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