The World According to Keitho

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September weekend

Posted by keithosaunders on September 26, 2016

It’s late September and we’re well into the Bay Area’s yearly Indian Summer.  The days have been hot and sunny while the evenings are cool (ish) and fog-free.

The weekend’s gigs were a mixed bag – mostly good.  On Thursday I received a last minute call for a late Friday night (10:30-1:30) gig at a new jazz club in San Francisco.  At 9:30 PM Friday I boarded the gig mobile (Mazda minivan) and the weekend’s festivities were underway.

I arrived to find a nice looking restaurant/bar with a downstairs jazz club.  It was intimate, with a small stage and exposed brick walls.  The only trouble was that it was packed with puke-faced millennials who were more interested in their phones and their fancy mixed drinks than the music.

Worse than that, the band didn’t gel, due mostly to a weak bass player who played way too loud, as well as on top of the beat, making it impossible to find a pocket.  The result was that I overplayed and soon fell into a funk.

During the break the awkward moments kept coming.  It was one of those crowded clubs with nowhere to stand or sit.  The band had dispersed and there was no one to talk to.  I  didn’t feel like drinking – I already sounded bad enough – so I just stood around looking like the mamaluke of the year until it was time to reconnoiter upstairs for dinner.

The restaurant served us some nouveau cuisine – I had thought that these small portioned, tricked out presentations had gone out with the 80s.  Was this old-veau cuisine?

During dinner the bass player chatted me up, probing for my life story.  She managed to discover that the reason I had moved to the Bay Area from New York City was because my wife (now ex) had recieved a job offer.  “I guess that your musician’s salary wasn’t going to make it,” she opined. Needless to say this comment went over like a turd in the punchbowl.  I shot her the Keitho ray and she responded she responded sheepishly with, “Sorry if I touched a nerve.”

The dinner was mercifully short owing as much to our schedule as the minisscule portions. Then it was announced that this young pianist from Minnesota was going to sit in for a couple tunes along with a bass player.  (a good one this time) The piano player was great and he proceeded to cut me.

By now I was thoroughly dusgusted with the entire situation.  When it was my turn to resume playing I was fired up enough to find my good stuff and I played well the rest of the evening. (I’m a good mad player.)  In the end I was kind of glad that the other piano player (who turned out to be a nice guy) gave me a goosing.

The gig went overtime, of course, and I stumbled out of there around 2am. The rest of the weekend’s gigs went much better but this post is already too long.  On to this week’s gigs!

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Can I get a vestibule over here?

Posted by keithosaunders on September 20, 2016

For the most I love living and gigging in the Bay Area.  I’ve been here for six years now and am firmly entrenched in its jazz scene.  That said, I have a bone to pick.

I’m sick and tired of going to a gig at a club or restaurant only to discover they have left their door open.  ON PURPOSE.  I’m sitting there trying to play the damn piano and I’m freezing.  What’s more, I look around and the customers are freezing too.  They’ve all got their jackets and sweaters on and they’re rubbing their hands together like they’re trying to make fire.

Now I get that the management wants their establishment to be all charming and rustic, and that we’re in California with the year-round mild temperatures.  But here’s a news flash:  It gets unusually cold on summer nights in San Francisco.  You see, there’s this little thing called fog.  Face it, ‘Frisco, you’re not an outdoor dining city.  Get over yourself.

I’m trying to play music and I can’t even move my fingers.  This may be difficult for restaurant owners to understand but I have to manipulate individual fingers in rhythm at distinct parts of the piano.  It’s not like I ball my hands into fists and smash them against the keys and Our Love Is Here to Stay comes out.  NO.  I am moving my fingers to form patterns which in turn yields shapes and colors.  SHAPES AND COLORS, FOR GODS SAKE.

Would it kill these people to build a vestibule?  They don’t even know what a vestibule is out here – I had to explain it to somebody last week.  If they had vestibules a musician might be able to enjoy a damn gig instead of feeling like a character in a Jack London novel.

And by the way…how do you think they caught the Chelsea bomber?  He was lying in a vestibule in Linden, New Jersey.

Vestibules:  Is there anything they can’t do?

Image result for vestibule

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Why don’t super heroes ever smile?

Posted by keithosaunders on September 17, 2016

I was a big comic book fan growing up and I have a retained a love for the Marvel and DC silver age books that I collected. Every once in a while I’ll look at a recent issue of the Avengers or the Justice League of America to see how my favorite heroes have progressed.  The drawings are more realistic and the dialogue is more sophisticated but overall the current books are joyless affairs.

Where is the whimsy that I remember?  The Justice League had a beatnik sidekick named Snapper Carr who had no powers whatsoever.  Sure he was annoying and practically superfluous to the plot, but he was someone that you might actually meet in real life.  Remember Spiderman?  He had girlfriend problems, as well as a nagging, pain in the ass aunt for crying out loud!

The current heroes have all the charm of TSA agents.  Not only would I not want to hang out with them, I would be scared to death!

Image result for silver age justice league of america

the Justice League of America of the Benes!!!!!!!! by dinei

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Never forget

Posted by keithosaunders on September 12, 2016

The most depressing two words in the English language are never forget. It’s like a mantra used by small-minded people who thirst for revenge.

Yes, September 11th, 2001 was the worst day in the history of the United States. What was worse than the attacks, however, was our response to them.  We had the world’s sympathy and support and we chose to respond like animals, waging war and murdering hundreds of thousands of people. That’s what I’ll never forget.

What does never forget imply?  What, ostensibly, are we not forgetting?  That people from the Middle-East planned and executed the attacks.  In other words, never forget is a catch phrase enabling xenophobia and racism.   The end result:  The cesspool that is the Trump campaign.

So I’m not forgetting.  I’m not forgetting that we live in a racist country filled with bible-toting freaks who, unlike Jesus, are anything but forgiving.

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The revolving door of pitching

Posted by keithosaunders on September 9, 2016

With the rosters having expanded for September, baseball games are becoming nearly unwatchable.  Push-button managers such as the Giant’s Bruce Bochy take advantage of 13 man bullpens by using as many as four pitchers in an inning.  Nine inning games are becoming four hour affairs.  Baseball, now wedded to computer print outs and saber-metrics, has become a push button sport. Seemingly no right handed pitcher is capable of retiring a lefty and vice versa.

In the old days pitchers such as Rollie Fingers, Kent Tekulve, and Bruce Sutter were able to pitch as many as three innings at a stretch.  Dick Tidrow once pitched eight innings in relief during a long extra inning game.  Funny how those old time pitchers were able to retire both lefties and righties.

I have to commend the Washington Nationals on their deft handling of Stephen Strasburg. They have babied him in his formative years so as not to overtax his delicate arm, going as far as shutting him down for the season in September of 2012 when they were a playoff team.  Better to have him fresh for subsequent years since they would surely be a World Series team.  What’s this…they haven’t made the Series yet?  And Strasburg has broken down like clockwork every season?  Oh well – you can never be too careful!

 

Image result for stephen strasburg injury

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Fight the power

Posted by keithosaunders on September 4, 2016

People we stand on the precipice of a slippery slope: Adult connect the dots books have arrived and the world is a scarier place.

Are we going to allow ourselves to be infantilized by Big Coloring Book ™ or are we going to dig deep and find the resolve to act like adults?

 

 

 

 

 

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56 is the new 55

Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2016

Tomorrow a momentous event is occurring:  I’m celebrating it with two gigs, which is actually how I would be spending the day even if it wasn’t an anniversary of my birth.

I’m not one of those who shy away form celebrating his birthday.  While it’s true I am now one year more removed from the salad days of my 20s and one step closer to the grave, there is an important facet of the birthday not to be overlooked:  Presents.

Folks you have to milk it.  Need a new shirt?  A new set of linen?  A beer?  A chocolate cake? Strike a pose and drop a hint.  It’s go time!

Now right about now, you’re probably wondering, ‘How can I, the mere blog-reader, contribute to Keitho’s birthday celebration?‘ Well I’m glad you asked.

Go to this link:  www.keithospresent.kickstarter.com

And remember, linen always makes a great gift.

 

Wayne Shorter was born on August 25th too, as well as Leonard Bernstein, Rollie Fingers and Fred Frink.  (a baseball player form the 20s)

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Naked Trump

Posted by keithosaunders on August 20, 2016

Naked Trump statues are happening, and apparently in more than one city.  There’s one in the Castro district of San Francisco, as well as four other cities.  That’s what you get when you brag about the size of your penis in the age of the smarmy internet.

That said, I am more amused than offended by the statue. In fact I’m not offended at all.  What has offended me is an incurious, docile media that has treated this man as if he was a serious, qualified candidate.  Too many articles take Trump’s proposed policies seriously rather than question the hubris and sanity of the man.

You’ve got a media that is in the pockets of corporate America, and in Trump, a ratings bonanza.  This is not a good recipe.  It is not in the media’s interest to question the man or to report on an America that is decidedly more racist than was previously imagined.

If all that is left for us plebes is to engage in locker room humor then I say bring it on!

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A weekend out of town

Posted by keithosaunders on August 16, 2016

Sometimes the most strenuous part of gigging is getting to the venue.  The playing of the gig is often times the easiest thing we do.  Of course there are tens of thousands of hours of practice that we draw on, but for the most part when good musicians play together ideas tend to flow easily.

On Saturday I played at the San Jose jazz festival with local Bay Area legend, saxophonist Noel Jewkes.  San Jose is an hour south of where I live in the East Bay (Albany, which is next to Berkeley) but with traffic it’s usually at least a 90 minute trip.  (Our gig was only slightly longer than 90 minutes!)  At the conclusion of the gig we were interviewed by some jocks from the local jazz station, KCSM, one of whom is an outstanding sax player in his own right, Patrick Wolff.

noel

 

On Sunday I drove down to San Luis Obispo to play with my former teacher, vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, and my former band mate, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli.  I studied with Charlie when I was in high school –  from 1975-78.  Before that I had studied classical piano for 8 years.  I had become disenchanted and wanted to quit the piano when my mother heard of a teacher who specialized in jazz improvisation.  I agreed to give it a try almost instantly I was hooked.  The fact that I had a classical background, had good technique, and knew my scales was a boon to me.  It gave me a leg up on learning how to negotiate chord changes.  Charlie was a great teacher and just the right person for me at that time in my life.  He introduced me to the music of Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, and Miles Davis among others. These are people I never would have been exposed to in my suburban California upbringing. Perhaps I would have discovered them in college or as an adult, but I just as likely could have stuck with Jethro Tull and Yes.  I dodged a bullet there.

charile

Joe

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In his cups

Posted by keithosaunders on August 11, 2016

Yesterday somebody climbed Trump Tower using suction cups.  Who could have been so attention starved to have attempted such a stunt?

cruz

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