After an intense two weeks of nonstop blogging last year while touring the Southwest, this blogger hung up his mouse and went quiet. The first reason was my incompetence with computers and things internet--I'm not even sure the blog was published, as it didn't always show up when I logged on the site. The second is that I had some weird health issues surrounding the paralysis of the left side of my face last November which is still pretty pronounced (standard joke--if you ever need a crooked lawyer, I'm your man). The third is, well, the combined effect of laziness, fear and procrastination--the same trifecta of human weaknesses that have kept me off the Supreme Court, out of Grammy contention, and often staring at others succeed from the relative safety and comfort of my couch.
But every now and then (so far, about once a year) the urge to reach out to the blog-o-verse (text-o-sphere? chat-o-rama?) with an effort at some intelligible musings overcomes me. And by golly, the band deserves some recognition this year, so here goes.
We've had a revelation that may change Calaveras forever--there are some great musicians out there who like playing our music if the money's good. The three of us have struggled for about ten years passing around instruments like hot potatoes--mandolin, percussion, guitars in different tunings--but most especially the electric bass. Nobody really does it enough to be a pro, and as singers, the linearity and rhythmic importance of bass playing turns every song into an exercise in multitasking, making vocals more locked down and less expressive. So, we have been working with Sam Bevan, a wildly gifted musician who played bass on our last album, to add a thoroughly professional bottom to our sound, loosen the shackles on the birds in our throats, and allow me to indulge in mixed metaphors.
Then I ran into Mark Holzinger about a year ago playing at a festival backing up a hammer dulcimer player. While I find hammer dulcimer just a little less monotonous than the drip from a leaky fawcet, Mark played beautiful, tasteful acoustic guitar accompaniment which brought the performance to life. Then he stepped up on stage an hour later, plugged in and played blistering, screaming lead guitar for a rock band. So I got his card, we had a couple of rehearsals and voila! A five piece band with a lot more energy and less multi-instrumental stress, holding out for good pay and having a lot more fun. Honestly, our performances at Milton and Audrey's house concert in Berkeley and Mission Coffee in Santa Clara this summer are among the most enjoyable we've had in memory.
Oh, and I'm now the chairman of the board of the Acoustic Vortex in Marin (Bruce Victor's non-profit house concert and music community building platform), Vickie and I are the anchor musicians for the first service at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley nearly every Sunday, and we are starting to book actively again after my face settled back in a bit so as not to scare children too much.
And to top it all off, I'm back to blogging.