Thursday, December 20, 2007

Upcoming Shows: December 20-31

I'll be taking a vacation next week and won't update until Sunday the 30th (at the earliest), so I'm expanding the weekly update by a few days. Have a good Christmas and a Sanders New Year!


Thursday, December 20th

  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede - 8:00, free, all ages
  • Jazz on Tap @ L'Bistro - 8:00, free, all ages
  • Morriscode @ O'Really's - 9:00, free, 21+
  • Mischief @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00, free, 21+
Friday, December 21st

  • Job Christenson presents Friday Night Holiday Cabaret feat. John Behling, Mike Blake, Alyson Gilbert, Marlys Murphy, and me @ Firehall Theatre - 7:30, $10, all ages
  • Wisegise @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00, free, 21+
Saturday, December 22nd

  • Stuart Rieke @ Porpoura Coffee - 2:00, free, all ages
  • Wisegise @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00, free, 21+
  • Hyentyte @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00, free, 21+
Wednesday, December 26th

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00, free, 21+
  • Voltaire @ Blue Moose - 10:00, free, 21+
Thursday, December 27th

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00, free, 21+
Friday, December 28th

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Diamond Lounge - 9:30, free, 21+
  • Fat Dad @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00, free, 21+
Saturday, December 29th

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Diamond Lounge - 9:30, free, 21+
Monday, December 31st - New Year's Eve

  • Rudolph Lives @ 414 - 7:00
  • Wisegise @ American Legion (EGF) - 8:30
  • Full Tilt @ VFW (EGF) - 9:00
  • Identity 5 @ Longhaul Saloon - ??
  • SFI plus horns @ Sanders - 10:00

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Upcoming Shows: December 12 thru 18

Wednesday, December 12th
  • Still Fighting It @ The Blue Moose - 9:00P, free, all ages

Thursday, December 13th

  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede - 8:00P, free, all ages - bring your axes - Special Christmas music this week!
  • June Panic @ Crosstown - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • WBPN @ Crosstown - 10:00P, free, 21+

Friday, December 14th

  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ Alerus Center - 8:00P, not free, all ages
  • Greater Grand Forks Master Chorale presents "A Scandinavian Christmas" @ Sacred Heart Auditorium (EGF) - 8:00P, all ages
  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Charlie Brown's - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • Seven Dollar Shift (Farewell Show!) @ Crosstown - 10:00P, free, 21+

Saturday, December 15th

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Charlie Brown's - 9:00P, free, 21+

Sunday, December 16th

  • Greater Grand Forks Music Teachers Christmas Recital @ Columbia Mall - 2:00P, free, all ages
  • Greater Grand Forks Master Chorale presents "A Scandinavian Christmas" @ St. Michael's Church - 8:00P, all ages

Tuesday, December 18th

  • Grand Forks Central and Red River High Schools present Handel's Messiah @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30P, $12/$9, all ages

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Upcoming Shows: December 5 thru December 12

Wednesday, December 5th
  • Loose Change @ Blue Moose - 9:00P, free, all ages
  • Angela Thompson and Bill Anderson @ Tavern United - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • ADDED: Hellcats @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • Mischief @ Joe Black's - 10:00P free, 21+

Thursday, December 6th

  • TIME CHANGE: River City Jazz Trio @ L'Bistro - 5:00P, free, all ages
  • ADDED: Jazz on Tap @ L'Bistro - 8:00P, free, all ages
  • ADDED: Hellcats @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • Still Fighting It @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00P, free, 21+
  • Grampa's Amp @ Bonzer's - 10:30P, free, 21+

Friday, December 7th

  • Kentucky Sound Arsenal w/Rudolph Lives @ American Legion (EGF) - 8:00P, $5
  • Identity 5 @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • ADDED: Sweet Freedom @ Charlie Brown's - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • ADDED: Hellcats @ Diamond Lounge - 9:30P, free, 21+

Saturday, December 8th

  • Identity 5 @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • ADDED: Sweet Freedom @ Charlie Brown's - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • ADDED: Hellcats @ Diamond Lounge - 9:30P, free, 21+
  • The North River Ramblers @ The Hub - 10:00P, $2, 21+
  • Down Lo w/Deploi (CD release party) @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00P, free, 21+

Sunday, December 9th

Tuesday, December 11th

  • Jarrod Schell @ Loading Dock (UND Mem'l Union) - 11:30AM, free, all ages
  • Open Mike Night @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00P, free, all ages

***No Jam at the Urban this week - we'll be back next Thursday***

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Popplers Music

As many of you know, I work at Popplers Music store. Popplers has launched a Myspace page (link here) and Still Fighting It will be sharing data from upcoming shows with Popplers' page and vice-versa. Both of these sites are a great resource for finding out where the music is in town (bands - take note!), not to mention a good way to keep tabs on any specials that may be happening at the store.

I will continue to do my weekly updates and occasional blogs about local music as before. However, it should be noted that my opinions don't reflect those of Popplers Music, etc, etc. Had to get that out of the way...

As you can see from this week's update, the music scene is still growing. The Crosstown is doing gigs 3 or more nights per week now, which is excellent. If you haven't been there, you should check it out. O'Really's and the CanadInn doing music just about every week, too, but the bands playing there aren't good at contacting me... aHEM...

So, let me know where you're at, bands.

That is all. See you guys next week.

Upcoming Shows: November 29 thru December 4

Thursday, November 29th

Friday, November 30th

Saturday, December 1st

  • Riechel @ @ Josephine Campbell Recital Hall - 2:00P, free, all ages
  • North Country Fiddle and Dance @ Grand Forks Senior Center - 7:30P, donations accepted
  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Charley Brown's - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • Whiskey Vaccine @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00P, free, 21+
  • Cornmeal @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00P, free, 21+
  • Grampa's Amp @ The Hub - 10:30P, $2, 21+

Sunday, December 2nd

Tuesday, December 4th

  • Pluckstruck @ Tabula - 8:00P, all ages, free
  • Open Mike Night @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00P, all ages, free

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Upcoming Shows - November 21-27

As is normal for Thanksgiving week, there aren't many shows to speak of. December should be fairly busy, though - I know SFI has plenty going on; don't forget to make plans for New Year's Eve at Sanders.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Wednesday, November 21st
  • Wayne Renn @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM, free, all ages

Saturday, November 24th

  • Stuart Rieke @ Potpourra - 2:00 PM, free, all ages
  • North River Ramblers @ The Hub - 10:00 PM, $2, 21+

Tuesday, November 27th

  • University Band and Pride of the North band present UND's ExtravaBANDza @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30 PM, $12/$6/$3, all ages
  • Open Mike at Mike's Pizza - 9:00 PM, free, all ages
  • Dirty Sweet @ The Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, $5, 21+

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Upcoming shows: November 15th thru 20th

Sorry, I was pretty busy yesterday - here's the weekly update:

Thursday, November 15th
  • The Domino Affect @ Loading Dock - 6:00 PM, free, all ages
  • UND Jazz and Wind Ensembles Concert @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30 PM, $12/6/3, all ages
  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM, free, all ages
  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM, free, 21+
  • Jarrod Schell (solo) @ O'Really's - 9:00 PM, free, 21+
  • Fat Maw Rooney @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, free, 21+

Friday, November 16th

  • Day of Percussion feat. David Schmallenberger & Orlando Cotto @ UND Memorial Union - 9:30 AM to 2:30 PM, $5, all ages
  • Wisegise @ Longhaul Saloon - 10:00 PM, free, 21+
  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Diamond Lounge - 9:30 PM, free, 21+
  • Jazz on Tap @ Sanders - 9:30 PM, free, all ages
  • Legionnaires @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, free, 21+

Saturday, November 17th

  • Dingus @ Loading Dock (UND) - 7:00 PM, free, all ages
  • UND Dance Marathon feat. SFI @ Memorial Union Ballroom - 7:00 PM
  • Grand Cities Children's Choirs Fall Concert @ United Lutheran - 7:00 PM, donations accepted, all ages
  • Whiskey Vaccine @ Kelly's Bar - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Ben Suchy & Bandwidth @ Suite 49 - 9:00 PM, free, all ages
  • Wisegise @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00 PM, free, 21+
  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Diamond Lounge - 9:30 PM, free, 21+
  • Jazz on Tap @ Sanders - 9:30 PM, free, all ages
  • June Panic @ The Hub - 10:00 PM, $2, 21+

Sunday, November 20th

  • A Work Begun (CD release party) @ NG Armory - 5:30 PM

Monday, November 19th

  • Red River High School Orchestra Concert @ Empire Arts Center - 7:00 PM, all ages
  • UND Steel Band @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30 PM, $12/6/3, all ages

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Upcoming Shows: November 7 - 13

Wednesday, November 7th
  • Jazz on Tap @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM, free, all ages (21+ in the bar)

Thursday, November 8th

  • Student Showcase @ Campbell Recital Hall (UND) - 2:00 PM, free, all ages
  • Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre presents "Jaques Brel" @ Empire Arts Center - 7:30 PM, $15/$18
  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede (no John this week - I'll be leading) - 8:00 PM, free, all ages
  • Sol Spectre @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, free, 21+

Friday, November 9th

  • Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre presents "Jaques Brel" @ Empire Arts Center - 7:30 PM, $15/$18
  • Jones Gang @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, free, 21+

Saturday, November 10th

  • Greater Grand Forks Community Theatre presents "Jaques Brel" @ Empire Arts Center - 7:30 PM, $15/$18

Sunday, November 11th

  • Ma'lot Quintet @ ND Museum of Art - 2:00 PM, $15/$13/$5, all ages
  • Moscow Ballet presents the "Great Russian Nutcracker" @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30 PM, $22-$67, all ages

Tuesday, November 13th

  • Student Woodwind/Brasswind concert @ Campbell Recital Hall (UND) - 7:30 PM, free, all ages
  • Open Mic @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00 PM, free, all ages

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gig report: Red River High School Jazz Bands 11/05/07

The Red River jazz bands played their Fall concert last night at the Empire. Leading off the night was the Freshman jazz ensemble, directed by Chris Larsen. They played about six songs and featured a bunch of soloists. Soloing is one of those things that people tend to take for granted. It's not easy for a kid to step in front of a band and wail away without any music in front of him or her. Even more daunting is when there are 250 friends and family members watching you do it! I remember my first solo so long ago (7th grade - I actually have a VHS of it) - Glenn Miller's arrangement of "Little Brown Jug." How nervous I was - and it didn't go very awesomely. But last night there were a few freshmen that really stood out - they had control of their instruments and communicated some pretty good ideas - I'm watching for these guys to make a big impact on the local jazz scene in the near future.

The Intermediate Jazz Ensemble was next (Bruce Morlock directed) and despite having only one trombone (and kudos to that dude for being a rockstar), they had a big sound. There weren't quite as many soloists in this band - but they did very well, and solos alone are not a measure of musicianship - these guys and gals were a pretty tight-sounding ensemble. I recall at that age making my musical world revolve around soloing so much that I'd slack on the ensemble playing. Don't ever forget that it's a band, not a one-person show. Ever. These kids exemplified that. My hat is off.

The Rider Jazz Ensemble (Chris Larsen directed) wrapped up the night. I was really impressed by a piece they played called "Blue Opening" by Ike & Fred Sturm. It was a very skulky, funky, mixed-meter piece. I wish I'd gotten to play something like that back in High School. There were lots of soloists in this group and they all did well.

If I could proffer one piece of criticism, and this is something that has become a pattern in my criticism, is that the sound was not very balanced. I know the Empire is a big theatre and there are many opportunities for reverb, slapback, and feedback, but some of the soloists actually hurt my ears because they were so loud. Sound reinforcement is often something that gets somewhat passed over in the big preparation to put on a good show. I mean, how often does any band practice with a system set up? But because it's something that has the potential to make or break a show, I'd highly recommend every band to practice with a PA, to analyze the sound and make necessary adjustments (before the show), and to hire someone that knows your band (and your requirements) - and pay them well! :) [EDIT: This goes for any band on any night - I'm not trying to single anyone out here, it's just a soapbox issue of mine]. Anyway, I wouldn't go as far as to say it broke the show - far from it - but it was distracting.

In addition, the bass was kind of muddled in the mix. The low tones emanating from that cabinet way in the back of the stage propagate much more slowly than the high notes coming from, say, the trumpets, which causes the sound to be muddy. Also, the player was standing pretty much in front of the cab (from the perpective of many audience members), which actually blocks any high frequencies that come out. If the amp has a direct output, I'd use it - mixing a bass into the house PA adds a lot of clarity. If nothing else, get that amp more toward the front of the stage and unobstructed.

That's just my two cents. It was good to get out for a change and see young people that are so dedicated to jazz - that's something that is so important to me that I can barely describe it. I hope my son has the same opportunities these kids do when he is old enough to play. I hope he is surrounded by other players that share a passion for jazz as these players and directors do.

Way to go, Red River - looking forward to the Myra festival!

A breather!

Have I mentioned how much I love to play music? This blog is so often about what is going on in town; sometimes I forget to talk about how much music means to me.

SFI played back-to-back shows on Friday night - first at Englestad Arena while UND was trouncing Colorado College (sadly, a feat not to be repeated on Saturday), then we had about 30 minutes to pack up, unpack, and sound check at Suite 49 for another two hours of playing. It came out during the course of a conversation with my sister-in-law during a set break that I was indeed exhausted - my legs were on fire for standing at work + Englestad + Suite 49 all day. But when the next set resumed I was all energy again. To put it bluntly - there is nothing, repeat nothing, that motivates me, that energizes me like music does. And I love it. How many times can I play Mary Jane's Last Dance and still look forward to it? Can I expect to spend hours upon hours preparing charts for a band? Or how often do I want to get paid next to nothing to play a jam session with a group of (dedicated and talented) high schoolers?

The answer is always. Music does that to me.

In fact, I was going to write how much I'd like music to motivate me to mow my lawn - but I just realized that ever since I got an iPod, I actually look forward to mowing or snowblowing. Hah!

I titled this post "a breather" because SFI is not booked for the next two weeks and somehow that makes me feel less busy, like my schedule is breathing. But as I started writing, it was apparent that I'm still busy with music: I have four students on two different nights (and I'm willing to take more - email me); we're gearing up for the New Years Gig at Sanders, which, by the way, should be a lot of fun; and of course the Urban jam session is every Thursday.

I also have been really motivated to practice lately, and God knows I could use it! I just picked up Band in a Box and I've been messing around with it in the studio until 1:00 AM almost every night for the past few weeks. If you're not familiar with the program, you should check it out - it's pretty self-explanatory, but to summarize: it's a band in a box. That oughta clear it up.

SFI is also ready to head into the practice space to pull up some new music, which reminds me: any requests or ideas? We've been getting a lot of requests for country lately, which is good, but a little out of my normal comfort zone. I guess that doesn't matter much because I like to try different things (see, music motivates me again). Jarrod is ready to go a little in that direction (don't worry if you're used to our "normal" stuff - it'll still be there), and it'll be a good change-up.

In the meantime, there are bands around town that I'd like to catch, so maybe this is a good time for the two Friday nights I now have open. Any recommendations?

So, what about you? I'd like to get more feedback from the music lovers out there: does music energize you? Motivate you? Does music intertwine into nearly every aspect of your life?

That's all for this post.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Upcoming Shows: October 31 - November 6

Wednesday, October 31st
  • Fall Fest feat. A Work Begun, Jamie Mulligan, Tunnels 2000, The Consumption @ 414 - 7:00 PM, all ages, $4
  • CORRECTION: The Domino Affect @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM, free (thanks, Bill!)
  • Mischief @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Gold Standard & June Panic @ Crosstown Lounge - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Full Tilt @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:30 PM, 21+

Thursday, November 1st

  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM, all ages, free
  • Mischief @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Gold Standard @ Crosstown Lounge - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • MOVED: Open Mic @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00 PM
  • Jazz on Tap @ L'Bistro - 9:00 PM, all ages, free

Friday, November 2nd

  • Expressions (multiple artists) @ The Loading Dock - 7:00 PM
  • Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra presents "Spooky Nights" @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:00 PM
  • Mischief @ Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Identity 5 @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Still Fighting It feat. Jarrod Schell @ Suite 49 - 10:00 PM, all ages, free

Saturday, November 3rd

  • Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra presents "Spooky Nights" @ Empire Theatre - 7:30 PM, $15/10/5, all ages
  • North Country Fiddle and Barn Dance @ Grand Forks Senior Center - 7:30 PM
  • Identity 5 @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • We The Living @ Loading Dock - 9:00 PM
  • Jarrod Schell (solo) @ Suite 49 - 10:00 PM, all ages, free

Sunday, November 4th

  • Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra presents "Spooky Nights" @ Empire Theatre - 2:00 PM, $15/10/5, all ages

Monday, November 5th

  • Pluckstruck @ Tabula - 8:00 PM, all ages, free
  • Red River High School Jazz Bands @ Empire Theatre - 7:30 PM

Tuesday, November 6th

  • UND Chamber Orchestra @ Campbell Recital Hall (Hughes Fine Arts Center - UND) - 7:30 PM, $6/$3
  • MOVED: Open Mic @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00 PM (New, permanent night and time - thanks, Julie!)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Upcoming Shows - Oct 25th thru 30th

Sorry, it's been a heck of a last two weeks - I've been musically committed nearly every day. Yesterday was my first day off in a while and I reveled in it by not going to work or doing my normal Wednesday update.

But things musical are still going well in this town and interest in music, from both audiences and musicians alike, is strong - I can't complain about that!

Getting back to normality - here is your weekly update:

Thursday, October 25th
  • Pro Musica feat. Job Christenson @ First Presbyterian Church - 7:30PM, $10/$5
  • Mercy Me @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30PM $27/$23
  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede - 8:00PM, free, all ages (I won't be there again as I've been called to fill in w/ Jazz on Tap - next week, I promise).
  • Jazz on Tap @ L'Bistro (Canad Inn) - 8:00PM, free, all ages
  • Crimson Betty @ Mike's Pizza - 9:30PM, beer donation requested
  • Peat Moss & Bucket of Blues @ O'Really's - 10:00PM, free, 21+
  • Johnson Family Band @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00PM, free, 21+

Friday, October 26th

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Charley Brown's - 9:00PM, free, 21+
  • Still Fighting It feat. Jarrod Schell @ Sanders - 10:00PM, free, all ages

Saturday, October 27th

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Charley Brown's - 9:00PM, free, 21+
  • Jarrod Schell (solo) @ Sanders - 10:00PM, free, all ages
  • Grampa's Amp @ Bonzer's - 10:00PM, 21+

Sunday, October 28th

  • Greater Grand Forks Master Chorale presents "Passport to Choral Music" @ Sacred Heart Church Auditorium (EGF) - 7:30PM, all ages

Tuesday, October 30th

  • "I Love a Piano - the music of Irving Berlin" @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30PM, all ages, $35/30/20/15

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Upcoming Shows: October 17-23

Wednesday, October 17th
  • A Work Begun, Rhyme and Reason, Noise Union @ Fourfourteen - 9:00 PM
  • The Light Friday @ UND Quad (behind Twamley) - 7:00 PM
  • Still Fighting It feat. Jarrod Schell @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM, free, 21+ in bar/all ages in restaurant

Thursday, October 18th

  • UND Music Dept. Student Showcase @ Hughes Fine Arts Center (UND) - 2:00 PM, free
  • James Talley @ Empire Arts Center - 7:30 PM, $10
  • UND All Choirs Concert @ United Lutheran - 7:30 PM, $6/$3
  • Jazz Jam feat. John Behling (I'm not there this week) @ Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM, free, all ages
  • Crimson Betty @ Mike's Pizza - 9:30 PM
  • Mischief @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, free, 21+

Friday, October 19th

  • Friday Night Cabaret feat. Job Christenson, Anne Christopherson, and Pluckstruck @ Fire Hall Theatre - 7:30 PM, $10, all ages
  • Jazz on Tap feat. Denny Connolly on Sax (and me on bass!) @ Sanders - 9:30 PM, free, all ages

Saturday, October 20th

  • Kenyon Wilson tuba concert @ Hughes Fine Arts Center (UND) - 4:00 PM
  • Jazz on Tap feat. Denny Connolly on Sax (and me on bass!) @ Sanders - 9:30 PM, free, all ages

Monday, October 22nd

  • Maierdown @ Tabula - 8:00 PM, free, all ages

Tuesday, October 23rd

  • Dr. Niskala piano recital @ Hughes Fine Arts Center (UND) - 4:00 PM $6/$3
  • The Light Friday @ Tabula - 7:00 PM, free, all ages

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Upcoming shows: October 10-16

Wednesday, October 10th
  • Seven Dollar Shift @ Joe Black's - 10:00 PM, free, 21+
  • Robin Smith @ The Blue Moose - 11:00 PM, free, 21+

Thursday, October 11th

  • Trumpet Studio Recital @ Hughes Fine Arts Center (UND) - 7:30 PM, free, all ages
  • Grand Forks City Band @ The Empire Arts Center - 7:30 PM, free, all ages
  • Brad Paisley @ The Ralph - 7:30 PM, $43.50/$28, all ages
  • Jazz Jam feat. John Behling and MattFacingSouth @ The Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM, free, all ages
  • Open Mik Night @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00 PM, free
  • Driver Mooth @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, free, 21+

Friday, October 12th

  • Julie Moffitt @ Memorial Union (UND) - 11:30 AM, free, all ages
  • Still Fighting It @ Suite 49 - 9:00 PM, free, all ages

Saturday, October 13th

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (musical) @ The Chester Fritz Auditorium - 3:00 PM, $16 or $50 per 4, all ages
  • North Country Fiddle and Barn Dance @ GF Senior Center - 7:30 PM, donation at the door, all ages
  • Morriscode feat. Robert Morris @ Empire Arts Center - 8:00 PM, $10, all ages
  • Wookiefoot @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM, free, +
  • Grampa's Amp @ The Hub - 10:30 PM, $2, 21+

Sunday, October 14th

  • Hugo Wolf String Quartet @ North Dakota Museum of Art - 2:00 PM, $15/$13/$5, all ages
  • Oak Ridge Boys @ The Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30 PM, $40.50/$30.50, all ages

Monday, October 15th

  • Michael Whisler @ Tabula (UND) - 7:00 PM, free, all ages

Tuesday, October 16th

  • Just Dessert Fundraiser feat. GF Master Chorale @ ND Museum of Art - 7:00 PM, free-will donation to benefit Northwood, all ages
  • Twin Forks Chorus of Sweet Adelines guest night @ Zion Methodist Church - 7:00 PM
  • Faculty Brass Quintet @ Hughes Fine Arts Center (UND) - 7:30 PM, $6/$3, all ages

Thursday, October 4, 2007

SFI gig announcement

Jarrod is still fighting a cold from last week that left him fairly mute, so instead of playing this Friday (Oct 5th) at Suite 49, we're going to be playing next Friday (the 12th). Thanks to Matt at Suite 49 for being so gracious about this!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Good music week

Last week was indeed a good music week. Perhaps it was because of UND's homecoming, but I'd like to think that right now in GF, there is quite an appetite for good music, and bands to satiate it.

Case in point - I declined to go hunting with my wife on Saturday morning because I didn't get home from Sanders until about 3:00AM. So I had a day with no child, no wife, and no gigs.

So I ventured down to the Farmers Market to catch The Midnights and perhaps buy some of that "peaches and cream" corn that's been sold 'round here lately. I struck out on the latter effort - maybe it's all gone for the season... maybe it blew away with all that wind. I was very pleased, however, to find out that the Midnights - featuring fellow local blogger Coffee Guy - are pretty darn good. I would describe their sound as "electric Dylan." CG added that they are also influenced by the Byrds and early Springsteen, which I can totally hear as well. Pulsing rhythm, raw vocals, and engaging harmonies kept my toes tapping; the crowd (those that could stand the late-season heat and wind) was pretty hooked, too.

The best part was that they're all original, baby! That's what we need a lot more of - and I'll take it when I can get it. It was good to be able to catch them at a time other than midnight - when I'm usually either sleeping or gigging.

Anyway, check them out when you get a chance - you won't be disappointed.

There are some good shows this week, too. I have to plug my band because we're playing an all-ages show at Suite 49 this Friday. Also, check out the Jazz Jam at the Urban - jazz is one of those genres that many people don't realize they would appreciate, mainly due to lack of exposure. Every week, right here in GF, we have jazz played by a house band with quite a bit of experience as well as an opportunity for pretty much anybody to come up and sit in with us. Even if you don't like jazz - there's good coffee. See you there.

Upcoming Shows: October 3rd through 9th

Wednesday, October 3rd
  • Jazz on Tap @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM. free. all ages/21+ in the bar

Thursday, October 4th

  • UND Wind Ensemble and University Band @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30 PM. $6 adult/$3 student/$12 family
  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM. free. all ages - bring your axes!
  • Driver Mooth @ Crosstown - 9:00 PM. free. 21+
  • Open Mik Night @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00 PM
  • The Legionnaires @ Crosstown - 10:00 PM. free. 21+

Friday, October 5th

  • POSTPONED until 10/12: Still Fighting It @ Suite 49 - 9:00 PM. free. all ages
  • June Panic @ The Hub - 10:00 PM. $3. 21+

Saturday, October 6th

  • Sweet Adelines @ Empire Arts Center - 3:00 PM. all ages
  • Rock 4 Sk8 feat: Dingus, Camera Can’t Lie, Battlefields, A Work Begun, Kentucky Sound Arsenal @ Crookston Armory (Crookston) - 6:30 PM. $5. all ages
  • Sweet Adelines @ Empire Arts Center - 7:30 PM. all ages
  • Enchanted Ape @ Crosstown - 10:00 PM. 21+

Sunday, October 7th

  • Jennifer Shaw @ Hope Evangelical Covenant Church - 6:00 PM. all ages
  • Kai Robert Johansen (Norwegian recording artist) @ Burtness Lab theater (UND) - 7:00 PM. free. all ages

Monday, October 8th

  • Julie Moffitt @ UM Crookston Student Center (Crookston) - 11:00 AM.

Tuesday, October 9th

  • Julie Moffitt @ Mayville State University (Mayville) - 7:00 PM

Friday, September 28, 2007

Benefit show for Northwood at the Fritz

Hey, I just wanted to let you all know that this Sunday there will be a Northwood benefit show at the Chester Fritz. Jarrod Schell and SFI will be playing at 2:00, and other, larger acts include: Noel Haggard, Billy Cate, Kassi Whatley, The Woods Family, Willie Williams and his Conway Twitty tribute show, the Barry Brown rock band, Donna Carol, and Justin Cruz.

The whole thing kicks off at noon - admission is $10 and you can make an additional free will donation if you choose.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Upcoming Shows: September 26th thru October 2nd

Wednesday, September 26th

  • J. Bobby Hamilton @ The Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM. free. 21+
  • Oktoberfest! Cathy Erickson Polka Band @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM. free. 21+ in the Back 40 bar.

Thursday, September 27th

  • Jazz Jam Session @ Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM. free. all ages - bring your axes!
  • Hybrid Soul (CD Release Party) @ The Loading Dock - 8:00 PM. free
  • Waterhole Left @ Suite 49 - 8:00 PM
  • Icebreaker @ Suite 49 - 9:00 PM
  • Deuces Wild Dueling Pianos @ Buck's - 9:00 PM. $6 advance / $9 at door. 21+
  • J. Bobby Hamilton @ The Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM. free. 21+
  • Seven Dollar Shift @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM. free. 21+

Friday, September 28th

  • John Behling Trio @ ND Museum of Art - 7:30 PM. free. all ages
  • J. Bobby Hamilton @ The Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM. free. 21+
  • Still Fighting It feat. Jarrod Schell @ Sanders 1907 - 10:00 PM. free. all ages
  • ADDED: UND steel drum band, Tom Brousseau @ University Park - 7:30 PM. $5. open to alumni, family, and friends

Saturday, September 29th

  • The Midnights @ Town Square (Farmer's Market) - 11:00 AM. free. all ages
  • Gear Daddies @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:30 PM. $25/20. all ages
  • Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra "Down a River of Time" feat. Oboist Andrea Gullickson - @ Empire Theater - 7:30 PM. unknown ticket prices
  • Prudence Johnson @ Mayville State Univ. - 7:30 PM $12.50/$5. all ages
  • Flood Stage Concert feat. Johnny Holm Band @ Town Square - 8:30 PM. $10
  • J. Bobby Hamilton @ The Diamond Lounge - 9:00 PM. free. 21+
  • Jarrod Schell (solo) @ Sanders 1907 - 10:00 PM. free. all ages
  • Heavy J and the Fantastics @ Crosstown Lounge - 10:00 PM. free. 21+
  • The Midnights @ The Hub - 12:00 midnight (apropos time, but technically Sunday morning). 21+

Sunday, September 30th

  • ADDED: Northwood Tornado Benefit for Hope feat. Noel Haggard, Billy Cate, Kassi Whatley, The Woods Family, Willie Williams and his Conway Twitty tribute show, the Barry Brown rock band, Donna Carol and Justin Cruz, and Still Fighting It @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 12:00 PM. $10. all ages
  • Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra "Down a River of Time" feat. Oboist Andrea Gullickson - @ Empire Theater - 2:00 PM. unknown ticket prices

Tuesday, October 2nd

  • Pluckstruck @ Tabula - 8:00 PM. free. all ages

Who says there's nothing going on in Grand Forks?!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

UPDATED Upcoming Shows: September 19-25

Wednesday, September 19th
  • Jarrod Schell (solo) @ Tavern United (CanadInn) - 6:00 PM
  • Peat Moss @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM, all ages/21+ in bar, free
  • Driver Mooth @ Crosstown - 9:00 PM, 21+, free
  • Fat Maw Rooney @ Crosstown - 10:00 PM, 21+, free

Thursday, September 20th

  • Northwood Tornado relief concert feat. Little Bobby and the Storm, The Woodticks and Prairie Rose @ Empire Theater - 7:30 PM, all ages, $5
  • Jazz Jam Session @ Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM, all ages, free. Bring your axes!
  • ADDED: Jazz on Tap @ L'Bistro (CanadInn)
  • ADDED: King's Head @ Tavern United (CanadInn)
  • The Domino Affect @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00 PM, free
  • Carl Clinton and the Great Divide @ Crosstown - 9:00 PM, 21+, free
  • WBPN @ Crosstown - 10:00 PM, 21+, free

Friday, September 21st

  • Friday Night Cabaret feat. Job Christenson @ Fire Hall Theatre 7:30 PM, all ages, $10
  • Barn Dance and Concert feat. North Country Fiddle and Dance @ Grand Forks Senior Center - 7:30 PM, $5 donation
  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Charley Brown's - 9:00 PM, 21+, free
  • Identity 5 @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00 PM, 21+

Saturday, September 22nd

  • J Bobby Hamilton @ Charley Brown's - 9:00 PM, 21+, free
  • Identity 5 @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Blind Joe @ Suite 49 - 9:00 PM, all ages, free
  • Angela Thompson, Montana Kris, Chris Erickson, Hasty Ladies, Wheat Missile, June Panic & the Learning Curve @ The Hub - 9:00 PM, 21+, $3

Tuesday, September 25th

  • The Light Friday @ Tabula - 7:00 PM, all ages, free

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Upcoming Shows: September 12 - 18

Wednesday, September 12th
  • Blue Man Group @ Alerus Center - 7:30 PM. tickets through Ticketmaster
  • Jazz on Tap @ Blue Moose - 9:00 PM. free, 21+ in bar

Thursday, September 13th

  • Jazz Jam Session @ Urban Stampede - 8:00. free. all ages. Bring your axes!
  • Open Mic night @ Mike's Pizza - 9:00. free
  • Driver Mooth @ Crosstown - 9:00. 21+
  • Gypsy Foot @ Crosstown - 10:00. $5. 21+

Friday, September 14th

  • Wisegise @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00 PM. Free. 21+
  • Ernie Andrews with the Fargo Jazz Arts Big Band @ Fargo Theatre - 8:00 PM. Tickets - 218.359.4529 **

Saturday, September 15th

  • Potato Bowl Parade downtown GF & EGF - 9:30 PM, not necessarily a musical event, but the New Horizons band will be playing, and they're really neat - especially if you know their story.
  • Penumbra @ Town Square - 11:00 AM. free. all ages
  • Wisegise @ Longhaul Saloon - 9:00 PM. free. 21+

Tuesday, September 18th

  • Ridma - The Rythms of Sri Lanka featuring the Thalgahagoda Dance Troupe @ Chester Fritz Auditorium - 7:00 PM. free

** Normally I don't post out-of-town shows, but look to see jazz stuff on here from time to time as it's my "thing."

Project time

It's project time again: I've been asked to put together a funk band for a New Year's Eve celebration.

If you're not familiar - I used to have a band called Groove Union and back in the day (yeah, I'm getting old enough to say that - get off my lawn!) we had a blast playing stuff from Tower of Power, Earth Wind & Fire, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and just about any cool horn band you could think of.

Often, John Behling and I will head over to Rhombus Guys after the Thursday Night Jazz Jam (at the Urban, every Thursday, 8:00, bring your axes). So Thursday two weeks ago we were picking at some nachos and I started pining to do the funk band thing again. I think I was talking about the PTSF concert last month and how it kind of inspired me to do that again. I guess I just miss that type of music, it's kind of my center - I like to move to it. That back-beat gets down in your soul and the horns come and blow it away up top, so it makes you move. Shake your booty. It's also quite satisfying if you pull it off well - it's sometimes complex to play, but more to the point, it's hard work to play it right, to make all those little pieces fit together. That's usually my job - no offense, but getting North Dakotans to funk properly can be a challenge and I like a challenge. Plus, funk music just sounds so good.

Now, the problem, and it's a good problem to have, is that I'm busy with SFI right now and that doesn't look to change. In fact, I don't want it to change - we're playing just about every week and besides the fact that the audiences have been great and we've had a really fun time playing - it's been quite lucrative (touch wood). The whole package, if you will. So I really don't have time to start another band. Besides, I like those guys - SFI is by far the most productive, professional, and musical band I've ever been in, and they're great friends and bandmates, so I don't want to do a project without them. Funk is not really our style, especially unrequited.

So the funk idea seemed destined to remain in crayon on that tablecloth for eternity... or at least until they threw it away after we left.

The world has a mysterious way of working, though: John and I headed over to the Crosstown to check out Mischief (who sounded great, by the way - it was cool to see Eric Rudnick from Seven Dollar Shift filling in on guitar and nailing it!) and I ran into Kim Holmes from Sanders. Kim is a really great guy, of whom I've had the fortune to have been hired by to play off and on for seven years now. Anyway, Kim asked me about New Year's Eve - as he'd mentioned earlier this year he'd like me to put something together. No problem, right?

SFI played at Sanders the following Friday night and it was there that Kim officially asked me to put together a funk band for New Year's Eve - featuring the guys from SFI. Whoa! Now this was interesting - Kim wants SFI, basically, with horns! Can do - rather, I brought it up to the band and after fumbling the initial communication of all this, quite badly, I might add, they agreed to do the gig. Sweet. These guys are going to go out on a limb, as opposed to our normal stuff, that is, to do this and I know they'll nail it. They're versatile and professional, so no sweat (besides, we have 3 months to iron it out).

I've hired a killer horn section and for the last week I've been arranging horn charts (which is why my blog has been fairly quiet). This won't be your normal SFI gig - we're going to be doing a lot of songs we don't normally do and we might never do again (this being a one-off gig). Regardless - count on it being a fun party. I am so pumped.

Viva la funk!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Upcoming Shows - September 5 - 11

Last week was pretty good! UND is back in session and the clubs were hoppin' - let's see if we can keep that up.

Please email me your show dates - I know we're missing a few each week. Don't pass up this opportunity for free publicity!

Wednesday, September 5th
  • Driver Mooth @ Joe Black's - 10:00 PM. Free. 21+
  • (Someone) @ the Moose?

Thursday, September 6th (wow!)

  • Jazz Jam Session @ Urban Stampede - 8:00 PM. Free. All ages - bring your axes!
  • Hybrid Soul @ The Loading Dock - 8:00 PM. Free
  • Carl Clinton & The Great Divide @ O'Really's - 10:00 PM. Free. 21+
  • Bucket of Blues @ The Crosstown - 10:00 PM. Free. 21+
  • Grampa's Amp @ Bonzer's - 10:00 PM. 21+

Friday, September 7th

  • Still Fighting It @ Suite 49 - 9:00 PM. Free. All ages
  • The Domino Affect @ Rhombus Guys - 9:30 PM. Free
  • Jazz on Tap @ Sanders (late night menu) - 9:30 PM. Free. All ages.

Saturday, September 8th

  • (Someone) - Farmer's Market @ Town Square - 11:00 AM. Free. All ages
  • Jazz on Tap @ Sanders (late night menu) - 9:30 PM. Free. All ages

Monday, September 10th

  • The King's Court @ Tabula - 7:00 PM. Free. All ages

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Thanks to all who came out to the show at Sander's last night! SFI raised $256 in donations that will all go to the Red Cross for Northwood's Tornado Recovery. I am so impressed with your generosity and very thankful that we were able to help out in some way. Thanks also to Kim Holmes and the Sanders crew for letting us do that on such short notice - you guys are the best.

Thanks again,

Matt, Jarrod, Steve, and the other Matt


Friday, August 31, 2007

Northwood Fundraiser @ Sanders tonight 10:00

My band, Still Fighting It, will be playing at Sanders tonight at 10:00. It's a normally-scheduled gig for us, but we thought we'd like to help the town of Northwood out a little. If you haven't heard (and if you live in town, you'd pretty much have to be living under a rock not to), Northwood was hit pretty hard by a tornado last Sunday evening. Many of my in-laws live in and around Northwood and the accounts of damage tend to go a lot farther than we see in media soundbytes.

So we've decided to "pass the hat" and set up a donation jar in which people can contribute to the Red Cross' Northwood effort. We'll verify the amount at the end of the night and promptly take it to their collection center on Saturday.

I know this is a little impromptu and last-minute, but that is the nature of disaster recovery, and we're trying to do what we can to help out. So come join us for some good music, food, drinks, and help out as you are able.

SFI - Matt, Jarrod, Steve, and the other Matt

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A couple of shows I've seen lately

As you know I was heavily touting last Tuesday's show at the ND Museum of Art. What a great turnout for Post-Traumatic Funk Syndrome! I saw a ton of musicians and music-lovers there, and, along with the turnouts for the rest of the Summer in the Garden series, it's proof positive that there is an audience for the eclectic in Grand Forks.

As for the show - it was great to see a funk band again in GF. If you've read my sidebar, you know that I used to have a funk band and it turns out that more than a couple of members of PTFS played in my old band so many years ago. It was great to catch up with Josh, Al, and Jesse. Leading the band was Russ Peterson, who I've played with in the Dick King group a few times - he's a monster sax player and one of my favorite area musicians to both watch and play alongside. Russ and I chatted on their first set break and he told me that they'd recently had some personnel shuffling, and that, in fact, it was the bass player's first gig. I have to say (as a bass player) that he did an awesome job, first gig or not!

PTFS played all sorts of funk and soul music from artists like Average White Band, Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power, and The Commodores, to name a few. It's not easy to pull music off like this - first of all, GF is not exactly the original urban demographic that the music was written about or for. However, in the past few decades this kind of music has spread to pretty much all cultures within the US (and beyond!) and some might argue that it's "classic."

I had a good time watching, as did my wife and son (who actually got to go to a show!), but once again, I had to leave a little early as the boy was in dire need of sleep. Good show, great crowd, my only complaint was the balance of the band through the sound system, though it did get better over time - I think the setup with the sound tent off to one side contributed to the time it took to ring it in.

Overall - we need more shows like this in GF. It gets me wondering if I should start another funk band... hm...

Please let me know your thoughts. I know some readers were there and I'm always interested in what you have to say!

Upcoming Shows: August 29 - September 4

Wednesday, August 29th
  • Seven Dollar Shift @ Blue Moose 10:00 PM. free. 21+ in the bar

Thursday, August 30th

  • Johnny on the Block Fest @ Gilly's featuring Whiskey Vaccine, Identity 5, and the Johnny Holm Band. Starts at 5:00. I'm pretty sure you have to buy tickets.
  • Mischief @ Crosstown Lounge. 10:00. free. 21+
  • Jazz Jam @ Urban Stampede feat. John Behling and yours truly - special guest drummer Dave Jeffrey. 8:00 PM, free, all ages, and as always - bring your axes

Friday, August 31st

  • Still Fighting It @ Sanders (Late Night Menu) 10:00 PM. No cover, all ages. We'll be accepting donations toward the Northwood Tornado recovery effort - more details to come.
  • Fancy Bastard @ Crosstown 10:00. free. 21+

Monday, September 3rd (yeah, a Monday show!)

  • Carl Clinton & The Great Divide @ O'Really's 10:00. 21+

Friday, August 24, 2007

What a week, part II

Well, to pick back up on my what a week story - I had just returned from circumnavigating the state of Minnesota. I suppose it was a good thing I hadn't stayed elsewhere that night, because it gave me another prized rarity - a day off at home with my wife and son - no gigs, no work, nada.

However, Monday was the start of what some of us at the store call "Hell Week," otherwise known as the Popplers Reading Clinic. We call it hell week not because it's bad in any way, but because it is a rather arduous process with very long days that leaves you really tired at the end. To put this succinctly as possible: the reading clinic is basically all of the band, choir, and general music teachers from all over the area (some from across the country) meeting at a hotel conference center and reading, singing, and playing through all the new music issued by the various music publishers (Alfred, Hal Leonard, Heritage Press, etc). We are the conduit - the logistical chain that makes sure this all goes smoothly. There are only about 20 of these every summer around the country and we, in Grand Forks, ND, get to host one of them. That's pretty cool if you ask me!

Monday was setup day where we got to haul the PA system, the boxes full of music (thousands of pounds of it), and all of the percussion equipment from UND over to the Ramada - where we set it all up. The percussion hauling is the most precarious aspect as we have to drive really delicate instruments that only fit on trailers or pickup truck beds over Grand Forks' finest potholed roads (shakes fist!). So, if you saw a Chevy going down University or 42nd, going 5 miles an hour, hauling a flatbed trailer with a set of top-heavy chimes and a redheaded dude holding them - that was us.

Tuesday was band day - my favorite day. Directors, some UND students, and various ringers from around town come form the Popplers Reading Band (of about 60 people) and we sight-read the various new concert band charts, often conducted by university professors - this year we had the pleasure of being conducted by Dr. James Popejoy from UND and Dr. Charles Menghini of VanderCook University (Chicago). I played percussion, as I did in late high school/early college, and we had a lot of fun. Later that afternoon we had a jazz band session, where I got to play piano. One of the composers of many of the charts the jr high and high school kids play every year was the director, which is always a treat - it's not often the guy who wrote the songs is standing there to answer questions about them.

Wednesday was choir day. Basically it's the same as band day, but the teachers sing instead of play instruments. Again, this is conducted by clinicians from the publishing companies, often the composer or arranger of many of the charts. My job on this day is to man the CD player so I can play the backing tracks on selected songs - the rest, and the majority are done "live" by the accompanist, Dr. Michael Weber from NDSU, who always does an excellent job.

Thursday was similar to Wednesday, but it's more for the general (read: Elementary) music teachers and it's mostly 2-part choir instead of the robust 3 and 4-part arrangements. After all this is done, we get to tear everything down, a 2-hour process. Why the detail, some of you may ask? Well, mainly because I want to impart to you how hard people - teachers, directors, and businessfolk - work to make music happen in schools. Overall it's a really fun week, we get to meet teachers, they, of course, get to talk with their compatriots from all over, and read through some really neat music - all in the name of education.

But my week wasn't done...

Part III later.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Upcoming Shows: August 22-29

Wednesday, August 22nd
  • Still Fighting It at the Blue Moose. 9:00 PM, free, 21+ in the bar/after 10:00

Thursday, August 23rd

  • Jazz Jam at the Urban Stampede feat John Behling and yours truly - special guest drummer Dave Jeffrey. 8:00 PM, free, all ages, bring your axes
  • Identity 5 at the Longhaul Saloon. 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Driver Mooth at O'Really's 10:00 PM, 21+, free

Friday, August 24th

  • Identity 5 at the Longhaul Saloon. 9:00 PM, 21+
  • Jazz on Tap at Sanders (late-night menu) 9:30 PM, free
  • Seven Dollar Shift at Sledster's. 10:00 PM, free, 21+

Saturday, August 25th

  • Penumbra at the Farmers Market/Town Square. 11:00AM, all ages, free
  • A Work Begun at 123 Cambridge Street (Lawn Show). 7:00 PM
  • Jazz on Tap at Sanders (late-night menu) 9:30 PM, free

Sunday, August 26th

  • Kenny and the Classics at the History Rocks show at the Myra Museum. All ages. Unknown time (a little help, please)

Also, in the comments section of a previous post, somebody mentioned J. Bobby Hamilton - I need more info, but it would be more appropriate to email me at mattfacingsouth [at] gra [dot] midco [dot] net.

For everyone - this seems to be working fairly well so far, but as a reminder, please keep me informed (via email) of where your band is playing - internet-searching for gigs is not always reliable and can be very time-consuming. Thanks for the great response and turnout so far!

Monday, August 20, 2007

SFI in the Herald

Well, notsomuch the blog, but SFI the band made it into the Grand Forks Herald on Friday. I still haven't seen the print article, but I caught the online version at the Herald's website . Thanks to Emily Tobin for saying such nice things about us!

Anyway, we're playing this Wednesday at the Blue Moose - 8:30-ish. If you're there early enough it's all ages - at least in the restaurant. If you haven't checked out the newly-remodeled bar and "Back 40" room, you really need to - it's a great, intimate venue.

And yes, I'll finish my "What a Week..." story sometime soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What a week...

Wow, I'm tired. My body is protesting my lack of sleep and all the gear I've hauled all during the week.

It all started last Friday - Still Fighting It's former sax player got married down near St. Cloud and we played his reception. It was a great gig - dancing, drinking, good times. Live music at weddings is a rarity these days. I'm not exactly sure why, but I think it has to do with a few things: a good band is fairly expensive, most bands are not quite as versatile as a DJ, there is a much larger logistical need to support a band, and, finally, most bands don't cover today's music very well - considering that most of today's music is over-produced hip-hop, that's no surprise: I'd personally rather not bring a computer full of samples to a gig, but I digress.

Anyway, I also got to do some jazz duo work during the dinner with John Behling, who ended up sitting in with SFI for a couple of songs. That's way cool - he brings a different flavor to the table and is such a good musician that not only was ity good music, but he makes it seem so seamless. I also got to catch up with an old friend and bandmate, Jean-Luc Davis, who is an amazing bass player. Just a tidbit from the weather-geek in me: on the drive to our hotel in St. Cloud we got treated to one of the most spectacular lighting displays I've seen in a looong time. The next day, as I was driving around St. Paul, I saw many trees down from that same storm.

On Saturday I tooled around the Cities for a while, trying to see what was going on (and partaking in a Strawberry Surf Rider from Jamba Juice- yum!), but my friend connections failed me (they were, to a person, all up in lake country) and I decided I didn't want to fork out for another hotel if there wasn't any big happenings, meaning I didn't want to hit a club alone, so I drove to Duluth. Don't ask my why I thought Duluth would be any better, it's just my sense of exploration got the better of me and I figured I could get a cheaper room up there and do some driving in the Iron Range on Sunday.

Boy, I couldn't have been more mistaken. Duluth was inundated with music-lovers attending the Bayfront Blues Festival. If I had done the proper research, I would have gone straight there and bought a $40 one-day pass. Instead, as the day was winding down and not many bands were left on the main (ticketed) stage, I opted to listen from afar and wander around Canal Park where the many restaurants and bars were hosting blues bands.

I stopped in front of Little Angie's Cantina and listened to a guitar and drum duo jamming out various soul and blues hits. It was cool, but I had more fun watching the effect music has on people. Just sit and observe sometime; people tapping their toes, bobbing their heads, singing along. Sometimes you get those neo-hippies who do an interpretive dance (especially fun when it's to a jazz group!). Kids are always fun to watch, too - it's so awesome when they get excited and run and jump around to music - I remember doing that when I was a wee one and wonder if the kids doing it today will end up with the same bug I got.

I also hit Club Saratoga where there was a jam session happening, but I caught the tail-end of it and usually the house band plays the final two or three songs sans guests, otherwise I would've sat in (had they asked for jammers). It was after this I realized that I'd better start making lodging arrangements. To my utter dismay I overlooked the effect the blues festival would have on local accomodations and hotel rooms in Duluth were either nonexistant or extremely expensive.

So I got in my car and headed for Grand Rapids only to find that they were pretty much booked up, too. Grand Rapids! So, I decided to just drive home. I fought sleep all the way from Crookston to my garage, but I made it back at 1:00AM. I love that kind of drive, though. I'm not really one for meditation, though I probably should be, but long drives really are my alone time - my time to reflect on the world, myself, and others. I realized on this drive that I don't get that often enough.

Okay, as I am wont to do, I'm writing a novel. I'll do part II later.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anybody seen any good shows lately?

I've been talking a lot - now it's your turn! I'd like to hear about what you all have experienced in the world of live music as of late - be it local, or national. I can make this a regular feature if there is a good enough response.

What's going on? Good? Bad?

Coffee Guy - how was your show last weekend?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Upcoming Shows: August 15-21

We're doing the reading clinic at work, which is a huge undertaking and I've been completely swamped. I hope to write something about the clinic as it really shows how dedicated area teachers are to their craft, but that'll come later.

Anyway, I know this update is a little later than I promised, but bear with me on this busiest of weeks. I'll add some shows tomorrow.

Oh, and I'm implementing a new feature - my shows are in green. It's shameless, but it's my blog.

Wednesday, August 15th
  • Seven Dollar Shift at Joe Black's. 10:00 PM. Free. 21+

Thursday, August 16th

  • Various bands at the Oxcart Days Battle of the Bands in Crookston. Unknown cover.
  • Jazz jam session at the Urban Stampede. 8:00 PM. Free. all ages - bring your instruments
  • Driver Mooth at the Crosstown Lounge. 10:00 PM. Free. 21+
  • The King's Head at O'Really's. 10:00 PM. Free. 21+

Friday, August 17th

  • Matt Hodek and the Dakota Dutch Men at East Grand Forks Heritage Days Barn Dance. 6:30 PM. Unknown admission/ages
Saturday, August 18th

  • Jazz on Tap at the Welcome UND Freshmen show (at the Fritz). 1:30 PM. Free (I'm sitting in with them)
  • Various groups at EGF Heritage Days - Polish Dancers, Bill Cagley, Lois & Lois, Highland Rising Pipers, Jim Dostal Family, Northern Valley Accordions. Starts at 2:00 PM. Admission fee? All ages.
  • D. Walker Mallory, Hitz at Crookston's Oxcart Fest. 8:00 PM

Tuesday, August 21st

  • Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome at ND Museum of Art. 6:00. $5/under 12 - free

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Upcoming Shows: August 8-14

Wednesday, August 8th
  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • J Bobby Hamilton at the Diamond Lounge. 9:00 PM. No cover. 21+
  • The Woodpicks at the Blue Moose. 9:00 PM. No cover. all ages in the restaurant (21+ in the bar/after 10:00)

Thursday, August 9th

  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • Jazz Jam session at the Urban Stampede. 8:00 PM. free. all ages (I'll be there this time)
  • J Bobby Hamilton at the Diamond Lounge. 9:00 PM. No cover. 21+
Friday, August 10th
  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • J Bobby Hamilton at the Diamond Lounge. 9:00 PM. No cover. 21+
Saturday, August 11th
  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • Red River Chamber Music Festival Faculty Recital/Chiara String Quartet at Hughes Fine Arts Center. 7:30 PM $10/$5. all ages
  • Straphanger and June Panic at the Empire. 8:00 PM. $5. All ages
  • The Learning Curve (featuring June Panic) and The Midnights (featuring fellow blogger Coffee Guy!) at the Hub. 10:30 PM. $3 cover. 21+

Sunday, August 12th

  • A New Level of Ferocity , Silent Scorn, The Offensive, Robert Hastings, Dryrun, Head Case, MX Rocket, Great Frog Society, Inkedindecision, Symbiont, Death Toll, Dual Volitions, 7Kane, and a few others TBA at the Town Square. 12:00 PM - 11:00 PM. $5
  • Chiara String Quartet at ND Museum of Art. 12:00 PM $10/$5. all ages
  • Red River Chamber Music Festival Recital at ND Museum of Art. 2:00 PM $10/$5 (admission for Chiara show carries over). all ages

ND Museum of Art

The John Behling Trio played our inaugural show last night at the ND Museum of Art and I have to say I was very happy at the result. Getting people to come to jazz shows in Grand Forks is often an arduous task, but not only was the turnout great last night, but the audience was very gracious. It was an absolute pleasure that I had a chance to meet a few readers as well.

The venue is a really nice place to play jazz - the setting sun provides a twilight - an evening ambiance that fits the bill perfectly. The weather happened to be perfect last night - warm, but not hot; breezy but not windy. The wine and beer (on UND campus!!!) were great and the staff was accomodating. The only drawback was being interrupted a few times by the switcher locomotives shunting their consists around the adjacent railyard, complete with the expected bangs, bells, and whistles.

As far as our playing, I'd have to mostly leave that up to the listener, but I thought we played okay. It was our first gig as a trio and there were a few mis-steps, but nothing that can't be corrected with more time and practice. My hands hurt today - a month ago I purchased a Ned Steinberg electric upright bass (think double bass without the body) and it's a lot different than the electric bass guitars I'm used to - specifically, the finger pressure needed is a lot greater and the arm/hand position is a lot higher. Last week I used up a massage appointment my wife gave me for Father's Day and I'm starting to wish I'd saved it for this week. Oh well.

There is a chance we will be booked at another venue in the near future, but I won't mention any names until that's confirmed.

Thanks to the audience for a great night and thanks to the ND Museum of Art for having us. There are plenty more shows coming up in their Summer Concert in the Garden series and you won't want to miss the next one: Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome (Fargo) is coming up on August 21st, and these guys are a KILLER 12-piece (horns, baby!) soul/funk band featuring many Fargo-area professional musicians and teachers, a few of which I used to play with in Groove Union (shameless name-drop). Anyway, don't miss it - I know I won't.

Until next show,


Monday, August 6, 2007

Music Teachers

I was going through some files on my computer and I came across a letter I had written about my high school band director. He retired from teaching music last year and went on to administration. A band mom from back in the day contacted me and asked if I could write a few thoughts that would go into a scrapbook that would be presented at his "retirement" party. I think the letter speaks for itself about what kind of impact he, specifically, had on me, and what kind of impact music teachers can have in general.

If you have anything cool to say about music teachers, pipe up! I'd like to get to know you all better, especially musicallly.

Here's the letter:

I attended my 10th high school reunion last weekend and was informed that my old band director was moving on from directing and that some folks are graciously putting together a scrapbook of people’s memories for his retirement party. I sit at my desk trying to collate my thoughts into a meaningful story as to what kind of impact Mr. Moore had on my life and it is abundantly clear as I look at my current surroundings - managing a music store, and my life as a performing musician, husband, and father, that his impact was very profound and abundant.

When I left California in 1999, I was headed toward a completely different career field than the one I eventually landed in. Most of my friends would say that I was ignoring my gifts and going for the glamour. In my eyes, the musical gifts they were referring to were not so much gifts, but a series of disciplines and more experience than most people at age 20 are privileged to have under their belt.

Mr. Moore came to Bella Vista at the beginning of my sophomore year, after a serial of one-year band directors. From day one it was clear that this was going to be his show, his rules, and if you didn’t like it – there was always the door. Suffice it to say it was a shock to have a band director that no longer let the inmates and their parents run the asylum, and, due to his branded way of separating the wheat from the chaff, many students elected to leave. This was no longer your upper-classmen’s band; there was finally somebody in charge, somebody to actually lead the band. Still, though, many years of changing directors had led to fairly undisciplined students.

One of the first quotes I remember written on the board was “Early is on-time, on-time is late.” This First Commandment of Mr. Moore led to many a nail-biting car ride to school at 4:00 in the morning. Kidding aside; punctuality, practice, and consistency all became part of the repertoire of character that Mr. Moore was building in each of us.

From the discipline we were able to achieve excellence: the Bella Vista Bronco Band went from a gaggle of students in t-shirts, walking haphazardly through Old Town Fair Oaks, to a regiment of trained marching musicians in sharp uniform. It wasn’t always easy for the students to understand why we had to practice our field shows to the point we were nearly falling over from exhaustion, or why we had to go back outside the band room and come in without making so much as a peep when we were acting disorderly, in fact sometimes it seemed downright sadistic. I would wager, however, that those who stuck it out for four years still utilize the excellence and discipline they achieved in their daily lives, perhaps not even knowing it.

One thing is for sure, by respecting the procedures and authority that Mr. Moore established, and taking pride in what we were doing, we learned to respect ourselves. From the confidence we got from that self-respect, many of us are now able to effectively lead others or stand up strongly when the stakes are high.

Beyond each of our long-term personal gains, Mr. Moore created a lot of opportunity. I thought about how many performances I did while in BV Band. I can’t even begin to count each and every one, but I’d guess that, for me, it was over 200. Many musicians don’t get that kind of performance opportunity in their entire career, and we got to do it for free. Okay, our parents might disagree with that, but we were obligated to remind them that uniform dues and trip fees were “voluntary.” Weren’t they?

Finally, from those opportunities came a lot of fun: I got to travel to Canada, Los Angeles, Reno, San Francisco, Napa, Monterey, and San Diego, got to play at Disneyland, a Sacramento Kings game, Stanford Stadium, many jazz festivals, field shows, competitions, dances, athletic games, graduations (except for one), and regional events. I played countless solos in front of many people, got to see a lot of other really good bands, was introduced to many different styles of music, received plenty of constructive, helpful criticism, made lots of friends, created lots of memories, and plain’ ol’ had a good time.

That was all before the age of 18.

Since then, my thirst for music has not abated, and my biggest, most sincere hope, is that I can create as much opportunity, discipline, excellence, and fun for others that Mr. Moore created for me.

The effect a good teacher can have has is an intrinsic one, as it propagates not just from teacher to student, but from student to student, student to family and peers, and later we, knowingly or otherwise, become the teachers and pass along to the students of tomorrow. Bella Vista and the Sacramento area may be losing a band director, and he will be missed greatly in that respect, but another school is gaining a great teacher and the effect of everything he brings to the table will carry on through us, those we touch, and even now, a new group of students.


Grand Forks, ND
BV class of ‘96

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Upcoming Shows: August 1 - 7

I'm going to do a weekly digest of upcoming shows for those who are interested. As I said in the comment section of a previous post, I don't have the time to research all the happenings in GF, but if you know of a musical event happening within 30 miles you can email the pertinent info to the address in my profile.

The info I need is:
Cover (or free)

I need the entires by 6:00 the preceding Tuesday night. I'll then post the upcoming week every Tuesday night/Wedsnesday morning. Please keep this to the week ahead only or I will lose it and it won't get posted anyway.

So here's what I have for this week, Wednesday, August 1 through Tuesday August 7 - and I will still take entries for now:

Wednesday, August 1st
  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • Jazz on Tap at the Blue Moose. 9:00 PM. free. 21+ after 10:00
  • Kentucky Sound Arsenal/Straphanger at Mike's Pizza. 10:00PM. free. ages?

Thursday, August 2nd

  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • Jazz Jam session at the Urban Stampede. 8:00 PM. free. all ages (I won't be there for this one)
  • Still Fighting It at the Crosstown Lounge. 10:00 PM. free. 21+

Friday, August 3rd

  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • ADDED: Jazz on Tap at Sanders (Late Night Menu). 9:30. all ages (21+ recommended). free
  • ADDED: WBPN (Fargo) at Sledster's. 9:00. cover charge? 21+

Saturday, August 4th

  • ADDED: Prairie Rose at Farmer's Market/Town Square. 11:00 AM. all ages. free.
  • ADDED: Jazz on Tap at Sanders (Late Night Menu). 9:30. all ages (21+ recommended). free
  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18

Monday, August 6th

  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18

Tuesday, August 7th

  • Crimson Creek presents Candide at UND's Burtness theatre. 7:30 PM. $20/$18
  • John Behling Trio at ND Museum of Art. 7:00 PM. all ages. $5/under 12 free

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Small-Town Street Dance

For the last 22 years Northwood, ND has held their "Old-Fashioned Saturday," which used to be a kind of throwback-uniform day (if you are a baseball fan) for the townspeople, and just a big hoo-ha in general. Yesterday was that day. So I went out there with my wifey and her family to celebrate.

In the morning there is a parade around town (my son LOVED the firetrucks) and throughout the afternoon there are food vendors, puppet shows, kids activities, and musical acts in the park, which I regret missing, but my boy desperately needed a nap by the time those got going.

However, the party really gets started in the evening as the street dance gets rolling. A small town street dance is usually where locals get together, old friends (and classmates) reunite, get really drunk, and dance the night away. Last night was no exception.

The band was Kid Hollywood, a cover band that I would file under "party band," out of Fargo. I thought they were good - very polished. They had great musical ability and knew how to get the crowd going, which is what they're paid to do. The guitarist played really tasty solos, many "right off the album;" the drummer was obviously playing along with a click track as his laptop played horn and string sequences, which was impressive but something inside me was screaming "cheater!" The singing was probably the best part as they had very good four and sometimes five-part harmonies, which is a hallmark of a good band. In fact, it is often said that good backing vocals set a decent band apart from a great band and these guys were really + in that department. Alas, as a street dance is not a place to be a judge of musical artistry, there is not much to say about that. The band played well, people got drunk, danced, got up on stage and sang (badly), and were happy.

People love music. This street dance was a testament to that. Small town or not, music is a powerful thing.

Been to any good street dances lately?

The endless argument: Originals vs Covers

So here we go - a really hot topic in any live music circle is cover bands vs. original bands. For those not in the know a cover is when a band performs a song originally done by another artist - as in "we covered Zeppelin's 'When the Levee Breaks,'" which is ironic because Zeppelin was covering that, too - it is now, in essence, a double-cover.

But I digress. The debate usually centers around, on one side, the perspective that cover bands are not true musicians because they're not original and they steal all the shows from the true artists that deserve them; and the other side's perspective - that original bands don't play music that people like, and therefore can't expect to build a venue any business; no business for the venue means no venue, and no venue means no getting hired - often a smart venue just eliminates the middle-man and doesn't hire a band that won't put butts in the seats.

Anyway, here's my perspective:

I've seen it from both sides- I've been in both original and cover bands, and a special third category - cover bands that play obscure enough music that people can't tell you're a cover band and think you're orginal (though, if asked, a band like this would NEVER take credit if they're ethical). Since I've seen it from both sides and argued this countless times, I have come to the conclusion that neither is mutually exclusive, and neither are any less of musicians than the other. They might have certain characteristics that are tailored to a specific audience, though, and that is where I'm going to make my point.

Rule #1 in live performance - Give The People What They Want. If you don't you will have no audience. No audience = no live performance, instead you are just playing for yourself (and maybe the bartender).

This goes for both cover and original bands, though. You have look at who is the audience for each: a cover band chiefly provides for audiences who want familiarity, an original band provides for those who want something new. The problem comes down to this: it is my observation that the vast majority of audiences want familiarity in most situations where money is flowing. Money is the key, folks.

I'll repeat that: Money is the key. In a world (or at least a country) where property rights, liability, and ordinances are everyday words, money is the key.

The ultimate situation would be if an original band could plop their stuff anywhere and put on a show. Then they might catch a few people that are interested and build a following. Good times for all.

The problem is that plopping stuff most anywhere in America is a big no-no. And often unfeasible, I mean where is there a spot of private land that has 110VAC with two 40 amp breakers just sitting there for a band to use?

Aha, public parks! But those aren't really public, are they? No, the park board is often beholden to the city council, who are beholden to who? Yep, the voting, taxpaying public. And it doesn't take but a few complaints to get a noise ordinance enacted, nor does it take but one broken leg to get the city (and therefore the taxpayers) creamed in a lawsuit.

The point is that any place a band wants to play is subject to costs. The most direct costs associated with producing a show are: the venue space itself (which includes rental), electricity, P.A. (the big sound system, often with someone to run it), liability insurance, mechanical fees (the fees associated with music publishing unions), and sometimes security. Band costs often include their instruments, the gas to get to a gig, car insurance, car payments, and replacement costs of wear and tear on all these things, also time off work to both play and/or rehearse, and sometimes costs associated with protecting your intellectual property.

As I said, it'd be nice if a venue would just provide these things for a band. Well, sometimes they do - the trick is that the venue has to be one of two things:

1) Very magnanamous - which is a very rare opportunity - perhaps once a year. The event has to generate business for them down the road (or tax write-offs) otherwise they CAN NOT continue doing it, lest they run out of money. That is, of course, unless they are extremely wealthy businesses and can afford to do it "for the love." No business I know of around here can afford do that, especially often. That's a dreamer's world. Something can be said for a non-profit arts organization, though, but that requires a steady audience and their donations - not all bands are invited to that particular party as money comes from people with certain tastes and in a small market, the consensus is usually the safe route (read non-offensive), otherwise bye-bye donations, bye-bye non-profit group.

2) So the other is that a venue can provide these things if the event directly makes them money. So, how does a venue make that money?

Let's take an example: Coffee shops are a great place for an original band to play, usually they contain the audience that is willing to hear new things, to explore their musical tastes - a perfect venue, right? Unfortunately not really, because the coffee shop has to make money to keep employees paid, rent paid, lights on, etc - so they must sell something to cover these costs. What do you think that might be? Yup, coffee... and gelato, cappuccino, etc. Do you think that the coffee place, during your show, makes enough money (money beyond what the coffee itself costs and all those costs above) to stay profitable? My guess is not quite, at least not in GF. Or put a different way: does your band increase income beyond an average night without you? Will it sustain that increase of traffic if you play, say, weekly? Monthly? Maybe, if you're good and you give the people what they want.

But after all those costs are (barely) covered by the coffee shop, will you get paid? Probably not much.

And that brings up my next point - is getting paid to play music "selling out?" Some people (mainly those in the original music business) have said that a band is a sell out for getting paid - that music is an art and they should do it only for the love.

Sorry, I don't buy it, at least not on a majority-of-the-time basis. The reason is this: My "art" costs me a hell of a lot of time and money. It is beyond a hobby for me - it is a side profession. It is a passion, yes, and money or no money - that will never diminish, but I expect to be paid for my services. I feel that, aside from benefit shows/charity/and the once-in-a-while golden opportunity, you should always be paid for playing. Why? Because if you don't pay to play, the financial cycle breaks down - and, like it or not, we are all dependent on that cycle.

For instance, you buy some gear for $500 off of eBay, you practice with your band for 30 hours in a month, driving 5 miles each way to your buddy's house (which costs .44 cents per mile in gas/insurance/licensing/wear and tear - so $4.40 each time) maybe 10 times - so $44 , you spend $200 promoting your band with fliers, you drive to the gig 20 miles away ($18 for a round trip), then you play the gig and don't get paid (heck, some people pay the venue!) for it? You're out $762 by my count! Some of those are rare costs (like equipment), but still, you're spending a lot of money to do your art. That may be okay for some artists that make a lot of money in another job, or that have low fixed costs (I'm talking to the kids, here). But to others trying to maintain all their stuff it can be a tragedy and many have to stop playing, stop their passion, because it simply costs them too much. And we haven't even really considered the time aspect, but that's really abstract, so I won't get into it here.

But do consider this: let's say you're still doing it for the love of the art, you're playing for free, and maybe you're good and you bring in business/money for the venue. Is it fair the business owner should profit from your services and you not? Sounds like I should open a venue if that's the case. Maybe I'll not pay my bartenders because they should bartend for the love, and perhaps I should get an artist to comission a sculpture and not pay, because it's for the love. Sheesh, reality check needed.

And finally, consider the biggest aspect of all: There are original musicians out there that are doing their craft as a full-time vocation. If you play for free, which is, again, attractive to business owners, you have now undercut the dude or dudette that relies on getting paid to make it through life. If nothing else, you drive rates down, which hurts us all.

BIG POINT: If a musician gets paid well enough, the economic cycle continues - they grow their craft, buy more gear, eat food, pay rent, buy gas, etc. The economy continues, and for a good cause, right? Yeah! The music!

So are you "selling out" by getting paid for your efforts? Not a chance.

Now, a quick blurb on cover bands, as this is getting to be a novel: Cover bands generally do not take gigs away from original bands, as original bands so often claim. If an original band has a big enough following, then they can play just about anywhere (and people end up covering them! HA!). But there is a big restriction: an original band can't chase away the "regular" clientele. This is why you'll probably never see a metal band at Sanders. But if my cover band plays there are we "stealing" a metal band's gig? Not one iota. This is an example of a clash of audience interest and the metal band never had, nor will have, that gig. So, let it go. My jazz group, which plays quite a few originals, will probably never play on a indierock ticket. Do I begrudge them for that? Not at all, it's not my audience.

I enjoy my other, cover, band very much - I love re-creating that music, love performing, love getting the audience into it. But I have to play at places my audience will be - mainly places that are drinking establishments. At drinking establishments you have people that are getting out to socialize, to look good, to get some action (as it were), and covers lend well to the comfort level. You can sing along, it reminds you of a certain time in your life (especially as we get older, have jobs and kids, and can't take the time to follow new trends). And drinking establishments tend to make quite a bit of money - especially if you're good and can maintain an audience.

So, let's review: Original bands = good - but keep building an audience for the venue, grow your craft, and expect to be paid for your time.

Cover bands = good - but keep it real, be creative, make it your own; people want to hear stuff they know, for a lot of reasons, and this can't be considered a bad thing altogether.

Contrary to what so many people say, this is not a black-and-white issue. In fact, the two can live side by side and are often beneficial to each other; it's just that music, while an art, is also a business - it's all economics, no matter how much you don't want it to be.

Okay, I've said my peace - what's yours?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thoughts: Seven Dollar Shift at the Crosstown Lounge

I'm going to make it a point to give a mini-review of shows I attend. These won't be professional reviews in any way, just the thoughts of a compatriot slogging along in the trenches of the band scene. They might be of a venue or a band, or in this case, both.

Last night I went with my sister-in-law to the Crosstown Lounge to check out the place for our gig next week, and to catch a band I haven't really listened to enough. My first impression was that the Crosstown, a fresh face to the scene, was open, bright, and had a fun atmosphere. The layout is a little maze-like, but there's some character in that.

There were rows of pooltables - a throwback to its former glory as a Lucky's Green Room, and a bank of dart machines. The pooltables (at least a dozen) were nearly empty when we arrived and only 45 minutes later you had to queue to get on a table (no pun intended). This however, really added to an active, festive atmosphere that some of the other music clubs in town lack. I've learned that people don't always like to just sit, drink, and watch the band, so this is a plus for that portion of the market.

Since we weren't there to play pool, we opted to just sit, drink, and watch the band. Our server was attentive and cheerful. The only downside to the venue that I noticed (right as I walked in) was that it was fairly smoky. Most venues I've played in recent years have been smokeless, or relatively so, so this is going to be an unpleasant change for me, but I'll deal with it - it's worth it. The crowd was mixed age and included a lot of younger softball players, obviously right from the fields.

I had recently talked to Brad (the owner) about the sound system, as I was trying to work out the logistics of what we'll need to bring next week; he told me they have their own PA and it's new to him, so there might be some bugs to work out.

Seven Dollar Shift (7DS from here on out) was dealing with some of those bugs, but it didn't have too much of an impact on their overall sound. For what it's worth, I think they could have used a condenser mic over the drums (the snare and hi-hat were lost in the mix and the cymbals lacked definition), and there were a few balance issues - but that goes with the territory when you run your own mix from the stage, as opposed to having a sound dude on station out in front of the stage. Overall, the sound was not bad, and I think the drums being back in the mix lent well to their laid-back feel. The overall volume was perfect, and the sheer size of the place meant you could carry on a normal conversation in the billiards area, or be nicely saturated with the band up near the stage.

The stage is small - now for a trio like 7DS, it didn't look like an issue, but SFI will be a little cramped with our fourth person and my keyboards. There is ample room for dancing, but since I had to leave early (hey, I gotta work!), I saw no dancers. Rule of thumb in most GF gigs is that dancing won't occur until about halfway through the gig - might have something to do with the inverse correlation between people's levels of inebriation and inhibition.

As for 7DS, they were really fun to listen to. They began the set with a few middle-tempo covers, laid-back in aggressiveness, and built to a powerful ending to the set. There were blues, country and bluesified reggae numbers, along with some jam-band-esque charts. All in all, we really dug 7DS. The guitar player/vocalist had good solo chops, but didn't dabble too long as to bore the audience, the bass player was tight rhythmically, lots of very articulated lines and very in-time with the drummer - I felt his backing vocals were too far back in the mix. He did, however, bust out the trumpet for a nicely-rendered version of Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man." I got a real kick out of that, and it's a nice change-up in sound, too. Pat, the drummer, laid it down without being overly flashy as to distract the audience. This made for a very enjoyable, listenable vibe. Overall what struck me is that 7DS is a true band, as opposed to three guys on stage each doing their own thing and not gelling.

Alas, I wish I could have stayed longer, but I'll definitely be back, both as a listener of 7DS and as a patron of the Crosstown (not to mention a performer). It's nice to see a fun place like this have live bands on Thursday nights.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Shameless plug

Once in a while I'll make a shameless plug for gigs that I'm playing in the upcoming few weeks. It's my blog, so nyah (or something like that). I'll also do a gig review from time to time, maybe there will be some insight into performance for anyone who is interested, but mostly it's cathartic for me to write about things.

Anyway, for the plug(s):
Still Fighting It is playing at the Crosstown Lounge on Thursday, August 2nd. It will be our first gig at the Crosstown. If you're not familiar with our band, we're a rock band out of GF and we play acoustic and piano rock covers with lots of different eras thrown in - from classic to modern. Jarrod Schell is our singer and he's the Main Event, so to speak. If you haven't heard this guy sing, make it a mission to do so. Gig time 10:00-1:00

The John Behling Trio is playing the ND Museum of Art on Tuesday, August 7th. This is our first public performance and it should be a good time. John is an excellent jazz guitarist out of Chicago and it's been really exciting working with someone of his caliber. Showtime: 8:00-10:00

For future reference, I'll put my bands on the main blog page somewhere so I don't have to keep describing who/what we are in each post.

Hope to see you there!

Signing on...

Hello? Anybody there? Does this thing work?

My goal on this blog is to discuss music - local, national, wherever, and the things that drive music creation and production. Some people have mentioned to me that there's nothing to do here in the Forks. I disagree; I happen to have inside information that the music scene in Grand Forks and our surroundings is thriving. It doesn't take but a few visits to the local clubs, bars, and festivals to see what's happening here. Let's talk a little about what you've seen in the local music scene lately - good or bad; but let's try to remain constructive.

I'll start by saying that the rock show on July 7th in the Town Square really opened my eyes to the talent of the local metal musicians. These young guys (and gal!) are very dedicated to their craft and to each other. I haven't yet met a group of bands that is so mutually supportive as these bands are.

You have to understand that this mutual support is necessary for their survival, as metal music is not a "high-income" genre in GF. Put further, the majority of people that inhabit our local drinking establishments are generally unwilling to listen to metal for long periods of time (especially in an enclosed space). I haven't figured out why this is, other than the loudness factor, so maybe someone can shed some light here. Anyway, this unwillingness means people don't stay long, or don't show up at all, which means low bar receipts, and bar receipts means the owners generally don't want you to come back to chase away their crowds, hence you don't make a lot of money.

So these bands have to pool their resources to be able to have a venue to play. They are, in fact, paying to play, which is pretty much against my personal ethos, but more power to them to do what they must to perform. They do all the promotion - designing flyers and printing them at Kinko's, securing the logistics for the venue (sound, lighting, security, vendors, noise permits, and the venue itself), updating the show status and logistics on their forum (, all the while preparing their bands for the show.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of metal - I must say that looking at my iTunes, which is some 5,000 songs strong, perhaps 20 can be considered metal - and they're fairly mainstream. So when I agreed to run the audio for this event, I was skeptical that I would enjoy the music.

Boy, was I wrong! The bands that played that muggy Saturday afternoon blew me away. You could tell they really devoted their time to learning the craft of metal. The songs were often well-written and performed very tightly - meaning the band played well together in terms of pitch and timing. There are people I went to school with that got degrees in music that didn't have as much drive as these kids (yeah, I'm getting old) do. Suffice it to say metal is still not my favorite, but I learned some well-earned respect for it that day.

But what sits in my mind the most is that there is so much effort to provide entertainment in a town where there is "nothing to do."

I'll pose these questions to get the ball rolling: what, recently, has surprised you coming out of the local music scene? Did you like it, did you not like it? Did it change your opinion of a band, a genre, or local entertainment in any way?