Short? Long? Who knows?

By all rights, I should be incredibly busy at work right now. Unfortunately, I’m not in good favor at the moment, so as punishment, I have less work. I’m not exactly sure how that’s supposed to work, but, whatever. The point is, there is a ton of work to be done, so I could get interrupted on this posting at any moment.

Saturday night was supposed to be spent at the Minnesota Rollergirls bout. We were still a tad bit hungover from Friday’s festivities, but it was nothing a beer or two wouldn’t fix. We were running a bit late to meet up with Angel & Karl due to other obligations, but we were still OK. Then we got to St. Paul.

For those of you who don’t know St. Paul very well, it’s a bit of a mess. Those that grew up there know how to get around but the rest of us are pretty much screwed. So, you learn a couple paths to places you frequent and wing it from there.

We were originally headed for the Liffey for a pre-bout beer, but opted for Station 4 instead. Station 4 has much more parking available and a free shuttle. Having played several gigs there over the years, I knew how to get there. Unfortunately, I had not factored in a parade.

Yes, that’s Minnesota for you. February 4, and there’s a freakin’ parade going through downtown St. Paul. This was no half-assed event, either, this was the real deal. Apparently, every cop in the city was there to block every street on which a hapless driver might like to turn.

Knowing full well I couldn’t navigate this thing on my own, we stopped to ask a cop for help. “How can we get onto 4th Street?” I asked.

“You’re on 4th Street.” she replied.

“Yes,” I said, “but it’s blocked. How can we get to a point where we can continue on 4th Street?”

“Just go around,” she replies.

“OK,” I say, taking a deep breath. “How far down is 4th Street blocked?”

“Oh,” she says, giving me hope as understanding seemingly dawns on her. “Just to 7th.”

So, I thank her and we drive on. After only a couple of blocks, we realize that the numbered streets don’t go the direction she was pointing us. So, we grit our teeth and attempt to navigate downtown St. Paul with about half of the streets closed. As we left downtown, still passing barricades at every block, it seemed to us (as reasonably sane people) that they had literally closed one side of the city for this stupid February parade.

Eventually, we got away from St. Paul, essentially by driving around it. As much as we were both looking forward to the bout (and seeing Angel, Karl and whoever else happened to be there) we decided that a nice dinner was preferable to a second attempt at that nightmare. Thus, we found ourselves at the relatively new Happy Gnome, a new offering from the fine folks that brought you the Muddy Pig.

I’ll pause there, as it seems that I may be able to actually do something around here after all. Next time, I’ll offer up my review of the Happy Gnome.

I wonder why…

…that little blog meter on the left has everything under today? Every time I type a post, it says everything I’ve done is today. Whatever… I don’t think it’s that critical.

So, the ongoing search for a band continues. I auditioned with the Classic Rock fellas on Saturday, and that was fun. We ripped through some Aerosmith and ZZ Top and stuff like that. I was kinda expecting a more complete band, but it turned out to just be two guys. Nonetheless, I made three, and at that point, you can at least pretend it’s a whole band. I had a blast, and I think they offered me the slot, although they left it fairly vague. I wanted a little more time to digest the afternoon, so I left it fairly vague. It certainly wouldn’t be the worst option or anything, but I just don’t know yet. I think we need to talk a little more business so I can get a better idea of what they want to do.

In completely unrelated news, Friday night was my birthday party. After much drunken discussion, I believe we established that this was the fifth year that it’s been held at Dulono’s Pizza.

The last couple of years, it’s started to get pretty crowded in there on the weekends, so I scheduled things a little earlier, hoping to beat the rush. No such luck. We waited quite a while and got pretty aggressive to try to claim a table. But by 7:30, we were seated with enough room for ten. We were expecting twenty, but probably not all at once, so it would have to do. It got a little tight at a couple points in the evening, but overall it worked out well.

The Middle Spunk Creek Boys were playing, and they were great. The pizzas were great as always. (I sucked down about half of an All-American myself.) The beer was abundant. We ended up staying way later than expected, as usual.

Long story short, a darn good night. Which is good, because Saturday night didn’t really go according to plan. (LIke how I end with a little tease there? That’ll keep ’em coming back for more!)

Is that Freedom Rock? Well crank it up!

More audition stuff. I promise, I’m almost caught up, then I can write about current events. In fact, this entry should make it all current.

I responded to an add the other day for a classic rock band. A couple of guys are forming a new clsasic rock cover band, and they need a bassist. OK, I was hoping for something a little more established so I could jump in quicker, but it sounds like these guys have a pretty good head start on me. After a couple e-mails and phone calls, we get something set up for tomorrow. Unfortunately, as soon as I set that up, the shit hit the fan and I’ve barely had a chance to work on the tunes. Again, there’s nothing too challenging there, but I’d like to have them down solid before I go in. Plus, these are a little more fun… there’s a couple Aerosmith tunes in there. Like, the old Aerosmith, when they still kicked ass.

So, I’m excited about this one. Could be a lot of fun, playing the classics. No shortage of good material, even if some of it has been overplayed a bit. I’ll have some time tomorrow morning to learn the tunes a little better before I leave.

And that’s where I’m at right now. Nothing else pending. I haven’t scoured the ads in a few days, though, so I should probably take a look at what’s out there. It would be nice to have a couple options and actually choose which band I want to join.

Where was I?

Ah, yes, I was telling the stories of my recent auditions. Good times, I tell ya.

The next audition was with a recently formed cover band, They had only played a couple shows and were looking to replace the bass player who was temporary from the beginning. Their set list was a decent mix of things, mostly recent with a few older tunes. We traded a couple e-mails and phone calls before setting up an audition.

The songs they selected for the audition were a bit on the easy side. Of the five, two were a 1-4-5, one was a 1-5-4. Of the remaining 2, one was pretty much a single riff over and over. The final song presented a mild challenge, in that it had verses, choruses AND a bridge. But, I figured that was actually a fair representation of what’s going on out there, and my best course of action would be to learn to play them really well. So I did.

The audition went well and was actually a lot of fun. I haven’t heard anything back yet, as they were still auditioning more people.

This audition also got me thinking that this was really the direction I wanted to go at this point. The band was a little rough around the edges, being fairly new, but they all seemed to have a fair bit of experience. There is every reason to believe that things would come together pretty quickly. So, I’m hopeful that they offer me the slot or that I can find something similar. Fortunately, there seems to be a lot of this sort of thing going on out there.

Next up was an audition with a guy I had met a few times at shows and such. He’s been playing his own hippie/funk/jam stuff for a while, but has had recurring issues with the lineup. He’s hoping to solidify the band a bit and push forward with some new material. I didn’t really feel this was my sort of thing, but I didn’t really know what I wanted, so why not? I already knew he was a pretty nice guy and had some chops.

So we got together , just he and a drummer and me. There are a couple more band members, but he was going with the stripped-down version just to see how things went. Cool. No real prepared songs this time, just a couple of jams.

Jams are generally fun, but if someone’s not really taking charge, they can become a drone pretty quickly. I tried to introduce a bit of variety into the structure, as did the others. I’m not saying we wrote a new classic on the fly or anything, but there were some interesting moments.

We wrapped things up for the night, and I headed home, giving some serious thought to maybe going this route. I felt fairly confident that the slot would be mine if I wanted it. After pondering for a while, I finally decided that no, it was not. It was time for me to be picky… I’ve been without a band for about a year now, a couple more weeks of looking ain’t gonna kill me. So, I spent way too long typing up an e-mail to say that I didn’t want to join his band but I did want to keep the door open for some possible collaboration in the future.

Maybe I should write a novel…

OK, if work doesn’t pick up soon, this blog thing could get out of hand in a hurry. Let’s be honest: this is for my amusement. I can’t imagine too many people giving this more than a cursory glance. Heck, I’ve only got 5 friends so far. So I guess it doesn’t matter how much I write. It’s not like I’m gonna take the MySpace servers down.

The second audition.

After another handful of uninspiring e-mails, I got another one of interest. This time from a fellow putting together an all-new original project, incorporating lighting, costumes, the whole 9 yards. Interesting. He was a little vague, not wanting to reveal too much at this point. Paranoid, perhaps, but I can understand. So, we set up an audition.

I meet him and a couple other guys at their rehearsal space. It’s not clear whether these people are part of the project, friends, cleaning crew or what. We go inside to the cleanest rehearsal space I’ve ever seen. Two large bottles of Purel hand sanitizer are available at the door; they each dispense a large handful on their way through. Weird. As I set up, we chat a bit more, and it turns out that one of the guys and I have a few mutual acquaintences in the industry. It never hurts to have an extra connection.

So we begin the audition. He aks me to play something. I look at him with slight puzzlement. He says to just play something. So I proceed to play Full Moon, one of the Snark tracks I had been working on recently. It’s in a rotating time signature, so to the casual listener getting only the bass line, it probably sounds like a mess. But there are a couple amusing little turns that made them all chuckle. Whatever, I thought, this is weird. He then asks me to play a simple groove. So I start playing some dumb little thing in E, mostly just the root. I go for maybe 32 bars before he stops me. Then he asks me to play along with a recording. Finally, I thought, I’ll play something that actually means something.

Nope. This was a finished recording of a song that he had done several years earlier. By finished, I mean it already had a fairly prominent bass line. Whatever. I try to play something that aligns with the existing line but also interject a bit of myself in there. Problem is, I’m having trouble finding the key of the song. When it finishes, I ask. He replies that he doesn’t remember, at which point one of the other guys states his belief that they sped the song up in post, thus rendering it in an unspecified key. Whatever.

Then, he asks me to play the song AGAIN! I end up playing through this A half-flat dual-bass song two more times. That was it for the audition. We chatted a little more as I packed up my things. He seemed to like the way things went and expressed an interest in a follow-up audition. He was trying to do ensemble auditions, looking for a group that worked together. Cool. I can appreciate that logic. And as weird as this audition was, I was curious to see where this might lead. We went ahead and scheduled something for a couple days later, and I left, feeling pretty good that I had an audition go this well this early in the process.

By the time I drove home, maybe 20 minutes later, he had sent me an e-mail thanking me for coming out, but expressing that he didn’t feel there was a future for us in the music industry.

WTF?

I was starting to seriously lose interest in a new original project.

The Haze

Yes, I’m in that afternoon haze. A few minutes of work, a little juice smoothie for lunch, and now… nothing. Too late in the day to really start a new project, too early to start thinking about leaving.

So I thought I’d write more, but I’m still searching for a subject. I suppose I could write about my recent experiences auditioning for a new band. That could be fun.

I should probably begin with a little background. As I outlined in my last post, I’m essentially without a band. Over the last few years, I’ve played with quite a few different bands, most falling pretty solidly in that generic singer/songwriter category. Not that they all sucked or anything, I’m just saying, it was a bit of a rut. After three in a row got swollen heads and started screwing over their bands, I decided I’d had enough. I want out of that world. On top of it all, I was in the middle of two weddings, so I didn’t try real hard to keep it all together.

Once the dust settled from my wedding (at least somewhat) I started giving some serious thought to what I wanted to do next. Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of options in this town. [Side note: for such a large city with a strong history in music, Minneapolis is kinda hurting these days.] I could go the artisitc route: a bunch of disillusioned musicians trying to create something new for an audience of their roommates, spouses & neighbors. That could be fun for a while, but if I wanted to go pure art, I’d set up a studio and work on my own material. Wait, that is what I want to do, but I have no budget right now. Soon, my precious… soon. I could go jobber… sit in wherever I can, play anything that gets thrown my way abnd make a few bucks. That would actually be pretty cool for a while, but the fact is I’m not very good at that sort of thing. Maybe if I had a lot more time to practice. I could find the “next big thing” band. You know, the original band that just knows they’re gonna make it any day and then we’re all set. That would be cool… if any of them were any good. Hell, there are a couple new ones advertising every day. But, no, I’m not interested in propping anyone up.

Wow, am I full of myself! Anyway, to continue…

That leaves the cover band option. Some call it selling out, but there are a lot of positives there. First, you get paid. We could definitely use a few more dollars coming in every month. Second, you deal almost entirely with professionals. THAT would be a refreshing change. Third, egos are at least somewhat limited by the fact that no one’s writing any of the material. Fourth, I could really sharpen up my chops. Finally, as a friend of mine pointed out recently, if it doesn’t work out, you find a replacement and leave. It’s not like you’re in the band for your artistic contribution.

I’ve been a little worried that I’m justifying taking the easy way out to myself. But really, I think that’s the right place for me to be at this point. If the money starts flowing in the right direction for a while, I can get that studio going in the basement of the home we’re talking about buying, and I can finally get to work on what I want to do. All that singer/songwriter crap was someone else’s material, too, and it’s a safe bet none of them were going to give me any credit for my part in it.

I’m getting ahead of myself. This was all a slow realization that come to me as I went through a few auditions.

I started by placing an ad on CraigsList. It’s just starting to pick up steam here locally, and it’s free. I also monitored the ads in City Pages, our “local” branch of the Village Voice, because the true professionals would buy an ad, and that’s really the best place to be. I figured if things weren’t going well, I could spring a few bucks and place an ad, but I’ll start with the free stuff.

Sure enough, my e-mail started dinging away. I had made a vow both to my readers and myself that I would reply to everyone. I should have made a vow that I would reply to everyone that gave some indication that they were smarter than a bottle of Windex.

Call me anal, call me obsessive, but bad grammar bugs me. I’m not a perfectionist, I understand there is some flexibility, particularly on e-mail, but you need to at least be in the neighborhood of correct.

I also should have made a vow to only reply to those people who seemed to have actually read the ad. I’ll refrain from filling this space with giant swaths of copy/paste goodness, but suffice it to say I got quite a few offers that missed the mark.

Finally, I got an e-mail from a guy that sounded promising. We traded a couple e-mails and set up a time to get together, run a few tunes, see what happens. I showed up with my gear in hand to find that we would be playing in his living room with what seemed to 136 cats and dogs. In reality, there were only 2 or 3, but there was half an inch of fur on everything. OK, I thought, just because I don’t like pets is no reason to give this guy a hard time. So, we chat for a few minutes and get set up. Seemed like a nice guy. Then his buddy shows up with a couple hand drums. Cool. Seemed like a nice guy. Then we started to play a couple tunes.

OK, I already said that I’m full of myself. Anybody that I auditioned with who ends up reading this, please know that I’m already aware of that. But I’ve been playing a long time. I’ve been in some damn good bands, I’ve played some damn good shows. I have standards.

Where was I? Oh yes… then we started to play a couple tunes. It was pretty bad. I thought, hey, maybe it’s just going to take a little while to warm up, settle into a groove. No. Not so much. I hung out for a bit, just to really give them every benefit of the doubt. It really wasn’t going to improve.

Up next… my big solo audition.

Hmmm… coincidence?

Look… Under The Pink came out 12 years ago tomorrow. On my birthday, even. And that just happened to be on my iTunes when I started typing. Yes, it’s these brilliant little insights that are gonna make my blog so darned fascinating.

As you can see from the convenient MySpace smiley face, my mood is bored. Bored bored bored. I’m making a personal commitment not to use this space to bitch about my job. So, I’m going to get it out right now: my job sucks. During a typical 8-hour day, I work about 3. The rest of my time is spent trying to look busy so the Queen B doesn’t rip my head off. Then, about 10 minutes before quitting time, I get some stupid project and a request to stay late to finish it. After 5 days of this, I then get some stupid project and a request to work over the weekend. The real kicker is that I actually like the work; I just can’t stand the politics and mismanagement.

Hence, I may do a fair bit of writing which reflects my sour mood. But I’m not going to bring work into this anymore.

On to happier topics…

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 35. I’m really not too concerned with aging or the number or anything like that. It is a bit surprising, though… I have no idea how 35 years went by. Once again, I can honestly say that the past year was a great year and better than the one before.

Hey, I got an idea: how about a nice “retrospective” episode? I’ve got the time.

On a personal level, this was a great year for me. I got engaged in April, married in September. Not a day has gone by since that I’m not completely overwhelmed by how lucky I am to have Kim in my life. I don’t want this space to become overly sappy or a public disclosure of our personal lives, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I also managed to overcome a couple personal demons. One was nicotine, in which I have not indulged since April. That was surprisingly easy; it was just the right time to stop.

The other was Clovis, the band I played with for what, 4 years? 5? It was a great band with a lot of potential. I got to play some amazing shows in front of a lot of people. We made a record which I believe will stand up for years. But ultimately, the sociopathic tendencies of our lead singer were too much to bear. Officially, the band is still together. I just told Johnny exactly how I felt and he hasn’t spoken to me (or apparently, the rest of the band) since. He’s far too passive to actually fire me or break up the band. Long story short (too late) it’s sad that the band is ending, because we could have been great, but it just wasn’t worth the headache anymore.

On the down side, my other band, Snark, is all but finished. We’e been playing together for even longer… 6 years, maybe? I’m so bad with the passage of time. We’re about 2/3 of the way through a new record, which is roughly where we’ve been with it for 6 months. Our lead singer just had a baby. So, a fair chunk of the past year was spent with her pregnant, which tends to slow things down.

To be fair, though, Snark has been a part-time sort of thing for a while now. It will also probably never offically end… we’ll just keep having longer and logner periods between rehearsals.

Well, what do you know? I haven’t even been at work for 3 hours yet, and there’s something to do. I’ll have to wrap things up for now.

First blog entry

OK, I’ve started a couple different blogs in different places, but haven’t really kept up with them at all. I think I may let those others die and focus on this one. It seems that MySpace is the place to be these days, and I’m such a slave to the trends.

So, this is essentially a useless entry. But now there’s one. Which puts the pressure on to make the second one more interesting. We’ll see how that turns out.