Sunday, July 13, 2014

Upcoming performances: July 19 and 20

I have two gigs coming up soon:

Saturday, July 19, 5-7 PM with the New Horizons Big Band, at ArtSplash 2014 in Tualatin, OR. (I'm subbing for their regular bassist)
More information here:

Sunday, July 20, 2-4 PM with the 7th Street Jazz Band at Wild River BBQ Cook-Off in Molalla, OR.
More information here:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My YouTube channel

I've set up a YouTube channel, mostly for the purpose of posting songs that I've recorded over the years, but there will also be a few actual videos there (when I finish them).

Here's the link:

I'm starting off with the tracks from the "Sometimes Things Work Out" CD, including the great photos Pete Uchytil shot in the studio. I'm also putting together some live videos recorded in 1997 at Paul Bass's 50th bithday bash.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Back to the bass

Well, I seem to have come full circle. I'm back playing bass with the Seventh Street Jazz Band - a community big-band based in Oregon City. I last played with them in August of 2005, and if you dig far enough back in this blog, you'll find some of my posts about the group.

I left the band back in 2005 for various reasons, but mostly because I was getting more involved with the small-group jazz and jam scene up in Portland, and didn't think I had enough energy to do both effectively. A couple of years ago, I quit playing bass because it was physically difficult for me to load equipment in and out, and arthritis was keeping me from playing at the high level needed to be competitive with the other fine players in Portland.

So, I switched to baritone uke, and have been having a ball playing it - no pressure or competition. I plan to continue with that instrument for the foreseeable future.

But I missed playing jazz, and when Pat, the director of the band, contacted me to see if I knew any bassists that could read charts, I decided to see if I could still hold my own in a large group. I auditioned a couple of weeks ago, and apparently did well enough to get the gig. I'll post more as the concert season gets closer.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


OK - a little off-topic here...

We all know what a humblebrag is - bragging in a way as to seem like you aren't. Such as:

"It is such a chore having such a gifted child."
""UGH - I have to buy all new clothes after losing 7 pounds."


But the flip side is what I call the complimock - complimenting someone in such a way as to knock them down a peg. A complislam might be the same thing, but perhaps a little more direct. What's funny is that we hear complimocks all the time, but we don't have a word for it (or at least we didn't until I coined one). Here are a few examples, some of which have been directed at me:

"What a pretty dress! It's great that it comes in plus-sizes."
"I like that sweater - my 2-year old has one just like it."
"That color is great for you - very slimming."
"I admire your bravery for making such a statement that goes against established fact."
"I like your new CD a lot - when I listen to it I go right to sleep!"

Heard on today's Clare Teal show on BBC:

"You have such a lovely radio voice - I'm sure you have a face to match."

(That one's pretty subtle - it's the old joke about an actor having a "face made for radio.")

Please feel free to add complimock to your everyday lexicon. You are welcome.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Back on my feet

OK, I know it's been a long time since I posted.

The truth is, I did not have a whole lot to talk about with regard to music. Physical problems were slowing me down, and making me a bit depressed -- not really conducive to posting positive things, I guess.

In mid-October, I had an operation to replace my left hip joint with a shiny new titanium one. The difference is amazing! I'd been walking with a cane most of the time for over 10 years, and absolutely couldn't get around without one for the past 3 years. The constant, daily pain interfered with everything I did, including sleeping. I could not stand up to play an instrument - I always had to sit to play. The operation removed my pain completely. I was up and walking right away, and returned to my normal activities in a couple of weeks. I could not have even considered doing this without the support and encouragement of my wife, June.

"Normal activities" - this includes music, of course. A couple of years ago, I quit playing the bass on a professional level. The progression of arthritis and nerve damage had taken enough of an edge off of my technique that I didn't feel I could be a solid contributor in a jazz setting. Lugging my equipment around to gigs was a challenge, too.

Gerry Garcia on pedal steel
I started looking around for an instrument that I could pick up that might better accommodate my limitations. I considered the pedal steel guitar; other players seemed to have picked it up as a second instrument. But after a lesson with local pro (Larry Behm), I decided that -- despite my fascination with that wonderful contraption, I most likely would not be able to develop an acceptable level of proficiency in my lifetime. I actually think I'm more attracted to their complicated mechanics than their musical qualities, anyway. Plus, they are damned expensive and heavy!

I found a terrific new instrument: the baritone ukulele! It's small, light, and fun to play. For those who don't know, the baritone uke is the largest and lowest pitched of the uke family (not counting the recently invented bass uke). From smallest to largest, the family is: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The first three ukes are all tuned the same: gCEA, while the baritone uke is tuned DGBE, just like the top 4 strings of a standard guitar. The three smaller ones use what's called "re-entrant" tuning - that little "g" means it's an octave higher than you'd expect. The baritone uses "linear" tuning. This guitar-like tuning made it really easy for me to pick it up, and to start playing with others right away.

I've been very fortunate to be allowed to sit in at regular weekly jam session hosted by local blues artist Ben Rice. I usually only play the first set or so, and Ben has been very supportive and generous with me and my funny little axe.

Playing the baritone uke at Voodoo Martini in Newberg, Oregon, with Dan Seymour

I'm also looking for other opportunities to play, and I'll post about them here. I've joined the Portland Ukulele Association, and I hope to hook up with other friendly uke-players through that organization.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Little Mountain Music

I'm pleased to announce that our CD Sometimes Things Work Out is now available at Little Mountain Music in Molalla, Oregon.

I met Tony Hill, the owner of Little Mountain Music on Saturday and gave him a 'short stack' of  CDs. They're very nice folks, and they stock a terrific selection of CDs as well as vintage vinyl -- something that's hard to find in a physical store these days. I'm old-school, I guess. I enjoy finger-walking through bins of old LPs, finding records I didn't know about or had forgotten, and reading the back-cover. My guilty pleasure is also looking for LPs I played on back when LPs were THE medium for recorded music.

Little Mountain Music is located at 1585 W Main St., Suite O (that's the Safeway shopping center), in lovely Molalla, Oregon. Stop by and flip through their bins, and maybe ask about taking home a copy of our CD.

Of course, downloads are also available on iTunes and Amazon, but you'll miss out on the nice artwork and extra information about the players and the tunes. There are also some photos in the booklet that were taken during the sessions by my friend Peter Uchytil.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


If you read this blog (you both know who you are) you may have wondered why there has been no activity for a while. The short story is that I've been a bit ill, and correspondingly worried. The musical tie-in is that I get into something of a worry-fugue that tends to block out most creative activity, and my blogs and music are the first areas to suffer.

I got good news today. The results of my biopsies came back negative, meaning I won't have to make a memorial mix-tape for myself anytime soon (although I did start making lists...)

Here's a little gift that came my way via yet another XM Radio free-trial period. The Rolling Stones:

Yes, that's Keef on lead vocals, and I think it is a really sweet tune. And yes, this was on one of those lists I was making.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

It's a Bad Brains Christmas

I love a parody:

It's a Bad Brains Christmas, Charlie Brown!

Understand Music

When a musician or a composer talks about music, do you feel like they are talking a foreign language? Here's a short film that can help.

Understand Music on Vimeo.

The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles performs 'Chanukah in Santa Monica'

I've read that Tom Lehrer originally wrote this song in 1990 in order to remedy the lack of Hanukkah songs. (via Boing Boing):

I'm spending Hanukkah, in Santa Monica,
Wearing sandals lighting candles by the sea.
I spent Shavuos, in East St. Louis,
A charming spot but clearly not the spot for me.

Those eastern winters, I can't endure 'em,
So every year I pack my gear
And come out here to Purim.

Rosh Hashona, I spend in Arizona,
And Yom Kippa, way down in Mississippa.
But in Decemba, there's just one place for me.
'Mid the California flora,
I'll be lighting my menorah.
Every California maid'll
Find me playing with a dreidl.
Santa Monica, spending Hanukkah by the sea.
(c) 1990 Tom Lehrer