- Andrew Kimbrell, President International Center for Technology Assessment
- Mark Ritchie President, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Just re-read this... it's LONG and quite different from last month's DEAR SURFER. I'm feeling kind of punchy, the realities of life on this planet have sunk in, and I'm trying to cope, like everyone else. So, this DEAR SURFER is long.....
Before re-reading this, I read last year's October "Dear Surfer" where I introduced George DeHoff, our keyboard player... well, this October, I must tell you he is now our ex-keyboard player. Yeah, he's decided to leave the band. No hard feelings, he wants to start his own project. We wish him luck, we'll miss him very much, and now the search for a replacement is on, once again. His last gig with us will be some time in November... he hasn't given a definite date yet (I think he really doesn't REALLY want to really go....at least I WISH he really didn't want to go. We like him! Plus, he looks so cool in his Donny Brasco jacket, I just don't think there can be someone out there to take his place.) Feel free to send him an email explaining why he shouldn't leave blue number nine! You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell him Stefanie sent you. He doesn't know I've told you to do this!
Good news. We released our live CD this month!! I had 100 pressed, gave everyone in the band a copy, and they're almost gone. So grab your copy while you can, 'cause when they're gone, that's it. If you already bought one, thanks. To view the video, you have to have Quicktime on your computer (read the file on the disc called README.txt.)
Gigs - Again, the month began with a cancellation... Oct. 4th we were supposed to play in Brooklyn. Oh well, it got cancelled. Kinda getting used to it. But we are so sorry if you were planning to come!! Oct 11th - Tobacco Road. The random horns joined us this night, but what a nutty night it was, starting with a phone call the day of the gig from the promoter telling us that we had to go on earlier and play for less time. Well, we did go on 15 minutes earlier than planned, but we didn't play for much less time. Didn't feel like the right thing to do... 'specially since the owner decided to make the cover charge $10 instead of $6, also the night of the gig. I felt so bad about that! I know you love us, but 10 bucks for a 40 minute show is ... ridiculous! Drink prices are reasonable there, and the bartender is the coolest bartender on the face of the earth. But I'm really sorry about that, people. It was beyond my control and beyond the control of the promoter. I got a little loopy after the gig and had a talk with the owner, believe it or not. I'm so coy, after all. I hope he never does that again, whether to us or to any other band. He was a reasonable enough guy (with a VERY COOL Harley). We shall see... Also, Four95 came all the way from Long Island to play with us that night. They were great! But they were told to cut their set even shorter than short. They did, they were pissed, rightly so, and then I felt even MORE bad! So it's no wonder I drank 4 cosmos afterwards. Man... this stuff is supposed to make me feel good, not bad, responsible, frustrated, etc.
Joel played with us that night and I'm pretty sure he told his fans/friends to come even later than our original time, because most NYC gigs start late or on time, but usually never early. But at least he was done earlier than planned. He and Aaron headed to Los Angeles the next day. They had 2 shows booked out there (Aaron is the lead singer of ALIERON and a great videographer - he did our "Jerking My Chains" video and wants to work on a second video. Can't wait! It's gonna be gooood!) You should definitely check them out some time. They play at the Elbow Room often. They are accoustic guitar, percussion and killer vocals. And great songs. It's kind of a mellow but intense vibe. Hard to describe, so you're just going to have to hear them for yourselves! Check out www.alieron.com.
Then, we got word that October 28th was cancelled. Again, oh well. I hope no one from Phili or So. Jersey went to the bar because I had already mailed out flyers. I have to start putting "Always call to confirm" on our flyers again, obviously!
October 12th - ODonnell's... Hadn't played O'D's since June. We play a lot of songs there - all night. We played 2 long sets and I was wiped out. When we were done, people wanted more, so we did "I'm In Debt" and I danced nuttier than ever. You know that Russian dance where the dancer gets down low and kicks out one leg at a time? I did that. I couldn't believe I did that! I did it for a long time, too. I didn't even know I could do that. My back didn't like it very much. But it was good exercise. Also, one of our fans brought some friends with him. One of these friends, this guy Mugsie, is a harmonica player and he brought his instruments with him, so we invited him up to sit in. It was a blast! I love when other musicians just get up and play.
Then, October 13th, we went to Aston, PA to play at this place called the Concord Cafe. And I must say, I am officially through with playing empty dives. This entire weekend was "poor attendance weekend". I really am over it. Not the "dive" part, or even that it was empty, that happens sometimes. But we drove TWO HOURS to play there. The few people that were there enjoyed us..... we actually sold 5 CDs (thanks to Sheila workin' the room) and there were only about 10 people in the place, including 2 friends of mine from WWwwwWWWwwaaAAAaayy back in the day. It was cool to see them and all, but take a long drive, bad sound system, no audience, no discounts for the band on food or drinks and you have one pissed off band leader.
So after that weekend, I decided that we are officially "at the next level" as a band. I always believed that eventually (and in our case it's SIX YEARS next month) that's what happens with bands. The band schleps around and plays all the crap ass rooms and eventually moves up to better rooms that pay or bring some benefit (I never had illusions about "getting discovered", just moving up.) But this doesn't seem to be what happens of it's own accord, or even through working really really hard. I think part of the problem is that there are very few good places to play, and anyway, people don't seem to want to go out to hear random bands any more. It's been getting worse and worse over the years. But we're "at the next level" musicially and we've had six years of gigging experience as a band. We have the whole thing down. So, that said, we'll play rooms only where we're treated well. This includes Desmond's, O'Donnell's, all Beth Davis events, Triumph Brewery, and any other place I can possibly find that respects my bandmates as much as I do. Other than that, to hell with it. I'm guessing we're not going to be playing out as much as in the past.....
The process of a gig: haul heavy gear and spend 40 minutes on stage hearing the band but not myself. This is the case at practically every place we've been playing. The sound systems are horrid. I don't understand why this is.... anyone who's ever listened to the radio or paid top dollar to see a concert wouldn't do either if the sound were shitty. So why would anyone in their right mind want to go to a venue and hear live music when the sound sucks? Do you realize that when the sound sucks, the band sounds suckier than they are? Even the best band out there will sound somewhat sucky if the sound system sucks. (how many times can I say "suck" in one paragraph?)
"But it's fun, right?" you may ask... well, many people want to be rock n' roll stars... people believe that it is fun to be on stage and perform. It IS fun to be on stage and hear what the band does with the stuff we write. But when no one on stage can hear me or the other vocalists, it kinda takes the fun out of it. Imagine buying a CD and you pop it in, and you're straining to hear the vocals. Annoying, right? Then there's the financial aspect and the fact that we don't get fed, often, we don't get free drinks or even discounted drinks (with the exception of the rooms above and also Tobacco Road), which means I can't pay my bandmates and THAT kills me. I mean, the waiters and bartenders at venues with food GET FED! And get free sodas, at least. At a recent gig, we were all hungry so we bought food. I think we spent more money on food and drinks than anyone else in the place! No discount, nothing, and then insulting compensation for our time and entertainment services. I can go to a bar and buy food and drinks any time I want and I would rather just be in the audience hanging out with you then working for free (like at an ALIERON show - I'd rather be hanging at an Alieron show!) I don't know of many people, other than musicians, who go to work for free. Most people are grossly underpaid, yes, and don't get health insurance any more, but they do get paid.
Mainly, I really want to see my bandmates get a break. I personally think we're a great band, one of the best out there. I say this not because of my oversized ego but because I've heard tons of bands over the years and I know I've got some amazing people working with me - all better musicians than I am, and better singers. They don't complain about any of this stuff, so I'm doing the complaining for them right here in this "Dear Surfer" for all the world to read. They work so hard and deserve so much more than I or the crappy independent music scene is giving them. I love hanging out with them! That's one reason I continue dealing with the realities of playing out as a band. The other reason is that we have fans... all of you who come out to hear us, who have bought our CDs, that stuff means a lot! And I understand that things are different now since September 11th. But all I've written here has been building up. And since September 11th**see footnote, like most people I'm sure, I've been re-evaluating the meaning of my fragile life. And I don't want to waste it, and I don't want to waste other people's time. So I'm not going to any more. Just like I won't take a 9-5 job that pays me less than I know I'm worth (no one should), I'm not going to put bn9 in a situation that gives us less than we're worth. They can go ahead and hire one of the other zillion bands that are out there. And that's that.
Phew... glad I got that off my chest! Thanks for reading. Comments are welcome!!
Real quick, October 19th, Desmond's... typical decadent Desmond's night. Lots of American Acting Academy students, a few of our regular fans, blah de blah blah blah. We were followed by Elephunk, Ada Rovatti's 9 piece funk/jazz band, with our very own Marco Accattatis on bass. They were amazing! If you like funky horn based music, check them out sometime. They can be heard at the C-Note fairly regularly. Or visit their website: http://www.geocities.com/adarovatti/elephunk.html. Only one problem this night. If you were there, you know what the problem was.... the sound system SUCKED! Seriously, I'm not just purposely continuing on an earlier theme, here. The mics were in and out, I felt like I was communicating to the audience via cell phone. I spoke to Pasha and he told me he fixed it, so we'll be back there eventually, though, so it's all good.
Here's the footnote: **Also, since September 11th I've been a real wimp. My favorite bn9 song is "Who Are The Free"... we haven't been playing it. Why? Because, honestly, I was afraid of people throwing stuff at the stage. The song was written pre-Sept. 11th. It is about the power that corporations have over people's lives. This is now more true than ever, with the arms creators being the major benefactors of the September 11th tragedy. But the lyrics contain a play on the words of the US National Anthem. There is a reason I wrote the lyrics this way, but I've been afraid of the types of people who say "if you don't like this country, then leave" - these people scare me. I love this country, I just feel as though we should be setting an example to the world over how strong we are in the true sense of the word - compassionate, helping other people, not giving in to the pressures of the WTO to do things like weaken the Clean Air Act, and I could go on and on. Anyway, I've been avoiding getting people riled up. We humans can be very unpredictable. But I've since come to my senses. If anyone WERE to get riled up from the lyrics, at least we'd know they're listening! We'll be doing it at our next gig. Listen for it. I added the lyrics to our "music" page.
Remarks? Comments? Please put 'em in our guestbook
Letters from the past:
August, 2000 (from Marco)