The Bleu Note


Does this picture look like a man at the end of his rope? Just curious. This is the cover to my new album. It's due to Go Public on June 1st, which is a week from today. So it will be up on places like iTunes and Apple and so forth, and on YouTube for streaming. 

This is all material I've had laying around for maybe a year. I had a crazy prolific period from 3/13/20 into the tail end of 2022, and this was the last car on that express. I just ran out of gas before I could finish it.  Blew my wad prematurely. Okay, I'll stop with the metaphors...

2023 began with a few health and domestic issues, so my music was relegated to the back burner. The health issue was a couple of Atypical Cells on the top of my noggin. And the domestic situation was a roof that had finally worn out its welcome. A hole about the size of a basketball. 

Trying to remember the name of the mythic character who Proclaimed: the sky is falling. the sky is falling. Chicken Little! During a heavy rain, that's what happened in my dining room.

 So two scares: Cancer and The End of the World(domestically speaking). 

Well he cells on my head turned out to be nothing, and my roof is being made safe, bit by bit, from any further deluges. Or if it rains. Either way.

Om Sweet Om   

I actually have a song called Om Sweet Om. It's on my album The Big Box of Love. And yes, operators are standing by to take your order. 

Come to think of it, I think I got that cheesy play on words from an old R. Crumb comic strip- which no doubt featured Mr Natural, and his disciple Flakey Foont. 

My humble homestead is the central theme these days. I have a crew who've been here the past two days replacing my roof, and taking care of the environs as well. 

They power-washed front and back, and cleaned up the yard. My main concern, of course, was the big gaping hole in my roof, but these extras are nice. This is actually the before picture. I'm sure this place will be a little bit more photogenic in the next picture I take. 

The real reward in all this will of course be when we get the next Biblical rainstorm. The ecstasy of not having to monitor wastebaskets rapidly filling up with rainwater. Man, that's gonna feel great! 

Then the novelty will wear off, and the rainstorms will go back to being just kind of a downer-which still beats the pants off the experience of bailing water, as well as the hazard.  Sometimes life is just plain gonna suck. But you can at least control the suckage. That is to say, the degree of suckage..

Music news. I just finished up one of two home recording projects, at least as far as the music. It's in a sort of eclectic style: fusion without the pyrotechnics, and smooth jazz with more substance. Now I just need a cover and a title. Coming soon!

The other one is more straight-ahead jazz, and I may have to get some outside help on this one as far as recording levels. But also coming soon. 

Nothing outside the territorial limits of Crain Manor at this point, but I still play most every day and am always working on something new- or at least a new way of playing something old.. So I should be ready when the next opportunity presents itself. 

For now, more to come on my YouTube page. And a few pictures when they're done with my house. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading! Later for now. 

Kickin' Back the Clydesdales  

 I've made two decisions lately: 1)to start writing these again; and 2)to give them whatever title just occurs to me, rather than just naming it after the day of the week. Yesterday was, admittedly, to see if I could get Facebook's goat. But it feels like a nice change. Sometimes the slightest change is good just by virtue of being something different.

 And as far as getting Facebook's goat, I guess I'll just have to try harder..

Music news. Working on an intro to Giant Steps. I recorded one which I may put up on Facebook, but it's kinda sloppy. Got a half-assed idea involving major 7 arpeggios, being as the A section is made up of two such patterns. I dunno. We'll see. 

Also working on some of my recorded music here in the Lab. Much like the work of a Mad Scientist, only I'm combining tunes rather than potions. I was trying to finish up one old project that got interrupted by life this year and it's turning into two. Musical mitosis..

One is in this sorta fusion/smooth style my home stuff falls into, and the other one is more straight-ahead jazz. So my stuff is going into two piles. Hopefully, two new recordings will emerge from the rubble. 

I have a lot of fun puttering here in the Lab. Much like a Workshop(I've heard that many non-musicians have them), only instead of saws and hammers, I have keyboards and guitars and recording equipment. What I refer to as my makeshift home studio. 

Still planning to do another solo guitar album, which will be done at someone else's less makeshift studio. And I'd love to do another one with a bass player and drummer. But for now, I'm just tying up some loose ends. 

The title of today's blog is one of my tunes I hope to work up. It's been sitting around since 1985 or so. Playing Houston TX, a place we spent a lot of time in when I was on the road. We also played Dallas, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and Brownsville, but mostly Houston it seemed. 

Anyway, Houston. Much drinking, as happened on the road. My wastebasket was overflowing with Budweiser Tall Boys. What should've been an embarrassing sight. The housekeeper who was cleaning my room quipped, “Looks like you been kickin' back them Clydesdales”. She made a few other witty remarks, but that was the only one I wasn't too hung over to remember. 

The Clydesdales gave way over the years to cervezas--Corona, Dos Equiis, Tecate, like that--and eventually, some time after retirement, faded away. All that Øl had gathered around my middle--which was an embarrassing sight. It took a good year of trying, but I was finally able to lose the gut. And I'd think of that every time I wanted a beer. 

Anyway! Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Friday to you! For now, ich bin outa here. More later.

PS  Additional info: The picture was taken in 1985, probably in Houston. I was 30 or 31. Today's tune is one of the straight-ahead things I've got. Øl, pronounced oil, is what they call beer in Norway and Denmark. In Sweden, it's the same word only with an umlaut instead of a tong. For what all that's worth…




Greetings, whoever-reads-this! 

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Nice and sunny, and quiet- except for the kids playing in the Day Care across the alley from me. I enjoy hearing them playing, and sometimes regret that they probably have to hear me too, at least to some extent. 

 My noise is much more obnoxious than theirs, at least my non-musical noise:  playing video games and cussing when I miss a shot. Something like ding-ding-ding-fuck. Many of the Lumosity games are set up with a 4-part set of patterns, with the appropriate dings when you get them right. Only instead of ding-ding-ding-ding, it often ends up as ding-ding-ding-fuck. Or even ding-ding-fuck..


Music news. With the smoke starting to clear from this year's assorted adventures,(see previous blog: What a Year I'm Having) I'm starting to get back on track as far as what I was doing musically. The Covid Years- 2020, 21 and 22- saw a ton of home projects from me, something that seemed to run its course. Going into 2023, I had just one more of those projects to finish up.

So that's where I'm finding myself here in mid-May of 2023. Right where I left off. Finishing up a CD. This will make CD #50, at least as far as what I've got up on CD Baby.

From here, I've got a whole solo guitar project I've been meaning to do for years. Something I was finally gonna do as 2023 rolled in. Even got another person to work with on this one. Sometimes life gets in the way of music, especially as you get older. And you have to tend to it for awhile before you can get back. 

I've done two gigs of my own this year, and hope to do more as we go into 2023. Not looking for sideman stuff, except for the one band I always bail out. Ocean State, of which I was a member for about two and a half years in there. I don't have regular personnel, as far as that goes, but I do have people I can call. 

Anyway, that's the basic mostly musical news for the moment. This goes up on my website first(and really, foremost)but I'm wondering if Facebook will have a problem with my use of the f word. We shall see. As ever, thanks for stopping in and reading. Happy Thursday to you! Ich bin outa here. Later.

PS today's tune is a tune of mine called Hanging On. It's one of the songs on this CD I'm finishing up. 

What a Year I'm Having!  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! 

Long time, no blog. So I'm writing one. This used to be a daily thing, but my other daily things seem to have crowded it out of the picture. Wordle, then Spelling Bee, then Lumosity- and by then I've pissed away roughly half my day. Maybe it's time to bring back the blogs, at least on a weekly basis. 

This has been a hell of a year, and it's not even half over. In January, I had to see a Dermatologist about a mole on my forehead my regular Doctor was unsure of. That one was immediately dismissed as benign, but they found another one right on the top of my head that looked suspicious. 

So a Biopsy was done, and then outpatient surgery to have it removed. And then a follow-up appointment telling me that it was all good. No Cancer. Some anxiety about the possibility of having Cancer, but no Cancer. 

Also in January, I lost a shingle from my roof, and had some serious leakage. A couple of plastic wastebaskets were enough to contain it, but it's been stressful. Lots  of rainy days and nights monitoring the water flow.. The sustained vigilance is what gets you the most- having to constantly be watching the levels on your wastebaskets... By dumb luck, I was able to get a good Roofer, so this situation is on the way out.

What was supposed to be the Trifecta in my Year of Shit was a Dentist appointment I had this afternoon. I thought they were going to pull some bridgework, which would've left a huge gaping hole in there. Instead, they cleaned. I think they gave me a worst-case-scenario just in case, but maybe didn't find enough decay to justify pulling the whole thing out of my mouth.

So these things have worked themselves out. Not without first taking a bite out of my ass, but still-  a better resolution than I thought possible. Maybe I can get back to concentrating on the guitar. 

Three gigs so far this year. Two of them were trio, and all three were fun. I don't have anything else lined up at the moment, but now that these situations have all been tended to, maybe I can see what kind of trouble I can get into. 

This is already too much to read, so I'll ring off here for now. Thanks as ever for stopping in and wading through it. Happy Tuesday to you, whatever that means! Ich bin outa here for now. More later.  PS Today's musical offering(which comes with every blog I write in here)is Toots Theileman's Bluesette, done in alternating keys: G and Bb. It's on my CD Jazz Guitar. Operators are standing by to take your order…





News from Samland Part 1 

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! It's been awhile since I've written up one of these. I still practice every day, as far as that goes. But the daily blog fell by the wayside as my morning rituals expanded to include Wordle and now Spelling Bee. 

Music news. At the moment, just practicing and learning new tunes. Along Came Betty is one I've just gotten under my fingers. Airegin is another. Learning new tunes is important. I fall into playing the same stuff myself, but try to push myself out of over-familiar territory every so often. 

Mainly I just practice playing over this or that tune, with various objectives. I always work on rhythm, on my time, maintaining a relationship with the bass and drums. Sometimes just bass, sometimes just drums, and even a simple click track- but something generating a pulse. 

These days I'm working on leaving more space. The best thing you can do for your time is to find out where not to play. It's harder to do than you might think. But it seems to solidify your time on the notes you do play. So, trying to be cognizant of this when I'm playing. 

I've had three gigs this year. One was a fill-in gig with a band I used to be in, and the other two were trio gigs. I want to do more trio gigs. Hopefully more things will come up. I don't want to be working a lot, but would still like to do more of these threesomes. 

My YouTube page is still going strong. Just got a new subscriber, which brings things up to a whopping 278. That's still a lot of people, as far as I'm concerned..

I love hearing from folks, and always fire something back at them. Not every day of guitar practice yields a video, much less a decent one, but I'm still able to keep it well-stocked. And I've got a few from a recent gig. Hopefully more gig tapes, but always something!

Sometimes, space allowing, I have a section in here called Domestic/Old Guy News. That news is actually a lot more interesting than this stuff. Maybe next blog, As ever, thanks for stopping in and reading. Much love . More later.


Good morning, whoever-reads-this! It's straight-up 11 in the a.m. I started to say another knocko day, but it's starting to cloud up. Well, it's another day, regardless of Mother Nature. Working on that first cup of coffee, and bringing the world into focus. 

Music news. I'm inspired, from the two back-to-back trio gigs I just had. Me bass and drums is my favorite way to fly. Hopefully I'll get a few more opportunities along this line. At this juncture, I don't have a regular group, but I do have some good people I can call. 

In the past, I've always had my own group plus one group in which I was a sideman. I was a sideman for Frank Trompeter in a few of his groups; and with Dan Rivero and Wayne Carter. Also Ocean State, for whom I still sub from time to time. Sideman work is fine, but I do feel restricted after awhile. 

My trio lost its long-time bassist in 2013, and finally faded away about two years later. So all my gigs from then on were on somebody else's show. I kept going, but it was like the bottom fell out. It messed with me more than I realized. 

I had some bouts of insomnia which started about that time. Like a third of the population, I have this occasional problem. But it got hairier. With my Doctor's help, I was able to whittle those back down to maybe one a month. I figured, initially, that it was just part of being retired. Looking at it now, I can see that it had much more to do with the gig situation.

So I hope to do more trio gigs in the future, at least for my own mental health. I've been “thinking trio”, working on playing more chords in my solos, at least to outline the form. Many times I just forget to play chords at all, going off on melodic ideas. I did have a drummer complain once that I got too carried away playing lines. Thanks, Rich. I am now cognizant of that when I'm playing. Just for you, pal!

And that's all the news I've got for you for the moment. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Saturday to you! For now, ich bin outa here. More later.


PS Today's pic goes back a couple decades. Me, Steve Adleman and Gene Haas. I don't remember the name of the place, but Lou LaBonte  ran it. PPS Today's tune is called Twitchin' in the Kitchen. It's from my album Oop Bop Sh'Bang. Me, guitar; Andy Burtschi, bass; Craig Russo, drums.


Greetings, whoever-reads-this! It's a beautiful sunny day here in the neighborhood. The kind of day you wish they could all be. Enjoying that third and last cup of coffee before I figure out today's plan of action--or lack thereof..

Music news. As far as anything I can invite you to, I do have something in the works. That's all I know for the moment. Still enjoying the hell out of retirement, but I'm getting out of the house just a little bit more. 

These last two weeks have each had a nice trio gig. Thanks again to all who came down to Boone's on the 31st. It's been some time since I had a regular working group, but I figure I can always get somebody to fill the bass and drum slots. 

Actually, I have a long history of my own groups. Had a quartet from 1998 to 2005--first with a trio + female vocalist, and then trio with a saxophonist who could also sing; and a trio from 2005 until sometime in 2015. Each of those groups went from being my band to our band. That's the goal, to me, of any band I put together. 

A musical relationship is not all that dissimilar to a regular interpersonal relationship. The chemistry still has to be there. And of course it doesn't happen with everybody. So that may or may not happen again for me. But I'll still get in there and have a good time..

Still having fun with the YouTube page. Currently up to 274 folks. If any of you are reading this, I love hearing from you! Your comments help keep me going, keep my morale up. They help keep me in the game. And thanks to these recent gigs, I actually have live stuff to share with you, as well as the endless array of home stuff. . And I have a few more to post. 

And that's my news for the moment. Probably more than enough to read. Thanks as ever for stopping in and wading through it. Happy Thursday to you, whatever that means! For the moment, ich bin outa here. More later. 

PS today's musical offering is something from the archives, back to the 80s. It's called Charles Manson Eyes.(I think that was the time period of the song Bette Davis Eyes).



un-manic Monday  

Good morning, whoever-reads-this! Another beautiful day out there at 10:17 in the am. Another Sunday, as far as I'm concerned, even though the sign says Monday. There's a Day Care right across the alley from me, and I can hear the kids playing. All's right with the world--at least this little corner of it. 

Today's pic is from a gig back in 2013. Gotta love the aerial view.  Kevin Ellis, Jaro Howse, and me. It was my first gig as a “free man”, having just left my daygig of 22 years. Illinois Department of Employment Security, aka the unemployment office. It was supposed to be 23, but I'd had enough. The house was paid off, and I'd socked away a little  money, so it was a good time to exeunt. 

Still grateful as hell to have had a job to retire from, but enough is enough..

I hadn't seen these guys in ages. We'd done lots of gigs together over the years, and in various bands.  A very nice reunion. Lots of talking in between the tunes, but nobody complained or anything. This was the lobby of PNC Bank downtown, a location which no longer exists(!) Many gigs over the years in that beautiful lobby. Gotta love all that marble..

. Lots of gigs when I first retired, 6 to 10 every month. Got burned out from the “excess busyness” and cut back, but got a nice niche going with the gigs I did play. Then COVID came along and blew everybody's plans. I had a great time in the home studio, but eventually got to missing working with other humans. I'm only human myself..

At this point, I'm starting to re-emerge. Had a trio gig on Friday the 31st, and another one this past Saturday. And I've got a possibility at The Pharmacy. There was somebody at the party on Saturday who does booking for that place. Supposed to get a call.  Things are picking up. 

Well that's all the news I can come up with for the moment. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Monday to you! For now, ich bin outa here. More later. 


Easter Sunday  

Good morning, whoever-reads-this! It's about 9:45 in the am, 52 degrees at the moment. A beautiful day in the neighborhood. Working on that first cup of coffee, slowly bringing the world into focus. Screw carpe diem. I like to ease into my day. 

Music news. I've had a couple of gigs lately. Yesterday and last Friday. The picture is from the Friday gig, at Boone's. Jaro Howse, Ben Taylor, me, and Mark Russillo. I always open up that second set for a few folks to sit in. We also had John Coss sitting in on drums. 

Yesterday's gig was at someone's house, between Spfld and Mechanicsburg. A birthday party for a friend. Musically, that was me and Ben and Nikola Djokic on drums. I couldn't pronounce his name, but now that I've had to spell it, I'll probably do better. Got some pictures from yesterday's event as well.

I brought my trusty digital camera with me for both gigs, and captured a handful of things from both. Quite a lot to go through last night. I've been wanting to put live stuff on my YouTube page for a good while now, and finally put my money where my mouth is. Or was..

So I posted three selections on the page, and have a few more to put up. I'll still be posting videos from here in the Music Laboratory, but hopefully more interspersed with music made with other humans. 

I've been working a lot here at home, in the Lab, practicing with either a metronome or playalong recording. And I've made some progress, especially in the rhythm department. And I could hear that yesterday, playing with a real live rhythm section. Some progress made, still a few things that need work. 

Nothing else on the books at the moment, but--to quote Ahnold--I'll be back. I think that's a line from The Terminator. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Easter Sunday to you! Ich bin outa here. More later. 

PS RIP, Julia Hoffman. Your struggles are over.