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Keep your fans up to date on your latest news with our Blog feature. You can even upload podcasts here! If you need some ideas on what to write about, check out this post with 13 topics that musicians can blog about.

Cat Ballou  

It is truly a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A great day for running errands, especially dreaded ones. 

My dreaded errand today was taking my two cats to the Vet. They both had ear issues, which is partly ear-mites and partly just an accumulation of gunk in there. And there are some eardrops which I'm supposed to administer every 3 days for the next 2 weeks. 

Cats are very low-maintenance pets, except for those trips to the Vet. It's traumatic for them, so they make sure it's a pain in the ass for you as well, meowing all the way there and all the way back. And then there's the matter of administering whatever medication the Vet orders up. Dmitri, my tomcat, literally fought me tooth and nail. I got the drops in on my second attempt, after licking my wounds from the first try. 

On Wednesday I get to give the eardrops to both cats. Hopefully they'll have forgotten by then. I got some helpful hints, and even an offer to hold my cats while I put in the drops. The best time seems to be when they're sleeping. Otherwise, you have to get them calmed down as much as possible, and just do it as quickly as you can. 

Music news. Over the last couple years, I've turned out a lot of stuff. Mostly downloads but a few bona fide CDs in there. COVID was partly responsible, but I think I just hit a vein. It's tapered off over the last year of so, but I find myself kinda working on a new recording project. Some stuff I never got around to sharing which seems sharable. This one is a combination of fusion and weird electronic music, with a bit of neoclassicism thrown in at the end. 

More to come as it happens. 

As far as the guitar, I'm still on it. At least I'm still getting in the more-or-less daily calisthenics. Scales and arpeggios, and sometimes a Clarinet etude or two. Clarinet music has the same written range as guitar music. Otherwise, of course, it's apples and oranges. Some things fall right under the fingers and others involve a major expedition up or down the neck. 

And part of my practicing involves working with playalong recordings. I got in the habit of taping them, which is pretty much the main content of my YouTube page. I do have some guitar/bass duos on there, and a few gig tapes, but most of the content is just the old man in the undershirt playing his guitar. 

So as far as these attempts  I pick the ones with the best feel. People seem to like the stuff. Still getting new subscribers here and there. Up to 494 at the moment.. Another milestone coming up. I don't make any money from the page, but it's just nice to be able to share your playing with whoever is listening out there. 

Well that's all the news I can think of for the moment. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Much love. More later. 

 

 

 

 

 

Guitar Stuff  

What a day I've had! Started off first thing in the morning- around 9- taking my meds. Something in this process gave me a sore throat.  Then the power went out. It was a popping sound, meaning that the transformer is out. It happens a couple times a year, and lasts about an hour at most. This one was more like half an hour. 

 Then a text on my phone from Xfinity telling me telling me the internet and TV service are on the fritz. So when the power did come back on, it took a couple tries to get the internet back up to snuff. I much prefer a morning where everything works, and in which I can ease into my day. But time and several cups of coffee finally turned things right-side-up. 

Music news. I've been getting some new subscribers for the YouTube page. About 20 or so new people in the last week or so.. For me, that's a lot! And some of these folks leave me comments or questions. This is encouraged. I enjoy the communication, and it's cool when I can help somebody with some aspect of their playing. 

For instance, I had someone ask what scale I used for a particular tune. I wrote back that I just used your basic major and minor scales, but approached it more from the standpoint of melody. In other words, inventing my own melodies, which are usually pretty simple, and building on them. 

Actually, I'm more inclined to mix simple declarative musical statements with longer lines, just like you would in your everyday speech. What the old-timers would call telling a story. Using dramatic contrasts. Using space--something I always to well to remember, being more notey by nature. 

There is no one approach to improvising. Pat Martino had a more virtuosic approach to playing, like you'd hear from some of the 19th century piano masters like Chopin or particularly Liszt. His mojo was in those long, convoluted lines and their distinctive shapes.

 On the other hand, Jim Hall, also a great guitarist, had a more purely melodic approach. He didn't have licks, or lines as such, but rather would improvise from the melody of the tune. He also did a lot more chording. His comping, when working with horn players or piano players, is nothing short of amazing. 

I listen to a lot of players, but I think I'd have to say these two are my absolute favorites- and in very different ways! What I try to do as a guitarist is to combine these two approaches- or at least alternate between them in the most musical way I can. Kind of a “best of both worlds” approach..

One player I think has achieved this kind of synthesis is pianist Michel Petrucciani. Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans rolled up into one. Anyway, this is my two cents for the moment. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading this drivel. Much love. More later. 

 

Finally, another blog  

This used to be a daily thing, writing these blogs. It went with the morning coffee. Somehow I got away from it. The coffee is still there, but blogging has been replaced by an array of computer games: Wordle, then Spelling Bee, and finally Lumosity. 

Wordle is a Facebook thing.  There is a group of us folks who post our daily scores . It's all very sportsmanlike, with none of that one-upsmanship that sometimes rears its ugly head. Back in the days of daygig, I introduced Sudoku to the natives. There was one guy who'd always monogram his games, and leave it in the breakroom for all to see. Oy gevalt. I never got around to telling him I gave everybody different puzzles. 

Music news. This is a time of stuff breaking down. I have a digital camera that's starting to go haywire. It's what I use to make my YouTube videos. When I try to make a video, it shuts down before I'm done. It's a Canon Powershot. Very replaceable, but maybe time to move on. 

The silver lining in this cloud is that shorter videos will probably appeal more to listeners by virtue of the fact that they're now more compact, and don't tie up as much of the listener's time. We'll have to see how that plays out. 

And one of my guitars is now in need of repair. It's an Epiphone ES-335, sunburst. The one I play most these days. Every so often, the jack gets messed up and the bolt and washer have to be reattached. 

 And while I'm there, I have an Ibanez classical electric that needs to be re-strung. It's been sitting around here for years and years. I used to record with it and even play a few gigs. Pretty sure the guitar tech who's fixing my Epiphone ES will be able to re-string a nylon string guitar. 

Looking forward to adding that guitar back to my array of soundz , and maybe even making a couple music videos with it. Not a great picture, but it's all I've got for now. 

A better pic of the ES. Got one in red as well, and even an Epiphone Coupe. I don't have an extensive collection by any means, just a few I've accumulated along the way. I also have a Tele, and a few more ES style guitars, as well as a solidbody or two. Again, they just add up over the years. 

So here, finally, is a new blog. Thanks as always for stopping in and reading. Not much for reading matter, but a few pics of guitars. And something to listen to. I have no idea what that'll be, but something nice. Much love, whoever-reads-this. More later. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Da News  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! It's a beautiful day here in Samland. Some new stuff on the site, besides this blog, is a new tune from my YouTube page and a gig. The tune is Have You Met Miss Jones

Fun fact: Have You Met Miss Jones was written at a time when Richard Rodgers was studying music theory. John Coltrane was also studying with the same teacher. It explains the bridge. Coltrane rubbed off on him. No other Rodgers & Hart tune that I know of--or for that matter, Rodgers & Hammerstein--has a  bridge that  moves around like that. 

The gig I posted isn't until November, but it'll get here. Another Boone's gig. Myself, Ben Taylor and Buddy Rogers will make up the band. I know we'll have fun. 

One thing about having been retired for awhile is that you settle into your own hours, your own bodyclock. Mine seems to be around the middle of the day. Before COVID, I had a number of gigs at one or two in the afternoon. These were your Nursing Home/Assisted Living affairs, which rarely went past two hours. 

These fit perfectly into the scheme of things. Home in time to watch Jeopardy--which was on at 4:30 back then--and have dinner. Of course, the rest of your band has to be retired as well, to make these hours. 

Still playing in, to some extent. We've had some nice sessions, something that was put on hold for awhile, and which our host is now trying to revive. Tough getting everybody there at the same time--just about every musician on the planet has dealt with the horrors of scheduling! -- but it'll eventually come together.  These will also be fun, once they get going. 

I  seem to be “broadcasting” more and more from here in the Music Lab, from either the YouTube page or this here website. I guess that just goes with advancing geezerhood. Having to find  different ways  to do your thing. So the Base of Operations is right here. But I still leave the house on occasion. That door never completely closes..

Back to this day. I figure it will either be a Spartacus Day--conquering an overgrown backyard and alleyway-- or a guitar day- maybe both. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Much love. More later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buddha Blues  

Greetings ,whoever-reads-this.

 It's a nice sunny day in the neighborhood. One of my cats is lounging here on the table, between my keyboard and monitor. Dmitri, my tomcat, is the feline visitor. He likes to spread out, make himself at home. His sister Svetlana also plants herself up here. 

I give them free rein for the very reason that it interrupts--and occasionally disrupts--whatever I'm doing. Finding that with advancing age, life provides more of  these interruptions and disruptions as a matter of course, so it's important to be able to roll with the punches. It's the one you don't see that usually takes you out. 

Music news. A couple of us were supposed to have a get-together tonight and make some music. Being a fairly introverted so-and-so, I'm relieved that I don't have to leave the house, but disappointed that the session didn't happen. Our host had had a finger operated on, and was feeling some discomfort/numbness in his other fingers on the hand. 

He has told me that every time life dumps enough manure in his direction, he starts to contemplate putting together a blues band.. Funny and poignant at the same time. Having had a few setbacks of my own this year, I'm starting to think in that direction myself. 

My brother and I were discussing this, and I made the statement--half-joking but maybe a little bit serious, that the blues is just built into life, as expressed in Buddha's First Noble Truth. (I'm not a Buddhist, or, for that matter, anything else. It was just fun to quote.)

It's commonly stated as All Life is Suffering, but I think that's too simplistic. Better. all life has a certain unsatisfactoriness  to it. Not getting what you want. Getting what you don't want. Even when you get what you want, you're going to lose it eventually. Everything dies. 

Sounds like  fodder for a whole slew of blues songs. Or Country songs, for that matter. Both born from adversity. Similarly cathartic. 

Anyway! Hopefully, we'll all get together next week for a night of music-making and merriment. Strangely enough, after all this talk of adversity, the act of making music is a joyous one- regardless of the actual mood of the music. Miles Davis was quoted as saying, “It's the most fun you can have with your clothes on. ”

And that's what I've got for you for the moment. Thanks as ever for stopping in and wading through all this verbiage. Much love. Bye for now. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oy....   

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! It's been a hell of a day. The news is more domestic, but I'll try to work in some music news at the end. 

This year seems to be a matter of fixing all the stuff I could have but didn't fix last year. 

Last year I got a hole in my roof the size of a basketball. I had some people put up a metal roof, which took care of things until the metal slats started to come loose from the house. So I had to hire another crew this year, who did it right--i.e. removing the existing layers of shingle. Not cheap, but at least I have a roof that's relatively impervious to rain and wind. A roof that will probably outlast me.

Last year my Dentist informed me that some bridgework of mine had to come out. We left it on the back burner , and then it came up today, during a cleaning. I've had a jack o' lantern smile for the past year or so, from a front tooth that came out some time ago(another dental dilemma), so an upper partial would at least give me my smile back. I've felt like a hobo with that missing tooth. Trying to see the positive in what's going to be an adjustment..

And the trifecta in all this is getting a new automobile. I've got an old clunker of a van which  should've been put out to pasture years ago. Past a certain age, it's harder- even impossible- to get parts for your wheels. This will probably be the easiest fix- just a trip out to a car lot like I've always done. And like these other two items, it's something that needs doing. Like sooner rather than later. 

The vicissitudes of life Again trying to stay positive, I've got one out of the three taken care of. And the other two will follow suit. Along with a few bucks..

Music news. There is a jam session on Thursday of this week, with some assorted friends.  It was also supposed to happen tonight, but I figured I wouldn't be much fun, considering the day I had. But considering the day I just had, I'm looking forward to it even more. 

I'm hoping to get back into my makeshift home studio and see what kind of trouble I can get into there. I just need life to settle down for awhile. For now, still on it with the daily practice and the YouTube page. And I've got a few things that I've never put on recordings that I maybe should have. So the wheels are turning..

And that's my news for now. Hope it's more musical and less domestic next time I write one of these. Thanks as ever for stopping in and wading through all this muck. Much love. More later. PS These are two of the ne'er do-wells who will be making music with me on Thursday.

 

Hearth and Hame  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! It's a dark and rainy Friday here in Samland. A busy week. Work done on my house all day Monday, half of Tuesday, all day Wednesday, and a little bit yesterday. I had a chance to evacuate the premises, but chose to stay in the house. 

Monday and Wednesday, the work started at 7am, which is about 2 hours before I usually get up. So those were crispy days, especially Wednesday. It wasn't all that bad--by this point in life, you've likely seen much worse--but a lot of hammering and Mariachi music. And just these strange presences about the house. No one came inside, but one person gestured that he needed a plug(no English, I guess), so I accommodated him. 

I think the toughest part, though,  was abstaining from playing my guitar, or playing music from the computer. It seemed to me that they had their working music, their tunes, to help keep them going, and I might mess up the flow for them. So maybe my own flow got blocked a little bit in the process. 

So today, I'm feeling the effects of a big week. Not sleep-deprived--got a good 8 hours in last night--but just spent. I can feel my battery starting to recharge, but it's got aways to go. 

And that's my news for now. At least my domestic news. Musically, I'm still putting in practice time on the guitar, and taping a playalong or two with me playing along(I guess that's why they call ém playalongs), and just starting to conceptualize yet another recording project. Also hoping to record some brand new stuff, now that things around here are getting back to nermal. 

Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Much love. More later. 

 

Om Sweet Om   

Hello, whoever-reads-this! It's a big week here at Crain Manor. The place is getting itself a new roof. Something I felt needed doing, especially since the roof put up a year ago had started coming undone from the house. 

They started Monday morning, about 7. This is about 2 hours before I usually get up, so the day was a bit crispy around the edges. They covered my vehicle with a tarp so no damage was done, but I did get a nail in one of the tires. This morning, thanks to the rain, I got to sleep in until 8:30, but had the flat to take care of, which ate up about half the day. 

The crew was back here the minute it stopped raining, and worked until sundown. They are now about three quarters of the way done. So they'll be back at 7am, and probably take about half the day finishing up. The thing with an older house is that quite often you have several layers of roof already there from previous fixes. Mine was supposedly built in 1917. Yes, the same year as the Bolshevik Revolution..

Just like this afternoon, the air will be filled with the sound of hammering and Mariachi music as they wrap things up. It's nice tuneful stuff, this Mariachi music. But you feel a little bit like you're at the State Fair getting Cotton Candy.. I was careful today not to play music of my own which would get in the way of their tunes, and somehow mess up the flow. That was the only real challenge, keeping quiet. 

I tried to watch the news tonight, but every time the name David Pecker was mentioned, I'd start laughing. Couldn't help myself. I'd get the giggles, just like a teenager, and would lose what they were talking about. 

But I did get in a very nice session on the guitar today, in between dealing with my vehicle and having them work on my roof. I recorded two tunes, one a minor blues ala Mr PC and the other a sort of modified rhythm changes. This second one in particular was one I'm going to share on YouTube. Almost a shame that sometimes your best stuff happens on your shittiest day..

Okay. That's my two cents for now. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Much love. Later. 

 

 

Happy 4/20!   

Happy 4/20! Hitler's birthday, the first day of Taurus- but mainly, Happy Stoner Day! I'm sure there was some kind of to-do at San Rafael High School, in San Rafael, CA. 

It started with a group of kids meeting every day at 4:20pm to smoke weed. Looking back at my own adolescence, that sounds like tame stuff. I remember my Junior Year of High School smoking every school-day-- on the way to school, at lunch, and on the way home. Thinking back, that was kind of a hazy year. 

The scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High with the van opening up and pot smoke billowing out, as its stoned inhabitants make their way, was pretty much business as usual. In many a High School in the early 70s, mine included. . Personally, I can't imagine not having some sort of exploration going, especially at that age..

And now, since 2020, the stuff's legal! Well, in some states. And decriminalized in a few others. . It's like going to the Grocery Store, as far as the Dispensaries. There's an open area with sales clerks, and you just make your purchase like you'd buy anything else. 

And that's my two cents on 4/20. No music news as such, but I'm still practicing most every day and posting a few things to my You Tube page. I've got a few ideas as far as maybe releasing some more of my music. We'll see where those go.

Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading, Happy 4/20, however you choose to celebrate it! Much love. Later. PS the picture today was taken back in 1985. I was on the road with a band, and literally on the road with them when this was taken. The hat was a memento from Texas. PPS today's tune was written by DC Hall, who led our merry band of misfits. It was recorded in 2002, long after the band had dissolved. The CD is called Oop Bop Sh'Bang. (Title being take-off on Dizzy Gillespie's Oop Bop Sh'Bam.) 

 

Monsoon Poltroon  

Greetings, whoever-reads-this! The first blue skies I've seen in awhile. They've mainly been some shade of gray or white. The blue definitely helps with morale..

Music news. Well it's not for about 6 and a half months, but I have a gig I just filled, as far as who I hired. It's at Boone's on November 1st, and will feature Buddy Rogers and Ben Taylor on saxes and bass respectively, as well as my antics on guitar. 

Before COVID, I did a fair amount of gigs with Buddy and bassist Rob Killam. Kinda like the Jimmy Giuffre 3, with Jimmy on saxes and clarinet, Jim Hall on guitar and Ralph Pena on bass. This was a drummerless trio from back in the 1950s or 60s. 

 We did a few Robbie's gigs and a lot of Nursing Home/Assisted Living shows. These were almost always mid-afternoon, and just for an hour or two. You get in a couple hours of playing, and are always home in time for Jeopardy. I miss those days. 

I don't have any other gigs at the moment, but I do have a jam session to go to this coming Tuesday. A musician friend from Bloomington, who no longer plays gigs himself, calls this Playing In. Some musicians don't go for this at all. They need the crowd. They've gotta be out there doing it.

For me, playing in is The Great Middle Way, in between playing alone in your room  and out in some noisy club. It's still a chance to make music with other humans, and work with the give-and-take of ensemble playing. And in this instance, there's pizza involved. 

It's all good though. And I'm still working on the YouTube page. I enjoy the comments from listeners. One even gave a bit of a critique, which is cool. That's actually the nature of my page: stuff from my practice sessions, where I'm usually working with an objective of some sort. Always trying to get better…

And once again, I've reached the end of the page. That's all the music news I had anyway, for the time being. Thanks as ever for stopping in and reading. Much love. More later. 

 

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