Monday, December 7, 2009

Blues gig good...

I had a great time playing with Moving Blues last Sunday (11/29).

I had fun having a little "bass practice" with Ned yesterday (12/6).

This Friday (12/11) Roman Holiday plays up in Killeen at our "home bar", The Duckhorn Tavern at the Killeen Mall. It should be fun.

As for other aspects of my musical life, well, there haven't been any. My non-musical life has trumped it all these past few weeks.

Hopefully I can get back to practicing and writing stuff at some point in the future.

That would be nice.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Musical Schizo Plays The Blues

This weekend at Rabbit's - Sunday night at 9pm I'm filling in on bass with Moving Blues for a benefit show. Come out and check us out - East 6th Street and Chicon.

Roman Holiday had a good show this past weekend, though I think I need to sit down with Mr. Ned and teach him how to play bass better. We aren't booked very much, but everything coming up is good for us, so here's hoping we can add to it.

Still going to figure out another musical venture that involves me playing guitar, whether it be the always-talked-about, never-realized acoustic act or another power trio with me on guitar.

We shall see. Come see the blues show - show up early for some really great blues on Sunday, then you can watch me guess my way through a show!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MUSE-ic is the best.

I've been inspired by a few dorks from Teignmouth.

The new Muse record, "The Resistance" came out recently, and I've been wearing it out.

I just love their complete abandon, stylistically, and their willingness to pretty much try anything that suits them. It WORKS on this record.

And so, it's inspired me to remember what's important to me where music is concerned: Fun!

Taking that brave leap and writing a sexy electro-R&B song with slap bass even if you're a progressive rock band known more for distorted bass lines under soaring guitar and operatic vocals. Unabashedly aping Queen's "massive choral harmonies and orchestral-sounding harmonized guitar parts". It's just great stuff, and all done well.

I've always been a bit of a genre-bender, at least in spirit, so for me, The Musical Schizo, this is MY prog band right now.

So thank you, Muse (Matt, Chris, and Dominic) for making a record that really touched me and reminded me what's important.

I think I'm going to go record a song right now. We'll see if I post it...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Had a great (though too sunny) show at Lake Belton for the 3rd Cavalry and their families. It was cool. Big props to George and John at Veteran Sound ( for their great work. Also to the Army for having us. It was truly an honor.

Had a less great show two weeks prior at Hayashi. Well, the show was great, but a discussion about our fee after the show soured the night. We won't be back there, not because we don't like the place, but apparently we're too expensive, even with the discount we gave them.

We've been playing "Rebel Yell" at the shows, with me on Ned's guitar (and him on my bass). It's been pretty fun, but it's still weird because I'm just not really used to playing his guitars. They feel weird to me, especially after playing a bass for the rest of the show. It's harder to play and sing than I remembered, but only from a rhythmic standpoint - I can get through every part, it's just kind of pat-head-rub-belly at times.

On the songwriting front, I wrote a chord progression yesterday, and had some ideas for a melody, which is good. I also recorded some drums just for fun and they ended up sounding pretty decent despite my crappy playing. I definitely need to plan out times when I can cut real drum tracks for all my songs. That would be splendid.

I think I just need to start writing as much as possible again. The juices need to be kickstarted to flow, and they just haven't been.

And away we go! Roman Holiday's got some time off now, perhaps we'll schedule a rehearsal or two. Or not...

Monday, September 7, 2009

So what's the word this week...

Mother Nature is a cruel BITCH.

Our gig on Friday got rained out. In the driest summer in recent Austin history (AFAIK). First a light sprinkle that didn't seem like it was going to lead to anything that lasted for a while, then slightly more driving rain, followed by immediate deluge, Florida-style. We were set up outside on a deck next to a pool in a really dangerous thunderstorm. Needless to say, lightning hit really close, scaring the shit out of us more than once.

Seems like everything's okay - we went to a dry garage (thank you Greg) and toweled everything down. Fortunately it's supposed to be really hot all week, so the stuff should dry out well.

My biggest bummer was not getting to use my new bass. I got a great deal on a used Carvin B5 bass, and so far, at least at home, I'm loving the thing. It's a little "loved" (way more loved than I expected based on the pictures on Craigslist), but worth the money I spent on it, for sure. It's light, very flexible in tone, and an utter joy to play. Here are some pictures:

Public gig this Saturday night at Hayashi up in Cedar should be a gas!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So I'm gonna jam with a different band...

It should be fun.

It's definitely made me realize that I'd really like to get another band going to play maybe once a month or so, booked around Roman Holiday. I'll probably play guitar and sing lead in the new band, which will most likely be a trio (to keep it lucrative), and most likely feature a lot of different songs than we play with Roman Holiday.

More liberties will be taken with song selection, though many of the usual suspects will appear. And my original songs (at least a few of them) will be part of the repertoire.

I'm not sure who else will be in the band with me, but we're going to work that part out before the end of the year and hopefully get the band up to speed and ready to gig by early next year.

Time to put on my big boy pants and take control of something for a change.

Of course, we all know (from reading this blog) that it will not happen, since I haven't managed to get my acoustic act (which is just ME (!)) up and running, either.

But you never know...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cancellations, frustrations, machinations...

So the two gigs I previewed in my last post, the apartment party on 7/16 and the Tilted Kilt gig on 7/18 were cancelled. The apartment party because Greg was still recovering, and the Tilted Kilt because they had new owners. So all gigs with them are cancelled, meaning we don't have another public show until - get this - SEPTEMBER!

Which is fine by me. Public shows are nice to have friends come, but they tend to pay really crappy.

Not enough time to write music or do anything creative musically, and even less inspiration right now. I don't know why this is, but it's extremely frustrating.

The tracks are coming along well - we should be ready to go with at least five of them at the next show. It's exciting...and scary. And I need to invest in some really good rechargeable 9v batteries, because buying them over and over is not only environmentally insane, but EXPENSIVE.


Monday, July 13, 2009

H1N1? Seriously?!!

So in the past couple of weeks, here's been the deal with the band:

Scene One:
We played up in Killeen, and saw a lot of our favorite people from up there - both the awesome staff (including the great waitress-who-I-managed-to-forget-her-name but who decided to actually work on her day off because WE were playing), and our great friends/fans who made the trip up there. It was a fun show, though a little weird.

Scene Two:
We played a 4th of July party for the same awesome lady who hired us last year - but this year was a little fucked up. Why? Well, Greg had just returned from a trip to Florida to take a cruise with family, and it seemed like he had a good time but was a little under the weather. Add his "coming down with something" to the BLISTERING heat (it was 104 degrees that day), the fact that our covered stage was situated facing the setting sun, a few unfortunate hot dogs, and well, it was a rough night. Oh, and did I mention what it turned out Greg had? A little thing most people know as "swine flu" - H1N1. He's been sick all week, sometimes worse, sometimes better, but he's going to be okay. I feel horrible for him, but I'm thankful I didn't get it. Fortunately he had basically zero contact with people at the party (he was usually off laying in the trailer, trying to save energy to finish the show, which he did as much as he could, and he's a real trouper.

A nice side note was that while he was tearing down his stuff, I kept playing - did acoustic solo stuff for the remainder of the show. Here's what I played:
Don't Stop Believin'
Hotel California
Baby One More Time
Cheap Sunglasses
Brown Eyed Girl
and maybe a few others - I can't remember.

It was fun, and people really enjoyed it (from what I could gather).

Scene Three:
Because of Greg's illness, we were left sort of scrambling for someone to be at the ready for this weekend's big wedding gig - it was a big payer for a kind of high-profile person - so we wanted to make sure the show could go on even if Greg was still too sick. Enter (or more appropriately, RE-enter) Rob Wade.

Yes, our dear departed drummer Rob came through for us this weekend - we called him early in the week to find out if it was even possible for him to make the trek to Austin to come play with us if necessary. As it turned out, he was available - and actually excited at the prospect of playing a show again. The money didn't hurt, either. So Ned sent him the setlist and he got to work, and we hoped Greg got better, happy to have a great back-up plan. Come Thursday, Greg's fever came back a little, so we had him make the call, and he said to get Rob to do it. So having no idea what to expect from a guy we hadn't played with in over a year, who really hadn't been playing all that much himself since he moved from Austin, we nervously all got set up for the show. We ran through a few songs as a sound check at the beginning, and it went surprisingly well. Save for a few moments during the show, no one who even sees us regularly would have any clue that this wasn't the "regular" band. Rob did an EXCELLENT job, and the couple who hired us were VERY pleased with our performance. Greg's still recovering (baby steps), and we hope he's all better soon.

For a variety of reasons, we're still not running the backing tracks yet, but they are coming. And if things go well enough, we'll be identifying more songs that could use the help and just fleshing it all out. I plan on tracking bass and backing vox on the "acoustic" songs I do with the band, and we'll go from there.

Thanks to Greg for trying so hard even though he's suffering from our current plague, to Rob for driving all the way down here to play with us again (and for investing the individual practice time to get everything together this past week), and to our clients for being so awesome to us. Honorable mention goes to the staff at the Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental Hotel for being great, too.

Public gig at Tilted Kilt on 7/18 (come see my ever-so-sexy headset mic). Private party at some apartment complex (I don't know which one) on 7/16.

And I am really going to start booking my acoustic show. After sitting in with Alon and half of "More Cowbell" last Tuesday at Molotov, I find it just stupid that I'm not doing that. I LOVE just strumming a guitar and singing - I love the creativity involved in coming up with interesting ways to flesh out arrangements of songs with just one guitar and one voice. It's rad, and I'm actually pretty damn good at it.

It's a gift, and I find it sort of shameful that I don't share it with more people (and have them pay me for it...)

Until the next outbreak...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Tracks cause me tears...

Roman Holiday is becoming a robo-band, at least partially.

Yes, we're acknowledging our shortcomings on certain songs and fortifying our performance with some backing tracks.

I'm not sure if I'm happy with the concept, because I feel like tracks are better as an all-or-nothing proposition. But I'm not sure what it's going to mean or how it's going to work for this band.

I think (sub?)consciously I'm really frustrated with my current situation, because almost everything we do engenders some sort of negative reaction in my brain, usually leading me to shooting off a semi-pissy e-mail. I'm just now recognizing this, although it's been going on for a long time. I don't know why, because I do like these guys, and I like the songs we play, and I like playing bass and singing lead. I just have this weird chip on my shoulder about all of it. Maybe my previous blogs about being burned out were manifestations of these same feelings.

I feel like a psycho, because it's almost like I'm denying something just to deny it, but I like it, but when I think of doing anything else I hate those ideas even though they seem appealing, too.

I think it's just facing what change would mean: a lot more work.

Which brings it back to the tracks - I think the fact that now I'm not allowed to mess up and come back around on the tracked tunes makes me realize I have homework to do so that doesn't happen, and I guess I hate the fact I have homework.

I've always thought I really had something to say as a songwriter or an artist, and as I get older, I just feel like I don't, mostly because I don't allow myself the luxury of concentrating on writing songs and creating stories or messages through music. Recently I've been more satisfied just parroting other crap and noodling around.

I'm such a whiny titty baby.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thank you, Butch Walker...

for reminding me that music should be about fun and passion. The show at Stubb's last night was loose in composition, but really tight in performance. I love it when a band is really loose with the stage show and song selection, but super tight when they're playing together...and that's how his band was last night.

Special kudos to Ponderosa for taking the blues and rocking it HARD.

And shame on American pop culture for not recognizing how great Butch is. You are truly missing out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

So, things have gotten a little bit better...

The band has played a few decent gigs since the debacle that was Pappacito's. We're still figuring out how to move ourselves in a more fun direction, since the stuff we've been playing is getting kind of stale for all of us.

I've actually grown tired of making the set lists, so I'm going to ask the other fellas if they'll make them for a while.

I finally tweaked my Variax so that it's not too loud and sounds more authentic as a 12-string. It really helps on the two acoustic songs we do, since both were originally played with 12-string acoustics.

I definitely need to find an outlet for playing guitar soon, though. It might mean that the Acoustical Schizo ( comes to life. We're so absurdly booked for the summer that I think I'd get it together just in time to book some dates in August and September. I might see if Dave can hook me up to play a few solo acoustic shows at Latitude 30, just to warm up the material in front of an audience. I'm having a hard time finding regular acoustic venues.

We'll see what happens. This coming weekend we're doing a sonic overhaul to Roman Holiday's PA - organizing it, getting really good monitor mixes without feedback, and basically putting together a system to make load-in and load-out easier (including labeling everything). I find that stuff fun, so that's cool.

We have received regular bookings for the summer at a few places, including Hayashi Sushi Grille in Cedar Park and The Tilted Kilt in Round Rock, so we have some public shows - yay!

I do dig the private parties a little more, though, most of the time, because the load-ins are usually easier and the pay is pretty much double on average.

No gig this weekend, but we're at a new venue (for us) in Pflugerville called "Hanover's" - they have their own house PA and pay a sound dude (I think) so we should be in good shape playing there. I don't anticipate a return gig there, because I don't trust all our peeps to show up, but we're going to have as much fun with it as possible.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feeling a teeny bit better about things

So a few days ago I posted a big, whiny "I think I'm burned out" blog, and it was precisely true to my emotions that day. I still sort of feel burned out, but I think that has more to do with how constrained our playlist feels than anything. I need to play some more new songs, and the ones we've been adding just haven't been dazzling me. "Walk This Way" sounded pretty weak the one time we tried to play it (who knows, it could get better), and we haven't even really tried the other two ("We're Not Gonna Take It" and "Livin' On A Prayer"). Plus we're learning "La Bamba" and "Tequila" for our Cinco De Mayo gig. How original. Any-way...

I did spend some time in the studio and recorded a little demo of a previously unrecorded old song of mine. It's super rough, but I figured I'd share it:
She's Got It All - Stream
She's Got It All - Download mp3
She's Got It All - Info about the song

I really need to get back to writing. I think that will solve a lot of my "issues".

I was also considering asking my friend mAndy (she likes to spell it that way) if she'd be interested in starting a little fun duo thing. I don't know if she has the time or interest, but I'm fairly certain she doesn't read my blog, so I can talk about it here before I ask.

She's a really talented singer who can play a bunch of other instruments. Along with me, I think we have the voices and arms to be able to cover a lot of sonic ground and still keep it really fun for the crowd. I actually asked her if she'd want to play with the full band a while back, but she thought that might be bad (too many conflicts with her band UNB), and before that, we were going to try an acoustic thing that never really panned out.

Regardless, my wife's been pushing me to ask her to do something, since we both (me and mAndy) will play pretty much any song and I think our voices will work well together.

We'll see what comes of it. She might not be interested, or might be too busy, or something else, but it never hurts to ask.

I think I'm going to start figuring out which venues have acoustic acts and call them to book some shows as a solo. If stuff works out with mAndy, maybe I can convince them to pay a little more for a duo.

Come see me play these next few weeks - 5/1 at Hayashi in Cedar Park (on 1431), 5/5 at Pappasito's (on I-35, I think), and 5/8 at The Tilted Kilt in Round Rock.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I think it's finally happened. I'm actually burned out.

I can do music, but I feel particularly uninspired these days. No writing, no creating, no real connection to anything I hear. I am even wondering if it's just a phase, or if I've crossed over into "go through the motions"-land.

I hope not. I play in a good band, with two gentlemen I really like. I am always praised for my singing and playing (probably because no matter how I'm feeling, I act as though it's the last show I'm ever going to get to play). We just played an awesome wedding at the Trois Estate north of Fredericksburg. All good shit with music. New venues, new opportunities, new songs...and just a blah feeling from me about all of it.

I think it might just come down to this: I feel constrained.

Constrained by the fact that Ned isn't a walking encyclopedia of songs (not even the songs we've played in the past because of his lack of memory).
Constrained by the fact that I have to drive all the way up to Round Rock to practice (which makes them impractical).
Constrained by my inability to manage time well enough to feel like I'm forging the close relationships with my wife and kids I want while also satisfying that artist in me who is crying out to create something, internalizing all that frustration and pain and not turning it into something productive.
Constrained by not having someone who has my same weird, diverse-but-still-sort-of-mainstream feelings about music or my same desire to create both the perfect Beatles-esque pop song, a ripping, angry punk song, a thrashy metal tune, and cutting the funkiest, most dirty groove.

I feel like I need a musical counterpart. As much as I've found a lot of musicians I admire and would collaborate with any time, I really don't have one. I don't know anyone who has the same affection for Rush, Van Halen, Green Day, Zappa, Sloan, Jellyfish, The Meters, Chicago, Billy Joel, Anthrax, Living Colour, Led Zeppelin, Extreme, King's X, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Grand Funk, Dave Brubeck, Motown, Stax, Operation Ivy, Reel Big Fish, Katy Perry, Butch Walker, early get the picture.

I have a feeling that unless something just happens, I'm not going to have an opportunity to ever really find one, because I just feel I can't invest the time in that sort of selfish pursuit. I feel it's unfair to my family.

So I think this constraint is more internal than external. It has everything to do with how I've lived my life. The endless conflict between the worldview of the obsessive artist - the loner who needs to concentrate to create - and the responsible member of society, making a contribution, dutiful to their responsibilities, not chasing their fanciful dreams.

Okay, now I'm going to cry - this cuts too close to the bone for me. This was meant as more of a "thinking it out as you write" thing, so of course I had to travel through a range of feelings to reach any sort of conclusions.

And here's my conclusion/plan for a resolution:
-I'm going to start to allow myself a little time each night to focus solely on musical pursuits. I'll do it when the children and wife have gone to sleep so as to not take away from potential time with them.
-I'll fight the feelings of burnout by finding new ways to enjoy what I'm doing (maybe play around with settings or something).
-I'm going to really focus on my music - improving what I've got and creating new music and hopefully finding some like-minded people here in Austin to play it with me. Hopefully the drum throne in this new endeavor (which will include me on vocals and guitar) will be occupied by Greg from Roman Holiday - he's got such a healthy attitude about music I still can't believe we ever considered anyone else after Rob left.

And if nothing comes of any of it, here's hoping it doesn't turn me into a cynical sourpuss who wants to sell all his gear and quit because he's never going to have the time to do it the way he wants to do it.

Love and funk,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I recorded something!

I spent a few hours in the studio tonight...this is the result, a song I've "cleverly" titled "Miner Fusion":
Download it
Stream it

More information about the tune (the nerdy info) can be found here.

I think it sounds pretty cool, even though it's just one of my instrumental experiments.

Last week I also wrote and recorded a song about a son's love for his dad called "My Old Man", but I haven't quite finished it yet, so I'm not posting it.

You can always find my latest music at

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gut check

I've heard this phrase at other times, mostly in the context of sports, but I've really done a musical "gut check" and decided that there are ways that I do my job as a singer/bassist that I view as wrong. It's always a challenge to be an instrumentalist and front a band, I think moreso on bass, personally, but in all cases it can be a real challenge to balance getting everything right with putting on a good show.

For this reason, I've always carried a meticulously-kept lyric book and a nondescript-but-tough music stand to my shows. I have an incredible tendency toward brain farts when I'm concentrating so hard on multiple things at a time.

The truth is, though, I do know just about everything that's in the book, and I rarely need to look at it. I actually keep the book in line with my bass' neck so that it just looks like I'm looking at my hand when I'm eyeing the lyric sheets.

I also like being able to cover songs that I haven't done enough times to have memorized completely. It really expands the repertoire without the investment of too much time in rehearsal for things that aren't a regular part of the show.

There are a lot of musician Nazis out there who are against music stands in all circumstances - that you should have everything memorized. Most of them are not singers, and most of them do not have to know over 100 songs.

Even seasoned pros who wrote their own songs (like Michael Stipe, for instance) will use lyric sheets from time to time to get themselves through older songs they don't do all the time. And that's usually bands who in their entire history have around 100 songs. I've learned over 400 songs for the different bands I've played in, not all on vocals, but it amazes me how easy it is for me to remember the intricate musical details of a song even when just about all the lyrics escape me.

And then there are songs that I played for a short period of time that I've internalized so well that I can play them without any assistance.

So (sorry for the roundabout way I've arrived at this), I've performed a musical gut check. I CAN know everything and not need a sheet to help me. I AM capable of it.

I just need to make it happen, and it shouldn't be all that hard. It's just a matter of playing the songs enough times for the arrangement and lyrics and my bass parts to merge together to reinforce each other as one solid memory.

This is why I can still do "Surrender" any time I want, even though we only played that for about 6 months back in 1999-2000. Or why I was able to get through "Centerfold" with no lyrics at practice one time. Simply experience. I put in the time with those songs, and they were songs I already loved.

I can do that with everything on our list, and I will, and I think it's time to take the band (Roman Holiday) in the direction of putting songs together as part of a bunch of mini-shows - rehearse transitions and ways to polish what is already a pretty damn good product. If we do this successfully, then we can move to bringing in some more elements and expanding our sound.

Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cedar Street

Played there Sunday with the Roman Holiday fellas.

Friends David and Caleb from The Empire came out (along with Dave's cool roomie). They hung around for about one was the 80s pop/80s hair band set. No idea what they thought - still haven't heard the post-mortem from Dave.

Sound was great - big thanks to Gregg. He was very complimentary about my skills as a singer and bassist. I'm such a good faker.

I appreciated the kind words...ego boosts are nice. Sennheiser Wireless was excellent...I've got to start using that more often. Might be time to pick up a wireless headset mic just to be more active and crazy on stage. It might be too "Garth Brooks", though. Headset mics are not very rock. Ah, well.

Thinking about doing something else so I can play guitar...I don't know what it will be...but we shall see. I like bass, but it's time to play guitar...even if it's acoustic.

I will make that mention in every blog from now until it happens...about the acoustic thing. I'm so pathetic. Rock on!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's been interesting...

As Ned has built the light show for Roman Holiday, we're really starting to look as professional as we now sound. Don't believe me? Listen here: Roman Holiday's new demo reel.

We shot video and audio at our La Zona Rosa private party back in November (Happy Birthday to John), and the audio came out great, but the video looks kind of lame. I'm going to go through it and find some good clips to use - I'll probably edit the video to match the demo reel as it is and post that to Vimeo or YouTube or something.

Anyway, the band's back at Cedar Street for the first time in over a year this coming Sunday, and though we're not looking forward to the meager payday (we usually make a lot more money), we're hoping they realize how good we actually are and give us the chance to play on better nights and pay us better. It's a fun venue when the weather is nice, and the people who work there are great.

The calendar's looking kind of empty, unfortunately, but we've really been fortunate and we look forward to any surprise bookings we may get (because they seem to happen more often than we expect).

I'm a broken record, but I'm really excited about the prospect of finally getting my acoustic thing together. I have a song list (it's HUGE) and a song book so that I can play requests and stuff. I'll probably print up complete song lists for people to peruse at the show in case they want to throw in some money and make a request. Now I just need to find some good venues to get it going. I'm even going to incorporate a bunch of the Roman Holiday songs acoustic-style for something different, which will make the list even longer! Look out for The Acoustical Schizo, coming to a restaurant or coffee house near you.

I haven't written anything since last May, and that kind of makes me sad. I haven't really been all that inspired, though, so it's not a shock. I've just been enjoying life and keeping busy with my wife, kids, job, and band.

I'm going to make a concerted effort to improve my understanding of theory and relative pitch this year, and really push to make myself an excellent musician (instead of one that sort of skates along on his natural talent).

I hope you all had wonderful holidays and you have a happy and profitable 2009!