Thursday, January 7, 2010

For the sake of brevity

It's just "The Heavy Rotation" now.

Sander's New Years Eve blast was an awesome time! We have a new Facebook page with some music from the show. Thanks to all who came out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In case you were wondering...

Hey, it's been a while, but I'm still here. My personal music scene has changed quite a bit, so in case anyone is interested, I'll fill you in.

SFI is still playing, albeit not as much as we used to. The realities of a slow economy mean that most clubs that cater to our crowd have either cut back their live music budget or outright closed. So we're being highly selective of our bookings, preferring the private market rather than public shows as a full band, but still giving public performances in a different form. Jarrod Schell and I have been performing as a duo quite a bit lately and Jarrod is still doing his solo act so you can still catch the essence of SFI a couple times a month, and see the full band at select performances throughout the year.

The Matt Strand Group has landed a regular gig at L'Bistro - appearing on the third Thursday of every month. These shows coincide with their regular Thursday night jazz, and our shows, in particular, are configured as a jam session, where anyone with an instrument and a little jazz or blues flavor can participate. We're also doing plenty of weddings and corporate parties.

The Popejoy-Strand duo is playing the second Thursday of each month at Archives Coffee House (formerly Tabula). Playing with Dr. Popejoy is always fun and this gig, in particular, is challenging because it forces me to play left-hand bass independent of right-hand melody - something I'm not necessarily used to.

And finally, announcing my newest oldest project: About 10 years ago, I had a horn band called Fatlip (later renamed Groove Union), which lasted about 3 years, before it was torn asunder by transportation issues (half the band lived in Fargo).

Well, this type of band has been my dream since childhood and I simply can't go on without one. For a few years now, I've been assembling a group of musicians to play New Year's Eve at Sanders - an amalgamation of members of SFI plus a horn section. I've decided to make this a more regular group and take it public. If you like old-school funk and soul music, you need to check out Big Daddy Matt and the Heavy Rotation.

This group is incredibly fun to play with, but what I like most is our sheer musicianship - we've got some killer players: Myself on keyboards and vocals, Jarrod Schell on guitar and vocals, Steve Carriere plays bass, Austin Winger on drums, Amanda Nelson on sax and vocals, Cory Driscoll and Justin Uhlir on trumpets and providing the low-end of the horns: Ben Kinser on bari sax. We also have Robert Carter doing some lead vocals and if you haven't heard this guy sing, you need to get off your butts.

So you provide the party, we'll provide the groove: come out and you'll hear plenty of funky stuff like Earth Wind and Fire, Tower of Power, Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Steely Dan, Wilson Pickett, and Marvin Gaye, plus we have the flexibility to play everything from rock and roll to country. We're playing at the Ralph for the Wisconsin series this weekend and, of course, at Sanders on New Year's Eve. See you there!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Upcoming stuff:

Hey all, June was a slow month as I've been on vacation, but I'm back now.

Oh, do we have some upcoming shows:

SFI is at the Prairie Rose Games this Saturday (July 11th) at Riverside Park, Grand Forks. Showtime is 6:00

The Popejoy-Strand Duo is at the Farmer's Market on July 18th.

And, don't forget, I'm music directing HAIR with the Crimson Creek players at the Empire Theater - August 4-8, 11-15 and Still Fighting It is the rhythm section!

More shows to follow, see you soon!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Springfest 2009

We just got back from playing Springfest out at University Park. The crowd was great - thanks for braving the cold and being so damn awesome! Thanks to Rhombus Guys for having us and to HB for doing a great job running the sound and stage, as always.

If you saw the show, stop by the comments section below and let us know what you liked (or didn't like). If you want to hear us play again, please tell your friends about us and be sure to ask for us at the local music spots.

And while you're at it, add us to your myspace and Facebook friends!

Our next show is June 3rd in Devils Lake, backing Alyson Gilbert.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Two big shows

Still Fighting It has been booked for two rather large shows right here in Grand Forks:

The first is when we open for Lovesick Radio at XL93's April Fools Fest at the Alerus Center's Plan B club on April 1st. The show starts at 7:00. We're on first, before Whiskey Vaccine and finally Lovesick Radio. Tickets can be purchased for $11 at the Alerus Center Box Office or through Ticketmaster.

The second is Springfest, at University Park on May 9th from 2:00-4:00 PM. $5 cover. We'll share the stage with Reconcile, Colie Paulson, and the North River Ramblers. Thanks to Rhombus Guys for putting this on!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Still kickin'

Hey all, I'm not dead - quite the opposite, in fact. SFI has been taking time during this brief hiatus to get in the studio to record some of our favorite songs. We're about halfway done, but now comes the fun part of post-editing (blah). In the meantime, we have a show coming up this Saturday at the UND Memorial Ballroom from 9-11:30. There is a freewill donation at the door, after that it's party time.

Dr. Jim Popejoy, director of bands at UND, and I have been performing a vibes/keys jazz chamber duo at Archives coffee house. You can catch us the first Tuesday of every month from 8:00-10:00 PM.

On the side, I'm teaching private lessons two nights a week as well as individual lessons at UND, which is keeping me plenty busy. If you're interested, drop me a line; I have a few slots left.

Also, the past two weeks I've been filling in for trombonist Tom Wogsland in the River City Jazz trio, while he is recovering from a bug. I actually get to pick up my sax, which is a blast to play again. You can see myself, along with Kris Eylands (guitarist of Jazz on Tap fame), and Steve Carriere (basso extraordinaire) at L'Bistro this Thursday at 8:00. Too bad there isn't a monorail to get you there...

There are other SFI shows coming up, including a reprise of the Alyson Gilbert gig, on tap for this summer.

I've also been playing at church and having a lot of fun doing it. Playing at church was my first gig on keyboards, back in 1997 and if you're on my facebook, you can see pictures to that affect.

And no, I haven't been struck by lightning... yet. :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

With the highs, come the lows

As many of you may have read on Herald reporter Tu Uyen Tran's blog, Suite 49 has closed. Still Fighting It laments this loss as it was the venue of our first show on June 18, 2005. Moreso, it is a loss of a current, valued place to play. There is a more ominous undercurrent to this, though.

In about October of 2007, I was blogging weekly about all the live music one could hear and it got to be too much for me to keep track of it all. That got me wondering if the conucopia of live music I'd been seeing was excessive - too much, too fast, too much of a short-term promotional stunt in a world that obviously needs long-term stability and growth. Could owners sustain the specials that were enticing crowds? Could bands keep it fresh while playing in a town of 50,000 3-4 times per month? Would the nationwide slowdown and impending economic crash affect the booming local economy? Would Canadian tourists continue to line the pockets of local merchangts? These were all musings of mine during that time - call it cautious optimism.

Well, the excess of 2007 is certainly gone, and in its wake are owners struggling to keep the doors open. I have noticed that, unless I'm missing something, bookings have fallen by about 50%. Unfortunately, this trend is spreading at an alarming rate, both locally, and nationally, according to musicians I've spoken to.

So, who is to blame? That's a tough one and we could pontificate on this for a while: the economy, gas prices last year, bad venue management, bad bands, indifferent crowds, market saturation, bad overall music climate in the world, rise of the iPod, home entertainment systems... What is it that causes a music scene to fail so spectacularly? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter: Have you heard any good live music lately? Have you noticed a drop-off in live bookings? What do you think about it or do you have enough to think about already?

As for Still Fighting It, well, we're still fighting it - we're a band mostly made up of guys that love music and aren't leaving Grand Forks any time soon. We'll still play, maybe not quite as frequently for now, but we look at this as more available time to rehearse, learn new material, maybe even record some stuff.

That said, come check us out with our horn section on New Year's Eve at Sanders! The show starts at 10:00 and we'll be playing all your favorite soul and rock hits.