Category Archives: update

Great Expectations, etc…

In an ideal world I would move forward with music projects and finding ways time to spend quality time with my family and friends. That’s about the scope of what i fit under “ideal”. Nothing fancy. No private submarines, Tibetan mountain retreats, million dollar hyper-cars…

But I also read my share of news, and keep up on some politics and current events. It gets tedious because I am dedicated to improving systems and building better mousetraps. When I see the statistics on the US healthcare system, I cringe. Really, anyone with a soul should cringe, even if they have excellent insurance and a high level of confidence that their personal situation delivers positive outcomes. We have the highest costs and in return we get outcomes that are the laughingstock of the developed world. Industrial nations can and should do better, and most do.

We have two major throttles to healthcare access in the US: The insurance industry, and the Pharmaceutical/Devices industry. the actual doctors/hospitals situation is merely a functional layer. We have good doctors and good hospitals. in fact. we have some of the best in the world. So that is not the problem. Do they profiteer? Sure. But it is chump change compared to the profiteering by the insurance and pharma industries. My opinion is that the foundational resistance to making healthcare more afforadable in the US comes from the insurance and pharma lobbies. They like the system just like it is. Insurance companies like small pools of insured individuals, just like a casino likes good odds (legalized odds-rigging). Pharmaceutical and med device companies like to make sure that they hold patents as long as possible and reap huge paybacks for as long as possible. The only possible obstacle would be government mandates to cover large pools of people and provide them with affordable care. That would put a dent in their very comfortable bottom lines.

As a result we see a small group of members of the US House of Representatives convincing the Speaker of the House to refuse to bring a vote to the floor on a seemingly unrelated issue: Spending and Spending cap. The bulk of the spending has absolutely nothing to do with health care. But what it does is shut down a big chunk of the government, creating a lever to gain traction they otherwise failed to muster when the Affordable Care Act was voted on in both houses of Congress, passed by both houses of Congress, and then found constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. The members of the house who are driving this bus had the opportunity to vote, did so, and failed. This current ploy of causing a government shutdown was certainly choreographed at that time. Otherwise we would have seen the usual riders, alternative language, markup… you know… the process as we know it. But just like the non-existant republican jobs plan, manufacturing plan, foreign policy plan, international trade plan (this list really does go on for ever), there was never a republican health care plan. Well, except for the part where the ACA is based on the health care system introduced in Massachusetts by Mittens Romney (back when he was Governor of Taxachusetts, before he was nominated by the RNC to run for President in 2012). But Mittens is a horrible republican! Really! Horrible! Just ask the people who held up Romney signs at the 2012 RNC Convention.

The skinny is that there are a lot of moving pieces here: political posturing; table setting for the 2014 and 2016 election cycles; a rallying cry to enhance the flagging reputations of the hard-right of the republican party… but the real driver might just be the republican version of “American Idol” where the winner gets a big chunk of campaign finance from the insurance and pharma industries. The kind of backing that differentiates winners from losers in the next two elections. That is the kind of thing that we see tons of in American politics. Don’t buy the headline, and certainly don’t buy the lead stories from partisan news sources. Go long on corporate influence. You will never regret it.

Do the Aftermath

Romney should get specific.  Now that he has lost the election and doesn’t plan to run for President again, I think it would only be sporting of the chap to come clean about some of the questions he refused to answer during his campaign.  There are a few whoppers that I would love to see cleared up:

What tax deductions was he planning to eliminate?  [obviously I mean deductions eliminated for the middle class, since there was nothing but great news if you rake in seven-plus figures] The smart money was on scramming the mortgage interest deduction and make some kind of half-measure buy-off gesture to make it appear palatable.  It may have actually passed with enough palms greased along the way.  The reality is that millionaires could give a flying F@$& about mortgage interest, so it is a direct hit on the middle class.  What was his idea of balance?  We were never let in on the secret.  Now would be a great time.

What was his alternative to FEMA?  While he and his campaign bitched that Obama got a tailwind from Superstorm Sandy, what really happened is that it put a searchlight on His Romness and his advocacy of eliminating FEMA.  To a lesser degree it raised questions about Paul Ryan’s House Budget and its effect on disaster aid funding. With Romney suddenly and curiously silent when asked directly about his previous public statement to that effect… I wondered… What better time to put some detail on your plan than when millions of US Citizens are gripping the rails waiting for some disaster relief?  Oh?  Was it Halliburton, maybe?  Uh, sorry, wrong answer.  Thanks for playing.  Dick Cheney will hand deliver the home edition of our game to one of your trophy homes.  C.O.D. [extra credit: when he asks you to go duck hunting, say you have a family matter to attend to]

While he was remarkably specific about cutting the corporate tax rate, including actual numbers (rolling it back to 25%), and that tax rates on “job creators” should be cut, and so on… what programs of any real consequence was he planning on cutting?  Talking shit about cutting funding for PBS was just the worst kind of “red-meat to the lions” bullshit.  Kinda like telling a cancer patient “free haircut”.  As well, who the fuck heard that bluster and switched their vote to the Romney column?  Some kind of PBS-hating swing voter?  Nice job, campaign nerds.  Body-punching big bird is pure political comedy GOLD!

Since the Military and Other Stuff We Are Too Weak Minded to Know Too Much About budget is the lion’s share of the federal ledger, how in the name of Charles Montgomery Burns was he going to cut the Federal budget to 20% of GDP while increasing military spending?  The list of financial experts, politicians, wonks, non-partisan think tanks, and livestock who have figured out that Romney’s plan wouldn’t work is impressive.  It would be nice to hear from the candidate himself about what cards he was holding close to the Armani vest.

That is just a first cut, off the top of my head kinda list.  Truth is that we will never know.  The American people are left to speculate.  Radical restructuring of things like the tax code, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid [and those other things that the defenders of the rich over at Faux News call “entitlements” as long as millionaires don’t benefit from them] are a sure way to ruin one’s chances in any election (just ask a Libertarian), but once in office…. well, who knows?  George W Bush created the largest new branch of Government since the IRS, and put two or three full blown wars on his imaginary credit card (while cutting taxes), privatized huge portions of the US military, and ran the US economy into a ditch*, took more damn vacations than Brad Pitt, and the GOP still pretends that none of it happened and we were on a rocket-ride to prosperity until Obama’s inauguration.  Since then W has spent the past five years in an undisclosed location, out of sight out of mind, as they say…. The Republican Party seems to think everyone just plain fergot.  Well, not inviting your sitting two term president to the 2008 Republican national Convention was surely a kick in the nads for the most famous fake Texan since Clayton Moore.  Making it two in a row was positively catty.  Dear W, they REALLY aren’t that into you.  Note to GOP: Most People Remember Who Left That Pile Of Steaming Dogshit on the White House Foyer.

One last thought: while parsing the Republican post-mortems that clog each day’s news feed, keep in mind one very real possibility: Republicans have now spent a full decade acting as if their shit didn’t stink one bit.  Just like W’s multiple wars of corporate aggression, a decade of running on tax cuts for the rich, balanced with cuts in services for everyone else, is bound to get people’s attention eventually.  It stinks.  Loudly.  It is possible that in 2012 just enough American’s identified the source of the smell, and it could be a really tough 2014 for the GOP if they don’t take a deep whiff themselves.

*I still can’t figure out how you pump that kind of money into the hardware and personnel required to wage multiple wars and can’t find a way to benefit the national economy… unless the money was getting misspent or off-shored in a huge way. Nahhhh

And what else is new?

The duo-project with Peter Riccio, known by various names but most recently Journey to the Twin Planet, played a spooky little gig on April 1.  That is, coincidentally, the same day I had the first back problem in about 4 years.  And what a pain in the back it was.  Aside from the minor victory of not puking on stage from pain, and the minor defeat of having to call 1-800-MOTRIN to gut my way through it, it was a fun time.  I hope to take some lessons from these gigs and come back with a tighter and better act the next time around.

One big upside was that I was able to road test Animoog on he iPad as a performance instrument and the verdict is: we have a winner.  This app is everything I ever wanted in a synth, and is so much deeper than I expected.  The good news is that you can call up a preset and get right down to playing music on it.  Pick a keyboard layout you like and let it rip.  Beyond that you have a level of control over synthesis that is unbelievable.  Everythig from initial parameters, evolution, multitouch and extended-touch gestures, delay settings, built-in looper…. daummmmmmmmmm.

That also means that Moog, Inc. is doing something that was by no means a fait accompli: They managed to take a company that could have fallen over a cliff after Robert Moog’s passing, or worse been sold to some crap-factory like Korg*, and is now making a fantastic line of real tools for real musicians.  The analog synths they are making now are among the best they have ever created, and are probably just flat-out The Best.  They have a range from entry the level Phatty to the Voyager XL.  All the while making MoogerFooger modules and Moog Theremins.  Oh, and they make a couple of killer iOS apps, and have very nice merch. Pay them a visit.  Warms my heart, it does.

I’ll revisit this soon, and be posting links to some JttTP audio real soon now.  There are a few clips up at my Soundcloud.

* I own Korg gear, and it is not crap, but it is not Moog either…

And in other news…

The latest musical effort here at Rancho Frio Studios is an improvisational duo with drummer Peter Riccio.  There really isn’t an official name for this project.  There have been a few performances so far and they have all used different names.  We play at the Outer Space in Hamden, CT on April 1, and that performance will be under yet another name: Journey to the Twin Planet. That is the name of a track from the Jack Dejohnette record Special Edition (1980, ECM). There was a time when ECM was putting out some of the best and most unique recordings, and those recordings largely hold up very well.  So while I can guarantee that nobody will mistake JttTP for a Jack Dejohnette project, it is a tip of the hat to a man I consider to be one of the best ever to pick up the sticks.

Peter and I go back a long way, and it is great to be playing some music together again.  A few years as bassist in his band the Sawtelles was a major turning point in my musical life.  Playing in an ensemble while being able to retain my own voice on the instrument is something I had never truly enjoyed, and playing in the Sawtelles opened a door to that process that I continue to develop today.

Image

 

NHIC @ firehouse12 – recap

Everything is running a bit late this year, so my recap of the NHIC gig is also late.  Short of it: it was a very cool night of music.

nhic:atlas (Bob Gorry pronounces “NHIC” as “NICK”… go figure) was a blast to play with, and was in the odd position of having a CD release show with 50% new lineup and 80% new material.  But hey, this isn’t a commercial thing, so no worries.  We had Mike Paolucci (Sandy knows him as “octopus boy” due to his fluid style behind the kit) on drums and he was a swingin’ rock of funky rhythm.  Gabriel Kastelle is always a joy to play with as well.  I love an in-tune violin or viola, and he has great pitch.  The Gorry-Asetta-Matlock front end from the original Atlas lineup was intact, and sounded great.  The swingin’ new rhythm section, and new blood in the violin-family chair brough a totally different feel to the group.  Where the original nhic:atlas was leaning toward a formal chamber-jass feel, the new lineup was more funky and leaning more toward a propulsive feel.  On my end, I was playing my Tacoma acoustic bass guitar in place of the original upright bass, and it filled that role like a champ.  No feedback issues, and the deep, resonant sound fit the arrangements like a glove.

NHIC Electric was the new kid in town, bringing a familiar two-guitar NHIC setup to the stage, but we had Peter Riccio on drums.  One thig is for sure, among his many talents, he has a very deep knowledge of jazz, and especially free jazz and hard bop.  I know, because most of the stuff I heard as a kid, I heard out of the record collection at his house.  That one factor gave the group a feel that I haven’t heard in the past.  Not that Peter doesn’t know world music, or prog, or polyrhythmic complexity, but he brought some strong jazz drumming to the party.  My rig was fretless Zon Sonus 5, Line6 M5, and Radial Tonebone handling the switching and fx loop for the M5.  I also ran loops off my iPhone to handle some synthy noises.  It has been a while since I have run effects at a show… and it was a weird feeling, but it was a reminder that I *can* do it if I want to deal with it.  The simplicity of playing bass-cable-amp (and often not running an amp) can be seductive.  I did enjoy blasting some delay and some phaser action in small doses.  I can’t wait to hear some rough mixes of this band.  Should be a hoot.

Thanks to NHIC, firehouse12, and the folks who came out to support the gig.  It was very cool.  I hope to be sharing soem audio and video in the coming months.

nhic:atlas is bob gorry, guitar; steve asetta, saxes; adam matlock, clarinet, accordion; gabriel kastelle, viola, erhu; michael paolucci, drum kit; pete brunelli, acoustic bass guitar

NHIC Electric is: bob gorry, guitar; jeff cedrone, guitar; paul mcguire, soprano sax; peter riccio, drum kit; pete brunelli, fretless electric bass

Occupy Blog Street

Just a few tidbits about how “Washington” and “Wall Steet” are fucking this country, and but good.

Job Creators: this is as cynical and retrograde as “Clear Skies Initiative”.  The actual problem with the economy is hidden directly behind this crystalline piece of “douche-speak”.  Actually, these captains of industry are laying people off, and avoiding hiring here in America, because they first and foremost need to keep the profit-wheel turning.  Not just normal profits.  Profits that increase every quarter.  The irrational ever-expanding economy concept at the granular level.  So when (as mentioned here in a previous post) a company that relies heavily on American military spending, like Sikorsky, needs to keep the profit margin rolling, so they can continue to “perform” and their executives can continue to reap performance-based bonuses… they lay off thousands and move them onto the American Unemployment System!  Uncle Sucker provides a backdoor “entitlement” to Sikorsky, as opposed to the “front door” they were using* back in the “aughts”.  Meanwhile, those unemployed people can no longer participate in the economy at large to the same degree, causing other businesses to slow down, layoff, and you have the makings of a true economic Domino Theory clusterfuck.  This is happening on a national basis, and thousands of businesses are complicit, but I am just using Sikorksky because they are so transparent in their efforts.  In Conclusion: Thanks, “Job Creating” Doublespeak Assholes!

When Occupy Whatnot has the time to figure out what is really going on… maybe they will connect a few dots and make some concrete points.  So far I see a lot of vague generalities about the economy, but nothing that you can really hang your hat on.  My feelings are: keep it simple, keep it direct, don’t pull punches, and don’t let yourself get co-opted by a group that is part of the problem (Move On, I’m looking at you)

* What Changed? Back in the heady days of say… George W. Bush… it was easier to just divert the money from multiple war efforts directly to the bottom line, knowing that the GAO would never have the time or resources to figure out if you actually delivered on a contract.  You had a neutered Accountability arm of the Executive Branch, and a lot of open graft, wink, nod, repeat.  We now find out, horrors, that BILLIONS of US Dollars have gone missing in our multiple “wars” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan… who knows since the USA never actually declares war any longer.  We just deploy a bunch of taxpayer funded military resources, and an equal or greater military contractor force, and then stop answering the phones over at the Penatgon.  Seems to have worked so far.  But with the US Government actually paying attention, at least in a small way, it is safer to play this shell game.  Even if it tanks the US economy… I mean, once you offshore enough of your business it really doesn’t matter what happens here, right?

Pseudo-Random

First, RIP Steve Jobs.  I go way back with Apple, maybe a little too far back.  My dad brought home an Apple II to check out, because he was going to be using it as part of his classroom work.  He taught Electronics and wanted this new “personal computing” stuff to be part of the curriculum.  The school got some Apple hardware, and My dad brought one home to work on classroom stuff… So I got my hands on a very early Apple product.  What I remember was it had a 40 column greenscreen display and no lower case.  It was still the nicest computer I had seen.  Before that it was a teletype console and acoustic coupler (to the Yale mainframe), or this trashed Hex Programming Trainer (probably Heathkit) that I forced to do four-function math (in hex).  Anyhow, Apple has been through a real rollercoaster existence, but the company that we now know is very much about Jobs.  I kept away from the Apple line until they ditched the System-7 thing, and when they switched to OS X, I jumped back in.  Great OS, better hardware, and they had the sense to ditch all that old spaghetti-code under the hood of the old Apple OS.  As well, they survived, and thrived, a CPU family switch, which looked like it could be a deal breaker.  Nope.  It was a deal maker.  It proved that you could have a killer desktop OS on an Intel CPU.  Something that M$ has yet to find a fucking way to make happen.  Thanks, Steve.  You Rocked It.

Switching gears, Zappa is the gift that keeps on giving.  I think I was about 13 when I first heard a Mothers album, and have been pretty consistent in absorbing Zappa music since.  About 34 years later I am still having regular epiphanies regarding Conceptual Continuity.  The man left a shockingly deep catalog of great music.  Even the songs I don’t like, I see where they fit in as I keep listening.  I recently checked out an unreleased album called Chalk Pie.  It kinda runs like a low-budget YCDTOSA release, but it has some killer music on it.  First off, it might be Exhibit A in “How Great Was Scott Thunes, Really?”  The answer: really freakin’ amazing.  Especially in the early 80’s before the bullshit of the ’88 Tour went down.  Scott plays some brutally hard passages with great fluidity, and you can hear that he is doing what Zappa wanted him to do.  Each player in the history of Zappa bands had a whole different set of challenges from the player preceding them.  In this case it is Scott, Chad Wackerman, Tommy Mars, Ed Mann and Steve Vai…  And they are all playing hard-ass parts and kicking ass while doing it.  I really dig that band before it got all tarted up with extra instrumentation…. But about Thunes: Even a piece like Jazz Discharge Party Hats was an eye-opener for me.  It is nothing more than a Sprechgesang vocal, doubled on bass.  Really stripped down, kinda funny, kinda runs on for a while… Not my favorite FZ piece, but damn, not only does FZ sing the part, but Scott nails the doubling part.  Sounds easy?  It Ain’t.  It is like a crystalline example of the FZ vocal-based-melody principle.  Neat.

Another gear change: One of the realizations that I am having Post-Rochefort is that I was lucky to get through that festival in once piece, and I will have to be more organized if I go back.  I may also have to be more demanding and let some of my organizational freak-flag fly.  I think I extended myself too much, too far in advance of the gig, in musical genre that I am not in practice on.  I also let a lot of decision-making slide (I was the FNG, and not there to make decisions) and it made it impossible for me to handle all the demands I was agreeing to.  So I either need to put in a lot more time branching out of my comfort zone, or be more particular about what I say “yes” to, or both.  Also, it was still a wild ride and I am still buzzing from it.

A tip of the hat to Olivier Longuet

I have been taking photographs about as long as I have been playing music, which is a long time… about back to age 8 or 9.  My father and grandfather were amateur photographers with a darkroom in the basement for black and white processing and printing.  For my grandfather it goes back to the early days of photography, and the economic realities of the day.  The day was, more specifically, the Great Depression. Photography was not inexpensive, but if you developed your own film and printed your own photos, you could do it on a budget.  Later on, in the days after WWII, my father had more of a tolerance for the cost of commercial processing, but was still a rabid economizer.  I learned film processing, use of a changing bag for loading tanks without a darkroom, and basic processing.  That is not unrelated to my interest in both chemistry and cooking!  It is all a matter of recipes and knowing what is actually going on in the process.

Music was a little different, but my dad had a few el-cheapo stringed instruments like a ukelele and a tenor guitar (Zim-Gar!!!).  The tenor was my favorite.  I was not tuning it in fifths (it was meant to be tuned like a tenor-banjo), but EADG, like a bass.  When I got my first guitar, a nylon string folk guitar, I played that the same way… picking out bass lines on the low strings, chunking through some basic open chords, and baffled by the asymmetrical B string!  One day a friend of my dad’s saw me playing and basically told him: “Paul, I hate to tell you this, but your son is a bass player.”  That was that.  By the time I was 13 I had a really awful Fender P copy (a Memphis… ugh), with a bad neck and worse electronics.   I ripped the frets out of within a year and that was all she wrote.  I have been playing bass since… over 34 years now, which is mind boggling.

Which is a long way of saying that music and photography are two constants in the way I approach the world.

As a result I always bring a camera to gigs, and if I am lucky I find a balance in time to perform music and time to capture images.  At an event like the NHIC Verge-Fest back in April of 2011 I was in charge of running sound, and had plenty of time to concentrate on photography.  At an event like Rochefort en Accords I had no balance.  It was 95% music music music… and then the time for an occasional snapshot opportunity.  The goal was purely that of capturing a few snaps as “souvenir”, in the true French meaning of “memory” or “memento”.  I am glad I did, because I would not have the great image of Charly Doll stoking the charcoal grill with a hairdryer!  …or the murky images from Charly’s bonfire, or the beer-tent party after the Friday rain-out at Rochefort, or the iPhone panorama of the school kids, or Nini Dogskin practicing the Saxhorn… and so many more.  See the Flickr set HERE.

A Rochefort I was surrounded by a bevy of fantastic musicians, and it was all I could do to keep up.  World class singers, songwriters, instrumentalists, and solo performers, all opening themselves up to what other musicians had to share.  I also met a few people who were putting all their energies into making images.  Christian Duchesnay and Olivier Longuet were the two I saw the most often.  Chris was the official photographer of the festival, and Olivier was working for himself.  Photography is different from music in many ways, but one difference that is central to this observation is that you have no idea what the photographer’s images will look like until you see them.  I can tell a few things about musicians by their gear, their mode of dress, and maybe their “entourage”, before hearing them play.  With a photographer you only see the person with a camera and think “nice camera” or “nice lenses” or something like that.

After I returned from Rochefort I saw some of the work of these photographers.  I believe that I have yet to see ChrisD’s complete work from the festival, but I have seen a good selection of what Olivier was up to.  Wow… the guy is very very good.  He has a few images featuring yours-truly, but to be honest they are not the best of his images.  I am flattered and also honored to be in the frame.  The extra added bonus from Rochefort, as if I needed one, is that in addition to the influence of the great musicians I worked with, I have this influence on the photographic side.  I will keep adding links as I find more stuff on the interwebs.  Right now there are a lot of small collections on Facebook, but I am not linking to those here.

LINKS:

Solong’s Photographies

Chris-D Website

Chris-D outtakes at Poudriere Blog

The Poudriere is a facility across the road from the Clos in Rochefort, and is the site of a really great selection of music events.

Labor Day Reflection 2011

This past year has been a rollercoaster for organized labor across the globe, and my little corner of it in Connecticut has not been spared.  I saw some disturbing, if not shocking, events unfold as the rollecoaster ride went along.  Make no mistake, this most recent ride is just a uptick, since these things happen all year, every year, but usually with less frequency.  Here is a small selection of rants regarding the most bizarre of the bizarre:

Anti-Union Union Leadership: We have seen a variety of people run for elected union office, and win, despite being openly anti-union and anti-organized labor.  They continually fail to recognize the most basic structures and ground rules, but have sown seeds of dissatisfaction among enough people to carry the day in a voting process.  The recent backlash against SEBAC is a great example because SEBAC did nothing more than what it was mandated to do by the Connecticut General Assembly, but somehow there is traction to the idea that SEBAC is supposed to be a membership organization, which it is not.  These same pathetic dopes are now trying to sell their fellow union members on a plot to be represented by a new union, with no experience in collective bargaining, no political presence in CT, and bylaws that look like Pol Pot wrote them, and all because SEBAC did what it has done for 17 years, and followed their charter…

“Race To The Bottom” – you know that you have social power when you can make people vote against their own self interests.  The Republican(t) party has done a great job convincing non-union workers, and even union-workers, that union jobs should pay less because private sector jobs (supposedly) pay less.  They are not asking for better pay and working conditions at their own jobs.  They are asking that others get less so they feel better about not keeping up with inflation.  While they are being led in this race to the bottom, the same characters are raising the standard of living of the mega rich by making sure that corporations have the freedom to send work offshore, pay less here in the US, provide less benefits here in the US, raid pensions here in the US… and so on.  The game is so brazenly transparent that it is shocking that it works, but it does work.  Nobody calls in to convicted felon John Rowland’s radio show to ask what they can do to raise their own standard of living… ever.  If they did they would be hung up on.  No.  They call to complain about how they heard that someone in a State job retired with a living pension… Not once mentioning that the radio host has two such pensions, concurrently.

And last, just for balance, Blind Pro-Union Sentiment: I have been consistent that I do not believe that organized labor is right for every sector of the workforce.  In public service it serves to protect the employed from the rapidly shifting political whims of the political arm of the State.  That is a fact.  Having a defensible contract provides stability to public services during times like the ones we are in now.  Times when political expediency would carry the day, and services and jobs would be slashed.  Instead of seeing every job as a potential organizing target, I think we would be better off focusing on the investment made by the public in the services provided with their tax dollars, and the costs involved in throwing that investment away.

So that, is just a stream of consciousness ramble through a few points of personal interest.  I wish that the people in State service that complain about  the cost of government services while drawing a government paycheck would admit that their position is not defensible.  Maybe they could help their cause and find a job in the private sector.  That would be fair.  Frustrated by the parliamentary system and the statutes of the government that employs you?  Take a real stand and find a job that doesn’t rely on those structures.  And if you are not in a union and are not making enough money, seeing regular raises, accessing affordable health care, or watching your pension drained by a heartless corporation… stop bitching about unions and do something about YOUR situation.

Rochefort Festival Wrap Up – Finale

I will be looking over the previous posts and inserting images, and cleaning up text, fixing typos and misspelled names, and maybe editing some dupe info and omissions.  Otherwise, that is the story from beautiful Rochefort, France.  Some really amazing and dedicated people run a very ambitious festival, the artists are treated very well, and the results are very enjoyable for both the audience and the artists.

What I have tried to relate is my experience, my reality, and my observations during a week where I made a point to stay open and positive at every moment.  That is probably the thing I am proudest of.  Many bass players could have done a better job with the music, would have had an easier time, and been able to contribute more.  I am what I am: a person in love with music and the bass, who has had the good fortune to be able to express that in some very interesting venues.  Whether that is the intimate “Never Open Books” of New Haven, or Cafe Nine, or an outdoor festival stage in France, I try to bring the same ethic.  I owe my friends from New Haven Improvisors Collective a huge debt of gratitude, and maybe none more than drummer Steve Zieminski.  Playing bass alongside him for the past two years has allowed me to grow as a bassist, and trust my instincts more than ever.  As I approach 50 years old, that is not an easy thing to do.

From the beginning of this trip I have focused on the concept of being open, in the way that one opens their heart to the opportunity and does not try to mold the experience to their will.  My work with NHIC, or DOOT!, or the Sawtelles, or Lys Guillorn…. and others has been a fantastic training ground for that approach.  An experience like the one I just had at Rochefort is a type of validation.  Likewise, it was dependent on encountering other with the same generosity of spirit, the same patience, and the same willingness to set out on a journey and trust that you will work as hard as they will to reach the destination.  I was fortunate to encounter those people at every step of the way, in circumstances where it would have been easy to cop an attitude or cede to some negative element.  It simply never happened.

I would be remiss to not mention, again, what a pleasure it was to work with Napoleon Murphy Brock.  The timing of this event was very opportune, as the time that has elapsed since Zappanale 20 in 2009 has allowed me to make some observations and allow my cynical voice to recede.  Napoleon is a world class performer, educator, musician and person.  He does that on his terms, and I can’t say that I would want to be tied to those terms, but in an instance like this it was his stability and patience and focus that created a safe haven when other situations were spiraling into disarray.  And hell… I held down a flimsy canopy in a driving storm on an electrified stage in hopes of him not being speared through the neck with a broken piece of aluminum!  So there is always that 🙂

With hopes for continued musical adventure,

Bon Journee’