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.