Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Sacred War"

This is an interesting and rather ominous-sounding march that was composed during "The Great Patriotic War" to inspire the men and women of the Red Army. The title is translated sometimes as "Holy War".

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Splendid Weekend

Mila and I hit the road with the girls for the first time in ages for a very pleasant weekend in Plano with Dr. Bezant (aka the good Doctor Pheasant) and his wife Winnifred.

We were more than glad to escape Austin's 95-degree daytime highs. At one point I checked Weather.com and saw that it was 90 degrees in Austin and only 66 in Plano. What a difference 200 miles can make!

Saturday we went to the King Tut exhibit-- a wonderful treat from our ever-thoughtful hosts. Words cannot do justice to the experience, but I will record two of my impressions here. 1) Remarkably, our youngsters were able to hang with an hour and a half of the exhibit. 2) The craftsmanship evident on some of the artifacts is surprisingly primitive while many of the artifacts show a breath-taking degree of perfection. One must wonder how they were able to create with such precision all those centuries ago.

We also visited the Nasher Museum and another museum that houses a permanent collection of Asian art. Perhaps more on those in a later post.

Sunday Dr. Bezant and Winifred treated us dinner and a show at Medieval Times. I had taken this to be clearly something for the girls and had prepared myself to tolerate it, but I must confess that I found the experience very enjoyable. Perhaps the most memorable part was our green knight (each color-coded section of the audience is assigned a knight) chose Onni to be his "Queen of Love and Beauty" by presenting her a green scarf on the end of his lance. She was thrilled, as was Davis who got a pink carnation from the knight.

This video, shot at the Toronto Medieval Times, will give you a slight feel for what it is like.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

song evolution

Here is my song-writing process exposed.

The seed:

Several months ago, I came up with the idea to do a song that was primarily just an Em chord played very loosely and ponderously with a vocal melody sung above it using a somewhat bluesy scale.

The inspiration:
Back in high school one of my good friends had a friend named Mary whom he really liked. I don't think that the relationship ever reached the point, in terms of romance, that my friend wanted it to and, very sadly, a few years after graduation, Mary was killed in an automobile accident.

So, after several months of this song idea going nowhere, I awoke this morning (May 2) and decided to play it on guitar and ad lib some lyrics. This had worked wonderfully once before. "Riding the Wave" was done completely in one hour-- from zero concept to finished piece. I don't think this one will be so tidy, but here it is (first draft/rough draft) no edits, just the rough flow that I scrawled out in barely legible handwriting (whether satisfied or not) as I strummed from verse to verse in a 10 minute free-flow.
-----------------------------------

understanding
the color of the rain
says you could be here once again
oceans narrowing, the beating of a wing-
undaunted, fearless, unafraid

(verse)
come back, Mary
come back, Mary
come back, Mary

just to picture the way it used to be-
two people standing in the reeds
breathing like the hour- it may not come again
listing the things you mean to me

(verse)
come back, Mary
come back, Mary
come back, Mary

(bridge)
oh, hail Mary
full of grace
say, what's up with you today
you've got your horn of plenty
poised above ? ? ? ? ? (no words here)
say, what's up with you today

(verse)
come back, Mary
come back, Mary
come back, Mary
------------------------------------

So, there it is. Naked and raw. I have already started making changes from this morning. We'll see where it goes from here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teaching: Good for the Body as Well as the Mind?

Out of curiosity, I stuck Mila's pedometer on my belt this morning before heading out the door. 8,450 steps later (over 4 miles) I was back home again.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 17 Dentones gig



A couple of weeks ago I was looking at the Carousel Lounge website and noticed that local 90s alternative rock heroes The Wannabes were playing at the club but apparently had no opening band. A quick call to Nikki, the club's manager, put an end to that vacancy. The Dentones would open for the Wannabes starting at 7:00.

It was a strategic move. I was resigned to the fact that there was not enough time to muster much of a turnout from our fan-base, but I figured that Wannabes fans would start showing up toward the end of our second set. If nothing else, it would be a chance to reconnect with Wannabes guitarist Kevin Carney.

I was 33% right. Very few Dentones fans showed up. No other fans showed up until way after we were done. Kevin didn't arrive until almost an hour after we had stopped.

There was a band in the middle. A very good one, actually. The Ron Titter Band was chutzpah incarnate. Imagine a mixture of Elvis and the Stooges and the New York Dolls (what other component am I missing here?) performed by a set of fellows who mostly look like Dell tech support lads. My, but looks can be deceiving!

The evening was far from a waste. The band played quite well. Alexei, a newish friend and the sound engineer who is recording the Dentones in his studio, got the PA very nicely balanced. The bartender liked us a lot, offered the consoling words that early shows are notoriously hard to populate, and gave me free beer for the rest of the evening. Also, Garrett Williams, the drummer for Right or Happy (with whom we are doing a May 29th gig) caught the last few of our tunes. He was probably there on a fact-finding mission to make sure our PA is acceptable and that the Dentones are, too. He talked to Big A for a bit (they have a mutual friend who was the genesis of this upcoming gig), introduced himself to the rest of us, and said we sounded good.

That was music to my ears.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009