Sunday, June 27, 2010The best bang for your buck? A drummer!
6:05 pm edt
This anecdote is brought to you by a drummer friend of mine, Taro Okamoto. He plays on my current CD and is one of my favorite musicians.
A while back, a friend Taro’s needed him to facilitate the rental of a drum set. The friend was arriving from Japan to play a gig, as well as a recording session and wanted to pick up a drum set in New York rather than have to bring his own.
Taro called several music store only to find that the going rate for renting drums was $250.00 a day plus an additional charge of $100.00 for cartage — $50.00 per trip to have the drums delivered and picked up from the venue.
Now this is embarrassing to admit, but most jazz gigs pay much less than $350.00 It would have been much cheaper for Taro's friend to have hired a drummer and told him not to play -- just to bring his drums!
$350.00 Much cheaper!
Saturday, June 19, 2010The Bumblebee Bucs
12:03 pm edt
Between the years of 1977 and 1983 the Pittsburgh Pirates wore what was arguably the most garish uniforms in the history of baseball. Their color scheme, like their Pittsburgh brethren Penguins and Steelers, was banana yellow and black. The combination of colors changed every day. One day they might wear a black jersey with yellow pants — the next it could be the opposite. Or they would go straight black jersey and pants. They also had white jerseys and pants which gave them nine different combinations. I always looked forward to seeing the Pirates on their bi-annual trips to Dodger Stadium –for me the holy grail was all yellow.
Nowadays it’s common for a team to wear an alternate black jersey to go along with their regular pants. Back then, however, it was a radical idea to have more than two possible uniform combinations, the norm being home whites and travelling greys.
The Pirates were dominant in that era and featured players every bit as colorful as their uniforms. Kent Tekulve was a reed-thin submariner relief pitcher with a rubber arm. He regularly would throw more than 100 innings a year. In those days closers weren’t only used in the 9th inning, but when they were needed the most, which often as not was the 7th.
Bill Madlock was a batting champ — a pure line drive hitter who regularly batted over .300 . Willie Stargell, Pops, was my favorite. Even though by the late 70s he was nearing the end of a great career, he was still a feared home run hitter. To this day he is one of three players to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium. (Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza are the other two) He did it twice. He also owns the record for the longest home run ever hit in Dodger Stadium — 506 feet.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention two-time batting champ Dave Parker, the Cobra. He was a tall, burly right fielder with a howitzer for an arm. In the late 70s we thought he was on track to become one of the all time greats but injuries and cocaine use hampered the latter part of his career, which was mostly spent with the Cincinnati Reds.
Other Pirates of note include Mike (Hitman) Easler, Manny Sanguillen, Al Oliver, Richie Zisk, and Richie Hebner, who dug graves in the off-season. They didn't have a lot of pitching, but John (CandyMan) Candeleria was a good one for a short period of time.
So let’s have a drink to the Pirates of the ’70s, a team that along with the Dodgers and Reds, dominated the post season. The decade was framed by their twin championships of 1971 and 1979, but they also appeared in the NLCS in 1970, ’72, 74, and ’75. As of now the Pirates have not appeared in a post season since 1991 which is a dubious record: No other sports franchise has suffered through this long of a drought. Perhaps they should bring back the Bumblebee Bucs unis.
Thursday, June 10, 2010How to piss off a musician
4:36 pm edt
With my impending move to San Fran my mood has taken a turn to the south. It's hard enough trying to rent our apartment while organizing our move west, but all of a sudden, in an ironic twist of fate, I'm having my busiest June ever gigging almost every night. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about this plethora of gigs. Just that it will be hard to go from crazy-busy to sitting by the phone.
That being said, here is a small sampling of my hit parade of gripes. Think of it as a premier in how-to-deal-with-muscians 101.
The majority of songs that I play are 32 measures long. Sure, there's the odd Cole Porter 64 bar marathon such as In The Still of the Night, but for the most part the songs are fairly concise. I am almost never more than 31 bars from a natural ending point. Now let me ask you something: Why in the world would you want me to stop in the middle of a song, when in mere seconds I can reach the end? Are you a fan of resolution? If so, then LET ME FINISH! I'll be happier, and you may not believe this, but so will you.
Now here's something: Even though the area around my piano is lacking four walls, a desk, and a phone, this space constitutes my office. What would you do if I walked into your office while you were on a business call, and made a request to invest in penalty-free annuities? I thought so. Look. You can talk to me. I'm not a delicate genius that requires absolute silence while I'm playing. (Keith Jarrett) You just need to find the right time to do so. Here's an idea to get started: Between tunes.
Finally: If you insist on talking to me while I'm playing please do not be offended if I do not talk to you. You see, contrary to what you may believe, my fingers are actually moving in a prescribed order -- I'm not just wiggling them in time. Making music requires concentration. If you frame your question so that a simple yes or no will suffice, then sure...I'll answer or nod. But if you come over in the middle of a song to discuss quantum mechanics, don't get your hopes up.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010Those wacky baseball uniforms of the 70s.
4:26 pm edt
Who besides me is nostalgic for this quirky period in baseball haberdashery? Who can forget the banana-in-pajamas yellow of the Pittsburgh Pirates?
How about the seizure-inducing kaleidoscope that comprised the Houston Astros festival in orange?
Even the seats of the Astrodome had this pattern!
And of course, the staple road uniform of at least 10 teams: powder-blue. I was partial to the road uniforms of the St Louis Cardinals, which inexplicably had nothing to do with their home color, Cardinal red.
How about those 1976 Whitesox, who for one game actually wore short pants!
I’m hoping that teams begin to break out of the conservative period that we currently inhabit. Enough of this boring road grey. I’m also tired of black jerseys that have nothing to do with the team colors.
How about you? What were, or are, or were your favorite uniforms?