Thursday, January 26, 2006

art of the jam 36

having a hellride of a week at work and my sweetie is headin' out of town for a few days to attend a conference in the mission city of san antonio (which i haven't set foot in since my basic training town pass, way the hell back in 1982) after a hellacious week of her own fightin' the powers that be in the local public school system, so i was kinda ambivalent about steppin' out to make my li'l indonesian strat go weedly-weedly-wee. but when she pointed out that she'd prolly just be packing her bag, jumping in the shower, and hittin' the rack, i felt a li'l less guilty about it. plus ron geida needed a ride, and i'd gladly go a coupla blocks outta my way for a chance to jam w/ron geida on gtr _anytime_.

most locals reading this prolly know ron from kulcha far i and jasper stone, but he's been in loads of other foat wuth bands before that, including the civilians (who weren't a christian rawk band but sure looked like one, whose ex-frontman has now reinvented himself in noo yawk city as something called "the matthew show" and whose ex-bassplayer occasionally plays solo acoustic spuzz at machenry's), second hand soul, fake jerry, the dirty mac, blueprint, and lots more. even an instrumental band called "the occasionals" that was your humble chronicler o' events' one ill-advised stab at trying to be a bandleader. thirteen months, seven gigs, three bassplayers, two drummers, and one nervous breakdown later, i realized that i am _one of nature's sidemen_ and damn happy to be one. anyway, there was this band that started out with me and ron going to see the allman bros. with derek trucks wiping the floor w/poor ol' dickey betts the same way that bro. duane usedta and thinking "we could have a band like this: one that could play long and _let the grooves breathe_" but wound up being a tight-assed li'l fake jazz band where everyone took two choruses on every song. but i digress.

this week's jam was supposed to be a sorta road test for melee mouth, the foat wuth supergroup-of-sorts consisting of wreck room wednesday night jam-meister lee allen on bass 'n' voxxx, his fort worth academy of music partner-in-crime dave karnes on drums, and "confusajohn" steven on gtr. confusajohn, a groovin' and blues-drenched axe-slingin' mofo from way back when, played his first gig at the old dogstar on berry street at age 15, second on the bill to the visitors, a band with his future confusatron bandmate justin pate on drums, and has since played his way through smokehouse, nuthin' special, the merchants and i forget what-all, but he's super-stoked about this project. "i just wanna _turn it up and rawk out_," sez confusajohn, perhaps chafing under the limitations of working in the free-flowing but dense forest o' sound that is confusatron. jam-meister lee has even been writin' actual toons for this project, something he does only infrequently, and it sounds like the outfit's debut (that'll be friday, february 24th, with rahim and sunward -- a kind of "all dave karnes" night at the li'l wreck room) will be one not to miss.

the early preview / rehearsal wound up not eventuating at this week's jam, though. while all the players were in da house when the proverbial curtain went up, joe "drumzilla" cruz (back from a coupla wks of illness and misery) was not about to relinquish his spot behind the traps, so karnes split, taking with him lee's idea of having a "revolving trio" night. after a quartet set (john, lee, drumzilla, me) that included the swamporific version of, um, depeche mode's "personal jesus" (or as i prefer to think of it, "personal elvis") that's becoming a jam standard and a guest vocal turn by rose marine theatrista claudia acosta on a portishead song that the jam-meister apparently knew altho the rest of us did not (as always, we faked it), mr. stevens decamped for the torch (where the black dog tavern regulars are awaiting in exile the reopening -- maybe next weekend, john sez -- of tad gaither's fonky basement in its new location a block from fred's and within walking distance of el wreck; we live in hope), leaving his strat and groovy new 15w class a ampeg rig from sessions music for the jammers to tear down at the end of the night.

other set highlights: a three-gtr "come together" and a torrid zappa "sexual harassment in the workplace" that featured slithering linearity from ron, monolithic slabs o' distorto bass thunder from lee, and splintered blooze lixxx from me in da solo sections. (note to self: must remember to call jane's addiction "mountain song" the next time lee asks what i wanna play.) second set started out with a cat who introduced himself to me as "mojo" and to lee as john something-else-i-can't-remember-right-now, who played left-handed acoustic gtr and sang. his gtr was pretty tight, with a real active right...'scuse me, _left_ hand, and we made a noble effort at following him on a coupla I-IV vamp-olas after his solo mini-set. second set ended kinda anti-climactically when we all thought it was 1:30 but it was really only 12:30.

the jam-meister's theme o' the night appeared to be "stirring the pot." we avoided playing a lot of what's become "standard jam repertoire" ("bobo," "cissy strut," "manic depression," "maggot brain," "war pigs") in favor of some different schitt like a "sunshine of yr love" that started at land-speed-record pace before slowing down to the "normal" tempo, hendrix "fire" done pert near straight rather than hyperdriven chili peppers fash i thought lee would favor, the rhcp's "stone cold bush" with ron shreddin' over the top even tho he didn't know the form (kinda like confusajohn had done earlier on "standing on the verge"). most, um, _interesting_ moment came at the end of the night, when we finished what we reckoned was the last song and a drunk girl the jam-meister dubbed "roberta plant" got up onstage and started some solo yoko ono-esque wordless vocalismo. a moment of awkwardness ensued before wreck room wizard o' sound andre edmonson fired up his vocal f/x and the jam quartet launched into a feedback-laden "dazed and confused" / "whole lotta love" medley to end the night, proving the verity of the jam-meister's words in his most recent myspace bulletin thingy: "you pick the tunes or grooves -- we destroy them." 'twas big fun, y'all. if you weren't there, you missed it.


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