How NOT to Make it as a Musician.
June 28 2014
I met Ted for the first time as I was busking the Market a few weeks back. He invited me to be part of the entertainment at his upcoming birthday bash. He seemed like a friendly guy so I said yes on the assumption that I was being hired as a musician and that I wasn’t expected to leap naked but for a bow tie, out of a giant birthday cake. (Though that may have been interesting).
Ted’s place was out the Mount Baker Highway somewhere, tucked away in a meadow in the forest. It was dog friendly and neighbourless. It promised to be quite a party.
So, Me, Hil, Ronan, and Cedar showed up in the mid afternoon. A two piece band was playing guitars on an open air stage to a crowd of me, Hil, Ronan and Cedar. They sounded quite good. Sort of Simon and Garfunkel influenced.
I discovered that Ted had planned out an official music schedule with official musicians. There was also a P.A. system with matching soundman. I was scheduled for 3:30pm but that slot got bumped back to about 5pm. Then 6pm. Then to whenever. I didn’t really mind. I was quite enjoying just hanging out enjoying the serenity.
Shortly after our arrival, a downpour erupted. Everyone was suddenly trying to waterproof everything of value using anything within reach. Tarps and ropes and sticks, rocks and trees, and a car tyre were all requisitioned in a vain attempt at constructing a stage roof. The end result was somewhat Picasso-ish but more Marx Brothery. In the end, more of a tragedy. Exit stage left. The effort was abandoned and the music was wisely switched to the sheltered porch.
After an hour, the rain stopped. Guests drifted in slowly in dribs and drabs. Then suddenly the momentum changed. It was like someone had changed the setting on an LP from 33rpm to 45rpm. The place accelerated magically to life with laughing people and food and music. Someone drove in with a deep fat frier. Someone else was bbqing mussels, a blues band was blasting on the porch. Large square bottles of whisky appeared on table tops. The joint was a rockin’. The chatter level went up. The party had now entered the bubble.
In the middle of this, Yan showed up with Robert Blake. They were going to play later with their wee band. I hadn’t spoken to Yan since our Muddy Boots Band days. I hadn’t spoken to Robert Blake at all. They were both well: or as well as musicians’ fortunes can be.
I did get around to playing a short set in a spare moment. I was pretty much alone on the porch at the time, so I was just dickering around. A few inquisitive folks wandered over to see what the racket was, but for the most part, everyone was too busy arriving and cooking to pay me much heed. I guess I really flew in and out under the radar for this gig. I seem to have a knack for that.
Songs? I can’t really remember….. I think I played, Singing in the Rain, Did Anybody Dream my Dream, Henhouse, Cow Hicky, May you Never, Blackberry Pie. Not sure what else. I was just farting about. But I enjoyed it.
So an interesting day. I met a lot of colourful people. I met Ted for the 2nd time. He seems to know people from all walks of life. I sense he is a well liked character. Reminds me of Geoff Bridges the actor. What was that movie….. The Big Labowski? I’ve never seen it but I know the guy in it looks like Ted. Maybe it is.
Cedar the dog had a great time. On arrival, I just opened the car door and let her run. She went straight off exploring. But after a few hours of crashing in and out of thickets, chasing whatever was out there, she began to hang out closer to the party. She had a blast. As did we all.
I caught the beginning of Yan and Roberts gig, then it was time to leave. They sounded like they were going to be good.
Thanks Ted: and happy birthday.
Knoxoleum Music Night
Feb 19 2013
The Knoxoleum is an interesting place. Part restaurant/bar and part music venue/art gallery. I’d been in for a meal a few times but never really explored the building in detail. It was a maze of hidden corners and seating alcoves. Every nook was arrayed with a spillage of whimsical knick-knack art. A very unique establishment.
Down in its leaky bowels is a barrel roofed kellar just like The Cavern where the Beatles played in Liverpool. This was where we set up to play.
Ken had organized the evening. The idea was simply to get a bunch of musicians and friends together and have a pleasant night.
That is exactly what transpired.
Molly was our Anchor Woman for the evening and she did a super job introducing each musician in turn and telling a few jokes in German and English.
First to be introduced was Richard. He entertained us with some fine classical piano pieces. Then Max (Marktl Max) and me joined him for some standard folk/rock songs like Let it Be and Leroy Brown and Mrs. Robinson. Max did the singing while I strummed my guitar. Richard did the tricky bits. It made a casual transition into the evening.
Ken was up next and played several solo classical guitar pieces and spoke about the history of guitars and the stories behind the songs. His set was sort of a short musical documentary. A very enjoyable little vignette.
I got up after him and played some of my lighter hearted stuff such as, No Hens in my Henhouse and Blackberry Pie.
For the evening’s Grande Finale, Max got back up with his guitar and an accordion friend and they squeezed out some traditional Bavarian songs which made me wish I’d brought along my washtub bass. It could have added some “Oompa” to the proceedings. Not that they needed any but it would have been fun. They also played a melancholy song by Hubert Von Geusen who may be Bavarian. I don’t know. Could have been Austrian? Australian? Probably an Eskimo. A catchy song anyway.
So that was our first Knoxoleum Music Night. I’d say it was a modest success and definitely something to build on. The musicians served up an unusual and eclectic mix of music. Sets were short and intervals were brief. Time flew. Beer was consumed. The audience was attentive and the atmosphere was intimate and dark. I trust that everyone went home with warm fuzzy feelings.
Mission Accomplished. Well done everybody.
I look forward to the next one.
18th of January 2013
With Izzy Skint (sort of)
Well I think we had a great night. So many friendly faces in attendance, I don’t know where to start.
Regensburg still feels so like home. It’s hard to shake that sentiment off. No doubt if we moved back (and we have been tempted) we’d be sick of it within a year. But right now we still enjoy the novelty.
So to the gig: Once again Thomas had a cool looking set-up for his drums. It reminded me of something between a large Mars Rover type gadget and a shark cage with Thomas at the helm.
Roman had brought along his brand new silver Baritone Fender electric guitar. He switched effortlessly between bass runs and chords and solos. He was a regular one man band. Safe to say, the Baritone was a big hit. I believe, this was its first gig. It sounded great.
Thomas of course was as solid as ever on his drumming contraption and between us all we pulled off some real fun jamming moments.
I enjoyed Hey Hey My My, and Hitching Up to Heaven. Holy smoke was fun too, even though right in the middle I discovered the hard way that I had the wrong harmonica in my holder. We also gave “Painted Pony” a run out. I think we pulled off a semi decent version of it. I feel over the years I’ve never done this song justice yet I know one day it will click into place. This song has a lot of untapped spook potential. (I've been saying that for years.)
This was my first gig of the year. My “out of training” fingers just about managed to last the course. By the time we played 2 zu-gabes (encores), my tender finger tips could barely touch the strings. I will need to get back into playing longer hours. But it’s hard to practice without motivation. Having a noise sensitive downstairs neighbour in our apartment building doesn’t help either.
Well that was the gig.
Quote of the night must go to Hil who told me about the smashed up mirror (just a frame actually) in the women’s toilets. She said that someone had written across its shattered surface, “Don’t worry, you look great”.
Did I mention it was my birthday at Midnight? Well I have now.
January 19th. But you can send me presents any time.
And now a short history of Izzy Skint. (As I vaguely remember it.)
Beginning around 1990.(?)
First it was Peter and Rik with 2 acoustic guitars and Rik’s pan pipes.
Then Thomas joined them on drums.
Then I joined them on Bass.
Sometime around then we had a quick practice.
We played regularly between Regensburg and Munich for about 2 years between 1990 and 92(?).
Peter went off to Spain for a year.
Thomas went to Vienna forever.
Roman (on electric guitar) joined me and Rik.
We have a 2nd practice.
Then for a while it seemed that everyone who was anyone could be an Izzy Skint member. It was getting ridiculous.
So it was disbanded.
Rik became a barman in Harp.
I played Solo.
Roman continued with his band the Travellin Beerbellies.
A year later, Peter comes back from Spain.
John Brown appears in Munich.
Me, Peter and John get Izzy Skint up and running for a year or so.
Peter goes off to Freiburg (?)
JB goes back to Scotland.
By then it was about 94 or 95.
I went to the States in 1997.
I came back to Europe in 2011.
In between, Rik sadly passed away. As did Michael Lynch who played for a while in the “free-for-all” year.
Right now Peter is in Ireland.
John is in Scotland.
In 2012 a version of Izzy Skint played in the Harp. Thomas came down from Koln. Roman appeared from somewhere in the Regensburg area and I came up from Burghausen.
I will probably return to the States in September and life will go on.
It would definitely be interesting to get JB and Peter in on the act. A five piece Izzy Skint. I’m sure it would be a colourful experience.
Irish Harp June(?)
Yes indeed, Izzy Skint in concert.
In short, it was a great night: like time travelling back to the early 90s. So many old faces and friends. I say it all the time but I'll say it again, Regensburg really still feels like home.
Pacific Arts Fair.
7th Dec 2013
I guess this was my first gig since my return to the USA from Europe.
These Christmas fairs are great opportunities for practicing in public without people really taking much notice. I was able to mess up a bunch of new songs and sort out the proper keys to play them in.
The artists at their stalls were all fairly mellow, and fortunately for me, they didn’t look like they were desperate to hear cheesy Christmas hits. So I played a whole bunch of D tuning stuff: May You Never, Dandelion, The Bonnie Ship the Diamond, Singing in the rain, Mari’s Wedding, Peggy Gordon, and a bunch of other stuff. I played unplugged for about 75 minutes. It was fun and the tips weren’t bad either.
Afterwards I swapped some CDs for a pottery butter dish that Hil had taken a liking to. The potter was a friendly guy and we got talking about pottery wheels. I said I wanted to build one. He said he had an old foot pedal one he was desperate to get rid of. He offered it to me for free if I could move it. I agreed but we decided to wait till after Christmas to pick it up if there are no problems in between.
So in short, it was definitely a positive afternoon at the fair.
But the gig was also a blunt reminder that I have returned indeed to the land of non-paying gigs. It’s strictly tips and coffee from here on.
Pacific Arts again. Dec. 14th.
An almost identical gig as last weeks' affair. This time I kicked off at 11:30 am. A bit keen I thought but at least I didn't have to wait around all day. By 1:00pm, I had the rest of the day free. Not that I did much but it was nice to have the option.
I threw a few different songs into the mix but it was pretty much a repeat of last week.
All in all, it was a very relaxed and easy going little morning.