Saturday, April 26, 2008

...the Musical!!

So, the work report. Since the beginning of the month I've been working in a record store. It was not without hesitation that I applied for this job. I've had a love/hate relationship with this particular store for about twenty years now, but I knew when I saw their ad that I could walk in and get hired. When I "interviewed" my boss actually said "You've worked for us before, so you know what you're getting into." How's that for an admission of being impossible to work for? Another downside is working for a retail wage again (oof) but still don't think I'm ready to go into a restaurant job yet. And of course, there's the fact that I would much rather be doing something related to what I just spent nearly six thousand dollars learning. (more on that some other post) However, there are some positive aspects to my job.

To start with, I really like most of my co-workers. I'll refrain from discussing any of them by name or in detail in this public forum, but suffice it to say that they are good people. Another thing that I really enjoy is the standing-around-talking-about-and-selling-music part of the job. It feels good to put my knowledge to some degree of use and to maybe turn someone on to something they've never heard before. Plus I had forgotten how much of a good salesman I am. I can often tell a complete stranger "You should buy this" and they do. And yes, people do still buy music. In fact, we have a vinyl section and that sells quite a bit. On the other side of things, we have all sorts of Krap with a capital K. That part gets really annoying because it's the kind of stupid small junk that you have to constantly straighten out and watch over kids as they sit there and play with it forever (with no real intention of buying it.) And some of that junk sells, but mostly it distracts me and the other sales people from actually helping customers who want to buy music. I consider it a wasted 15-30 minutes if I'm hovering over the wig section, making sure people don't take pictures, knowing they're not going to buy one, when I could be helping someone find a Hawkwind album, or turning someone on to Django instead. Another down side is the majority of the music we listen to in the store. Again, this was something I knew going in, but boy-oh-boy is there a lot of garbage. I just take comfort in the fact that the moment I punch out, the iPod goes on and I can listen to something good.

And one final thing, which is, as Uncle Bill once said, "Neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so," is the fact that this puts me in a noticeable position within the community once again. I had spent the last two plus years slipping from the view and even trying to escape this town, and now I'm back in a fishbowl where anyone who happens to wander in can see me. But that will have to wait for another post, as I now must get ready to go see Pete's recital. And beside, two posts in twelve hours after two weeks of nothing... what more do you want from me people!!???

Friday, April 25, 2008

Do not go quietly

So I've spent the last couple of weeks listening to lots of Morphine. Which is not to say that there is a lot of material, but that I listened to all of it multiple times. It's basically impossible for me to be objective about this band. They were a huge part of my life during some very significant times, were one of the best live bands I've ever seen, and since Mark Sandman died nearly a decade ago, that moment in time is gone, thereby making it an even more treasured memory. I really shouldn't even be writing about them, all I'll end up doing is gushing. I will say this one, non-musical thing: the very next disc in my collection, Joe Morris Quartet ~ A Cloud of Black Birds, features Jerome Dupree, the original drummer for Morphine.

Thoughts on the AS220 gig. Over-all I was very pleased. There were about 30 people there, which wasn't bad for a Monday night with four bands that nobody's ever heard of. A good turn out from my friends, and I think more people watched my set than any other that night. The positive reception seemed to be genuine, (including direct feedback from said friends) and the video element worked as well as I had hoped. Which has actually gotten me thinking about what my next step is, both in terms of output and performance. The biggest question I'm looking at right now is "What exactly is a b/3.1 performance?" As I move towards a more integrated film/music experience, I wonder if I'm creating a film to be marketed as such, or am I creating a live musical performance that happens to have a visual. To create something that I present as a "film" is not such a bad idea. Lots of people in this community know me as a "filmmaker." In fact tonight at work someone asked me if I was working on any new films. On the other hand, music gigs are a way to gain new audience. Another thought that has been in my mind lately is that perhaps I should concentrate more on the studio music than the live music. As a solo performer I have to either work with backing tracks (as I've primarily done up till now) or create systems for triggering, looping, etc.. in order to make a passable "live" performance. With a film, I can take my physical self out of the picture, as it were, and ask the audience to just concentrate on the images and the sounds. I think ultimately (or, at least right now) I'm less interested in sound that can be re-created every night, and more interested in sound that can be perfected to the best of my current abilities. Which is somewhat ironic, considering my love of improvisation, but perhaps that love was meant to open the doors to different sound worlds. Perhaps what I love the most, what I strive for, is to start with the freedom of improvisation, to capture it as the fleeting moment it is, and to then manipulate and massage it into something even more beautiful. In other words, I want to be Wah Wah, with an accompanying film.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Film at Eleven

Just a few snippets about what's on the horizon.

Project-wise I'm about to do Morphine. I do not go lightly into this territory. The importance of this material in my life both past and present can not be overestimated. The likely ensuing review will be anything but objective, although may contain some interesting personal insights.

On the Banter front, I have my first as220 show in less than a week. I had been trying for the better part of a year to get a gig there to no avail. Recently, Harry mentioned that they have a new booker and I should try again. So, I filled out their stupid online form again and, surprise surprise, they got back to me within a day and offered me a spot on April 14th. One of the other funny aspects is that my friend Daniel, who I've played shows with before, was already on the bill for that night. Aside from the fact that this show might be good exposure for me (crosses fingers) there are some other factors in my looking forward to it. For starters, it will be my first Reason-based gig. And the other main thing is that I will be adding a visual element to my performance. For the last few weeks I have been working on an ambient video that will be projected behind me as I play. Today I sat down and watched the video while listening to a mock-up of the set and I have to say, I think it works. And not to get too far ahead of things, but I think this might be the next evolutionary step in the Banter Cycle. What I'll be presenting on Monday is sort of random, but next on the plate is to more tightly integrate the music and the images.

And finally, I'm back to work. ...yeah... Not crazy about it ("it" in this case being both the place and the idea) but it will suffice for now. Perhaps as I get deeper into that particular mud I'll give a more detailed report.