Thursday, December 24, 2009

It Could Be A Lot Worse

I could be dead in a ditch in Burma.

I could be unemployed.

I could be cold.

I could be alone.

I could have no hope for the future.

I could be whining incessantly for no good reason.


Back to reality, Joe. I'm not dead, that's clearly obvious. I have a gig. I'm ensconced in my comfortable hotel room in Carson City with my loving wife sleeping a few feet away from me. Things aren't easy, but I still have room for optimism. I'm trying to cut back on my whining, don't know how well that's going.

Looking back, this hasn't been a great year for me, but I've come to the realization that there are more important things in life, than the bigger things. Being closer to friends and family. Being a more forgiving person to those who crossed me, or at least trying to be. Being less concerned about myself and more concerned about others. Giving more and taking less. It's an ongoing process, one that'll only finish shortly after I stop breathing.

But I have hope. Things will get better, sooner or later. I know one thing for sure. My fingernails will be a lot stronger for the experience. Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, and don't forget Festivus (for the rest of us), and here's to a Happy New Year for all of us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Back To The Future?

With Joy's illness, I've had to make plans for a fighting retreat back to Washington, with the only variable in said plans depending on the status of my job as an overnight courier. Right now I'm on an enforced two-week vacation because, simply put, my boss can't afford to pay me. I knew that that the recession/depression/whatfuckingever was going to get to me sooner or later, but I still can't fight the feeling of helplessness, knowing the axe is falling one way or the other. If my boss can't bring me back by the time this gig at the Station is over, we're out of here.

That said, I'll still play with Steppen Stonz as long as is feasible. But it's also going to mean some serious downtime. I think that I've found a way around it, but it'll take some buttering up. And I have a recovering alcoholic to thank for it.

And it's not Rick Cowen.

It's a guy I first worked with several years ago, doing a fill-in gig at the New Peking in Port Angeles. His name is Wes Chapman, and he's originally from these parts. Back then he was a killer keyboardist and singer who was apparently trying to make his own version of Leaving Las Vegas, albeit without the hot-assed hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold a la Elisabeth Shue. Nowadays, he seems to have finally kicked the habit and is looking to be in better shape than he's been in for years. Unfortunately, he's also had run-ins with the local bands and agencies to the point where he's been all but blacklisted from the area's rooms. He still does piano-bar type gigs in small rooms around town, leavening them with part-time jobs (he even briefly worked with the Stonz' keyboardist for a few days at the Eldorado).

I ran into him at Diamond's, in the Ramada Inn on my route one night a few weeks ago. I told him of our situation, and he suggested that I get in touch with Norm, who led the band I played with when we first met back at the New Peking. I already have his email, and I recently found him on Facebook. Now if I could the last person from that group, my favorite Buddhist lesbian bassist in the world...... But I digress. Maybe Norm can help me get some fill-in work when I'm not here in Nevada with the Stonz. Maybe not. But there's no harm in asking. Either way, it brings up some interesting memories, of people I used to play with and hang out with when I was first getting established in the circuit back in Washington. Before Powerlight. And I have other contacts to work with as well. I have confidence that I can find gigs up there. So here's to being optimistic, and finding more work to lighten my load, as well as Joy's, and that of whoever we'll be landing with when we get back to Port Angeles. I just found out that my mom and stepdad filed for bankruptcy, and they could use our help as much as we could use theirs.

Wish me luck, eh?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Slight Addendum, Plus Giving In To The Machine

I want to clarify something I said in my last post. When I said that Joy and I are done with Nevada, I meant to say that we're done with living here. I'll still come down to play with Steppen Stonz for as long as they need me. I have to take Joy home no later than this coming spring, because she simply can't handle another summer here. Nor could we as a couple handle the likely bills incurred by another lengthy hospital stay. So I'll just commute back and forth for the foreseeable future after we move back to Washington. I could use the tax write-off for the mileage.

And you may have noticed the Facebook button to the right of the post. Yeah, I surrendered. I gave in. Given that so many of my friends are already on Facebook as well as (or instead of) MySpace, I figured that I'd better start a profile while I had the time. And since I'm comfortably ensconced in our hotel room at the Carson Station for the next three weeks, I figured that I'd pull my desktop out of storage to have the extra computer available to work on a suitable Facebook profile. It's slow going, but it's going forward. So look at my FB profile, and tell me what you think, willya?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holidaze and Departures

The holidays have always been weird for me. But it almost always means work as well. Ever since I started with Powerlight back in '98, I've worked just about every holiday season. Every Thanksgiving, every Christmas. This year was the first Thanksgiving I'd had off in quite a while. And after eating the cardboard that posed as the turkey my wife's daughter made, I'd have rather eaten one of those Jennie-O turkey slabs you can get at Wal-Mart for three or four bucks. And with Steppen Stonz playing the next four weeks in a row (next week at the Nugget in Sparks, the next three after that in Carson City at the Station), I'll be busy as hell. That is, if I'm still working my courier route. If not, then everything is up in the air except for Joy and I, as we'll be heading north for absolutely certain.

At least Christmas in a hotel room in Carson City is better than in a pop-up trailer in Reno. I can walk around a hotel room naked without fear of hypothermia. (Sorry about the visual!) One way or another though, it'll be our last here in Nevada. Joy's illnesses have gotten to the point where she won't be able to handle another summer here, so we'll move home no later than this upcoming May or so. Our friends and families back home are eager to see us in Olympia, Yelm, Port Angeles, and other places around the Puget Sound. I'll probably still commute to gigs in Nevada if the situation calls for it. But I think I've had just about enough of doing this for a living. I'd like to be able to do this for fun again. I don't think that's a realistic scenario here in Nevada.

I'm tired of the backstabbing. I'm tired of people making things up about me. I'm tired of playing to people who're only interested in getting another royal flush, no matter if they're eating ramen at home and the lights got turned off yesterday. I'm tired of the barely disguised desperation I see around me and within me, that feeling that the razor's edge I'm walking on is only getting sharper. That my own margins are getting narrower. That my wife's health is in decline.

I miss green.

I miss rain. Not that pelting rain we get here when thunderstorms roll through, but the gentle rain that I never had a problem walking around in, or better yet playing rugby in. To quote the Blink-182 song "Dammit", I guess that this is growing up. But growing up means dealing with the situation to the best of my ability, and that's just what I'll do for the next few weeks, until the run of gigs is over, and we'll have a better picture of what's to come. And as always dear reader, I'll keep you posted.

PS: I'm finally gonna stop being a wuss-bag and get a tattoo, from Joy's favorite artist, Ali Deceunynck at No Boys Allowed in Sparks. I should be getting it right around Christmas, So I'll post a few pictures when the deed is done.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blast From The Past?

Joy and I just got a phone call the other day from Calvin (my old bandleader in Powerlight), letting us know that they were going to be in town this weekend. That, and that he needed Joy's help again in doing his back taxes. They haven't played a meaningful gig since they got 86'd from the Atlantis nearly six months ago, and are only coming to Reno to play for Renown Medical Center's holiday party. Driving over fourteen hundred miles round-trip for one gig, one night only, what does that tell you?

But it stirs up some interesting emotions. I quit Powerlight to save them from getting fired because of Cockbreath McPothead's jealousy, only for them to get fired the very next gig. Meanwhile, I'm working pretty steadily and trying to get our lives in order for our next step, likely a move back to Washington State and probably back to Port Angeles, where Joy could live more comfortably (not to mention closer to our families). I never stopped being friends with Calvin, but dealing with Jackie could be difficult. Y'see, after I left Powerlight, a mutual friend who works at the Atlantis told me that Jackie had blamed me for all the band's ills over the years, never mind that I'd pretty much carried the band for all that time. Now, they're in more dire straits than they've probably ever been due to Jackie's (alleged) outburst, and they're in need of our help, even if only for Joy's bookkeeping skills.

Fortunately, I won't have to deal with them for all that long, as their gig is on Friday the 13th, which is the same night as the Divine Heresy show at the New Oasis. Three of the four opening bands on the bill, I Dekay, Pain Clinic and Blasphemous Creation are friends of ours, and our favorite tattoo artist, Ali Deceunynck from No Boys Allowed will be coming along for the show as well. Her ticket was the tip we gave her for Joy's latest tattoo. And Ali will pop my cherry next month, when I get my first tattoo. I'll only have to deal with Powerlight in passing on Saturday, when Calvin will unload a few hundred pounds of paperwork on us......

Oh, joy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In The Crowd, Rather Than Onstage, Part 2

Who doesn't enjoy a good concert, after all? And even if it may or may not cause future financial distress, there are certain bands that we just won't miss for anything. Ozomatli is one of those bands. This seven-piece combo is the living embodiment of all things LA short of getting a bacon-wrapped hot dog from a taco truck on the corner. Sunday's show was our third straight year seeing them up at the Crystal Bay Club, and we were dead-set on getting good spots up front.

I swear to god that we shouldn't be in such a rush. Security opened up the Crown Room at 8pm, and even though we went through the line about five minutes after eight, well..... there was no real line to speak of. Let's just say that Tahoe crowds like to develop slowly. The few that were there to greet opener Lateef the Truthspeaker enjoyed his set, but they were just biding their time, waiting for the headliners to come out.

Ozomatli hit the stage a little after ten, and delivered another killer set of their unique blend of Latin, hip-hop, soul and rock with the usual crazy energy that we've come to expect from them. The crowd is almost immediately in a frenzy....... and that's not really a good thing. Two years ago, a guy came rushing up to what he thought was an empty spot up front, and put a knee into Joy's back as she sat in her wheelchair. Her scream of pain brought the show to a standstill then. Sunday, some blonde woman tried to jump on to my back, as if to get a piggy-back ride. Well, all I knew about was feeling small hands on my neck, and what I'd presume was legs trying to lock around my waist, then suddenly dropping away. Followed by Joy shouting in pain. I looked behind me to find the blonde flat on her back, then turned to see Joy clutching her left arm. The blonde had kicked Joy in that arm when she tried to mount me. Inadvertently, to be fair, but she kicked Joy. I wasn't paying attention to the stage, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if the whole band saw it happen. I tried to explain to the blonde what she'd done, even guided her over to Joy to apologize, but I don't think she ever really caught on to what had happened.

I'm pretty sure the band knew what was going on. I was confirmed in that when Ozomatli ended their show with their traditional march through the crowd, where the entire band (save Asdru and Ulises, their horn players) grab drums or percussion and boldly climb down from the stage to play in and amongst the crowd in a conga line. Well, the line snaked around the crowd before coming right up to us, with bassist Wil-dog Abers leading the entourage, and every single band member came up to Joy and passed by, touched her in almost a kind of reassuring way, as if they all wanted to know that she was okay.

And after the show, we got to talk with Wil-dog for a few minutes. He was glad that we'd come, and noted that it was our third year in a row for their show in Crystal Bay. We were pretty impressed with him remembering us like that. After all, these guys play hundreds of shows a year, all around the world. I'm sure Joy isn't the only woman in a wheelchair that these guys see. But I'm also pretty sure that she isn't that hard to forget after what happened two years ago.

We left Crystal Bay with a set list, a warning sign with the band's pic on it, a CD, a pass to download the show to our computer as an mp3, and a broken string from Wil-dog's bass. And the special kind of buzz that you can only get from being at a really good show. A show from a band that we can count as friends instead of just a band. That's what makes being in the crowd so special to us.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

In The Crowd, Rather Than Onstage, Part 1

Sorry that I haven't posted in a while. It's just been kinda hectic recently. Not my work life, my personal life. With Joy's suite of illnesses, things are never calm for long, as one or another bobs to the surface and she's in pain-and-suffering mode, and I'm duty-bound to care for her. Not that I have any problem with that. All part and parcel of the whole husband gig, I always say.

But today I write about other things than sarcoidosis, costochondritis, or multiple sclerosis. Instead, I write about the simple joys of being in the crowd for a show, rather than being the one onstage delivering said show. I'm writing this from the cozy confines of our hotel room at the Carson Station on the day after Halloween, getting ready to head up to Tahoe to see an absolutely killer show tonight when Ozomatli take the stage at the Crystal Bay Club. It's our third straight year seeing them play there, and we have no intention of missing this show.

It's kinda funny. We used to live an hour away from Seattle, which is always on the tour itinerary of most bands, yet we never went to any shows there. Now we live in Reno, which most tours avoid altogether, and we manage to hit several shows a year. Not quite three weeks ago we went to see 90's alt-metal legends Prong at the New Oasis in Sparks. And in a little less than two weeks from now we'll be catching shred-metallists Divine Heresy at the Oasis, and I'll be doing a little drum-deity worshipping at the feet of DH drummer Tim Yeung (go check out his videos on YouTube - you too shall bow). I guess that it's just that when anything close to a cool show comes down I-80, I'm going. It also doesn't hurt that most of the shows we go to aren't terribly expensive, no more than $30 a ticket and most less than $15.

I'd like to pontificate more about tours, travel paths, promoters and such, but it's dinner time and Joy's hungry. I wanted to take her to Happy Hour at Bite in Incline Village ( - 'American Tapas' - We call it 'awesome'), but it's a little late for that, so it's down to the casino restaurant for dinner, then up to Tahoe. And I need to get dressed.

Typing in the nude - ain't it great?

(Okay, go clean up your vomit. We'll talk again later.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Going Coastal

I just got back the other day from a gig out on the Oregon Coast. It was a pleasant gig, but not great. There could've been more people there, especially on Sunday night, but I can't complain too much. The last time I played at the Three Rivers Casino in Florence, I played with a band that I don't have much contact with any more, mostly because the bandleader is a lying backstabbing bastard. And no matter how quietly I played, I was getting slagged for playing too loud. So, to prepare for the gig I took the heads off my drums and replaced them with a different set of heads that I'd modified with a generous application of carpet padding. Then I applied electronic drum triggers (basically similar to guitar pickups) to each head and ran them through the Simmons Hybrid controller that I got for my birthday in February. I still have some learning to do with muffling the heads properly, and getting the best contact of the triggers to the heads to get the best possible sound, but it was a good enough job to get by.

The drive over was easy enough, though I've come to the conclusion that Mike and Arthur really don't like driving too much, and would just take the easiest route to get where they're going rather than the the shortest route. I'd wanted to take Joy with me, but Mike really wasn't down with that idea, so I dropped her off in Bend to visit with her sister while I was out in Florence. I'd been informed that there was no way in hell that I could find the bandhouse, so I was told to go to the casino and wait for the guys there. I really hate to tell them this, but they were making mountains out of molehills. While the bandhouse was off US101 and up a dirt road, I had no doubt that I could've found it if given the proper directions.

The bandhouse itself was something of a shock - it was actually a nice house! And since nobody had a real idea as to who owned the place, my mind started to fill in the blanks for me. Whether I wanted it to or not. I even took a hint from Joy and brought in my thor's-hammer to bless my bedroom and protect it from evil. I later learned that the casino rented the house from the couples who owned it and were still in the process of remodeling it, but I slept the firs night in the house with the nagging feeling that something sinister was lurking.

I have to give a kudo to the casino's soundman, Jeff. He remembered me from the year before, and was nearly moved to tears when he saw that he had nothing to worry about with my newly-modified drums. That, plus the addition of a drum-screen to the stage, made me very quiet and mellow for the audience's safety. The shows themselves were okay, just not to a lot of people.

My only real disappointment was that there weren't good crowds that weekend. One of the waitresses was rather disappointed as well. The casino is the only real source of nightlife in the area, but it's still heavily dependent on tourists coming in from around western Oregon and southwest Washington, so if they're not there, the audiences get a little thin. I still had to go buy a few odds and sods in Eugene, so Cliff and I made a day of it and got a great lunch at Three Forks Wok & Grill (excellent stuff, right there in the same stripmall as the Guitar Center in Eugene - jackpot!). I really didn't leave the bandhouse much beyond that, other than for expeditions for groceries. Didn't really want to, because I just wasn't interested. All I wanted to do was to get the gig over with and get back to Bend to be with my wife.

I really shouldn't be so negative. I do get to do what I love to do, and get paid for it. But I never know when things will really start to go downhill with Joy, so I just would rather be with her and take care of her. But at least I'm working. I'll be pretty busy through the remainder of the month, and playing on Halloween night in Carson City at the Carson Station. That could be fun. I'm suggesting themed costumes for that night. Maybe 'Wizard of Oz' or something like that. Just as I'm not the Tin Man. Then it'd be hard to play.....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

All Bets Are Off

Y'know, I'd been planning on writing this post about how a former friend of mine had stabbed me in the back, calling me up and telling me the most heinous pile of lies that Cockbreath McPothead was probably spreading because his ass was in serious jeopardy (don't curse out a lipreader, fool - enjoy grill training at McDonald's!), but my situation has changed dramatically because of two little words my wife and I heard the other day at her doctor's appointment:

Multiple Sclerosis.

It wasn't a confirmed diagnosis, but it makes sense. After researching it online, it was crystal-clear. Every defined symptom of MS, she has it. Every last one of them. There will be tests coming, MRI's and CT scans, but a certain sense of inevitability has creeped into our trailer. And the weirdest thing is that one of the reasons for us moving here in the first place (Joy's allergies are relieved here due to the climate) is now the reason we will likely be forced to move home - that same hot, dry climate exacerbates the symptoms of MS. And Joy has already decided our course for the foreseeable future - if the diagnosis is confirmed, we're out of here, waiting only long enough to get her SS/D claim approved. I can't imagine the Feds turning down someone with MS.

In reality, it isn't a death sentence for her. At least not in the proper sense of the term. It's just another disease added on to her burden, another illness that kills by inches at a time. I was quite morose about it for some time, but now I've kinda gotten over it, and back on track. I've got a gig with the Stonz out on the Oregon Coast next week, and I'm taking a detour to drop Joy off in Bend so she can see her sister, who isn't doing too good herself - needing a hip replacement at age 45. October will be a busy month for me, but it will likely be my last October in Reno.

I just find it ironic that poor Mike and Arthur could wind up losing a second drummer in the course of a year for the exact same reason - moving away to care for an ailing relative. Which reminds me, I've gotta give Dre a call, see how his ass is doing.........

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Is This Worth It Anymore?

I just don't know. More and more this is just becoming another job to me. And anyone who knows my track record when it comes to employment would know that when I start to consider being the drummer in a band as merely being a job, you just know the shit's gonna hit the fan, and soon. Just being in a band is no longer enough. It's not that I want to run a band, it's that I want to actually contribute to the processes of the band and not merely do what I'm told and otherwise shut the fuck up.

I've also lost a lot of respect for a certain agent. When I'm told from on high that I must go to the Atlantis and prostrate myself at their feet and beg forgiveness for my 'personal problem' without anyone hearing my side of the story (does anyone read this?), only to find that even that opportunity was taken away from me before I'd even had a chance to do so, I have come to the full realization of just how musicians are regarded here. Like week-old shit.

Friends, neighbors and colleagues, this has got to stop. When we get less respect than a burger-flipping miscreant at McDonald's, why is that? When the local media prefers to talk about the days-gone-by of the orchestras that used to do our jobs rather than us, why is that? When any talk of making things better for ourselves is met with cold hostility and threats of blacklisting, why is that? It's because nobody takes us seriously, that's why.

It's up to us to change that. I was actually serious when I said that delivering pizza was beginning to look better than dealing with this, and I know that I've invested way too much time, effort and money into this to just walk away like that. I'm sure that there are things I could do to make myself better, but I also know that we as a group must make changes as well, or else we'll be making even less money and enduring even more shit than we already are now.

So how do we get there from here...............?

Friday, September 4, 2009

There's A Clusterfuck Going On, And I'm The Cluster

This will only be a brief post, as I'm between sets at the Carson Station. But let's just say that the last 36 hours or so has been an exercise in what-the-fuck-now. Stressed, sick, and thoroughly pissed off is your humble blogger, and I'll be in the mood to vent about things when I get done with my night onstage and my time on the road.

Right now, pizza delivery in Port Angeles, WA is starting to look good.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Being A Musician Kills Natural Circadian Rhythms, or "The One Rhythm I'm Not Good At"

It's 8:15am as I start to type this.

I should be sleeping. I should be off in la-la-land with (insert famous hottie(s) of your choice here) somewhere in the mountains, but sheer nerves are killing me right about now. We're in the middle of packing up and moving out, for reasons I shall not make public (though I'll tell you privately). And it's making getting any sleep a whole lot worse. I joke that being a working musician tends to screw your natural sleep patterns, a/k/a 'the circadian rhythm'. Add on to it working a night job and a wife whose fibromyalgia screws her body clock up worse than mine, and I like to tell a joke:

"Have you ever seen that one Salvador Dali painting, you know, the ones with the clocks melting and shit? (it's actually called "The Persistence Of Memory" up there) Well, it's actually a portrait of mine and Joy's body clocks!"

And it really feels that way some times - limp, melted and lifeless. Add in the heat of your typical Reno mid-summer, and it's pretty fucking hard to get a decent night's sleep without spending a small fortune in air-conditioning. And we're nervous as all get-out about getting everything out of the house, into storage or the trailer, cleaning the house, getting the trailer and my poor Ranger over to the RV park we've chosen, all the while settling bills, trying to learn Dre's raps for Steppen Stonz's gigs starting next week.

And for some fun little side-quests, I'm pushing Joy to get her driver's license back - lost seven months ago due to a seizure - while she's pushing the State of Washington to release the remainder of her retirement monies, all while filling out her re-adjudication papers for a second try (and last before we bring in the lawyers) to get approved for SS/D. The hope is that should these monies be released to us, we can try to buy an RV. She's decided that she's done with the concept of a stationary home, and this would also allow us to finally see Eddie and Melissa and their two sons for the first time in years, by driving out to North Carolina to see them. And given the shitty current state of the economy, good-sized RVs that the two of us could live in are in good supply and priced anywhere from reasonable to pretty fucking cheap if we're willing to buy one that has a few years on it. I'm just trying to remain positive. Good times are right around the corner, we just have to hold on for dear life for just a little while longer.......

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Putting The Work In Network

Knowing what's going on in your work environment is critical to success. And it's no different for me. When my friend Tracy Bing suggested to me that I start hitting the jam nights her friend Dean put on in the area, I figured I'd give it a try. I'll trust her on pretty much anything, and even Joy trusts her. Well, it has provided work for me. Dean and I have played together for a gig or two, though a full-time band isn't really coming to fruition like I thought it would. But between jam nights and my courier route, work offers are coming in.

First was gigging with Dean, then came the temp gig with Steppen Stonz that may become permanent, depending on what happens with Dre's family issue. I only say that because Mike and Arthur have no clue what's going to happen with Dre. From what little I've heard, Dre has no idea what's going to happen with Dre, and I can't blame him either. I need to call his ass one of these days.

And my latest offer is coming from the person who got this whole ball rolling, Tracy Bing. I'll be subbing for her drummer Fletch (he's going to some sort of music festival, something that's been in the works for a while, apparently) at the end of September at a gig at the Desert Rose Casino in Alturas, CA, or as I like to call it, "The Town That Makes Me Glad I Have Satellite Radio" - drive through there, you'll understand! I used to drive through Alturas, a town of just under 3,000 in the extreme north-eastern part of California, on a regular basis when Powerlight was playing exclusively in Reno while Joy and I were still living in Olympia, and I swear to (insert the deity of your choice here) that whenever I drove through that town, the only radio station I could ever pick up was a scratchy AM station that only seemed to play Patsy Cline songs. If I liked her music, that wouldn't be a problem. But if you know me, you know my musical tastes, so there's where that lengthy nickname comes from. It's just for a weekend, but it's money in my account, so who am I to complain? There might even be more gigs than just the one in Alturas, from what Tracy was telling me the other night at Indigo. But let's just take this one weekend at a time, shall we?

I'm not terribly sure which incarnation of her band I'll be playing with. The basic version is simply known as "The Tracy Bing Band", and it has three alter egos, depending on what the situation calls for: a Fifties-and-Sixties band called "Tracy & The Kingpins" a Seventies-and-Eighties band called "Big Bad Boogie Rock", and a country and oldies band called "Ricky and The Redstreaks", which adds a male singer named John Jackman (and his 'sister' Jacqueline Zucchini as well) to the band. The Redstreaks seem to get the best gigs of the lot, playing regularly during the major rodeo events in Reno as well as gigs in Vegas during the National Finals Rodeo in December (this year they'll be playing at Mandalay Bay, no less!), though Tracy and her guys play all year long. But I really don't care, I guess. I've heard the music they play, and it shouldn't take for Tracy to round me into shape with her band. And after that gig has come and gone, having a well-rehearsed understudy is always a good thing, isn't it?

It just goes to show that having a good network of friends and colleagues is pretty good thing to have.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Love-Life Patterns of Marilyn Manson

I was reading a review of the RockStar Mayhem Tour over at the blog of my friend Jamie ( yesterday, and she was talking about Marilyn Manson, the tour's headliner this year, and she mentioned seeing what she thought was MM's new girlfriend, alt-porn star Stoya. This got me to thinking about the love life of one Brian Hugh Warner, and I noticed two emergent patterns:

1.) He prefers thin, pale, presumably damaged brunette goth-girls.

2.) His pattern has been (so far) ingenue - adult entertainer - ingenue - adult entertainer

Let's explore this further, shall we? First on the docket is actress Rose McGowan, who was engaged to MM, but they never married, and their relationship only lasted about two years and change. According to various reports, McGowan was the inspiration for the song/character "Coma White" from the MM album Mechanical Animals, and the breakup of this relationship is rumored to be the inspiration of the song "(s)AINT" from the Golden Age of Grotesque album a few years later. McGowan was still a relative newcomer to acting at this time, and was only 24 or so when she and MM hooked up. So that definitely would make her an ingenue.

According to MM's Wikipedia profile there was a girlfriend between McGowan and our next subject, burlesque perfomer Dita von Teese (born Heather Sweet), but Wikipedia had nothing of note on one Michelle Greenberg. von Teese would wind up being MM's only wife, and their engagement lasted longer than the wedding, with a factor towards its demise being MM's extramarital affair with subject number three..... a then nineteen-year-old Evan Rachel Wood. According to various media outlets, the two dated for almost two years. Wood = ingenue actress, and damn near jailbait. And now we have Stoya, an outright, unashamed alt-porn star. A quick search of IMDb and its adult-film counterpart AMDb didn't reveal much, not even Stoya's real name. "Stoya" is her childhood nickname, a shortening of her last name, likely Stoyanovic or something like that, given that her father - presumably - is of Serbian descent. That's all I could really find out. That, and that Stoya is currently twenty-three.

Given his personal preferences, and the average length of his relationships, the Scientific Method says that a hot young ingenue should be hitting his radar in about two years or so. A potential candidate could be Emma Watson (Hermione from the Harry Potter films), though she'd need a good gothing-up first, and may already be way too smart for him. A similar ingenue, though a singer instead of an actress, would be Paramore singer Hayley Williams, but her being a Christian would likely bother Manson too much. And neither of them seem damaged to me. I'd suggest Chyler Leigh, the Grey's Anatomy actress that got cozy in a hot tub with Manson in the video for his cover of the 80's chestnut "Tainted Love" (for the soundtrack of Not Another Teen Movie, which she starred in), but she's been married since 2002 and has three kids with her husband. Certainly not Manson's speed there. Megan Fox is a possibility, but she'd need to lose that tan tout-suite, and may be too old by then (she's 23 as of this writing). If MM was to be looking for a cute but already slightly creepy ingenue who'd probably love to dye her hair black, he'll just have to wait about two-and-a-half years, until February 23, 2012.

That's Dakota Fanning's eighteenth birthday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ston'd Again

I just got an email today, one I'd been expecting for a few days, from Mike from Steppen Stonz. He was letting me know that he and Arthur were in need of my services again, starting at the end of the month and playing for most of August. I'd gone by to visit them at the Carson Station last week, and let them know that I was available if they needed me, that Dean had informed me recently that the gigs in Topaz that he'd gotten had for the beginning of August been rescinded by the club and given to another band. That was all I said, nothing more. I didn't politick for the gig, it something I just wouldn't do, no matter how desperate I was for the gig. There are lines I just won't cross, no matter what.

Therefore I was a bit surprised when Mike told me that Dee just wasn't working out for them, and that he and Arthur would be more than happy to have me fill in with them again. I actually defended Dee for a bit, and told them that he was doing a good job for them. They didn't try to refute me, but said that they would prefer me over Dee. I feel kinda bad, but not that much, since Dee already has another gig, playing with the various permutations of Escalade around the Reno-Tahoe area. But Dee isn't a drummer much any more, and by his own admission wants more to be a frontman and percussionist than the guy in the back of the stage playing drums. In my own opinion he's qualified for that gig - I've heard him sing, he's a damn good singer - but he's spent less and less time purely as a drummer, and Mike and Arthur have noticed that. I'm a damn good singer in my own right, but I have no aspirations to front a band. I remember all too well what my old friend Dan Hoyer of The Boinkers ( told me once a long time ago back in Washington state:

"Joe, a stable drummer is worth his weight in gold. A stable drummer that can sing is worth a hundred times his weight in gold."

So what does it mean for your favorite asshole drummer? Four more weeks of work, and right when Joy and I could use it the most - just as we've finished moving into the pop-up trailer. The run starts on July 29 or 30, with two weeks at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks, followed by two weeks at the Carson Station, the Stonz' de facto home base. and running my courier route all the while. So the bucks will flow quite heavily for a few weeks. This should allow me to get my truck repaired in that time frame, and also put some money away for trips to Sonoma in September and home to Washington in late October for Joy's birthday.

And as the TV pitchman says, but wait - there's more. I'm not going to say that there's an eight-hundred-pound gorilla in the room, but the deuce-and-a-half drummer not in the room is the only real variable in the equation. Y'see, Mike and Arthur still don't know what's going to happen with Dre. They're not sure if he'll ever come back to Nevada. I would sincerely hope that he does. Not that I don't need the work - boy, do I need it - but Dre's worked with Mike and Arthur for seventeen years now, and no matter how comfortable I could get playing with them, I'd always feel like I'm just keeping his chair warm for him.

And in a Twilight Zone moment to beat 'em all, the bass player I worked with at Toad's with Dean called me about an hour after I read Mike's email, telling me he had a gig at the Churchill County Fairgrounds set up for the weekend that would be my first with the Stonz at the Nugget in Sparks. I didn't actually take the call, didn't even hear the phone ring, so I heard the voicemail. This could be a bit difficult......

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In Step with Steppen Stonz

To me, traveling out of your local area for a gig is usually fun. To me, traveling to a new gig in a place I've never been to before is always fun. And the July 4th weekend was no different. This was my gig filling in for my boy Dre with casino-circuit vets (and veterans of the same circuit that Powerlight came from) Steppen Stonz. Dre's father is seriously ill - that's all I'll say, out of respect to the family - and he's taken a leave of absence to head home to Omaha to be with his father. The Stonz' original choice to fill in was unavailable this particular weekend, so I was more than happy to take over. After carefully listening to their material (kudos to Mike for giving me their sets on CD!), I transported my happy ass over to Oroville, CA, along with Cliff Smith, the band's keyboard player. The only glitch to getting over there was that Mike and Arthur (the band's singers - hell, the band) took the longest possible route to get there, driving all the way in to Sacramento before heading north to Oroville and the Tyme-Maidu Nation's Gold Country Casino and Hotel.

Being a sequenced band, Steppen Stonz' material was fairly easy for me to pick up. The downside of this was that Dre sings several songs a night, and I just didn't have enough time to learn lyrics. But being the old pros they are, Mike and Arthur adapted to the situation (and to the maniac on the drums) with ease. There were a few minor flubs, at least in my opinion, but they disappeared by the final night of the three-night stand on July fourth itself. And Mike and Arthur were most effusive in their praise of me.

I really didn't get around much while I was there. Only on Sunday did I venture out from my hotel room to have lunch at a Casa Ramos (better known to Northwest natives like myself as Azteca) in Chico. I really didn't have much cause to. I spent most of my time quietly listening to the CD's Mike gave me on the PlayStation 2 I brought with me, with sessions of Dragon Quest VIII to break up the monotony. The casino gave me more free comps to the buffet than I actually used, and shortly after arriving in Oroville, Cliff and I went grocery shopping, and I bought plenty of Coke, snacks, and stuff for sandwiches that all went in my hotel room's fridge. The hotel room itself was excellent, and had the biggest bathroom I'd ever seen in any hotel. While the bathtub didn't have the jacuzzi I'd been led to expect, it was deep enough that Cody and Ellie could've swum in it. The separate shower stall was big enough to hold a caucus in, and there was plenty of space in between. The buffet at the casino was fine, and the comps I'd been given allowed me to go to any of the casino's restaurants, but I never did try out their cafe or steakhouse.

I'd like to go back, but I doubt that'll happen anytime soon. Y'see, this gig was the last week that casino used out-of-area bands for. Whether it's a money issue, a contractual issue, I have no idea. But it's something that's beyond me, so why bother? There's the possibility of playing in Oroville's other casino (Feather Falls), but I shall merely wait and see. I say that because Mike and Arthur haven't ruled out the possibility of Dre not coming back from Nebraska, and their original replacement (local pro Dee Marnier) not working out. Those circumstances would have them looking my way again, and while it's not necessarily the gig I'd wanted in previous posts, well..... beggars can't be choosers.

But there's always a consequence when you take one gig - another one disappears. Dean called me the day before I was set to leave for Oroville with the opportunity to gig with him for a three-night run up in Topaz. He'd forgotten that I'd taken this gig long before I hooked up with him, and he sounded like he was more than a little disappointed at the situation. But I told him that I was going to Oroville only because Steppen Stonz had asked me first, and that it was only for that particular weekend. I'll see him on Thursday at Indigo in Minden, and I hope he's not too pissed at me.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Real Gig

Saturday was the day of my gig with Dean and this band that was called "Tite In The Corner". It isn't really much of a band per se, led by a Carson-based guitarist named Stan Sanchez. But with three-fourths of BW in tow (myself, Dean, and Tom - I can never remember his last name! - on the bass), we played the second set of the Grand Reopening Party at Toad's in Carson City. It's a nice enough place, and the staff and management there were very, very nice to us.

But as with all gigs, there was a last-minute curveball. Since Toad's 'reopening' was because of its expanding into the next stall of the strip mall it was in, we figured that we'd be playing indoors. But instead we were outdoors on a day where the temperature was a thin red hair below 100. At least we weren't the band that came on at 4pm for the first set. I heard them as I was presetting my kit in the parking lot behind the bar, nice enough stuff though their harmonica player was playing over the top of everything, and that got on my nerves a bit. Stan and Tom helped me get my stuff over to the tent we'd be playing under during the one-hour changeover, and we started up right on time at 8pm.

We were nice and in the groove right away. And that's always the best way to play. And it was so nice to play in a REAL band with REAL musicians, no backing tracks, no canned backing vocals, no canned LEAD vocals, just four guys and their gear, the way it ought to be! Dean brought his keyboard out for a version of Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight", and he told me after the show that it was the first time he'd played the song with a drummer who played the original beat of the song!

We jammed well and hard until it became dark, which necessitated the temporary theft of the light rig that was being used by a DJ inside the bar in order to continue the show. We played until 11pm to much applause from the crowd, and the fastest payday I think I'd ever seen in all my years of playing. The bar manager actually handed the envelope of cash to Stan before I'd even managed to take off my gloves and headset mic after the last song had ended!

We were also informed that the owner of Toad's would get us gigs at Doppleganger's, a very nice brewpub in town as well as repeat performances at Toad's. Tom also invited me to join him for a side project that would have me playing at the Farmer's Market in Fallon on a pair of Tuesdays in July. "Tite In The Corner" could turn out to be a better moneymaking opportunity than Bridgewater.....

Oh yeah, I was informed that Bridgewater is no more. At least in name, that is. Joy told me after the show that Shelly (Dean's wife) had told her that Bridgewater was now "Strange Loop".


At least I had a great time playing in this group. My playing was generally fluid, sharp and concise. Which has always been my general style, more Phil Rudd than Neil Peart. There were a few very minor flubs for me, but nothing anybody other than myself noted. Joy took a bunch of pics and a video or two, and I'll see if I can get them up on the blog or on our MySpace ASAP.

Now it's a few days rest before I head over the Sierras to Oroville and the Gold Country Casino with my friends Steppen Stonz on Wednesday for the July 4th weekend. Wish me luck!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dead In The (Bridge) Water?

I just got some (somewhat) depressing news a few hours ago. It seems that my new band Bridgewater may be dead in the water. I stopped by Indigo last night to hit jam night there, and Dean greeted me with the news that our singer Lissa had just gotten a very well-paying job at NAS (Naval Air Station) Fallon (She lives in Fallon, about an hour east of Reno), as in US$26/hour well-paying. Neither of us would say that this was a bad thing for her, but it doesn't bode well for the group. She'll still be available for the upcoming gigs in Topaz and Minden, but after that she's probably not going to have much time for us.

I hate to sound like I don't care about this happening, but I don't have much of a problem with this. I'd rather be an optimist than a pessimist. I think we'll find another singer if that's what it comes to. I hope Lissa can stay with us, because she's a very talented singer, but if not, then I wish her the best with her new job. I'd quit any number of local bands here for a full-time job that paid that much. I also told Dean's wife Shelly that now I don't feel so bad about having other bands scouting me while I was working with Dean. But I'm still not saying who they are. I won't sabotage a band, no way no how, not even if they deserve it.

Speaking of sabotage, there's a knife in my back, with an ex-bandmate's name on it. Trust me, bubbeleh - I don't have to do much to get you 86'ed as well. People tell me everything, y'know.

Oh well, off to bed. I just got our Exploder's brakes fixed (sort of) today, which will do for the gigs this weekend and next. Joy and I have grocery shopping and bill-paying in the morning (around noon for you working-stiff types), and I just hope we can get our tired asses out of bed before the Farmer's Market at Tamarack Junction closes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Irons In The Fire - Amended

Well, I was wrong on one thing - we are moving after all. Apparently Michelle and her fiancee got a thirty-day extension from the company we rent the house from. So we're moving at the end of July. So much for going up to Washington in July. Maybe in August, then?

But I wonder, who's going to pay the deposit for the pit bull puppy they bought for the kids?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Irons In the Fire

We just had a rather interesting day today. Joy and I were in the midst of getting a mini-storage unit to pack away things before we moved into the trailer when we got a phone call from Michelle, telling us that her purse had been stolen from her van with $800 in cash in it! Apparently, they talked the rental agency into disregarding the 3o-day notice of leaving. And they informed us that they would be unable to move until next February. So I guess that we're not moving after all.

Which may be a good thing after all. Thinking about it, I actually have five different projects going at this time. My new band with Dean Brownell has a name (Bridgewater - sounds like a condo development), and our first sort-of practice (the singer came in from Fallon, but the bassist was sick with the flu). Dean and I will be temping next weekend in Carson City with a band called Tight In The Corner, and there's my previously mentioned temp gig with Steppen Stonz the weekend after that.

I also have two bands scouting me as well. A band whose name I won't mention has informed me that the are considering firing their drummer, and I'm number one on their list. The other band may be even more promising: A country band with national potential. The group is Aussie or Kiwi, can't remember which right off hand, and they've just returned from recording demos and generally schmoozing in Nashville. One thing is for certain, though: I need work, and consistent work, and it needs to come soon.

But Joy and I are looking on the bright side of all this. Now we really don't have much to keep us from going on our trip home to Washington next month, barring our Explorer needing a brake job. I may have to borrow money from my Uncle Roger to get that done. We were looking towards actually spending time together by ourselves, but I think that we can deal with continuing to babysit two adorable little weapons of mass destruction for a while longer.

I also have to give props to my audience.

Yes, I actually have one, and it's not just Joy. So let me give a shout-out to my amigo Mark Twohey (as in tooey!) from Atomika, who gave big kudos to this blog and its insane ramblings. If you're reading Mark, thanks bro.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Doors Are Opening

It's been an interesting last few days. For the second time in my career an agent has died on me, and bands aplenty have been showing interest in my services. Aside from Dean Brownell's new project, I have another well-known band scouting me on the down-low, Dean and I will be playing a one-night fill-in gig, and I've just been hired to play the July 4th weekend with old friends Steppen Stonz at a tribal casino in California. I have a singer to break in on Monday, new heads to buy in the very near future, and lots of material to get familiar with.

Perhaps Cockbreath McPothead letting his ego loose on me was the best thing that ever happened to me.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

John McDaniel, RIP

At least we were on good terms when he passed. Calvin notified me earlier today, left me a message on my cellphone. I'm sure I'll learn more later. We all knew he was sick, something was wrong. But he never let on, not one tiny little bit. For as much grief that he gave Powerlight, and myself, I'll miss the old fart. Rest in peace, John.

Calvin had told me that he'd made an offer to purchase the agency from John's survivors (his widow and ex-wife were his 'employees' in the agency), I wonder if he'll follow through on that? If Calvin is running the agency, he could probably get the Atlantis to fire Cockbreath McPothead. Not that it matters that much to me. Dean Brownell's new band starts rehearsal on Monday, and I have more important issues. Like training and educating a new singer.....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

As One Door Closes...

Another opens. Joy and I are moving out of our house for a few months in our tent-trailer, then home to Washington state, with my money on going back to Olympia. Why we're not moving right now is because, other than the fact that we can't afford it right now, is that we're still waiting on two more tax returns and Joy's Social Security/Disability application being approved. I'm just frustrated by all this, and I've decided that moving to Reno was a bad, and expensive idea. I feel guilty, because we spent so much money to get here, and it's all come to naught. But in the long run, things will be better once we get home. I'm figuring that we'll be back in Washington by the end of the year, and I'll find work and/or gigs there without too much trouble.

The only thing that'll keep me here in Reno would be a gig or job of serious magnitude. Y'know, the kind of opportunity that means full-time work, and full-time money. I'll do my best to keep up hope, but I also need to be realistic. I just get the feeling that eight months from now I'll be either on the field or bench for my beloved Budd Bay RFC Buffaloes, resuming my role as the Les Nessman of rugby....

Author's Note: Go look up "WKRP in Cincinnati" on YouTube or Hulu, or whatever, and try to find the episode about the softball game. There's a reason why "WKRP in Cincinnati" is one of the rare TV shows that never 'jumped the shark', and this is one of them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So, What The Hell Am I Looking For, Anyway?

I want to rock. No blues, no jazz, no R&B, no country, no crap. I know that real rock bands around here are scarce. Only about a half-dozen play on a regular basis in the area surrounding Reno, which includes most of California, playing tribal casinos spanning from the redwoods to outskirts of the Big Smoggy, LA itself. Some go to the far ends of Nevada, as a buddy of mine is playing as we speak in Jackpot, scarcely three hours southeast of Boise. A lot of my friends play regularly in West Wendover, on the border with Utah (FACT: Every major highway that crosses into Nevada, as in Interstates and Federal (US routes) roads, anywhere from 5 feet to five miles of crossing the border, there'll be a casino by that crossing, bank on it), nearly four hundred miles east of Reno. I played with Rick & Dana Cowen at the Riverside in Laughlin, which at 545 miles southeast of Reno is about as far away from home as I can get and still be in the Silver State. So traveling isn't an option, it's a necessity.

My truck will go into the shop next week to get the transmission and clutch worked over, at an estimated cost of just a bit over $800. Joy isn't happy about it, but what's more dangerous - the devil you know, or the devil you don't know? I could take the money we'd budgeted for the repair, plus whatever I could borrow to buy another beater truck or wagon, but how long would it last? What issues does it have? Beyond the transmission, I think I have some rumbling coming from worn wheel bearings, but Rick's told me that I could save a little money and have him do that work. My transmission, while not beyond his capacity to repair, is beyond the capacity of his tools, because he'd have to drop the transmission to do the job. But once it's done, I'll have my 30mpg truck ready to roll. Even without a gig it's a good thing, because my courier route still needs an efficient vehicle to get the job done. Oh, and Baby needs new shoes as well. All the driving I do basically means a new set of tires annually.

Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into. But Joy is doing better, and likely to get her SS/D claim approved in the next few months, and her app for food-stamps (okay, it's a debit card now) should be up and running by the weekend. One of our tax returns should hit the bank by Monday morning, so that will help, and our 2006 return should be ready to go to the IRS pretty soon, then Joy can finish the 2008 return. She now has a doctor that takes her seriously, and seems able to comprehend all that ails her. Michelle and Bill have good jobs, and Cody and Ellie growing like weeds. Speaking of that, my garden is really rounding into shape. Beans, squash, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, all sprouting like crazy. The sage I planted last summer is back with a vengeance, so I'm trying again at putting an herb garden together. Joy wants to plant medicinal herbs, but she needs to get on that fast. I'll probably just get the seeds that she wants and do it for her.

So all in all, I guess things aren't too bad for me. And Joy and I are planning to take the babies up to Washington again at the end of July for Joy's family reunion up at the Bumping River again. We found out that Eddie and Melissa are coming home with Soren and their new baby boy Sascha (the exact spelling makes me wonder, was Eddie watching Borat?), and Joy is dying to finally meet them. And this will also include trips to Olympia and Port Angeles for my family, and some very special friends.

So this should be a pretty busy summer. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I've been hitting the local jam sessions lately, to play a little and to network with other musicians. There are a lot of us out here. In fact, Nevada has more musicians per capita than any other state in the Union. That had traditionally been because the casinos had employed full orchestras for their various shows, and these were some of the finest musicians in the country. As the times changed, the orchestras died out and were replaced by smaller bands. With the era of modern electrified instruments came rock, country, and R&B bands replaced small orchestras and jazz combos from the cabarets. In recent years DJs and ultra-modern dance music have replaced the bands, though the signs are evident that the bands are coming back. One way or another, it signals that there's always going to be a lot of musicians in the Silver State.

My favorite jam night is at a tiny restaurant/bar in Minden called Indigo. The guy who runs the jam, Dean, also runs other jams in Sparks and Carson City. Joy and I went to the one in Sparks, and I didn't like it all that much. So many musicians come in, you're lucky if you get to play two or three songs, and usually it's the same old I-IV-V blues progression with the guitarists noodling away like Clapton on PCP. And most of these guys are has-beens, never-weres, and burnouts, who have no real interest in anything other than noodling for their three songs. Dean told me that one night in Sparks, he had twenty drummers to deal with. At Indigo, I can play a real variety of music, and a lot of it, sing lead, and meet people who actually seem interested in the concept of playing music as a source of income. I was hoping to meet up with the guy who'd told me he was looking for a good drummer who was familiar with playing to a click-track, but he never showed.

But I didn't really mind. I just like to play. No clicks, no tracks, no set stops and starts unless it's a song we all know. Of course, that means dealing with players who have a hard time with the concept of 'one', as in "come in on 'one'". I've told Dean that I've fought the urge at times to step up to the front of the stage and conduct the band so they can all come in together. But even when it's annoying or even frustrating, it's still fun. Now if I can only make a little money through this......

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Truth be told, I'm not in a position to just walk away when somebody says to me that they're looking for a drummer. But I've also been made offers that were totally bullshit, and needless to say it was very disappointing to see promises come to naught. So I'm out and about, and willing to listen. I can't tell you what's going on at this moment, but I was made an offer last Thursday at Indigo. At least I was informed of an opening with a band. One that wouldn't force me to deal with the fuckheads at the Atlantis. And thanks to the connections I've been building at Indigo's Jam Nights, I've also been able to get in position to do sub work when others are unavailable. We'll just have to see how things all break down from here. But a day-job is still very much in my future, so I shall just have to be patient, and let the currents take me where they may.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I've Been Banned

I happened to have a chance encounter with Powerlight's agent, John McDaniel, at an Office Depot today. He was glad to see me, but what the hell happened, and why didn't you call me? I admitted that I'd possibly overreacted, but that I didn't really care in the end, and told him about my refusal to set foot in the building again.

John said that he was okay with my decision, since he'd received a call from the Atlantis informing him that I was not allowed to be used by his bands there. I told him that was fine with me, that I'd washed my hands of the dump. He told me that we were still on good terms, and that he'd see if he could find me gigs elsewhere, so I passed along my current phone numbers and bade him farewell.

So I've been banned, eighty-sixed, tossed.

So what? No, let me rephrase that. So fucking what? Like I really expected any different from Cockbreath McPothead and the morons that run the place? Fuck 'em, fuck 'em all in the ass with their own severed penises (penii?) So here's my call to you: BOYCOTT THE ATLANTIS. Don't spend a dime there. Don't even stop to visit anyone there. Fuck them all. Show them the same respect and dignity they showed me with their lies and stupidity. Tell a friend. Tell another friend. Then tell another. Spread it like a virus, choke off their business, make them suffer for their arrogance and idiocy. Perhaps deliver the Flaming Bag of Poo to the Farahi family manse. I dunno, I just don't give a shit any more.


Gotta run, time to make some fried chicken before I go to work, maybe see my boy Dre up at Carson Station, he's in town with Steppen Stonz. Then maybe hit Jam Night at Indigo in Minden, do a little networking. Until I can secure a second PT job, it won't hurt to network.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sometimes I Wonder If I Did The Right Thing.....

.....then I realize I just had gas.

Okay, seriously. I do wonder if I've done the right thing. I looked at the news today, and saw some depressing economic news. For those of you not familiar with the Truckee Meadows, the northeastern part of the area holds the City of Sparks, and just off I-80 east of the Sparks Marina (which is what you get when a construction project literally becomes a sinkhole, and you decide to make the best of it) is a large new mall-type project known simply as Legends. The first few shops of the Legends complex opened up a few months ago, and the remainder will open this summer. Yesterday, there was a job fair to start the hiring process for what's expected to be around 700 retail, security, and other rather menial jobs at the other tenants of the complex. The job fair, which was hosted by the John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino & Hotel (Author's note: There are several 'Nugget' casinos in the Reno-Tahoe-Carson area, with some differentiated by the names of the individual owners), expected about 3,000 people to attend the fair.

5,000 was the last estimate from the Reno Gazette-Journal. My sources suggest that number may be somewhat conservative, but think about it: Five thousand people applying for seven hundred jobs. The odds aren't good, the job-seekers having less than a one-in-seven chance of getting hired. Factor in that most of the merchants setting up shop in Legends take applications online, the odds are probably more like 1:9 or 1:10.

Well, I'm still waiting on calls from jobs I've applied for online, so I have hope. And just a little bit of time on my side. I still won't go back to Atlantis, no way, no how. Cockbreath McPothead has to be canned before I do that. I'm not about to worry just yet. And hopefully my boss from my courier route will pay me today, and my transmission holds out long enough that I can get to Chico on Saturday to see Stolen Babies. I'd all but talked myself out of it, saying I can't afford it. Joy and I skipped the debut of our good buddy Jeremy Orris with his new band I Dekay last night for that very same reason. But the Babies haven't come within 400 miles of Reno in 18 months, and I get the feeling that Saturday may be their last live show for a while, as they get ready to record their next album. I really don't want to miss out on that. I'll just have to talk myself back into it, and hope for the best.

Now, it's back to CareerBuilder......

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

And Now That It's Over.....

I'm just tired. Tired of a lot of things. Tired of people. I want to play, and just play for the fun of it. But it isn't fun any more. I've lost my love of music. So now I need to either enter the workforce, or find my love again and find a new gig. I told Calvin that I wasn't quitting Powerlight, just quitting the Atlantis. And I'm dead serious about it. Until Cockbreath McPothead gets canned, I'll never set foot on the property again. So if Calvin finds some big-boy gigs elsewhere, I'll be happy to hook up with him again. But I know the score, so I don't expect that to happen any time soon.

I also want to watch a show once in a while. But an unexpected expense has pretty much devastated our bank accounts. I was going to head to Carson City early on Thursday with Joy to see my bro Jeremy play with his new band, I Dekay, but that's out of the question. I'd also been planning for the last several weeks to see my favorite new band, LA's Stolen Babies, in Chico on Satruday, but thanks to this bill we were barely able to pay the rent. A full tank of gas getting to Chico and back, then going on my courier route, is also pretty much out of the question. We'll see what happens. My truck is dying on me with a uncooperative transmission and bald tires, and I'm just hoping our tax return shows up before it finally goes kaput.

Hell, I just wanted to go to Jam night at Sidelines in Sparks tonight, but I'm sick with a sinus infection that was sadly self-inflicted (take allergy meds that dry me out so badly that infection is inevitable, or just not be able to breathe worth a damn - some choice, eh?), so right now I'm moving between the computer and the couch, coughing up phlegm, occasionally sneezing blood (this last winter was rough on my sinuses), and otherwise being generally miserable and depressed. I know that something will turn up, but it's just the holding on until then that's difficult.

Wish me luck.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Very Long Night

Last night was pretty weird. I leave for the Atlantis fairly late now, because I have no real reason to be early. I'm not interested in seriously altering the set-up of the Vkit for this last gig (aside from tilting the snare a bit towards me), and I have no other equipment to assemble, arrange and align, so why bother? As long as Robert has a mic set up for my vocals, I'm a (reasonably) happy camper. Yet there's a surprise waiting for me as I go up to the stage. Along side Robert is Atlantis' Entertainment Director, the man in charge of dealing with the cabaret bands, as well as the national-level and international acts that play in the second-floor ballrooms.

We've talked before. A few months back, I talked to him about possibly purchasing the Atlantis' old plexiglass drum screen. He blew smoke politely, and theorized that the price would likely be far higher than I was even remotely interested in paying for. This was a key moment in my decision to move to triggering my drums.

He introduced himself, this being the first time we'd talked face-to-face, and asked me how things were going. I looked him square in the eye that things were okay, aside from being falsely accused of damaging the kick drum, which really didn't matter any more because I was leaving the band at the end of the week, then went back to adjusting the snare stand. He looked at me for several moments, while I ignored him. I think he was trying to place the voice, and comprehend what I'd said. Being the only drummer in the conversation, I could've told him about Cockbreath McPothead's accusation in Klingon, and I doubt he'd have understood any better. He then promptly left. I was rather surprised that he was there, since his usual schedule has him coming into work usually at 6 or 7 in the morning. I wonder who asked him to come by? I'll have to ask Robert that tonight. I'd also cut my hair short the night before (Joy was upset that I didn't leave her a chunk of long hair in a ponytail to play with) so I think they were expecting someone with long hair. I also found out that Joy had lodged a complaint with the Atlantis over Cockbreath McPothead, and found that a majority of my friends amongst the employees thought he was full of shit. Perhaps I'll get what I want.......

But I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Graceful Departure

It'll be hard to accomplish. The useless cockbreath AV tech, who unchecked jealousy and ego started this, will still be there for the remainder of my employment, albeit only in passing due to shift change. The AV tech that I'll be working with for the rest of the week is a much better tech, and a bigger man than Cockbreath McPothead. He'd also shown some concerns that I'd played too hard, until I'd noticed and shown to him that the TD-20 kick-drum pad had been set up improperly, with the pad's anchoring spurs not set at the same height. It'll take some explaining to him that I won't be coming back to the Atlantis after Sunday. Ever.

So what will I do in the interim? I've removed all my equipment from the stage area. Gone is my $400 wireless headset microphone, my high-tech Easton AHEAD alloy drumsticks, my comfortable drum throne, my pedals, my repair kit, even my monitoring headphones. Why bother with it all? The drums themselves have been turned down to virtually zero, and I walk into the building with only a single pair of cheap generic 7AN sticks. I play so lightly that I doubt anybody can hear anything. With the band's sequences including full drum tracks, the tourists really can't tell the difference. I've even toyed with the idea of simply shutting off the drum controller, and just spend the night tapping pads and hoping I'm not doing permanent damage to my back because of the nice but backrest-free throne. Why bother with the risk of damaging my own equipment? Just the barest necessities will do. Now if I could only find my hair trimmer.....

I will simply do my job for the last five nights, just with the barest minimum of effort. I still have my courier route, and a second part-time job will suffice. I'll find an original band somewhere along the line, and play because I want to rather than playing because I have to just to keep the lights on and the rent paid. And I'll play before audiences that actually want to see me and whatever band I'm in play, rather than some anonymous amalgamation of drunken tourists who keep screaming out requests for songs I've never played before, some I'd never even heard of before.

I think this blog will help me keep my hand in the game as it were, allowing my fellow musicians around the country to gripe, complain, and more importantly, organize. We can only stand up to shitty venues, companies, and people if we stand up together.

Welcome To My World

Have you ever played a gig somewhere, where you just didn't get treated well? Not by the crowd, but by the venue and/or its staff. Whether it's the cost to rent the venue, the friendliness (or lack thereof) of the people who work there, safety issues, etc., there are places out there that take advantage of you and your band, screw you over, treat you like shit...... you know the deal.

Well, here's a place to talk about it, point out those who take advantage of us, expolit and abuse us, and to stand up to the bastards and eventually either get them to change their ways, or run them out of business.

And since my gripe is the germinating seed of this blog, I'll fire the first salvo right now. This is cross-posted from my MySpace blog:

"I stand before you, accused of being myself. Of being a drummer. Of not being willing to suck up to a low-IQ'd AV tech who seems to have it in for me, why I have no idea. Allow me to elaborate.

As you may or may not know, the Atlantis in Reno purchased a Roland TD-20 V-Drum kit about a year and a half ago, because of noise concerns about us noisy, obnoxious drummers, never mind that we had a screen up on the stage for just that reason. About eight motnths ago or so, a drummer of limited brain capacity set up his bass pedal so far-off center that it actually caused damage to the head of the kit's bass-drum pad (NOTE: with V-Kits, you have to be careful to set the beaters of your bass pedals dead center, because that's where the actual contact pad is located). A series of temporary patches has come and gone, with the most recent being a section cut from an old acoustic bass drumhead, taped into place with gaffer tape.

Last week was the first time I'd played there in over two months. And I noticed a small tear in the patch. It was under the right-hand pedal of my double-bass pedal, but after careful analysis, I determined that I couldn't have done it, because the actual point of initial impact of that beater was not on the tear. But I was accused of having done da dirty deed, and then accused of having caused the original damage to the head in the first place by AV tech Steven, who then bragged about how he was going to get me kicked out of the Atlantis, by my 'brother-in-law' no less.

Author's Note: I have only one brother-in-law, and he's a tugboatman in Port Angeles, WA. I think Steven meant my stepdaughter's fiancee Bill, who works in Atlantis' Security department.

Oh, I got pissed off. Who wouldn't, when they're falsely accused? Especially by a person who is utterly clueless when it comes to music, and especially drums and percussion! I debunked every accusation with ease, and then Calvin told me not to worry about it. Tuesday night I was informed that the Atlantis had decided that all the damage was my fault, that it was solely because I hit too hard, and because I use a double-pedal, which I was now barred from using. I chose to punch a wall rather than an AV tech. Calvin chose not to stand up for me, even though I'd showed him how I was right, and they were wrong. I can also name two or three players who are there as often as I am, who play a whole fuck of a lot harder than I do. To be totally honest, that kit is getting close to falling apart, and it's not because of any individual that plays it. It's a group effort, dozens of drummers playing a total of eight hours a night, six nights a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Do the math. That's 2,496 man-hours a year (2,504 if New Year's Eve falls on the regular off-night of Monday), far more than it's designed for, and I'm responsible for about twelve percent of that at best. And I've been made the scapegoat.

I am nobody's fucking scapegoat, now or ever."

Now here's the disclaimer. I have no beef with Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa, or the family that owns the place. They and their employees have been led astray a craven little bastard of an AV tech who wouldn't know a paradiddle from a paddle. I work hard for my pay, and I want justice, pure and simple. Nothing more, nothing less. And I've decided that this week will be my last appearance there until the offending AV tech is fired. Nothing violent, because I know that if I lose my temper someone's going to the hospital, and I'll be going to jail.

What do you think? Do you have a venue, or a person, that's on your shit list? Let me know!