The World According to Keitho

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Archive for May, 2016

The quick strike stealth insult

Posted by keithosaunders on May 30, 2016

Yesterday I went for a hike with my ex-wife and a friend of ours that we hadn’t seen in a while.  Shortly after we began the hike I received a text and when I went to check it the friend turned to me, “Oh, are you one of those people that can’t be without their cell phone?  My husband is like that.

Before I had a chance to respond she had already moved on to the next subject – quick as a flash!  If I had wanted to rebut her, i.e. state my case, or at least tell her what a douche she was, I would have had to circle back to the subject of texting which would have made me look like a defensive paranoiac.

So I sat there stewing not saying anything.  I have to admit, however, her hand was well played.  There is no defense against the stealth insult – it’s passive aggressiveness at its finest.  Think about it:  You don’t expect your friend to insult you, so the insult actually takes a few moments to land.  It’s like laying dynamite with a fuse.

In my Walter Mittyesque fantasies I possess a shock ray that automatically emanates from me upon insult, paralyzing its victim’s vocal chords.  I then proceed to list every single World Series going back to 1940, how many games it went, along with a running commentary on the highlights.

Now that’s a pleasant hike.

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Let it Be

Posted by keithosaunders on May 27, 2016

let it be

A couple of weeks ago I was on a break at my gig.  As I was sitting at the bar I noticed that the club was playing the Beatles final record, Let It Be.  (It’s actually their 2nd to last record, having been recorded several months before the 1969 release, Abbey Road, but it was the final record to be released –  early in 1970.)

I was listening rather intently and gradually I began to realize something:  Let It Be is essentially a steaming pile.  It’s as if the Beatles through a bunch of paint against a wall and whatever stuck was what they would release.  Add in the fact that they basically hated each other by then and you have one unhappy product.  Lennon already had one foot out the door and Harrison actually quit in the middle of the sessions.  (The other members cajoled him into coming back after a few days)

Yet…the album has some really good moments.  Forget the title song, which has become a standard.  Actually, don’t forget it. — it’s a good song with a nice guitar solo to boot.  For me, though, what’s always attracted me to this record is the bare bones, stripped down aura of I Dig a Pony, One After 909, and I’ve got a Feeling.  They’re fun to listen to and suggest that the boys had come through their psychedelic period with their love for classic rock n roll intact.  Across the Universe, over produced as it was, is a lovely song, and Get Back is great too.

Even John Lennon, for all of his cynicism about the Beatles, didn’t hate it.  He had this to say in a 1970 Rolling Stone magazine interview in defense of the album’s producer, Phil Spector:  “He was given the shittiest load of badly-recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever, and he made something of it.” 

Well…it’s sort of positive.

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Shaken baby syndrome

Posted by keithosaunders on May 21, 2016

This afternoon I was playing a gig at Cheeseboard, a pizza joint in Berkeley.  In the middle of one of our songs the sound of a baby crying got my attention.  When I looked over I saw a mom gently shaking her baby back in forth in time to the music.  I’m sure she was doing it as a way of soothing him — I can remember doing the same to my children when they were infants.

But how do we know that babies like this?  Perhaps it bugs the shit out of them.  I know it would bother me if I was sad or anxious and someone randomly  began shaking me back and forth.  I’d be like, ‘what the fuck?’ 

I bet that the baby reacted well to being shook the first time –  ‘Hey I didn’t see *that* coming.  fun!’  

As the Cheesboard baby’s crying picked up in intensity I imagined a different response.  ‘What the hell are you doing, are you out of your mind?!  I’m sick of pizza, I hate this artsy, precious music, and it’s time for my damn nap.  GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!’

But no, his mom went on shaking and the baby went on crying.  Some parents have the sense to try something else while other’s stick with the tried and true.  And what do you suppose happens to these perpetually shaken babies?  What is the consequence?

They become Trump voters.



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Ray Steven

Posted by keithosaunders on May 16, 2016

Back in the old days when I was a young buck starving jazz pianist living in New York City I fell in with this character named Ray Steven who led a society band.  Later I would learn that one must always be wary of people with two first names, but I was young, naive, and needed some gigs that paid a more than jazz clubs did.  In regards to payment,  ‘little’ was the operative word here.  Ray paid the bare minimum.  In fact often times my check, when it finally arrived, was five or ten dollars light, as if by accident.

Ray had the type of band that would play at society dances in exclusive clubs around Manhattan – the Harvard Club, the University Club, the Hotel Pierre.  The east coast refers to these gigs as ‘club dates.’  The west coast calls them ‘casuals, ‘ which is even more of a misnomer.  In the summer we would often trek out to East Hampton, 110 miles to the east, and play at some swell’s estate.  We, the sidemen, would make under scale, while Ray pocketed enough dough to put his kids through college.

Ray had several corny sayings he would draw from after a particular song was over.  He said them so often that the band ended up memorizing them.  After a lively rock song he would say, “That’s better than a Jane Fonda workout!”  If we played a Latin song such as a merengue or a mambo,  he would bellow out a sentence in Spanish followed by, “That means ‘Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one!'”

He many more but I think you get the idea.  Here’s another one of his homilies which would take place after playing something particularly demeaning, such as The Electric Slide, or after a conga line had spontaneously broken out. (It was demeaning to us musicians, not the party-goers — they had no shame)  Ray would slobber up to the mic (by that time he was as drunk as any of the guests) and call out, “That’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on!”

It’s funny, though, but this last bit of Stevenism has me thinking.  He was right —  sex really is fun.  But we don’t think of it as such, at least in the conventional sense.  I suppose that’s because it gets weighted down by the emotions that come with it.  How inconvenient!  I mean…we go bowling, have poker night, golfing, tennis, book club.  Why can’t there be sex night?  It would definitely be better than a Jane Fonda workout.


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I’m gonna be yuge

Posted by keithosaunders on May 14, 2016

I just hired a new booking agent! Say hello to John Miller.

Now let me tell you something…my client does not play in gin
joints for puke-faced millennials; he performs exclusively at top jazz clubs around the world.  I’m going to book him into the Village Vanguard, Lincoln Center, and the Tokyo Blue Note.  Only the best. 

People love him! He does tremendously well.

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Big Holiday strikes again

Posted by keithosaunders on May 8, 2016

Folks, once again Big Holiday has reared its ugly head.

Today every Major League baseball team is wearing uniforms with pink trim on the numbers, as well as pink shoes. First of all, who made the executive decision that pink is the official color of mothers everywhere? How do we know they don’t prefer red?

Other than the blatant pandering, which MLB has perfected to an art form, why do you suppose they went to the trouble and expense to outfit 30 teams with uniforms they’ll only where once? Why the merchandising, of course. They’ll be selling these putrid unis in every Stadium souvenir shop in the land.

Let’s contrast this marketing strategy with the template that was used in the 70s when I was a kid: They had Mothers Day double headers. I can recall my Dad taking us to a few of them.

But most Moms don’t like baseball, you say? WHO CARES! It was a great deal and the game wasn’t yet pussified – catchers were able to block the plate and runners executed take-out slides.

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Slow patch

Posted by keithosaunders on May 5, 2016

The music business is capricious at best.  Last year I probably played over 300 gigs which is my personal best, probably by far. This year has started out busy but in the last couple of days I’ve hit a bump in the road.  I lost my Monday steady jam session gig in Oakland due to low attendance.  It was easy to see coming but it’s never pleasant to lose a gig.  A steady gig gives the week form and structure.  They’re like old shoes — comfortable. That being said, I’m actually looking forward to having my Monday nights back.  I can use them to catch up on transcribing music (solos and songs) as well as get some errands done which will free the days up for extra practice.

What has irked me is having my second Sunday of the month brunch gig cancelled with four days notice.  This month’s second Sunday happens to fall on Mother’s Day and the management decided to book a different band for the occasion.  I have asked for half payment, but this is the restaurant business which is only a few steps more legitimate than the gangster business. Suffice it to say that it will be a cold day before I see that money.

In the meantime I am still extremely busy, gigging between 5-6 days a week and juggling 7-10 students.  I’m one cancelled steady, however, from turning into a whining simp.  Tom Hanks said it best:  There’s no crying in jazz! 

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Gals ’round the Hood

Posted by keithosaunders on May 2, 2016

I figured I’d let you goes attach a face to the hater.  I’m the piano player shaking his head for no apparent reason.  HEY, ARE YOU LOOKING AT MY BALD SPOT?!

This is a really cool tune that my buddy, sax player Zan Stewart, wrote called Gals’round the Hood.  It was recorded at a book store called Bird and Beckett which runs a jazz series in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco.  Adam Gay plays bass and Ron Maributo is the drummer.



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