oh, the horror of it all…

now playing: marshall crenshaw, “monday morning rock”

today, i’ve gotten my sixth email asking not to buy gas on a specific day, and all the days have been different so far. the one today was especially funny, because it said that “september 1st has been formally declared ‘stick it up their behind’ day”, and that people from the US and canada should not buy any gas on that day. now it goes without saying, of course, that this date isn’t consistent with the dates in the other emails, but i also marvel at someone who would go through the trouble of FORMALLY declaring a specific day “stick it up their behind” day. i could see a proctologist perhaps subscribing to that notion, but i just don’t know how formal you can make “stick it up your behind” day. kinda seems more like an off-the-cuff, spur of the moment kinda thing.

i think i’m going to start an email decrying the price gouging that campbell’s soup has done in the time since buying up chef boy-ar-dee and ask people not to buy spaghettio’s on september 23rd, so that their stockpiles of tomatoey goodness start to back up and overflow their warehouses to the point that they’ll have to sell them for fifteen cents a can to clear their backlog or possibly face bankruptcy…or worse yet, people might just realize that it isn’t as hard to live without spaghettio’s as they thought, and they might stop buying them altogether! and if that happens, well – life as we know it would be completely turned upside down. i mean, what would they do? go back to – egad – cooking actual food?


i just can’t continue this particular scenario. it’s too painful, too scary, to consider.

i’m sorry if i frightened anyone.

a chill kinda place

now playing: lyle lovett, “north dakota”

day two of my two day break between weeks of gretna theatre shows – i have to say that i’m really glad i took this show on, even if for no other reason but to show me how a real theatre company does things. these folks are on top of everything. shows start on time, intermissions run the proper length, everyone is professional, everyone treats everyone else with respect and (generally speaking) mutual admiration, and they’re a genuine pleasure to be around.

it would’ve been possible to say that about the band for the last show i did, but that’s about it…everyone else was kinda all over the map.
i’ve been giving some thought to life after the summer theatre season – i’ve got a couple of things that are potentially on my plate, but nothing definite has formed up yet, so i can’t really say that they’re for certain…but i’m hoping that they both pan out…they’d be nice additions to the album project, in terms of things to have on my plate.
a few weeks ago, i was prowling about the internet looking for potential work, and i came upon an ad from a young girl who’d just lost her guitar player, and i went to her site to check her out…i was thoroughly impressed with her songwriting and how she’d put her album together, so i emailed her a link to my site, and she responded almost immediately and told me that she couldn’t use me because i was too good.

i emailed her back and told her that i didn’t see myself that way, that i wrote her because i dug her music, and that if she was OK with it, i’d really like to play with her, but i never heard another word.
too good. i’ve never heard that one before. too fat, too lazy, too moody? sure. but too good? how good is too good? is it really discernable as to whether someone is too good for a situation without putting them in the middle of it?
anyway, these other two gigs – one is playing in a band with a member of a national act from the philadelphia area whos’ just put out a solo album, and the other one is a handful of area dates with a singer/songwriter from the chicago area who fronts a band with his wife that i’m a huge fan of…he’s just released a solo album and he’s preparing to tour behind it.
in other news, the studio is coming together nicely, and i should be rolling tape (disk? how do you “roll disk”?) for the poco album pretty soon.
i know what songs i definitely want to do for the record – but i only have a couple of things committed to tape as of yet…and some of it i like better than others…

(and yeah, i said ‘tape’ instead of ‘disk’…it just makes more sense from a recording perspective, i think. if you anal retentive types have a problem with that, then…well, too bad, i guess.)
anyway, i’ve had a goal (in the time since wendy moved out) of making the basement more of a comfortable, hang-out, chill kinda place…and i’ve taken exactly zero steps in that direction in the time since. but i really need to think in those terms before i start work on this record in earnest…especially if i’m going to be spending a lot of time down there. i have to get the partitions delivered for the drum baffles and set all that up, i have to move some of the stuff to the room at the front of the house that i’d planned on moving, i have to do a general organization of the whole area and put aside some of the stuff that i know i don’t use as much…it’s a lot of work that needs to be done…
…but i also see a three day weekend on the horizon….

tonight on 20/20

now playing: eastmountainsouth, “ghost”

tonight on 20/20, marc cohn will be on to talk about what happened to him in denver earlier this month.

marc’s guitarist shane fontayne was in the van with marc when it happened, and posted a detailed account of what happened that night….

“…We were three blocks from our hotel and the street we were on wound through a building. If any of you know Park Avenue in New York and how it winds through and around what used to be the Pan Am building at 42nd Street, that is what it was like, except that where we were was newer and quite brightly lit. On this trip we traveled, as usual, in a fifteen-passenger van. Tom is driving. Jay is next to him up front. Marc is on the bench seat behind Tom and Jay, and I am on the bench seat behind Marc.

As we emerged back onto the “normal” stretch of road, we saw a man running in the opposite direction and on the other side of the street, obviously running away from someone or something. His right hand was clutched to his side as though he were holding on tightly to something and running for all he was worth. We all thought, “Wow – I wonder what he’s running from?” Our attention was focused on him as he ran in one direction and we drove in the other.

Now when our attention came back to the street ahead, a man had stepped out in front of the van. My memory doesn’t recall if we stopped to avoid hitting him, but Tom says we kept moving. What I do recall is seeing him stand in front of us, pointing towards us. In what can only have been a couple of seconds, we realized that he was holding a gun and I clearly saw the look in his eyes of an intent that left no doubt in my mind. I knew for certain that he was going to shoot….”

you can read the entire account here, on shane’s website. shane is also among those interviewed for the 20/20 segment tonight.

wendy called me on my cell phone on the way to work the morning after it happened…she began reading the report off the computer screen and i was waiting for her to tell me that he was dead…i heard “shot in the head” and you just assume that “died” is gonna be one of the next few words you hear. then, if you don’t hear “died”, you start thinking about how much longer they have…until you hear “treated and released” – at which point you start thinking, “….WTF? is that a typo?”

obviously, God is a big marc cohn fan, too.

the first image that popped into my head was his son, max, who had been with him at newport that year. i have other pics that i’d taken that year, from the back of the stage, where the steps go up – if i’m not mistaken, it was just him and shane that year…i know it was just him and another guitar player, but i can’t remember if it was shane or not. i know it wasn’t long enough ago that it would’ve been jeff pevar – and i don’t know for certain if there had been anyone in between jeff and shane in marc’s band.

so between marc actually being able to walk away from this and news earlier this week of dan fogelberg’s prostate cancer recovery, it’s been a pretty good week for good news.

repetitive stress situations

now playing: new england patriots versus new orleans saints on fox sports

every now and then, something comes over my son and he slips into his comic mode, and he’s just unbelievable to be around. tonight would have been, by all assumptions, jayda’s night for attention – she finally, after much persuasion, got a consensus from her mom and i to get her belly button pierced…i took her to do the deed after work, went in with her (along with her friend frankie) to get it done…dylan was along, but he waited in the lobby. didn’t want to see it, i’m sure.

so we went to boehringers’ afterward, and he slipped into his zone…he started off with a remark about “blood veins”…blood veins, as opposed to all those other kinds of veins, ya know. so i said that we were gonna assign unnecessary adjectives to everything for the rest of the night. i started off with some remark about jayda not putting so many fries in her “chewing mouth” or she might choke on one of them if it got caught in her “swallowing throat”…and it only really got worse from there…culminating in dylan’s perhaps-freudian slip about the “ejacuation proclimation”…

somehow, i made it home without pissing my pants…

we were all in pretty good spirits, considering the irrefutable proof we encountered, when i picked up the kids, that their mom is most definitely on crack…she told me that she really liked my hair the length that it is now, and that i “had a richard gere thing goin’ on”…


a number of things have been pointing me to a definite necessity for a sabbatical soon. very soon.

first of all, i’m finding of late that something that i’ve been noticing as a passing fluke for the past year and a half or so has become entirely too regular, too routine, and has increased in its intensity.

it started out as an occasional odd failure on the part of my fingers to execute the orders sent to them by my brain…as far back as some of the stone road gigs, there were times when i could remember intending to play a certain phrase or run, and my hands would have other ideas. i just wrote it off to an intermittent brain fart or something equally harmless. and it happened so infrequently that i never had reason to consider it past the point in time that it happened.

however, i’ve been finding – now that i’ve been playing these happy hour gigs in tandem with the “tommy” schedule, that it’s descended into many, if not all, of the traditional carpal tunnel symptoms. numbness that shoots up my wrist into my forearm, tingling in my fingers, inability to push down on the strings hard enough to form clean chords…it hasn’t been perpetual, but it’s been persistent enough to get my attention.

i haven’t seen anyone about this yet…i’ve talked to a few people about it, but i haven’t sought out any actual professional help. i will, soon, but i have the gretna show to get through now, i have viva gigs scheduled through the end of the year, and i have an album project that’s very important to me that i’m beginning after the gretna show is up that i will finish before i undergo any kind of treatment.

so, long story short – i’m not sure what happens with my hands in 2006, but i have an agenda for 2005, and i’m going to do my best to get everything done that i have on my plate for now.

what this also means is that there won’t be any side projects of note for the rest of the year, unless i’m called upon by one of my existing allies for something. i’ve had a couple of things ruminating (one of which i seem to have booked for the wrong week, at the same point in time that i had to replace my cellphone battery…mister murphy looks over my shoulder and laughs his ass off every now and then, i’m sure)..anyway, a couple of things ruminating that i was hoping to begin working on after the theatre thing had finally run its course, but i’m having my doubts at this point as to whether or not i should even be thinking that way. it’s funny, though, man…there i’ll be sitting, scanning gigfinder or craigslist looking for “musicians wanted” situations, even though i know that now probably isn’t a good time. it’s pathetic in the same way that a married man with a mistress sitting in a singles bar reading personal ads in the paper would be.

so i’ve made the only rational decision i can make – i’m going to finish what’s on my plate and deal with following through on my existing committments, and then we’ll see what the future has in store.

this album is going to be a very special record…i’ve committed to the project, but i haven’t yet found a home for it. it’s certainly possible that i might release it myself, but i’d rather find a credible place for it to lay its head. i haven’t been working that hard at that part of it yet, frankly…i made a couple of phone calls to folks that i felt would be the best place to send it, but i haven’t followed through on that as of this point in time. but i will.

here’s the scoop.

for the longest time now, my buddy jon rosenbaum has had this running joke that i should do an EP of poco covers and call it pickin’ up the pizza (a pun on the title of the first record, pickin’ up the pieces, for those not in the know).

about six to eight weeks ago, jon and i were having dinner with the band before their show at the old mill in spring lake, nj, and the subject came up…and later that night, i talked privately with rusty about it and got the necessary blessing to evolve jons’ brainchild into a full length album of poco covers, which i’d release as a benefit album for george granthams’ medical expenses. i’m going to cut the record myself and keep the costs down, utilize the help of friends that i’ve already spoken with about working on the record (including wendy), and – if no label chooses to participate – sell it through the site and through whatever other avenues will participate, as long as they respect the non-profit spirit of the project.

i really, really want to have that available by 12/1, if that’s doable. if this situation with my left hand pans out to be what my instincts tell me what it is, then i’ll be as ready as i’m going to be to face whatever the hell this might be.

i’ve also been weighing a book project that i thought about delving into some years back that i found some renewed interest in recently when i heard from one of the guys who i’d planned to interview for it…so i might think about going down that road (although i can’t see how typing is any less a repetitive stress situation than playing guitar could be)…but that’s a long way away, for me.

i don’t want to cast a shadow of gloom over what’s happening for the next four to six months…to the best of my knowledge, this isn’t a warren zevon situation…i’m not dying or anything, and life will go on. however, when you’ve spent this much of your life and you’ve invested this much of your self-esteem into your ability to do something like what i do, it’s pretty daunting to have to think about a life devoid of that ability. certainly, i’m considering the worst case scenario far, far sooner than i should be…but i would have to imagine that most people, when faced with something with this much potential to change their lives, probably do the same thing. i don’t think i’ll still be thinking this way a year from now, no matter what the reality reveals itself to be…but i’m finding myself forced to consider some possibilities that i had no reason to consider not that long ago.



now playing: david wilcox, “you were going somewhere”

there are days when you just trip over the absolute funniest stuff…this was part of a journal here, and i just had to bring it over and share it. these really are priceless.

sometimes you get on a roll and they just don’t stop coming…like those conversations you have with friends every so often where neither of you can stop laughing, and everything one says just makes the other laugh harder.

glad this guy managed to save these for publication.
The following is a transcript of an IM conversation between a friend & I that started out normally enough, with us bitching about euphamisms in the English language, but soon degenerated into us trying to outdo each other in coming up with ridiculous fake hyphenated words. Some of them were priceless, so they are recorded here, in context, for posterity.

Tidge314 says:


Tidge314 says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:

what r u doin

Wrongwinded says:

on phone hang on

Tidge314 says:

you goin to game tonite>?

Wrongwinded says:

no game

Wrongwinded says:

i think im going camping this weekend

Tidge314 says:

why you not goin to game?

Tidge314 says:

you gotta go, its my first hockey game, fool

Wrongwinded says:

im workin here. you wanna go campin?

Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:

with the Jones street boys, out at the cabin

Tidge314 says:

Ill see wut i can do

Wrongwinded says:

ill see what I can do…feh

Tidge314 says:

who you feh’ing?


I’ll bah you…

Wrongwinded says:

I hate that phrase. what the hell does that mean anyway. You know what the hell you can do, so just say what youre gonna do.

Tidge314 says:

ok fine im not goin camping

Wrongwinded says:

thank you.

Tidge314 says:

waht happened to you today?

Wrongwinded says:

somebody said ‘proactive’ to me at the studio. i hate that word, it’s a damn made-up word. Why is ‘active’ not sufficient?

Tidge314 says:

totally sufficient

Wrongwinded says:

one can be active or inactive; nothing in betwween.

Tidge314 says:

I’m down. are you sure made-up is hyphenated?

Wrongwinded says:

you just hyphenated it

Tidge314 says:

damn you

Wrongwinded says:

i’ll show you hyphenated

Wrongwinded says:

you’re euphamism-happy

Tidge314 says:

you’re turtle-scented

Wrongwinded says:

youre sphincter-riffic!

Tidge314 says:

Youre snack-oriented

Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:


Tidge314 says:


Wrongwinded says:

these are beautiful. I gotta make it look like Im working.

Tidge314 says:

fine. Sure youre not coming to the game? we got the box…

Wrongwinded says:

nah, Im out.

Tidge314 says:

alright. later.

another dan fogelberg update

now playing: shane nicholson, “life on mars”

it appears that my thoughts from last week regarding dan fogelberg must’ve been conflicting with the reality of the situation. the following is posted on the official site:

In May of 2004, Dan was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

August 13, 2005
A personal letter from D.F.

First, let me send everyone some very good news. In our first 14 months of treatment, we have succeeded in slowing the progression of my prostate cancer down to an almost negligible level. Jean and I are thrilled and incredibly relieved and finally feel like we can at last take a breath. While we understand that what we’re dealing with is a long term condition that will have to be dealt with, monitored and treated for probably the rest of my life, we are terribly encouraged to have come so far, so fast. It has certainly been the most trying experience of our lives and yet has proven to be one of the most illuminating as well.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude to all of the thousands of wonderful people who have sent us such incredibly moving and supportive e-mails via the Living Legacy web site. I am quite certain that the love and prayers that have been directed to us from all over the world have had a tangible and potent healing effect. It is truly overwhelming and humbling to realize how many lives my music has touched so deeply all these years. Each one of you who have taken the time and effort to reach out to Jean and I have helped immeasurably to uplift our spirits and keep us looking strongly forward during some very rough moments. I thank you from the very depths of my heart.

I currently have no plans to return to the concert stage or the recording studio in the foreseeable future, but who knows? At least for now, I prefer to keep my options open.

Again my deepest thanks and love to all,


Now for the sermon.

To each and every man….
I cannot encourage you strongly enough to get a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test and DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) EVERY YEAR.

The medical community suggests this for men over 50, but black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should start getting tested at 40 – 45 years of age.

The PSA test is a simple blood test…it only takes a minute or two. The DRE, okay, every man squirms at the thought of this exam, but hey, it too takes only a minute or two, and IT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Prostate cancer can be very slow growing or very aggressive, but detected early while it is still confined to the prostate gland, it can usually be treated and cured successfully.

Once it spreads beyond the prostate it is called Advanced Prostate Cancer (PCa). At this point it becomes imminently more life threatening and harder to treat. Do yourself and your loved ones a huge favor and GET CHECKED REGULARLY. I promise you, you DON’T want to go through what I’m going through if you can avoid it.

Education and awareness are key, I urge you to follow the link below to the Prostate Cancer Foundation web site and read up on how best to protect yourself and reduce your likelihood of contracting this terrible disease.



i’m free….i-i’m free…..

now playing: john gorka, “morningside”

it’s true….the tommy run is over. and i have to say, while i’m glad to be free of the perpetual claim to my time, i’ll miss it.

we got together at the drummer’s house on friday night…all of us, even jeff…and had the unofficial band party. just to cement the cast of characters, here are the actual names of the guys in the band….

drums – buzz saylor
keys – jeff miller (both of simon apple)
bass – gene orlando
electric guitar – fred bernardo

fred was the musical director, the guy responsible for getting me into this mess…i had met jeff before when he worked with a production of jesus christ superstar that jayda was in, but i couldn’t really say that i knew him. buzz – i had no real knowledge of him other than his playing in JCS, and gene was the toddler of the bunch – at nineteen, he was far and away the youngest of the lot. i’d be lying if i said it didn’t show at first, but he really got his shit together and played the show like a pro by the end of the run. jeff and buzz were no-brainers, and probably the only people who could’ve played this show they way they did. buzz is just phenomenally talented and makes everything he does look easy. jeff – wow. instead of gushing about jeff, let me just tell you this…there were three books for the keyboard parts on this show. when it ran on broadway, there were three keyboard players in the show, all playing separate parts. as a testament to jeff’s talent, he covered all three of them – without missing a part. that’s just an amazing feat. and he did it like a martial arts master – never outwardly reflecting any difficulty he might’ve been having with a specific passage, consistently calm and cool on the outside, and throughout the whole show, only made one audible mistake (which prompted me to tell him, “it actually comforted me, man, because i was starting to think that at some point you were gonna trip and fall and hit your chin on the way down..and then your faceplate was gonna pop off and reveal your terminator circuitry behind your face.”)

fred is fred – what can you say? it was the first time i’d ever played with him, although i’d worked for him before at the store ages ago. all his idiosyncracies are still in place – we were discussing at the get-together on friday night the best way to mess with his head for the last show, but we never reached a consensus…so i took it upon myself. i know how wound up he gets about the clock, so i stood outside and talked to the security guy in the parking lot until 8:02, when the crowd in the ticket line was starting to dwindle, and i waited until then to walk upstairs to the loft. oddly, he didn’t seem as wound up as i thought he woulda been…so all i really accomplished was to get in some totally unneeded sweating practice.

so we’re all sitting around at the after-gig on friday night, and the analogy i made was that the show had been like summer camp in a lot of ways – there was the one annoying kid that you kinda had to deal with because he was always there, always telling the same stale joke at the beginning of every show, et cetera…but this year, there were a couple of new kids who became fast friends and really made the whole experience worth it.

buzz asked me early on…”you a beer guy?” i thought he meant of the variety that walked the bleachers at baseball games and such at first, but i caught on. wendy and i went out with buzz and his lady, sue, after the first weekends’ shows, and ended up spending time together every weekend of the shows’ run. i’d say that i’ll miss that the most, but i’m pretty confident that we’ll continue to do that on some level.

jeff’s the george harrison of the group…very reserved, quiet…and most definitely not a beer guy. you kinda have to work to get him to offer anything up. but we did get his attention on friday night.

buzz had told me this story about a specific gig in ocean city, md many years ago, when they came up missing a keyboard player at four in the morning…and walked back to the gig to find jeff lying prone on the bar with a funnel in his mouth, being served up shots by the bartender. to know jeff would be to know how totally unlikely something like this could ever be…but there he was, nonetheless. apparently, he’d been there for some time, as well. buzz and their guitar player at the time carried jeff back to their room and stayed up with him all night to keep him from hendrixing (choking on his own vomit) and they carried him back and forth to the bathroom until noon the next day, when they poured him into the car to drive back to reading to play a show that night.

that’s probably enough backstory to move on….

friday night, i came in with a large box, wrapped in christmas paper…fred was supposed to be there, but he hadn’t showed, and as late as i was in arriving, i was pretty sure that he wasn’t coming. i went almost immediately into my speech…

“jeff, you were the guy who turned this band from just barely passable into an amazing little outfit, and since the run is almost over, we all wanted to present you with this token of our appreciation, in recognition of what you’ve brought to this gig. thanks, man.”

so i handed him the box, wrapped in christmas paper (it was all i had), and he opened it…

…to reveal a bottle of strawberry creme Mad Dog 20/20….and a large, red funnel.

we had a great time…stayed up until the wee, wee hours (including a food run at 1am by buzz and myself) and talked for a long time – buzzs’ friend Kork was there as well, a new guy – who fit right in with the gang and most certainly meets the criteria for my “summer camp” analogy. i’m sure our paths will cross again, too. it was 4:20am when i glanced over at the clock before drifting off to sleep.

i woke up at 9am the next morning to a phone call from keith amos, beckoning me to the shop…he woke me from a dream so vivid, that i sprang out of bed to finish what i’d been doing even after we’d talked for a couple of minutes.

i dreamt that jayda was perhaps a little over a year old…she still had those thin tufts of bright blonde hair that she had when she was small (her hair took a long time to come in), and i was sitting on the sofa holding her, and she had her thumb in her mouth (which she never did), and i asked her if she was ok, and she shook her head no, and i said, “what hurts?” and she put her hand over her nose…indicating that she was stuffy. i asked her if she wanted a drink, and she said ok…i checked her diaper and saw that she needed to be changed as well, so i said to her that we’d go get her a drink as soon as we got her a dry diaper…and that’s when the phone rang.

and as soon as i hung up with keith, i sprang out of bed to go change my daughters’ diaper.

ok, so maybe it was a combination of lack of sleep and the vividness of the dream…

…or maybe i just miss my kids right now.

yesterday, i had planned on coming to work to finish a few things up, so i told my friend angela that i’d come by to look at her computer before i came in…and one of the fringe benefits of doing so is getting to spend time with her daughter alicia (who’ll be two a week from wednesday) – she reminds me of jayda a lot – her precociousness, her wit, her energy…she sat on my lap while i was working on the computer and let me read books to her for a long time, and i was reminded of jayda bringing over her beat copy of “the fox and the hound” and asking me to “read tod and copper”….

if whomever reads these little rants and musings chooses to take anything from them, i would simply say this – if you have small children, or if you plan to have children, try to set aside as much time as you can for them while they’re small. once that time is gone, you can never, ever get it back – and no matter how much you manage to squeeze in, it’ll never, ever be enough.

for once it’s gone, you will miss it more than you can ever know until it’s too late to do anything about it.

for the better part of last week, i was weighing whether or not to accept a job playing guitar, mandolin and dobro in a gretna theatre production of a show called stand by your man – the tammy wynette story. i drove out on saturday to meet with the musical director and to time the drive – it took 55 minutes on the way there, but only 45 on the way back, so it might not interfere with other work i have – and we discussed the show a bit, and i spoke briefly with the other principle actor in the show, pat garrett for a while…we compared notes on all the folks he and i had in common, and i got a pretty good feeling from them, all in all. mount gretna is an incredible place – it’s right on a lake, and it’s surrounded by all these quaint little cabins inhabited by all walks of people.

so, i played a couple of songs with pat, and i agreed to sign on for it. nate handed me a contract, outlining the pay for the rehearsals and for the shows, and i signed it.

and i had no more than put the cap back onto the pen when the actress they had chosen to portray the lead walked in.

michelle nagy.

some of you are aware of my history with michelle – we were both managed by the same company at one time, and we actually toured together a bit…we’ve been from nashville to toronto together. after i learned to accept the fact that she’s completely and hopelessly insane, we actually became friends – but i wasn’t terribly sure how to process her at first.

so she comes dancin’ up to me and says, “i knew i’d get you to play for me one day, tommy!”

rehearsals start this saturday…i should have some interesting stories to tell from this one.

i am, obviously, a little worried about timelines and the commute – during this run, i have three viva gigs, and i’m loathe to give those up, frankly. but i think that either tonight or tomorrow night, i’m going to make the drive again during the actual time that i’d be making it to re-time it. on saturday when i went, the drive turned out to be almost exactly 55 minutes, which would be unacceptable…but the drive back was ten minutes shorter, on the same stretch of road. there was a backup due to a national guard convoy being checkpointed at the turnpike exit, and that’s hopefully not going to be an issue for the shows, but you just never know…and only three of the twelve shows would be affected by the viva gigs. one of them, however, falls between a 2pm matinee and that nights’ 8pm show.

this could be hairy. very much so. but i feel like i can pull it off, if i can ease my mind about the commute and get comfortable with that aspect of it. i’m going to call jeff at viva and nate from the show and discuss it with the two of them to make sure they’re both aware of the conflicts and see what we can do to make this acceptable and easy for everybody.

gretna appears to be quite the operation – they took my measurements for costumes, told me what i was expected to wear, that they’d be doing my laundry for me, et cetera…so apparently the band is actually gonna be onstage for this thing, part of the show. not sure specifically how i feel about that…i think i’d rather just play, but so be it. the paycheck (almost twice the amount for more shows over more time for tommy) will make up for whatever misgivings i have about being part of the show, i’m sure.

and after this one is over, i promise – no more for awhile. i have another project that i’m itchin’ to get started on, and while taking this gig on has only really postponed it by a couple of weeks, i really want to be able to focus on it and get it started so i can have it done and in the can by november or so.

once the tape is rolling and i have some credible evidence that the project is moving forward, i’ll make a formal announcement of what it’s about and why it’s happening.

patience, grasshopper.


my personal ticket to sporting immortality

now playing: jimmie spheeris, “i am the mercury”

maybe i shouldn’t be sharing this, but this is my thought for today:

if sweating were an olympic sport, i’d be tiger woods, michael jordan and lance fucking armstrong all rolled into one.

people would be sick of the sight of me up there on the podium, saluting and singing the national anthem with the obligatory huge rings in the pits of my warmup suit…every four years, it’d be the same old same old. other countries would stop sending athletes to compete, concentrating instead on other sports in which they stood an actual fighting chance. i would so dominate the sport that i would actually discourage others from taking it up.

in fact, i might be singularly responsible for its death as a competitive medium, because no one could possibly hope to unseat me from the throne. every now and then i might see pete errich from shame manage to register a blip, a distant dot, on my radar…but for the most part my rear view mirror would be devoid of anyone remotely capable of challenging my prowess.

i’m really starting to hate summer. i don’t mind the outdoors, when it’s seasonable, but that really boils down to a couple of weeks in the spring and a couple of weeks in the fall – to the extent that spring or fall really even exist anymore as a viable entity.

in between those two periods, you can find me either in the shower or beside the air conditioner. that’s where i’ll be.

cue adam duritz and the boys….”iiiiii ammmm the swwweattt king…”


as if this was really news to anyone…..

now playing: poco, “sometimes we are all we got”

well, folks, it looks like going indie has officially been “mainstreamed”…this article appeared on the cnn website today, picked up from the associated press wire.

fellow musicians, our secret is out.


Music acts ‘go it alone’
Growing number of artists are going independent

NEW YORK (AP) — In 2000, the Churchills thought they had it made.

The New York-based pop band had landed a major-label record deal and were fixed up with producer Mark Hart, former keyboardist with the seminal Australian band Crowded House.

Hart and the band booked a posh recording studio and the label, Universal, gave them a near-limitless budget. They recorded with only the finest guitars and ate gourmet lunches — all charged to the album expense account.

Three months later, they had spent $270,000 and the record was finished. But strangely, nothing seemed to be happening.

“It felt like we were nobody’s priority,” said Churchills bassist-vocalist Bart Schoudel. “We would stop by the label’s marketing department, and they would say, ‘Oh, you guys made a great record and I think the critics are going to love it.”‘

Countless other bands have found themselves in a similar quandary: Signed to a major label, with promises of widespread distribution and big promotional budgets, yet going nowhere. They are casualties of an industry increasingly geared toward acts who can reliably sell millions of albums at a time.

As a result, a growing number of artists who do not fit that paradigm are going independent — financing their own records and tours, securing distribution deals and serving as their own publicists.

For these so-called Do It Yourself artists, securing a major-label deal is no longer the object of their aspirations. They have either become disillusioned with the majors based on past mishaps or never saw a place for themselves within the establishment to begin with. Their efforts have been facilitated by home recording and the Internet.

The Churchills have released two albums since leaving Universal in 2001. And Christopher Dallman, a 26-year-old singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, got private financing to record his first album, “Race the Light,” two years ago. He shopped it around to small labels when it was finished, eventually piquing the interest of New Jersey-based Treasure Records.

He’s since signed with a booking agent and will tour Ireland and North America this summer. He supplements his schedule by booking scattershot shows on his own, makes his own fliers and maintains his own Web site, all without the help of a manager or publicist.

“Most important are your songs, your live show, your album,” Dallman said. “But it’s a major mistake to think that your work ends there. I am on my computer all day long, making contacts, sending e-mails, researching different ways of getting my stuff out there. So time-consuming, but really worth it.”

This allows him to maintain control over his own creative output. Major labels often exert pressure on artists to record material that is radio-friendly; a famous recent example is Fiona Apple, whose third album was rejected by her label allegedly for not being commercial enough and has since been leaked on the Internet.

“I can’t imagine being creative with restrictions,” Dallman said.

Since the 1970s, major labels have increasingly viewed musicians more in terms of their marketability than their talent, said Steven Zuckerman, executive producer of New York City’s annual Global Entertainment Media Summit, a conference for independent artists.

Even by late in that decade, he said, “a business created by passionate music fans had become a business run by accountants and attorneys who treated an art form as nothing different than a box of shoes.” Consolidation has been the major force behind that trend, he said.

The DIY business model has long been prevalent among punk-rockers, who began to record and distribute their own material in the early 1980s. But only recently have other genres begun to adopt DIY practices, inspired by the success of such artists as Aimee Mann and Ani DiFranco.

DiFranco is the unofficial DIY hero. She founded her own label, Righteous Babe Records, in 1990 and became famous based on her manic touring and recording schedule. Mann, meanwhile, releases records on her own Superego imprint — though her profile got a big boost when her songs were included on the “Magnolia” soundtrack, released in 1999 on a major label.

The number of people recording music has also skyrocketed as home recording equipment and software have become increasingly affordable. A basic recording program, which can handle about 16 separate tracks, can now be bought for less than $100.

Skilled DIY musicians can learn to record music partially or wholly at home that sounds almost as good as what can be produced in a slick studio. The Churchills’ new album, for example, cost them less than $10,000.

How are all these aspiring musicians marketing their product? The Internet has been a huge boon, because it allows cheap, direct distribution of music to — and communication with — fans. Practically every artist now has an official Web site, most offering free MP3 downloads, and they maintain e-mail lists to promote upcoming shows and releases. Many musicians also sign up with services that license their songs to pay-per-download sites like iTunes.

A growing number of DIY bands have also begun to license their songs to television. The popularity of youth-oriented shows such as “Scrubs,” “Everwood” and “The O.C.” has created a burgeoning demand for music to be used in the background of scenes or over closing credits.

Ron Haney, lead guitarist and vocalist for the Churchills, spends several weeks a year in Los Angeles pitching the band’s songs to television insiders. “TV is the new radio,” Haney said. “Kids don’t listen to radio like they used to. TV is what’s used now to break bands.”

Since 1999, the Churchills have had songs placed in several shows, including all the ones mentioned above. Dallman has had a song placed in MTV’s “The Real World.”

In sum, artists say, the key is self reliance. Among the nine members of The Sharp Things, a New York-based orchestral pop band featuring horns and strings, are a music publicist, a Web designer, a journalist, a marketing professional, two video directors and a music business attorney.

Says lead vocalist Perry Serpa: “We’re a very self-sufficient bunch.”

The band self-released its first album, “Here Comes the Sharp Things,” in 2002; it won favorable reviews and got the band noticed by New Jersey-based indie label Bar/None, which released the follow-up, “Foxes and Hounds,” in May.

Still, the band — like all DIY bands — does not rely on its label to sell it to the public, as have bands of the past. Nor does it hire “outsiders” to do its legwork.

“What’s the point of seeking out certain people who would have half the passion, take twice as long to get the job done and are not as invested?” said Serpa. “We tend to outsource only when it’s completely necessary.”

But if the bottom line becomes irrelevant — or at least de-emphasized — what defines success among artists who choose to do it all themselves?

“The beauty of it is that the ideal of ‘success’ can be defined by each individual artist,” Serpa said. “If you manufacture 1,500 records with the intention of selling them all on the road over two years’ time and you achieve that, then that is success. The deal is that you really no longer need the bottom-liners to define that for you anymore.”


i’m personally quite fond of that last sentiment…the idea of defining success on your own terms, and not letting some asshole with a law degree who sidestepped into a job at a lable tell you what you have to do in order to be considered such.