Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Goodbye Winter! Hello Spring!

(My porcelain touring bunny is sitting on top of the left stereo amplifier during my concert with the Grande Mothers in Germany, August 2009.  I plan on retiring the bunny this year.  He's been working with me for 2 years.)

Happy New Year Everyone!  2010 is a pretty looking number.  Happy Birthday to me; an Aquarius, born on January 21st!  I spent both New Years and my birthday relaxing with my lady.  My whim idea to celebrate at Medieval Times didn't take off this year, but I'll go there someday.  

Since I haven't written since Dec 18th, I'll tell you what has happened since then, and only predict the future.  Since this is music biz, I'd rather just predict something will happen, than say it is.  Yes, the gigs are booked in the future, but what if??

In April I predict I head will head off for another European tour with The Grande Mothers, a five piece band, featuring three members of the Mothers of Invention; Roy Estrada, Don Preston, and Napoleon Murphy Brock.  I'll play guitar in this outfit and Chris Garcia will plays drums.  We will play only the Frank Zappa compositions that the members Roy, Napoleon, and Don recorded or performed with the genius/maestro.

My instrumental band, PAPER CAT, has a New York debut show booked on March 28th at the Cake Shop in the East Village, NYC.  We also have a show booked at the Khyber in Philadelphia, PA on May 21st.  Eric Slick joined the Philly group Dr. Dog in December and they are heavily touring right now.  We're going about our Paper Cat work between our collective outside touring schedules.  Julie Slick is recording her killer sounding solo album and I'm contributing to that as well.

I've been rehearsing with my friend Dave Bronson for his projected 2010 CD release.  Dave and I played together around 2002 in a band called Readymaker, after playing in the band for an off broadway rock-opera called Fortune Cookie Dreams.  Dave has been working on his solo album for FIVE YEARS and in the last five years I've recorded a lot of guitar for him.  Baritone Guitar, slide guitar, regular guitar...  Actually all of my memories of the recordings I've done for Dave in the last five years are lost and I haven't heard any of it since the recordings were made.  He tells me it's all great.  It will be fun to hear what leads and rhythms I played on his album.  He says, "You're all over it".  What I do know is that Dave is a real nice guy.  Also I have the opportunity to play with my old Project/Object touring buddy, Jordan Shapiro who is on keys and Dave's brother and animator, Jeremy Bronson, on drums, for the live band.  Rehearsals will be once a week in march so we'll get some more down for then.  

The above picture is Readymaker in Tribeca, 2002. (l to r: Christian McCleer, David Bronson, Jeremy Bronson, Big Dan Jesselsohn, Robbie Seahag)

A lot of my gigs this winter have been playing guitar for a kid's music group called AudraroxAudra Tsanos is putting out her second record this spring.  Both Jordan Shapiro and I play guitar on the record.   The album is produced by Marty Beller, the talented drummer from They Might Be Giants.  Also the album was engineered and mixed with the great Patrick Dillet at the no-longer existing Campo Studios in the East Village, NYC.  Audra has been keeping me busy lighting up little kids' faces with songs like "Too Much Fun", "Don't Wake the Baby", "Can't Find My Shoes", "Sugar High", "I'm Tired", "My Mom's A Rockstar".  It is really cute and fun to play for an audience of 3 to 8 year old kids jumping around with their parents.  The core band for Audrarox are "cats":  Lily White (Sax/flute), Tony Graci (drums), and Adam Armstrong (bass).  The vocalists are Jennifer Milich and Audra Tsanos.

The other gigs I have been doing are with the Old Rugged Sauce at The Lovin' Cup in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  I've been playing regularly with ORS since December 1999 and I've always gone back to playing in the group when I'm home and off the road.   We've played weekly at 3 other bars since I started with the Sauce.  Those bars are: The Right Bank Cafe (Williamsburg), The Pour House (Williamsburg), and Grape and Grain (East Village).  We play "Saloon-style" songs as Sinatra would call them.  Standards with vocals and a few instrumentals.  Also a lot of Rhythm and Blues.  It's the kind of group where we don't advertise as much as go out and play to keep our chops up, make the bar owners happy, and hang out together.  We play for tips too, and occasionally we've been booked for weddings and parties.  Of course what makes ORS great is that the players are supreme and we're old friends with common needs.  Pauly Sosnowski (golden vocalist and guitarist, fearless leader), and Dave Dreiwitz is on bass (dave is most popularly known as bassist for WEEN), when Dave isn't around to play we have the great Alec Morton (x-bassist for Raging Slab and comedian Denis Leary).  We often have Mike Gomez (from Hazmat Modine) on lap steel and guitar.  Lots of other guests have sat in on snare drum and cymbal, and harmonica, trombone, etc.

The picture above is Old Rugged Sauce in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2010 near the bar at The Lovin' Cup.  l to r: David Dreiwitz, Paul Sosnowski, me (with hat covering face).

I've been helping my friend Godfrey Diamond test out the best 15-20 watt guitar heads available for his recording studio.  So far we went to guitar center and tried out their Egnator, the Vox night train, and went to Main Drag in Williamsburg to try out the orange tiny terror.  I have been partial to the Tiny Terror and the night train.   The idea is to bring 3 heads to his studio and try recording them and then keep the winner.  Its a cool project.  Godfrey says that the small amp heads are the thing that every amp company is rushing to make nowadays and i think he's onto something of a trend since I see Mesa/Boogie is now putting one out that I really wanna try. Anyway it's been fun trying these out and playing through them for godfrey who is a great engineer, mixer, drummer, and producer.  Godfrey is looking for a straight up modern rock amp for his studio and chooses 15 watt heads because he prefers that the recorded speaker be at that volume range.

I'm still tutoring guitar and bass privately and teaching at the School of Rock.  I've also been musical director to the School of Rock All Stars for 12 rehearsals.  The kids are all cool and we're playing some fun music together, 

That's all I'm gonna update for this giant blog post due to hibernation! 

Thanks for reading, 

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