On Sunday, Stina, Rachel, and I went to enjoy day two of the free North Beach Jazz fest. The line up was surprisingly rather jamband friendly – One the One (whom I really dig), the Dan Lebowitz group, and New Monsoon. There was actually another group, who supposedly headlined, but it was the worst kind of free jazz, and hasted our departure. Well, sorta.
I have a show buddy that lives in my neighborhood. I saw her during the festy, and offered her lift home in Rachel’s car. There was some weirdness when we were ready to leave while she determined if she wanted to go with us, and after a long-ish while, she decided to. I wasn’t able to read the signs very well. Long story short is that she’s had a very difficult time lately and proceeded to have a fairly substantial panic attack on the ride home. Our journey went very slowly, and we pulled over several times along the way. I eventually agreed to talking with her when we got home, which was taking on a lot of responsibility. In the end, she bailed during the last stop on the ride home, and took a cab back to the festival to meet up with some of her friends.
The whole experience was really intense, and rocked me to the core. I had already resigned myself to talking with someone who was a in really tough, emotionally unstable place, and then abruptly I didn’t have to. As soon as I was able to begin to process this event, one of my first thoughts was “something positive (for me) is going to come out of this” This was a little jarring and unintuitive, but I accepted it. I’ve experienced enough tough emotional situations to recognize that good things always come out of them. At this point of my life, I associate intense experiences with personal growth.
I felt terrible guilty for not offering more support, and fairly responsible for her. After I processed the event a little more, I started to see a few other things. Right after I was resigned to talk with her, Stina quietly but insistingly told me she would come with me to talk with this lady. That was the most beautiful and selfless gift, and spoke volumes about who she is. Stina also really helped me come to terms with what level of responsibility I really wanted to take on with this person. Rachel was really excellent at setting boundaries for what was acceptable, and helped move the situation along, as well as being very tolerant and understanding. I brought this into her car – and while it sucked and was fully my fault that the person came with us, I didn’t feel that Rachel blamed me. So while this was a pretty negative situation, it really made me aware how much I love my friends (slash wife).
Something good did come out of it.
All summer long I have been looking forward to seeing Lettuce at the Independent. Fortunately, they didn’t disappoint, two nights in a row. Lettuce is seven piece made up of Berkelee School of Music grads, and these guys take the groove to the funkiest place around: my pants. Oh yeah. Two nights of shakin it as hard as I could. They were a force to be reckoned with over a decade ago – I think with the passing of James Brown spurred them to re-band and make a new album. Excellent song composition coupled with a commitment to the pocket kept the smile glued on our collective faces (when they weren’t melting).
The bass player, Erick Coomes, blew my shit apart. He is too good for this planet. The guitar (Eric Krasno) and keyboard (Neal Evans) players made up two of the three members of Soulive. On the first night, Neal’s (keyboard) synth keyboard broke (he still had his organ and clavicord). So on the second night he replaced his synth with his bass keyboard (he plays redonkulous keyboard bass in Soulive with his unbelievable left/right hand independence), and on occasion Erick would drop out and let Neal rock the key bass. Then Erick would mimic his ridiculous bass lines by ear – and then Neal would drop out. It was SICKNESS of the highest degree.
Ah yes – one thing I neglected to mention is that during all these celebratory doings I also managed to complete my fifth general fuzz album on Monday. Done and done. I had to finish it by this week if I was to leave enough time for CDs to be made by the time I go to Burning Man.
I thought I was really on top of it – I had it mostly finished by mid June, thus leaving plenty of time for final touches and what not. My dilemma was that I really struggled with the length of the album – it clocked in at 45 minutes, and felt it was a little short. I sat with it for a week, and in my standard neurotic/obsessive ways became increasingly unsatisfied with its length. I had Dave SG review it, and he agreed that it was a little short, which pretty much sent me into overdrive. I frantically set out to do what I do not do naturally – compose a song in a short period of time in a specific style to fill a transitional gap on the album. This stressed me out to no end. In fact, I’ve never once been successful at doing this. Normally music just flows as it does, in its own time, and compositions have a mind of their own. For example, there are couple solid tracks which I explicitly did not include on the album because I didn’t feel it fit in with the general mood I was trying to cultivate (read: mellow).
There were several false starts, and I mentally gave up on it each time. One day, after reviewing some musical tidbits I had recorded through out the year, I decided to expand on a pretty piano lick to see where it would go. I started sketching out the track, and went through a totally different mental roller coaster attempting to compose something which I felt would be worthy. In the end, I managed to write the track that bridged my perceived track gap, and finally capped off the album. I neglected sleep, my wife, and all the responsibilities that I’m now desperately trying to catch up on. After countless tedious hours self mastering the album as a whole, I’m truly relieved to have sent it out. I’m no longer tweaking bits, and I don’t have to listen to it for a while.
Stina was wondering why I wasn’t rejoicing after I sealed the envelope. There’s such a long tail to finishing these albums that it’s hard to let go. I’m still too close to it – am I really 100 percent satisfied that everything’s perfect? Probably not. In time, when the music isn’t so deeply burned into my brain, I’ll be able to look at it with pride and distribute it with joy. Already, though, I’m starting to feel good about it – certainly better then I ever have previously. It’s certainly my best effort – though not my most accessible. I’m pretty ok with that.
So, yeah, I now need to finish up a fancy flash widget for the “making of” page, then do that write up, and then it’ll be released. Fortunatly, I’m not feeling any pressure to finish that. It’ll get done eventually
Oh, and the album art is AMAZING, and there’s a whole back story to that, so I guess that’ll have to part of the write up.
So the last week or two has been pretty fun and jam packed. Summer gets like that. We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversery in true Krudden style – we headed up to Clear Lake CA to see Styx open up for Boston. Screw High Sierra
I have to say that Styx put on a better show then Boston, even though the Boston songs are much dearer to my heart. I mean, c’mon, Boston “Boston” still has a firm hold on my top ten albums ever made. Styx had high kicks, audience participation, and a lot of energy. The epic moment of the show was when Styx launched into “Sailing away” a freaking sail boat came right behind the stage.
The extra extended version of “Foreplay” totally rocked the casbah though, and had me reminiscing about my high school band “Lunch.” Lunch was a real good time. We could rock that tune pretty hard.
On our arrival home, we had some familial vistors – Stina’s aunt Patti and her two cousins Carmen and Bailey. They stayed with us for 48 hrs, and it was a nonstop celebration. They brought some of Grannie’s ashes (which was refered to as her heart) so we could leave her heart in San Francisco.
We jammed in an insane Saturday with Amanda’s Baby Shower -> the Roberts family visitation -> Whiskey Tasting.
The boys of shakedown
We bought out the remaining whiskey inventory of a closing restaurant to have a smancy tasting.
Oh, and then I checked out the new Yoshi’s SF with some killer Salsa (Doug Beavers y su Conjunto Rovir) and got in a car accident on the way home from work yesterday. I’m fine – car is less so.
After having several unnerving discussions about the potential rearing of “children”, we launched into a finely tuned indulgent weekend. Two movies (Wall-E + Wanted) and two shows (Tea Leaf Green + Bay Area Rock Fest) = awww yeah.
Of note was the second show – which consisted of four bands, all of the prog rock variety, or what I like to call “nerd metal”. They hailed from Sweden, Germany, SF, and wherever the likes of Dream Theater comes from. It was insanely fast, intensely composed, and flawlessly executed theatrical glam metal at its finest. Ripping guitars synched with double kick drums, soaring keyboards and a dramatic falsetto male singer to top off the perfect prog sandwich. I was pretty happy in the very male dominated crowd, though my normal show patter with strangers didn’t float as well as usual. Fortunately, the band members were happy to chat, so I wasn’t too lonely. The hippies, unsurprisingly, were no where to be seen.
The headliners were “Liquid Tension Expirement”, a band comprised of three members of Dream Theater (the ULTIMATE prog band, though I think Dragonforce is a strong contender) and a ludicrous bass player name Tony Levin. Mike F. (whattup in Portand!) gave me LTE cds many years back, so I was actually very familiar with their brand of vocal-less but ludicrous prog insanity. They performed flawless interpretations of the tunes along with a few jaw dropping solo ventures along the way. Instinctively, my hands formed devil horns, and I fiercely threw ’em up to join the others already proudly wavering in the air. Nerd metal at its finest.
June was all about not spending time in SF. I went to Boulder, CO to experience the Tuteur family reunion. My actual genetic relationship to the Tuteurs is fairly distant, but it was an excuse to spend time with the Kirsch clan, meet some folks from around the world, and check out Boulder.
I learned that Boulder kicks ass. Tons of micro brews, live music everywhere, in a rather picturesque setting, what with the mountains. The nice hotel that the Tuteurs stayed at had multiple bars attached to it – a fancy one and a cool one on the lobby level, and then I discovered a set of stairs going downwards that led to the coolest dive bar (“the Catacombs”) I’ve ever been to. My brother and I pretty much took up residency there during the evenings, accidentally making friends with the bartenders, one who suggested we “knock the balls around together” in the future. Aw yeah.