Next Show: August 25th, 2017 Old Ironsides with the Christian Dewild Band and Suns Revival

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Sacramento just hit the Top 25 Cities to Live In list and our musicians and artists are not surprised.  We’ve been talking about how lucky we are to live here for years.  There are some great local hot spots featuring live music including local and touring artists.  The Torch, Fox and Goose and Old Ironsides can easily quench your live music cravings.  In these venues you’ll feel a bit more intimately connected to the performers, and when the house is packed, the fun is infectious.  All three are home to fantastic local acts such as Loose Engines, Danny Morris and the the California Stars50 Watt Heavy, Joy and MadnessMike Blanchard and the Californios, to name a few.  For bigger acts coming through there’s Harlow’s and Ace of Spades and that’s not even taking into consideration the large venues such as the new Golden One Center.  Hello Lady Gaga and Neil Diamond!!

The 8-Tracks and I will be at Old Ironsides on August 25th playing some new songs and some fun crowd favorites like “Time To Break All the Rules” and “Still Got the Honey.” Come out and have some fun!

Danny Morris and the California Stars playing at The Shack in East Sacramento.

Loose Engines at The Torch

Pink Chuck High-Tops

Mom said,”can I borrow your pink sneakers?” I looked at her and thought about it, “for the detail?  That’s kind of gross.”  “I think it’s perfect!” she said and after all, it was the ’80’s.  I let her take them.   They were this color pink.   She bought them for me so I didn’t feel right saying no, “Yeah, sure” I said “try not to get them too dirty.”  She was using them for an undercover prostitution sting operation that was happening in the turnpike rest areas in Florida, near Orlando.

imagesWhen you’re the child of two cops the dinner table conversation is 61yx-181t0la bit different.  We discussed all sorts of criminal behavior, how economy affects crime rates, recidivism, whether evil really exists or is the result of environmental causes and desperation.   We chatted about every type of traffic infraction and car crash. It becomes household lingo.  You get used to cleaning guns as part of the weekend chores and schooled on the “realities” of life and the misery that some folks face.  So  mom comes back with some interesting stories.  One in particular was of this trucker/john she arrested.  During the training, undercover agents are taught how to avoid “entrapment.” One way is get the john to say what he wants and how much he’s willing to pay.  This guy offered her 5 bucks for a blow job. “Can you believe he only offered me 5 Dollars!?!” she said.  I was really surprised, “only 5 dollars?, wow, that’s cheap!” I said.  This was probably around the time when the movie Pretty Woman was out, so I was thinking we’re talking some real money here, certainly not 5 bucks.  Well that was  it for Joe.  He got carted off to the hoosegow.

Her book is out.  It’s called, “Behind Her Miami Badge.” and you can get it on Amazon: It’s a great read and it’s real life.  I remember the stories so well.  For some reason I see Reese Witherspoon playing her in this as a movie or series…

I was out one evening playing a show with my buddy and fellow songwriter,  Jenn Rogar and I told her that story and she said, “that sounds like a song.”  I thought about it and couldn’t quite wrap my brain around what that could sound like.5bj-cover-1back-cover-5bj-1

Creativity is  like gardening.  You plant a seed and give it some water and before you know it you’ve got a flower or a story about a truck driver named Joe.  This refrain popped up and the story fell together on a Saturday morning.  It’s a little punk, a little rock and roll and as my sound engineer buddy put it, “the first time I’ve ever heard anyone use the Miranda Rights in a song.  You can buy it here on Amazon or Itunes

You can hear it here on Youtube as well.

Singing in Sacramento’s Spring

Never have I been more thankful for my teachers and technique, than in Sacramento’s glorious spring.   A layer of gold pollen covers cars, the trees are blooming and colorful flower petals float back in forth in the light valley breeze.  Everywhere I look, there’s flowers, poppies, roses, lavender, dandelions, mustard and wild weeds.  It’s beautiful here and it’s beauty has been a muse to many an artist beit painter or composer.

What does it mean for a singer with notorious hay fever?  Having a good understanding of the typical physiological response to allergens and a plan of action, is so important.  Last year I tried a new product, Sensimist by Flonase and I have finally found real relief.  I still get some breakthrough sneezing so an Allegra on top does the trick.  Kudos to Flonase for coming up with this fabulous product.  

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I do my best to head it off early but sometimes still miss the mark.  My toolbox contains:

  • Sensimist by Flonase
  • Allegra
  • Zaditor
  • Albuterol
  • Neti pot
  • Water
  • Water

It’s a well known and ongoing issue which is why understanding the physiological response to allergens is so important for singers.   The natural inclination is to become tense and press- but don’t!  Just don’t!

Relax, fall back. retreat, do some easy ooohs and gentle well placed eeees – resist the temptation to panic and consider your antihistamines and environment.  Listen to the people around you.  So many of the workers in my office have raspy sounding voices at the moment and my best buddy told me she couldn’t even sing the hymns in church on Sunday.  So I know it’s related to the environment and to rely on my understanding of my instrument and careful technique.

There are a few things I’ve done to make it easier performance wise as well:

  • Lowered my repertoire
  • Became good at changing keys depending on the scenario or on the condition of my instrument
  • Learn to trust my technique – go low for the high notes, high for the low notes, never press, sing the vowels and be patient.   When the pollen’s crazy it takes a little longer to warm up, and more awareness to keep the support.

As soon as we bust 100 degrees it gets better.   But look at these guys, is it any wonder??

They’re like little assholes, standing poised to ruin your spring performances.

When you feel their affects, proceed with caution, go back to the gentle basics of good singing technique and if that’s not enough:

  • After two weeks of insurmountable symptoms, see your doctor
  • Hit the Benadryl when you have to.  Though it knocks me out, nothing calms the stymptoms better
  • Rest when you need to, wait for that 100 degree day, adjusting the pitch of your repertoire (still practicing good technique) and
  • resist the temptation to look up various online diagnosis
  • Resist the temptation to scratch your skin
  • Water
  • Ricola
  • Water

If you can afford an allergist and can handle the shots that may eliminate the whole ordeal, and local bee honey is supposed to help as well.  But if not be patient, summers coming!

Friday Night Music in Sacramento

Where to begin?  Last night was packed with fun, friends and superb talent.  If you don’t get out to see live music in this town you are really missing out.  I started the night out at The Shack in East Sac and got a Lyft down to Old Ironsides right as Anton Barbeau was going on.  I recognized some of his songs and was blown away by the tightness of his band and how the songs themselves had matured into really fine works.  Aural pleasure.  Here’s Anton:

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Next I ran over to the Fox and Goose and walked in on Dr. Velocity playing and singing some beautiful songs.  I was struck right away by the quality of his songwriting and the sweet vocal delivery.  I will definitely be following his work.   Next up was Kimberlina and Jeffry Wynne-Prince.  Both of them are excellent musicians in their own right and you put them together and bliss is the word that comes to mind.  It was heaven to hear Kimberlina sing with Jeffry backing her, great guitar sounds and I swear that woman has perfect pitch.   I did not hear a single wrong or off note and I am in awe of her consistency.  Great work and I look forward to seeing them again soon.  Photo by Allyson Seconds.

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I ran back over to Old I and caught Harley White Jr. with his band Clouds Roll By and again, I was struck by the superior quality musicianship and Harley’s performance.  Dripping with sweat he easily commands attention, he settles into the beat and lifts you up.

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Next up was Blame the Bishop.  I’m biased as two of the members play in my band as well.  But I love these guys.  Great songs, harmonies that are infectious and unfortunately for the video guy, my big mouth can’t help but sing along too from the audience.  I get a little enthusiastic when I hear great local acts.  I love that about this group, accessible songs and some truly gorgeous harmonies.  Add to the mix the fact that you’ve got two great guitar players who sing well and it’s a recipe for magic.  Down with the Ship is a favorite.  That song is something else, but they’re all well worth hearing.  Photo by Dan Smith.

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If I could have been in two places at once I would have put myself both at Old Ironsides and the Fox and Goose as I unfortunately missed Kevin Seconds and his wife Allyson play and they too are top quality musicians.  I’ll be catching them the next time.  I caught a Lyft back home and was tucked in some time after midnight.  I can’t believe I got all that entertainment for less than twenty bucks.  I couldn’t have asked for a better night out in this fine town.