Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10.30.2012, FTW

This past weekend I played what are likely the last shows I'll be playing for awhile. I'm taking care of some family business that isn't compatible with musician's hours. Also, I need to stay clear-headed, so I stopped drinking in September, and both of my bands were drinking clubs that played gigs. (I find it somewhat hilarious that they both showed up on the list of nominees for Dallas Observer music awards right around the time I was stepping out. Wha-wha.)

Back in June, when Stoogeaphilia played Poag Mahone's for the Fort Worth Weekly music awards thingy, I remember looking over at the other guys while we were in the middle of the meltdown part of "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" and thinking, "This band sounds like a fucking tidal wave. I love this more than anything I've ever done."

That hasn't changed. What a gas it was the last six years, watching Ray come into his own as a frontman; seeing Hembree, who loves to play more than any other musician I know, letting his insane and abandoned side out onstage; playing with Jon, the greatest drummer I'll ever play with; and sharing guitar duties with Richard, a fantastic player with whom, I lately realized, I probably have more in common than any of the others.

For myself, it was a particular pleasure playing Stooges music, which I've loved since I was 13 but could never find anybody else to play with (although I recently learned that the guy who directly inspired me to start playing, with whom I was later in a band, was a big Stooges fan -- the subject just never came up back then, for some reason). And getting to explore the Peter Laughner songbook was also a kick.

Really, though, Stoogeaphilia was the vehicle I used to explore and express everything I think about rock music, and if we were good, I think it was because once we learned the forms, we played them our way, with every man putting into them everything he knew. That's why I always said we were a repertory band, not a tribute band. (Ray dressing up as Iggy would have just been weird.)

As for HIO, with whom I sat in at the Cellar on Sunday, that experience -- starting from the time Jeff Liles asked us to come play for his video camera in the green room at the Kessler Theater, using only cigarbox guitars -- really opened up my conception of what music could be (or what could be music). Knowing Terry Horn has really changed the way I listen to and think about music. Hickey is like the son I never had. Mark Kitchens is a great addition to the lineup, both temperamentally and musically.

The collaborations with Big Rig Dance Collective and Sarah Gamblin caused us to learn and grow as a unit. With the now-aborted dance piece we were working on at the time I bailed, I think we may have written a check with our mouths that we couldn't cash with our asses, but I regret that now, I'm not going to get to find out whether or not I'm wrong.

Anyway, this weekend, I finally got to play with Terry Valderas, who drummed in ESP, the Toadies, the Gideons, and Parasite Lost. He was in town from Albuquerque to play at the Halloween party that Darryl Wood and Anna Harrington hosted at their place over on Yucca Drive, and the Gideons reunion show at 1919 Hemphill.

Valderas and I had been talking about playing together since Stoogeaphilia and the Gideons shared a bill at Fred's back in 2006. He'd been planning to reunite with his ESP bandmates Robert Kramer (who also played bass in Tabula Rasa and Gumshoe) and Steve Bond for the Yucca party, but Steve says he's "retired" from playing, so I got drafted for the occasion. I also suggested that we could play an opening set at HIO's "Improvised Silence" at the Cellar the following night.

Terry proposed some tunes to use as springboards for improvisation. Robert and I kicked in a couple more, and jammed a couple of times at my house, where we found we had an agreeable chemistry. A quick rehearsal at Yucca the night before the party yielded similar results.

Terry and Robert have been playing together since they were kids, so playing with them felt a lot like playing in PFFFFT!, which I always said was a conversation between Clay Stinnett and Matt Hembree, where Tony Chapman and I were just hanging on for dear life. I was also using my PFFFFT! stage setup, adding the Phase 90 back into my effects chain along with the fuzz and wah, and using my Hughes & Kettner amp. (The Twin would have been ridiculously overpowered for a house party.) With Terry and Robert, I could have played anything, but what made it work, I think, was the fact that we could all listen and respond to each other in the moment.

At Yucca, the crowded party atmosphere wound Terry's clock tighter (not unlike Clay in PFFFFT!), and we played everything faster than we'd rehearsed it, except for the really legato version of Miles' "In A Silent Way." We played NEU!'s "Hallogallo" as sort of a raga breakdown, which Robert and I seem to like to do. (Also in the spirit of the raga in the Move's cover of "Fields of People," since Shazam! is a mutual favorite of Terry's and mine.)

Other themes that got essayed included the outro jam from Fairport Convention's "Sloth" (which I played in Pressed Rat & Warthog with Carl Johnson and Dave Relethford a million years ago); "Eight Miles High" and "Third Stone From the Sun"/"Beck's Bolero" (all three of which I used to play as a medley with Bruce Wade, John Klein, and Jay Hardesty in Aspen, winter of '79-'80); Jeff Beck's "Led Boots" and an aborted stab at Larry Coryell's "After Later" (I don't have the chops to play "real" fusion, but both of those guys had enough rock in their styles for me to play a dumbed-down simulacrum). Managed to fill an hour, anyway.

At the Cellar the next night, Terry was under the weather after four days of non-stop pedal-to-the-metal activity, and we had to quit after a couple of abortive stabs at playing. We kind of sucked, and it was a disappointment, but Robert and I plan to keep 'shedding together, and the three of us will give it another go the next time Terry's in town.

Anyway, goodbye to all that. Back to life in the now...


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