Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vocational Musings

There have been moments when I think I missed my vocation by not being a tour manager. The irony, of course, is that now that I'm qualified and semi-connected enough to shepherd bands around the world, I don't think I'd really want the job for more than short stints. I did a little bit of tour managing a bunch of years ago and enjoyed it, but it did some crazy things to my psyche. I remember spending the entire week after I got back completely on edge (while awake and asleep) waiting for the cell phone to ring and present me with some disaster to fix.

Despite that, at that time in my life I would've happily left town for 200 days a year. Now, it doesn't hold the same appeal. Maybe it's all the traveling I've done over the last few years, but business travel isn't always a perk. After all, you go places to work and you don't necessarily see much. Touring especially is all about traveling so that you can hurry up and wait for the show to happen. You and your brain don't belong to yourself - you belong to the job - and it's not possible to even attempt to maintain balance in your life.

I've watched friends have a hard time after coming back from being on tour because they don't know how to be in one place anymore and they haven't been able to keep in touch as well as they'd like so they're faced with having to reconnect with people every time. That has to wear away a sense of home if the only purpose that home has is to let you collapse for a few weeks, catch up on bills, do laundry and revisit your favorite haunts.

The huge upside, of course, is that there's nothing like that feeling you get when the show starts and the crowd is totally into the music. Not to mention the comradeship that develops when you're spending every waking moment with a group of people. You become fast family because it feels like you're cramming more moments of living into a day. Everything feels louder and funnier and weirder and altogether more exhilarating. It's that sensory overload that makes for a serious case of the post-rock-tour-blues when it's all over.

Anyway, we all change as we get older, and that's one of the biggest changes I've noticed over the last few years in me. I still love to travel and I have all the wanderlust that I used to have, but traveling as a job doesn't seem to hold sway over me anymore.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Keeping Score

TulipsI got a year older last week and because of the occasion discovered that there are multiple depressing songs about turning 31 out there. I, on the other hand, had a few too many drinks with a bunch of people I hadn't seen in while and enjoyed myself thoroughly. It's always cool to see the different parts of my life intersect and interact.

I told the story that night of my experiences with The Mendoza Line's Timothy Bracy in a can-you-believe-that style of humor and then felt badly afterwards because it's as far from funny as you get. I couldn't find a link to the song on 30 Year Low, but the apt comparison seems to be to Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. Compared to that, Aimee Mann's typically dour and bitter soon-to-be-released track on turning 31 is innocuous.

The live music scene has left me blah over the last week or so. I saw the New Pornographers at a sold-out 9:30 Club show last week. Yes, there was good-natured fun poked at our ugly new $5 bill, Americans in general and the audience (from the Canadian band), and the band clearly enjoyed themselves, but I might as well have listened to the record. Neko Case was cool and soldiered on despite a bum ankle, but I didn't see much of the indie-rock goddess that all the hipster boys bought tickets for. (Lest you think I'm exaggerating, I just googled "Neko Case indie rock goddess" and got 6,590 hits.)

Last night was Son Volt who seemed bored and were boring to listen to. Wilco definitely got the better half of the Uncle Tupelo break-up. There were way too many mid-tempo numbers that sounded alike. They were marginally more interesting the closer they got to alt-country (and farther from roots rock), but that wasn't enough to keep me there for more than a half-hour.

However, I liked Son Volt's touring guitarist Chris Masterson whose playing was melodic and economical but ballsy when necessary. Which was not often enough with Son Volt and much more so when he joined opener Bobby Bare, Jr. for a couple of tracks. Bobby Bare, Jr. was good though and I'd see him again. Eccentric and crazy are the words everyone uses to describe him and he definitely upstaged the headliners. Also amusing, his bassist looked vaguely like Borat had dressed him. Photos of Bobby Bare, Jr. and Son Volt.

So, final score: 1 (plus a temp guitarist) for 3. Ah well.

Life continues apace. I'm heading out of town tomorrow for a few days to shepard FMC's traveling circus around the boonies. Once that's over, I should be posting more regularly.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This Ain't No Disco

Cauliflower & PotatoesI had forgotten over the last six months how much I enjoyed wandering into my local bar after work and watching a couple of innings of baseball with frosty beverage in hand. It was nice to remember last week after the packed weeks that keep happening.

Among the fun non-work stuff, last week Puck and I were at Iota for Federal Reserve Collective, but ended up in the restaurant half of the club eating their killer french fries and drinking half-price wine. Aside from being very cool, Puck makes these which I find hilarious but don't click on the link if you're prudish or under 18, kiddies.

On Saturday, I was at The Black Cat for This Ain't No Disco which is Chris Burns and Ed Porter (Dudes) spinning. I really enjoyed it and I loved the musical selections, especially those of Chris Burns. The place was full by night's end but not packed...not for long methinks. Must track them down again.

I'm thinking about spending some of my tax relief check on either a bicycle or a keyboard. I've been having a hard time keeping up with the running lately, so it's hard to say how much a bike would get used. Still, it'd be fun to take rides up Beach Drive which gets closed on Sundays. But then I've always wanted a real piano or keyboard so I could try my hand at playing again. Can't decide.

I'll be seeing a lot of the 930 club in the next month: New Pornographers are this week and Black Keys, Son Volt/Bobby Bare, Jr., and X are coming up.

Random thought: Am I the only one who hears a tuba and thinks of elevator music? I've been shuffling through the ipod lately and have twice now come across a tune with a tuba in it and have found myself thinking of elevator hell. I got no issues with tubas or tuba players, I just think elevator music has done them a real disservice.

Alright, back to making breakfast for dinner.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mixing It Up

bumper stickerMy latest score courtesy of my office: The Beastie Boys' newest all-instrumental The Mix-Up. It's reminiscent of The In Sound From Way Out, which I've played at more gatherings than I can count. There are more moving parts, but you wouldn't mistake it as anyone other than the Beasties...groovy. Also, in the same batch, the Sondre Lerche soundtrack to "Dan in Real Life". He's gone all adult contemporary. Ouchie.

Radiohead's In Rainbows is growing on me. Speaking of, they got one of those remix-our-song contests going on here. Points off for mixing each instrument together for you so you only get to remix five tracks - you know they somehow used at least 48 tracks.

I was at Arts Advocacy Day on Monday. Along with media training and learning how to talk to your elected officials, I got to take a course in lobbying which included a detailed lesson on how bills turn into laws and all the detours-to-nowhere they can take. It was vaguely like my high school civics class except more interesting, possibly because I was paying attention this time around. If nothing else, The West Wing now makes even more sense.

Saw Lust, Caution the other night. It was a quiet and reserved but intense film. Tang Wei, the lead actress spins a web and then gets herself caught in it - and you watch it happen on her face. She gives an amazing performance.

Just returned from a good time in Buffalo where FMC presented a day long seminar for musicians on how to make money from their music and how to get involved in policy issues that affect them. SRO crowd that was engaged and diverse. More seminars coming at the end of the month in Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. Tell your musically-inclined friends!

OK, back to sitting on hold with the bank and the person who needs "signatory" spelled four times...