I'm a freelance writer by day and a working jazz musician by night, and often I am able to combine my two lines of work. This blog is for posting gigs & various rants about music and life in general.

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Location: Central Illinois, United States
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Good news!
I've decided that using headings really help separate the big blocks of text I keep adding to this blog. I know how to write for the web (read: short sentences! lots of white space! short paragraphs! chunk information!) but since this is a casual blog I tend to let the information architecture part slide a bit.

But that's not the good news I'm talking about. Today I was finally able to set up an interview with Nicholas Payton! I managed to track his agent down, who put me in touch with his assistant, who scheduled an interview for tomorrow morning. I'm supposed to call him at 11:30 am and we'll have a great chat. I understand he's a really nice guy...just wish I could treat him to coffee or something instead of just a conversation with me. But hey, publicity's publicity, ain't it? And WP is a respected mag...last month Sonny Rollins was featured (as was Mindi Abair...but we don't need to discuss that)!

So I'm pretty excited. I need to go over my questions and make sure they sound intelligent.

Other writing gigs
Boy when it rains it pours. I'm working on a brochure for a local law firm, an article for another mag, a press kit for Carl Anderson's New Orleans Jazz Band, and have a potential brochure project for the local Home Sweet Home Mission in the works.

I seem to be getting into project management as I have been coordinating design and printing duties as well as taking care of the writing. That's ok...I can offer a complete package rather than just supplying the writing and saying, "ok, now find yourself a designer and take these to Kinko's to print up your 2,000 brochures." (Most folks don't know where to start, and they don't have the time to mess with this sort of thing.) I've got a couple of designers that I've worked with who are very reliable, and I've forged a relationship with a great printing company. My business is really moving forward and I'm starting to feel the air of excitement that comes with success. Right now I am smiling!

Gig gigs--er, music gigs
Another busy week/end:

Thursday, September 30
@ Panache with Dave Hoffman (piano) and Jamie Jenkens (bass)
7:30 - 10:00 pm

Friday, October 1
@ the Hotel Pere Marquette w/ the Fulton Street Gang
5:00 - 7:30 pm

Sunday, October 3
@ the Shoppes at Grand Prairie w/ Cassie Hart & Friends
1:00 - 4:0o pm

And finally...
I'm trying to add more links to keep this blog a bit more exciting. See who the folks are that I talk about here if you so desire, and jump around like you're supposed to on the web. Linear text is outee, y'all. Keep it fun but remember to check back here for more!

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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Generic update
It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon...and since I swore off engaging in any sort of work today (slight pangs of guilt ensue but not nearly enough to lure me back to the work-desk) I'm headed outside to enjoy the afternoon. Might hit the trail for a bike ride or walk...good way to clear the ol' head.

This past week was quite busy. How come no one ever talks about all the meetings that arise when you work for yourself? I had to put on my "grown-up" clothes every day this week so that I would look presentable for meetings, ribbon cuttings, and lunchtime engagement. I'm not really complaining...new and recurring clients are a good thing! And networking is a necessity. Gotta let people know you're out there! It does finally seem to be paying off...met with one new potential client today and spoke with two others who don't need work now, but may in the future. And as I check my email from yesterday I realized a resume arrived in my inbox for review.

Music stuff
Gigs were good this week/end. Didn't perform, per se, yesterday but I took part in a recording session. Think I mentioned this before...Sam Crain is working on a new CD and asked me to guest on one of his originals. The studio experience, as short as it was for me, has already helped me begin to overcome my fear of immortalizing my playing via recordings. It's different performing live...you make a mistake, you do something later to make everyone forget about it (if they even noticed in the first place) and it's over and done. But on a recording errors are permanent. And in the studio, time is money, and you can't mess around with 27 takes on one tune. We did 3...and one of those was just a practice take. Even so, I think things went ok and I'm interested to hear the finished product.

So, maybe I'm ready to consider working on a recording of my own. But I don't know. Locals keep asking when I'm going to do this. I've given vague answers thus far...truthfully, I want to have something worthwhile to contribute if/when I do undertake such a project. Sam writes his own stuff, which is great, and Kevin does, too. (His recording project is nearing the final phases, btw, and it's going to be absolutely fantastic!). But I don't write tunes, and I'm kinda just an average sax player who does all right in the local music scene. Nothing flashy, nothing fancy, nothing overtly original. I don't play a lot of notes, I don't hang out in the altissimo register (people love that), and I'm not extremely innovative. But I enjoy playing music, I dig the company of other musicians, and more often than not we all have a good time. That makes playing worth it in my eyes. And of course, it's always rewarding when listeners are pleased with what they're hearing.

I could go into the whole financial aspect of performing, but let's leave that for another time, shall we? (Got a great story about that....)

Since these days are getting shorter and the sun is beginning to dip towards the horizon, I'd better get my rear outdoors and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Gig updates are forthcoming for the week as are various, unstructured ramblings. Looking forward to sharing with you!


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Monday, September 20, 2004

An eventful weekend it was! (Well, maybe not so much eventful as busy.) I'm so sad it's over! Played several gigs...which of course means I wasn't home at all since they were all in Peoria. Saturday morning we did, however, manage to get the lawn reseeded and I am anxiously waiting lush, green grass to sprout. Had the sprinkler going in the front yard this morning and it not only provided nourishment for the grass, it offered entertainment for the kids up the street. None of them are school-faring age yet, and their mom takes them for stroller-strolls daily around the block. A little while ago I heard shrieking coming from the front of my house and when I looked out, saw a drenched kid on his bike laughing like crazy. The younger kid in the stroller, being pushed by mom, of course, was more terrified than excited. She was bawling and mom was trying to tell her it was all right, water is good and it won't hurt you...but the kid wasn't buying it.

Occasionally I'm assured that this blog is being read. (Thanks, Sam :-) So here's a piece of news for all you folks who tune in for music-related comments: today on WGLT's Blue Plate Special (featured artist airplay during noon and 1:00 pm) J. Geils will be featured. That's right, children of the 80s--J. Geils sang the one-hit-wonder "Centerfold." (Nah, nah, nah-nah-nah...) Apparently he was into jazz and blues before exploring his rock roots. He's released a new album with, I assume, more jazz focus, and you can bet I'll be tuning in. Don't know if he's singing or doing an instrumental thing, but it should be interesting either way.

Gigs for the week are as follows:

Wednesday, Sept. 22 @ the new Radisson Hotel in Peoria (formerly Jumer's, then formerly the Peoria Castle Lodge)
Grand Opening Celebration
5:00 - 8:00 pm

Thursday, Sept. 23 @ Panache
with Kevin Hart & Donovan Hill
7:30 - 10:00 pm

Friday, Sept. 24 @ the Hotel Pere Marquette
with the Fulton Street Gang
5:00 - 7:30 pm

Saturday, Sept. 25 isn't a gig but I've been asked to play on Sam Crain's recording session, on his original tune "Trail of Suds." (So guess what I'll be practicing this week!!) It's a light, fun tune that may replace my vote for the "happiest jazz song ever"--formerly deserving of Sonny Rollins' St.Thomas. Anyway, I'm flattered to be a part of this project and am looking forward to playing with the guys on this tune.

Now it's time to work.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Ah, I finally figured out how to work the image feature. Tried the other day and for some reason it didn't take. Here's a pic of the Fulton Street gang (my posting experiment):

It's a huge one, isn't it?? (the picture that is) I think I stretched it out a bit trying to decrease the size. Oh well. You get the picture. That's me, in the middle. (The only chick in da band, as usual!)

Gig schedule for the week is as follows:

Thursday, September 16 @ Panache
w/ Billy Cook (guitar), Jim Kelton (bass), Bill Duncan (drums)
7:30 - 10:00 pm

Friday, Sept. 17 @ The Hotel Pere Marquette
w/ the Fulton Street Gang (see pic above!)
5:00 - 7:30 pm

Saturday, Sept. 18 @ the CEFCU Stage (Peoria Riverfront)
w/ the Swing Daddies, special guest Sam Crain

Sunday, Sept. 19 @ the Shoppes at Grand Prairie
w/ the Swing Daddies, special guest TBA

For some reason the rest of my post disappeared. No bother. I didn't say much, anywho.

Hope to see some of you out this weekend!

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Friday, September 10, 2004

I've been up since 6 a.m. thanks to a meeting I thought I had at 7:30, but when I arrived I saw NO ONE. How frustrating is that? At least this non-existant meeting got me up for an early start. There's lots to do today and as always, not enough time to get everything done.

My first article was published in B2B magazine this week! I haven't seen it yet, but several people have commented on it. And the response has been complimentary, so I guess all is well. I have to look into obtaining a submitter's copy, or something. And now I need to start working on the next article. I'll be contributing every other month with the next article being for November's issue of B2B. I'll be discussing how to write and distribute press releases for this piece. The good news is that this publication opportunity is putting my name in front of the local business community and letting people know that I write for a living. It's a great chance to build credibility and communicate with other business folks.

Update on the Payton interview: talked to Nicholas' agent this week and learned that he'll be out of the country until next week. The agent is supposed to call me back to set up a phone interview. Hopefully I'll be able to make the Sept. 18 deadline, but even if I do get to talk to him next week that'll be pushing it. I like to take time to revise and I'm afraid that if I don't get to conduct the interview until, say, the 16th, my first draft will be lame and I won't have time enough to make it presentable for WP.

On the music front: Panache last night was fun. Our first set especially. Had a "new" bass player on the gig and he did a real nice job. He doesn't play upright (to my knowledge), but has a great sound on electric and kept things together very well. We played a show of sorts together a few years ago so we sort of knew each other from that. He's been playing mostly rock and R&B gigs, and seems interested in doing more jazz. It's been tough replacing Andy, but things will be fine.

Speaking of which, got an email from our Guatemala-bound friends. They have arrived and seem to be enjoying their new surroundings. Sounds like they have to work hard at becoming familiar with the culture and language, but they don't seem to mind. Found some interesting facts on Guatemala here.

I really need to get some work done now.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

It's not too late to post gigs for the week, is it? The holiday's got my schedule out of whack.

Wednesday, September 8
The Swing Daddies at Fat Jack's
7:00 - 10:00 pm

Thursday, Sept. 9
with Larry Harms (piano) and Jamie Jenkins (bass) at Panache

No Pere for me on Friday due to a private thing but you can catch Larry, this time on sax, with the Fulton Street Gang.

So, I spent a good deal of today trying to track down a source for Nicholas Payton. I tried his website first to get in touch with his agent. No luck. The agent's website has dead links all over it. Next I tried Warner Bros. as they're backing his latest CD, but it's impossible to get much info about anyone other than today's hottest (and lame) pop stars. I did finally locate an email address, to which I sent a brief query about obtaining an interview, and immediately got an autoresponder that was completely incoherent.

But thanks to Laura Kennedy, a wonderfully entertaining and funny local radio personality on WGLT, I might have another shot. She knows someone who works at WB and gave me his phone number. At least, she thinks he's still there. I'm game to try anything, especially since the WP Pres noted that he'd like the article in a week and a half!

I have a newsletter to put together tonight--it's one I volunteer to do, so I won't work on it during "billing" hours--and I'd better get at it. But first I need to get to the library and return a movie that we didn't get around to watching this week. (Blair Witch Project. Is it any good? Anyone know? Anyone? Bueller?) It's due today and I really don't want another fine. Bloomington Library is pretty stern about late charges, and I don't want that steely glare that the librarians shoot at you when you hand them a belated checkout item. It's scary.

So off I go.

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Monday, September 06, 2004

It's Labor Day, so today I am honoring the tradition and so far, I've done nothing worth mentioning here (except get caught in the rain on a bike ride). There's lots to do, though, and I feel as if I need to get my rear seated at my desk and get some work done despite the holiday. I'm motivated, especially since this week was exciting on the writing front...got a new client & will be helping revise a severely outdated brochure and...here's my favorite...I may have an assignment for Windplayer magazine! I've been in contact with the president of the mag and we've been discussing the possibility of writing something for one of his magazines (he also publishes School Music Dealer and a few other music-related texts). Recently he asked me to pitch him a few names of musicians that would be interesting to WP readers. I selected Bob Mintzer (severely under-rated tenor man and composer, father of the Bob Mintzer Big Band and sax guy/composer/arranger of the Yellowjackets, educator and personal muse), Jane Bunnett (female soprano sax/flute player and leader of Spirits of Havana), and Nicholas Payton (30ish trumpet player who has made waves since his teens and is still going strong). The Pres asked me to do a profile on Payton, so I need to contact his agent this week and see if I can set up a phone interview. I'm pretty excited about this, for sure. Getting regular assignments like this would be a very cool thing. Guess we'll see what happens!

The other things I should be doing include boring household chores (my blinds really need cleaned) and practicing. Had a couple of extensive sessions with Band-in-a-Box this week and now I've got a raw spot on my face. Haven't been woodshedding much this summer (and it shows!) so I guess I'm out of shape. The spot under my lower lip no longer has the red, crusty look, though. It's starting to heal over, so I should be back at it, maybe even this afternoon.

Enjoy the holiday!

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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Happy hump day!

Wednesday it is, though just about 36 minutes shy of Thursday morning, Central Time. Just got back from one of Normal's 3 regular jazz gigs. I didn't play, but went with a couple of friends to hear Kevin and two other locals. Left a bit early because the place gets incredibly smokey and my eyes begin to water and my nose begins to plug up. Being a non-smoker this annoys me greatly but rather than preach to the crowd (you can't preach nicotine evils to a bar crowd) I just left. The music was good, though. And the company was grand. So I really have no complaints.

Today was one of those "feast" days. Anyone who is either a musician or self-employed (or both, like me) knows what I'm talking about. I answered the phone every time it rang (this is unusual since most calls are solicitations, which waste precious time) and each time it was something important. A couple of potential gigs and a couple of potential writing jobs. I should pick up more often! The past month has been more of the "famine" like...no new gigs and no writing jobs that resulted in actual cash. So today was a good day.

I think I will sign off for the night. I've been checking out other blogs using the "next blog" option on the screen. Some are interesting and others aren't so much. I tend to like the ones that are set up in journal/diary style...guess it comes from being a nosy person. It's neat to have a glimpse into someone else's life, even if it's just a tiny glimpse. It shows how different we all are...and makes me appreciate that fact. The folks that use excessive "net lingo" kind of make it tough to read, though. You know, the posts that refuse to incorporate capital letters that spell words incorrectly on purpose and that leave out vowels and that use "UR" instead of "you are" and such. Example:

tdy i wnt to jimmies house. plyd cps & rbbrs & told jimmie he needs to wsh his sox. they smell BAD n he dsnt realize how terrible they R. i told him, UR sooo unsanitary & he said he dnt care.

So much for signing off for the night. I could continue to rant about why American youths (or "yutes" as Joe Pesci humorously quipps in "My Cousin Vinny") can't read, write, or spell but I will stop now. Nobody wants to read about this stuff and I don't actually care to pontificate in blog-style so I think, I think...I'll just go to bed. G'night, world.