the giddy vol. 12 - the halloween edition

wayne shorter witch hunt speak no evil
it took me a long time to get into wayne.  his sound was an acquired taste for me, one i couldn't get past in order to check out the music he was playing.  i always liked the tunes, just not his voice.  well, i've finally gotten over myself and now can dig back through the old stuff with the joy you find in trying on a vintage jacket that belonged to your dad.  this tune is often overlooked for other songs from this same period.  my favorite moment starts at 1:42, when elvin helps wayne kick open the front door, swinging quarters harder than you could fathom.

maria schneider dance you monster to my soft song evanescence
this album really shook me from the roots up.  there are plenty of great tunes on maria's debut record, but this song is a sleeper for me.  ben monder's guitar work throughout honestly re-calibrated my understanding and appreciation of jazz playing.  the writing here is thoughtful, thorough, and exciting.  my favorite spot hits throughout the tune - the insistent line that occupies the pianist's left hand and keeps the bari player busy.  

philip glass & the kronos quartet dracula
i've seen kronos a couple of times, and had the opportunity to catch glass himself in concert.  hey man - double thumbs up to guys who employ saxophonists for classical gigs! there are several variations of these themes, but this cut in particular captures the mystique of dracula - a steady and unsettling presence.  the second section, first appearing at 0:14, does it for me.

inxs devil inside kick
i got hoodwinked into acquiring this album by the sneaky folks over at columbia house.  you know how they do - lure you in with some ridiculous "11 albums for 1¢deal, then expect you to remember to return that postcard that says you don't want the featured record mailed out to you with their astronomical price tag.  this record actually has a bunch of good stuff on it.  the music videos that inxs put out were very cool, sending me into a multiple-month tailspin of wanting to grow up and be michael hutchence. (i guess if you gotta die, that's one helluva way to go).  my favorite thing about this track happens at 0:55 when michael croons "wonder, wonder".  so great.

johnny cash & willie nelson ghost riders in the sky vh1 storytellers
this is absolutely one of my favorite albums of all time. i grew up on old country western music, and these two guys lead the pack.  seriously - all of the tracks on this record are incredible.  the stories, the human element, the music.  if i could ever amount to a shred of what these guys have done, i'll consider my life a humble success. this track is the first on the album.  aside from their own salutations, i love it when johnny enters at 0:59 and later at 2:54 when he calls out "take it willie".

this is the best band out there, period.  you should get all of their records, go see them in concert as often as you can, and tell your friends.  the writing and playing and singing tug at my fan of 80s pop/ music aficionado/ lover of quirky lyrics heartstrings.  this record is their first, and it's lights out.  i love everything about all of these songs, but the corner of my smile draws upward at 5:27 on this cut.  it's worth the wait, i promise.

when i was a kid, my folks would deck me out in a cowboy costume and cart me around to talent shows.  i played pretty mediocre guitar and sang oak ridge boy tunes.  i think i pulled in a $25 gift certificate with a 2nd place finish on my rendition of this classic.  all of those grade school honeys went bananas when i hit 'em with the money making line, which first appears here at 1:00. dig that crazy beard and those clever music note decorations.  


over & out

this post is dedicated to my father.  happy 10-4, good buddy.

my dad is a retired truck driver.  my grandpa had a trucking business.  his sons (and my dad, on occasion) drove for him. my dad's brother was a trucker.  a bunch of my uncles and cousins and what-have-you from my mom's side of the tree are truckers.  most of my dad's friends are truckers, and he would often refer to them by their cb handle instead of their real names.  one of the most vivid memories i have from my youth was of a time when i climbed in the sleeper of my grandpa's truck, found a bag of those bite size milky way bars, ate the entire bag, and got a crazy case of the hershey squirts.

the routine for our family table was to try everything put in front of you, thank mom for cooking, and shush when the weather comes on the tv news.  my seat was situated so, when i looked over at the tube, i was leading with my right eye. (i've got this weird lazy eye thing, and the optometrist - jr robinson's dad - told my folks this would strengthen it.)  i would frequently hop to my feet and theatrically reenact what went down at school that day.  my sister & mom watched, not amused.  my dad, decked out in his ups browns, would give me the wtf look while i got wrapped up in my own dramatics.

the logical career path for me would have been to go into trucking.  nobody had earned an undergad degree in my family. the trucking business had provided a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, for all of our family members.  i couldn't see myself doing that.  i wanted to figure out what all of the notes and colors swimming inside of my head meant. i knew the performing arts was probably the way to go, but it was a sharp left turn away from what i had always known.

my folks were actually supportive of these pursuits.  i'm not sure they ever fully understand/stood what the sacrifice is like or why & how i do what i do, but that's ok.  that's for me to figure out, right?  i think that, ultimately, they just wanted me to live a happy life (and not mooch off of them).

i share the same philosophy when it comes to my kids.  we've never pounded the music thing into their heads.  they go to a bunch of concerts, observe us practicing and studying, and listen to their own music.  they have quit grumbling about listening to marina piccinini or snarky puppy, and have learned good concert etiquette (which is a life skill that will pay off in more ways than one).  but their not into music as a passionate pursuit, and that's cool with me.  i just want them to get fired up about something, find a partner in crime who can get with that, and make their way in the world.  and don't mooch off of us.  we're musicians ... remember?


get in where you fit in

grew up in a fishing community in panama city.  graduated high school when he was 16. after having his soccer dreams dashed by recurring ankle injuries, aspired to become a mechanic on the boats.  joined an amateur baseball team as their shortstop.  threw a handful of solid relief innings after the starting pitcher got injured.  did this in front of an mlb scout, and was offered a tryout with yankees two weeks later. despite not speaking english and having never left home, joined the yankees farm system as an underwhelming starting pitcher.  moved to the setup role, and eventually came out of the pen as the closer.  enter sandman.  game over.

the career path of mariano rivera is not ripped from a storybook.  there was no silver spoon in his mouth.  becoming the single-most valuable player in the history of baseball wasn't originally in the cards.  mo rivera found his niche in life, doing something that he loved and making himself indispensable.  and he did this with essentially one pitch.

today, i taught a class on careers in music.  i have shared several conversations recently with some of my college students, contemplating some eternal questions - what am i gonna do with myself?  can i make it in music?  should i keep going with this or should i switch out to something else?

the obvious gigs for musicians, to the pedestrian eye, are performers and teachers (and sadly, that is often the order of legitimacy).   there are so many avenues to making a living in music.  i know performers, arrangers, personnel managers, disc jockeys, concert curators, sound engineers, promoters, writers, studio musicians, teachers at all levels, researchers, producers.  one friend mixed the audio for the breaking bad dvds.  another is a bicoastal freelance performer.  another is waiting for the minnesota orchestra battle to subside.  several make the late night tv circuit.

life is a tricky thing.  you can never tell if this is the break you were waiting for, or if it is right around the corner.  you can never tell if you are really cut out for this kind of thing, or if that epiphany sits on tomorrow's horizon. you can never tell if you will fix fishing boats or become the most successful relief pitcher in the world's biggest market.

patience.  preparation.  professionalism.  positivity.  and one thing in particular that separates you from the rest.