Saturday, May 28, 2005

Memorial Day Weekend

Hello,

Well it is a beautiful Saturday today, and I am having one of my first Saturday's off in a very long time. It feels so good to be able to spend a weekend day at home. Last night I played with the Steel Band in St. Clair, MI. for a high school dance. We were outside under a tent and the weather was perfect. It was the first gig with them since I got back from India, so I spent most of our talking time, (which is usually on the set up, breaks, and tear down) telling stories and talking about the trip. I don't think I am getting any better at explaining what I saw over there. The more time that passes, the more general and universal my commentary is. It is almost like trying to talk to someone about a movie, eventually you just want to say "you've just got to see it for yourself", and be done with it. I love the interest though. I think we all need to give and take from each other's experiences as often as we can. After awhile though, the things you talk about become stale audio snipets that just repeat a fresh idea from the past. When this happens, I think we stop passing our experience along, and just start shoveling information. The difference is in the way the listener percieves what you are telling them. Lately it has been hard for me to talk 'freshly' about the India trip. Now that I have come to this point, I am glad that I took so many pictures, and wrote stuff down. I wanted to take some pictures of the steel band last night and then come home and post them, but I had to use the camera batteries for my recorder. The recording turned out quiet and muddy, but it was still good enough for us to listen to as we packed up. Sometimes I take for granted my recording habits. I forget that some of the the people I play with don't get to hear themselves very often. It was fun to hear the reactions of the bandmembers as they listened back. I don't think there is any greater teacher than to have a mirror in front of yourself, figuratively speaking. I believe that we all have the ability to understand what it is we want to do. The challenge comes in doing it with a self awareness that transcends ego, vanity, and blatent, stale repetition. Wow, I feel like I am all over the place today. Does any of this make sense? I don't know....I'll read it later and find out.

Thanks for reading,

John

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Drums, Cafe's, Books, Beautiful Weather

Hello,

I hope you have been enjoying the pictures. I can't believe how easy it is to put them up. I don't know what was holding me back before. My next conquest is audio and video. Anyway, I have had a wonderful weekend here in Lower Michigan. Friday was a beautiful day that, for me, was full of practice and rehearsing, complete with a show in the evening at Cafe Felix. I was happy to see some of my students come out and enjoy themselves. It is so nice to have a regular gig like that, where you know what to expect as far as logistics and time. It makes the night much more about the music. We also got a visit from a bass player that, I have heard, will be playing with us on the next gig. It has been difficult for me over the past year or so to play with just guitar and sax, so this new addition will be very welcome. I can't wait to play.
The next morning I was up and at em' early with a rehearsal at Anikets place. We were rehearsing for two performances at the Ann Arbor Book Festival. One show was with the Indian Classical Music and Dance group (ICMD) crew at the International pavillion, and the next was a workshop by Meeta and myself at the Mind, Body, and Soul stage. The ICMD show was very nice. There were a couple of vocal pieces where Aniket played tabla, a violin and tabla piece where I played with another westerner named Karl, and then our tabla trio (Aniket, Rahul, and I) brought the house down with our tabla composition. Well, I guess that may sound a little crazier than it really was...but the audience responded very nicely and we felt great about the whole show.
After the ICMD performance there was just enough time to get a bite to eat at Raja Rani and then it was back to the festival for the workshop. The idea for the workshop was the same as the one I did at Oz's a couple of months ago. Meeta and I would perform, talk about the instruments, talk about the music, and perform some more. The tabla trio also did our piece again. The crowd was very responsive and nice. It was an absolutely beautiful day and we were the last performers on the stage that day, so they let us go as long as we wanted. I think we played about 2 hours straight, I'm not sure. I didn't care, it was just so great to play. I also got to wear some of my new Indian clothes and play my new tabla. Yes, I was a happy boy.
As we step into summer I am looking forward to many gigs, including 4 days on Mackinac Island with the Steel Band, an Indian music workshop at Crazy Wisdom tea room in Ann Arbor, and a trip to L.A. for the CalArts 35 year reunion. I will be posting more pictures from India soon, so keep checking back. Thanks for reading, and please keep in touch!

-John

Friday, May 20, 2005

Girl and Grandma


Girl and Grandma
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.
I asked if I could take their picture and the grandma didn't understand, so she kept walking, but the girl kept looking, so I snaped.

Loaded with Wheat


Loaded with Wheat
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.
These Trucks were everywhere. It was the harvest season. Apparently, load restrictions do not apply in India.

Playing at Aggarwal


Playing at Aggarwal
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.
This was the first time I played tabla in India. It was at Aggarwal Public School with the teacher on harmonium and Scott on the flute.

Transportation


Transportation
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.
I just love this picture of a man riding his bike, not looking up. I think he was fixing his pants.

Curiosity


Curiosity
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.
This picture was taken by Jody at one of the village schools we went to visit. We were all inside talking to the schoolmaster and these girls were at the window looking in.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

PICTURES!

Hooray!!
I have figured out the whole picture situation, now it is just a matter of picking and choosing. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Old Delhi


Old Delhi
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

Instrument Store in Agra


Instrument Store in Agra
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

Cow in the Street


Cow in the Street
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

Shopping in Indore


Shopping in Indore
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

Rajistani Dancers


Rajistani Dancers
Originally uploaded by jcmqt.

Right Lane Driving.

Hello,

It has now been almost 2 weeks since getting on the plane in Mumbai. I have been having a lot of fun talking about my trip with friends and family. I have ecspecially liked talking with my Indian friends. I am so happy to have a much better understanding of where they come from. It has brought us all closer together. I have also really enjoyed being done with school, which is not totally true, I still have to perform a jury and take flute and oboe lessons, but my full time days are over. I now have my mornings to myself and feel like I live in my house again.
I have played my new drums everyday since being back. On Tuesday I played with Ashish, Aniket, Chetu, and Malvika at the Environmental Protection Agency in Ann Arbor. It was part of a series of lunchtime performances of South Asian music. Ashish, Aniket and I played as a tabla trio, and I must say, it has never sounded better. I always like playing during the day. While the sun is uphere is much more awareness and energy availiable to put into the music. We also got to practice the peice before the performance, which always helps. In addition, we are planning on playing the same piece at the Ann Arbor Book Festival on the 21st, so our heads are up. Funny things happen to music when you think that it is the last time you will play it. Having the perspective of another performance helps to keep things calm. Our performance wasn't perfect, but it was one of the first times we played without falling out of the pocket, which is a big step.
Later that day, Ashish had a freak frisbee accident and broke his hand, (insert new perspective here). I am sure we will still be able to play the show on the 21st without him, but it is never good to lose a teammate.
Thanks for reading,

John

Friday, May 06, 2005

Back

Hello,

Well I am back, and I think I have officially shaken my jet lag, thanks in large part to the drum workshops on Monday. I was so happy to see a good turnout. That night I had trouble orienting myself back in the USA. This whole week has been a continuous dream. I am happy to say that I have been playing the tabla everyday, which was impossible with my schedule before the trip.
On Wednesday, my buddy Nidhip asked if I could come with him to do a 20 minute presentation on Indian music for a bunch of first graders. It was awesome to bring all of my fresh experiences out for sharing so soon after being back. The kids were great. It was interesting to see the contrast between the American students vs. the Indian students. The students here were as rowdy as could be when we got to the room. They settled right down as soon as the two grownups with strange instruments came in, just like they would in any country. What struck me was the diversity of the students. It really never struck me before how diverse the student body of an average Michigan school is. That is a huge difference from schools in India. I think it is the major contributing factor to the problems with discipline in American schools. Anyway, I am getting off on a tagent here, and I plan to post my entire journal on the blog soon anyway.
Tonight I will play with Scott and Paul, and possibly a new bass player at Cafe Felix in Ann Arbor. I have never gone to a gig being 3 weeks cold on my instrument. I am sure it will take a few songs to get into the swing again. I have had most of the morning to myself, so I will be rested up nicely. I look forward to it.

Thanks for reading.

p.s. I tried to get onto the computer one last time in Indore to tell you that we got to ride an elephant, but I never got the chance. Oh well.

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