East Coast – Day 9

Today we drove from Richmond to Annapolis for the performance at the Rams Head.

Jon hasn’t used an amp on stage in years. These are the DIs (Direct Input) boxes he plugs his fretless bass guitar and the upright bass into.

Question : Answer – Upright Bass

Steve asked what I know about the upright bass, seen in this post.

It’s a Chadwick folding upright bass. Jon has been playing the folding bass since 2015. It makes traveling so much easier and is a big reason why we do perform with the upright again. Well, it also sounds really good. We can fly with it and at other times it gets shipped via FedEx.

Unfortunately Chadwick no longer produces the bass – see this.

In 2015, before settling on the Chadwick, Jon tried this one. It didn’t sound as good.

East Coast, Day 6

Today is a travel/rest day. Next show is in Richmond, VA, on Wednesday. When I went to the coffeeshop in the hotel around 0800 I was given a free cup of coffee. Nice. I think they mistook me for Jon, who has coffee very early in the morning, and gave me his free refill. Old guy, grey hair, brings his own Snow Peak cup – they all look alike. :-)

Will he go for a refill himself and hear that they only give out one free refill and he needs to pay for his third cup??? Stay tuned.

East Coast, Day 4

Today we drove to Norwalk to play at the Wall Street theater. But first we drove to Stamford, a little further down the road, to go to a Ramen joint we know there. After a late lunch of big bowls of ramen we drove to our destination. The venue was new to us, a beautiful old theater. As we got ready for soundcheck I took this photo of Jon:

Suitcases on Cobblestone Streets

Venice is cursed. I walked cursed Venice in a cloud of confusion. Why did so many people bring so many roller suitcases? Did they not know they were coming to Venice? Did they not know Venice has a stone-stepped bridge every fifty yards? Sweat soaked beneath the savage sun, they heaved their suitcases — all of which were big enough to hide a dismembered body or two — up and down and huffed and seemed distraught at the amount of heaving required to make headway.

Walking Venice — Ridgeline issue 144

This opening paragraph from Craig Mod’s very enjoyable Ridgeline Newsletter could have been written about Lisbon as well. One hears them from afar, the tourists’ suitcases clattering up or down steep cobblestone streets, their wheels squealing from the abuse while the people get the workout of their lives. Mod calls this noise the Rimowa Thunderdome.

Some cities have cobblestone streets while the sidewalks are concrete or asphalt or otherwise fairly smooth. Not Lisbon. Here many sidewalks are made from a different color cobblestone, a smooth beige stone that becomes super treacherous when it rains. I am still experimenting with different pairs of shoes, hoping to find some that offer enough grip during a rain shower, so as not to break a leg. The experience of walking on snow in Santa Fe for thirty years gave my body the very useful ability to react to a slipping foot without going down. So far so good.

What’s the ideal baggage for travel? I don’t think there is one right way. Jon is in the duffel camp and has carried a Tumi duffel for at least two decades. It’s traveled all over the world and has been repaired several times. I used to be a duffel man but a few years ago I switched to a suitcase. There are times when it is so much easier to push a suitcase with one hand (those wheels have become really great, haven’t they!), with my backpack riding on top of the suitcase and the guitar case slung over the other shoulder, while Jon carries his bass case (not exactly light!) in one hand and the Tumi in the other. But arrive at a cobblestone street and he is the one smiling while I have to put the backpack on my back, hold on to the slipping shoulder strap of the guitar case, and drag the suitcase along pitifully.

A few things I have learned:

    – we carry more than we need to and could make do with less
    – be aware of the terrain of your destination
    – will you ride to the hotel or will you need to walk and carry or pull your luggage
    – suitcases, especially hard plastic or metal cases, break like oak trees while duffels can bend like bamboo
    – can your luggage be repaired or will it need to be replaced?

Even if a company replaces the broken suitcase, as they did with mine after the frame got bent, it would no longer lock properly, and a wheel came off, it’s a waste of materials and not a good solution.

Back to the clattering suitcases on cobblestone streets and sidewalks… Take heed and don’t start your journey with a long and exhausting and noisy nightmare of a walk.

The Sea Between

Here is the last minute of the version of “The Sea Between” I recorded for “Bare Wood 2”.

The guitar melody that starts after the chorus ends came from an improvisation. I liked the vibe of the improv but the strings had been on the guitar for too long and one of them was clearly out of tune. I tried to get used to it, hoping that the mood of the playing might outweigh the handful of notes that were out of tune, telling myself that most listeners might not hear what I was hearing, but I could not. This week I learned the phrases and re-played the melody. It was interesting to learn the notes and spaces of an improv and turning them into a prescribed melody. I rarely if ever do that, often preferring a slightly strange sound, as from a piece of nail-glue that is coming loose for example, to trying to recreate the vibe.

It turned out alright though and I am happy with the feeling of it. I added an octave below for the start of the melody and like how that grabs the attention.

This is the first version of the piece, from my post on 24. December

I always find it fascinating how a song changes when I can use several guitars rather than a solo guitar performance. Of course, adding Jon’s upright made a huge diff as well. :-)