Something new, as of 19 Dec 2011
Gigs: Recent and upcoming... for Jim & Warren and Keith & Warren and WA...
Jim & Warren - hard at it, Laguna Beats, 4 Aug 2011.
'Laguna Beats' program :: Jim & Warren are playing on the history-soaked streets of Laguna Beach most Wednesday evenings (6:00-8:00pm) and most Sunday late afternoons (~4:00-6:30pm). We set up in front of the ice cream shop at Forest and PCH, if possible, and sometimes just a ways up Forest Ave, just past the intersection with Gleneyre. Big fun, at least for us...
WA's Encyclopedia of Alternate Guitar Tunings "...a tremendous resource ...a wonderful site devoted to guitar tunings -— dozens and dozens of ‘em, including tunings used by Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, and Sonic Youth. Cool!"
- Andy Ellis (Guitar Player magazine, The Guitar Show Chronicles)
WA's radio-friendly guitar instrumental
Gigs up next ...at the various on-planet locations...
Jim and I had some passably good runs through a few neglected number, including 'Heaven', 'Four Seasons in One Day', 'Miss Misery', 'Mary', 'Long May You Run', 'I Am a Child', and 'Let it Be'... as well as the so-called (Sgt.) Pepper Package, and the LabelMates Pair (Badfinger). Jim is auditioning medium gauge strings on his big Gibson Songwriter... an excellent choice for bashing away on the sidewalk, if his hands can handle them. They sure don't work for me.
Not too much fan excitement this evening, but there was a wonderful 4-yr old dancing girl to keep us going for quiet awhile... [$08]
It got quite chilly after awhile, down to 50º or so by 6pm, and Jim noted that his fingers weren't working quite as well as they ought to be. I didn't notice it so much, due partly to my wrist-warmer mitts, no doubt...
There weren't many people to play for, but one special event happened just as I arrived: Town Greeter Mikey Minutoli made what may have been his first stump speech for his new campaign for — that's correct — President of the U. S. of A. Fortunately, I captured the whole thing on video, from a foot away, on my little camera. [$06]
I could hear my guitar sometimes... but even as I listen to the recording, it's hard for me to tell which bits are coming from my guitar, and which from Kurtis'... this is partly due to some similarity on tone, despite the radically different design of our guitars (Kurtis was playing his Telecaster), but also because of overlap in what we're playing. [Later I see that Kurtis was essentially playing what Jim plays: the riffs, and big 1st position chords, leaving plenty of room for all of my octave-uppity bits. My real problem was not being quite loud enough. Kurtis explained later that he turned my little boutique amp up a couple of times during the song, but it was just distorting more, rather than getting louder.]
At one point during 'Cruel to Be Kind', my guitar sounded so shockingly wrong (though I verified that I was playing the correct chord) that I was momentarily convinced that the band had accidentally switched to another key... (they wouldn't do that on purpose, would they..?!).
Anyhow, here we are bashing through 'Baby Blue' which sounds much better here that it did to me in the moment -- mostly because the band is playing it quite well, which is remarkable, considering that they only learned they'd be playing it the night before... though David politely asked what key it was in just before we kicked it off. The distortion in the sound is entirely from the overloaded mic preamp of my snapshot camera.
I can't suggest that anyone actually listen to this, but it's a significant piece of memorabilia for us, just a day later. I expect my grandchildren to be amused, at least, should I ever have any... Still, it was a lot of fun, and I'm very glad that we just said 'Yes!' to the invitation, rather than try to beg off for all the usual reasons (including that these guys are actually very good musicians!).
Check out Kurtis and the Heretics here, tics not required...
Good outing, anyhow... [$23 ($20+$1+$1+$1)]
We set up at one end of a huge patio, atop a 3' high snug concrete ledge, lit by one smoky tiki lamp, which helped us understand how being able to see things like labels on knobs and fingers on fingerboards is still important... The crowd of thirty people or so was situated far away at the other end of the patio, and managed to entertain itself pretty well, but there were many kind and appreciative comments nonetheless, and hostess Lin seemed particularly happy with how it went... and she promised to tell all her friends about us... so perhaps we're off to a whole new phase of operations, in which case we may have to invest in a flashlight...
I'd say we sounded pretty ragged at first, then pretty good as we got the innumerable x-factors all tweaked-up. In any event, it's a lot of fun to play these songs, and we had time to get through quite a few, including two passes through 'Wild Horses', which is a pleasure to explore instrumentally, and 'Into the Mystic', which Jim called for, to my great delight, as it's intensely satisfying to play my made-up, volume-swelled, exclusively-sixths guitar part.
I've been using my sidewalk-specific stompbox set so much lately that it took me some time to get re-acquainted with my 'standard' pedal bag and pedal board rig, not to mention the StageMate PA. Fortunately, I long-ago rewired this rig so that the volume pedal is at the end of the signal chain, so volume swells were really happening... I'm not sure why it's taken me about five years to even start to get the hang of this technique, but it's so appealing now that the challenge is to not overdo it...
Special guest: Tina Ann, aka The Queen of Happiness... now off on a solo flight, so to speak... [$nnn!]
We ran through songs that party organizer Lin has requested for the upcoming birthday party gig for her husband... 'Wish You Were Here', 'Something'... though we also tried on 'Folsom Prison Blues' briefly... Let's try that one again soon (I may be able to sing it in G, and if not Jim probably can). Hitting the low G (barely) in that song inspired a pass through 'Was Not There', in which I was easily able to sing the low C in the verse... making me wonder if an allergic reaction to something is responsible. Perhaps I should mix pollen into my coffee, or rub it on the mic...?
We fielded a request for a Grateful Dead song with 'I Know you Rider', which I'd all-but given up on, but I could hear it 'jelling' as we rolled along, so let's try that again soon. It's potentially 'slamming', along the lines of Wilco's 'Side With the Seeds'.
I had an intensely good experience plying guitar this evening... which I attribute to not only playing so regularly with Jim, but also playing a lot over the last several days. ...and one more thing: a recent re-wiring of my sidewalk stompbox array so that the volume pedal (the huge heavy Morley Alligator) is after the effects, rather than just ahead of them. This makes quite a difference, since otherwise the compressor and the delay are doing their best to defeat any attempt on my a part to roll of the level with the volume pedal. With the pedal at the end of the chain, it really does what it's supposed to do, so now I can suddenly swell in and out much more like I've been trying to, for the past several years (even though I think my main effects rig is already set up this way...)
Anyhow... I heard myself playing better this evening than anytime, ever... on 'Into the Mystic' and 'Wild Horses', and even 'Heart Full of Soul'... which is immensely encouraging... and made it suddenly easy to accept pal Kurtis' invitation to sit in with his band (on Friday Nov 4)... that will certainly be educational, at least... [$10]
Carl ____, Doug DuMaurier, and Michael Minutoli, Laguna Beach, 23 Oct 2011.
Special guests: Jason Feddy, on break from his White House gig, who quietly sang along on 'Wild Horses' for a bit... and good pals Kurtis & Alisa, who confirm that they are now locals, and who contributed expert-level handclaps on 'No Matter What'.
The slightly mad after-gig discussions featured everyone from esteemed colleague Doug DuMaurier, Maurice from Amsterdam (eager to join the Occupy Irvine campout, and to establish a swinging upscale nightclub, presumably in that order), and even former boss's boss Jeffrey Friederichs, who kindly handed over a copy of ISKCON's 'The Practice of Yoga' (mint, as if he knows the contents so well that it's no longer necessary to even leaf through the pictures of Krisha in his sublime opulence)... [$6]
We played fairly well, but I felt a bit fuzzed out much of the time, and I suppose it's because of getting to bed at 4am the night before, then up again at 9am. So I went to bed at 9pm, only to get up at 5:30am for the Occupy Golf Course event... just can't win... Special guest: Jim's new friend Shirley...! [$8]
Police apparition: Early on, we practiced our 12-bar blues basics (in A), in hopes that we can make something of it eventually, and to help Jim get that sorted out for his future jamming opps. I was blasting harmonica riffs into my all-too-visible mic-on-a-stand when I was startled by something ominously blue just off to the right... which proved to be not just one, but four of Laguna PD's finest. I paused and said "Hello..!", thinking that the proverbial jig is now up, forever, and barely evading a sudden urge to confess and apologize for all of our present and past crimes. One officer nodded, said something like "How's it goin' there?", and then seemed to direct his gaze beyond us. Jim was still strumming the shuffle rhythm, so I returned to the mic and blew some more harp, a bit more quietly, but still obviously amplified. Presently the cadre of cops strolled right past us to the opposite street corner, to our left, and somberly addressed an unfortunate-looking older fellow seated on the concrete bench, with crutches partly blocking the sidewalk, holding what appeared to be a hand-lettered sign. Jim surmised that the adjacent Fingerhut Gallery (our dear friends from last summer) had called in the hit. Very likely... Among other things, this would seem to re-confirm that the local PD are essentially complaint-driven, at least as far as street music is concerned, and perhaps panhandling too. Lucky for us, as we are, arguably, just panhandling with guitars, though we think of it quite differently: practicing in public.
Otherwise... most promising run-through ever of WA's 'Southwest Passage'... which seems to require about 20% more guitar-playing skill than I've managed to accumulate yet... but which also seems like the perfect vehicle for further accumulation thereof.. but I'd better play this thing two or three times a day for the foreseeable future...
Most Transcendent Moment: As Jim was singing the beloved 'Space Oddity', we heard a lovely echo of it, and looked up to see a radiantly beautiful young woman pausing to join us for what seemed to be her favorite song of all time. Clumsily, I tried turning the mic in her direction. She shook her golden hair, and strolled away, still singing... [$10]
R.I.P. Tully's Coffee. I happened to notice, while out for a stroll, that the windows are now painted black. This leaves Jim & Warrren with no coffeeouse gigs whatsoever, and, more significantly, nowhere to play with the full PA setup. What shall we do...?
We kicked it off with a little shuffle-blues jam in A, complete with some 'blues harp' bits. This is our 2nd attempt at this, and we don't have it quite sorted out yet, but there's surely some real potential here for laying down a groove... a most valuable commodity... and something that Jim has great capacity for. I'm hoping that working on it will help me get the hang of getting there, and staying there.
We retrieved a couple of songs from near-oblivion: 'Cry Baby Cry' and even (most of) 'I'm Only Sleeping'. It feels very good not to lose the option of playing any of our songs, even if we'd generally prefer to play others...
Hardest song for me to stop playing today: the Stones' 'Wild Horses'. Jim can sing this very well, fortunately (it reaches too high for me). I'm not crazy about all of the lyrics, but the song structure and chord progression affords some kind of magic carpet ride...
During a break between songs, a (female) LB cop strolled right past us, citation book in hand, without so much as a smile... or an indictment... OK! [$16]  FB notice....
We had no idea at the time, but this turned out to be our last Tully's gig. The store closed quietly shut its doors for good a couple of weeks later.
One highlight was an absurdly-extended rendition of the outro of 'Hey Jude', that seemed to work for the Indian family who clapped uproariously afterward, and the barista-guy, who dropped a bill in the jar during it. This confirms to us that we could easily do an entire gig of improvised jams, based on simple chord progressions — both made up on the spot, and nicked from favorite songs. I'm sure there'd be a lot of fun in that, and that we'd find all sorts of new twists and turns en route. There's so much to mine in just the rhythmic domain.... "change the time signature", for example, as Jim pointed out later, which he did two or three times during the aforementioned jam.
Another highlight: When we finally roped 'Hey Jude' to the ground, the momma of the same Indian family called out, "Imagine!" — quite confidently, as if she knew that anyone who could play the one could play the other. It was a rare pleasure to be able to smile and launch right into it. She even seemed to enjoy the harmonica parts, which I've almost got sorted out now, on my Lee Oskar C harp... This verse+chorus part is especially satisfying, and shows me how incredibly expressive that instrument can be... bending into notes, vibrato on sustained notes... I never wish that I was playing guitar instead. It's so good to have it as an alternative voice. I think we should try some of the blues bits I've been playing forever... now that I see how some of it is tightly mapped to the 12-bar pattern. [$12 — very good for this venue].
The weather is changing now... September should be very warm here, but so far it's cool, with intimations of rain... including discernible drops, though not till the next day, fortunately... [$12]
Special quests: Kurtis Gentile and Alisa Eisenberg. I was anxiously aware that my guitar was not quite in tune as we played and sang 'Heaven' for them. (Jim then explained that this was a Talking Heads song, from their Fear of Music album.) I was surprised how well I could play an instrumental verse, though, with Kurtis sitting there, since I'm in awe of his guitar prowess... not to mention his terrific McCartney-esque singing... I found it possible to stop 'thinking' and just play. Kurtis said that he really liked the tone of my guitar... which seemed very thoughtful... He understands, surely, that we need encouragement, and he may even know that he's perfectly positioned to deliver some. [$16]
This spot sure is quieter than Forest & PCH... and it was mercifully shaded at 5:30pm, which seemed like a very good thing. For awhile, there were quite a lot of people to play for, though not nearly so many by 7pm or so. We finally gave in to the superior firepower of a rumbling fire truck, left unattended alongside us. I suppose that might be an effective to shut down buskers without actually confronting them...
In the meantime, we had quite a good outing, connecting to passersby with the likes of 'Imagine', 'Sunny Afternoon', 'Hey Jude', and even 'Heart Full of Soul'. I can see how my practice-playing several times over the past few days has helped, reinforcing my recent realization that the most important thing for me to do is to play... anything... to improve my chops generally, to strengthen my hands, and to get both hands working together, as if they're playing the same guitar... and beyond that to practice all the tricky bits for our various songs. [$16]
Broke string 3 near closing time, but re-tuned and had a go at 'Space Oddity' anyhow... very confusing, but worth it for this wonderful song, which both of us love to play. Sweetest baristas ever, btw... [$04]
We took a wild ride, in several respects, through four different locations in downtown Laguna Beach, over roughly as many hours. At Keith's request, we put this outing together, despite my assumption that Keith & Warren had played their last gig [on 17 June, Borders SCP]. Since then, Keith's solo opps at the Spectrum Ctr have (temporarily?) dried up, leaving him pretty nearly gig-less. Our intention was to deploy the tried and true Jim & Warren template, at Forest & PCH — extended by running Keith's Ovation gtr and his voice (head mic) through his portable Peavey amp, hidden as much as possible. So we met at about 5pm and set up, against an onslaught of unusually high-volume KISS-FM music blasting from the ice cream shop. In retrospect, this may have been a telling clue.
Soon after a few passes through Keith's instrumental blues warmup and one song ('Hotel California') a uniformed LB officer strode up and asked, "Hello, gentlemen... Do you have a permit to play amplified?". I admitted that we did not, and lamely offered that we were trying to keep the volume down to "acoustic levels" — a ridiculous notion on the face of it, considering that everything was amplified. He noted that only un-amplified music-making is permitted without a permit, and that such permits are hard to come by. Helpfully, he explained that he was responding to a complaint, though he declined to ID the complainant. Keith suspects the kid from the ice-cream shop who was outside picking up trash as we set up. It is hard to imagine the complaint emanating from other than the ice-cream shop bldg — which includes unrelated offices upstairs, one of which faces the street [hopefully not Greg E.'s].
Larger questions loom: are we busted for just this afternoon, or forever... and are only Keith & Warren down for the count, or should Jim & Warren consider themselves on notice as well? Is the officer's promise of a hefty fine restricted to a 2nd offense the same day, or on any day thereafter...? Jim & Warren may soon find out, as we intend to set up as usual this coming Sunday (though I believe I'll skip the mic and mic stand this time out, at least...)
I proposed Acoustic Alley as plan B, though I wasn't sure that there was any point in me trying to play un-amped... so we strolled up Forest Ave at about 6pm, only to find Richard McLeod still holding forth in the Alley. After some head scratching, we settled in to the area with the big green circular seat, just beyond the intersection with Gleneyre, and then moved again to one of the parallel concrete benches at the crosswalk, as soon as they opened up. We played here for an hour or so, amidst some fortuitous social encounters — notably Keith's high-school friend Susie Elliot, who just happened to be strolling by, and another couple a bit younger who were knocked out by Keith's renditions of 'Hotel California' and 'Blackbird', and who left a $20 bill in the tip jar, after vague but probably sincere promises to round us up for some business-related functions. Susie stuck around for at least an hour and a half, which was a big help to Keith, who feels much better if there's someone to play for... Susie also promised to have K&W (or at least Keith) in to play for Art Walk when her new shop Twig of Laguna, opens in Sept or so. I would be very much up for that.
After awhile, young street singer Adam appeared, fresh from Acoustic Alley, and after Susie confirmed that it was indeed 'open', we picked up and rolled down there, where we played for another hour or so, possible for me only because Keith found some trail mix for me to shoot up... The natural amplification and reverb of the Alley proved very helpful. I could hear my guitar well enough that I found that I could actually play dynamically, rather than just 'flat out' all the time, and Keith's voice and guitar were very audible. His voice seemed to be in particularly good form too, and he seemed to be feeling very good about what he was hearing. There were few people to play for by this time, but a lot of fun to play regardless. We did find [$32] in the tip jar when we finally knocked off, thanks largely to the aforementioned $20 bill, though someone else tossed in a $5...
The one thing significantly missing from Keith's rig this evening was the TC Electronic 'harmony box'. I noticed, several times, how nice it was not to have it. Without it, Keith's vocals sound much more like they're coming from him, and there's much more sonic space for me to run lines in. I even found myself singing harmony parts here and there — not something I've done with Keith since we hit the road as K&W. This box must seem like a lot to give up, though, especially now that he's worked out detailed tap-dance arrangements for it in many (most?) of his songs.
Anyhow... I'm up for trying this again soon, though the Acoustic Alley is much in demand lately... and there's no other place in town that offers anything like the combination of its sonic inducements and lots of people strolling by (and through). [$32]
Greeter Mikey, in white-and-black-face (courtesy Star Rainbow), worked the traffic behind us, shouting encouragement our way from time to time, and then struck a frozen-mime gtr player pose to our right, which captured the admiration of many tourists from the Far East, some of whom needed to jump into the picture frame themselves, not to mention stuff greenbacks into Mikey's 'fretting' hand... a few of which he later pushed into our already-overflowing tip jar... [$25 — an LBeats record, I think]
It's always a pleasure to sit in with Richard, and a rare one this year, with J&W gigging so often. I had just the Nomad into the Mobile Cube, clearly a Sufficiently Good Enough rig for this sort of 'chance-plus' get together. Richard pulled several new songs out of his deep hat, and said that he's been hoping to acquaint me with them — an agreeable thought indeed.
Richard indicated that he was just about wrapping it up as I hove in, but acquiesced to "play one or two more"... He then settled into a complex, nuanced and absorbing 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' (Dusty Springfield), which I was able to induce him to play once more at the end of our session. There's a lot to work with there, melodically... I could've played it all night long...
He followed that with John Lennon's 'Just Gimme Some Truth', Paul Simon's 'She Loved Me Like a Rock' ("Well I'm a consummated man..."), a very subdued reading of the Dead's 'I Know You Rider' (which Jim & Warren are also playing, at Richard's suggestion), a bizzarely delicate arrangement of Cheap Trick's 'Surrender' [?!], and a dear old favorite of mine: 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' (Carol King, the Shirelles), and several more than I've forgotten already. Richard makes a lot of room for me, and I was able to relax into it unusually well this afternoon... a deep pleasure... some sort of musical spelunkery... maybe I should roll down on Saturday and / or weekday afternoons more often...
[In 1965, Springfield took part in the Italian Song Festival in San Remo, and failed to qualify for the final with two songs. During the competition, she heard the song 'Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)'. Its English version, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me", featured lyrics written by Springfield's friend, Vicki Wickham, and her future manager, Simon Napier-Bell. It reached No. 1 in the UK in May 1966 and reached No. 4 on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 in the United States... The song, which Springfield called "good old schmaltz", was voted among the All Time Top 100 Songs by the listeners of BBC Radio 2 in 1999. — Wikipedia article ]
Special treat: Big scoops of coffee ice cream in little plastic bowls, which were offered and then made to order by a friendly girl from the Chantilly ice cream shop. Somehow, they like us a whole lot better than did the mgmt at our previous spot across the street next to the Fingerhut gallery. I suppose we're not blocking any windows here, but you'd think we'd be accused of blocking the sidewalk... not to mention playing songs that are just a little too old...
Special guest: Tim Donahey, one of my Brotherhood brothers... who showed us his new baritone ukulele... and shot some pics and video. [$23 + $10 worth of ice cream!]
One highlight for me tonight: 'Mary', which seemed to all but sing itself, and wherein both guitars and voices seemed to merge into one big wonderful sound... and Jim steered us manfully through our newest number, 'Imagine'. [$04]
We got all the way through 'Imagine', this time — Jim's latest and most welcome contribution, and we spun through the Kinks' 'Sunny Afternoon' twice... and aired all sorts of songs we haven't played lately, like 'Sugar Mountain'... Let's try Bob Marley's 'Is This Love' again next time, and 'I Know You Rider'. [$10]
Special enhancement: Mikey's loony village greeter program, running directly behind us. It's potentially distracting, as he'd running a continuous rap of nonsense to the cars and people crossing the street, but we don't seem to mind... Makeup by the legendary Ted 'Star Rainbow' Shields. [$06]
Special guests: Kurtis Gentile, Alisa Eisenberg, Matthew Gentile, and Alex Tan. We were slightly freaked out to play for Kurtis, as he is one of our local musical heroes, and he is a Beatles fanatic who has worked up remarkably faithful arrangements for many of their songs. Despite that, or because of it, we busted right into two numbers that would put us right on the spot — our 'Pepper Pair': 'With a Little Help from My Friends', and 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'. The former was easily a worst-ever take for me, and then we did just fairly well with the latter. When I dared to look up at Kurtis he was just smiling and singing along, in a completely supportive manner, and I realized that he was cutting us a lot more slack than we were cutting ourselves. Anyhow... a Great Exercise, as they say... this is surely just the sort of thing we need to work through.
Two World Premiers, both introduced by Jim: the Kinks' little masterpiece 'Sunny Afternoon', and Bob Marley's 'Is This Love?' (which has a much more complicated set of chords than I'd have guessed)... more big fun...! [$06]
We were finally put out of business by Circus Finelli — the troupe of San Francisco-based prankster-clown-dyke-musicians below. The Beat Feet Orchestra of the half-Iranian Mahsa Matin alone, at right, pretty well 'wiped out' (sonically) the entire intersection with her resonator guitar, Pignose-amped vocals (bullet mic straight into the instrument input), snare drum, and little bass drum -- some 50 lbs of gear, cranked up a step or three from her acknowledged Mary Poppins hero Bert. She's an excellent rhythm guitar player, btw. They gathered quite a crowd, and collected what looked like quite a pile of dollar bills to me (but not so many to them, reportedly). Mahsa made a point of saying hello between sets, and expressed concern that they'd crashed our program. I assured her that we were wrapping up anyhow (true), and she assured me that they'd be returning to SF before next wknd (lucky for us). Check this good SF Weekly review of her program.
Special guest: The elusive and rather anxious One-Eyed Rick, a former inhabitant of Dodge City... very nice to see him again, after our January walkabout on Roosevelt Lane. He stayed just long enough to explain how his famous pastor discovered Jesus while playing guitar, when he realized that there was "one note missing". I should probably request confirmation on that one...
"Do you like ice cream?", asked the kid from the ice cream shop as he laid an overwhelming and overflowing banana split upon us. It looked pretty yummy, but eating it would have required us to stop playing, which seemed like even more fun, so Jim managed to give it away to... [?]
Special thanks to the pretty Dancing Girl... who enchanted us with her enthusiasm and youth (4 years, max)...
Very nice to have the new replacement M. Burke tinwhistle for 'Orbit', not to mention 'Hide Your Love Away', and 'Locomotive Breath'. It sounds warm, clear and in-tune... just like the first one did. [$10]
One highlight: the dance-as-if-no-one's-watching stylings of a wide-bodied 50-ish gentlemen (during 'Starman'?). He elevated our all-too-predictable delivery into the realm of performance art... without even trying, I'm pretty sure... [$10]
The critical concept seemed to be to just Show Up... for one's life, ultimately, but also for all the little opportunities that come one's way. Woody Allen said, allegedly, that 80% of success is just showing up, and I heard mention of it recently from the sage and down-to-earth Pema Chödrön. For me, at least, that's often been the hardest part.
I knew I'd be in for an awkward experience, at best, and possibly downright humiliating, but... I have to stop fretting about all such things. Unloading my gear in the parking lot, I explained to my little self again that my queasy reservations and anxieties (would I be able to sing at all this evening?) could be largely ignored -- if I would just shift my attention away from myself, and toward two other things: the music itself, and the people I might be playing it for.
So that's what I did (as well as I could stay so-focused). One payoff: towards the end, when I was fully warmed up and singing better, it was very hard to stop. I knew I was running out of time, but started one more song that I really wanted to play... and then had to abandon it early when they started flashing the store lights on and off...!
It was awkward, especially at first. Right off, a guy who often comes out to hear Jim & Warren play showed up. I can tell he's a very good musician himself, and a guitarist specifically, and he's a discerning listener. We chatted for awhile, and then somehow, I was able to roll into some instrumental playing, and just completely attend to it, and cut myself lots of slack for all sorts of little mistakes, and not worry about what he might be thinking of it, and it went pretty well. When I rolled it up he smiled and said, "Yeah... that was very nice...", as if he meant it... which proved helpful.
It was very hard to sing at all at first... and I could have played my instrumental bits all evening, but singing songs is where the big challenge is for me, so I just went ahead and sang about fifteen, and, slowly, slowly, I could feel my voice get stronger and more confident as the evening unrolled. I repeated 'Sugar Mountain', and finally was able to get up enough steam to put it over reasonably well. I also managed a pretty good take of Mary McCaslin's 'Waiting' — a couple of people actually applauded for that one... despite not recognizing it...
I did take one break, to finally give friendly Barista-buddy the opp to sit in that he's been asking for. He sang three songs, fairly well, including 'Blackbird', but was kind enough not to put me entirely in the shade...
It was only possible to sing songs I knew at least fairly well... I'd imagined 'Lark in the Morning' to be a good option, since I can do it reasonably well at home, but it was hopeless 'in concert'... due surely, to the 'fog of war' effect that seems to apply to 'theaters' of all sorts. Highlight: Steeleye Span's 'One Misty Moisty Morning', at the end... a world premier, I believe... Got to stabilize their wonderful 'The Lark in the Morning', next....
Anyhow... good for me just going ahead with it, and pushed through all my little reservations, restrictions, limitations, etc, etc... It's the only way to learn how to do it right, I'm quite sure of that...
SET LIST: [x] Waiting (Mary McCaslin) [x] For Free (Joni M.) [x] With a Little Help from My Friends
[x] Norwegian Wood [x] World Cup Rendezvous -WA [ ] Sea of Joy (Blind Faith) [ ] Laguna Beats - WA
[x] Hickory Wind (Graham P / The Byrds) [ ] Don't Be Cruel (Elvis) [ ] Southwest Passage - WA
[x] You Don't Miss Your Water (William Bell / The Byrds) [x] One Misty Moisty Morning (Steeleye Span)
[x] Well Alright (Buddy Holly / Blind Faith) [ ] Something (Beatles / George) [ ] I'm So Glad (Cream)
[ ] You've Got to Hide Your Love Away [x] The Lark in the Morning (Steeleye Span)   [ ] West - WA
[x] Sugar Mountain (Neil Young) [ ] Heaven is in Your Mind (Traffic / WA) [x] Horizon (Richard McLeod)
[ ] I Am a Child (Neil Young) [ ] Don't Dream It's Over (Crowded House) [ ] Into White (Cat Stevens)
[x] The Old Laughing Lady (Neil Young) [ ] Cerulean Blue - WA [ ] Four Seasons in One Day (Crowded House)
Eventually we made it to our other new fav song 'Heaven', alternating singing the three verses, twice through, so we each get to sing each one... with a couple of longed-for guitar breaks for me... We pulled this wonderful song out later in response to Richard McLeod's request for an "obscure but well-known" song... it caught the attention of the tall sand-sculptor gal (mother of young fellow 'Rocket') that I remember from three summers ago... she also picked 'Space Oddity' off the song list, and seemed to really appreciate our (best ever?) rendition, and then declared, "I could listen to you guys all night long...!" Wow... just like in the song... I sure hope she comes back soon.
The ice cream shop had their own music going, so I wondered if we might be getting in the way of that, but apparently not... as, toward the end, a young fellow from the shop strolled over and handed us each a little cup of lip-smackingly yummy ice cream... (a $3-5 value, at their prices). OK... we like that a lot too...!
We interleaved playing and conversation with Richard M. toward the end, and Jim showed him the chords for 'Hey Jude' (and I just sent him Jim's song sheet). When we finally packed it in, the tip jar was so thick with bills that it was an effort to count them... $20 in ones... possibly a record for the LBeats program, and perhaps another indication that we're finally playing these songs reasonably well... and possibly developing some modest chops en route...[?] or at least having a lot of fun trying... [$20]
Keith had a very good time of it, noting the responsiveness of the crowd, and how good the sound was compared to playing outdoors at The Spectrum Ctr... and afterward demoed some incredibly smart and appealing apps for me, on his new iPad2...
Martha then told me mad tales of local artists and musicians (including Blue Cheer practicing downstairs in her house out on the Canyon Rd.) ... as I tuned her hopeless homeless-person guitar, and played 'House of the Rising Sun' and 'Norwegian Wood' for her, which she seemed to appreciate very much... "Are you an angel?", she asked... just checking, apparently...
Jim dreamed up another new instrumental for us... simply by re-purposing the chords from his 'Summer of Love' radio hit, but with such a different rhythm that I didn't recognize it... nice trick!
A couple of 16 year old boys, with a dad in tow, checked in to 'jam' with us. One was toting a nylon-string guitar, and the other sported bongo-like drums. Somehow we landed on 'Let It Be' as something we could play together, as I tuned the kid's guitar to Jim's, and the other boy found he lyrics with his iPhone. I handed off my camera to the dad, who shot a very good video of the performance, which I've forwarded to him. This sort of thing is potentially a disruptive sidetrack for us, but this instance seemed like the perfect way to provide these kids with just the sort of real-life experience that moves music making along from wishful thinking to happening reality.
Jim and I have considered playing entire gigs based on this sort of automatic composition / jam band approach, but it's not necessarily appropriate for most of our audiences, and it's a lot easier to stumble into this sort of thing serendipitously, than it is do it on purpose, much less rely on it. It often happens because Jim is waiting for me to adjust my rig, or because we can't decide what song to play next. He'll play a little figure, or put two or three chords together, I'll drop in... and we're off to the races... or surfing huge waves in a Bill Ogden painting... If we're lucky, we'll make careful note of the basic structure, and then we may be able to play it, or something much like it, again. If it seems to be working, we'll add it to the song list... as we did for 'Orbit', 'Summer of Love', and several other numbers. In any event, for me, this sort of spontaneous improvisational composition is the quintessential music experience, and it's clearly very appealing to Jim. Perhaps we should put ourselves on the spontaneous spot for half of an upcoming gig, and see if we can get lucky at all, or at least get through it.
We really were in remarkably good form tonight, surely thanks to playing so often lately, and to some x-factors snapping into position, I guess. Thanks to opening accidentally with Jim's on-the-spot composition, we had an appreciative audience right off the mark, and somehow that thread held for us all the way through, as the people weaving it came and went. The four slightly nutty (Not Entirely There) girls at the table at left stayed with us for quite awhile, singing so passionately along with 'With a Little Help from My Friends' and 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' (the 'Pepper Pair') that they were effectively our female 'backup singers'. It was inspiring, really... and helped me give it up, especially with my own singing.
Soon afterward we managed a very good reading of my 'Southwest Passage' (which really sounds better on the Nomad with its taut bass, making me want to bring it along too... but the last thing we need is someone volunteering to play a third guitar with us...) Also... a sock-knocking onslaught upon 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', both of which greatly benefited from my run-throughs earlier today. Most encouraging.
We saw so many guys and girls walking by with guitars and gig bags, that I allowed myself to wonder if Laguna Beach might be about to inadvertently host some kind of summer of love... not that anything remotely like that could ever happen again... Perhaps we're just in for a lot of friendly competition in the warm and rambunctious months ahead....
Blawg of previous gigs -- back to first Borders gigs, Aug 2004.
Jim & Warren's set list (26 Feb 2006)
New and unheard of!
Jim & Warren's pretty good cover of Rhett Miller's
There is a World Inside the World -- SC Plaza Borders, 3 March 2006
New and over quickly!
39 seconds of
Jim & Warren romping through Jim's
instrumental composition Gone -- SC Plaza Borders, 3 March 2006
Video clip... Keith & Warren playing Chris Isaak's Blue Spanish Sky -- Mission Viejo Borders, 12 Nov 2005 (loads slowly).
Free song one
:: Jim & Warren's medium-fi recording of the late Buffalo Springfield classic I Am a Child
:: WA: lead vocal, guitar, tambourine.
:: Jim: harmony vocal, guitar, harmonica. Recorded at JR's Flippen Way studio/den, 31 May 2004.
WA's transcription of this song.
Free song two
:: Keith & Warren's medium-fi recording of the traditional song
The Water Is Wide
:: Keith: vocal, Ovation acoustic guitar.
:: WA: Ibanez electric blue guitar.
Recorded at JR's Flippen Way studio/den, 17 Apr 2004.
Free song three
:: Jim & Warren's lo-fi live recording of the Jim's poststructural space age instrumental Orbit
:: Jim: rhythm guitar (Gibson Songwriter).
:: WA: melody guitar (Ibanez AFS-75).
Recorded while pretending to be a jam band at the La Habra Borders Cafe, 6 Nov 2004.
Free song four
:: Jim & Warren's lo-fi live recording of Jim's blues-fringed and well-rusticated instrumental Gone
:: Jim: rhythm guitar (Gibson Songwriter).
:: WA: melody (slide) guitar (AFS-75).
Recorded under duress at the La Habra Borders cafe, 6 Nov 2004.
Free song five
:: Keith & Warren's medium-fi recording of the Michael Carr & Jimmy Kennedy classic South of the Border
:: Keith: vocal, acoustic guitar.
:: WA: electric guitar, harmonica.
Recorded at JR's Flippen Way studio/den, 31 May 2004.
Free song six
:: Keith & Warren's medium-fi recording of the Chris Isaak song
:: Keith: vocal, acoustic guitar.
:: WA: electric guitar.
Recorded at JR's Flippen Way studio/den, 31 May 2004.
Free song seven
:: Jim & Warren's lo-fi live recording of Nick Lowe's classic (What's so Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding
:: Jim: 1st vocal, acoustical guitar.
:: WA: 2nd vocal, electrical guitar, harmonica.
Recorded dead or alive at the La Habra Borders cafe, 6 Nov 2004.
Free song eight
:: Jim & Warren's lo-fi live recording of (Buddy and) Julie Miller's lovely Holding Up the Sky
:: Jim: lead vocal, acoustical guitar.
:: WA: harmony vocal, Ibanez AFS-75 electrical guitar, harmonica.
Recorded on the spot at the La Habra Borders cafe, 6 Nov 2004.
Free song nine
:: Jim & Warren's lo-fi live recording of the Jayhawks' Angelyne
:: Jim: lead vocal, acoustical guitar.
:: WA: harmony vocal, electrical guitar.
Recorded anxiously at the La Habra Borders cafe, 6 Nov 2004.
Free song ten
:: Jim & Warren's lo-fi live recording of Lou Reed's scary Perfect Day
:: Jim: lead vocal, acoustical guitar.
:: WA: harmony vocal, electrical guitar.
:: Cathy: additional vocals ("...do do do...").
Recorded deleriously at the La Habra Borders cafe, 6 Nov 2004.
Free song eleven
:: Keith & Warren's medium-fi recording of the Eagle's
:: Keith: vocal, acoustic guitar.
:: WA: electric guitar.
Recorded at Rancho Santa Margarita Borders cafe, 11 Nov 2005 (from PA's monitor out).
Free song twelve
:: Keith & Warren's medium-fi recording of Five O'clock World, more or less
as recorded by Hal Ketchum
:: Keith: vocal, acoustic guitar.
:: WA: electric guitar.
Recorded at Mission Viejo Borders cafe,
12 Nov 2005 (from PA's monitor out).
A few essential early 20th Century paintings