get gus to the gig

i'm a moderate sports fan.  i used to be nutso about sports when i was a kid.  i read the backs of baseball cards, knew all kinds of football stats, kept track of nba happenings, and was a whiz when filling out my ncaa hoops bracket.  i guess my life has caught up with me.  i'm not sure who starts for my beloved st. louis cardinals, haven't the foggiest idea about who leads the nfl in any category, am routinely surprised when i learn that somebody was traded in the nba 3 months ago, and don't have the slightest clue as to who will advance in my bracket.  i know way more about the coaches than i do the players (pitino, ol' roy, coach k, billy self, boeheim, etc.)

i follow hometown hero harrison barnes, whom i first met when he was a 5th grade kid in my neighborhood.  he is now the shining star for the unc tarheels and a future nba lottery pick.  i know about brandon knight, sullinger, kyrie, selby, and a bunch of other guys from his high school affiliations. i cheer for those guys too.  for the first time in quite a while, i've got a dog in the fight.

the madness of march is heightened by the play-by-play icon gus johnson.  he infuses true fan excitement into his calls. i was pumped up when isaiah thomas cleared out and hit a buzzer-beating jumper for washington a week ago, and i could give a shit about that game.  gus gave an intoxicating call to the final play in the pac-10 championship.  he is personally invested in each matchup he is anchoring.  i heard someone say that they should have gus stationed in the studio headquarters for the tourney, giving him the mic for any/all games that are coming down to the wire.  check out this fantastic site, where a montage of trademark calls are assembled.  sheer genius.

we need guys like gus coming out to creative music shows. playing at a cool venue is even better when the audience is actively listening.  hoops and hollers are welcomed during an exciting solo, both from the crowd and the players.  a sense of excitement really enhances the playing and artistry. somehow it has become taboo to express any emotions while observing a musical act.  forget that - instead, be a part of the creative process!!!  the performers need to allow the audience to interact, and the audience needs to feed the performers this incomparable energy.

one of my favorite gigs was about ten years ago in northfield, mn.  my band real time workshop played a cool show at a club called "the center of the universe".  seating was at a premium, with only a few comfy couches available and no elevated stage.  we set up right in the middle of the room and had about 200 people scattered on the floor, encircling the band.  it was a magical setup, and we played bigger than our musical britches.

applaud.  cheer.  whistle.  it feels good - i promise.

oh yeah - my final four!   unc, uconn, louisville & byu.


eighty one

i remember the first time i ever heard ornette coleman.  i was new to iowa city, having moved there for round one of my undergraduate studies.  i was in the ped mall late one fall evening, and checked into a record store that came highly recommended.  i'm not sure i was really into buying music during that period of my life, but i was okay with acting like i did.  i stepped into Real Records and immediately heard some music that captured my complete attention.  they were playing tone dialing by ornette and prime time, which is now one of my favorite albums.  the joy in his sound, the swirling tonalities, the rhythmic colors, the freshness...

i finally saw ornette in concert a couple of years ago.  i went to dancing in my head, a new music festival in minneapolis at the walker art institute.  it was open seating, so i snagged a third row seat by myself around 5:00.  the music had been happening for a while when i got there, and was scheduled to go until about midnight.  i was planning to see some stuff and then hook up with my friend nick lemme (from spaghetti western string company) to crash at his place.  i sat there until about 11:00, watching all sorts of creative stuff.  my butt was getting sore, my bladder was screaming, and my ears were getting worn out.  there was one more band scheduled - the bang on a can all stars.  i had seen this wonderful ensemble a couple of times, so i was fixing to split.  the emcee then announced that they were doing all ornette tunes, and would be joined by the man himself.

oh boy did i have to pee, but there was no way that i was leaving my seat.  he came out with his trademark hat, wearing a white suit and playing a white alto saxophone.  it was unbelievable.  he sounded so beautiful, and the band was killing.  i stayed until about 2:00 in the morning, and called nick the second i got to the parking lot.  he was cool about me being late - he understood.

other records i like by ornette include Song X, Skies of America, The Shape of Jazz to Come, This Is Our Music, Free Jazz, the Complete Science Fiction Sessions, The Empty Foxhole, New York is Now, Colors, and Sound Museum.

happy birthday ornette, and thanks...