Archive for December, 2015
Posted by keithosaunders on December 31, 2015
Alcoa presents: Keitho’s New Years gig memories!
I used to do this solo gig at the Empire diner on 10th Ave & 22nd st. My slot was Saturdays from 11pm-3am. It paid $25.00. After a couple of years it went up to $30.00. I was living large after that. They had an upright piano which was right next to the bathroom. One day this lady went into the bathroom followed a minute later by this guy. The next thing I knew I heard this rhythmic pounding and I turned to my right to see a woman’s face plastered against the plate glass window. What could I do? I went right into “Easy to Love.”
Anyway, one year in the late 80s New Years eve happened to fall on a Saturday and the Diner asked if I wanted to play the late set for $100.00. The hours were 3-7 AM. Cha-ching!
I already had a normal New Years gig in Englewood, NJ with this horror show club date band who shall remain nameless (R*bby S*ott). In between gigs I came back to my apartment on the Upper West side at which point my buddy, Jeff, gave me a ride downtown. People were so drunk at that hour that Jeff had to have the reflexes of a Mario Andretti to avoid getting into several accidents. It was like being on Mr Toad’s Wild Ride except instead of Disneyland we were in Manhattan. Things were so much more interesting when everybody was drunk and high on blow. These days on New Years Eve people only need to grab their pipe and slippers and they’ll fit right in.
Posted in jazz, New York City, Uncategorized | Tagged: Cole Porter, Disneyland, Easy to Love, Empire Diner, Englewood, jazz, Mario Andretti, Mr Toads Wild Ride, New Jersey, New Years, New Years Eve, New York City, Upper West Side | 2 Comments »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 29, 2015
And now it’s time for: Keitho’s New Years gig memories!
Some of my fans have been after me to hate post about New Years Eve but I can’t. You hate it, I hate it, everybody hates it. In other words, it’s low hanging fruit. Instead I offer some personal memories of a lifetime of December 31st spent as a capitalist pig.
My first New Years gig would have been 1978. I was still in high school but somehow got called to do a casual in downtown LA. I had just gotten my drivers license 3 or 4 months earlier and my Dad was worried about me driving home amidst all the drunk drivers so he drove me to the gig, hung out somewhere downtown for 5 hours (we lived 15 miles away) and picked me up when it was over. Needless to say this was embarrassing for me at the time but looking back on it…what a Dad!
My first New Years gig in NYC would have been 1985. I remember Jerry Sokolov and John Ray were on it. We were somewhere in the Village and Soupy Sales did a set in the middle of it.
The next year I did a trio gig in Islip, Long Island at this redneck bar with Lee Hudson & Fred Lite . Islip is way out in Suffolk county – exit 60-something, which was about 60 miles from where I lived at the time on the Upper West Side. I remember that it was a freezing cold night with temps in the 20s and at some point the owner, to save money, turned the heat off! There were only 5-7 people in the place the entire night so needless to say getting paid was an adventure. I think we made $100.00. I was in a good mood, however, because I had gotten the waitress’s phone number, but by the time I had a chance to get back to Islip to see her she had become a lesbian.
New Years Eve 1994 saw me working at a country club in Stamford, Connecticut with my good friend and incredible singer, Richard Lanham. My firstborn son, Jake, was just 6 months old and since Richard hadn’t seen him I said to him Seinfeld style, “You have to come up and see the baby!”
So he came upstairs and of course Jake was really cute and we were mesmerized by this adorable baby. Soon it was time to go. We were a mile or so before the Whitestone bridge when I realized that I had forgotten my keyboard. D’oh! Needless to say we were late and to this day I am persona non grata at the Stamford Arms CC.
Posted in jazz, Uncategorized | Tagged: Islip, jazz, jazz gig, Long Island, Los Angeles, New Years Eve, New York City, Seinfeld, Soupy Sales, Stamford Country Club, Suffolk County | 2 Comments »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 23, 2015
Some people send Christmas cards, I write Christmas hate posts.
When I was a boy I believed in Santa Clause. Then one day, when I was 9, I found out he wasn’t real. Oh, I thought, the world is based on a lie. Santa did not, in fact, create the earth in 6 days. Global warming is a hoax, 9/11 and the moon landing were staged, and vaccination causes blindness.
Let me tell you something, people, you’re getting all cheery-eyed, and spending willy-nilly, driving in traffic while singing your Burl Ives at the top of your lungs. WELL STOP. Have a holly jolly MY ASS!!
You want to take a trip? You want to take a trip? Oh boy, let’s all go to the airport. That full cavity search sure goes down smoothly when the TSA agent wears a Santa hat!
And now that you’ve spent 12 hours travelling 200 miles you can have your family gathering. Commence humble-bragging in 3…2…1 GO! Oh look, Uncle Steve went too heavy on the nog and now he’s lecturing us on the gold standard!
The only thing good about the holiday season – THE ONLY THING – is figgy pudding. Where’s my figgy pudding?! Where is it?!
Posted in life, Uncategorized | Tagged: 9/11, Burl Ives, Christmas, Figgy pudding, global warming, gold standard, Holly Jolly Christmas, Moon landing, Santa, Santa Clause, TSA | 1 Comment »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 18, 2015
This is a terrible sports time of year but it’s not the worst — that dishonor belongs to February with its glut of meaningless NBA, NHL, & NCAA basketball games. Still, this is pretty bad. The NFL playoffs are a month away and the bowl season, if you care about that sort of thing, won’t kick in for another two weeks.
Here in the Bay Area we had the Warriors winning streak to follow which was exciting. How strange it was to care about basketball in November. Now that they’ve finally lost, their next meaningful game will be in April.
The worst thing about November through January is being bombarded with baseball player signing news. This is the time of year where I learn that Jason Heyward, a pretty good, but not great player, will earn more in one at bat then I will in a year. It’s out of control. I get it – it’s nothing new – supply and demand, free market, yadda yadda. It’s just that I would rather not hear and read about salaries at all. It takes me until June or July, when the pennant races begin heating up, to get the taste out of my mouth.
Not only is the baseball news a capitalist sack of you know what, the local football teams stink this year. While the Raiders are much improved and are still mathematically alive, the 49ers are a stinking mess.
What else do I have to complain about? Oh yeah, I haven’t done my Christmas shopping.
Posted in baseball, basketball, football, Uncategorized | Tagged: baseball, basketball, Christmas, football, Golden State Warriors, Jason Heyward, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers | 1 Comment »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 12, 2015
Being a musician and trying to maintain a career gigging is akin to Charlie Brown trying to kick that football. Just when things are going well a club owner pulls it away.
On one hand the job rarely gets boring. I play in a different place with different people most every night of the week. If I have a bad night I can go home, practice the next day, wipe the slate clean and start over the next night.
The flip side is there is no job security. I have roughly a half dozen steady gigs, some of which are once a week, some twice a month, and others once a month. Any one of these gigs can end with hours notice. There are no contracts, no year-end bonuses, and certainly no severance pay. One year a dive bar back east in Queens called Brandy’s, where I had a steady Thursday, gave us a Christmas bonus of $20.00. It was about 15 years ago but I remember it distinctly because it was the only time it ever happened!
This particular subject is top of mind because my favorite gig – a jazz quintet at a bar in Haight Ashbury called Club Deluxe – is being cut back from twice a month to once a month. The gig is with some of my favorite Bay Area musicians and it’s a place that we can throw down hard in front of appreciative crowds. It was always a somewhat lucrative night — they charge a cover at the door and the place is usually packed.
Due to a strange twist of fate, however, our pay has recently risen by approximately 30%. The club fired the old doorman and it turned out he had been skimming off of the band. For years we went home from that gig thinking it had been a good night monetarily. Little did we know they should have been great nights. So here we are with a defacto raise – something that happens to mus
icians with the regularity of alternate leap years – and *now* they cut us back?! COME ON! But that’s the way it goes in the Charlie Brown-esque world of the jazz musician. Gigs come and go. Somehow the music preservers.
Posted in jazz, Uncategorized | Tagged: Bay Area, Brandy's, Charlie Brown, Club Deluxe, Haight Ashbury, jazz, New York City, Peanuts, Queens, San Francisco | 4 Comments »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 10, 2015
I have a steady solo piano gig every Wednesday night at a restaurant/bar in San Francisco. I eat on my break which normally comes around 8:30. There’s a Burger King right at the exit of my BART stop and sometimes I’ll buy a hamburger there to hold me over until dinner. (Yes I realize fast food is bad but a small hamburger once a month or so won’t kill me.)
Yesterday was one of those burger-craving days so I stopped in at BK. This woman was in front of me in line at Burger King with two Basset hounds. I smiled and said, “Oh what good dogs,” to which she replied, “DON’T GET TOO CLOSE! YOU’RE MAKING THEM ANXIOUS. STAY BACK.”
The dogs shifted slightly but they didn’t appear to be that anxious — they just wanted to sniff me. I tried letting the lady know that I liked dogs and was comfortable around them. The more I talked the more agitated she got. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? THEY’RE GETTING NERVOUS. WHY CAN’T YOU STAY BACK. DO YOU HATE DOGS? GET BACK!”
At this point the dogs actually were becoming a little agitated, more because of their master than anything else. I decided to avoid a potential Cujo incident and I left. My arteries thanked me but I was hungry for another two hours.
[shakes fist] Frisco!
Posted in life, Uncategorized | Tagged: Basset hounds, Bay Area, Burger King, Cujo, dogs, Frisco, jazz, San Francisco, solo piano, Stephen King | 1 Comment »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 8, 2015
When I was first getting into jazz back in 1975 I checked out a Prestige Miles 2-fer from the library which contained music from 2 out of the 4 classic quintet sessions. (Workin’/Steamin’/Relaxin’/Cookin’) These were the sessions with My Funny Valentine, Tune Up, Woodyn You and Airegin, among others. I taped it but for some reason didn’t write down the personnel.
A few weeks before having checked out the Miles record I had listened to a late period John Coltrane record – it was probably from 1966, which was the group with Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, and Rasheed Ali. I hated it! What was that guy playing? It sounded like a coyote caught in a trap. When I heard the sax player on the Miles record, however, I said to myself, ‘now *that* guy can play.’ Little did I know that it was the same player!
I should add that years later, when my ears were ready for it, I came to like and appreciate late period Coltrane. It’s fascinating to hear him evolve on records over a ten year period. I can’t think of anything else like it in the history of music.
Posted in jazz, Uncategorized | Tagged: Airegin, Alice Coltrane, Cookin', jazz, Jimmy Garrison, John Coltrane, MIles Davis, My Funny Valentine, Prestige, Rasheed Ali, Relaxin', Steamin', Tune UP, Woodynyou, Workin' | Leave a Comment »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 6, 2015
A great musician, Phil Woods, once said, “They don’t pay us to play, they pay us to show up.” He’s right. The easiest part of what we do is to play the gig. Often times, as in tonight, the most difficult part is to show up.
Tonight’s gig was at an affair at a museum in downtown San Francisco. Getting into town over the Bay Bridge from the East Bay where I live is never easy, particularly on a Saturday late afternoon, but throw in holiday traffic and you’ve got a recipe for aggravation.
I always say give me a gig with parking and a piano and I’m a happy camper. Tonight I had neither, which meant loading my keyboard and amp into the car, driving to an inconvenient loading dock, unloading, and to top it off, a 30 minute trip driving around the block to a parking lot in bumper to bumper traffic. There was even traffic inside of the parking lot where I slogged my way up 7 stories to the last available spot on the roof.
I walked back to the gig only to discover that I had to walk around to the back of the museum to check in with security. I ended up in line behind a group of caterers which led to a 15 minute wait while the attendant methodically copied down info from everyone’s drivers license. Finally I was allowed into the building where I set up and waited an hour before the start of the gig.
After that, however, everything went smoothly. The client was extremely nice offering us drinks and food, and the musicians were good. All in all it was a tiring day, but not a bad one. All the same, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s gig – also in San Fran – which is walking distance from a BART station and contains an upright piano.
Posted in jazz, music, Uncategorized | Tagged: Bay Area, Bay Bridge, Christmas season, East BAy, jazz, music, Phil Woods, San Francisco | 1 Comment »
Posted by keithosaunders on December 2, 2015
Greetings from Paris,
With warm Holiday Wishes to you and yours. Should we still be in New York, we would certainly attend your consistently enjoyable celebration.
We have moved our home fires to the City of Light and are purchasing a wonderful corner apartment, on the oldest street in the city, with a view of Notre Dame.
Please be thoughtful enough to extend our best wishes to the kind staff who served us so well for so many years.
Merry Christmas to all of our friends at 69 [insert 5th or Park Ave address here]
File this email under ‘First world problems.’ This was an RSVP to an invitation to an annual work party. It was probably only meant for the host but it ended up being cced to the entire mailing list.
The stakes of the one percent humble-brag are high, my friends. I mean, how is one to top a corner apartment overlooking Notre Dame? On the oldest street in the city! We’re talking old money, here, not some trendy nouveau riche address in Bastille.
The cherry on top is how [they] ‘extend best wishes to the kind staff who served us so well for many years.’ How big of them! I’m sure the staff will miss hearing about their winters in Palm Beach or their madcap skiing weekends in Aspen.
Someone shoot me now.
Posted in life, New York City, Uncategorized | Tagged: 1%, 5th Ave, Aspen, Bastille, Christmas, Christmas party, New York City, Notre Dame, nouveau riche, one percent, Palm Beach, Paris, Park Ave | 6 Comments »