Marco went to Italy at the beginning of this month. His mother had to go into the hospital. She's fine, fortunately. But that didn't keep us from working - Sheila and I have landed still more gigs. Our schedule is so confusing at this point. We're going to have to be much more selective about gigs, because as I may have mentioned, we don't earn enough in this band to quit our day jobs and we can't stay so busy that we're just exhausted. Not only that, but Marco is a professional musician. If bn9 monopolizes all his time, he can't take gigs with other bands. I'm losing my mind a little... maybe I'm too practical for rock n' roll!
My friend Beth told me about a venue in PA called the Sarah Street Grill. I sent them a kit and they called us 2 weeks later. That's the first time a VENUE has ever called US before we called them (festivals have called us, but that's how they work. In fact, one of the things I like about booking festivals is that I don't have to follow up and try to get the gig - either they pick us or they don't!) The place sounds really nice on their webiste (www.sarahstreetgrill.com). And the guy who books sounds really nice on his voicemail. I can't wait to play there! They seem organized and into live music. Also, this month, we were invited to play the Lambertville Shad Festival.
On the 12th, Marco, Jack & I did some more work on another project we've been working on and it's almost finished! I put up a little website for my boys - BELT. They're a duo that we caught at the Bitter End one night (we were there to see Amy perform her solo). I fell in love their music and approached them. Well, we're just about finished with their first album. We recorded it at Concussion Studios, Marco & Jack played bass & drums (they came up with their own arrangements. As usual, Marco's bass lines are PERFECT for the songs.) I engineered and produced. Terrence B. is the guitar player and lead vocalist and Paul Munoz sings back up. I just love this band and am working hard to help them... I'm basically doing whatever I can for them. So I hope you bn9 fans & friends don't mind if I plug their CD to you (when it is released.) You shouldn't mind! Their songs are great. Some of them are really funny, like laugh out loud funny. It's an excellent CD and I personally guarantee you will enjoy it!
Our first gig this month was on the 23rd. We were invited to play at the Long Island Music Coaltion's (LIMC) birthday concert at the Munchaba Lounge on Long Island. I can't remember the last time we played on the island. Too long ago. It was a lot of fun. I belong to the LIMC email list and have met a lot of cool people, but some only on the list and not in person. So it was cool to be able to meet some of them face to face! We played a great show and all of the other bands were excellent as well. Hank Stone got up and played harmonica with us on "Tied To Her". It worked out nicely! The venue is very cool & hip, though difficult to find... so difficult, that one of our fans and two of her friends got so screwed up, they missed our set. I felt really bad about that (SORRY AGAIN, STEPHANIE!) Aside from that, the gig was a great time. I think we performed well, and people were dancing.
On the 25th, we went to play at the Lambertville (NJ) Shad Festival. This was our first gig with keyboard player Jeff Witt. We had rehearsed with Jeff a few weeks before - what a treat! blue number nine had a keyboard player originally - Kim Preston. He co-wrote a lot of songs with me and was a founding member of the band. But he left 4 years ago. We did find a replacement about a year after he left, but he too left the band after less than a year. After that, we placed countless ads for keyboard players with no luck. Keyboard players are hard to find and are in huge demand, so much so that I actually saw an ad on internet classifieds site from a band offering a one hundred dollar reward to anyone who could find them a keyboard player! We had completely given up looking. Then, out of the blue, I heard from my old friend Jeff. I've known him since I was 11 years old. He grew up in an apartment close to my father's in South Jersey. I spent many weekends with my father, and weekdays during the summer. Jeff is my age and has played keys as long as I've played flute. He emailed me to see how I was doing and we talked about what he was up to, what I was up to, etc. So I sent him charts and he came and rehearsed and now he's a part time band member! He's really great and I must say I find it really cool playing with someone I've known since I was a little kid! Also this weekend, Camari came into town to rehearse. It was so great to see her again!!
So, back to the Lambertville Shad Festival. We left sunny Jersey City at 10:30am and made it to the stage area in cloudy, black skyed Lambertville around noon. The rain started as soon as my foot hit the pavement. We set up all our stuff while trying to manuever around the band before us who felt the need to rehearse on the stage (acoustic instruments... they could have rehearsed anywhere, although it was raining, and half the stage was covered.) My mother and her friends were there, and Jeff's mom & sister and friends were there, too. A lot of people were there to see Jeff, actually, and there were strangers hanging around listening to the music, despite the rain. When it was time for our set (1pm - they left no time on the schedule between us and the previous band, which is why we had to set up ahead of time), the person in charge decided to wait and see if the storm would blow over. Usually, in order for a storm to "blow over", there needs to be some wind, or at least a breeze. There was not. I expressed this concern to the sound guys and the person in charge. My thinking was why stand around in the rain waiting when we might as well play? The concern was that the sound people's gear was getting wet. So we waited a half hour and then were told they were calling off all music. I asked the sound guys to let me announce this to the audience. They said, "OK" but didn't let me. I was upset at this because I thought that was really lacking in manners. The whole reason we were doing this gig was promotion, and people had made an effort to come see us. I just thought it would have been polite to give them some closure and also to let us at least do a little promotion since we came all that way. But I didn't get to say one word to the audience. And I really don't know why the people running the show were saying, "I'm sorry." No one can control the weather. They could have controlled the coverage, but no one seemed to be apologizing about that. The stage was only half covered and the sound guys' gear wasn't covered at all. The festival has gone on for 23 years now and no one ever figured out that it's probably best to have a tent for the sound guy in case it rains. Apparently, I heard they usually don't bring in out of town bands because it rains one of the two days every year. I really should have asked if the event were rain or shine. The seven of us in blue number nine didn't need to take a drive to Lambertville that day for no reason. We had to get back to JC to work with Camari. We really didn't need to make that trip. This gig was two days ago and I'm STILL depressed. It was so sad to stand on that stage looking down on all the expectant people waiting to hear us play and then not even being able to make an announcement. We were all so excited to play with Jeff and we were looking forward to the festival (Lambertville is really nice.) I'll get over it, but I feel really SAD about this! It's weird... in all the years of gigging and all the crappy experiences we've had, I can't remember a gig making me want to cry. At least my mom and her friends had fun anyway shopping in Lambertville. We in blue number nine just went straight home.
Finally, this month, someone told me I should take "the political stuff" off the home page of this website because "it might offend people" (specifically potential clients or booking agents) and "art and politics don't mix." I suppose the link to the Gandhi Institute website could be construed as political. Their mission, as stated on their website "is to promote and apply the principles of nonviolence locally, nationally, and globally, to prevent violence and resolve personal and public conflicts through research, education, and programming." I suppose a booking agent or music industry person could find that mission statement offensive. But I think what this person was referring to was the link to THE COST OF WAR IN IRAQ, the ticker showing the cost. I wonder how many people have been offended by it but haven't even checked out the link! So I have copied the info from the home page of this site into this month's DEAR SURFER. This way, I can be sure that people have actually read the content... I mean, if you're going to be offended, be offended by the content! Here we go:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953
War affects everyone, not just those directly involved in the fighting. This webpage is a simple attempt to demonstrate one of the more quantifiable effects of war: the financial burden it places on our tax dollars.
To the right you will find a running total of the amount of money spent by the US Government to finance the war in Iraq. This total is based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. Below the total are a number of different ways that we could have chosen to use the money. Try clicking on them; you might be surprised to learn what a difference we could have made.
The information on that website is factual - it's got nothing to do with my personal opinion on war. We cannot ignore the world around us. This is a website about blue number nine, and yes, music is used for many things, escapism, relaxation, etc. But just as the statement "the Earth is flat" is false (and many people once believed it was true until proven otherwise) the statement "art & politics have nothing to do with each other" is FALSE. If you believe it is true, then you need to educate yourself. I don't mean to offend anyone by saying this, it is simply a fact. If you need to hear this from someone more credible, check out the book "Artists in Times of War and Other Essays" (click on the title and it will take you to Amazon.com where there is more info on the book and on Howard Zinn.) I urge you to pick up his little book. Zinn is a playwright and also a college professor and a historian. I read this book in one hour... it's short and it gives historical accounts of actual artists during times of actual wars. I sent a copy of this book as a gift to the person who told me I should not be political on the blue number nine website. It's a great book. Zinn is intelligent, articulate, educated and an expert on history.
Finally, I just have to say that judging blue number nine based on the links on our front page doesn't bother me. If someone doesn't book us because they believe the war in Iraq is free and that the link is a lie, that's fine with me! Personally, I think if you want to be offended, get offended by the people who are affecting your life in a negative way. Check out the cost of war website.
That's my rant for the month! If you think I'M political, check out page 58 of the April 29, 2004 issue of ROLLING STONE... a full page ad for Fat Wreck Chords' CD "Rock Against Bush, Vol 1". Heh... the ad says "twenty six bands. one reason!" Here's the album cover, which in ROLLING STONE is printed about 8" x 8" tall. Now THIS really MIGHT offend someone! I didn't create it, though.... my point is that art & politics ... well, you get my point! The art links to the website.
Remarks? Comments? Please put 'em in our guestbook
Letters from the past:March, 2004
August, 2000 (from Marco)