Some'tet

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Happy Birthday ol' Band

Well shit! Believe it or not, our 4th birthday is here. Some’tet was birthed way back when on September 28th, 2015. Ahh … I remember the day, the conversation, the gig … vaguely. I think it was sunny. Maybe.

On that date we somehow settled on Some’tet. And it stuck. We had gigged under several other banners -- The Callipygous Trio, ZazzerZuzz, and many more ridiculous names that nobody, anywhere could ever really pronounce. But here we are. Four years since our christening and next Sunday will be our 243rd gig, that’s a crapload of hours, a helluva lot of notes and chords and noise and work.

So everybody! Raise your glass. Here’s to many more years of jazz! To the music, to fresh ideas, to more experimentation, to greater solos, to greater songs, to fine moments to come, to fun and camaraderie, to us recording again, to Some’tet! Cheers! And to all of you ‘Tets and guest ‘Tets who have made it happen – Barry, Patrick, Christine, Kevin, Dodd, Dianne, Wes, Rusty, Dylan, Michael, Bill, Ethan, Seth, William, Makena, Dan … thank you!

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Static

Static. There’s the problem. And I don’t mean that crackling, hissing din you hear from a radio or TV -- that noise is camouflage for my tinnitus, don’t mind it at all -- I mean that sense of inertia … bland, dreary static, lifeless to the touch. As of late, I’ve been somewhat knee deep in this insipid muck. Dithered by some deep-rooted shit. A few weeks back, during one of our Snapdragon Sunday night gigs, and after some tepid guitar solo, I knew I’d run out of ideas. The following week, thankfully/hopefully, I came back to life a bit … but still, my efforts came across as somewhat feeble, at least as feeble as all the clichés I’m about to type.

I guess static can be seen as consistent. Rigid and uniform. Me, I think of it as the annihilation of all things good … well hell, even the end of all things bad. It explains contentment with mediocrity, settling for a colorless life, lapsing into monotony, balling up into dull, gray dumplings. No salt. No pepper. No paprika. A stagnancy stew. All very dreary and margarine and safe.

What am I looking for? There’s the question. And right now, a direct answer is probably out of the question. What should I do? I don’t know -- pick left instead of right? Say yes instead of no? Invent new improvisations on old uncertainties. I’ve tried them all, and I’ve had interesting results, but, ahh … no thanks. I need real solutions. Actual answers. So here, let’s start with this … check out more new music. Study. Practice new things. Pilfer new ideas. Book some gigs. Especially solo gigs. Perform sans Some’tet and maybe a bit of kismet will touch my sweater or my nylon stings and spark some motion, ideas. Yes. April 2019. Here we go. Below is an upcoming gig. Wander by if you get a chance. Give a listen!

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Mark Hollis 1955-2019

It’s kind of impossible to tell you how much the Talk Talk albums Spirit of Eden, Laughing Stock and the Mark Hollis solo album mean to me. It is impossible. Mark Hollis is in that pantheon of my all time favorite musicians … Baden Powell, Brigitte Fontaine, Bill Evans, Robert Wyatt, Tim Buckley, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Lenny Breau. When I was a teenager it was Wyatt and Buckley. A little older, it was Coltrane and Evans, then Fontaine, Breau and Powell. Discovering that final Talk Talk album ‘Laughing Stock’ was like being 14 years old again and hearing Blue Afternoon or Alabama for the first time. And years later coming across the self titled Mark Hollis solo album … wow. Listening to it always felt like a rare privileged world I somehow discovered and completely by accident was allowed in. Below is a first track from that album, it has always torn me apart in a way that is, like I said, impossible to describe. The quiet. The heartbreak. The beauty. Perfect. Imperfect. The intimacy. Perhaps the most intimate record ever recorded. I can go on for hours about this one song alone. It starts with 16 seconds of silence … need I say more. This is such a sad day. Rest in peace Mark Hollis.

It's Been Awhile

It’s been awhile. Yes, life. Good. Bad. The last few months has seen a light dusting of bullshit, and my absurd little life, as predicted, has been shifting thru the many-tiered levels of chaos/pandemonium/bedlam. But to be honest, across this past summer and early fall much of life has been good -- just a hair under nice enough -- though the spiritual equivalence of cheap fast food and berry flavored tums seems to shadow my every move.

One great thing did take place this summer, over the pond in the UK, at the BFI London Film Festival. The film RHYTHM 06 by Ross Lipman premiered -- I composed the music for his film. I think it might be my best score ever, if I do say so myself. Ross is an award winning film maker, he was the senior film restorationist at UCLA for years, and couple of years ago he directed/wrote the documentary Notfilm about Samuel Beckett's lone film, Film, which starred Buster Keaton in one of his final roles. I wish I could have been in London, downing a few pints! Instead I imbibed in a season of vodka sodas, popping ibuprofen and watching my calories and blood pressure. 

The most significant Some’tet gig this summer was our Vashon Center for the Arts gig in early September. We videotaped it. We recorded it. We played well. Will we ever see a live release from the gig … who the hell knows? One of the highlights of the gig was the drumming of Dylan Savage. New to the northwest, new to Some’tet, he is something to hear! Nuanced, poly-rhythmic, almost reckless but soulfully controlled. His touch is light yet he pushes the band. The closest thing to Paul Motian I have ever played with. Angels sing, seraphim dance. The gods light up a pipe. The devil is dismayed.

What’s new? I’ve switched from vodka to rum for fall. It appears I am out of another day gig. One of the local Vashon organizations we played for this past October seems really uninterested in paying us fully for the gig. Shitbirds. But I finally caught up with all the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movies. And a new batch of compositions is ready for Some’tet to start playing. Talk of recording this winter is still in the air. And funny, even after more than a decade up here in the northwest I’m still learning about winter. Being a SoCal native, this cold and rain isn’t my natural environment. But what I’ve surmised, and I’m still a bit dim on it all the particulars, this is when people regroup, work on new ideas, dig in and and divine rebirth in Spring. Sounds a bit fluffy and fleecy to me, but what the hell, I’ll bite! So, not all is bleak, even as we explore the infinite abyss.

Our next big gig is our yearly rendezvous at the Red Bike on Vashon Island. I’m looking forward to it. Definitely not to be missed, I’m really digging where the Some’tet sound is heading and I suspect we’ll blow the socks off many folks attending. Come on out, tap your toes, drink a beer, eat some sushi, bop your head to some of that post-jazz, nu-jazz boogaloo.

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Sept 8, 7:30pm Vashon Center for the Arts

The biggest Some'tet gig of the year is coming up; well maybe it’s our nicest gig. We’re playing at the Vashon Center for the Arts on the main stage -- the Katherine L. White Hall. A gorgeous venue, with gorgeous sound and comfy seating and its only 5 minutes from my house -- summertime and the gig commute is easy! I suspect we’ll have a couple of guests sitting in. This gig is not to be missed! And there is no cover. 

As for this poster below, I know, what does it all mean? Who knows? I wanted something to stand out, something apocalyptic -- I guess I found messianic! What the hell, these are strange, dangerous days; sometimes you just have to wear it on your sleeve.

Saturday, Sept 8, 7:30 - 9pm

The Vashon Center for the Arts, 19600 Vashon Hwy, Vashon Island WA

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Winding up. Winding down. A funny polarity.

How has two months passed since my last Babble entry? Some’tet has been busy. I’ve been busy. Since June 20th, my last post, we’ve played almost 20 gigs. Maybe Some’tet has been frustrated. Because I know, I’ve been frustrated. There’s a numbing fact.

On the good side, we had our Musicquarium residency. Flip side. To be perfectly honest … it wasn’t particularly eventful. One night it was just grim. Well maybe, just anticlimactic. 

Here’s the expression running through my skewed and tired, gray-pork matter -- winding up. Or is it winding down. It’s an interesting phrase, like slim chance and fat chance. Flammable or inflammable, or I could give a fuck or I couldn’t give a fuck. The nonsensical richness of the English language. It all spells a funny polarity.

This coming weekend Some’tet will be playing our 175th gig. I recently read that one of my very favorite no-wave bands from New York and the 1970’s, Mars, played a grand total of 9 live gigs. And yet they left an impact with their record output. Ok, they’re not household names but, still …

We may never properly record this band. That is disappointing. Maybe in the winding up/winding down portion of our history this lineup just may find an opportunity. Weirder things have happened. Something approximating something good may come knocking at the door. Somehow, somewhere, someway, something just might step forward and breath a smidge of life back into Some’tet’s old animus ... Carpe Diem! Corpus, Mens, Spiritus! E Pluribus Unum! Ars Longa Vita Brevis, Eureka! Utopia. Kismet. A throw of the dice, seven come eleven, baby needs a new pair of shoes, dragging us all the way back from the theme of the beam of the invisible edge.

Just a Side Note

Something has changed. Yeah. And it’s not fun. Who knows, maybe I’ve finally reached that holy crest of being a total asshole, found the hallowed mind of curmudgeon. But something has changed. Almost every time I’m out these days, I’ve been overpowered by a brittleness in the air. I breathe in and I get a mouthful of aluminum and car exhaust and ulcers. There’s an over whelming sense of something bad wolfing down these times – I think the future is the main course, hope is dessert. My future. My hope. I don’t know, is it just me? My depression. Maybe it’s always been like that, and I’ve been too self obsessed to notice. From what I’ve formalized this year, the world can be a beautiful place as long as you’re willing to be a complete asshole, or get all kissy all over that stink-taint shoved in your face. Shit. What do I know -- I don’t know a goddamned thing. Except, well, I do know this. It’s not fun. 

I’ve always sought solace, or at least, maybe, a little redemption through music. Yeah, I’m that guy. And this year I’ve been desperately seeking some kind of reclamation. Something that reanimates my enthusiasm -- I need fire. I’ve been checking out a lot of new jazz, new soul and electronica, digging deep into the Internet, and yes, it’s a bottomless ditch. But try it. Go online. Get random, throw an allegorical rock in any direction and you will crack something exceptional. There are some incredible new sounds out there. And here’s the crazy thing. These just may be halcyon days. Yet somehow, I’m uneasy. Limping around. Bungled. I can’t help but feel snarled in some muddled, mucky crosstie. Or is it this second martini, (vodka, extra olives, a touch dirty, on the rocks). I don’t know, miasma’s crosstie. (Now there’s a two-buck word for you).

And there’s this thought -- the future isn’t something I expect, but for chrissakes, I’d like to expect some hope while I’m breathing here. Here are a few words to sing if the mood hits you --

Fingers touched, surged and sailed on.

On my skin between words,

A verse sang and hymns and slurs hissed,

 On my skin, time so late so soon, fades.

Yeah, I feel like breaking up

Somebodies pretty assed love song.

Residency! Musicquarium!

Some’tet has a summer residency in Seattle! Our Snapdragon residency on Vashon Island has been going on for a few years now, but we've never had one in town. Its one of those things you hope for as a musician, a regular paying gig, even if its once every four weeks. We’ll be playing the second week of each month at the Musicquarium at the Triple Door in downtown Seattle. The dates are Wednesday June 13th, Thursday July 12th and Thursday August 9th, all the shows begin at 5pm, and we play until about 7:30 or 8pm. Plus, we'll have some great guest musicians sitting in from time to time. Stay tuned.

150

Numbers. And numbers matter. Numbers are infinite. Numbers are definitive. Mostly. Sometimes numbers are simply curlicues and ephemera decorating a page. Sometimes numbers hijack facts. Sometimes numbers assassinate truth. And sometimes numbers are on the nose perfect. Numbers can be redemptive. More often than not, numbers are friendly -- friendly enough, wholesome enough, factual enough. Those numbers I like. And true, some numbers are irksome. Speed limits. Weight gain. Credit card debt. Age is only a number, right? True, but its not necessarily a friendly number, except  -- what’s the alternative. 

Anyway, this week’s special number is 150. On Saturday May 19th, Some’tet will be playing its 150th gig. One hundred fifty friggin' gigs! Some’tet will be performing at the American Hotel, 520 S King St, in Seattle's International District, starting about 5 until 7:30pm. And if all this nature/climate/weather crap works out like its suppose too -- the forecast insists that the temperature will be in the mid 70's. And let me say, hallelujah to that number too.

Geek Speak

Asked to describe Some’tet as a record collector …

"More ECM than Blue Note, more Actuel than Riverside, more Impulse than Verve, more Six Eyed than Masterworks, more DIW than CTI."

Halcyon Days ... Oh Hell No!

5 years ago … way back in 2013, I was in rocky shape. Getting divorced, losing my house, working part time at $11 an hour, shifting incessantly thru all those adult shithole troubles that had come to a one mother of a head -- in my head. Oh, halcyon days! Oh, hell no …

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Somehow I did, that spring, complete three grownup tasks. I made a doctor’s appointment. I booked time with a therapist. But the smartest move I made -- asking Megan Hastings if I could play music on Sundays at her Snapdragon Café. Just let me sit there in the back, put my head down and quietly grumble amongst all the weird instruments I’d drag along to play.

This coming weekend marks the five-year anniversary of that weekly Sunday night residency.

Now call it chance, kismet or just plan good juju, but what evolved in those 5 years and some 600 hours of live music is not unlike what came slithering out of the goo in the Paleozoic age -- simple life forms like cycads, glossopteris, primitive conifers and ferns, a few vertebrate critters. Yes, Some’tet and its damned opposable thumbs came crawling out of that same boiling sea that tried to drown me. Its kind of amazing … a little jazz, a few torch songs from Mars, some free improvisations, and it has, as they say, brought me back from the theme of the beam of the invisible edge.

Come on down this Sunday, April 15th, 7pm, Snapdragon Café/Home Sweet Home the Bar. There will be great music. There will be great cake! 

Like Deja Vu All Over Again

We're a slightly convoluted bunch -- kind of messy and we kind of enjoy the tightrope walk. Not traditionally a good combination. And of course it often bites us in the ass. This past Sunday night, Some'tet had about 2 hrs to shoot and finish a video at the Snapdragon Cafe for NPR's Tiny Desk contest. We had to have this all done and uploaded by 9pm -- the deadline. What were the odds we'd get this done, Vegas said 8-5 we couldn't. Of course we had a couple of months to get this done -- a dozen gigs we could have filmed ...   

But, we got it done! And still played a set of music afterwards. A HUGE thanks to Shelley Hanna for pulling it all together for us.

It was like deja vu all over again -- last year everyone was sick too, last minute rushing around trying to pull something together and like last year we chose a different song at the very last minute, but what the hell! So here it is Barry and Patrick, Christine and Whitmore

Keep On Keeping On

2018 keeps on a rolling along. Bumpy as hell for sure, but still grinding away, god knows how or why. But here it is the first day of spring! I’ve been looking forward to this date -- not a fan of Northwest winters. Winter months aren’t awful here, not Buffalo awful, they’re just dark. Being raised in sun dogged SoCal, I doubt I’ll ever get used to the clouds lingering three and a half inches off the top of my head for weeks on end. Anyway, Some’tet keeps on gigging. By the end of March we will have played something like 14 or 15 gigs already this year.

And some very cool gigs are coming up in the next few weeks.

March 29th, 9pm, for the first time ever Some’tet will be playing at Tim’s Tavern. This neighborhood watering hole has been around more or less since 1937, and it’s a renowned spot for local music, especially jazz. Our tenor sax/bass clarinetist Kevin Nortness will be headlining that night with his own band KissyFace -- definitely worth the cruise over to the Greenwood District in Seattle.

April 5th, 5pm, we’re back! Come and hang out with Some’tet for a couple of Happy Hours at the Musicquarium at the Triple Door. Love playing there, it’s a good match for our torch songs from Mars thang.

And not to be forgotten, April 15th will mark five years we’ve been doing the Sunday Night Music residency at the Snapdragon Cafe! Some 230 gigs! Probably 600 hours of music! And this is where Some’tet sprang to life and keeps on keeping on most every Sunday at 7pm. Come on down. There might be cake!

The Shape of Gigs to Come

We have some great gigs coming up in March, you should check these out:

Thursday March 1, we’ll be back at the Vermillion (1508 11th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122) along with one of Seth Alexander’s superb bands. We go on at 9:30.

Saturday March 10, we’ll be performing at Vashon’s Open Space (18870 103rd Ave SW, Vashon, WA 98070) as part of an evening with Winona LaDuke. 6pm.

And Thursday March 29, we’ll be at Tim’s Tavern (602 N 105th St, Seattle, WA 98133) along with Kevin Nortness’ great band Kissyface. Show starts at 9pm.

Come on down, take a peek, give a listen.

Happy New Year from Some’tet

For the second year in a row, Some’tet celebrated New Years Eve with a bash at Patrick’s. I’ve dubbed this annual December event as MeatFest -- when heaps of Polish sausages from Minnesota and meatballs from Chicago are sent west to ring in a beefier holiday ... gorging our bellies, straining our cholesterol levels. And this year’s music jam included some of the best musicians from the Seattle area. Besides the regular ‘tet crew, Seth Alexander played alto sax, and both Rusty Willoughby and Ethan Cudaback sat in on drums and percussion. Some free jazz. Some New Orleans grooves. Some soul. Some sambas. Some Some’tet fair. A lot of horseplay and horse-trading and some delicious homemade horseradish, perfect for the kielbasas. A helluva good party!

Happy New Year from Some’tet, and I’d like to add … we have some big plans for 2018.

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You know, it’s been a helluva year, one a pesky friggin’ year.

Last Sunday, December 17th, Some’tet wrapped up 2017 in a pretty razor wire ribbon, politely doffed its large herringbone cap and then kicked that mother to the goddamned curb. But what a great night, our final Snapdragon gig of the year. Wes and Kevin (on upright bass once again) and I pushed it hard -- jamming, shouting, ripping these songs of ours to bloody shreds. Fun, fun, decadent fun!

And it’s been a helluva year for ol’ Some’tet too. Good and not so good. By the numbers, we played a grand total of 69 gigs. We lost, but added 2 new members to the band. I could add up how much money we made, but … well, there are so many reasons why I’m not going there. And sadly we put out 0 recordings this year.

But we played some great gigs -- The EarShot 2nd Century Jazz Festival. The two gigs at the Red Bike on Vashon, that last Sunday in November gig at Snapdragon, the last two gigs at The Musicquarium/Triple Door. Yeah, it’s been one helluva year -- one bumpy but exhilarating white knuckled ride.

A side note: These days it’s not easy being a bipedal, pigeon toed goof -- a brain adrift, ground down into gunk. Yep. Worry is the air I breathe. Anxiety is the food I eat. Disquiet is the sound in my ears. Shit, without stress, I’d be a jellyfish. Though, I’d like to be a jellyfish sometimes, especially one those nasty giant fuckers stinging the hell out of some these nimrods toying with me and my family, friends -- my ilk. But I’m hoping for a kinder 2018. I’m hoping to be kinder too. Needless to say, I’m not one for lighting candles or holding hands against an ill wind, or bowing my head in silence … but something has got to change, and I’ll spout the ol’ cliché -- Change has go to start with me. Here’s to a good and worthy 2018.

Gig Time

Haven’t written anything here in over a month! Time. Too long a time. A lack of time. Wasting time. All twists of time. Time with a lemon twist. A splash of soda water. I prefer Time on the rocks.

I’m sure Time is an illusion. Our brains invented it to blackout the abject failure of mankind not getting the bigger picture. Our perception is content to live tiny. We demand walls. Walls to help block the view. Contain our perception. And besides, Time is the perfect excuse for explaining failure. What did someone once suggest, there is no now or tomorrow just the past living endlessly. Infinitely. Ruthlessly. I’m not sure -- I just wrote that right now, maybe later on, there might be a better explanation. For the moment though -- surprise surprise! -- I'm not harping on the past, but looking forward.

Tomorrow night. Friday, November 17, 8:30pm. We’re heading back to the Red Bicycle Bistro on Vashon Island. And since our last gig there we have a couple of new band members to show off -- Wes Peterson on drums! Kevin Nortness on tenor sax! Both are unbelievably good! These are exciting days for ol' Some'tet!

And since I seemed to be obsessed with Time today, here’s a little history lesson for November 17th: 1973, Richard Nixon declares, "I am not a crook." 1978, the insanely awful Star Wars Holiday Special airs/errs on CBS for the only time – even George Lucas hated it. 2003, Britney Spears at 21, becomes the youngest singer to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Birthdays -- Rock Hudson, Peter Cook, Howard Dean, John Boehner, Lorne Michaels, Danny DeVito, RuPaul, East Bay Ray, and Lee Strasberg. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the death of Rodin.

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oeur d'oeuvres, hard cider, & jazz ... oh my!

Success! Some'tet survived consecutive odd, convoluted weekends. We found ourselves all over the place -- a little bit there, here & there again. Friday night Sept 29th, Patrick, Christine, Barry & Whitmore did a song for the 80's Night Benefit for Vashon Events; covering one we don’t play much anymore, Under the Milky Way, in a samba style -- though we screwed with the intro, twisting around scrumptious layers of feedback & horseplay.

Saturday morning, Some’tet played at the Vashon Farmers Market. Wes Peterson sat in on cajón. And for the first time in 3 years of Market gigs it didn’t rain on ol' Some'tet. Sunday night we performed for the Burn Design Lab benefit at the Dragon's Head Cider. We did our best to devour all the oeur d'oeuvres, polish off the delicious hard cider & kick some mean jazz ass. Meanwhile Kevin was across town playing a benefit for the Open Space.

The following Saturday, Oct. 7th, cider was king again. We played the annual Vashon Cider Fest. Barry was out of town, but Kevin killed on tenor sax. Our two-hour set was rewarded, once again, with more than our share of hard cider. Sunday night, time to play a quiet, intimate set, Wes sat in again. Mellow, but an indisputably weird & teasing gig. Success!

Below -- Some'tet with special guest Wes Peterson on cajón. 'Owls', live in the great outdoors!

Welcome to the Terrible Twos

Here we are! Our 2nd birthday -- hatched, September 28th, 2015! On that date we somehow settled on the name Some’tet. We had gigged under a terrible crapload of banners -- The Callipygous Trio, ZazzerZuzz, and a few others we won’t even mention. Anyway, in the two years since our christening, we’ve gigged 110 times, done a hellava lot of toe tapping, finger snapping, head bopping, some serious fanny shaking, perhaps too much tongue flappin’, wiggling our prehensile tails. Yeah! Happy Birthday Some’tet, you little toddler you … here comes the terrible twos! May you live long and prosper.