Odds and Ends #2 (ELECTRIC BOOGALOO)

Hello, friends! How are things? What’s the weather like where you’re located? Shitty? Yeah, that’s how it is here, too. Of course, if the weather were pleasant all the time, that would be even shittier.

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Anyway…

Last month I published an “Odds and Ends” blog post, in which I expressed my thoughts about a number of subjects related to music and otherwise. People dug it. In case you missed it, I wrote about the following topics: 

  • Diet and exercise 
  • The television program Patriot 
  • My system for checking out, renewing and returning library books 
  • Psytrance music 
  • The possibility of leaving New Mexico 
  • That fuckin’ guy (you know the one) 
  • Vertical video (and how it’s so uncool) 
  • A pair of red pants I purchased 
  • My daily breakfast

Today I have more stuff on my mind. Steamy stuff. No, not that kind of steamy, you pervert. I’m talking about actual steam. Vapor. It’s building pressure. It needs to be released. The valve must be opened. The steam will dissipate into the ether. And that’s how the process works. 

Let’s go! 

Albuquerque’s Best Songwriter (lol) 

Albuquerque’s alternative weekly, The Alibi, is doing a best-of thing for the local music scene. They’re calling it the Best of Burque Music Showcase. Artists, venues and others were nominated by the public in a number of categories. Now those nominations have been revealed and voting is happening. I caught wind of this and decided to ask everyone I know to nominate me in the category of “Best Songwriter.” I mean, why not, right? 

Well, I got the nomination! 

Do I actually think I’m Albuquerque’s best songwriter? Uh, no. Most certainly not. I don’t think it’s possible to rank songwriters like that. And if it were possible, I doubt if I would even rate as the best songwriter in my neighborhood, much less the whole city. 

Do I think I belong in the conversation about songwriters worth listening to in Albuquerque? Oh yeah! So that’s why I pursued this particular honor. 

I nominated a number of people I admire for the honor, but they did not receive enough love from the public to earn official nominations for the contest. Here are some of their names: 

One of my goals for 2019 is to become established and well known as a songwriter and performing musician in Albuquerque. This is where I live now. It’s the epicenter. So it has to start here and spread through the substrate of awareness from this location. Being named “Best Songwriter” will help a lot with that. Just being nominated helps a lot, to be honest. 

So yeah. I am a little dubious about the idea of ranking artists like this. But I also see the value. It’s all a game anyway. And I told you I would be playing it. So here I am! 

If you are interested in voting for me, that would be great! Here’s a link you can use. Vote every day through February 27th, if you want to. Thanks! 

The whole thing culminates in a big hullabaloo in downtown Albuquerque on March 30, 2019. That should be fun. 

I will keep you posted. 

Gigs 

I want to play lots of shows, especially here in Albuquerque. I need to do about 10 years worth of work to get myself known in less than a year. Well, I don’t need to do that, but that’s how I want to work it. I’m old. I don’t have time to fuck around. 

So I have to play lots of shows. I want to play at least one show per week. And I want to play at a number of different venues and events. 

Enter the Red Velvet Underground

I played a show there in early January that was set up by some booking agent in Pennsylvania. He was representing an artist from Alabama who was on a national tour. He was looking for local performers to open the show and bring fans to the venue. Somehow he found me.

That whole thing went to shit. The headliner had an emergency that prevented him from embarking on his tour. So Alyssa Lodge and I did the show by ourselves and it worked out well. We played again a couple weeks later, this time with Xazziel Martinez filling out the lineup. A lot of people showed up. So they asked if I would do a regular show there. Weekly. On Thursdays. From 7:00 to 11:00 pm. I was like, “WHOA! HOLD ON!” 

I wrote about this in the “Getting Used to Not Feeling Ready” blog post from a couple weeks ago, by the way. 

Anyway, I said I’d think about it. Yes, I want to play every week in this city, but I never envisioned that it would be at the same venue. So I decided to accept the offer, but with the modification of having it be every other Thursday. From 7:00 to 9:00 pm. That seems much more manageable. And I’m very excited to build something cool with the opportunity. 

Right now I’m just doing the gigs by myself. Two hours of standing there and playing the shit out of my songs. It’s kind of an endurance test (typically, I play one-hour shows). But it’s great practice. It’s my version of the Beatles in Hamburg, basically. But with fewer hookers and pharmaceutical stimulants. Who is Klaus Voormann in this scenario? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out. 

The Red Velvet Underground is a kooky place. And that’s putting it mildly. I don’t know if I can even describe it. It’s got velvet all over the place. Finding surfaces that are not covered in velvet is nearly impossible. All colors, styles and patterns are represented. The people there are uniformly quirky, too. In ways that seem benevolent, so that’s good. I mean, yeah, I’ve heard some things that give me pause. But I have no reason to believe, based on my personal experiences, that I’ll have any trouble going forward at the venue. 

Pay is not great. But if I can start to get lots of people showing up, that will change. 

I have a vision for this Thursday-night thing. I’m thinking of creating my own A Prairie Home Companion. Or should I say my very own Live From Here? Chris Thile is a far more appropriate guiding light and inspiration than Garrison Keillor. Remind me to tell you about the time a person “complimented” my performance by telling me I sounded just like Garrison Keillor. 

So yeah, something like that, but also combined with a late-night TV talk-show vibe. 

Anyway, I want to have not only musicians, but also storytellers, comedians, magicians, plate spinners and all sorts of acts. I think it could be a thing. People don't give a shit about going to see singer/songwriters on Thursday nights. And I can’t blame them. I mean, we have Netflix and shit now. So it’s important to give them reasons to leave the house. I am grateful that people have come out to see me do my thing. But I think I would have even more people come to see me do my thing if my thing were included as part of a big, fun variety show. 

So that’s the big news as far as gigs go. 

Then there’s Red Door Brewing Company

By the way, what is it with places with the word “red” in their names? Weird. I think another goal this year will be to play some places that feature other colors in their nomenclature. Which reminds me — I need to figure out who to talk to about playing at the Blue Grasshopper. 

But yeah, Red Door. I started out last year by playing open mics that took place mostly at Red Door’s locations. And then I had my first paying gig in forever at Red Door’s Candelaria Road location. Gigs at the downtown location followed. It’s been a great partnership so far. I am actually playing at the downtown location later this week. And I’m hosting a singer/songwriter showcase at the Candelaria location in April, which I am very excited about. 

So with my shows at Red Velvet Underground and both Red Door Brewing Company locations, my calendar is filling up. But I want more. 

I will keep you posted. 

Buying More Gear 

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you know that I purchased a public address system recently. I put it through its paces the other day and it sounded pretty good. Everything works. All the cables and connectors are good. Stands and accessories all seem to be in functional condition. I am pleased. 

I purchased even more gear since then:

  • A couple of nicer microphones 
  • More mic cables 
  • A powered monitor speaker 
  • Nicer speaker cables 
  • 25 sets of 13-56 phosphor bronze guitar strings (more on this later) 
  • A carrying case specifically for my Yamaha STAGEPAS 400i system 

That stuff is showing up later this week. The excitement continues! 

Now I want to buy some lights and a 4’ x 5’ area rug for the stage. I’ll probably need to get some extension cords, too. And a nicer DI box for hooking up my guitar to the system. It actually has a Hi-Z input, but I don’t think it sounds as good as doing the DI. I also want to get even more microphones, more instrument cables and some other shit. I want to make sure I have everything I need, not just for myself, but to accommodate other performers at singer/songwriter showcases and other events I may host. 

And of course I want to buy more guitars and amplifiers. I want to go electric again. I need some serious work done on my Breedlove acoustic, which will cost money. Stuff like that. 

Thankfully, I’m making some money with music now. Not as much as I’m spending, but that will turn around. I’m also doing well with my day job. So I’m grateful to be in a position where I can buy the stuff I need to do the stuff I want to do. 

I will keep you posted. 

Throwing Stuff Away 

Acquiring new stuff has made it necessary for me to get rid of some old stuff. 

I cleaned out the office and my closet the other day, and I surprised myself by throwing out a bunch of things I didn’t think I’d ever part with. Stuff like old electronics and outdated digital recording gear that wasn’t valuable enough to sell. 

As it turns out, I owned many items that did not exactly spark joy. So now they’re gone. I’ll do it again in a little while. 

I will keep you posted. 

Dumbass Town — Population: Me 

I can’t help but notice how dumb I feel when I’m not reading regularly. 

Last month when I was deep into my reading habit, I felt so smart, quick and verbose. I came up with the words when I needed to come up with the words. But now that I haven’t picked up a book in a few weeks, I’m back in Dumbass Town. Not really, but I have noticed a little loss in mental sharpness. Like I always do when I’m not reading. So I’m going to try to pick up a book soon. And it’s probably going to be Annie’s copy of Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead in the Rain, which is all about A Tribe Called Quest. I’m looking forward to that. 

I will keep you posted. 

New Doctor, Same Old Blood Pressure 

It had been a few years since I saw the doctor. My insurance lapsed for a while because I am not good at keeping up with that kind of stuff. But I got caught up with it and I’m covered again now. 

Anyhoo, I saw a new primary-care physician last week. It went really well! I like the guy a lot. Very patient and relatable. A skilled listener. A champion explainer. And he looks exactly like my friend Byron

My visit went well. My blood pressure continues to be perfect, which has been the case ever since I started meditating regularly. I got some blood work done. We’re going to get to the bottom of this rash that’s been on my face for the last 14 months or so. Stuff like that. I scheduled a follow-up appointment, too. 

I also scheduled an appointment with a new therapist for my depression stuff. I don’t actually feel like I require therapy at this time, but thought I should check in since my insurance covers it. That appointment is happening tomorrow. Good times! 

I will keep you posted. 

Season Three of True Detective 

This is the main show I’m watching now. And I’m digging it quite a bit. 

Season one was outstanding. I thought it lost just a little bit of steam as it neared its conclusion, but overall it was fantastic. Such a cool dark vibe and mood. I really enjoy shows that include a suggestion of the supernatural, and TDS1 really delivered on that account. 

Season two sucked. That’s been written about a lot, so I don’t need to get into it here. 

Season three has been a return to form. The tone and style is closer to that of the first season, which is welcome. The performances have been terrific, particularly from Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff. This season even contains some in-story tie ins to the first season, which has been done artfully and in a manner that breathes life and meaning into the universe of the show. 

It wouldn’t be a show worth watching if I couldn’t nitpick it, though. 

Take, for example, how it treats the child victims of the crime that drives the plot. They are never represented as human beings with lives and interests and actual, you know, characteristics. They are used as devices through which the main characters can play out their dramas. The same thing can be said of basically any non male character on the show. If you are a woman on True Detective, you are either a victim or a plot device, not a human. Nevertheless, I am enjoying the show, and I think it has a lot to say about life and death and the nature of memory and the nature of consciousness. 

The final episode of this season airs this coming Sunday. What will I watch next? 

I will keep you posted. 

I Keep Breaking Strings and That’s Not Cool 

I know — it’s because of the way I play. But I’m not going to settle down. It’s the way I play. It’s how I sound the way I sound. 

But sweet Jesus, it is frustrating! 

It doesn’t matter if I’m using $2.00/set cheap-ass strings or $15.00/set coated Elixirs; I know that within two hours of playing after changing my strings, I’m going to break the A, D or G like it’s made of egg noodle. 

I’ve sanded the bridge. I’ve tried lots of things. I just keep breaking strings and I am having a hard time coming to peace with this reality. Like, I can’t get through a two-hour show without breaking one. And every time I do an open mic, I have to change my strings beforehand so I can ensure I get through three songs without interruption. 

I don’t know what else to do. Do you? 

I will keep you posted. 

My Shaving/Haircut Schedule 

I have been cutting my own hair for the last decade or so. I have my own clippers. I use the #1 guard, I think. Whatever the shortest one is. I used to do it every three weeks. Now I do it every two weeks. 

In the past, I would cut my hair with the clippers and then shave my face bare with a razor. Annie convinced me to treat my face hair the same way I treat the head hair. So now I just run the clippers over everything above my neck, and my girlfriend thinks I’m handsome. It’s a good system. 

I’m hairier than normal at this time because I’m trying to match up my haircut schedule with my Red Velvet Underground schedule. I need to look my best for those shows! So no haircut last week. That’ll happen in a day or two. And I can’t wait! 

I am not shy about expressing my jealousy of people who have long, thick flowing hair. I dream about having such locks of my own pretty frequently. Alas… 

Should I just get a cool hat? Maybe I’ll just get a cool hat. 

I will keep you posted. 

Finishing a Big Work Project 

I don’t like my job that much. Well, it’s fine. I like it better than most stuff I could do to make money. I am actually grateful for the work I have. But sometimes it can be very unpleasant, especially when deadlines for big projects approach. 

I met one of those deadlines yesterday. 

I’ve been working on ghostwriting a book for a client who runs their own business. I delivered the first half yesterday for review. 25,000 words of content (for comparison, this blog post is about 3,300 words). I’ll be delivering the second half in a couple of weeks, which will be easy; all the content has been written. It’s just a matter of putting it together and organizing it. 

I had been stressing out like a motherfucker for the last several weeks with the deadline looming. But now that it has passed and I produced what I needed to produce, I am feeling a special kind of ecstasy. 

I wish I could tell you more about it. Well, on second thought, no. It’s all pretty boring. The main thing is that I met a deadline successfully and it feels really great. My job isn’t perfect, but it’s the job I have and I appreciate it. I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and practice gratitude. And I’ll use the proceeds to buy more gear. 

I will keep you posted. 

That Ridiculous Steph-to-Giannis Bounce-Pass Alley Oop During the 2019 NBA All-Star Game 

Did you see it? Holy shit! I didn’t watch the game, but I caught the highlights, and this play almost caused me to miss my deadline yesterday. I must have watched it about 200 times. From all the angles. 

Giannis is just amazing. And Steph Curry is one of the all-time greats. Geometry in motion. Poetic trigonometry in motion. Organic chemistry in motion. Just beautiful! I love it! 

 

But the regular season can’t resume soon enough. My Bucks take on the Celtics soon and that’s going to be a good one. 

I will keep you posted. 

My Friend Buster Passed Away 

Buster was a 12-year-old Boston Terrier and one of my favorite dog-sitting clients. He had been experiencing rapidly declining health recently. His caretakers took him to the vet the other day and made the difficult decision to have him take his forever nap. 

He was such a good boy! I saw him just a couple weeks ago. He was sitting on the couch next to me when I wrote my “Getting Used to Not Feeling Ready” blog post. I knew he was experiencing some issues, but I honestly thought he had another year or so left in him. 

He was friendly, playful and loyal. Very loving. Well behaved. I had to feed him a pill and give him several eye drops each day while I took care of him, and he always performed like a real trooper, even though I knew it sucked for him. 

RIP Buster. 

What’s Going on With You? 

So yeah. That’s what’s going on with me. What do you think? What’s going on with you? 

Leave me a comment or something. It would be lovely to hear from you. Thanks!

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