We just had the luxury of a week-long stay in one location. We’re primed and rested and ready for the final leg of the west coast swing.
It was a very productive week for pincushioned in the Bay Area, hosted at Chabot College in Hayward CA by Dr. Eric Schultz. Eric was my college roommate at ASU and I’ll be serving as best man in his wedding to Melissa Fagan this summer. He is in his first semester returning to the faculty after serving as Interim Dean. Here he is saying something inappropriate about my new Mike Balter super-ball mallet.
BTW- These new Mike Balter mallets are great, as are the Meinl and Earthtone products I’m using (and no, I don’t have an endorsement deal). As I’ve previously raved, my custom instruments hand-crafted by Matt Coleman are exceptional. On the other side of the coin, everything I bought new for tour made by Remo, Gibraltar, Black Swamp, Malletech or Rapco is defective or poorly designed in some way (and no, I don’t have an endorsement deal). In example, I’m playing vibraphone on Glenn Hackbarth’s Spiked with 2 pink and 2 green Malletech rubber mallets that work perfectly as a matched set of 4— No shock- this is the attention to detail I’ve come to expect from that company.
Barry and I stayed at Eric and Miles the Dog’s attic apartment in downtown Hayward, a lively urban setting right off the BART line.
I arrived Saturday night after a long drive on Interstate 5 from LA (you were right Heidi Swedberg, Daniel Ward, and Joseph Perez- it was a boring route- but I broke it up with a stop for In and Out Burger). Upon arrival Schultz and I took in some of the local Heyward flavor with a walking tour around downtown to dinner at Buffalo Bill’s Brewery (the Alimony Ale was the winner) and planned the week.
The main focus of our residency at Chabot was threefold- our Thursday concert, a collaborative project with the Electronic Music II class creating a realization and performance of force.line.border and a Max lab (a Baz Workshop, based on his renowned Baz Tutorials) by Barry.
Sunday the 9th was planned as a tourist and laundry day while we awaited Baz’s fight in after his Phoenix concert. Eric and I drove in a steady rain planning to visit the acclaimed Russian River Brewery north of the Bay area (in San Fill-in-the-blank). When we arrived, there was a line of several hundred people standing in the rain waiting to sample Pliny the Younger. We quickly opted to head down the road to my personal favorite, the Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma.
We enjoyed some nosh and refreshment (thumbs up for the Pork Nachos and all the brews, especially the Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale) before heading off to the Oakland airport to reacquire Barry.
Monday was spent getting settled at Chabot. I’ve always considered Chabot to be Glendale’s evil twin (or vice versa) – same mission, similar size and demographic and a strong support for the arts and creativity revolving around active, high-quality student-centered learning and current, relevant technology. As “sister-colleges”, we can learn much from each other. In fact, when Dr. Schultz developed the Commercial Music curriculum there several years ago, he used our Maricopa program as one of the models. I visited the Chabot campus several years ago as a guest artist performing with Crossing 32nd Street. They were building their new music building at that time- this week I got to see the fantastic finished project. It is a great facility, especially in the music technology area. Plainly stated- it is the best community college recording facility I have seen- a terrific resource for students (yes Eric, I’m jealous). We set-up in the studio for 3 days and I was able to get in some substantial and much-needed practice on my solo program. We also tweaked some pincushioned pieces and worked on developing a new guitar and cajon+electronics duet.
On Tuesday afternoon we worked with the Electronic Music 2 (advanced) class on their realization of the center panel of Casey Farina’s composition. The sounds they crafted were unique and compelling; Several were realized on Chabot’s new synthesizers.com modular. Theirs is similar to ours at GCC, but larger. Eric did some things with the layout that I intend to implement upon my return to in the Fall. Bravo tutti to the students for their creativity and to Dr. Schultz for his quick and detailed editing.
The same class got a Max 6 and Max for Live workshop from Barry on Thursday during their open lab time. Immediately following, they attended an open rehearsal of their hot-off-the-press realization of force.line.border with pincushioned in the concert venue (The new recital hall- great HDMI patchbay on stage). We also played restinghouse for them. They were very inquisitive on a variety of topics ranging from software choice and implementation to our aesthetic choices.
I’ve always found it interesting that the demographic make-up of an electronic music or sound design class looks strikingly similar to that of a Star Trek convention.
The best student question was- Given your background, education and apparent mastery of the technology (as if…), why would you make that? Good question… I have no answer. The best I could come up with was similar to Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech.
“Blah Blah blahbiddy-blah process blahbiddy blah-blah blah aesthetic framework.”
Perhaps something more coherent by the conclusion of tour…
The Thursday night concert was initially packed and the audience had a high energy (125 audience members including 1 pit bull). The performance went very well- we seem to be ironing out our technical gremlins as the tour progresses. The audience thinned out a bit at the end; I think some of the humanities students fulfilling their concert attendance requirement were vexed by the uncompromising nature of some of the repertoire. Maybe when you’re just covering Mozart in class, it is a bit early for (to quote The Onion) “impenetrable anti-music.” The majority that stayed especially enjoyed the guest appearance and choreography of Mr. Hopalong Junkpouch in white_rabbit (more about that in a later blog entry). He definitely “fed their head”.
We had a great time playing and it was especially nice to see Craig Bryant, son of my Limestone College mentors Dr. William and Janis Bryant.
When I was in undergrad in South Carolina studying music education, I occasionally babysat Craig. When he was about five years old he asked his parents for drums (he used to hang out at Limestone College Percussion Ensemble and Wind Ensemble rehearsals). When he saw his new drum set, he immediately broke it down into a new music mutli-percussion set-up, complete with some found instruments, a stick tray and several mallet choices. Craig is now a successful band director in Albany, CA. He remarked at dinner that he is still a stickler with his students when it comes to set-up. It appears he came through my and Mitch Hopper’s bad influence unscathed. We extend an extra-special thanks to Craig and his wife Crystal for the treating Baz and I to dinner and beverages Sunday night at Jupiter Brewery (very crisp Pilsner and Lager).
On Friday (Valentine’s Day), Eric left for a trip to Chicago to visit his fiancé, Barry and I spent the long weekend doing “the tourist thing.” (Note to tourists: the cost of living is quite high here- Sorry Mr. Bennett, we didn’t leave of heart in San Francisco, but we did leave a pile of cash). We took the BART into the city and visited Chinatown. It was the day prior to the Chinese New Years’ parade.
Ironically, had some great pho there (pho- the official carbohydrate of pincushioned) and Baz had what was advertised as a “Chinese Mai-Tai”. I visited the Clarion Music Center and researched some future gong, tamtam, cymbal and drum purchases for the GCC, and found some neat noise-makers. The next day we drove to Half Moon Bay and walked the beach.
Baz was keen to see some famous surfing locations and was sorry he didn’t bring his board and suit . We hiked out to Mavericks- yikes! I’m glad he didn’t have his gear. Instead, we found a cool little tap room called Hop Dogma that had a Belgian ale called Seahawks Suck (billed as a simple beer that speaks a simple truth). We also walked the Golden Gate Bridge and saw some crazy surfers and a whale breaching underneath! On Sunday, we went to dollar days at Golden Gate Fields, relaxed and lost some small wagers.
The leisurely pace of our Bay Area visit was a stark contrast to our LA whirlwind and upcoming March tour schedule. It’s Presidents’ Day and we are driving to our next gig in Ashland OR, with Dr. Terry Longshore at Southern Oregon University. I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest and am looking forward to it. My former student and current colleague Joseph Perez went to Ashland after his time at GCC to study with Terry, and Crossing 32nd Street’s Dr. Brett Reed plays in the fantastic duo Skin and Bones with Terry as well. Both have great things to say about Ashland, I’m anxious to check it out. I’m finishing this post as we drive and Barry’s vlog of the San Fran week is posted on the pincushioned website.
Thanks to Eric, his colleagues, Craig and Crystal, the Electronic Music students of Chabot and Miles the Dog for the hospitality and a great week- Mt. Shasta looms ahead…Bazmobile North!