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Entries in progwest (2)

Monday
Nov252002

Prog West and More

I just got a digital camera this week and plan on taking all sort of pictures whether I need to or not. I have been telling myself that I needed one since about mid 2001. I had the money, then I didn't have the money, then...well, you know. Finally it was time to blow out some credit card debt and make room for new stuff. The other reason that I really feel stupid about telling the world is that I accidentally lost a huge folder of pictures and images that I had collected. These things always seem to happen by accident. I have never set out to lose anything on that scale. But it happens. So I have a little work to do to get a collection of images together for stock.

In early November, I was the stage manager for a big music festival called Prog West. It was a two day affair up in Claremont, CA. My buddy Mike Thaxton was one of the organizers, and I worked at last year's show initially as the dude with a 24 track recorder, then as stage manager, then later as the front of house mixer. It was a mess last year, but many things were learned and the level of organization was much higher this time. The bands were a lot better as well. There were seven bands on two days. A lot of work to be sure, but the stuff was almost always great to listen to. The second day was the best for me just as a listener. Izz and Azigza were great as I had expected, but the big show was the tribute to Kevin Gilbert, who some of you must know of. For those who don't, he's a big hero of mine—a brilliant musician and recording artist. Anyhow, he isn't with us anymore, but the last album he was working on when he died was a rather amazing piece of work. It's amazing that it even got finished. More amazing is that that music was played live at the show—the entire album from start to finish. The core of the band was Mike Keneally's current band. However, it was more as a backup band to Nick D'virgilio who played drums and all sorts of stuff on the original album, and assumed the role of Kevin himself onstage, singing all the leads and playing acoustic guitar. It was an amazing show, and one that was only scheduled to happen once. Glad I saw it.

Things have been kind of sleepy here in studioland. I am working with Brandon, just trying out musical ideas, jamming and occasionally recording some stuff. My mind has been so many other places lately and it's been hard to dedicate the time to recording like I once did. The usual stuff that goes on in the late 20s trying to figure out the world of work, relationships, and the meaning of life. But it's been a while since I really recorded anything on my own. And frankly I'm at a time when I don't really think that would do me much good. If anything, I feel like playing in a band, with a bass in my hand. Despite not having recorded anything much, I am a better bass player than ever. Sometimes I even kick ass on drums (but only for a few bars). Brandon and I are doing material that will dwarf previous efforts. We just need to establish some working habits and get a few things together. We play with a few different drummers as they are available. Playing better but playing less is the state of things. This year has been so very different from before—good and bad, as these things tend to be. It's almost as if I've been floating, like in a dream. Some things that have been super important in the past are not nearly so now, and vice versa. I guess all I can do is stick around to see what's next. I certainly wouldn't have been able to plan anything about this year. Damn.

Anyhow, the holidays are upon us now. I don't know about you, but I am putting a higher price on enjoying them after years of being almost indifferent to the whole deal. And that's not just post-9/11 sap, either. I was on that path before then, but I suppose that in a post-9/11 world, there is need for such a feeling.

Regardless, do whatever it takes to enjoy the holidays, for whatever reason.

Saturday
Oct122002

You Say It's Your Birthday?

My birthday was on the 12th, and apparently I lived to tell about it, or something. I had a few dudes over to play—Brandon Arnieri and Paul Horn make up the trio I am playing with right now. In addition to Paul and Brandon, we had Whit Harrington and Dom Piscopo who made up the trio I played with earlier in the year—we did the tunes Return To Zero and All Things Frippy.

Over the course of the eve, we played in a whole bunch of different combos. I know I played drums and bass, Dom is mostly a guitarist, but probably played some bass, ditto Brandon, who is a better bass player than he'd let on to. Whit provided powerhouse drumming, and Paul provided some of the more jazzy stuff. At one point, Whit and Paul traded in the middle of a jam. I got it all on Pro Tools, but don't expect much—the alcohol was flowing that night, and I'm not sure that all the levels came in right from one trio jam to another. A lot of stuff was played, but not recorded, for, er, uh, whatever reason. But we all had some fun.

In addition to the music geeks in attendance, we also had some other folks: Dom's lady Kate, Brando's lady Merrily, Doug Robinson, Kelli and her friend Suzanne. Missing were the Brothers Thaxton, who came last year, but I'm sure Mike had a very good reason for not showing up ;^)

On a half related note, for the prog and art rock minded, be sure to check out the big two day show on the second weekend of November that will feed your hunger for some challenging and interesting music—Progwest. My buddy Mike Thaxton is the webmaster and a key organizer, and I am the stage manager. The show headliner is the Mike Keneally/Nick D'virgilio band doing a live rendition of Kevin Gilbert's posthumous masterpiece, The Shaming of the True. Go to his site and read up about the history behind the album. It's a major triumph, and one of my favorite albums of all time.

Aside from that, I have to say I am digging the Pro Tools set up, and the studio control room is getting some attention. I will put some pix up soon of the new lean and mean rig. Some audio hopefully will be soon to come.