Archive for September, 2007

Wednesday Blues Jam With Kaj

For over six years now I’ve been a regular at the Conway’s blues jam in Milwaukee on Wednesday nights. Last Wednesday, Kaj Anderson drove over to the house and we both went to the jam. It was a good time and Kaj was well received. I introduced Kaj to the host and mentioned we’d like to play in the same set if possible – and that’s what we did. I’m now convinced that Kaj can do “Low Rider” in any situation.
I like this blues jam for a number of reasons: 1. There is no house band that plays first – it’s a jam right from the start. There is a host bass player (Big Fred) who runs the jam, and a house drummer. Two drummers rotate every week so one guy doesn’t have to bring a drum set every week. Most jams have a house band that starts things off and the “jam” aspect is often just letting people sit in with the band. 2. There are no breaks. Having a house band start, then a limited number of jammers on stage combined with breaks can make for long wait if you came to play. Conway’s jam is a first come – first play situation. If you were the first guitarist to show up – you’re on stage when it begins. Being that there are mostly guitarists, the jam runs two players at a time. 3. They give the jammers two free drink tickets. It’s a nice way of saying thanks for coming down. My only criticism is that often it starts late – sometimes as late as 9:30 which is tough on us who work in the morning. Now when Kaj and I were there, it started before 9:00 and we played the 2nd set. We stayed most of the night – went through all the guitar players and Kaj got up a second time.
A humorous aspect of the jam is the blues “nicknames” that are given to the regulars. There’s Big Fred, Wild Bill, Louisiana’s favorite son, Big Daddy, King of the surf guitar, to name a few. One night Fred said to me, “With the way you look and play, you must be from Texas.” (not like wear a cowboy hat or anything….) So I’ve been dubbed “The long tall Texan.” I’ve even had people ask where in Texas I’m from – what do you say? I’m thinking Brownsville….The jam is a nice outlet for me – kind of a guys night out and Holly is used to me going – plus I’ve made a lot of friends. Anyway, since we’re off this weekend, I thought I’d mention the jam and again thank Kaj for making the drive over.



Busy Weekend at Tremors / Learning Songs

Probably the best two nights at Tremors we’ve ever had. Of course, a bachelor and two bachelorette parties on Saturday really filled up the place. The band was up too. We learned “Online” (Brad Paisley) on Saturday afternoon and even brought back a few oldies. That, and a few “fix it” spots made Saturday night something to look forward to. I should say that I’ve been working on that Brad Paisley song for 3 weeks now and am still not comfortable with it – although it went fine. Just wouldn’t want anyone to get the idea that we can just “pop these things out” by getting together. There’s a lot of individual homework to do before we decide to call a full band practice. I wasn’t planning on going there but here’s how we do it: We decide on a song to learn – the main criteria is that it’s danceable. Then I take the CD home and write out the music – “cheat sheets” if you want the correct term. This guarantees that everyone will learn the same chords. I usually write out my personal guitar parts as well – licks and solos. This helps in the memorizing process and is handy when I need to review parts. Then everyone gets a CD of the song and the cheat sheet. After a reasonable amount of time for everyone to learn their parts, we get together as a band and put it all together. Actually, we’ve been doing it this way for many years now and it seems to work. It’s hard to get everybody together and this way doesn’t waste anybody’s time. We have “popped out” simple songs at practice without a lot of homework – if it’s something we’ve all heard and played before. It’s fun when it happens. Anyway, a weekend off and it’s house cleaning for me! It’s back to the Owl’s club at the end of the month – 28th & 29th. We’ll see you there!


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Countryside – Friday 9/7

Friday night at the Countryside – not a bad night. Thanks to all who stopped out: Stacy, Dorothy, Laurie, Laura, Bryan, Rich Longhenry and wife, Earl, and Kami just to name just a few. We’ve been starting a little later out there on Fridays – usually about 9:15 or so…just FYI. A big thanks to Tim who took it upon himself took locate and replace our blown PA speaker. It’s one of those “behind the scenes” issues that you wouldn’t normally hear about and we appreciate the extra work. The Countryside is a big room with a big dance floor and it takes quite a few people to make it look busy. We really like the design with the loading door being directly behind the stage. It means trampling Bob to get in and out…but it’s nice to have it that close. Next week it’s a return to Tremors – always a good time. I see we’re off after that – probably need it to recuperate! We should be adding some more songs soon as well. Stop out and see us at Tremors and be sure to say hi. See you there!


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Labor Day Weekend – 2007

Friday was a 1st for us at JD’s Prime Spot in Beloit. Not a real busy night but the band sounded good. Dorothy was out with Stacy and celebrating a birthday. Congrats to her. I did a silly thing and left my wallet in the back of my amp – which I remembered after we were packed up. And of course, my amp was pretty much buried by the other equipment.
A return to Crazyhorse in Brodhead on Sunday. The night was a little slow at first, but picked up quickly and was busy the rest of the night. We had a good time and a fun crowd. The only bummer this time was a broken hinge on the trailer and we blew one of our main PA speakers. “The cost of doing business” to quote Tim. The one-nighters are a long day for me as I drive from Milwaukee and then back again if we have the next day off. Oh well, mileage is tax deductible…..
It’s back to the Countryside for another one-nighter on Friday. Stop out and do some dancing! I’d also like to say thanks to everyone who has been reading this section as the counter has topped the 5000 mark. Someday I might allow comments – it’s just that I know too many wise guys! See you Friday at the Countryside.


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