"There are no train wrecks, just dumpster fires and so much more."
The end of summer always elicits bad poetry from me. Who knows, maybe some of this will wind up in a song, or it'll find life as a Facebook post, or I'll plug this into some future weird manifesto. Anyway … Behold!
Before the beat of summer ambles south, Remember
how June opened with such optimism,
and July sweet-talked many a prospect?
Now August burns sour,
lemon tart sour, bitter bitch end.
And autumn, moody as hell, keeps knocking at the window
slapped mad about being born.
Sure, September claims balance. But wait, just wait, it’ll enter
potholed, drunk and careless.
I’ll be there too, soon,
haymakers and boilermakers,
shaking a whiskey flask by the tail, lying about how I love the rain,
the smell of leaf rot and
all those grand plans for winter.
4 weeks ago, we had nothing going on in September ... not so true anymore!
Huzzah! Bonfires, bells ring! Boogaloo & shingaling! Zing went the strings of my schwing! Oh hoopla & wingding, bring me a thingy to sing! Sunday August 13th will be our 100th Some’tet gig. Yep. 100 gigs since we officially became Some’tet in September 2015. I’m a sucker for milestones, and definitely an idiot for rotund, callipygous numbers. So where better to celebrate then at Snapdragon/Home Sweet Home -- where this whole goddamned thing started! Come on out …
Go Faster No Fester So Foster … July has been a quick sprint of a month, kicking my tailbone from one gig to another, from rehearsal to rehearsal. Its ok, rent will get paid! Actually, I’ll be sad to see July go. Sure it’s been hectic, but fun -- shit, it’s been damn near hedonistic. Some’tet, alone, will have played at least 8 gigs this month, four of them I’d call pretty significant: 1) July 2nd gig at the Lodges on Vashon. Our musicianship that day was kind of muscular -- not what I expected. The plus side result, I guess, from playing in front of a large attentive crowd and being on the same bill with some great, established Northwest jazz artists. But it was also, sadly, our last gig with saxophonist Dianne. 2) On July 13, we played the Earshot Second Century Jazz Series, the most noteworthy gig we’ve ever booked. A small audience turned out, but we played solidly, and there were some top-notch solos from all of us. Next year, I’m planning on getting into the annual Earshot Jazz Festival. 3) One of the first positive upshots coming out of the Earshot gig was meeting, once again, the new tenor sax player on Vashon Island, Kevin Nortness. He came down to see us play, and the following Sunday the 16th he sat in with us at Snapdragon. What an incredible musician! Go to our video page, and you can see him kicking it with us -- and remember he’s never played with us before! 4) Vashon’s annual Strawberry Festival. This year, we gigged prime time! And Some’tet performed as a full six piece with Kevin guesting on sax and clarinet. He and Barry, actually all of us, just ripped it up. We may have started off the first song a bit tentatively, but we wound up going big rest of the way. One song of note, Plywood Winter, was just wild. Untethered I say! There was some serious hoots and cheers after that baby. The nutshell -- this year, July has had a lot of tricks up her sleeve, every few hours she seems to deal out another surprise -- all kinds of surprises from cantankerous to divine. But that’s Ok … we’re improvisers by nature. So thank you July 2017!! Looking forward to what August has in store. Here's an excerpt of the song Plywood Winter.
This past holiday weekend we played a couple of gigs -- the usual Sunday at Snapdragon, but also a gig at the beautiful Lodges on Vashon. What a blast. Incredible gig. Cool summer temperatures, crystal blue skies and a really receptive crowd. A number of songs have never sounded better. Also, on a personal note, it was my birthday, and a significant one to boot -- but we won’t get into the numbers thing this time around! Also on the bill was the Seth Alexander Quartet -- one of my very favorite musicians here in the northwest, he too lives on Vashon Island -- and Birch Pereira and the Gin Joints. Four hours of jazz in so many variations. Kind of perfect! On a sadder note, it was also our last gig with Dianne Krouse, our stellar sax and clarinet player. She’s back in school, working on her masters and new career opportunities, so for now she has to drift away. She’ll be missed. Hopefully, sometimes, she’ll wander by our Snapdragon Sunday gigs. Thanks Dianne, we absolutely love you!!
Next up for Some’tet -- Earshot’s Second Century Jazz Series, Thursday July 13th at the Chapel performance Space at the Good Sheperd Center, Wallingford, Seattle. More info soon.
This coming Sunday afternoon, July 2nd, Some’tet along with the Seth Alexander Quartet, and Birch Pereira & the Gin Joints will be performing at the Lodges on Vashon (17205 Vashon Hwy SW, Vashon WA). Some’tet starts at 2pm. Seth Alexander at 3:30. Birch Pereira at 5:00.
Come on out for an afternoon of some great jazz and just plain, fine summertime fun. There will be a full bar, plus Vashon Brewing Company will be pouring and food is available -- catered by Vashon's own Gravy!
A side note: It's also my birthday. A big one. Ugh. Of course it ends in a rather large fat, rotund zero. But the number before that zero -- unusually distressing. Just a hint -- I was born in the record year of the most teenage pregnancies in the US. Hank Aaron was the NL's MVP. Does the word Chevy Nomad mean anything to you. How about Ford Thunderbird, first generation. I was born before Kind of Blue, Take Five, Johnny B. Goode, Sputnik 1, the bossa nova and years before the phenomenon known as Beatlemania … Yeah Yeah Yeah. Come on out!
The weekend of June 9th. Friday night: After defeating a couple of mind flayers single-handedly in the 7/11 parking lot -- these goddamned Illithids came out of the Underdark grabbing for our nachos … "not to today you ugly octopi piece of dung!!!" -- Christine and I played a couple of songs at the Red Bike on Vashon for 60’s Night.
Saturday was even crazier. A couple of us solved math’s Hodge Conjecture and the Riemann Hypothesis during lunch -- again we had nachos -- before running a 10k barefoot. That evening we played a gig at the Sorrento Hotel -- played well too, one of our best gigs ever. A gorgeous warm night to start, went from warm to chilly faster than a back spasm cools down the sheets at the height of coitus. We skedaddled for the ferry.
Sunday morning: After translating Dante’s Divine Comedy from Italian to Sanskrit, I had my weekly consultation with NASA. They love me. For lunch I prepared, for the band, a traditional Gascony dish, confit du canard avec pommes grenailles, and of course prepared in a centuries-old process -- first salt cured and then cooked in its own fat. Anyway, that evening Some’tet was back at the Snapdragon Café/ Home Sweet Home the Bar as a quintet. We played some fine jazz, some great post-jazz, sambas and torch songs, but we also dug into our seventh annual Springtime salute to Dimmu Borgir, Burzum and other great Swedish death metal bands. A good time was had by one and all. A great weekend! Now I have to get back to sewing my Amish quilt. Thanks. See you next Sunday. The weather, once again, looks promising .
You jazz’d swagger of small towns! you lost melody at the edges! You horn worn in bop and boogaloo! you sambas! You cluster’d notes and ditty! you timbre knot! You distant chords! you drown of drums! You pierc’d bellow! you holy goofs! You discordant souls! you swing cloud’d by island skies. You open strings! you down bass and ascending stomp! You ride and crash! you steely tones of tenor! You tip jar! you sunny patio! You the living and the drinking and the eating and you all joy of conversation and friends from all that has sung, will sing, songs, sang, Some’tet, Summer, Sun, Snapdragon, Sundays, Six-thirty … you Walt Whitman, from whom I steal, I thank you
Yay! Et Bravo France! Félicitations pour ne pas avoir élu un fasciste comme leader! Continuez votre bon travail. Liberté, égalité, fraternité! Vous êtes beaucoup plus intelligent que nous, les Américains pleins. Nous avons célébré les élections françaises au champagne et au jazz au Snapdragon Cafe. Je pense qu'il est temps d'écrire plus de chansons en français, peut-être que nous devrions aller en France et faire des concerts! On pourrait seulement espérer!
A couple of weekends ago -- April 14th to be exact -- was the 4th anniversary of our Snapdragon Sunday Night Music residency. Four years! And I’ve been doing the math. It looks like that’s about 500 hour’s worth of live music -- the equivalent to about 3 weeks! I’ve also tried compiling the possible tonnage of beer we’ve consumed. Couldn’t figure out the exact capacity -- seems my algebra and calculus skills have failed me yet again. Though personally, by checking in the mirror I’d say at least 25 pounds. Come on down on a Sunday, start time 6:30/7:00. Snapdragon Café/Home Sweet Home Bar, 17817 Vashon Hwy, Vashon WA.
During the middle of Friday nights gig at Vashon’s Red Bike, I had this thought. To my ear, there are few things as thrilling as the sound of musicians jamming, seemingly traveling in opposite musical directions, yet shadow the same intangible thin thread. The pushing, pulling, scrambling, challenging, spinning weird in the air -- all connected, but separate. And the moment the music drops back into … I guess ‘symmetry’ is the word … Zowww! Holy shit! That is power and alchemy and magnificence.
Well, mostly. To be truthful, I tend to instantly miss the weird! I like the high wire act. I like the danger, chance and the throw of the dice and having to accept any divination unfolding. Because you know, you know -- gravity will lurch at the damnedest friggin’ moments. Hold on. You have too. Gravity happens. But groove and gravity, it’s a sweet game and all kinds of addicting. Come check us out on Friday April 28th, 6pm, at the Olive Branch Café, 2501 E D St, Tacoma.
This Friday, April 7th, Some’tet will be back at Vashon's The Red Bicycle and Bistro. And just to make the evening a bit more festive, we’re celebrating the birthdays of jazz greats Billie Holiday, Mongo Santamaria and Freddie Hubbard … some seriously heavy hitters. Come on out. Fill your rainy night with sushi, torch songs, whiskey, beer, burgers, gossip, jazz, fries, sambas, friends, flirtations, kismet, epiphanies …
File this in the tall esoteric can, certainly not worth getting all sparkly about. But! This past Sunday, March 26th, Some’tet played its 75th gig since we officially took on the moniker Some’tet in September 2015. And of course befitting the etymology of our name, this week we played as a trio … Barry Cooper, Patrick Christie and Whitmore. A great set, if I do say so myself. On the soloing end of things, both Barry and Patrick out-and-out ripped things to shreds … worlds collided, the earth stood still, the sky exploded, it came from beyond space -- you should've been there if you weren’t there, it was kind of interstellar, as one always hopes it'll be ... “space is the place,” as the great Sun Ra always said. Yeah!
photo by Shelley Hanna Photography
“There was that wind, from the south, shuddering the windows. It was one of those slick winter bursts shoving mischief across the Puget Sound - nasty and cold, evaporating any hope that a bit of sanity may be reintroduced to that itchy dark hovel where once housed a brain. On nights like this drinking is compulsory and even more so, jazz is required. Find your brand, your spirits; tongue the edge of that glass, filled to the rim, even a cheap whiskey will do. Hear the cries of a trumpet or saxophone. And remember there is no bad whiskey, only short pours. And like jazz, anything is possible on a windy Sunday night. Anything. And this is a Sunday night gig.”
The other night I was waxing philosophical, well actually just drinking rum on a cold night, overthinking … but I remembered this quote -- “to think of shadows is a serious thing.”
I hesitate to reveal my ‘illuminations’ in public. As you can imagine, they’re in large part absolute pure idiocy. But! I will say in shadows are blurred lines, mystery, and this great state called vagueness. And what did Charles Ives say: "Vagueness is at times an indication of nearness to a perfect truth." There you go another quote. Anyway, that pretty much describes what I like best in music. And what Some’tet can, on those great vague nights, touch. Our aim is vague.
Next up, the First Friday Art Walk! Some'tet will be playing live on the air in the KVSH 101.9FM storefront studio, (streaming live on voiceofvashon.org). Come on by and hang out for a while, or just wave at us thru the windows! Actually, come on in, have a sit, make some noise, enjoy some Vashon Island music.
March 3rd at 7PM - 9PM
KVSH Storefront Studio, 17917 Vashon Hwy, Vashon WA
Last week -- a very busy week! I like busy, but not being so dawg friggin’ tired. 4 gigs in 4 days isn’t exactly a six-week tour or anything, but each night we played for 2-3 hours. And I’m definitely not in the shape I used to be in! Add it up – 10-plus hours of music from Thursday to Sunday. Two of those gigs we ferried over to Seattle. The earliest I got to bed -- Sunday night at 2:15am. And waking up Monday morning to eight inches of snow and having no power only augmented my desire to get shit-nada done. I spent most of Monday and Tuesday feeding my fireplace, reading, staring out the window, napping and finishing off a bottle of rum Patrick Christie brought back from Nicaragua.
Best gig moment-- looking out the Parliament Tavern window Thursday night and seeing it snow!
Worse moment -- looking out the Snapdragon Cafe/Home Sweet Home Bar window Sunday night and watch the snow flowing down. Sure it was beautiful, but I barely made it home. New tires did the job; I passed a few cars stuck on the road in the snow.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who came out! Please do so again, come on back out! We’ll be at Snapdragon/Home Sweet Home this Sunday and every Sunday in March.
We are crossing the pond, on boats, sans life jackets, heading to solid ground! To civilization! Seattle, here we come! We have two gigs on the mainland this coming week. Please come and check us out.
Thursday, Feb 2nd, 8pm we’ll be playing at the Parliament Tavern in West Seattle. (4210 SW Admiral Way, Seattle, WA 98116). It’s our first time playing there.
And! We’ll be playing at the Sorrento Hotel/Fireside Room on Saturday, Feb 4th, at 8pm (900 Madison St, Seattle, WA 98104). This is also a great room, in Seattle’s oldest and most haunted hotel!
And on Sunday, Feb 5th, we’ll be back on Vashon playing at the Snapdragon Café/Home Sweet Home Bar. Come on out, after such a busy week we’ll be most ready to categorically kick out the jams.
Several weeks ago I was having something of a bad day, at least that was my perception. In retrospect, it wasn't that dire a day after all. Not like today. Holy shit no! Our good friend Kim did this drawing for me that Snapdragon Sunday evening gig. Here it is, just a reminder to myself -- now I'm heading out to make some music.
Happy New Year!
Some’tet started 2017 playing a private party, and we had a blast! We kind of kicked it hard, lots of improvisation, shoving around our typical arrangements -- great solos from Patrick Christie, Barry Cooper and Dianne Krouse on her new tenor sax, (it has a deliciously smokey sound!)
Also, after a few weeks off, we’ll be back at our Vashon Island Sunday Night Snapdragon residency on Jan 15th starting around 6pm, and we return with some new material. Come on by!
And starting in February you can find us playing more often in Seattle, come check us out. On Thursday, Feb 2nd, 8pm we’ll be playing at the Parliament Tavern in West Seattle. (4210 SW Admiral Way, Seattle, WA 98116)
And! We’ll be playing at the Sorrento Hotel in the Fireside Room on Saturday, Feb 4th, at 8pm (900 Madison St, Seattle, WA 98104). It’s a great room. So hey, see you on the mainland soon!