Wind ‘Em Up

Well we’re winding things up for the year. The last few weeks have just flown by. The Xmas tree and decorations are all up and the shopping is mostly done. Lizzy is home for winter break, Michelle is done with school and Jeannie and I are off work until the New Year. All the deadlines were slain and we ended it up with a nice holiday party for my work, at a cool event space near our Manhattan office. Work has been going pretty well recently. We’ve hired a couple new guys into our team and feels like everyone is working together effectively and even having some fun.

You’ll be happy to know our chimney and furnace have been fixed, I got a new car key from the hardware store at a quarter the price the dealer wanted, and we even got a new deadbolt installed on our front door. I got new the tires on my car and the oil changed too, but since then the engine has been a bit, um, funny. More on that in a future post.

Things have been progressing with the Global Jukebox as well. I have been working with Martin on a suite of features to let users and build and share journey-style content, and a tool for building a musical/cultural family tree. Last week had a meeting last week to check in with Ray, our design consultant, in which Anna & co. ratified the wireframes and direction for a new landing page and multiple, configurable entry points into different areas of the app with an optional interstitial page to provide contextual content. The following day we had a meeting with an organization called City Lore, whose goals align with ours and are looking to provide the project with some funding. Happy news.

It’s nice to have a few days of time off to look forward to. Of course our time immediately fills in with things we haven’t gotten around to in a while. Yesterday was Jeannie’s family’s big Xmas party. Denis and Sarah came into town. I played Super Smash Bros. with Michelle and her cousins.

Been working on music. In our rock band we decided to learn twelve new songs over the break and be prepared to get them together as a group in the new year. Alot of 80’s stuff plus some other thins. I’m singing lead on five of them. So today I found copies of the lyrics and chords as well as audio recordings, and started practicing them on piano.

I learned Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on the piano, which is alot of fun even if the sheet music is not totally correct to the record. I’ve even been playing a handful of Christmas Carols including Greg Lake’s I Believe in Father Christmas (which as it turns out was kept from being number 1 on the charts back in the day by Bohemian Rhapsody), Steely Dan’s Charlie Freak (not often thought of a Christmas song despite the hipster Dickensian twist on the story of the Gift of the Magi in the lyric and the sleigh bells in the arrangement), plus a couple of numbers by Vince Guaraldi.

In jazz world we’re preparing for our gigs in the new year too, so I’ve been woodshedding a good handful of standards on the sax, as well as our originals. I’m going to make some demos of a couple of my new compositions and arrangements soon, hopefully over the break.

One last piece of news. The remix of my 2010 Buzzy Tonic record Face the Heat is done. I’ve been listening back and making finer and finer tweaks until it’s become as good as I can make it. So now all that’s left is getting the CDs made and setting up the online distribution. So more on that soon.

Jazz Season

We have more gig in our holiday season run with G-Force, at Chat 19 in Larchmont this Saturday night. I’ve never played that venue, but Gina seems pretty excited about it and says they always have a good crowd.

I’m thinking of upgrading some of my equipment to make load-in, setup, teardown and load-out quicker and easier. In particular I’m looking for a new lighter keyboard stand, a smaller stage mixer, probably eight channels instead of sixteen, and maybe a couple mic stands if I can find some where the legs don’t flop around after they’ve been collapsed. For the moment I’m thinking of putting a hair scrunchie arond the base of the mic stand to hold the legs shut.

Anyway, as it turns out, the first few gigs in the new year are for the jazz group, so it’s time to hype that.

Haven Street will be playing:

Sat Jan 12, 8pm – The Green Growler, Croton-On-Hudson

Fri Jan 25, 8pm – The Bean Runner Cafe, Peekskill

Fri Feb 1, 6pm – Silvana, Harlem

We’ve played the Growler before. It’s a fun and cozy place with a huge variety of craft beer, and the people who run it really like like music. Sure to be a great time. We might even come back for Sonic Thursday there on Feb 21.

I’ve never played the Bean Runner, but some of the guys in the band have. It has a reputation as a great place for jazz.

Silvana is a happy hour gig uptown Manhattan. That’s supposedly a good jazz venue too.

It’s been a little while since we’ve a rehearsal with the full group, so rather than honing our originals we’ve been exploring the world of standards with an eye toward adopting a few as our own to incorporate our own versions into our repertoire. We’ve also been taking the opportunity to get deeper into extended soloing and group improvisation. That’s been fun and interesting. For the Growler and Bean Runner shows we’re the only band on the bill, so it’s full sets including both originals and covers. So come on out and see us. Should be a really fun time!

Manic Mechanic

So last week the new G-Force made it’s debut at Dudley’s Friday Night, followed the next night by a show at Victors. Both gigs went well, with the second being tighter than the first, and with a bigger crowd too. There was a really entertaining drunk chick who stole Gina’s tambourine and ran around the bar shaking out the beat. Later sang a song with the band. I thought she was a friend of Gina’s but none of us knew her. She was a friend of the drummer’s sister or something. During the intermission she was hitting on me until I went over to the bar to get a drink and introduced her to Jeannie, who was sitting right there. Then she took off. Funny how that always seems to happen.

I must say Vinny is not only a really good guitar player, but he’s a great asset when it comes to loading and unloading, and setting up and tearing down the PA. He must have experience lifting heavy things, cuz he knows what he’s doing. Very efficient, always there at the right time with another pair of hands.

Monday night was maybe the first rehearsal ever where we didn’t learn any new tunes. Instead it was all tempos, endings and transitions. I’d say now most of the songs ought to be pretty damn tight. We have two more shows the next two weeks, and then we’ll learn a bunch of new songs when we come back in January.

We’ve also been having a series of really good jazz rehearsals. Unfortunately our guitarist Gary has been out sick, but we’ve been exploring cool new grooves and sounds as a quartet. Jay got genuine gut strings on his bass, which changes the tone considerably, making it much warmer and richer. Last Sunday we practiced at the drummer’s house. He lives right on the river near Croton-on-Hudson, straight across from where we went hiking last month. The next gig with the jazz group is in early January. Should be lots of fun.

Meanwhile on the home and auto front, it seems everything breaking down at at once and takes forever to get fixed. Nothing catastrophic but a series of minor inconveniences that by now are adding up.

First I’ve been meaning to get my car into the shop for an oil change and a new set of tires. The tires are not super urgent, but I’d rather get it done now than wait until springtime. I took it to the shop one day last week, but they only had 2 tires in stock. The said they’d order two more but now I have to take it back. And my car is full of amplifiers these days so I’d rather wait until after this run of gigs.

Next we have a fluorescent light fixture in our kitchen and ballast blew out on that. So that was an unexpected repair project. This is the second light fixture I’ve replaced this fall.

Then our furnace shut off one day and wouldn’t restart. We had go out to the garage and flip the breaker to get it to come back on. And just as it’s getting below freezing at night. After this happened two days in a row we called in a repairman. He fixed it temporarily, and now we’re waiting on a part.

It turns out the cause of this was that water got into our chimney pipe and dripped down into the furnace. The day it happened was windy and rainy and stormy. So now we need to get someone to go up on the roof and check out the situation, whether thing on top the chimney that’s supposed to keep the water out is intact.

And then to top it off, yesterday my car key broke in half. The metal key part separated from the plastic part that holds the electronics. What’s next?