Tuesday, June 30, 2015

my crazy kid

I was holding my daughter after her shower, when she told me she wanted another backpack. This isn't unusual in and of itself, as she has four of them (yes, she's a little backpack obsessed). This one, she informed me, needed to be big. Big enough to fit the whole town in. Big enough to fit people. She would take the small people and, using her magic power, turn them into dolls. The big people, she would turn them into giants. And the medium people? She is, for the record, going to turn them into (wait for it) submarines.

My kid. I'm sure she's going to rule the world one of these days.

music and math

I always have a hard time recording. It's not just because the whole process can be boring beyond belief (there is a whole lot of waiting involved). The biggest issue for me is that you are constantly under a microscope. You're not usually able to record everyone at once, so you have to go one at a time, to a click track (a computerized steady beat)...so everything can synch up.

I've always found this incredibly annoying. When i play solo, i can be fluid with my timing to greater highlight the peaks and valleys of the song. When I'm with a band, I'm used to fitting in with other musicians and their idiosyncrasies. The quirks are always what makes it real to my ears...and computers don't have quirks.

As always, it is nice to get scientific confirmation of my own unscientific biases. The article What Differentiates Human Drummer's From Machines? tells of a study which argues that "in every human performance, there are tiny flaws which follow a pleasing fractal pattern."

Once again, I discover some other cool application of mathematics which makes me wonder why my math teachers only ever talked about pyramids and trains leaving stations. If I knew there were such cool math applications, I would've tried a lot harder in those classes.

practice and play

I sat down to practice guitar. I broke out my Telecaster, plugged it into my Traynor, and started warming up. The first thing I noticed is it had been so long since I played that electric, I had forgotten how damn good it sounded. Then, after a scale or two, I started to see how many songs from my old bands I still remembered. Then I started to see how many old heavy metal songs I could sing and play. Then I looked at the clock, and two hours had passed.

Practice is good...but I forgot how fun it was to just say "the hell with it" and simply play.

a rock and roll dream

When I was younger, I was just a guitar player. I wanted to be the guy who stepped to the middle of the spotlight and let out a stream of guitar histrionics. I wanted to interrupt the flow of the song to put my virtuosity on display. I also had a desire to get the unaccompanied guitar solo, where I would keep the crowd enraptured with just my pick, my fingers, my strings, and more than a little distortion. I was, after all, a heavy metal kid.

I quickly matured out of this mindset. For one thing, I wasn't all that good, and i certainly didn't really have the coordination to be a shredder. Plus while the mindset required had many desired qualities, it became quite clear I didn't have the confidence to pull it off. Ego was not my strong suit. I was, after all, a shy, depressed kid.

Another factor, though, was that I discovered songwriting. It seemed a more complete dream. I wasn't all that good at it (in spite of being able to come up with decent riffs)...I wasn't mature enough to have any real insights about life, and I didn't have the patience to really think of structure. Plus I still wanted to show off. I was, after all, a guitar player.

My post-teenage efforts to become a musician kept failing, though, and I eventually decided to call it a day. I would focus on becoming an awesome scholar instead (snicker, snicker). So I finished my Bachelors and Masters degrees. I moved to Ohio, started my Doctorate, and started a new life. And, while I was living this new life, a funny thing happened: I grew up. Another funny thing happened: as I grew up, I became a better guitar player...and when I started writing songs again, I was a much better songwriter. I was, after all, finally a bit mature.

I never really let go of my rock and roll dreams. But when I grew up a bit, my dreams changed. I wanted to front an awesome band. I wanted to be at the helm as we went through a great rock and roll song. I wanted to be singing and bashing out chords while my band mates were all behind me, in perfect time. I wanted to feel the drums behind me, to look to either side and see friends singing and playing with me. I even wanted to hear horns. I am, after all, eclectic.

I finally reached this with the last two incarnations of my band The Antidepressants. The last two gigs were particularly great, and on numerous occasions during each, I looked around me and realized, hey, I'm living in my ideal rock and roll situation... And it was glorious. I am, after all, a dreamer.

Friday's gig was, however, an ending. My drummer is moving away soon, and since the bassist was using the drummer's equipment, it means this incarnation of the band is done. My trombone player is still gonna play with me, for which I'm thankful; the trombone as an instrument adds a unique feel to my music. Plus the trombonist is always so damn happy to play. We will do shows as a duo. I am still very much searching for a new rhythm section (so, if you're a drummer or bassist...). I am nowhere near done. I will get that dream back, no matter what it takes.

I am, for the record, nothing if not persistent.

my Onion horoscope, 6/30

You know I love my Onion horoscope:

"You're the kind of boring person doomed to be alone while trying to solve all the problems instead of hanging out with the cool people while assigning blame."

airport bars

I used to love airport bars. There was something about hanging out in the middle of the day at a bar with complete strangers, swilling a Bloody Mary (which I only ever drank in airport bars for some unknown reason).

The conversations were better. We were all completely disconnected, away from any home base, in no control over our situation or agenda. Therefore, we could be honest with each other...particularly as we were all a little lubricated and would never see each other again. It was the open honesty of no expectations, and it was beautiful...and I miss it tremendously.

I haven't flew in ages, so airport bars are out...so I have no real place to try to recreate the experience. I don't drink any more. So I have utterly no idea if I would be able to recreate it anyway. Is there even an equivalent? Maybe therapy?

I dunno...maybe I'll ask my therapist.


I was never a fan of the Iraq war. No, this is an understatement if I've ever made one. I thought the war was horribly misguided, an exercise in hubris, ego, and idiocy, more motivated by W. trying to outdo his dad than by any actual strategic need.

I got an actual hint of this the first time time I flew after 9/11. I was sitting in the airport bar drinking a Bloody Mary (as is my wont), when a guy took the bar stool next to me. We started talking, and I learned 1) he was a Merchant Marine, 2) he hadn't had a beer in over six months, 3) he had been hauling military gear and weaponry to the middle East for the duration of his deployment, and 4) the flow of arms began about a week after 9/11, almost as if (in his words) "that bastard Bush had been just waiting for an excuse."

This struck a nerve in me, because people were already dying, and as a military brat, I knew it would be people in the same position my dad was in decades earlier who would be doing the dying...on our side, at any rate. I knew a sizeably larger numbers of Iraqis would be dying, and their plight would be mostly ignored in the country of the invader.

So I have strong feelings on the matter. But they are largely just that, feelings. A more logical recap of the war will hold more weight with most people. So, when I ran across the article The Ultimate 'What If'; A World Where America Never Invaded Iraq, I knew I had to share it.

And I swear, after reading it, I'm even angrier now.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

my views on drugs

I do drugs, but just the normal ones...sugar, caffeine, the infrequent cigar, and the occasional Cheez-it. I don't do any illegal drugs. I got some good opiates after my surgery, but I didn't like taking them all that much (mostly due to the unfortunate side effect of constipation). I quit drinking mostly to avoid pseudo-gout flare-ups and more kidney stones, but I've found myself not only physically but mentally more healthy.

Still, if you ask me about my attitude towards drugs, I might just point you toward the article It's Time to Legalize Drugs. Only I might be a bit stronger in my attitude.

games are important

I have always gotten more than a little upset when someone tries to counter any critical take on any story, media text, or entertainment with "it's only a joke/song/pop music/show/whatever." I am (or maybe used to be) a culture studies scholar, so I know there is no such thing as innocent entertainment.

Still, it's always nice to get confirmation that culture is a more complex than people realize. Enter the shockingly interesting article Inside Monopoly's Secret War Against the Third Reich. If we could only get such unexpected histories out of all our culture, I could maybe get over my anger.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

teaching and certainty

Teachers share many experiences, but one of the most eye-roll-inducing is the "I don't know why I failed when I think I'm brilliant" student. This semester, I had several of them, and, as usual, they were painful to deal with...and a few of them never did realize their true level of work. Similarly, all teachers can pull out tons of stories about students who firmly (fervently even) hold on to their misguided beliefs even in light of contradictory evidence. This past semester, I had a few which ignored anything that didn't directly support their own beliefs, and they did so with the tenacity of a wounded pigeon.

This is the hardest thing with which teachers must deal (other than online course management systems and administration, that is). I always tell my students that I will give them no answers, and that they will in fact leave my class with less certainty than when they entered. I tell them this, even though I suspect they don't believe me. But questioning everything, up to and including themselves, is in fact the desired state. I've always believed this.

Still, it's nice to have corroboration. This is why I was thrilled when I read We Are All Confident Idiots. It gives an overview of the science behind both the original overconfidence and the desired lack of certainty. I'm already violating my own Thou Shall Not Work Over the Break rule by trying to figure out where to fit it in to my Fall classes. And I strongly recommend all my teacher friends do the same.

I'm 100% absolutely certain they won't regret it.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

watching the watchmen

If you haven't figured it out yet, I don't trust most police officers. In my life, I've had very little reason to trust them. I was a heavy metal teenager, and because I looked different, I was more likely to get singled out by them. I lost count of the times me and my brother would, while driving, get pulled over by cops for no reason. I once got kicked out of a McDonald's in the mall by a cop who kept his hand on his gun. One day on my way home from work, I got pulled over, frisked, and had my car searched... all because I had an out taillight.

And I am fully aware that all my incidents were all mild. I know that if I was an ethnic or sexual other, I would most certainly be more heavily followed, and maybe abused and attacked. I am, after all, a white male, and while I looked different than the cops, I was close enough to them to avoid any racism, homophobia, or anything else which would compound these authority figures abusing their authority.

Look, I know being a cop can't be the easiest job ever. And yes, it does have its dangers, but it's safer than being a fisherman or electrician. But even if it was the most difficult job in the world, that would still be no reason to do it badly, no excuse to abuse its power.

So, no, I don't like cops. And after reading the Interview with the Baltimore Cop Who's Revealing All the Horrible Things He Saw On the Job, well, now I'm just plain scared of them.

I mean, more than I was before.

dreams and departures

Last night, I had a dream that I was playing again with my old band Analog Revolution. We got a gig at a local music festival, and I couldn't help but fall into the illusion that we'd play together forever. It's the childhood musician's dream, to find the perfect band mates and develop together through the rest of our lives, to become a well-oiled machine.

In this dream, I was running a bit late and missed the first half of our set. But I jumped on stage and had a great time playing the songs again. After the set, we broke down our equipment and hauled it to our van, but I realized I lost some of my guitar cables. By the time I found them, however, the rest of the band had scattered, and the band van (which I had to drive) had turned into cardboard. Then that cardboard started to buckle. Then I woke up.

This means something, obviously, but I have other things on my mind. Tonight's the last practice of version 3.0 of my band. Friday is the last gig. Then I have to try and find yet another backing band. I think I have something set up, but only for 2-3 gigs a year...and more permanence would be nice.

My wife last night complimented my on how well I've been taking this ending. Frankly, though, I have a lot of practice. After Analog's drummer moved away, Black Swamp Rats lost a rhythm section via Facebook, and then the band itself broke up again via Facebook. My next band, Magnosaurus, also broke up via Facebook. And my solo band has already gone through several incarnations. So I'm kinda used to it.

When I finally got it through my thick head that any band would break up, I learned self-sufficiency. Now, no matter what happens, I'm prepared and can carry on. But, if I'm honest, I miss the illusion of that lifelong band. It would be nice to have permanence as something other than a dream. Still, I must soldier on.

This post, by the way, is both a description of my musical career and a metaphor for life.

Monday, June 22, 2015

a controversial opinion in the aftermath

In the wake of the South Carolina church shooting, there has been a groundswell movement to remove the Confederate flag from the state Capitol. For the record, I do support this. I don't think that flag should fly anywhere. It's a relic of an ugly, ugly cause.

However, I can't help think the campaign, while well-intentioned, is more a distraction than anything else. The flag is a hateful symbol, yes, but in the end, I'd rather eradicate that for which it stands than the just symbol. Getting rid of the flag is fine, but why not instead fight the ignorance behind it? Maybe battle the ugly institutions behind it (such as the ugly hate groups and fundamentalist organizations)? How about instead battle for better and better funded education? You know, so people might be less stupid? Do this, and people might realize on their own how stupid that flag is.

Or is this too controversial of an opinion?


I am (warning: shocking news coming) not always the most subtle person in the world. This is particularly true when it comes to my music. I tend to have a fairly "smack you in the face" style of applying guitar effects. I have been, in my last two rock bands, the "throw in a loud guitar solo" guy (which, to be fair, was my assigned band role; my last singer used to, when describing new songs, say "and Mike goes crazy here"). And my guitar tone has been, until lately, of the "how much distortion can one add?" variety (although to be fair, I have been trying to rectify the situation, and my new amp really helps).

Writing-wise, I am also not the most subtle person. As an example, last night, I started writing a song called "The Hate Blues"; it's about (warning: shocking news coming) everything that I hate, everything that makes me wanna strangle baby ducks. I do have some more subtle songs, but subtle artistry is something on which I need to seriously work.

So it was with great admiration that I read a great interview with Chuck Palahniuk about Fight Club 2. I loved the original. On the surface, it was a very in-your-face film, from the direction, to the photography, to the acting. Then you got to the twist, and you realized you were watching a much more subtle, in-depth film than you thought. This is exactly the thing I love in narratives.

The sequel also looks intriguing. Instead of a film, it's a comic book...so it employs a completely different set of writing tricks. One of the things Palahniuk and his collaborators talk about in the interview is deliberately obscuring panels by overlaying objects over the art and dialogue.

This idea of designed obscurity utterly fascinates me. I don't exactly know what the musical analogue would be...yet, that is. This is definitely an avenue for further investigation.

Being not-so-subtle and subtle at the same time would be very zen. It would also be pretty cool.

father's day

Yesterday was Father's Day. It was a strange and random weekend...which, in the end, ended up being about emotional extremes.

My wife and kid were staying at the in-laws, so I spent Saturday and early Sunday with my time divided between working on my home recording acoustic guitar technique and watching brainless television (my latest is Xena: Warrior Princess) while learning blues licks on my electric.

I don't spend a lot of time by myself anymore. It is one of the costs of being a father, I guess...that and being the designated household fixer/assembler of goods. About the only alone time I normally have is when using the bathroom or showering, but even that is still open for daughter invasion. So when I do get solo time, it's an adjustment.

It's not so much the quiet, or the ability to concentrate with fewer distractions, or actually control the television. No, it is the related dulling down of emotions. When I'm alone, I get less emotionally involved in...pretty much everything. I'm not sure if this is something which happens to everyone or if it's all the fault of my faulty brain, but it does happen to me. About the only time when the family was gone that I did get "the feels" was quite honestly when I saw the Google doodle of the day.

Then the family came home, and I got the best hug-and-a-kiss from my girl ever. Then we went out to eat at Tony Packo's (my brother-in-law's choice, which was fine by me, even though it was not the most vegetarian-friendly place; I had to order the only two meat-free appetizers on the menu...which is neither here nor there, actually), and I got to have more family time. Then, when we got back home, we got to show my kid the new fish tank we got for her...and I got to share in her estaticness. Then I called my dad, and that felt great as well.

Final judgment? I got more done by myself, but I got emotions and hugs with my family. I'll take the latter.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

a wandering perspective

When I was still doing scholarship, I had a real issue trying to limit my critical approach to just one area. I got my Masters in English, but I couldn't just use literary scholarship or theory...I had to include work from other disciplines (such as psychiatry).

This had both positives and negatives. Bringing in outside stuff did help me stand out and add some real depth to my work. However, it increased the amount of work I had to do. As well as gaining fluency in my own field, I also had to be reasonably conversant in other fields. This, of course, made going into Culture Studies a perfect fit, but my doctoral area of concentration just compounded the issue. I realized I was out of control when I found myself sitting at a table in the library with a two-foot stack of books on Sociology theory...all for a single footnote.

I did eventually give this all up (aided by me bombing out of the academic market). Still, I continue to have a semi-serious interest in a bunch of other fields, including chaos theory, network intelligence, complexity, and urban planning...and I particularly love discovering folk who apply one of these areas to other fields. So when I discovered an article about the show Sesame Street redesigning their sets using the principles of urban planning, I was stoked.

It's always nice to see the creative application of neat theory...even when it's not me doing it.

unlikely heroes

I will freely admit I have not fully studied the situation. I will also freely admit I'm not exactly a fan of her work. However, I have to admit I am quite pleased with Taylor Swift for her battles in favor of artist royalty payments from streaming services.

I do perform one of her songs when I do cover sets. But I'm not really a fan of hers. I find her a bit silly and over the top...and I don't really like her style of music. However, I have to really admire Miley Cyrus for her charity efforts on behalf of homeless and lgbt teens.

It's nice to discover and be reminded that not all celebrities are not valid, egotistical jerks...well, at least all the time.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


When I was part-time teaching, I somehow got two sociology classes at a nearby community college. They were an awful lot of work (especially as the only sociology class I ever took was an introductory class several decades before), but we were able to do some interesting stuff.

One day, we tried to define the word "terrorism." My main rule was that I would not accept any student definition which could also be applied to the American government. I thought this would be fun and a little difficult. What I did not expect, however, was that we would not be able to come up with any definition at all which wouldn't also describe the Allieds in World War II. And believe me, we tried...for a good 45 minutes.

The lesson we learned is that the word terrorism only really had any specificity at all as a political label. Using force to instil terror? That happens all the time, from insurgents operating a road bomb to the US government anti-drug policy. Position is everything. The other thing we learned was equally fun: as a species, we are certainly a violent, nasty lot...and this is deeply instilled throughout our history and society.

Having said that, however, there is a certain "I know it when I see it" element to terrorism which is undeniable. The key is to not let the obvious emotional connotations overcome our logic and common sense. The concept of terrorism is not a legitimate excuse to not think.

Take the recent church shooting in South Carolina. It is certainly, undeniably terrorism. However, we can't stop at just labeling it as such.

This particular type of terrorism is one that's easy to trace. The abundance of and easy access to guns is certainly an issue, and to not address it would be disingenuous. The racist roots of the attack are also pretty clear and obvious, from the apartheid-era South Africa flag the shooter added to his jacket to the Confederate battle flag which is near-omnipresent in the state (and yes, the Civil War was about slavery; the South Carolina secession notice specifically mentioned slavery).

Now I know that treating something as terrorism can lead to very knee-jerk reactions (see The Patriot Act, the never-ending invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, anything done by the NSA, and so on)...that's clearly not the best option. But neither is pretending there are no grand problems at the root of the initial act of violence. So, instead of discounting terrorism or responding with corresponding terror, I would like to suggest we look honestly at the actual causes and try to address them. Try admitting that weaponry is a problem and then work to remove it from the equation. Admit that ignorance is running rampant and then work to eliminate its sources. You know, stop these things before they start.

Yeah, I know...probably seems too crazy to work, huh?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

a writer in a police town

When I was younger and just starting to write songs (or at least poor versions thereof), I made a more or less conscious decision to avoid writing political songs. I did have pretty strong political convictions (which were, in hindsight, almost as immature as my early songs). I reasoned, however, that by the time I got a band together and played out, there was a good chance that my politics would be overtaken by events. So why try to be current?

Incidentally, as it took me several decades to actually play out, this ended up being a pretty sound decision even if for different reasons. As I write this, I'm much older (ancient, even) and  (debatably) wiser. I'm much more radical in my politics, and I get more extreme with each passing month.

I still don't do political songs, though...but now, it's not for lack of trying. The first draft of "Rise Above" (which, incidentally, will be on my new album) was very much a political rant against a specific person who has, as he's aged, started to embrace politics based seemingly on the strength of anti-intellectualism contained therein. But the structure didn't work; there was a spoken word/list portion at the end which was just too exhausting to pull off live. The first revision didn't work either, and eventually, I nuked the whole thing and made the song about (shock, shock) my depression.

It's hard, however, to avoid politics when the amount of stupidity seems to increase exponentially. With ever passing glance at the news, I become more pessimistic...and that pessimism demands an outlet.

The latest thing to hit me in the full rage triggers is the increasing police state in which we live. The idea that, in order to feel safe, we should give up all our rights is astounding to me. Couple this with authority figures arguing they should be exempt from any limits on their power, and I start to get angry.

A while back, the sleepy little midwest college town in which I live replaced all their closed circuit cameras with new hi-def ones. They also got their own SWAT unit. And their own bomb dogs. And I'm pretty sure they also have their own armored personnel carrier. And, I should be perfectly clear, we do not have a concentration of terrorists or anything around here. This stuff isn't to up the number of undergrads cited for public urination or anything . So why do we have it?

The simple answer is "because they can." What authority figure wouldn't want stronger, more potent symbols of their authority? Well, the obvious answer is "a sane one," but that's not how law enforcement has worked for some time.

This has been bothering me for some time. If I had faith in humanity, I would believe the police department's military hardware would only be used sparingly. But, as I said, I'm getting more and more radical as I age, and I can't help but ask, "if we give them all these hammers, how long before they see everyone as a nail?"

That is why I'm now sitting at my normal bar, contemplating finishing lyrics for the angriest, most political song I've ever written.

Monday, June 08, 2015

should I tell?

How may I tell you about my gig at the Old West End festival?

Should I tell you about the strange journey of trying to get our gear from our cars to the stage? Of how we had to send our bassist to hunt down a golf cart and driver?

Should I try to describe what it felt like to try to set up our gear and play while battling the distracting smell of frying elephant ears and roasting corn?

Should I mention my initial fear when my pedalboard decided not to work? Or when my low E string kept going out of tune in the middle of songs? Or of my relief at being able to cope with on the fly?

Should I mention how cool it was to finally play a band show with people I know in attendance? That I had both family and friends in the audience (in addition to whomever had to listen to us while they ate their food court offerings?)?

Should I mention just how awesome my band sounds, particularly when our trombonist is able to join us?

Should I explain how delighted I was that, as I was post-gig packing up my equipment, my daughter came over, grabbed a guitar cable and pretended it was a skip rope?

Should I try to describe the general uneasiness I felt when sitting on the back of a golf cart, straddling my gear, and tearing through the parking lot back to my car?

Should I express my joy at having the entertainment director ask me if he could call me next year and schedule me for a better timeslot?

Should I go on?

Saturday, June 06, 2015

our morning festival

Tomorrow, me and my band plays The Old West End Festival. We play the Art Fair stage at 11am. I try to give my all at any show, but this one is particularly important for me.

First off, I've been trying hard to break into the Toledo market. I've played a few shows, but they have been, as a rule, last minute and weakly attended. I'm hoping that, as this is a festival, there will be more people at this one. Being the opening act on a Sunday, though, means that a crowd is not a certainty. Last year, she. The Antidepressants 1.0 played a festival in Tiffin in the early Sunday slot, we played to festival volunteers and no one else. Here's hoping we do better tomorrow...it would be nice to make some Toledo fans.

The other reason this show is important to me is that it is the next to last show for this incarnation of my band. Come July, my drummer moves away, taking our practice space and the bass equipment with him, and I will be forced to reconstruct the band yet again. So if you want to see TheMikeDuBose and the Antidepressants 3.0, you have either tomorrow or our June 26 Howard's gig, and then that is it. So, seeing as no one I know has yet to see my band, I hope some of y'all can make it.

If you're in the area, you can make an old rocker's day by simply showing up. How can you resist?

post-apocalyptic toys

As my tattoos would attest, I really like Lego. In addition to being a wonderful toy and having great philosophical implications, they are a wonderful art medium. Combine that with some inspiration, and you get awesomeness such as Lego versions of Mad Max vehicles. I really, really, really want the second one.

they really get me

Once again, The Onion is frightfully accurate. Yeah, I know they are supposed to be a parody paper, but I suspect they are really doing autobiographical research on my life. The evidence? This story: Man Honestly Thought Breakdown Would Be More Obvious to People.

Friday, June 05, 2015

post-6/4 show decap

So how did last night's show go?  The first thing you should know is warts.

I have warts on my foot. Check that. I actually have a wart colony on my right foot. You have to love the name; it makes it sound like it would be a swell place for a tropical vacation. Instead of being a nice white sand beach with cabanas, though, it instead looks kinda gross, actually. It hasn't really bothered me otherwise, so I've been dealing with it. My wife, however, found it a bit disturbing whenever she tried to gaze lovingly at my sole, so I decided to go to the podiatrist and get it taken care of.

Yesterday morning, I had a morning foot appointment. The doc removed some dead skin and then applied some of the super-duper strength foot drugs. They did this before, and that time, the medicine mildly stung. This time, it made the whole colony blister up, swell, throb, and go owie. If I wasn't so manly, I might've whimpered.

This made the day challenging. Walking sucked. Standing sucked. Doing anything which put pressure on the foot sucked. Most of all, carrying all my gear? Up stairs? That also was not pleasant. So the whole day, I was feeling a little weird. Add to that a last-minute show. Very weird. Plus, as we learned from the whole canned cider incident, weird vibes were in the air anyway.

My set went well in spite of having a mixed vibe. I was the first person of the evening who wasn't playing his acoustic guitar through an electric guitar amp...so I sounded better than the others (who were younger than I and less experienced at this kind of thing). I was gonna use my new pitch shift pedal, but the electrical plugs in the bar are bad, and my adapter kept falling out. Plus my cool mood lighting wasn't working for some reason...which I guess one should expect out of a $5 clamp light kept in the trunk of one's car. I also managed to spill my drink while setting up...not that it was the first drink ever spilled on that stage, but still.

I am, however, a professional at all this (in spite of not getting paid), so these were all easy to overcome. Plus I think I know how to properly approach a solo performance. Too many people just bust out their three chord songs one after another, with no real break from the angst. I, however, learned a very important lesson from my friend Micah Schnabel: a solo performance is still a show, and an acoustic guitar need not lead to any less intense of a set. So I have my banter, which, thanks to my teaching experience and my time doing comedy on the radio, I do pretty well. I pace my sets well. I play strange covers (last night, it was Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball"). I play my kazoo (which definitely adds to my performance's element of unexpectedness and memorable). I would add to this by moving around on stage like a low-rent Angus Young, but the sweat already drips directly into my eyeballs.

I was well-received. I got applause, "woo"s, whistles, and immediate feedback (my song "How to be Cynical," off my album Skeleton Coast, apparently "rocks"). Overall, everyone seemed to like me (save the headliner Gareth Asher, who never came out of his van to see any of the openers...unbelievably rude and unprofessional, but there you go). 

I did not sell any albums, though. I pointed a few people to my Bandcamp page, and I hope they get my stuff. It would be nice if they paid for it; although I know cds are going extinct, it would still be nice to make enough money off album one to pay for album two's pressing. But in spite of the current lack of monetary support, I am making connections. It is, after all, a long game.

The one bad thing, though? When I got home? My feet were absolutely killing me. Oh well. I guess a little throbbing wart colony blister pain is worth it. It is, after all, rock and roll.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

tonight's gig

I'm playing a show tonight. I only got the gig Monday. It's at one of those "bands have to sell tickets" shows. This means I am doing tonight for free, because even if I knew of people who wanted to come, three days isn't enough time to do marketing. That's okay, though... I will do these until I find someone in the Toledo area who will pay. Who knows? Maybe I'll sell a CD or two.

After I set up my merchandise table, I headed to the bar just as the first act was starting...and they informed me I was the only person they didn't know. They're doing better than me. I only know the bar staff. I sat down at the bar, and ordered a cider. The bartender brought me a can, and when I commented on how I was expecting a bottle, she said, "of course it's in a can; it is a fruit."
That's probably a sign of how the rest of the night is going to go.