The World According to Keitho

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Archive for January, 2016

Night at the office

Posted by keithosaunders on January 30, 2016

Being a musician is a strange career.  Often times the easiest part of our job is the playing. Most of us have been practicing our instrument – honing our craft – every day of our life since the time we were kids.  (in my case since I was 8) We have logged more hours in pursuit of our quixotic profession than any doctor or lawyer.  By the time we go to work in the evening the execution should be like turning the ignition key in a car.  Sure, there are nights where our playing is less than inspired and we may clam a few notes or forget a some chords, but for the most part we play at an consistently high level.

From where I sit the difficult part of our job is maintaining our concentration amidst what are often less than ideal performing conditions.  What we do requires a heightened sense of listening which can be challenging under the best of circumstances, but daunting in a room full of screaming bar patrons.

I often play this gig at a crowded dive bar in the Haight Ashbury section of San Francisco – Club Deluxe.  For the most part I love this place.  It is integral to the Bay Area jazz scene, providing a space for musicians in a city that is practically bereft of jazz clubs. The vibe at Deluxe is usually good and although people are often noisy there is enough positive energy (and free beer!) to make for a fun night.

Last night, however, was rough.  The place was unusually busy for a Thursday and it was packed with inebriated 20-something tech people.  Sitting directly across from the band was a trio of loud, drunken dudes.  It’s one thing to deal with the white noise of a jam packed bar — it becomes a background din and you can deal with it.  But when you have people in close proximity screaming at each other at the top of their lungs, not only is it jarring but it becomes like nails on a chalkboard.

Three hours into the gig the frat boy alchys were still there and louder than ever.  As we were beginning our final set our bassist could take it no longer and he asked them to move.  One of the dullards said something snide and our bass player, giving his best dead-eyed Clint Eastwood stare, said, “Get the fuck out.” At that point I stood up and flanked the bass player.  I don’t know what the hell I was thinking  – I’ve never been in a bar fight and I’m pretty sure I would get my ass kicked – but I was ready to go to war with these louts.  Somehow the sax player was able to de-escalate the situation and the drunks ended up leaving.  But the whole thing left a sour taste in everybody’s mouth.

The good thing about the music business?  Tomorrow is another gig.

 

 

 

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Posted in jazz, music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Trumped

Posted by keithosaunders on January 27, 2016

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It must be pretty amazing to be Donald Trump right about now.  It’s not enough that he has more money than God, he had to become a reality-TV presidential candidate too?  On paper this shouldn’t be happening.  He’s not particularly intelligent and he’s certainly not well spoken — he sounds like a thug from Queens – and he’s not even that attractive.  Yet here he is on the eve of the primaries leading the Republican field.

Once the primaries kick into full swing in a couple of weeks Trump may be singing a different tune, but for now whatever he does or says pays off in spades.  Build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of the USA?  Why not?! Refer to Megyn Kelly as a slut?  Whoops, there go the poll numbers…through the roof!  Skip a debate days before the Iowa Caucus?  Shrewd move.

Everything Trump touches turns to gold.  He’s like that guy in the twilight zone in the Vegas casino who wins no matter what number he plays.  I, for one, am looking forward to an entertaining primary season.   Go American people!

 

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Color me abashed

Posted by keithosaunders on January 22, 2016

And we’re back.

Listen, if you are someone who buys and uses adult coloring books let me tell you something, you’re a moron. I mean, what are you doing with your life? GROW UP. If you colored past the age of 11 you were unmercifully ridiculed and I’ve got news for you, the statute of limitations has not lapsed.

Now put down that pastel crayola, walk over to the mirror and look at yourself. LOOK AT YOURSELF. You’re a shell of a person. Get a hold of yourself, man. There are better ways to relax than painstakingly trying to stay inside the lines of a picture of a Tonka truck.

Look, maybe you’re bored, your life is a meaningless, vapid shell. I’ll allow for that. Here are some suggestions on how to spend your free time more productively.

1) Play tennis

2) Go hiking

3) Put on a Coltrane record and expose yourself to some culture.

4) Take up masturbation

Any of these choices will make you a more productive member of society than coloring.


Keith Saunders's photo.

Posted in life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Humble-bragging: The musician’s best friend

Posted by keithosaunders on January 19, 2016

I can’t stand a humble-bragger.  As a musician, my Facebook feed is filled to the brim with humble-bragging.  I can’t turn around without reading, “I was humbled to have played with [insert great musician’s name here].”  No, in fact you are not humble, you are a blowhard.

The worst is when someone famous dies.  An internet R.I.P. is the humblebragger’s catnip. If an H.B. has anything remotely to do with a recently deceased celebrity he’ll have a post up before the cadaver has cooled.  The idea of eulogizing someone on social media whom you have never met is repugnant enough, but to use it as an excuse for self aggrandizement is pathetic.

I’m sure the H.B. is not germane to the music business.  The internet is built on the backs of porn and humble-bragging.  The next time someone famous dies check your social media feed.  I’ll guarantee you will uncover some bragging thinly disguised as a eulogy.

R.I.P. tact.

Posted in jazz, life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

1958

Posted by keithosaunders on January 14, 2016

In the meantime I’ve read a great book – The Glory Game –  by former NY Giants running back, Frank Gifford about the 1958 NFL Championship game between the Giants and the Colts.  This was the game that is considered to have put the NFL on the map on its way to sports supremacy.

Now talk about salaries:  Most of these players were earning less than $10,000 a year – well less.  Many of the players couldn’t afford their own apartments, doubling up in dorm like rooms in a Bronx Hotel a few blocks up from Yankee Stadium where they played their home games.

They played 12 game seasons. The league was divided into two conferences consisting of six teams.  There were no playoffs!  In 1958 the Giants finished in a tie with the Cleveland Browns so they, in fact, did have to play a playoff game which they won on a last second field goal by Pat Summerall.  (yes, that Pat Summerall)

My father, who recently passed away, went to the Championship game with my Uncle Herb. It was played on December 28th at Yankee Stadium.  They didn’t have tickets — they decided on the spur of the moment to go.  Imagine a world in which you can take a subway to a stadium where a championship game is being played, walk up to the box office, and buy a ticket.  That’s what they did.  They probably paid $5.00.  (incidentally, my best friend, who lives in the Bronx, tells of doing the same thing for the 1976 World Series between the Yankees and Reds)

The Giants started off shaky with sloppy offense and porous defense.  Gifford, never known as a good ball handler, fumbled twice and as a result the Giants found themselves down 14-3 at the half.  In the second half the Giants turned it around and took the lead 17-14.  A late Giant drive stalled out at their own 40 and with 4th and inches and 2:30 to go in the game coach Jim Lee Howell elected to punt. A first down would have put effectively put the game away for the Giants.

After a punt the Colts took over on their own 14 and that’s all Unitas needed.  He proceeded to engineer one of the great drives in NFL history, picking apart the tired New York defense.  The drive ended in a 20 yard field goal as the clock expired in regulation forcing the very first overtime game in NFL history.  No NFL game to that point had ever gone overtime.    Don’t forget, up until the 1980s if a regular season game ended in a tie it was over.  There was no sudden death overtime — there were ties.  So when the clock ran out the players didn’t know what they were supposed to do!

The Giants won the coin toss and elected to receive.  Don Maynard, who would later go on to win a Superbowl with the Jets, muffed the kickoff return but recovered his own fumble.  Regardless, the Giants went 3 and out and punted.  The Colts took over on their own 20 and once again Unitas put together an epic drive culminating in a Alan Ameche touchdown.

Some people consider this the greatest game ever played.  All I know is that my Dad was there and that I have the program to prove it.

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Posted in football, sports, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Starman

Posted by keithosaunders on January 11, 2016

DD

I’ve been thinking about Diamond Dogs.  This was the first David Bowie record to be released after I had started listening to him. (Ziggy and Aladdin Sane already felt like ancient history even though they were only one and two years old) I remember counting down the days until DD came out and finally taking it home, playing it and loving it instantly.

There was this strange dichotomy with Bowie – here was this effeminate androgynous person who appeared more alien than human, yet his music was as muscular and substantial as anything heard before or since. Growing up in the staid, conforming, tract-home infested San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, listening to Bowie felt simultaneously thrilling and subversive.

Less than a year after Diamond Dogs Bowie would  help kick-start disco with Young Americans and I summarily rote him off.  This  was convenient for me since I had begun studying and playing jazz and wouldn’t listen to rock music for another three years.  When I did get around to checking out rock again my brother played me the Eno-produced records that Bowie had made in the interim – Low, Heroes, and Lodger – and they blew my mind.  Scary Monsters came out a few months after I had rediscovered him and it was like a satisfying coda to the frenetic and schizophrenic seventies.  Soon Bowie would don a suit and tie for the conservative 80s only to reemerge in the 90s as a cutting-edge post-punk industrial rocker.

Bowie is the most important pop artist we’ve lost since John Lennon.  He was like a rock version of Miles Davis.  He stayed relevant and innovative no matter how old he got and he influenced every generation that was lucky enough to have heard him.
 It’s a sad day.

Posted in music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The jazz militia

Posted by keithosaunders on January 4, 2016

SPIn Oregon a group a militia has exercised their 2nd amendment rights by taking over a federal building in support of a man who protested a $1.50 cattle tax by committing arson.  Strangely enough the U.S. government does not consider this terrorism and thus a standoff has ensued.

Why can’t us jazz musicians have militias? Imagine going into a gig with a black valore open-carry holster and a nice jacket. (because it is a gig, after all) Then on the break, when the waiter snidely tells you to order from the band menu, you look at him with your Clint Eastwood slits for eyes and calmly inform him, “We’re taking over this restaurant. Give me a steak unless you’d like to experience the ass end of the 2nd amendment.”

 

Posted in jazz, life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Waiting for the ball to drop

Posted by keithosaunders on January 1, 2016

Earlier this week I told my friend that I wouldn’t be hate posting re New Years Eve because it was too obvious. Consider that to be my last broken promise of 2015.

Just how much of a moron do you have to be to schlep out to Times Square, stake out a 2 square foot patch of concrete, and wait hours in sub-freezing temperatures to watch a plastic ball drop a few feet?

It’s bad enough that you’re standing in the asshole of New York City. It’s a cesspool of capitalistic corporate, kitsch, and you have willingly planted yourself there amidst the drunk Long Island and Jersey Broncos and Broncettes, not to mention the pickpockets and Aqualung-style dirty old perverts. And to do it for no good reason?!

It boggles the mind that people would do this on the most cynical, contrived holiday there is. Don’t feign irony now. DON’T PLAY THAT. It’s a corny holiday. At least us musicians get paid for going out on 12/31. I don’t care if I play the Chicken Dance & a 40 minute conga line song. At the end of the night I’m driving home with fat stacks of cash! We don’t need an excuse to drink; it can be go time on Jan 2nd, what do we care?

NPR weighed in this afternoon with a hard-hitting feature on the guy who is in charge of organizing throwing the confetti from the Times Square buildings. With Paul Simon-esque acoustic guitar music playing in the background this nimrod breathlessly described the minute planning and intricacy that goes into confetti-throwing. “…and when it’s 20 seconds to midnight I speak into my walkie-talkie: Go confetti, go confetti, go confetti!

Happy fucking New Years everyone.

Posted in life, New York City, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »