Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another Fun Show with Justin

Had a fun show at Grand Ave. Dunn Bros. with Justin last night. Inspired by a misspelling on the set list, I went by the new name of Blue Bassa during the show.

It was about what I expected - more polished because we rehearsed but at the same time some of the immediate thrill of reconnecting with old songs I haven't played in years is wearing off. "Heart Shaped Things" and "Bittersweet Love Song" bored me a little, but not so much that I wouldn't want to play them. And I'm also realizing that several of those old songs, most notably "Hourglass" last night, are very high quality even without any nostalgia factor.

Plus there were, as always, a lot of really fun spontaneous musical moments playing with Justin, who's the best other technical guitarist I have ever played with on a regular basis.

Politics a Hit!

The blog on Pawlenty's speech got the most comments of any of the 37 blog entries thus far. I can see why bloggers write about politics. Such attention! Nevertheless, I think most of my writing about it would be boring and pedantic and so will leave it to those who don't care that they are boring and pedantic.

Preview the Saturday GUH Show

I have decided to release the set list for Saturday, July 1st's 7:30 p.m. Great Uncle Helmer show at the Freighthouse Dunn Bros. three days ahead of time. Check it out here.

My goal is to have the show go a little more smoothly and professionally than our Anodyne show last week. Not that it wasn't good and fun, but I would like to see if we can run a two hour show that is as tight and engaging as our 45 minute Bryant Lake Bowl set last April.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I had a really good time playing a show at Anodyne Coffee House with Karl last night. (reconstructed set list) It was a strange show. We made a lot of jokes. Karl made a joke about someone walking by, not hearing the Eagles, and walking right past, so I played Desperado. Karl and I used to play that song years ago and I was stunned to hear myself recall all the words perfectly. I sang it in a somewhat "jokey" but not unpleasant and strangely powerful feeling voice. It is the voice I would use if I were in musical theater without microphones.

I was not very surprised to find myself blowing the words disastrously on Foreign Movie and California. Foreign Movie is always a gamble, since I don't rehearse it, it's never been a regular part of our set, and C) it's a very different texture than most of our songs. There is no supportive strumming. It's just a lead guitar riff I sing words to. Karl plays some nice harmonica blues to fill it out. We should emphasize it more in our sets as I really like it. It also worked well as an intro to California, which I am a little sick of and should maybe retire for a while unless it is requested.

We also played "Synthesis" which was fun but very silly, as always. I did a new Metallica-like guitar riff for it instead of trying to play anything like the parts on the 1993 tape. That was good. I wonder if Karl ever wishes I would play the same, reliable thing every time on a given song. Probably not. (Speaking of which, last night I even diverged from the preset solo on "Rio Grande" when it was noted I had not used my whammy bar on my electric guitar. I then did extreme whammy overkill.)

We also improvised a song called "It's All Your Fault". All I can remember is that it was in Bb, capoed fret 3 for Karl, on bass for me, and the chords were Bb, F, cm, Bb, then a descending bassline thing. I hope Karl can remember the rest of it, as he sang the words and melody. It was pretty good.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if Karl and I meticulously mapped out and rehearsed a flowing, smooth, professional two hour set of our best songs and cut out the jokes, requests, and mistakes. We sort of did that at a 45 minute set at Bryant Lake Bowl a few months ago. It was a real stage, theater, and good PA with a sound engineer. It was a world of difference from our usual shows.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy it tremendously either way and I think we are good at playing an appropriate show for a given room, crowd, etc. We've planned out long shows before and it's not that much more effective for the coffeehouse scene than just having a list of songs up there with us. I don't think. Maybe it is. Which leads me to another thing I would like to be able to do, which is to experience a GUH show as an audience member experiences it. Any thoughts on this, regular GUH show attendees? Comment below if you wish.

We ended with "Inkwell" which I really like. That song was the reason I felt like I needed to make a really good recording of our repertoire. That became the old man will travel CD. Karl sort of "ba-ba"'d some horn parts during some of the final lines of verses last night and I thought, "Yeah! That would be cool!" I am almost never satisfied with any recordings I've made and now I wish that "Inkwell" had those cool mellow horn parts during some of the verses. They would make the connection to '70s mellow rock so tremendously overt. Maybe a little Hal Blaine or Karen Carpenter drum part. Yeah. The horn part would resemble the horn part on my solo recording "Milestone Motel (The Weird Thing Was The Rain)". Maybe when we sell out of the first printing of omwt (about 50 left from the original 471 from January 1997) we'll remix some of the tunes for the second printing.

The other thing about Inkwell is what a totally joint composition it is. I tried improvising with a lot of different people in 1992-1994 (my last couple years of college) and coming up with stuff where it was "I say something, you react, I react, you react, etc." and "Inkwell" is by far the most fully and perfectly realized result of that ideal.

Don't forget to comment on the GUH performance issues raised above if you wish. Thanks for reading.

Friday, June 09, 2006

So I understand blogs are supposed to have a political component. Here is a quote from our governor taken from his speech accepting his party's endorsement.

"Now I know I may not be in some of your wildest dreams but I can tell you what your worst nightmare is," Pawlenty told delegates at his party's state convention. "It's one of the big spendin', tax raisin', abortion promotin', gay marriage embracin', more-welfare-without-accountability lovin', school-reform resistin', illegal-immigration supportin' Democrats for governor who think Hillary Clinton should be president of the United States."

To me this sounds like (very) thinly veiled hatred. At the very least it suggests and exploits resentment and bigotry towards gays, immigrants, and the poor. Am I wrong? How is that statement supposed to be interpreted?

Now yes, I hate paying taxes. I give plenty of money to charities that reflect my values, partly in an effort to reduce the amount of my money going to the government, since they generally waste it on foolish endeavors. (Iraq anyone?) But I don't think putting the hurt on hard working Mexicans, needy families, and gays who just want to have legal love is the answer. I don't see why that's even a priority.

While I would never have voted for the governor, I had heard him speak on the radio and thought he was a reasonable person. I did not think he was one of these hateful, pandering idiots. It appears I was wrong.

There. Now my blog has a political component. Enjoy. What do YOU think?