The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘minnesota’

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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Another night at the office

Posted by keithosaunders on August 18, 2015

My office last night.

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I’m a jazz pianist but that doesn’t mean I only play jazz gigs.  The name of the game is survival; loosely translated this means I’m a gun for hire.  Last night I was hired to play background solo piano at a garage that repaired, restored, and sold classic cars. I was surrounded by Ferraris, Porches, and Alfa Romeos, among others.  There was an interesting mix of people there consisting of mechanics, people who raced cars, and people who bought cars.

I noticed the car people had a certain look.  Most were tanned and rustic looking but in a well kept sort of way.  A lot of them, for some reason, wore Hawaiian shirts with khaki pants. One of them brought their young-teen son who resembled a live-action Richie Rich.

Usually on a dinner break the band will eat together and hilarity ensures. In this case, since I was alone, they placed me at one of the tables. So here I am, a jazz pianist sitting at a table with people who race cars and people who can afford to buy Maseratis and Lamborghinis. Awwwwwkward!

I had a strategy, however: I willed myself to become invisible.  Simple.  You can’t talk to who you can’t see.  But wouldn’t you know it the strategy failed and  the person sitting directly to my right struck up a conversation. It was kind of stilted, but not the worst. I was actually nervous for him.  What could a one-percenter possibly have in common with a guy who’s idea of living large is buying Bounty paper towels instead of the Safeway brand? (they really are good paper towels)

But converse we did.  The beginning of the conversation was like trying to start a 30 year old Volvo in February in Green Bay. After a minute or so, however, things loosed up.  He was comparing how exact a car’s details have to be in order to take first place at an auto show to how good a musician has to be to break through to the upper echelon.  Not bad, actually – I can’t disagree. The funniest thing is that through this brief conversation we were able to determine we had a mutual acquaintance.  He lives in Minnesota while I’m in the Bay Area.  Go figure!

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South Dakota give it!

Posted by keithosaunders on August 13, 2010

It turns out that taking the Northern route is only slightly longer than the central route, (I 80) so after a side trip to Barnes and Noble, off we went to South Dakota. We had nine hours in the car, but to be honest, it was never boring. I should have been a truck driver. When it comes to the road I am an animal!

The country now seems small to me. Just three days ago I was in upstate New York, barely two hours north of the city. Now here I am, comfortably blogging from my South Dakota motel room – halfway across the country! If we wanted to we could be in California by Sunday. We plan to spend three days in Grand Tetons, however, so we probably will not arrive until Tuesday…Wednesday at the latest.

We had lunch in Madison Wisconsin by the University student union which is adjacent to a lake. Our dog met a fellow Lab there and had a refreshing half hour of fetch in the lake.

Once you cross into Minnesota the country starts to feel and look exotic. It flattens out and you can see the horizon in all directions. There was a thin crescent moon which was setting in sharp relief against the dusky sky.

We had dinner in a tiny town in Minny, just over the Wisconsin border, called Etoya. The Twins/Whitesox game was on TV and it was good to get a little taste of a good pennant race matchup. Later I listened to a little more of the game on my MLB app. I have to say that the Twins announcers are enjoyable and call a good game.

We resumed our trek and we could see lights in the distance. I was hoping that it would be the Northern lights but as I feared it was a thunder-storm. You could see it from over 50 miles away and what’s more you could feel the electricity in the air. Normally a little rain wouldn’t bother me but we have our canvas bag on the roof of our car with some luggage inside and we had just done laundry the night before at my brother’s. Fortunately I had bought a canvas top and was able to wrap it around the luggage which seems to have done the trick.

The annual Perseids meteor shower was tonight. Just our luck to be in rainy weather, but lo and behold we drove through the storm back into clear skies. Around midnight we pulled off the road to get a look. There were plenty of stars, Milky Way and all, but I was the only one who saw a shooting star. Just one! I can see that amount any old night.

I just went outside our room to get another look but wouldn’t you know it, Sioux Falls is a big city with plenty of light pollution. It’s just not in the stars for us to see shooting stars.

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