quartet, in all our glory.. Better late than never. All the music sounds just fine. The only bad news is that the cover picture didn't quite extend to the whole frame, so there's a white border around it- which, if you squint just right, looks like a letterbox version. It's much more of a DIY operation anymore, making these records. I'm not a graphic artist, but am getting better at it. 

The Sam Crain Quartet is supposed to go live on February 1st. That's the earliest date I could get. So, come Feb 1st, it will be on Spotify and iTunes and all those digital companies. And for the first time since March of last year, CD Baby is asking me to send them CDs. This tells me that they're planning on re-opening their warehouse, even though no formal statement has been given. More good news. I could sure as hell use it....

I've been using a different guitar for the YouTube videos. It's a Takamine electric, from the 80s. I call it my Ventures guitar because of the fins, resembling the Mosrite guitars they had an endorsement with. Folks, Mosrite guitars are pieces of kindling. They're junk. In real life the Ventures played Gibson or Fender guitars. Possibly Peavey guitars as well. 

Remembering a scene back in the old old days of Walko Music Co on 2nd street. I had a student who was considering buying a Mosrite guitar, and who asked me to take a look at it before he bought it. Much to the chagrin of the seller, I told my student to save his money for a real guitar. So I performed a necessary Guitar Intervention. I look back on this as an act of kindness..

And that's pretty much it for right now. I did get my parting gift from The Donald, a check for $600. Every little bit helps, and it gives me an errand to run. . Gotta get out of the house every so often. In the Winter I have to worry about both Jack Frost and Jack Torrance.. So far so good. Just excited and relieved to see a new administration. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Thursday to you! For now, ich bin outa here. More later. 

PS Today's picture goes back to working days. I don't know what or who I was King of, but I was giving it my best autocratic ruler expression. The despotic King. Today's song is called, appropriately enough, New Day.  It's from --and sorry for the plug again--an album of the same name i put out this past year. Smooth but quirky jazz. 


Inauguration Day  

Good morning! 9:13 on this sunny Hump Day, a balmy 22 degrees. In just a few short hours, we'll have us a new POTUS and Veep. Some are bemoaning this of course, while many more are celebrating. I have "bemoaner friends" but I am one of the celebrants. So glad to see the Clampetts leaving the White House after 4 divisive and destructive years. . Y'all don't come back now, hear?

Music news. The bad news is that I still haven't got my CDs. The Sam Crain Quartet, 50 copies.  They were supposed to be here yesterday between 1:30 and 5:30, and then by 7pm. Got an email at 7:17 informing me that the package had been returned to the Post Office due to an incomplete address(!!).I sent an email which had a response this morning. They're "working on the problem' and someone is supposed to call me later today. In the words of Charlie Brown, AAUGH!

The good news is that I got Licensing for all 9 of the standards, which went through without a hitch. So I was able to get the album registered with CD Baby. It goes '"live' on February 1st, the earliest date I could get. All the tracks are in there, as well as info on the publishers. Had a moment of clarity as far as all their nitpicky rules, which I guess is good news within good news. All the t's are crossed and all the i's dotted. I've done all I can do...

And for the first time since last March, they're asking me to send 5 CDs. This tells me that the warehouse will likely reopen this year. More good news.. Back to the business of selling CDs. Now if I could just get my damned package, we'd be all set.

For all the hassles, though, I'm glad to have put this group recording together. Besides the usual self-promotion, I did this for the other three guys who worked with me all those years. For the longest time, I had this weird duality going, where I had one bunch to play with and another to record with. Four of my albums have musicians from Millikin on them, and were recorded in Decatur.. The Millikin years. All good, but I always wished I had something with my regular crew as well. 

So that's what's what right now. I think this year is going to be just as crazy for music as the year we just emerged from. I've got another stab-from-the-past recording, this one from 2007 which was just sitting there in limbo. Another expenditure on my part, paying for more standard tunes, but it'll soon be out there, earning me some of my money back. 

Not as humorous a post as yesterday's, but hopefully still a good read. Thanks as ever for stopping in and wading through it all. Happy Hump Day/Inauguration Day to you!! I'm outa here. More later. 

PS Today's pic is something I had laying around for just this occasion. A little photoshop magic from Superman II. PPS Today's tune is from--sorry for the plug!--my album Tele-ology. Jazz with twang.




Toozday(The STFU Story)  

Good morning! 9:56 on this sunny Tuesday. Thinking of a Ramones song this morning: 20, 20, 24 hours to go. I wanna be sedated. Wondering what kind of debacle awaits us tomorrow. The Red-hats are coming! The Red-hats are coming! In that way, I'm dreading tomorrow. But it's still gonna be Inauguration Day. Biden and Harris will still be sworn in. I try to keep Politics out of this post, but sometimes you just can't help it. 

Music news. My new CD, The Sam Crain Quartet, is supposed to be here today. All I know from the tracking information is that it's here in town and due here sometime today by 9pm. Unfortunately, I have to sign for it, which means listening for the door. And with my luck, it'll take all day to get here. This is a little bit like buying marijuana before legalization. It always got here, but quite often several hours past when I was told to expect it. One time the guy was so high he forgot to leave me what I'd just bought and waited several hours for!

Anyway, this new record will soon be here.. As soon as I get the discs I'll start getting everything online, and it's just a matter of time before it's available as both a download and physical CD. Sharing another cut from the album today. I don't know what I'll pick just yet, but it'll be something fun to listen to. 

And I have an anecdote to share with you today. A pianist friend of mine recently took a gig playing at a Piano Bar. I remember Bob Klocke working at The Green Turtle for years. He was a jovial guy and probably fit in beautifully with that kind of job. Noisy, interactive, with folks seated all around the bar. My friend is more serious-minded, and probably launched into some Bill Evans or Bud Powell tune that nobody'd heard of. 

There was a lady sitting close to him while he was playing, and carrying on a loud conversation. She left to use the bathroom and when she got back, there was a note on her chair. It said shut the fuck up.

I imagine the gig ended either that night or shortly thereafter. Not everybody is cut out for doing a Piano Bar...

Anyway! Someone graced me with that story just last night on the phone. Every time I thought of it, I'd crack up all over again. Just the audacity...Couldn't wait to share. 

And that's pretty much all I had this morning. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Tuesday to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later. 

.PS Today's tune is Take the A Train,  recorded at Robbie's sometime in 2004. GG Pelletier, tenor saxophone; me, guitar; Kevin Ellis, bass; Don Cochran, drums. 

PPS Today's pic goes back to January of 2014. Rob Killam and myself at some restaurant on Toronto Rd. I'd left my job with the State the previous July and was treading water until I reached the age of 60 and could formally retire. Being as that my birthday is in August, it was kind of a long haul. Rob helped keep me afloat with all these duo gigs. Plus they were fun!



un-manic Monday  

Good morning! Just at ten o'clock on this sunny Monday. Martin Luther King's birthday is celebrated today. I always remember Chris Rock's comment that MLK is honored, as he should be, in practically every city across America- but it's always in the poorest, most dangerous part of town. Still, a great reformer- not unlike the 16th century German theologian whose name he took. King's real first name was Michael, like his Father before him, also a minister. For what that's worth. 

Domestic news. In changing the batteries on my remote, something got butt-dialed and I ended up with most of my TV programming in Spanish. The news channels were fine, but practically everything else was in espanol. Tried to change it in the Settings, but no soap. Groundhog Day and Shallow Hal are both awesome in Spanish though. Spongebob would be completely over the top. Finally realized it had more to do with the remote itself, and was able to navigate from there. Nothing like technology to make you feel like an imbecile. But at least this old brain figured it out...

Music news. Starting 2021 with a bang! My newest CD, The Sam Crain Quartet, is supposed to be here sometime tomorrow. 50 copies, which doesn't sound like much, but will probably be well enough. This one, I think, has all the 'fixins' of success: a live recording with vocals and recognizable tunes. Years ago I tried to add a vocal tune or two, one of which is the great old tune Only You. And I used to sing Love Boat, kind of a Bill Murray/Nick Rails rendition. But for the most part, I leave the singing to someone who's good at it. 

I do have some of my Nick Rails vocals on an album called Fast Food Automaton. The title selection, and another thing I wrote called Big Bang. It's the only album of mine that has vocals on it, except for this new one with the quartet. 

And still working on the guitar. After the comments on it,  I dusted off my archtop yesterday and did some playing on it. A bit of culture shock readjusting to an instrument of much more girth than my other guitars, but it does get a great sound. 

Skimpy as it may be, that's my news for today. This may be a hell of a week, especially as we get closer to Wednesday. The only saving grace of this past year, besides the legalization of 'recreational' cannabis, is that it got me to finally start paying attention to the news. I used to assert that I was interested in everything but politics and opera. Now we're down to opera. 

Time to wrap this up. Other morning duties to tackle. I do Lumosity games every day, to make sure my mind gets some exercise. Fun but sometimes exasperating. I'm often my own worst critic here, just as with the guitar. Anyway! Happy Martin Luther King Day! Thanks as always for stopping in and reading. For now, ich bin outa here. More later. PS Today's pic goes back to 1982 or so. Me and Jim Lanier, playing in the Hinds Bros Band. Haven't seen Jim in years, still friends on here with Perry(Zubeck)and Tim Beck. 

PPS Today's tune has a title I borrowed from John Lewis, the senator from Georgia known for his role in the Civil Rights Movement. Let's us get into some Good Trouble. 


Good morning! 9:45 on this snowy Sunday. I'm not so concerned about the snow as I am about the Moron Militia visiting our fair city, since it's one of the 'designated'  spots, being a State Capitol and all.  Never been a fan of Reality TV--which kinda figures, since I'm not a fan of reality in general--but life is certainly playing out that way. I wish I could change the channel. But then the 'show will soon be over. Or at least taken off the air...

Music news. 2021 seems to be starting with a bang. A new CD of mine, called  Indian Summer , became available on the 1st. And I 'resurrected' one from 2007 that I never quite finished, called A Walk on the Mild Side. It's ready to go as soon as CD Baby approves it. A mix of live and studio performances, with plenty of 'guest stars'. And another resurrection, The Sam Crain Quartet, is supposed to get here by the end of the day Tuesday. 50 CDs. Soon to be online. 

So that's three new recordings, and we're just a tad over halfway through the month. I was kinda hoping things would settle down a bit ,but apparently no such luck. I've long since retired from the dayjob and haven't been "on the scene" in awhile,  but am discovering that you don't really retire from music. Not if you have a real bug for it. More to come...

And that's all I've got, at least for the foreseeable future. I've gotten a couple requests for my archtop guitar, which one person used to call the Huge Guitar. It's still a beautiful instrument. I've been favoring my red Epiphone guitar, partly because it looks better on me. All is vanity. But I'll see about getting Big Mama back in my 'guitar rotation', at least for the YouTube videos. 

Not much else to report. This coming week is one you could shoot a cannon through, so I'm hoping some of that spare time will have some creative results. And as always, whatever works I share. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. You know I appreciate it. Happy Sunday to you! For now, this one's outa here. More later.  PS Today's pic was taken at Robbie's , year unknown but figuring 2015. Tom Fatten, Gary Niehaus and me. Tom replaced Bill Schlipf in my trio for awhile in there.  PPS Today's tune is based on Just You, Just Me. Two guitars, both me. The 'miracle' of multi-track recording...





Good morning! 10:46 on this soon-to-be-snowy Friday. Contemplating the supplies here in the house vs my need to get out in it. Then again, it's not going to be "snowmaggedon"- which, as I remember, was in the already beleaguered Baltimore area.. Actually, the whole Atlantic Seaboard gets its New England ass kicked pretty much every year. I feel sorry for them.

 I went to school in Baltimore MD, from '76 to '80. It was a friendly big city back then- but like all cities(even Spfld)it was not without its crazies and criminal element. According to one of my buddies from Peabody days, who was a Baltimore native, "there are places where you definitely don't want to have car trouble". The last time we talked, he told me it's a lot more dangerous now, even though there are "pockets of affluence'. Well it was fun in the latter 70s...

Music news. After a long string of solo projects, and the isolated conditions in which they were made, I'm trying to avoid the self-absorption this brings about. If you do creative work, it's all too easy to get all wrapped up in your own ideas, to live "inside your own head".- especially being isolated..  So I've been making a conscious effort to keep my head out of my rear end.

I look forward to working again with other musicians, and recording some brand new music for you. But in the meantime, I have a couple recordings from my "archives" to share. One is a live recording of the quartet I had from 2000 until the end of '95. The other is a compilation. But both of these records provide what I feel is sorely needed: other people. Solo projects are fine, but you  have to get out of your room every so often..

So that's what's what for now. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Friday to you, especially if you've worked all week! For now, I'm outa here. More later. 

PS Today's pic goes back to the early 70s. Age 15 or 16. Yes, I need some new pictures! PPS Today's tune is called Mango Peninsula. It's similar to Cantaloupe Island, hence the title. Hope you like it. 



Good morning! It's 9:24 on this beautiful Thursday. Wait, let me get out of these rose-colored glasses. Okay, it's now 9:25 on this bleak and dismal Thursday. Come to think of it, I like the view from the rose-colored glasses a lot better. Delusional perhaps, but still better. It's now 9:28, a beautiful day ahead.

Music news. I mentioned the quartet recording in here yesterday. It ships out tomorrow.. Kevin, the bass player on this record is online a lot- with his own band Dreaming in Colours as well as following the political craziness, and has seen my posts about this. We haven't spoken in awhile but are still in touch.

The other two band members I hadn't communicated with in a long time, and I gave them both a call. So it's been a bit of a reunion. Don, the drummer, has been in this group almost as long as I have. GG, the saxophonist, has shared the stage with me on many occasions. We've probably got more trouble to get into together as far as that goes. But we're all getting older. Don is 84, I'll be 67 in August, and GG will be 70 in September. Kevin is the spring chicken of the bunch, turning 62 this May. 

As far as what I'm turning out these days, I'm concentrating more on the group stuff. There's another thing I put together back in 2007 but never went digital with. It's three different kinds of trio: gtr, bass & drums; gtr gtr and bass; and gtr, keyboard and drums. A compilation from a few gigs and studio sessions. Somehow I never got off my butt to pay for the five cover tunes, so it's just been sitting there. It's called A Walk on the Mild Side, and will also release very soon. 

One thing about the trio I had with Don Cochran and Bill Schlipf was that there was a 9-year age difference between us. Bill was 9 years my senior and Don was 9 years his senior. On a few occasions we had Michael Stryker on piano, who is 9 years my junior(and born on August 10 just like me!). So if we added on, they would have to have been born in either 1963 or 1927.

There is a nerd side to me that likes these number patterns, finds them interesting.. Back in my working days, in 2010, we had a person born in 1964 turning 46 and a person born in 1946 turning 64. I thought it was pretty cool anyway...

Well this is probably enough outa me for now. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Thursday to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later. 

PS Today's tune is called Pauline's Basement. It was written for the memory of Pauline Cormier, who was active many years as a guitar teacher. She was a generous soul who not only educated more than a few local guitarists, but provided a few of them with temporary lodging. She and I played together in the Betts Pree Band, and I gave her a few lessons. Nice person, as was her husband Ed, whom I used to enjoy visiting with when I was at their house.