the lost weekend

let’s see, this weekend was supposed to consist of: gig on saturday night, trip to poughkeepsie ny to pick up a new console for the studio…in a nutshell, anyway. of course, none of that actually happened.

we showed up on saturday night to play to find someone elses name on the marquee – double booked. everyone took it in pretty good spirits, though. quin and darryl were inside eating when i got there – barry showed up not long after and wasn’t in quite as jovial a mindframe about it as the others were…he did book the gig, after all…but even barry wasn’t too terribly worked up about it. i think that all of us are aware, even if it’s in an underlying sense, that we’ve got a lot of work coming up in the months ahead, so i don’t think anyone was too broken up about it.

well, we took advantage of the night off and went out for a great meal and came home and i picked up where i left off, changing guitar strings. in fact, i feel like i spent the whole weekend with a guitar in my lap. i bought a 30-pack of string sets a couple of weeks ago, and i decided that i wanted to spend some time actually setting up my guitars, making my “fall adjustments” (weather does affect wooden instruments in some pretty interesting ways) to the ones that i play the most, but i ended up going through a solid majority of my 50 instrument fleet and tuning ’em up accordingly. i just finished my es1275 doubleneck and one of my martin d35’s a couple of hours ago and decided i was gonna take the remaining hours of the weekend off. wendy and i watched the premier installation of “the blues” on pbs earlier tonight while i was on my restringing binge, and that’s been pretty much one of the two tv highlights of a football day that saw a lopsided sunday night game and a largely boring afternoon of football (eagles almost lost another one and the late game was a yawner). in fact, football doesn’t get really interesting for another month or so, i don’t think.

The other highlight was watching the closing ceremonies for the vet – veterans stadium in philly. it was a totally classy, nostalgic movement, and i loved it. i remember watching the phillies win the world series back in 1980 when i was in high school from back home in savannah…and i remember exactly where i was when joe carter hit mitch williams’ pitch out of the park to beat the phillies in the 1993 series. todd and i were playing at the holly in in mount holly springs, pa, watching the game on the tv in the bar from the stage while we were playing. they had representatives from all the phillies teams that had played at the vet from 1971 up through 2003 come out onto the field, then a “starting lineup” of three players from each position – the current starter, plus two other notables from that position (for instance, mike schmidt and dave hollins at third base) – come out as well. then, they had tug mcgraw come out onto the field at the very end, and that was just the perfect closer to that part of the ceremony.

the part that got my attention, though, was hearing my buddy skip denenberg in the midst of all this, playing a song that underscored a video that they showed on the stadium screens during the ceremony. felt real good. i was proud of my pal.

i was also supposed to go look at a new van this afternoon, but the dick who currently owns it never bothered to return any of my calls. c’est la vie.

i think, though, that this weekend may be as close to what normal peoples’ weekends are as mine tend to get…went out to eat saturday night, hung out close to the house and lounged and watched tv today, took in some football, and didn’t do much of anything….well, save for change guitar strings. (i have a wastebasket still sitting in the center of the floor right in front of the sofa stacked to the top with old strings and string wrappers.) the fleet’s in good shape now, though…gotta get the stragglers back in from the shop, and all will be well. dylan’s rickenbacker bass is in there, i have two telecasters, and chet atkins acoustic, a metal bodied dobro in for repair, and keith is building a stratocaster for me with lindy fralin pickups in it, which will be replacing “smokey” as one of my main road guitars.

well, it’s 1:30 in the morning…i have a weissenborn hawaiian that i’m high bidder on about to close on eBay in less than an hour, but i can’t keep my eyes open any longer.

write a book, you prick.

as quoted from my soulmate, blake allen:


Did you ever consider pouring these thoughts into a book on what you are?
Write essays about your gigs and fill in around them with your life stuff…
There’s a bunch of people out there that would feel right at home with what
you write, would feel like they’re not alone. Write a fucking book you prick.


i’ve often thought about trying to write something that would somehow convey certain moments that kinda define the kind of life i’ve led…that feeling of leaving the house a lot earlier than you’d like, throwing a guitar case in the back of the van, and looking over my shoulder just in time to see my daughter, fresh toddler curls hanging behind her ears, standing at the screen door with her hand pressed against the glass, watching me drive away…the absolute serenity of 3:45 in the morning, driving home on an interstate populated with nothing but the occasional jb hunt tractor trailer, still smelling like the room you played in that night, with a great radio station playing in the background or one of the following albums in the tape deck:

the posies – dear 23
fleetwood mac – tusk
dan fogelberg – home free
jackson browne – hold out or running on empty
kate bush – hounds of love
chris whitley – living with the law
joni mitchell – night ride home
marshall crenshaw – field day
john hiatt – bring the family
john gorka – jacks crows or land of the bottom line

every one of those records (and dozens more) have driving permanently attached to them, for me. and most of them are a far cry from what you’d call a driving record, by most mortals’ assertions. but, for instance, every time i hear and dream of sheep by kate bush, i’m instantly right back in wales, driving my beige monte carlo along those rail-thin welsh backroads in the middle of the night, watching the light from my headlights dance off the ivy on the hedgerows – feeling like mainstream logic would dictate that i should be completely creeped out, but feeling totally at home and at peace with that moment as it was. that was both the most turbulent and the most peaceful time of my life, simultaneously. i was madly in love with someone who i thought to understand me better than anyone ever had, up to that point, but whom i was terrified of confronting about how i felt. i careened off opposing emotional walls like a racquetball – in the morning i wanted to marry her, that afternoon i wished she was dead, having done a complete one-eighty because of the tone she used to say something, or because of the way she looked at me, or because of how nice she was being to someone else at my expense…but at the same time, i had a circle of friends that i felt connected to for probably the first time in my life – and it wasn’t anything like high school for me, in that these people came from all over the fucking place…it was the closest thing to a college experience i could have had. college wouldn’t have cut it for me. there would have been too much pressure to “do well”. there was no pressure of any kind whatsoever in wales. granted, we were in the united states navy, and we were in the middle of the libya crisis at that time, but none of us felt that. at all. there were a couple of somewhat harrowing security drills, but that was the closest we came to anything resembling conflict. the remainder of the wales experience was completely absorbed in the priorities of any other 20 year old away from home in a very real sense for the first time.

but that record…that kate bush record…will forever be tied to that place, that time in my life. if i went out and got in the car right now and put it in, it’d be 1986 all over again, without a doubt.

it’ll soon be 1986 all over again in another sense…jodi was part of 1986 for me – and it’s looking like making this record is actually going to happen for her. she seems to actually have some motivation, where this is concerned.

she and i used to sit in the guard shack on the base together…no furniture but two chairs and a desk and windows all around…and sing, accapella, together. great sound…that empty room. our voices always did blend together well – they still do, but i am a little fearful that the time that’s passed might’ve taken some of the “lock” away that we used to have (those of you who’ve had tight harmony partners in the past will know exactly what i mean). we’ll see once tape has actually been rolling for a little while and the initial kinks are worked out.

i still have 4 track recordings of us from back then…the MO then was that i’d cut all the instrumental parts, she’d come down to my room and put on her vocal, and then she’d disappear up the hall and i’d do all the harmony parts.

i’d venture to bet that this, at least, will be same as it ever was. whether any of the other elements will be or not remains to be seen.

then there is the occasional week…

….when ya just don’t give a fuck about anything.

this is turnin’ into one of those weeks.

work is insane – i have so much shit to do that i don’t know where to start. it’s gonna be a long night tonight…i have to drive to pottstown to pick up a deposit for a computer i’m building, i need to stop off and drop off a pair of demo cd’s at places we’re entertaining thoughts of playing, and i have two dead machines on my bench that need to be returned to their spots underneath desks by tomorrow morning first thing…

so that’s my night, sewn up neatly right there.

and yet here i sit, clickin’ away…as if i had nothing better to do.

this is my own little manic streak, personified…insisting on feeling the weight of the world, whether it’s mine to carry or not on a given day…today, i’m takin’ it on.

i slip into this from time to time…these little extended “funks”…this one seems to be of the extra funky variety, though…the slightly more intense, somewhat dangerous kind.

but, they say, this too shall pass.

got an unexpected phone call from my old buddy jodi last night – jodi, my singin’ buddy from wales, who later became my sister in law for a short period of time…she wants to make a record.

and of course, i said, i’m completely up to the task.

i think she initially wanted to go all out – mastering, duplication, artwork, the whole nine yards – until i gave her a figure for what that part of it costs…then i think she started thinking a little more “indie”like.

we talked a little bit about what songs she wants to record, things like that – so she’s swirling some tunes around in her head and waiting to see what floats to the top. there are some givens that we’ll do, i’m sure, and some stuff that i might not see coming in a million years, but we’ll see…i think it’ll be fun.

everything that strikes me as “fun” right now, though, seems to be future tense…i can do this, and it’ll be fun, but i can’t do it until (insert excuse here), or i could do that for a while and that’d be cool, but not until (insert more pressing need of your choice). and every time i walk into my house and look around, i just feel totally defeated before i even start to do anything. i remember looking at the house in its empty state before we moved in, thinking, “we’ll never outgrow this place….”

how’s that for delusional thinking….

every inch, every nook, every cranny of the house that i live in is filled with shit. some of it useful shit, some of it shit that i touch and utilize for something every day, but much of it just plain old stuff. just crap that’s accumulated over time. i’ve never been terribly organized, and i’ll never, ever be clutter free. but i just can’t figure out where to put anything anymore. there are so many cd’s in our house that the only hope is to go to a wall height shelf unit, like the one my buddy todd has in his office…but that’s not feasible in the living room, due to the proliferation of bookshelves already lining every available inch of free wallspace, filled with books and pictures and knick-knacks (much as i hate that word, i hate the things defined by it even more…the absolute epitome of uselessness).

and somehow, for every item i put up for sale on eBay, i grow two more new ones. just bought a poster from the 1976 knebworth festival the other day that’s still in the cardboard it came in. i have a couple others that i intend to frame and hang in the studio…

and if you were listening closely, you just heard another square foot of asphalt being laid on the road to hell. at least my good intentions are good for something.

back to work now. it’ll be morning soon enough.

pressing forward

so we debuted the new guy last weekend, and overall, it was a good gig – spoiled somewhat by quin’s proximity to his home, which he interpreted as “i’m walkin’ home, so i can increase my alcohol intake accordingly…”. he was a little sloshed by the end of the night. it didn’t seem to affect his playing so much as his…talkativeness. he was sayin’ some pretty stupid shit towards the end of the night. so, that kinda put a damper on my enthusiasm, overall, for how the gig turned out. i’m pretty sure that i’m alone in that opinion, though. others in the band would probably say that any night that includes chicks takin’ their shirts off is a winner, as far as ratings go. there was a guy there that had two women with him, and he was kinda dancin’ with them, they were kinda dancin’ with each other…and at some point, they decided that they had a little too much clothing on their upper bodies, and off the shirts came.

not that there’s anything wrong with that…

i need to do some major, major updates to the stone road site – i’ve also been working on getting the site back up and online…you know how it is. the guy who works on a particular thing for a living rarely, if ever, has his own house in order – the mechanic who drives a junker, the carpenter whose house is in a perpetual state of disrepair, and the computer guru whose own website isn’t even online at the moment because he’s busy with everyone else’s…but i’m also taking on some new customers, and need to get them set up and squared away as well, so it remains to be seen if that’s going to happen as soon as i’d like it to.

one of those clients, finally, is Blake Allen, of Aunt Pat fame…we’re getting closer to finishing this record, and we’ve talked quite a bit recently about finalizing a band, and possibly doing some gigs as a trio – he, mollie and i. i think i’m going to have to be proactive about it and maybe put my booking hat on and go out and get some of them myself. the only places i’d really entertain the thought of booking any of them would be at steel city or knuckleheadz at the moment…but that’s temporary. i think that once we get them outta the house and playing again, and they settle into the new auntpat-less format, they’ll be fine. in the meantime, i gotta get an index page up for that one.

many, many new stone road pics to upload…and neither quin nor donnie are reflected on the site the way they should be.

this is gonna be one of those days where i go through the whole day preoccupied with all the work i need to do once work is done…

tonight is the landfall due date of hurricane isabel – and my wife is flying into philadelphia airport in the thick of it..theoretically. remains to be seen how flights are going to be handled. lots of anxiousness and cell phone minutes in my not too distant future.

i guess it’s karma – i had her drive to portsmouth, new hampshire to pick me up at a bus station in the midst of the new years’ blizzard some years ago…now it’s my turn. of course, this is all dependent on the airlines and their will/desire to fly amidst all this.

in the two weeks she’s been gone, i’ve succeeded in accomplishing a grand total of zero tasks i had planned on trying to get out of the way in her absence. not that this comes as much of a surprise to me – i guess i somehow had delusions that i’d have more surplus time without her around than i do when she’s here. turned out that this line of thinking wasn’t very well grounded in reality – the demands on my time didn’t change in her absence one little bit. so, as a result, the complete rewiring of the studio that’s due to take place is still pending, and the cabinetlike structure that i’m planning on erecting in the spare bedroom to house my guitars is still conspicuous by its absence. but, these things will happen eventually – especially since i finally cemented arrangements to get a larger console for the studio this past week. now i can start thinking in terms of wiring the room the way it should be wired – which will be quite a task unto itself (especially since i’ll be interfacing the ADATs with hard-disk recording in the same environment…i’m a glutton for punishment, truly).

ah, well…back to hurricane watching.

goodbye, warren.

“life is much more precious when there’s less of it to waste…”bonnie raitt

“if you’re lucky, they’ll remember the first thing that you did and something you do before you die.”warren zevon

“…to speak of missing persons – tonight there’s only one
and we all carry with us what the man’s begun….”
jackson browne

“please, God, don’t let me die and have jackson browne write a song about me…”warren zevon

“i don’t want to be just another useless memory holding you tight
or just some other ghost out on the street to whom you stop and politely speak
when you pass on by…vanishing into the night…left to vanish into the night…”
bruce springsteen

“don’t leave me here when so many things so hard to say are clear
i need you near to me – will you stay to the end?
when there’s nothing left but you and me and the wind..”
warren zevon

“walk down that lonesome road all by yourself
don’t turn your head over your shoulders
and only stop to rest yourself when the silver moon
is shining high above the trees”
james taylor

“shadows are falling and i’m running out of breath
keep me in your heart for a while
if i leave you it doesn’t mean i love you any less
keep me in your heart for a while….”
warren zevon

“all the secrets of the silence are so familar to you now
and you can stare into the darkness and hope it comforts you somehow…”
tom hampton

goodbye, warren. we’ll miss you.

banjos and karaoke

so i leave work at lunchtime earlier this week to hit the bank – and i decided to stop in for some chinese food, since i was in the neighborhood…and usually, at my favorite lunchtime chinese place, they play this godawful pseudo-oriental music, heavy on synthesized sitars and trying very hard to mimic american pop music. just plain awful. usually the food and the prices bring me back anyway, but this week was…different.

i went walking in at my usual late hour (there was almost no one there), and i hear this plaintive acoustic guitar part playing in the background…i paid no attention to it right away, until it became obvious that there was no vocal on this track…and then the chord progression revealed itself to me…it was “danny’s song”, the kenny loggins tune. initially i thought it might just be an instrumental version, until the harmonies kicked in on the last chorus, and it hit me like a ton of bricks…karaoke tapes! they were using karaoke tapes as muzak for the day! it went from “danny’s song” to “kodachrome” to “can’t you see” to “please come to boston”…all the songs were 25 years old or more….”still the same”…not only was it karaoke tapes, it was k-tel karaoke tapes.

talk about surreal…

so last night, during the four hours of sleep or so that i managed to snag, i have this weird dream…

i’m playing a date with blake, it’s outside – a carnival or something, because there’s lots of people and it’s loud…and i’m playing a banjo. it’s a six string banjo, but it’s not strung like blakes’ 6 string banjo, it’s strung with four high guitar strings and the bottom two strings are light gauge strings that were cranked up an octave, like the top strings on a 12 string guitar. and it sounded cool as hell. i guess it was an idea that was trying to reveal itself to me through my subconscious, since i hadn’t left room over my head for the “light bulb” to go off. so of course, i had to head straight for eBay and start looking around for 6 string banjos. that’s an instrument that i don’t have one of yet…haven’t hit the “buy it now” button yet, but i’m thinking it’s a matter of time now….

gonna take on some home rennovations while wendys’ away these next couple of weeks…i need to make some serious changes in the “studio” upstairs to make it usable and comfortable – need to get everything wired the way it needs to be so that it’s all patchable, and usable as such. i haven’t done much of anything up there over the course of the summer due to the lack of air conditioning in that room…but i haven’t really felt too compelled in that department, with everything else that’s been going on from a band/live standpoint.

gotta get through today first, though.

a voice and a guitar

…i could see myself getting back into doing solo acoustic gigs on a limited basis pretty easily, i think.

of course, i’d have to book them myself, and (barring my efforts on charlie degenharts’ behalf recently) i haven’t made any proactive effort to book an appearance for myself or one of my bands in years.

a big part of it is laziness, but an equally unavoidable truth is that i’m not very good at representing myself to the world. i don’t have much of a sense of my worth, i don’t think. i know my talents pretty well, but i don’t do so hot when it comes to placing a price on them and flaunting them before the talent buying public.

never have.

and after blowin’ it big time where the charlie dates were concerned, i think i’ll just let what trickles in happen, and leave it at that. sounds like a plan.

i did enjoy playing this weekend, though. i didn’t realize how much i missed going out with a guitar and playing by myself…there’s something different about the way i sing, even, when it’s in that format. when i’m singing with the band, it’s always on, head tilted back, screamin’ the blues. on saturday, it didn’t much matter to anyone what i played, when i started or stopped, etc…they just enjoyed what i was doing. a couple of them, enough so that they bought my CD while they were there too.

i played whatever popped into my head…mostly my old faves, but a few newer tunes too…it was a good experience…i’m glad i did it. i also got to play some pretty seriously competitive volleyball with the folks there too…

i think i’m gonna have to cave in and take something…my head is pounding and i’m not sure why.


the bad brass lantern taste continues…

found out over the weekend that one of the folks i had expected to come out had called the club to find out what time we started and were told that there was no music that night.  that, in addition to nothing being in the paper listings or on the website.  also talked to todd this morning and found that he’s been pulling the same song and dance with some of the other bands that have played there.

the more things change, the more they stay the same.

on the wall where we rehearse, we have a super-sized, blown up copy of an article from the hamburg item newspaper – the headline reads “back door at jack d’s closed”.  it was a club we played once, where we ran into a similar situation with a whining bar owner who tried to renegotiate the bands’ guarantee after the show.  we got everything straightened out that night, and decided we weren’t going back, to everyones’ satisfaction.  a few weeks later, though, we got an email at the bands’ website from a girl who had taken over booking for them, saying that she really wanted to have us back.  so i brought it up at rehearsal, and barry flatly quoted a price that he didn’t think they’d pay.  for whatever reason, though, when we went back to them with the price, they didn’t even flinch. so we booked another date at our new price for a couple of months down the road and put it on our calendars…

so on the way to the gig that night, i get a call from darryl on my cell phone – they’re all starting to arrive at the gig, and the owner..the one who’d given us a hard time on the first booking…tells us he has no intention of paying us what we’d committed to playing the show for.  so we drove out to the venue and everyone met on the sidewalk outside the door and we put it to a vote…and the result was a resounding thumbs down.  we weren’t even gonna set up.  we decided instead to take our not-yet-surprise-birthday-party for wendy over to the vfw in hamburg.

somehow, word got out that we were there – the cell phones were abuzz that night – and we got a call from the club owner on the vfw phone, and i ended up speaking with him personally.  that was waaaay more fun than it should have been…i wasn’t rude or belligerent, i just told him that we committed to playing the show for a set fee, and that it didn’t cast him in a very trustworthy light to start rearranging the terms the night we showed up.  it seemed the calmer i was, the more hot under the collar he got, until he finally hung up on me after making some remark about how we’d never play there again, blah blah blah…

justice in this case has been served via the reality that we’re still here and he’s not.

my gut tells me that someday i’ll be able to say the same thing about the brass lantern guy.

we have rehearsal tonight…and i’m not really looking forward to it, for the simple and solitary reason that i’m not very well prepared.  i haven’t had much time of late to set aside for homework, and it bums me out.  the days are getting cooler, though, and i do see myself spending a lot more time upstairs than i have this summer.  one of my projects for wendy’s trip to florida (filed under “what i’m gonna get done while she’s gone”) is to completely unplug/replug everything in a manner that makes sense and try to initiate some sense of feng shui up there…that’s a pipe dream, i know, but i need to get somewhat close to that.

i’m also considering undertaking the Great Guitar Shelving Project…remains to be seen.  haven’t been very energetic lately, and that will definitely require some energy.  but i’ve arrived at a point where i just have this sinking feeling when i walk into my house, because i know what’s gonna be waiting for me there…chaos and disorder.  and the more stuff i manage to sort through and liquidate, the more shit materializes out of thin air. it’s really pretty pathetic.

but i will…repeat, will…get on top of this in the coming weeks.

as soon as i learn steve gaines’ guitar solos for “that smell”.