Restaurant Review

Had shows in Saskatchewan this weekend. All the big cities. Okay, both of the big cities.

After all the years we’ve been at this when we come to places we’ve played many times, we are fairly comfortable repeating things; same hotel, same restaurant for dinner and breakfast. Makes things simpler. In Saskatoon we’ve played at the Broadway theatre at least 15 times, maybe more. We eat at the Broadway Diner and stay at the Colonial Motel. And the shows have gone well. So don’t mess with it right? So when I was informed that we were playing at the Broadway but being promoted by someone different and staying at a different hotel and eating somewhere else I was skeptical. In fact, I think I was ready to hate everything.

The restaurant was the ” title=”Nosh Eatery and Tap”>Nosh Eatery

It was phenomenal. Like really great food, service, decor, wine. I really enjoyed it. So there. Sometimes it’s okay to go somewhere new.

And the shows went well.

Actually in the Regina show when we asked what people wanted to hear for an encore someone shouted “Santa’s Gonna Kick Your Ass!” I wasn’t ready for Christmas tunes yet but usually can get through that one. I completely blanked, sang parts of the second verse twice and in general, just butchered it. Think I was in the right key… I went over it the next morning and nailed it in Saskatoon. But wow. I can’t trust myself to remember anything anymore.

Three Year Review

Yikes!

It’s been nearly 3 years since I started the website and time to go over goals. I was hoping that the site would be for getting ME! out to YOU! I’ve learned a lot about websites, much of it the hard way. The site got hacked and I lost everything for a bit; I get tons of spam in the comments which I haven’t yet figured out how to deal with, and I continue to be terrible at keeping it up to date. However, I have learned how to have a site, I created and uploaded a couple of YouTube videos and was able to share stuff.

I have learned in this time that most of what I’m using a site for could be done using free options; YouTube for videos and music, a google site for the basic information and wordpress for a blog. However, it does seem worth the small bit of coin to have all of these things linked under one domain. What frustrates me right now is that with all of the social tools available; to really reach people one has to use them all. So theoretically I need to be tweeting, I need to be facebooking, maybe instagram while still maintaining my blog; updating the website, tour dates and the like; have a regular podcast and then, occasionally write something.

I still hope that the point of all this is to write, record and perform. I have been doing that but not to the degree I want to. The key for me seems to be focus; there are a lot of things that I really want to do with music but not all of them can actually work and make money. Especially being that I’m such a grumpy old man.

Here’s the action plan for the website. Keep ‘er going! I think I’ll change hosts. I’ve been with HostPapa. The price is very reasonable but when the site got hacked (and mine was not the only one) they gave some details on how to get the site back, blamed wordpress and then ignored any further inquiries. I kind of thought that bit. So I’ll move on. There’s not a whole lot on the site that I’m in love with though I like the look right now.

I think I’ll add a new page with “Current Projects”. There. How’s that? Action!

A Noteworthy Night

I participated in a local event they titles A Noteworthy Night last Wednesday. Fun to be part of a local event where I was just a performer, no other responsibilities to organize, host or anything else. Was given a comedy gold slot in the program; 3rd in act 2. Just when people might have been getting a little tired or bored; though the level of talent was quite good. I was after two young women singing an Elton John song and two kids tap dancing. So I just entered the stage and mentioned that the proper act to follow them was a creepy old guy and the mood was set.

 

Deep River, Day 4

I feel like I’ve left you hanging. Oh, no was there no final Day? There was. It was swell. Many different types of music on this day, once again showing the diversity of the programming and the town. There was musical theatre with Veda Hille, fiddle music with Searson, rock with The Wicked Mercy, and closers Mounties.

I really enjoyed Veda Hille. We’ve known her for years as she was doing an indie rock thing in the late 90s and was a favourite of our friend David Grierson of CBC Vancouver. She’s an extremely talented vocalist, pianist and writer and now spends a lot of time working on musical theatre projects. Her musical sensibilities really seem suited for this genre; she does all sorts of strange chord and melodic changes in her music, lyrically she likes to create images as well as tell as story. She created a musical with Bill Richardson based on Craigslist ads. Goofy idea and it works. She did a Q&A with the audience which I acted as a host. I really enjoyed it and I think I was able to help keep things rolling along. Felt somewhat useful. Maybe I can be the next Jian Ghomeshi…

In the evening Trevor and I got to create Saulius’ vision; though he had long since ruined the initial idea. He had thought it would be cool to have me host the entire weekend and then on the Sunday just casually bring 2 other guys on stage who would happen to be Chris and Trevor and we’d do a set. However, by the time he confirmed it Chris had booked a family holiday. Then he put the Worms on the poster kind of eliminating the surprise. Still we played out the initial idea and got a great response from the crowd.

To try to add to the fun, I enlisted a local a Capella group, the Cedar Park Quartet, to sing backups in a couple of songs. I had scored the final section of “Rocks and Trees” a while back and was able to find the music and thought it would be cool to have them sing the last chorus of “We Are the Beaver”. I had brought along my usb midi keyboard so scoring was quick and easy. Then one of the guys thought they should do some “Ahs” as well. It worked quite well and was visually funny as they had to stand around for quite a while as we blathered away before ever getting to the song.

We even got the Artistic Director to play bass for us on The Last Saskatchewan Pirate which I thought was a nice bookend. I’ve known Saulius for at least 25 years but had never actually played in a band with him though we have threatened to do so many times. Next Summerfest we hope to have our Dixieland band ready.

One thing I did notice about my own performance on Sunday was that I felt way more comfortable and think I was funnier with Trevor there. I just feel like my style is best suited as a sidekick; or at least playing off of someone else. For me to really be a decent MC I need to develop my solo shtick a bit more. Yelling at people only goes so far.

Deep River Day 3

A full day yesterday. Started off a bit ominously as there were thunderstorms in the morning but they cleared up and it turned into a wonderful day. Hot sunny, summer even.

I had one of those weird days where I was always on call but never busy. I talked a fair bit but only played one song; and I really didn’t play it well. The mainstage began with The Abrams Brothers¬†http://theabramsbrothers.ca/ who are an act we’ve played with a couple times before. They’re from Kingston as well and play bluegrass based music. They were excellent and got the crowd really going which given the heat was tough work. They did it well. Searson followed with an equally strong set; they also had the advantage of being from Eganville so had a bit of “hometown” feel.

The evening was devoted to local acts. For whatever reason and I can’t really figure it, Deep River has always had a lot of really musical people from here and they all like to play in bands. So there are bands of nearly every genre of all sorts of ages and shapes and sizes. This festival gives them a chance to play a set in front of a revved up crowd on a big stage with bog sounds and lights. It’s very cool. So well done.

Deep River Day 2

This day saw my first attempts at tweeting. I took some photos on the Main Stage and tweeted them. Pretty lame photos as it turns out; not great composition. I really don’t like taking photos with my phone; I just find that the photos are very average even when you get everything right. Perhaps a better phone with a better camera but in many ways I’m a bit of a photography nerd; I like the photos to be crisp and clear and in focus not just there. I do realize that for the purpose of twitter, it’s not very practical to take a photo with a good camera, transfer it to your computer and then post it. Foiled again!

However, the fascinating part of the evening for me was the DJ Dance Party. Now I am more than happy to admit that this is an entire genre of music and partying that I know pretty much nothing about. I’m not completely oblivious; I know that these days DJs do way more than just pick out tunes and try and keep people dancing. What I didn’t know about was the tricks and tools they use and how they can differ one to the other. It’s not just the songs anymore, it’s blending one into the other; mashing them together sometimes as long as they have the same beats, it’s sometimes altering the original tune to create a sound. Some DJs are real performers, not only dancing along with the tracks but also using vinyl or even CDs and slowing them down or scratching to create more new sounds.

It was very cool. But it still made me feel pretty damned old…

Deep River Day 1

Last night was the first of this year’s Summerfest ¬†http://www.summerfest.ca/

where I am the mainstage host. Had the wonderful MC experience right away when one act didn’t show and the opening speakers were brief. So I had to fill time. I have lots of songs ready but am reluctant to play everything on the first night to the smallest crowd. Must learn more filler.

Mike and Saulius (Summerfest AD) discuss upcoming plans.

Mike and Saulius (Summerfest AD) discuss upcoming plans.

I wrote a Summerfest Theme song hoping that it would endear myself to the crowd and the Artistic Director. I think it went well; problem was that I forgot my printed lyric sheet and had to write them out longhand. Hard to tell what’s worse, my eyesight or my handwriting. I’ll try and get a recording this weekend. And remember the lyric sheet.

I’m fortunate in that this festival doesn’t demand that there be something happening on stage every second; they’re comfortable with some canned music and short breaks between acts. So my job is mostly to get people’s attention back on the stage when we’re ready. There are times when I need to fill a bit but the rest of the time it’s be ready and go.

The other skill I really need to improve is recalling songs. There are times I blank on which songs I even know. Which is crazy but it’s true. It even happens when I’m just jamming with people. It comes my turn and I’m … duhhhhh

I’m on Twitter! My goal is to try and figure out Twitter and start learning how I can make it work for me. I really don’t get it at this point but it’ll be good to learn. As Summerfest continues, they have their own hashtag so I’ll try to contribute to the Twitterverse.

Onwards!

Community Orchestra

I went to see a performance by the Kanata Symphony Orchestra last weekend for a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to see if there might be any potential for them performing the Arrogant Worms Symphony show. Second, i was curious what level they were at and whether it might be something I wanted to participate in down the road. I really love any chance I get to play the trombone.

Turns out that I think the answer to both questions are “no”. For me, I’d forgotten that most symphonic works are more interesting for strings. Not to say the brass parts aren’t important, it just seems like the brass have big loud entries which sound great but long passages where they sit around. Face it, if I’m going to drive an hour for rehearsal I want action! I think I might be better suited to a concert band or if I could get in a Jazz or Big Band.

As for them (or similar orchestras) doing the Arrogant Worms show, I think that is also unlikely. Mostly because of the rehearsal; I think if people to participate in this kind of orchestra they want to play some of the great works, not the hysterical works of a novelty band. I might be wrong and I’m also sure that every group has a different personality and a different vision. Perhaps I need to do more research. I also have no knowledge of youth orchestras; might have better luck finding players who already like our band.

Keep trying.

ReReboot

Trying out a new theme and maybe using the site a little differently. The good news for me is that I now have internet at home. I have boldly entered the last decade! Feels pretty good.

The Worms album “Space” is out there hopefully being enjoyed by hundreds of fans. We had a little tour of Alberta in March and have some dates here and there in the next few months. Looks like we’ll be busiest next Christmas season. Why? I have no friggin idea.

I’m better armed for multimedia now. My recording gear has improved, I have a nice camera for photos and video and of course there’s that internet thing. Still don’t know what to make of it all. Still don’t fully understand what to do with YouTube. It’s great to get stuff out there and have people enjoy it but unless I’ve got something else to sell why would I give it away; especially if it’s not finished?

Trevor Strong of the Worms has a much better grasp of it. He’s found a site, similar to Kickstarter or IndiGogo where people basically sponsor you to make whatever. So he’s asking for donations to make comedy videos. Cool idea.

I’m leaning to a more traditional route these days. I’ve had a bit of success writing and arranging some pieces for the choir I’m in. There has always been interest in Arrogant Worms music either for piano or guitar but in some cases choral groups as well. Once again comes down to finding a way of getting it out there. For us it might be simpler as there are easy online distributors for our various products. Just need the actual product!

That’s where I’m at.

Here I Am!

I am alive and well just not exactly bloggin’ a lot. I’ll let you know what I’m up to right now.

Arrogant Worms are just about completed out

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first album of new material in many years. It’ll be called “Space” and has several tunes written by myself. Biggest fun for me was that I got to play trombone on 4 tracks, including the red plastic one. Used the really good, metal one for the tracks that required nice sound. I also got to arrange the horn section for 2 tracks, “Yoga Pants” which is a surf rock kind of sound and “I Sweat a Lot” which is a full on R&B tune with horns and such.

Recording and scoring. I’ve been doing quite a bit of this lately. My daughter plays in the junior band at her middle school and I arranged the Worms tune “I am Cow” for them. They seem happy; I haven’t heard it yet but I’m really looking forward to it. I also sing in the Arnprior Community Choir and have arranged 2 tunes for them, “Excursion Around the Bay” and “The Log Driver’s Waltz”. The latter has been the most challenging as I’ve never tried to score a piano part before.

I’m still running a monthly open mike at the Neat Cafe in Burnstown. Our last one was one of the more interesting, we had our first solo fiddle player and he was really good as well we had a guest appearance by the band “July Talk” who are presently staying in the area working on their next recording. Other than that the solo performing has been pretty sparse; it’s not something I’m really pushing until after we get the Worms CD out there.

So I’m still writing and hoping to make a solo recording. I’ve learned a fair amount about the Reaper software and now have purchased a much better microphone. So there are no real excuses not to go ahead with it. Just need the material now. I’ll try and do a better job of putting up tunes here as I go. It’s still a bit tedious for me, I have no internet at home and often when I’m out and about I have limited time to work on the website. I haven’t created a good system for writing blog posts offline and then uploading them later. Quite frankly, I still have very little idea of how best to use this website. But we’ll keep trying. For those of you who have tried to follow, thanks. I shall try to do more for you.