The Bleu Note


Good morning! Once again, earlier than I usually post. Usually I'm still sawing logs at 8:57, but I'm up today. Still got my RDA of seven hours and change, so I'm as alert as I'm gonna be. Coffee is still the magic elixir, whatever the morning hour. 

My rehearsal last night ended up being a lot more fun than I'd anticipated. The drummer for this gig was someone I'd worked with over 50 years ago, so we had stories out the yinyang. We both played in the Bob Graham Quartet, and had a Friday/Saturday gig at what was then The Flaming PIt, in Town & Country Shopping Center. Bob on saxophone and clarinet, Ben Drake on piano(or guitar), me on bass; Bill Waldmire on drums. Robert Johnson, whom we knew and loved as Hoppy,  was our original drummer. 

 I was all of 14 years old. Very shy. Bill called me Silent Sam on occasion, trying to get a rise out of me.. Meeting him again after all these years, I told him "now they can't shut me up". But it was a great education as far as music. I spent every penny I made on jazz albums, and damn near every waking moment listening. 

And here we are a half-century later.  Quite the geriatric ensemble we've got going: ages 65(Mark), 66(me), 79(Bill Waldmire), 80(John Crisp)and 84(Ada Lou). All of us on Medicare! We will be in front of the Old Capitol on the north side of the Square on Saturday, July 31st. 5 to 7. Hope you see you there!

I must say, it feels pretty damn good getting back out of the house. Enjoying a bit of quiet today though. I'm not as shy at 66 as I was at 14, but still get overloaded after an evening of socializing and have to recharge the batteries. From introvert to ambivert..

Today promises to be a guitar day. Some shedding along with recharging. I'll probably get the digital camera in on it, and if I come up with anything, I'll be all too glad to share. So thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! Happy Thursday to you! For now, this one's outa here. More later. 


PS Today's pic goes back about a half-century. From left to right: Bill Waldmire, Bobby Graham, Ben Drake and me. 

PPS Today's tune is one of mine, called Kimber Lee. Hope you like it!


Good morning! It's 9:30, a little earlier than I usually post. These are usually done about an hour after this. Couldn't seem to sleep past 8:30 this morning. Some strange dreams that I actually remember but wish I didn't.. There was one dream from awhile ago, where I went through it with something stuck to my face(!). Right, they sometimes get lost in translation..

Music news. I have a rehearsal this evening, for a couple hours. I don't like rehearsing, and like to keep it short and sweet when I have to do it. Two good hours should cover all our bases. But the music will be fun to play, and the people involved get a nice sound, so it'll all come out in the wash.

It's for a job on July 31st. 5 to 7 at the Old State Capitol. I don't know the occasion, but that's my next gig. I do have another one coming up, but the date is still undetermined: either 7/12 or 8/16. And finally, I have an hour of solo guitar on August 31st. Noon to one, on the south side of the Square. 

And those are all my trips out of the house for the next couple months. I love seeing things opening back up. Starting to hear from more folks, and getting back some semblance of a social life. I don't need a lot in that regard, but I do need some. 

Today will be a busy day. It's an exercise day, and I'm gonna try and get back over to the Fit Club, where I haven't been in months. Still working out at home twice a week, but need the cardio in there, lest I start getting a belly again. And maybe even some time with the guitar. We'll see. 

A skimpy post today. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! Happy Hump Day to you. For now, je suis outa here. More later. PS today's pic is of visionary guitarist Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap, probably voicing one of his trenchant observations about music.  Today's tune is a thing called Fun(k)for Fido. It's on a CD of mine called Jammin with Sam. Operators are standing by to take your order. 

A perfect Summer day  

Good morning, whoever-reads-this. It's now 10:22 on this perfect Summer day. It's a balmy 69 degrees here in the house, which feels just right. Easier to feel motivated.

In High School, my brother founded an organization called LUMP, which stood for Largely Unmotivated Persons. He even had cards made up, with a place to put your picture. This was a trick though. If you put your picture in there, that would show motivation and thereby disqualify you. I was hoping I still had my card, which I had in my wallet for the damnedest time, but it's flown the coop. 

I don't know how many actual members he had but there were a few. My brother also wanted to have the group listed in the Yearbook, which would've been a picture of the Faculty Advisor and empty risers- since none of the LUMPs were motivated enough to show up.

My brother has had his share of harebrained ideas just like me. Same DNA, God help us..

Music stuff. I'm playing a job with Chahrm on July 31st at the Old Capitol, 5 to 7.  Chahrm is John Crisp and Ada Lou and a few other folks. Getting together with them tomorrow evening to run some tunes. 

August 31st, from noon to one, is a solo guitar gig. I'll be on the south side of the Square, hopefully out of the heat. That will be a long hour, playing by myself, but should still be fun. Hope to see a few folks at this one. 

And there's a third, date TBA, at The Alamo. Either July 12 or August 16. With Dan Rivero and Co, whoever that may be. 

At this point, I'm pretty settled in my retirement. I like having all this time to myself- though I did get lonesome in this past year, with the isolation forced on us by the Pandemic. And I'm increasingly averse to anything resembling work.

As long as it's still fun, I'll continue to make occasional trips out of the house to play music. But I feel like some of those folks from my working days who were called back out of retirement. They liked to say that they were one bad day away from retirement, or re-retirement as it were.  Similarly, I am one bad gig away from that myself. Haven't played it yet, so we're still good...

Okay. We're at that point once again. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! Happy Tuesday to you. For now, I'm outa here. More later.  PS Today's pic was taken on the road. Some of the indignities I had to endure, like our 50s medley.. Today's tune is a thing I wrote many moons ago called Charles Manson Eyes. There was a girl I was seeing who was reading Helter Skelter, and actually thought I looked a little bit like Manson. So another song title was born. It has a few technical problems here and there, but should still be an entertaining listen. 



Oh no! It's Monday!  

Good morning, whoever-reads-this! It's 9 minutes after 10 on this least favorite day of the week. Settling in with that first cup of coffee.

I just noticed a post on Facebook by someone who's around my age ,that talked about her coffee consumption. She's apparently got a busy day ahead of her. Working on her second pot, likely to be a three-pot-day. I don't like to give out names in here--even my own--but she's a singer who's still actively pursuing a career. You'd know the name. Of course I wish her every success, but I have to add the following caveat: speed kills. 

During my working years, I used to put away coffee by the potful. It was available all day. Got me through my 7.5 hours of government service, but made it tougher to wind down once I got home. So I'd mix in a Corona or several until homeostasis was achieved. Okay, drunkenness. Not much of a balancing act.

 Corona went out with the bathwater soon after retiring, and coffee reverted back to one pot per day. That comes out to about three cups and change. And that's all I allow myself. If one pot doesn't do it for the day, then nothing will..

Music stuff. There is a new post on YouTube you might enjoy. Body and Soul. A ballad, for a change. And one of my favorites. I took a different approach to this one, trying to play simpler lines. More direct speech, so to speak. It's much harder playing a few well-placed notes. But a much more powerful statement--if you get the right ones..

I've been concentrating on the guitar these days. Basic technique and all, but also trying to find different ways of playing. There are always great people to listen to, and thanks to the good old www, from all kindsa locations. Norway has produced at least three fine guitarists, two of whom are my friends on Facebook,  and there's a young guy from Serbia who's been tearin' it up- to name a few. 

So I listen to these people and try to cop what they're doing, and fit it to my own playing. Adam Rogers and Jonathan Kriesberg are two other players I'm paying a lot of attention to these days. Still working on getting better..

Not writing anything new, but I do have some stuff you guys haven't heard. Soon enough, I'll have even more CDs for sale. Plenty of musical merch in there already, but making these recordings is just what I do. It keeps me going.

A slightly longer post today. I guess the first couple paragraphs were my version of a PSA. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! Happy Monday to you if that's possible! For now, ich bin outa here. More later. PS Today's pic was taken in 1999 in Manhattan, specifically the Times Square area, which was fairly abandoned, being a Monday night. All the Broadway shows had the night off. And yes, there was a cop standing right there. Today's tune is one of mine, called Oop Bop Sh' Bang, from a CD of the same name. Andy Burtschi, Craig Russo and me. Hope you like it!






Good morning! 10:15 or so on this cloudy Sunday. It's also Father's Day. I'm enjoying the fact that Facebook is refreshingly bereft of political posts today, what with all of us honoring our Dads. 

Mine checked out in March of 1992, just shy of his 65th birthday. He retired at 60, and got to enjoy four years of it before Cancer took him. Lung Cancer-specifically Oat Cell Carcinoma. Strangely enough, this was the same Cancer that took my Father-in-Law. By the time Dad got checked out, it had travelled to the Liver and Brain. 

He kept his sense of humor to the end. After a battery of tests he told me, "well son, my Liver's just fine!" Gallows humor, but still humor. I would stop by every day after work to watch Jeopardy with him in those dark days. Felt fortunate that there wasn't anything to repair between us, as in so many family relationships.

I think the reason some Fathers and Sons, and likewise Mothers and Daughters, have trouble getting along is that they're so much alike. As I get older I see more and more of my Dad in me. Music, obviously, but also his love of language- and his sociability, coupled with the need for solitude.

My Dad probably seemed like an extrovert to the outside world, but at home he would hole up in his back room recharging those batteries. Except for the occasional Poker games, we didn't see many people around the house. He had a million acquaintances, but very few close friends. 

I was lucky to be able to bail from the workforce a year early. Just shy of my 59th birthday. In the back of my mind, though, I always wondered if I'd get four good years of retirement and then come down with something that'd take me out of the game just like Dad. An irrational fear perhaps, but one I couldn't quite shake. 

At the ripe old age of 66, going on 67, I've long since passed that point. It came and went, but was noted. Still here. I take this to mean that I have more to do in my own life. 

Dad has been gone from this realm of existence for 29 years, but is still around in spirit. I'm just gonna leave things there and not elaborate- lest we have a whole 'nother post on our hands here. 

So. Happy Fathers Day, whoever-reads-this! Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it. For now, I'm outa here. More later. PS Today's tune is a thing called Blues on a Hot Fudge Sunday. It has a melody in 3-part harmony, something akin to Western Swing maybe. Sorry, but here comes the plug: it's on my CD Jazz Guitar. Operators are standing by to take your order...


Good morning and happy Juneteenth! It's 9:47 on this otherwise dismal rainy Saturday. June 19, 1865 was the date the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 was signed into law. The real deal seems to have been December 6th of that year, when the 13th Amendment was ratified. But June 19th remains as the date to remember.  Better late than never...

La News Musicale. It's a fried telephone book. We gave it a fancy French name and you ordered it! One of my favorite cartoons from the National Lampoon during their heyday. But I digress...

As far as my musical doings lately, it's been a lot of guitar work. Trying to step up the practicing, what with a couple gigs on the horizon. 7/31 at the Old State Capitol on the north side of the Square, 5 to 7 ; 8/31 on the south side of the Square from noon to one; and either 7/12 or 6/16 at The Alamo, 7 to 10.

Strangely enough, all downtown, and close proximity at that. So that's my gig circuit for the next couple months. A far cry from when I first retired, but still keeping my hand in there. One or two in a month is just fine anymore.

I'd really like to be working my own group, which is trio with bass and drums- and possibly a saxophonist. I can think of two who'd fit that bill very nicely. Booking gigs is something I've always hated doing, but I guess I'm gonna have to inure myself to it.

Missing the days of working with Perfect Impressions. A booking agency out of Decatur, for the uninitiated. They would do the grotty work of getting the gigs, and I'd just have to show up and play them.  Sometimes it'd be an off-the-rack fit, like a 4 hour gig at the Crowne Plaza on solo guitar during the World Series. Suffice it to say, the crowd was not too appreciative of the poor guitarist up there  earning his money the hard way. But they did get me some very nice trio engagements in there- and fairly lucrative at that!

This looks like enough reading matter for you. It's enough writing material for me, at any rate. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! Happy Juneteenth to you! For now, I'm outa here. More later. PS today's tune is called Good Trouble. I gave it that title after the late Senator from Georgia, John Lewis. Hope you like the tune!






Good morning! It's 10:15 on this soon-to-be-sweltering  Friday. I have two errands today, which I may just try to get in before noon. The fit will hit the shan after that. Plenty of fluids here in the house for me and Cindy. Cindy is my cat- or quadraped as my brother would put it- and has been with me since 2009. Still going strong..

News musicale. Three jobs coming up this Summer, and all of them downtown. 7/31 with John Crisp and Ada Lou at the Old Capitol; 8/31 solo guitar on the south side of the Square; and something at the Alamo on either 7/12 or 6/16. 

What I really want to do, as long as I'm out here dog-dancing around, is my own gigs. Robbie's would be my first choice, but they show no signs of re-opening in the foreseeable future. This means I'm going to have to book something myself, something I hate doing but have to go through if I want to work under my own name. 

I don't want to be a sideman anymore. I'm still glad to  help out here and there as a sub, but otherwise I'm old and persnickety and have my own ideas about how things should be done. Miles Davis talked about this in his Autobiography, how most of his sidemen went on to form their own bands. The way of Nature....

So this is stuff I'm looking at as I get back into the world. Life always has its challenges. 

In the immediate future, I just might see what kind of trouble I can get into on the other side of the room here- my Music Lab, as it were, with its makeshift recording studio and assorted electronics. My newest efforts there can be found on the Music page of my website. 

Okay, we've reached that point once again, where I've long since run out of stuff to say. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it. Happy Friday to you!  If you've worked all week, happy POETS Club. Piss on everything, tomorrow's Saturday. A co-worker with the State used to crack that old joke every Friday. It actually helped. 

Anyway! I'm outa here. More later.  PS Today's pic was taken in Japan(as you might have figured from the banner!) Dave Burdick, Frank Trompeter, Tim Harte, Brian Pryor, me. November of 1995.  Today's tune is a new one. Hope you like it. 



Good morning! Just this side of ten, another scorcher on the way. The dog days will be with us for awhile.. Enjoying that first cup of coffee and slowly coming alive here. This is one of the nice things about retirement, that you can wake up every day at your own pace, rather than being jarred into awareness by your alarm clock. 

In Aesop's Fable, I would be the Hare,  hands down. Too much damn energy.. But I definitely have my Tortoise side as well. 

The world of music. 'Tis the season. I now have three gigs coming up: July 31st, August 31st, and another one either 7/12 or 8/16. This last one is at the Alamo, for their Blue Monday series. I've done a good number of those over the years, even under my own name on a couple occasions. I may look into doing another gig of my own in there. 

So I'm going with the flow, as it were. It's time to get back out of the house. It's everybody's time to get back out of the house for that matter. 

There was a person I worked with for the State who used to view Monday as another chance to get it right. I  never particularly liked her or that sentiment, but it's what I'm feeling about now. As I re-emerge into the world of gigs I'm aware of some things I could've done better in the past. Maybe this time out I'll get it right..

Whether that comes to pass or not, I plan on having me some fun. And there will come a day when it's time to go back to the Lab. to recharge these introvert batteries and come up with more stuff. So it goes. Everything in its time..

Another skimpy post. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! Happy Thursday to you! For now, I'm outa this place. More later. 

Today's tune, Watch Out for the Cereal People, is a sillyassed electronic piece I wrote fairly recently. Hope you like it. 

Somehow it's Tuesday  

Good morning! It's Tuesday here in the best of all possible worlds. Around 9:30, which is a little early for me but i still got my beauty sleep- so I'm more or less ready for whatever life throws at me today. 

In the world of music, I have two dates coming up. First is a thing at the Old Capitol downtown on July 31st, with a few folks. My second gig is also downtown, on the south side of the Square, at it's on August 31st. Noon to one. So two downtown gigs, both at the end of their respective months. 

After a year of isolation, I'm just glad to be getting back out of the house. Before all this started, I was starting to develop a better social life, something that got shot to hell after last March. I used to have one, way back when--but it got lost in the shuffle during my working years. So as things start to reopen, I'm coming back to where I was at with all this. 

And that's where I'm picking back up. Looking forward to those two new dates on the calendar, but more so to getting a life as it were. That is to say, getting my life back. One thing about this long period of hermitage is that you come to an understanding of what needs fixing the most. 

Okay. Enough dark introspection. Doing some more practicing these days, and posting things to my YouTube page. The newest entry is a great old Cole Porter song called Just One of Those Things.  I will most likely get into some more trouble with the guitar today, and as always will share whatever is salvageable. 

Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! Happy Tuesday to you. For now, I'm outa here. More later.  PS Today's pic was taken back in the late 80s by Ed Clark. He's still my "official photographer" might just do an update with him one of these days.  PPS Today's tune is called Of An Easy Afternoon. A nice lazy groove, Slowpoke Rodriguez music.

Monday Monday  

Good morning! It's about 20 minutes shy of eleven. Another beautiful Summer day on hand, probably to turn scorching later in the day. So far so good though. This is the first good night's sleep I've gotten in about a week. Still a crazy world out there, but somehow more hospitable on seven or more hours of shuteye. 

Musical news. With the gig I had last Saturday, I guess I'm back. After playing a series of gigs that were a major drag because of our proximity to the noisyass crowd, I needed one that wasn't like that. Last Saturday, we had all the room we needed, and ended up eating like Kings. So my faith has been restored. 

As long as they're still fun, gigs will always be a part of what I do. I'll continue to take breaks when I've had enough, but I always seem to bounce back. At least so far...

Remembering a conversation I had with a student at Walko's, way back in the day. It tickled me a little bit, may have that effect on you.

ME-  what happened to your hand?

STUDENT- I got in a fight. 

ME(going into lecture mode)-If you fight, don't play. If you play, don't fight. So what happened?

STUDENT-He thought he could take me.

ME-For Christ's sake! Who cares who could take who?! That's High School shit!

STUDENT- well, I'm in High School.

ME- oh...

I even remember the student's name, but won't give it out here. Never saw the kid after that. He probably remembers that conversation though.

Okay. So that's all I've got for you on this Monday morning. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I do appreciate it! For now, je suis outa here. More later. 

PS The pic I've shared before. It goes back to 1986, The Blacks, Whites and Blues Festival held in the now-defunct John Hay Homes. From left to right, me, Diana Thompson(seated), David Hoffman, Art Carey, Larry Nelson(whom we called Hubba), Jeff Davis, Frank Vanes. 

PPS Today's tune is called Just a sittin'-and-a Scratchin'(a play on words off of Duke Ellington's Just a-sittin and-a-rockin').  It's not quite CD-worthy, but has its moments. Hope you like it.