Friday Music, autobiographical memoir, just text

So I just got home (02:00) from an appearance at an open mic in the town of Jegun in the Gers (32), almost an hour from where we live.  I am working up to a solo set I’ll be doing outdoors for probably close to 200  not very sophisticated (musically or otherwise) Frenchmen in late May.  Things were a bit rocky on the first number, the Leadbelly song “Alabama Bound,” but I settled down after that and actually had some fun, did a little bit of hamming it up (for me), which meant closing my eyes to show that I was soulful and into it.  But the gratifying thing was, the small crowd did appreciate the fact that they were listening to a real musician, I got a lot of compliments, the owner of the bar approached my wife to get my “coordinates” and offered me a gig over the summer, people were clapping and snapping their fingers when I was playing one of my own songs, called “Stay Cool.”  I am now playing my new jazz guitar almost exclusively, and I go through a fancy Boss effects pedal, so I was playing this song with a wah-pedal effect, used famously by Jimi Hendrix.  This is all pretty new to me, before we moved to France I did not really play electric guitar much.   In fact, I did not have the energy to play much at all for many years, I was too busy earning a living.  Another gratifying thing is that, usually when I play in public, it is the other musicians who most appreciate what I do.

It’s pretty clear now that if I can just conquer my lifelong stagefright, more or less, I could probably play professionally in France.  So I am thinking that I might make it a goal to do a certain number of gigs in the summer of 2013.  I’d like eventually to get some gigs in the big cities nearby, Bordeaux and Toulouse, maybe try to get into the jazz scenes there (but I am still a few years of woodshedding away from that).

Here is the “problem.”  I don’t know whether to go down the musical rabbit hole and to really go for it, I could spend all of my time just doing that, but there are also things that I am supposed to be writing, a novel I started years ago, various nonfiction projects.  I guess I need to set aside time for writing and make sure that I do it.  The music thing is more immediately gratifying, it’s more fun.

I plan to appear publicly under the stagename BlueZach.  Remember, you heard it here first.  I think I’ll also plan tentatively to put out a CD by the end of 2013.

I gave a little bit of money to the Democrats today, too.  I was holding my nose, but I remember when people whom I respect were saying that George Bush II was a moderate.

9 thoughts on “Friday Music, autobiographical memoir, just text

  1. Ocean

    All that is very exciting, ledocs. Who knows? I may decide to go listen to you playing in France one day!

    Perhaps after you settle with some routine, you may be able to make time for a couple of your other projects. It would take discipline to make the time on a regular basis. I always advice people to make a schedule, as if they were going to work, and stick to it no matter what. It’s the only way, because if you wait until you have the time, or feel like it, well, it doesn’t happen.

    Good luck!

    1. ledocs Post author

      About the visit, you had better hurry up. I am not immortal. The best time is May – September, Ocean. We had great weather from about Feb. 15 to March 7, then things tanked, it’s been overcast and rainy ever since. Last year, I was swimming in the pool at this time of year.

      Everyone here is invited to visit. Gascony is a nice part of the world, very pretty and quiet.

      The opera singer Carol Vaness was interested in renting our house some years ago, before we had moved from California. She had seen an ad on the Internet and was going to be appearing at the opera in Toulouse. Then I told her that we were 1.5 hours from the opera house and she never wrote back. I mention this in part because it is a source of pride, but also to let you know that there is at least reasonably good opera in the summer in Toulouse.

  2. Uncle Ebeneezer

    Sounds like a fun gig. Thanks for the recap. Which Boss pedal are you using? Funny that you mention the wah and Jimi. I just recently decided that in addition to a couple overdrive pedals that I wanted a fuzz pedal. For the laypeople out there, overdrives basically sound like an amp that has been pushed to the limit, whereas distortion and fuzz pedals sound more like there is something “ontop of” the original signal*.) Fuzz was made very famous by Monsieur Hendrix back when he hit the scene. Anyways, so after much deliberation I bought a great fuzz pedal and even used it for a gig last week. Unfortunately, with multiple pedals, often-times certain pedals don’t get along with others. I found that my wah pedal was giving me problems. It was a Budha Wah which have great tone but are somewhat notorious for technical glitches. So I decided to take that wah off my board and replaced it with my other wah which is a signature….you guessed it…Jimi Hendrix Crybaby. Now all the pedals get along nicely.

    Good luck figuring out the balance on your time. That’s always a challenge for people with varied interests. I agree with Ocean about scheduling. I took a crack at writing a few years ago, but unlike music which just sorta comes out of me, writing was something that just wouldn’t get done if I didn’t purposely set aside time for it.

    1. ledocs Post author

      I am using the GT-10 multieffects pedal. It’s got several virtual wahs. You probably know this pedal. As I say, I had no prior experience with effects of any kind, except for the reverb and tremolo on my MusicMan amp, so I took a quantum leap when I got this thing a few years ago. The other guitarist in the band I was in had a very complicated effects chain, and I had literally never seen that before. Now I see that this is more the rule than the exception in rock. As I’ve said before, my exposure to rock had been quite minimal.

      Recently, we heard the jazz guitarist Mark Whitfield in Marciac, and he had a complicated effects rig that he barely seemed to use, he used one tone for the entire gig, as far as I could tell, and then I realized that he probably plays in all kinds of groups, including rock and fusion, and that he’s just used to going through that rig now, he probably almost never plugs in directly to an amp, if he’s performing. So now I’m used to going through the GT-10, and I was playing jazzed up folk music with reverb, chorus, and delay.

      I’m considering selling my custom-made acoustic guitar, which is my most expensive and objectively best guitar, because it’s hard to work with amplified, it’s really bass-heavy and feeds back a lot, it’s harder to play than the Pisano archtop, most of the fingerstyle stuff I do is funky, I don’t really need or want that pure acoustic tone very often, and it just doesn’t produce enough volume unamplified. I don’t really have much desire to play unamplified anymore, which is weird. For years, I had amps that I never used. Even now, I’m either using little practice amps or I go through my portable PA system, but I’ve got this very nice old MusicMan amp, combination tube-transistor, it’s basically a Twin Reverb. I think I’ll try the new archtop with that today, writing this is inspiring me, but I have to run it through a transformer, that’s the minor problem. Moving that thing around is a bitch, too.

      I really had no idea how much work is involved in lugging equipment around until very recently. It must have taken me ten minutes to get set up for that open mic, because of the effects pedal.

      1. Uncle Ebeneezer

        Yeah. There’s a couple reasons for large pedalboards with several pedals. Probably the biggest is the one you mention. Anyone who plays in multiple bands or does session-work etc., will have a bunch of effects on the board that are just there “just in case” they need them someday. For example, I had a reverb pedal on my board for years because neither of my amps have reverb (I love the sound of reverb on other people’s stuff but I like NR amps because I can usually hear them much better in the cacophony on stage.) And it’s a major hassle to constantly remove things from the board that you aren’t currently using, so you default to just leaving everything on there for that rainy day.

        The other reason for lots of single pedals is that alot of guitarists aren’t crazy about the multi-effects processors. My feeling is that they usually offer tons of options, but that for each of those options (distortion, delay, etc.) usually there are superior tones to be found from a single pedal that does just that one effect. And for me, it’s easier to click on a single pedal that has a unique color/light etc., rather than trying to scroll through a bank of pre-set sounds or remember which of 8 buttons is the one with the combo that I’m looking for, on the fly. The biggest drawback of the multi-pedal board, however, is that as the system becomes more and more complex, the potential for problems increases drastically, and trouble-shooting when something goes wrong, can become quite a headache with 2 jacks per pedal, 1 power connection per pedal, connector cables, the order of the pedals etc., all potentially being the source of whatever hum/hiss/screech etc. you are trying to diagnose.

        I waver back and forth between wanting to have everything under the sun at my fingertips every time I play, to having just the essentials, to even playing minimalist (guitar-cable-amp.) There is something really neat about simple plug-and-play. So much so, that after years of amps with lots of options, nowadays my amp is about as simple as it gets, (two knobs can still produce some pretty great tone! note: that’s not me in the video) and so is my backup.

        At the end of the day, it’s all about whatever you find works for you. Keep us posted on what happens with the gig!

  3. MaxFlux

    To be sure, how much of one’s time musical endeavors will require is a scalable thing. I think playing music and writing can coexist in a person’s life very well, especially if the income from neither is the primary concern. I have to say that just about the best moment of my life was standing up in front of strangers with a band for the first time, even though there were only about a dozen or so people in attendance at the event. Playing live can be a real thrill. OTOH, repetition can render something sublime into pure tedium, and having projects other than a musical avocation can help keep things engaging and interesting.

    Good luck with that, ledocs.

  4. claymisher

    Hey Ledocs, post some audio!

    I think acoustic guitars are great instruments but you can’t beat electrics for their versatility. That and how easy they are to play. I can’t handle the high action on acoustics.


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