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Holy Moley!  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! 

A pretty good day in Samland. Some actual Music News, for a change. I guess we should make it official:

Music News. My latest post on my YouTube page has gotten a lot of listens today. Approaching 1000. For me, that's a lot! I've also picked up 15 or so new subscribers. Also a lot, at least for one day. Not your usual Samland Statistics..

I enjoy the comments from people who've listened to my efforts on the guitar on YouTube. There was one question I got a particular kick out of, more rhetorical than anything: 

“Fucking hell- how do you make this sound effortless?”

I started to dash off an answer, but couldn't conjure up anything to respond with. Couldn't put the words together. Mainly, I'm thinking, because it sure as hell doesn't feel effortless! Despite whatever illusion I may be creating here, I'm working at it. 

Actually, the answer is a paradox. Or maybe one of them Zen Koan things. You achieve effortlessness(or at least the illusion thereof)through great effort. Practicing scales and arpeggios and patterns over and over and over again until you're sick to death of them. Hours of playing with  a metronome, the frustration of trying to align yourself without rushing or dragging. Yours truly has had one hell of a time working on his time. 

If you've been doing your work with the scales and whatnot, as well as Mean Old Mister Metronome, you are going to feel looser, more relaxed. But I have yet to get to the point where it feels effortless. If that even exists…I'm still working at it. 

Anyway! Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. And thanks to those folks for subscribing, if they happen to read today's blog. So, ich bin outa here. More later.


Still At It  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! I just completed my second of two workouts for this week. It's a combination of isometric and weight-training exercises, and takes about 45 minutes to get through.

 I worked out some with weights in my early twenties, to try to gain bulk. Went from a bony 120 lbs to 130 in the first year, then put on another 10 pounds, which felt like my ideal weight. Ended up weighing 150-something. Some muscle, but a pretty good beer gut which was hellacious to get rid of. 

At this point, at the end of my 60s, I'm back to the Before Picture. But more wire and sinew than I started with. Extra bulk would be nice- especially in the calves and forearms(they're at least getting gnarlier!)- but I'm doing this now just to keep everything working, regardless of its aesthetic appearance. 

Staying ambulatory is the main priority these days…

Music news. I had a few goals at the beginning of this year that fell by the wayside. One of these was a new solo guitar album. Part of this has to do with getting some playing in with an old friend from High School days- something I haven't forgotten about.  Another was making some recordings for the YouTube page with real live musicians. There's no expiration date on either of these, so I can still get ém done whenever. 

Sometimes in life, you have to deal with non-musical stuff. This year has had a fair amount of it. 

In the meantime, still practicing most every day, and making my practice room videos. Sometimes my practice routine is just scales and arpeggios and patterns, usually with a click track(what I call the Castor Oil stuff); and other times it's focused on playing tunes. After 57 years of doing this, I still have to practice to keep my fingers limber. It's maintenance, not unlike the physical stuff I put myself through twice a week. 

Anyway. It's been about a week since I've written anything in here. And somebody or other has been visiting the site. So thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Saturday to you! Later,




Greetings, whoever-reads-this! It's a cloudy day in the neighborhood. Mother Nature's unsmiling--or, if you prefer, deadpan-- face. The sky is darkening, so it looks like She's gonna lay a shower on us. Tears of Demeter. 

I should check my facts here, but I'm more the type to just take my chances and go for it. As long as it isn't about Politics. So, remembering some stuff from Mythology. Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, was consigned--tricked, really-- to living in Hell for six months out of every year. Demeter wept, and her grieving gave us the Seasons. At least Winter.

Music news. Musically speaking, this has been a relatively inactive year for me. Three gigs, all near the beginning of the year, and only one new album. (Yeah, I did get a bit crazy during the COVID years as far as productivity.) But that's been the pattern for me , for a couple years running. A couple gigs, then back here to the Lab for the rest of the year. 

But music is something I'll never really retire from. It's never got me fame or fortune, but it has brought--and continues to bring--great joy.  So yeah, I'm still workin' it. Still practicing most every day, and I'm sure I've got another album or several in me..

And that, skimpy as it may be, is at least the music news. Otherwise, just doing my same stuff. Exercising twice a week, helping my brother with a few things. And binge-watching NYPD Blue on Hulu. I could probably do a whole blog just on the Dennis Franz character--who, strangely enough, has a Chicago accent. in the midst of all the Noo Yawk dialects. Thanks for reading. Later.

PS I checked my facts. I was right, for once..






Patriot Day  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! I didn't know what to call this blog, so I just looked at the calendar.

 Remembering the original 9/11, back in 2001. Our office closed at noon. I spent the rest of the day riveted to the TV, watching in horror. That was 22 years ago, but I still remember it as if it were today. It was my generation's Pearl Harbor.

I have friends who worked in New York City,  in the middle of what must've been  pandemonium(even for NYC!). It took them six hours to get home- and they live 8 miles from the city. In Nutley, New Joysey.

This is a musician's website, and as such, usually has nothing to do with current events--or even not-so-current ones. With the exception of U2, and maybe a few others, musicians are notoriously unaware of such matters. Mozart, in his correspondences, was supposed to have never had anything to do with the political climate of his time. He just talked about whatever piece he was writing. 

But I couldn't fail to mention this day, no matter how musicianly oblivious I may be to what's going on around me..

Okay! Back to Music News. I'm still practicing most every day, and posting to my YouTube page. I'm still getting new subscriptions, one or two at a time, and also getting some nice comments from listeners. This will never be a money-making venue--you need at least a thousand subscribers, among other things--but it is a way of getting it out there. 

My next move is getting some folks--bass-playing and drum-playing folks-- over here. To make more videos, and just to be making music with other humans. I figure if I do this every so often, it'll take care of both these needs. And maybe even lead to some playing outside the house. What a concept, right?

This has been a helluva year. Domestic and family problems out the ass. The house has had its major problems fixed, but I'm still helping with family matters. Most every weekend, one day or the other, plus a few appointments here and there during the week. Between that, and trying to maintain an exercise regimen, I'm about as busy as I need to be.

So in between all this, I'm still committed to making music and sharing it. More to come. T

Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading! For now, I'm outa this place. More later.





Labor Day Weekend  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. While I'm channeling Mr. Rogers, one of my cats is sitting just to the right of the monitor, and staring at the screen as if she's actually reading this. Well, we don't know they can't…

Music news. Yesterday was a great day for playing guitar. I've got a number of videos to show for it, and will be posting more stuff on my YouTube page, and on Facebook. I remember a similar experience playing a gig at Norb's, as a sideman, where everything I played just came together. The bandleader just said, “Yeah, all your shit worked.” 

Poor guy. He'd probably had to sit through more than a few nights when none of my shit worked..

After 57 years of doing this, I still have to work at it. I still have to do the calisthenics--scales and arpeggios and the like--which are still a bit grueling, especially the arpeggios. What I call Crosstown Traffic on the guitar. And the metronome work. Oy, don't get me started on the metronome work. I've had to work like a dog on my time, my rhythm. 

Sometimes my best days with the guitar are days when I exercise. Trying to keep up there as well, with two sessions every week. I'm pretty spent after those, but usually get a second wind. One discipline helps another. 

This discipline stuff is foreign to my nature, but I'm trying to stick with it. Problem is,  I get going on a routine, and then it falls by the wayside. Time after time. Trying to avoid that this time. My Mom was big on self-discipline. Neither of her kids ever had much, but this one is at least giving it a shot. Once again….

So that's basically it as far as my news. Just trying to stay regular. Not in terms of having enough fiber in my diet, but just keeping up my routines. Mental routines as well as physical and musical ones. 

Every day also  includes a Wordle puzzle, a Spelling Bee game, and 5 games on Lumosity. Like guitar practice, lots of fun but grueling here and there. 

Speaking of which, it's probably about time to get back to them. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Sunday to you! Ich bin outa this place More later.




What's My Next Move?  

In the last one of these I wrote, I promised to lead with music news. This has been a bigger year for domestic and family stuff, so I've had to put my music on the back burner. But a promise is a promise…

Music news. It's been sporadic this year, but there has been a bit of music news. I had three gigs around the first three months of the year. One was with Ocean State, and two were my own. There is some trio stuff from this year on my YouTube page. Mainly practice sessions--sometimes you play your best on those--but also a few gigs here and there. Also released an album, called Hanging On. This is the address on YouTube.

The pattern has been a few gigs around the first three months of the year, then getting into various home projects for the other nine. I've tried on a couple of occasions to keep things going after my annual gig at Boone's, but it's fizzled every time out. Gone soft on me…

So maybe that's what wants to happen. I still make music year-round, even if most of it is spent here in the cloistered confines of the Music Lab. And at least there is still a gig or two I can invite folks to. 

As far as any kind of next move on my part, it's a bit early in the year for my Boone's gig, so probably another project here in the Lab. I've also been thinking about working up more solo guitar stuff. I dunno. Something…

Non-music news. Trying to stay regular with the exercising. At this age(69), it's gotta be a priority.  I've got a routine which is pretty comprehensive: calisthenics, then 3 different leg exercises(some with weights); pushups, dumbbell curls, reverse curls, and 2 sets of leg lifts. Takes about 45 minutes. 

Also still binge-watching NYPD Blue. I could go on here, but I'll just leave you with one line, delivered by one of the Detectives to a street hustler of the Men's Room variety:

“You're goin'down- no pun intended!”

And with that, thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. I'm outa here. More later. 


Those Solar Rays  

We're in the midst of a heat wave around these parts, we here in the midst of Illinois. The vast flyover part of our great State. 

At the moment, it's 99 degrees, with a Heat Index of 116. All this started on Wednesday. I was fine until yesterday afternoon, when the Central Air went kaput. More precisely, a part went kaput, rendering the system incapable of starting back up. All I was getting was fan air, which kept things tolerable but still pretty grim. 

Turns out it was a capacitor. Whether or not it was a Flux Capacitor(which, at least according to legend, is what makes time travel possible)I wasn't able to ascertain. All I know is that the house is cooling back down. Always nice when cool or heat returns. I even have an album, called Toasty Relief, which was inspired by having heat restored to the house. 

Gatschenberger is my go-to person for these things. Maybe this will be helpful to someone here in Illinois's solar plexus who is in need of cool. Or heat, for that matter. I've been working with them pretty much since I moved in here back in 1996. Both in the dead of Winter and the dog days of Summer. Someone was here within a couple hours of my call. 

So the place is cooling down, bit by bit. The temperature reading on the thermostat was originally 85 degrees, but was down to 82 the last time I checked. Back in bi'niz.. 

Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading this drivel. Happy Friday to you! For now, I'm outa here. Some kinda music news next time. 

Sam Crain: Lawn NInja  

I've had fairly limited Martial Arts experience in my life. A couple months of Karate, and a little over a year with Tae Kwon Do. These are both ancient history at this point in my life, but I do have a little more--and much more recent-- experience as a Lawn Ninja. 

This machete--I don't know what else you'd call it--was a gift from my neighbor. It's fun to use and it makes some noise. All boys like things that make noise. So I've used it over the years to try and tame the shrubbery around the house. 

I've had a lot of work done on this old place over this past year. They put up a new roof, and tidied things up front and back with power-washing, as well as cleaned up the lawn. This inspired--and shamed--me into getting back into taking care of my own lawn, something I'd gotten lazy and farmed out to the neighbor kid. Got myself a nice electric mower(see previous posts),and just today got the machete back out. Ready to rawk…

Speaking of Music News, the guitar is still getting a more-or-less daily workout as well. Playing my sunburst Epiphone ES-335 a lot these days. I'm still keeping my YouTube page alive , with a new post every couple of days. I also try and share music videos on Facebook. 

At the moment, my life is about as busy as I need it to be, between taking care of my house, getting enough exercise(Doctor's orders- or at least recommendations), and helping my brother with a few things. Oh, and practicing. Subject to change, of course, but that's what's happening at the moment. 

I'm also binge-watching NYPD Blue on Hulu. Currently about in the middle of the 6th Season. New York is my favorite big city, so I enjoy the visuals. Interestingly enough, Dennis Franz, who plays the irascible Detective Sipowicz, has a Chicago accent. It's a nice contrast to everyone else, who usually has an authentic Noo Yawk accent. 

Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. For now, ich bin outa here. More later. 



Music Stuff  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! I'm here in the Music Lab, seeing whatever kind of trouble I can stir up. 

One thing that's got me a little bit riled up is the fact that there are no more Music Retailers here in Spiffld. I was needing a new Instrument Cable, formerly known as a guitar cord. Time was, you could get these needs met either at Walko's at 1120 S 2nd street, or at the House of Music at 3rd and North Grand. The closest thing we've got now are two Monster Pawn shops, one of which just happens to be at the site of the old House of Music. As it turned out, the store on South MacArthur had one of what I was looking for. Being pawn shops, they deal a lot more with instruments than accessories. 

I remember going through this trying to find my favorite kind of guitar pick a few years back. I think they're called small teardrops. The Rock Shop used to carry them. After they closed, you couldn't find ém anywhere. I finally got online and found Sweetwater, who did have them- even in the color I wanted. They drove me a little nutty for awhile thereafter with all their follow-up calls and emails, but that's not the worst thing in the world..

So maybe they're now my go-to people for Instrument Cables as well as picks. Might just order up a bunch of them. For the moment, though, I do have one serviceable cord. 

As a younger guy, I had the bad habit of hanging on to my cords even after they started to short out. For awhile in there, if someone heard a buzzing cord, they'd assume Sam was on the gig. That's a rep I had to get rid of as best I could. 

As a so-called adult, I don't bring funky cords with me if I'm playing a gig, but I will hang onto them here in the Lab if I can get just a little more action out of them. Still working on that bad habit, I guess..

Actually, the demise of retail music came about with the birth of the online music store . Places like Musician's Friend and Sweetwater just eviscerated them- at least around here. I still tried to give the local merchants my business when I could- when it was feasible. But it was often a much better deal online. 

So yeah, today I'm missing the old neighborhood music stores. Walko's and House of Music, and the Rock Shop, were also places for musicians to hang out. Many of us taught lessons there, so you'd be there all day waiting for your students to show up. And you'd always have at least one cancellation, so you'd have some spare time. 

This is probably enough outa me for the time being. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Happy Tuesday to you! Ich bin outa here. More later. 

Happy Birthday to ME!  

Yep. At 8:57 this evening, I'll officially be sixty-nine years old. My last year to be sixty-something. Those born on this date in 1963 will be enjoying- or decrying- their first year to be sixty-something. 

Some years back, I had an Astrological Chart done. It's probably still in the possession of a woman I used to see. She had more of a belief than I did in such things. As regards things Occult, I'm open-minded but skeptical. Actually, I look at it more as a quasi-science than a  pseudo-science. ``In the scheme of things, grand or otherwise, it's coloration

So yeah, I'm a Leo with Pisces rising and a Capricorn moon. And that's all I remember about it. I did enjoy Linda Goodman's Sun Signs, a book I borrowed from another woman I knew. I thought Linda Goodman had good people-smarts, as far as that went. I liked her characterizations. The book was bathroom reading for several decades, until it finally fell apart. Literally. In my hands…

Other August 10 folks include Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, bandleader Claude Thornhill, and a few actors and actresses: Rosanna Arquette, Antonio Banderas, Eddie Fisher, Jimmy Dean, Peggy Fleming. Not particularly distinguished..

I'm celebrating the day by doing damn near absolutely nothing. Doing the daily nerd stuff on the computer: Wordle, Spelling Bee, and Lumosity. Maintenance work for my noodle. Working my way around to the guitar. 

Music News. I've got some jazz originals that have been sitting around, speaking of working your way around to stuff. Many of the download recordings I've been putting out are just an accumulation of material. When I get enough, I release something. So this is in the works. 

And that's all I've got for you. At least for now. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading, especially on my natal anniversary and all. Happy Thursday to you! Ich bin outa here. More later.

PS the cover pic was taken in Houston TX sometime in 1985. I'd have been 30 or 31 years old. The guitar was a gold top Les Paul, which I'd had for a number of years.

Today's tune is from my album Tele-ology. It's a take-off on the standard Lover, Come Back to Me. Same changes, and the melody is retrograded-- or bass-ackwardsed…




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Sam Crain

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