Sunday, March 19, 2006

Thoughts on Moving to Ann Arbor, Deep Blue, Paledave

Hello Friends,

Well the giging has been a little slow lately, but the excitement and anticipation of moving to Ann Arbor has been more than making up for it. There is just a little over 2 weeks before we start the move and I am just reeling over the fact that I will be able to ride my bike to Oz's to teach. I have never been big on driving. For most of my college career my bike was a major part of my transportation. Since moving to Michigan in 2001 and starting my professional career, I have averaged around 30,000 miles a year! Most of my days begin and end with an hour in the car, and I can not wait to kiss that lifestyle goodbye.
I am also excited to be a part of the community of Ann Arbor. I feel a deep connection to this place through my students, teachers, and musician friends that I have worked with over the years, and I am proud to become an 'official' Ann Arborite. I look forward to the many unique and incredible opportunities that can only be found in Ann Arbor...the future looks bright ahead.
Friday was St. Patricks day and it was a wild one in Ann Arbor. I was rehearsing, teaching, and recording most of the day, so I did not get to be as festive as most, but I still had a great time driving around and looking at all the green people in the streets. Scott Brady from Deep Blue came into town a bit early and we did some fun recording before playing at Cafe Felix to a steady, jolly, very appreciative crowd. The night went by fast and the town never seemed to slow down. I was tired from classes at EMU in the morning, rehearsal in Belville with Paledave, teaching at Oz's, recording with Scott, and then playing. It wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't have the hour drive home, but that will all end soon enough : )
Paledave (http://www.paledave.com/) is a group that I have been rehearsing quite a bit with lately. Dave Bureher is the leader/songwriter of the group and he asked if I would play drums on his 2nd upcoming album. We will be recording at Big Sky Recording (http://www.bigskyrecording.com/), (which is right down the road from our new house!). We planned to have 3 or so rehearsals, then play a couple live shows, and then go into the studio. We played the first of 2 live shows last night up in Bay City MI. at a pub downtown. We opened for a band called the Swagering Rouges. The bass player for the Rouges is Jon Carmona, and he is also going to play bass on the album. It was cool to see him in his element. He is from Bay City and has been playing the same pub with the same band for over 5 years.
Walking into the place gave me flashbacks of when I played with The Flat Broke Blues Band. It was my first real band. I joined when I was 19 years old. I played full time with them for over 3 years (they are still together and just put out a new album, http://www.flatbrokebluesband.com/). We played in every, pub, bar, club, and juke joint north of the Mackinac Bridge. Eventually the band made it all over Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois, but most of the time we were in a packed little place playing the blues for anyone who would listen. It was a fun time in life, and it all came back to me last night. The smell of stale beer and smoke, the tight quarters to play in, the somewhat apathetic 'early' bar crowd that slowly turnes into a rollicking mob as the night progresses. The band playes loud enough to fill a small stadium, constantly pestering the crowd to dance and enjoy the music as much as they do. It was all so familiar. Paledave opened the night and it went really well. It is never easy to play all original music to a new crowd, but the point of the gig was to hammer out song structures and give the music a live feel once we get into the studio. It was a great first gig, and it makes me look forward to the next one, which is this coming up Thursday at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. It is one of those legendery dives that play host to many national acts that come through town. I am happy to be playing their for the first time, and I think it will give the group the momentum it needs to have a good recording experience.
I will keep you posted as to when the album comes out, so keep coming back! Thanks for reading.

John

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Back on Blogs, Gigs, Changes

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost a month since my last entry. It feels good to be back on the blog. I have been overtaken with the extra tasks of moving, which will be happening in less than a month! My wife Jody and I will be moving to a house in Ann Arbor that is about 5 blocks away from Oz's Music Evironment, which is where I do the bulk of my teaching. Walking to work is a luxury I have never had in life, and I am very excited to end my commuting lifestyle.
Since my last entry, I have played just one gig with Gratitude, two with Deep Blue, and one small one with Meeta Baneerjee. The gig with Gratitude was nice. It was at the West Bloomfield Public library. The band is based in West Bloomfield, so they had a lot of friends and neighbors in the packed crowd. It was a nice easy gig, just about an hour long, and we got to play all of the good steel drum band songs. I don't have anything booked with them in March, but I am sure that will change soon.
The two shows with Deep Blue were both at Cafe Felix, and they could not have been more different from each other. The first one was packed with people. Steve Osburn was playing a show just down the road at the Crazy Wisdom book store, and when it ended, everyone came to Felix. Steve brought drums and shakers, which made the last set a lot of fun. There was a lot of teachers from Oz's there. It felt good to see everyone outside of the store. It made me even more excited to move to Ann Arbor and become more integrated in the A2 music scene. The second Deep Blue gig, which was just this last Friday, was dead. I think there was never more than 3 tables of people. We, did, however, have a great response from the staff at Felix, who are usually too busy to stop and listen. I actually enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere very much.
The only other show was a little Indian Classical music presentation at Go Like the Wind Elementary, which is where I teach music to 4th-7th graders. I was excited to play for the students, and also to play once again with Meeta Banerjee. She is the sitar player that I have played with a lot in the past. She has been going to MSU to persue her doctorate degree, so we have not had time to play together. The show was just 15 minutes long and we had just one microphone between the two of us. It felt a little rushed and a little quiet, but it was fun to play for the students who were sitting right in front of the stage. I look forward to playing with Meeta more, but I am not sure when it will happen. Actually, there is a lot about the immediate future that I am unsure of, but I am extremely excited. I feel like this summer will be one of the best yet. It feels good to be back on the blog tip, and I will be sure to come back more often. Thanks for reading, and I will talk to you soon.

John

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