Dog Walking Joy

Abby loves to take us walking, insists upon it actually. I suspect she wants to keep us active and happy, This collie is such a joy, never met a kid she didn’t instinctively love. We walk her 4 to 6 times a day and 3 or 4 times a week take her to the big open field down the street from us to run.

Sometimes we babysit Mitzy from down the street and the two are bestest of friends. Abby also sleeps with us at night, keeping us company at all times. What a sweet affirmation of life.

Posted in Pets | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

At long Last: Returning to Music Performance

After a 25 year break in music performance, I returned to my roots. I purchased an alto saxophone, joined a band, and started taking lessons. First thing I noticed is that I was a horrible sight reader, something that is a requirement for musicians who get paid. All those years in school bands, and I never had lessons, never learned to sight read. Hey, I did save my paper route money for summer band camp. And now, I have had my own big band for the last 20 some years. So let’s talk about that.

When I was in high school, I thought I might tilt my lance at music education in college. My band teacher picked me to lead the varsity band sax section because I was new to the school and as a senior, I still would have been low man on the totem pole in the top band. So they asked me if I wanted to teach the freshmen and sophomore players to play. I jumped at the chance. Bonus, I had three solos in the last concert, including an alto-sax solo feature song called Mr. Lucky by Mancini.

One day my dad pulled me to the side and asked me some hard questions. I mean, he wasn’t pushy or demanding but he asked me, “What if your hobby became your job that you had to do every day? Would you still love music?” And then he said you can always do music as a hobby. For example, see that guy across the street from our home? He hates his job, it’s in something called computers (no idea what that was at the time.) But they pay him so much money that he only work six months a year and spends the rest of the time golfing. That conversation was key to me not going into music as a profession, assuming I could have succeeded in getting a degree with my shortcomings.

I stopped playing sax as I entered the job market and raised a family. I even traded my Buescher Aristocrat alto sax in on a new sax for my son. Spring ahead 30 years and I had a hankering to play again. So I purchased a Couf Superba I alto sax that in high school was my dream instrument to own. I searched the Internet for community bands and selected one that was close, performed a lot, and had a jazz band. Then I discovered my weakness, sight reading.

So I started taking lessons, usually an hour or so a week where the first half hour would be sight reading exercises and duets with the instructors. I had so many fine instructors who to a man gave me confidence in my playing abilities. So yeah, I’d never be a world class soloist, but I could have some solos and be a decent sax section leader. I took lessons for about ten years, sometimes with three instructors a week.

I started getting gigs and quickly became discouraged with the same old music in so many big bands. So I started building my library, which now has around 5000 charts. Then I created my own group at work. The Microsoft Jumpin’ Jive Orchestra (now called the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band. I had a basement in my house I turned into a music studio with drums, bass, and piano available for musicians who sat in. I was so fortunate to live in the Seattle area because there were sooo many really good musicians to pick from. I also had a professor who gave lessons every week to my friends in my music studio.

I am now in three music ensembles; big band, rock band, community band, and sax quartet. I run two of those. Retired, I have time to spend on getting gigs, and I get to play soprano, alto, tenor, bari, and bass sax on a regular basis. I did challenge my clarinet-playing wife (yes, I met her in high school, but that is another story) to learn to play sax. I told her I’d learn to play clarinet if she learned to play sax. Within a month she was sitting in on sax in a number of groups, including some theater pit gigs. I, on the other hand, am still pitiful on clarinet although I have been known to play bass clarinet for a song or two in my big band.

I often tell parents and kids to consider this. Pick a hobby that you can enjoy your whole life. And guess what, it’s not going to be football, etc. Golf, music, tennis, etc can be done well into your retirement. If you get good experience as a child, you will learn what you need to know to succeed. If you try to learn when you are a senior, you may never get the fluency you desire.

Posted in Band | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Por Une Cabeza

At our last dance performance my wife Suzy put down her tenor sax, picked up a clarinet, and joined Lauren on the stage for this lovely duet. So many happy dancers, such a nice arrangement. I heard another band doing it and noticed it was a unique arrangement. So I pinged the director of that band and we did a trade. It isn’t often that you get arrangements that are not available to the public. Enjoy.

Posted in Band | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

House Purchase Wants/Needs List

My son and his family have moved into their forever house. Before he did I gave him the list of criteria we have used over the years to pick our forever home, although three times we ended up moving. The number behind each item is how many times we succeeded in finding that item with our last home having all of them.

1. Quiet street, cul de sac if you can get it (4 of 4)

2. Contiguous to a Natural Growth Protection Area (2 of 4)

3. Three car garage (2 of 4)

4. Music room with high ceiling (3 of 4)

5. High ceiling master bedroom (2 of 4)

6. Open floor plan for kitchen, dining, and family room (4 of 4)

Fav things we added to our homes:

1. Trash compactor (4 of 4)

2. Air conditioner (2 of 4)

3. Instant hot water in kitchen (2 of 4)

4. Shop in garage for Suzy (2 of 4)

5. Whole house generator (3 of 4)

6. Backyard fence (4 of 4)

7. Security system (4 of 4)

8. Security signage (4 of 4)

9. Spring closed fence gates (3 of 4)

10. Ceiling fan in master (3 of 4)

Recommended maintenance items.

1. Paint house with forever paint.

2. Plant trees that take advantage of passive solar.

3. Upgrade water heater, stove, dishwasher, and fridge.

Thus ends our exercise in data compilation.

Posted in advice | Tagged | Leave a comment

Project Inspiration: Start a Sax Quartet

When I started to play saxophone again after a 25+ year hiatus I started looking for ensembles to perform with. I started with a community band to find connections into the local music scene. I really love big bands but found that most played the same old music, and it became rather boring. So I created my own, 20 years later called the Seattle Solid Gold Big Band. I also started a sax quartet called the Dissonance, now called the Seattle Solid Gold Sax Quartet. Check out their many ensembles here:

The nice thing about starting a sax quartet is that I get to pick the music. I can select pieces that take advantage of our strongest players. I can pick music that I adore. Also, it is so much easier and fun to pick the performers who will stay with the ensemble for more than one season. During the 20 years of my sax quartet there have been a *lot* of musicians sit in.

Developing a book of favorite charts as taken some time but my tenor player Gary has helped me tweak our listings with charts he has arranged and/or penned. I now have a rather nice list of charts to select from for almost any performance and venue.

The best part about playing in a quartet is that every musician is soloing the whole time, there is no place to hide like there is in a community band or big band. So you get to work on your fluidity and sound in an almost perfect solo-like setting.

I now recommend this method of finding groups to play with to my musician friends with some management skillz. YMMV.

Posted in Band Management | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

That One Crazy Gig – Take 50

Our first gig of the year turned out to be both lucrative and interesting. It was billed as a birthday party for one of the couples who love and support our band. It was to take place the week after the new year which is good for me as I prefer not to be driving the band mobile New Year’s night.

We were fresh off of a two month hiatus and had one practice for the performance. There were some specific songs requested that we don’t usually play:

Set 1

1. Let’s Dance (C) 2:17

2. Sway (MV) 2:40

3. Feeling Good (FV) 4:02

4. In The Mood 3:35

5. It’s Oh So Nice 4:09

6. It Had Better Be Tonight (MV) 3:06

7. Oh Look at Me Now (FV/C) 2:51

8. Mister Meadowlark (FV/C) 3:09

9. You Light Up My Life

10. Ain’t That a Kick (MV) 2:31

11. Things Ain’t What They Used to Be (C) 4:45

Set 2

1. Too Darn Hot (FV) 3:50

2. String of Pearls 3:16

3. Beyond the Sea (MV) 2:09

4. Don’t Be That Way (C) 3:06

5. Pennsylvania 6-5000 3:13

6. October Moon (C) 2:15

7. In the Still of the Night (MV) 4:11

8. I’ll Be Seeing You (FV/C) 3:20

9. Why Don’t You Do Right (FV/C) 2:15

10. Montego Bay 3:00

11. Mack the Knife (MV) 3:07

Set 3

1. When You’re Smiling (MV) 2:00

2. Moonlight Serenade (C) 3:24

3. The Continental 2:36

4. On a Slow Boat to China (FV)

5. Stardust (C) 3:30

6. The Girl From Ipanema (MV) 3:15

7. Besame Mucho 3:00

8. Whatever Lola Wants (FV) 2:52

9. Begin the Beguine (C) 3:15

10. Sing Sing Sing (C) 5:23

11. Maybe This Time (FV) 3:53

Encore: In The Mood 3:35

The room was kind of small for a big band, but we made it work for our bandies. How could we not? So during the birthday speech, the guest of honor got down on his knees and proposed to his long-time girlfriend! I kid you not. So a ULC minister (I was one too) stepped out of the crowd and performed a short and funny marriage. So much fun and called upon us to play the wedding march.

And our band photographer got some pictures and did this video for us. Ah the life of a musician, such a life is good. Play on my dear readers.

Posted in Band, Band Management | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Wood or Metal Clarinet Prediction – 1920

Although the prediction that metal clarinets would become de rigueur proved to be false, this is an interesting read. Note, it was written in The Melody Maker in the late 1920’s by a well-known clarinet player, Ralph Dunbar.

Posted in Music | 3 Comments

Last GOLD Big Band concert of the Year

As is my custom for this band, this was the last concert for 2022. I like to take November and December off to enjoy the holiday season. The rest of October we will be sightreading some charts to pick new ones to add to the mix next year and that will close out the practices for the year.

Greg was in great form with his sweet vocals and wonderful patter. He even got out on the dance floor and danced with our solo clarinetist.

Robin and Lauren doing that thang they do so well. Both have fab stage appearance value and are fan favorites.

My fav sax section with my wife Suzy sitting next me. I’m on the bari sax. We had a guest lead alto, Aaron, who actually used to be in the band back in the day. Did I mention how much I love this music ensemble?

Posted in Music | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ring Security

We have installed two (of three) cameras from Ring. We are impressed with the simplicity of the installation, the crisp and clear videos and pictures, and the immediate ability to share the streams with the neighborhood and police. I have a more manual setup which takes hours to scan for the pertinent videos and isn’t half as clear as the Ring system is. AND, we get alerts on our phones when someone comes to the front door.

We are very happy with the Ring experience and have already recommended it for family and friends. YMMV.

Posted in Music | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Royal Room ~ Seattle

My big band, the Seattle Solid Gold, performed at the Royal Room in Seattle this week. No, really! It was in South Seattle which can be a sketchy part of town. Parking was … well, let’s just say challenging. But the venue was nice, albeit small. Had one fellow in the band show up without his music. Sigh … but I always have a spare tablet so we were okay. Had a sub show up without a stand. But the staff had extra stands which was rather nice. And for a three hour gig, they had *very* nice padded chairs.

Brian Fioca, a professional photographer showed up. It was a dark room, but before he worked on the photos he took, he sent me a couple of fresh proofs. The shots were very nice, we really like his work. I showed the proofs around during the first break and each person talked about how they looked in the photo.

This is a new vocalist for us, David Francis. He set up this performance for the band. He wanted to sing with a big band. What a fab experience and working with a pro like David, it took only two practices to add all the new charts he wanted in the mix. I had tried to get on their docket but David made it a done deal.

Posted in Band | Tagged , | Leave a comment