MUSIC

A Blissful Weekend Playing

I played on my favorite street corner Friday Saturday and Sunday nights. The weather was beautiful, the audiences were responsive, said really nice things and thanked me for being there, the acoustics were great, i had an awesome time playing whatever i felt like playing, i made not a ton but enough money to feel appreciated. One of those runs where you feel YES! this is why i came to this planet.

The spot where i play there are several businesses all in a row that have tables out front. Generally there are 20-50 people there. Really it’s like a restaurant gig, except strictly tips. Most nights i bring my 12 string acoustic, but sometimes, like this weekend, i bring my electric guitar and really small amp. Kept it mellow, still got loose, played a ton of blues, did a little tapping. Played a lot of Neil Young and Stones, some of my own songs, did John Barleycorn Must Die, even did an extended version of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing with a lot of vocal riffing.

After 41 years i have some small idea of what i’m doing, people noticed. Usually i play 7-9:30 or 10. Saturday night i went til 10:30, Sunday night til 11. Just was having too good a time playing to quit. Made $117 for a total of ten hours, really not much in musician terms, but for the demographic and the amount of people out it was ok.

A lot of times my self talk is “i should get a real gig”, but nights like that, where so many people say it was so great having me there, it just feels right.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliot

March 29
Watching video “Ballad of Ramblin’ Jack” (Elliot). Found it in a free box today. Must have been meant to watch it. Really changing my attitude towards success. Jack was so great as a musician, so authentic in living his own life, and so dis-organized. For all his talent and all the effect he had on others, he himself never had more than some success, mostly due to being his own worst enemy, yet his gift is incredible and leaps off the screen. To be who he was he had to be who he was (and is, still alive).

April 2
Watching Ramblin Jack again. It’s got me checking out all kinds of other folksingers on youtube. Played today on the street, could hear how all these new influences were adding some new wrinkles into my playing in a good way

April 3
At the risk of being repetitive, watching Ramblin Jack video again. Somehow this is speaking to my soul and helping me make peace with the fact that i’m 61 and still just playing on street corners, a busker, which Ramblin Jack says comes from the spanish word buscar, to search, seek, look for.

I went to Europe with a backpack and a guitar in 1990, got back 15 months later. From 91-now the longest i ever spent under one roof was 2 1/2 years in Monterey. I basically had a circuit in California of places i’d be for a few weeks or a few months.

Used to see my life in mythic terms: Robert Johnson and others used to travel around the Mississippi River Delta, for me California with occasional forays to other places, Seattle, Omaha, Santa Fe. They say we all pick myths to live by. Drifting seemed glamorous to me up until the past few years when i got really tired of it.

Harbin was the place i kept coming back to 92-7, Monterey area 98-06. Spent a bunch of time in Bay Area and San Diego all along. Maybe a year total in Big Sur, 6-9 months Mt. Shasta, various other places, SLO, Marin, Arcata, Santa Cruz, and others. Spent a lot of time in nature, especially Big Sur and Shasta campgrounds. Now i am blessed to have a garden outside my door. Yay Stan! (House owner upstairs).

And the truth is i always wanted to have a place and travel, just didn’t have the money, especially in California where you need the Do Re Mi.

So now i’ve got a pretty sweet little in law type place in Eugene, Oregon. Coming up on a year here. No desire to ramble (maybe a few short trips) because it is extremely clear to me the truth of the old saying “wherever you go, there you are”. Wouldn’t mind a nice large injection of funds, but otherwise feeling more at peace recently than i have in a long time.

JIMI

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JIMI
It’s no secret that Jimi is a huge influence on my playing. I used to carry his picture in my wallet, the one where’s he’s playing slide with a can of Bud.

When i lived in Denver in 1978 i had a 2 bedroom apartment on 14th St. on Capitol Hill with one room as a music room with a bunch of guitars and amps. Main guitar Ibanez Strat, main amp a blue face Twin. Put a Big Muff and a Cry Baby in the line to get my Jimi sound.

I went to a professional hypnotist to learn self hypnosis. He was an honest guy. I had signed on for a four session course; after the third session he said i had it and didn’t need to come back. I used to give myself the suggestion that i would be able to play like Jimi. Maybe i channeled him cause i could feel it. Love you man. Used to feel he was one of my spirit guides. Him, Sam Lewis and some others.

So at a garage sale yesterday i bought Cds of Jimi i didn’t even know existed, double CD sets live at Woodstock and Fillmore East. A totally different sound from the studio albums. On the Fillmore East especially, much more traditional guitar, which i am enjoying very much. More of his R+B and blues roots, maybe because he’s playing with Billy Cox and Buddy Miles. Humanizes him, makes the guitar more approachable (and easier to play along with). His playing sounds a lot blacker, a lot more groove, on these albums which, since i love blues and soul, is a good thing. Listening to this i wish i could hear him play with Alphonse Mouzon, who was an excellent jazz rock fusion drummer of the period. Stanley Clarke on bass?

I would love to have my own Band of Gypsies, a bass player and drummer who can flow with anything. Have the name, INFINITE PRESENT, now i need the other musicians, maybe one man, one woman, who both can sing some, also sing some chorus parts. I would be the lead singer but I’ve always liked to play with other people who wrote and sang about every third song and i support them to sound their best as they support me.

May 14
THIRD STONE FROM THE SUN

Was playing 3rd Stone tonight in my room, brought back some good memories.

Back in the early 2000s during one of my frequent “in between” periods i spent a few months in Daly City on the couch at my friend Eric’s.

I used to play on the street in North Beach Friday and Saturday nights, electric guitar and amp, loud, on Broadway halfway down the block from Columbus. Wouldn’t even start til 9 or 9:30, wouldn’t get home til 4 or 4:30.

Played a lot of rock type stuff. Got great response from everyone. Decked out younger black dudes with their women going to dance clubs used to throw me 20s. Seemed like whenever i played a Stones song there’d be 10 or 20 cops hanging out down the way. They used to pass me and whisper “rock on, dude”. Good times.

At the end of the night, around 2:15, i used to kick into 3rd Stone from the Sun, the notes echoing off the buildings across the street, jamming it out long and slow, improvising, letting it own the street.
There’s a certain sound notes get bouncing off concrete in the open air, especially at 2:30 in the morning.
Magical.

 

May 31
BUSKING JIMI—-Hear my train a coming
Went out to my spot tonight with electric guitar and looper. Beautiful night. I loved playing and quite honestly was great, people dug it, said so and tipped. Went heavy on Jimi songs, they were in my head. Came home and put his CD on. I hear my train a coming.