Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Well, closed its doors yesterday, so you can't find my tunes or Paul's there anymore. They have promised to open a new music hosting service early next year, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Proto-Kaw (nee Kansas) is releasing their new CD Before Became After on Jan. 9th in Kansas City. Read all about it and hear some samples of the amazing music this band has made at

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Remember, Remember...

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Those lines are a mystery to most Americans, but very familiar to most Brits. They refer to Guy Fawkes Day, November 5th. Read up on it, then go light up a bonfire!

In my last entry, I was complaining about the heat. Now it's pleasantly cold and wintry here in the Cascade foothills. We had a very rapid season change this year. We went from record high temperatures (mid-70s in late October) to frost, snow, and record low temperatures within about a week. Essentially, we skipped Fall this year.

I've been having a great time playing with the jazz fellows -- Bob, Steve, and Neil -- on a semi-regular basis. We've made some rough demo recordings and I can see a lot of potential. These guys are all very talented and easygoing. The hardest thing is coming up with a name for the band, oddly enough.

Sunday, June 29, 2003


It is too bloody hot! Oregon is NOT supposed to be like this! Actually this is probably the worst it will get, with temperatures in the 90s. We are generally blessed with mild weather year-round, with just a few really nasty cold days in the winter and a few nasty hot days in the summer.

I recently heard from my old friend Dawayne that there was a possibility of a second Proto-Kaw album coming out later this year. That would be very welcome news. If you haven't done so yet, check out the first Proto-Kaw album, and read the whole history of the band(s) we know as Kansas.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Summer Solstice

It occurred to me that I don't update this thing often enough to really call it a 'blog,' so maybe I'll stop calling it that, and I'll just put in stuff when I feel like it, which seems to be about every 2-6 weeks these days.

Summer solstice is just a few days away, and the weather here in Oregon has indeed been summer-like. The grass is not growing as fast, which is good news. Some folks complain about mowing their back yards, but our back yard is about 5-7 acres. I enjoy mowing it -- it's somewhat meditative to go around and around with the sound of the motor droning like a mechanical monk. That having been said, I am also appreciative when the intervals between mowings start to increase.

Musically, things are still moving along. I'm still writing new tunes occasionally, recording demos, and jamming with some good guys out in the valley from time to time. I have not been getting together with other musicians quite as often as I'd like to, but I think that will work itself out. I recently repaired my old Kramer bass, and I think I'll use that on the next jazz jam I go to. It's interesting how using a different axe takes you in different directions musically. The Kramer is a bit longer scale than my Les Paul bass so I have to work just a bit harder, but it has a nice funky sound that I like on some tunes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Bachelor life sucks

Well, it has been an interesting 5 days. June went to California to visit her mom for Mother's Day, and I've been looking after the 3 dogs and 5 cats while she's away. They are all very sweet animals, and except for one "jailbreak" from the kennel this morning all has gone relatively well. These little absences always help me to realize how much I depend on June and how hard she works keeping our little piece of Oregon running smoothly.

Several entries back, I mentioned the Big Fake CD, which compiles a dozen well-known fake books on one CD. For my own convenience, I built a master index for the CD in PDF format. It occurred to me that anyone else who has this CD might like to print this out. Please contact me if you'd like a copy.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Happy May Day

Happy May Day to oppressed workers everywhere! I'll take the oppression of work over the oppression of poverty any day.

And Happy Birthday to Judy Collins, too.

My friend Jade from Santa Cruz -- a fantastic singer, by the way -- was in town last week. Although we didn't get to play any music together, we had a great Indian lunch at Abhiruchi restaurant (3815 SW Murray Blvd. in Beaverton -- (503) 671-0432). Give this place a try sometime; the lunch buffet is moderately priced and delicious. They open at 11:30, and if you get there too late, you have to get in line with Nike employees lunging for the Tandoori chicken.

June and I have been watching Manor House on PBS this week. This is another reality-show, but in this one, modern Brits get to experience what life was like in 1905. Of course, for the rich "upstairs" folks, life was just peachy, save the occasional fit of 21st-century class-consciousness. For the poor slobs "downstairs" it sucked big-time. "Oh dear, it's time to empty Milady's chamber pot again." It occurred to me that they had the wrong family upstairs. They really should have cast the Osbournes. They're rich, clueless, cute, and they're used to living in a big house with servants all around.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Mingus Mingus Mingus

Happy Birthday to Charles Mingus, born this day in 1922. Read more about this troubled genius of the bass at:

    The Real Mingus Web run by Sue Mingus (Charles' widow)
    An interview with Sue Mingus

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Spring update

I know, I know...I'm not really updating my blog as often as I should. It's just that so many other things keep coming up that are more interesting to do. Like watching TV and taking naps.

Last weekend I jammed with the jazzbos again, and we covered some interesting material, like Steely Dan's Josie and Paul Winter's Icarus. We're taking about a month off due to other commitments, and getting back together in May.

I've been looking through the leadsheets in the Big Fake CD, and it very interesting to look at the different transcriptions of the same tune. Often the same tune shows up in 2, 3 or 4 different books. Take the tune Bluesette, for example. In the Real Book, it's just 24 bars -- once through the head. It's much the same in The Book. But the Jazz Fake Book has 4 full verses with lyrics, including the eight-note "bridge" section and an out-chorus with ending. So, it pays to look at all the versions. I've been thinking about printing out all of the books and either binding them separately or just adding them to a 3-hole binder. I did the math and found that the CD contains 4067 leadsheets (although, as mentioned earlier, some are duplicates), on 4677 pages. If I print double-sided, that would be just under 2500 pages, 5 reams of paper. I think not.

A band I'm hearing about more and more is the Robert Randolph Family Band. If you thought pedal steel guitar was only good for adding a whiney background to country music, give these guys a listen. They are hot, bluesey, and soulful.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

I had another fun session with the jazzbos on Sunday. This time it was just a 4-piece group -- no singers and no sax player. It looks like the group may stabilize in this form, and it also looks like they may have decided that I'm not all that bad a bass player and can stick around. We played tunes in a number of different styles, from standards to guitar-hero fusion stuff. I even got to call a tune, and picked Goodbye Pork Pie Hat by Charles Mingus.

I purchased something very cool off the net this week. I had been thinking that I should scan my copies of the Real Book into the computer so that I could just call up charts whenever I wanted. Once I realized that this would be 1200-1500 pages of scanning, I got to thinking that -- if this was such a good idea -- someone must have done it already. I did some searching on eBay, and was soon in possession of what I'm calling the Big Fake CD. It contains the entire contents of TWELVE popular fake books, including all of the Real Books. If anyone is interested in a copy, let me know.

I've been totally depressed by this war. All wars are stupid and this one seems especially so. My heart aches for those kids over there for what they are having to go through. I believe that the real tragedy of war is not that young men (and women) have to die, but that they have to kill. How do you come back to a civilian life knowing that you killed someone, regardless of the reason? It must be incredibly painful and difficult for them.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we were blessed with three days of beautiful Spring-almost-Summer weather, including that rarest of occurrences here in the Northwest: two perfectly clear weekend days! I took advantage of it on Saturday to mow all the grass for the first time this season. For those who don't know, "mowing the grass" is a fairly large endeavor at our place, and takes me about four hours on our riding mower, while June spends several hours edging with her DR trimmer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


I don't know what it was, but I've been sick for two days, and just started feeling better today. It might be pre-war jitters or a bug I picked up, but I felt really awful on Monday and Tuesday. June helped me by preparing simple foods for me -- mainly rice and juice -- and being wonderfully understanding (as always).

Sunday's session with the jazz group was great fun, as were the previous two sessions. This time, a second female vocalist joined us for a few numbers. I'm not sure whether this particular configuration of the group will endure, but individually they're all terrific players who could pretty much play with whatever kind of group they wanted to. In this last session, I felt like I was starting to get a little deeper musical connection with some the players, starting to tune in to their direction a little better rather than just playing down the changes.

Friday, March 14, 2003

A callback

I got a callback last weekend to rehearse again with the same jazz group I mentioned in my last posting, this time rehearsing at the keyboardist's home. As before, I had a great time. This time, we were joined by a vocalist, so that added a nice new dimension to the music, as well. I really enjoy playing behind vocalists, particularly female vocalists. The accompaniment style is quite different -- the backing musicians need to rein in their tendency to play off each other so much, and must do their best to help the vocalist be the center of attention when she's singing. There are opportunities to do some riffing between vocal phrases, but that can be overdone, too (if you've ever heard Willie Nelson's band live you've heard one of the most egregious examples of a bored old band riffing furiously between each vocal phrase).

I'm going back for another rehearsal with the jazz group this weekend. I went ahead and picked up copies of the fake books they use (mostly the old Berklee-era Real Books) and a nice heavy music stand. Maybe if I just keep showing up, I'll get the gig by default!

Tuesday, March 04, 2003


I had a great time this weekend. I've been looking for a group to play with since I got my new amp about a month ago. I answered an ad in Willamette Week, and on Sunday I auditioned for a jazz group. As luck would have it, the drummer lives nearby in Molalla, and that's where the audition was. The group was all good players -- keys, guitar, sax, and drums -- and I think I did a reasonable job of keeping up. We played jazz standards, some funk, and at least one original piece. One thing that was a new experience was that the drummer played electronic drums. They recorded everything I played, presumably so they could take a close listen to my playing afterward.

I have not heard back from them yet, but in any event, I had a great time and I hope I get to do more playing like that. If this doesn't work out, I'll answer some more ads.

Friday, February 28, 2003

Gas war

This week I reached a milestone of sorts. I paid $1.99 per gallon for gasoline. This is exactly 10 times the least I ever paid for gasoline. One day some time in the mid 60s, I heard on the radio about a gas station in Topeka that was in a "gas war" (hmm... it seems that term could also be used for the impending conflict in Iraq) with the station across the street, and had lowered its price to 19.9 cents a gallon. At that time, gas was normally in the 24-25 cent range, so it seemed worth it to drive an hour to Topeka to fill up the tank of my 1956 Chevy, which got about 8 miles to the gallon.

I'm not really all that upset about the prices we pay today, actually. If you look at the price of gas over time vs. inflation, I think it's remained pretty steady, with some temporary jumps up and down over the years. Of course, the price of petroleum-derived energy is probably one of the component that drive inflation so I may just be ignoring the obvious.

Sunday, February 23, 2003


I wrote a couple of new tunes over the last week, just bass and drum-machine so far. The title of the first one was suggested by June: Uwajimaya. We had spent an afternoon shopping at the wonderful pan-Asian market in Beaverton by the same name, so I guess the mood stuck with me. It's amazing to see people from many cultures shopping there, and to see so many foods that I have no clue what they are. I can usually recognize chocolate, especially if there is a picture of it on the label, so I bought a Crunky bar, just because the name sounded cool. The second tune I wrote is called Galanga, a bit of produce June bought there.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Birthday presents!

It's my birthday today, so I'm taking a day off from work, just goofing off.

June gave me terrific birthday presents: Three bass-themed T-shirts, a CD of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" (she gave me the book as a gift several years ago, too), two bass-related books -- The Fender Bass, an Illustrated History and How the Fender Bass Changed the World. Yes, I'm a die-hard Gibson player, but these books are very interesting to any bass player.

Another gift is one I bought for myself with June's encouragement a few weeks ago: a brand-new SWR Workingman's 15 bass amp. It sounds great, and has inspired me start practicing again regularly. My next step is to find a music group to play with and get those creative juices moving again.

As of February 1st, is allowing only three songs per user for free. I went ahead and signed up for the premium service on my MP3 page so that I could post more songs, but I allowed Paul Bass's page to default to the 3-song maximum. I'll rotate some of his songs through there from time to time, and if there is enough interest, I'll go ahead and expand it to the premium service later.