Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Drummer Humor

Posted: February 12, 2017 in Humor, Music

Since I moved to Tucson 25 years ago, I’ve played (“playing” meaning at least one paying gig) with 4 vocalists, 3 bassists, and roughly 20 drummers — I lost exact count ages ago, and I’m not even counting the ones that spontaneously self-combusted.

So, I appreciated the following ad that just appeared in the Musicians section of Tucson’s Craigslist, and have a hunch you might, too. Enjoy!

Qualified, Easygoing Drummer at Your Service

Decades of experience and a professional demeanor, I am the drummer you’ve been looking for.

I do not have a car and I do not have my own drums. I love to drink and I like to hit people in the mouth when I’ve had a few. I’ve hurt people before and I’ll do it again.

I will not learn your original material unless I’m paid $75 per hour per gig and I must be paid in advance. I do not know many covers and cannot commit to learning new ones unless I really dig the song.

My influences include Staind, P.O.D., the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle, and old Black Eyed Peas.

Additionally, I will need to crash with you for a while, as I do not have any source of income outside of my musical endeavors.

I cannot stress enough how much your band needs me at the rhythmic helm of the rock and roll ship. Call now.

Also, I do have a small narcotics habit.

About the only thing the anonymous genius who produced this forgot to add was, “Great rhythmic control. I can either rush or drag — I’m in control!”



Things are hopping here. I’m working on two sci-fi novels (one the sequel to Free Radicals), am translating Rodolfo Montes de Oca’s “Contracorrientes” (in English, not that it corresponds, “Venezuelan Anarchism: The History of a Movement”), am doing a bit (not enough) to expanded 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity to book length, have resurrected with new and old friends the Pinche Blues Band, and am just getting a good start on an as-yet-unnamed acoustic project with Michael Turner, another old compañero, bassist, and former bandmate, who just moved back to town.

Beyond that, I’m taking a very useful studio recording class out at Pima (great instructor), am writing a lot of songs all over the map (funk to fusion to jazz to blues to country–the next for public performance is probably the alt-country/hard-rock tune “Sieg Heil Y’all”), am spending an hour a day on the  veggie garden (just spent two hours mixing potting soil and compost, and then filling the containers — cut-off soda bottles, etc.–for the spring starts); I’ll have just over 300 starts this year, with various types of tomatoes, bell peppers, chiles, eggplants, beans, squash, melons, herbs, etc. I’ll give, as usual, about two-thirds of them away–I always try to get other people into gardening: it’s a form of self-reliance and mutual aid, and in general just a good thing to do. (Fuck selling this shit for three bucks a start. Just fucking give it away. Do your friends and neighbors  “a solid,”)

Anyway, here’s what’s coming up:

  • A review of Charles Stross’s wonderful new novel, Empire Games;
  • A long post on loneliness, the reasons for it, and how to combat it;
  • Another good old-fashioned religious roundup;
  • Excerpts from the various upcoming books;
  • A long interview with alt-country player Al Perry;
  • A very long post on who’s to blame for the present political crisis;
  • A perhaps even longer post on what to do about it.


Do you want to know why some music sounds so relaxed? It’s really simple — the musicians are playing behind the beat.

That means that they’re playing a few thousandths of a second after the beat falls. It’s common in blues, jazz, soul, and (less so) funk. Not at all in country or metal.

In those styles, everything is pretty much right on the beat — exact to the thousandth of a second. Some metal moves beyond that to being ahead of the beat.

Here’s how to think of all this: 1) Ahead of the beat: Nazis jacked up and running meth labs in Kingman or Fresno — frenetic; 2) On the beat: common rock or country — excited, but nothing to see or hear here folks, move along (please!); 3)  Behind the beat: Ah yes! Relax, groove into it. Enjoy it!

The best example of behind-the-beat playing I can think of is James Brown’s 16-minute masterpiece, “Papa don’t take no mess,” off of his otherwise awful “Hell” CD. Everyone on it is way behind the beat.

The best example of yours truly playing behind the beat is on our first Pinche Blues Band EP, with the cut Postal; I’m way behind the beat (on guitar), as are Abe and Jaime, on drum and bass.

Hope you enjoy it.

And do it yourself. It ain’t all that hard. Just fine a tune where the musicians are playing behind the beat, and imitate it.

And enjoy. Make it funky, yáll. Oww!

Hammond B3

If you, like me, love the Hammond B3, the signature organ on most blues, jazz, and a lot of rock material from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, check out the new “Blues Unlimited¨show on KXCI, devoted entirely to tunes featuring the B3. It´s on now and will be available for the next two weeks online.

Back in the day, guys would lug B3s around to gigs, despite their being bulky and weighing maybe 250 pounds. More recently, Hammond has introduced a reasonably good B3 digital emulator, which is almost — repeat almost — there.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve played with my pal Fred, who’s a great B3 player. Live, he uses the B3 emulator that weighs maybe five pounds. But check him out on a real Hammond on this tune, “Life Is Good,” from our most recent CD.

I hope we’ll be playing again soon, and I really hope that Hammond will start producing real B3s again sometime soon. Price ’em at $5,000 or even $10,000, and keyboard players would line up around the block to buy ’em.

In the meantime, check out the “Blues Unlimited” show on KXCI to see what I mean.

One of the many things I’ve never figured out is why so many musicians, probably most, react in horror when you suggest that someone else sit in at a gig.

Seriously, it’s like you’re suggesting that they expose themselves to a contagious disease or radiation.

For example, just a typical blues or country gig at a bar. What are we talking about — a $50-or-$75-a-night gig?

Who gives a shit?

If you’re so shitty they’ll displace you, so what? You deserve it.

But let’s look at the positive things about inviting other people to sit in.

The first is that they’re simply there. Part of your probably sparse audience. The second is that they’ll bring along boyfriends/girlfriends and other friends. In a word, Audience.

And they’ll let other people know about it. Who will also be there.

And — gasp! — the player you’ll invite might add something wonderful musically, or maybe invite another musician who’ll add that.

Moral: Be kind, be generous. It´ll probably — no guarantees — pay off. The converse is even more true — be a constricted jerk and, guarantees here,  it won’t pay off.

Be nice. Be generous. Invite your (competent) friends to sit in. You won’t regret it.

Chuck McCabe

“God grant me the courage to nail the licks I know, the serenity to let the clams fall where they may, and the wisdom to know that if you can do either one twice, it sounds like you planned it that way.”

Chuck McCabe (1944 – 2010)

(For an enjoyable example of McCabe’s music, listen to “I Know You” off his 2009 “Creatures of Habit” CD.)

In Praise of Musicians

Posted: January 4, 2017 in Music

I’ve recently been whingeing on about how much I hate other musicians, mostly for being flaky, unreliable, and wasting my time.

It’s time to balance the score, to say what’s good, indeed extraordinarily praiseworthy, about musicians. Here ya go:

Very few musicians are materialistic and almost all (at least funk, jazz, blues, reggae, afro-cuban, blues-rock, punk, and brazilian-styles musicians) are remarkably non-, mostly anti-, racist. We just want to play, to write music, to express ourselves. (Country and Metal musicians are an entirely different breed — some are very cool, others are racist assholes.) Most of us are really nice people.

Some of us get caught up in making a living playing music and sell out, end up playing music we hate simply to survive. Others do it deliberately, having long ago sold out their musical ideals, feeding on the musical illiteracy of the public. Some make millions doing it. (I won’t mention any of them, but think of the 7th letter of the alphabet.)

That brings us to the people I’ve played with over the decades. I’ve played in everything from all white, to half-black/half-white, to more mixed (white/Apache), to mostly Mexican bands.

Nobody gave a shit. It was and is a meritocracy: If you’re a nice guy and you can play, you’re okay. (Some people will play with assholes if they’re good enough; I and most of the people I’ve played with have enough self-respect that we won’t.)

So, the next time you´re out drinking at a bar and listening to a band, please remember, no matter how shitty they are, that you´re seeing and hearing people that are playing music because they love it, not the (ridiculously minimal) money.

Please have some respect for us, buy us a beer, or take us home and fuck our brains out.

Seriously. Do it.

P.S. Here ya go — check out these tunes from the recently resurrected Pinche Blues Band:

Hope to hear from you.