Friday, December 19, 2014

What Just Happened? or, It's All Right Ma, it's Life and Life only

Well, that went about as well as could be expected, "that" being the "separation" (legal term of art) of Chris Kee from the HJ partnership. There are probably 7 or 8 different versions of what could be called "the story" but in the end it matters not. Chris has slipped the surly bonds of HJ and can reach out and touch the face of God in the Free State of Jefferson. God speed and best of luck and success to him and his kin and kith. In the meantime, as Homer Simpson said "back to stupid reality". We were lucky enough to have the Uber-mensch bassist Josh Zucker already lined up as Chris' sub, and thanks to some high-school football brain injury he's agreed to sign up to play with Houston Jones on a regular basis. The next matter of business would be filling in the hole left by the departure of our main writer. So far that's been an intersting collection of covers, from Dave Alvin to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. What station that particular train pulls into should be interesting, to say the least. But now that _The_Minotaur_ is out our global marketing campaign is ready to roll out. First, we call for an end to the Cuba sanctions, then we force Sony Pictures to drop that silly movie about North Korea, then finally we play a gig at the Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley CA on Jan 24 2015. That should get the media's attention.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ness Say Pass, or why would I lie?

The cat is finally off my lap, so that's progress. Speaking of Progress, we've finished (marinara libation to FSM) mixing the new album _The_Minotaur_ and all that's left is mastering, artwork and manufacturing. Easy as rolling off a log (and then getting crushed by hundreds of other logs...). We're in a Jack-Bauer-like race against The Digital Clock to have something available for your sweaty hands by June, and Hope springs Eternal around here. Where's Chloe when I need her?

Speaking of Time Marching On, things aren't all that altered for HoJo Inc. Glenn is still wrestling Linux for IBM, Chris has moved further North, Peter has become a Gentleman of Leisure, Travis is now a Happily Married Man panning for Gold, and me: I'm Ed Mc'Mahon, Comedy Relief and eternal SideKick. Well, somebody has to say "whadda we do now, boss?" to keep the plot moving. The burden of a Real Job keeps me from the joy of driving 800 miles a day to sleep on the floor of the soundman's apartment, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make if it keeps me in Houston Jones.

Speaking of Houston Jones, in Side-Project-Land there's a fair amount of action. Houston ampersand Jones is a great way to focus in on Travis' voice and the lovely interplay between the 2 acoustic guitars. I'm especially happy to note that Springhouse featuring Chris and the increvable Jane Selkey is out and about, highlyhighly recommended. Myself and Kathleen have the Flying Salvias (featuring Peter Tucker) at Cafe Triese in Berkeley every 3rd Thu until the End of Time. And, as a Gentleman of Leisure Peter is At Large and Available for Irish Weddings, Biker runs, and Sundry Engagements where Percussion will Enhance your Musical Experience. Book Now!

Speaking of Books, the new Album (we olds like to call music collections Albums, in memory of the original Folios of 78RPM discs sold in photo album covers, even though music no longer rotates and photos live with music in The Cloud, so they have that in common again) is a mix of genres and styles beaten into shape on the Forge of Musical Experience. The Forge is the secret Ingredient we can't mention on the Internet that takes a 40's samba, a sea chanty, a country ballad, an NRBQ-based rave-up, and an R&B-styled explanation of how I met my wife into a coherent whole. But I must also give props to the mad skilz of Cookie Marenco, Galadriel of Acoustic Recording. She's a master (mistress? mastette? hmm...) at creating a natural soundscape that showcases the band in the best possible light.

If you found your way here you probably don't need a pointer to our home base on the InnerTubes but here it is anyway to check up on our schedule. We've got some interesting shows this summer, including the Little Fox Bar and Bar in Redwood City in June (but hey, there's a Grilled Cheese shop around the corner), our trip to See the Cowboys in July, and another Musical Mayhem Extravaganza at the Freight ampersand Salvage in Nov with Stevie Coyle, the Lost Dauphin of Folk. Houston Jones, the Pasty Pounders of Palpatating Polyrhythm, Making Musical Mayhem Mauling Mahler and Manhandling Mendelsshon. Hotcha!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Don't Look Back, something might be catching up with you

Well, its been about a year since this blog was touched (show me on the blog where the musician touched you), and I've got a cat high on drugs wearing a little space cone (stay away from those stiches) in my lap, so I've got some time to kill here. and there's some catching up to do. We (the editorial we, not the royal we) have been dutifully flogging the dolphin that is our musical muse in the meantime. Chris has been writing up a storm, and we've only gotten to a fraction of his new material. His move up to the Frozen North of the state of Jefferson has been less disruptive than I expected, but if he could get frequent flyer miles for driving on I5 he'd qualify for a business-class ticket on Virgin Galactic to the outskirts of infinity (down by the Methane Sea).

Travis has moved his base of operations to the outskirts of the Gold Country in preparation for his Golden Years (don't let me hear you say life's taking you nowhere, angel), and Pater is pondering the possibility of transitioning from his communications empire (the mailroom at Laney College) to life as a gentleman thug. The wages of forgetting to die young are figuring out what to do with yourself. So far the rest of us are standing pat, though Glenn is back to being a wage slave for the International Business Machine corporation (hey, business machines are people too). He says the commute is murder, but the perks are good (he has his own mainframe in Poughkeepsie [I had to look that one up]).

In general, our Nefarious Plan for World Domination is proceeding at a rather leisurely pace. As Travis likes to say, 2020 is our breakout year (mark your iCalendars!). We seem to be doing our part in creating a Purple America by finding some new fans in some of the more ah, traditional corners of this great land of ours, specifically the Big Horn Music Festival in Buffalo WY and some shows in Lake Havasu AZ courtesy of our new buddy Dave Chambers, International Man of Mystery (and real estate agent). The cowboys and cowgirls of Buffalo are some of the kindest and most courteous people I have ever met, and boy do the citizens of Lake Havasu know how to party. As long as we don't try to re-start our book club discussion of Das Kapital we should be fine there. We're going back to both in fact (WY in July and AZ in Jan 2014). We're playing a balloon festival in AZ, I'm looking forward to seeing how Peter sets up his drums in the basket. This is not what we expected, but isn't that pretty much true of Life?

Finally, the real purpose of Life: hawking product!. Tomorrow we're at the Rancho Nicasio, conveniently enough in Nicasio. Mike says the reservations are filling up, so book yesterday. We have graduated to being allowed to play on stage, so that should be exciting. We've also almost finished a set of basic tracks for the new album, most of which you'll hear tomorrow. As a reward for both of you still reading, I'll let you in on a secret. We're bringing in a horn section for the show at the Freight & Salvage on June 1. I've got most of the charts done, and we have our first and only rehearsal on Wed at Glenn's house. Come on by and bring some newspaper for the horns to spit on. I'll be back once I get this cat off my lap.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Go East, old man; or Sons of the Desert 2: Weekend at Dave's

I'll have to quote the opening of the Marx Brothers comedy Go West: "In 1851 Horace Greely uttered a phrase that did much to change the history of the United States. He said, 'Go West, young man, go West.' This is the story of 3 men who made Horace Greely sorry he said it." Of course, it was 5 men (and a wife), and we went East, but otherwise things turned out about the same. For those of you who came in late, our story so far: Houston Jones embarked on a goodwill tour of of the burning sands of Arizona and Nevada last week, bearing liberal tidings to the home of Sherrif Joe and Sharron Angle. Turns out the natives are gracious hosts and generous of spirit, tolerant of sweaty musicians and the dirty laundry they bear. This was one of the better road experiences the band has had so far. The first stop was Cave Creek AZ, home of ex-pat fans Mike and Shannon. We were the maiden voyage of their Blue Coyote House Concert series (I just made that up based on a cool sculpture they have, feel free to trademark it) We had a full house (literally) and met a lot of great locals and a few SoCal folk (Hi Victoria). I did a version of Sleepy Armadillo with "specialty lyrics" as they call it in showbiz: Sleepy Javalina, since they don't seem to have armadillos in AZ, or any other roadkill besides shredded tire tread. We moved on over to Lake Havasu, home of the Worlds Largest Vanity Bridge, for a show in the shadow of said bridge, hosted by impressario extrordinaire Dave Chambers, one of those gracious hosts. If you have a free 1/2 hour ask Peter about it, but don't mention Courvoisier. Then over the border and onto America's Playground, Nevada. We played the West Charleston Library where no one shusshed us, and had a better turnout than the last time (Superbowl XXXVIII IIRC). Then on to the 37th Wonder of the High Desert, Garagemahall (that's how they spell it) in Vegas baby. A Convertable Garage with a stage and blender. Richard and Betty were our gracious hosts, and a good time (and meal) was had by all, to coin a phrase. Richard video'd the thing, so there may be footage of my outro solo on Gone Boys Gone, which was a little different than usual. If I see anything about it I'll throw something up here and on the Book of Faces. MVP this time was Travis, who did the whole tour with a fever and congested chest. He was a super trouper, a real spotlight for the rest of the band. He'll be recuperating this week, but I suspect Chris may have somethings of his own to add about the trip so I'll stop here as well. As I recall there was some driving involved, but nothing of import, or that I can remember.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Random mutterings and foregone conclusions

Well, as Luna Schlosser said,
"longtimenosee, longtimenosee". I apologize for my absence, but it's supposed to make the heart grow fonder, right? (though my ex-girlfriends might have to be outliers in that thought experiment). In any case, here I am, and here we are. Hope you've been well, I've had this pain in all the diodes in my left side, but otherwise I'm OK.

Anyway, on to business. HJ has been hard at work cranking up the machine for our really big shew No 19 at the Freight and I think you're really going to like this picture. We're trying to figure out what to do with Joe Craven and Stevie Coyle (which feels a lot like asking yourself "what do I do with these" when she tosses you the keys).

But, we are professionals (according to the IRS) so soldier on we must. We'll think of something. In the meantime, we've got a handful of new songs we (hopefully) will be performing at the Freight for the 1st time, except for a dry run at our favorite country store with a full bar. Come by Sun Oct 16 and watch me make a bigger fool of myself than usual, since a bunch of the songs are mine (but don't you dare come south on Hwy 1 from 1/2 moon bay, or the pumpkins will eat you alive). Just because I can, here's everything you need to know for a rich and fulfilling life experience.

Let me leave you with something entertaining for a change of pace. Check out The Comics Curmudgeon when you get a chance. The funny papers are a lot darker than you might think.

Pizza out.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Well, I'm back", he said.

Hello to you and yours. This is Henry, using the editorial "we", just so we all know who to blame here. I'm ensconsed in my Comfy Chair at home, looking for something to do besides weeding, and thought I'd thow out some free(as in beer, not speech)-association on our recent jaunts.

As you can tell from Chris' previous post (The $1000 Taco, which I highly recomment [the post, not the taco]) things got off to a rather theatrical start. But once we were all safely arrived in Hartford, the Jewel of the East, things settled down. We found a microbrew(so I was happy) sports bar(so Peter was happy) nearby that kept the 2 of us going with our respective needs. Chris, as is is wont, enjoyed the house-made root beer whilst cheering on the Red Sox to victory over the hated Yankees.

But, there was work to be done. First off to a little Universalist Unitiarian (henceforth UU) church where the congregation sang us under the table, then a hop to WWUH (91.3 on someone's dial) where our hostess with the mostest Susan Hansen flogged our upcoming show at the Concert In The Park in Ridgeway CT as hard as she could (thanks Susan, it felt good!).

And then, New York, just like I pictured it: skyscrapers and everything. We played Kenny's Castaways in the Village, a nice little joint famous for having bands in the 70's play there before they were famous(Aerosmith! The Smithereens! Steel Mill!!!). We got the coveted 7PM Monday slot graciously given up by the Disco Sticks, and thanks to Chris' relatives the audience barely outnumbered the band. Chris reported he saw someone had written on a wall in the neighbourhood the name "Lou Reed" and underneath it someone else had written "yawn..." (oh how sharper than a seprent's tooth is a thankless child...).

On to the aforementioned CITP! This went well, a good crowd and many happy children high on sugar spinning in front of the band. You may have seen the video Kathy took on our web site, reminded me of my own Brisbane Community Festival my wife and I usually play (Oct 1 noon, be there!).

Then on to Western New York. The Club Helsinki in Hudson is a great place to play. One of the partners, Cameron, from our times at Mama Hillybeans in Tehachapi CA has his C3 there which made Travis so happy, brought back memories of his days in a soul band in Germany (seriously, ask him about it sometime...). Then, Woodstock, which is pretty much a Ye Olde Mill Valley. We had a small but enthusiastic crowd at the Colony Cafe (enthusiastic enough that someone actually called the cops on us). More hippies than you can shake a Thai stick at.

Then, one of those routings that makes being On The Road entertaining. Over to Eastham Cape Cod to another UU chapel (over 100 years old, but holding up better than I will) then kazam back to Western New York to finish up at the Town Crier in Pawling NY. Phil the owner is a serious mensch. We got to have the gorgeous and sweet Carolann Solebello (formerly of Red Molly) open for us, and she graciously brought an audience to share with us. Thanks, Carolann, they were very tasty.

And there you have it. I left out a few things such as Benny, the Littlest Conga, in the name of the soul of wit.  Ask us about it when you come by to see us sometime. Next time I'll cover our trip up to the Kate Wolf festival with that internation man of mystery, Stevie Coyle, which was more fun that should be legal. See ya in the funny papers. Oh, and the first few folk who knows where my post title comes from gets a copy of my new album _Everybody_Digs_Henry_Salvia_. My people.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Thousand Dollar Taco

When my wife Jane and I decamped recently from our home in Oakland to the Gold Country, we knew there would be advantages and disadvantages.  One advantage was the reduced likelihood of interactions with young persons with handguns eager to negotiate the transfer of personal property under terms adverse to the present possessor.  The disadvantage would be a certain logistical inconvenience.  An easy call, you say.

So, in anticipation of the Houston Jones East Coast tour, because I would be traveling with my upright bass, which necessitated obtaining a flight case the size and weight of a Middle Kingdom sarcophagus, some advance planning was clearly in order.  The plan was that Jane and I (with, as is customary, Chance the Dog for company)  would pick up the travel case for the bass in Oakland, stay in a hotel close to the airport, the morning of the flight she would help me wrangle the bass to the odd size baggage window, and off I’d go.  An easy call, you say.

The first brooding omnipresence on the horizon was a violent eruption at my day job minutes before I was scheduled to leave, the consequence of which was that I would be hauling an additional 30 pounds of ballast with me and spending my free time on tour with my laptop rather than frolicking with starlets and throwing furniture in the pool with my band mates.  The second sign, although we did not know it at the time, was the call from Jane asking if I wanted something to eat—she was getting 99 cent tacos. 

Tacos declined (by me), sarcophagus stowed, off we went to the hotel. Law and Order limit reached, Chance gently snoring, lights off, all is well.  Until it wasn’t.  Having spent a year in the Middle East as a child, I am not unfamiliar with food poisoning.  As of , June 3rd, as evidence would suggest, neither is my wife.   

I will be discrete here.  Suffice it to say, it was obvious that I was not going to be able to leave as planned.  The airlines were happy to reschedule my flight to later the same day --for a  $150 penalty and the difference in the ticket prices. Which is to say their sympathy would cost me $600.00, and they would  book me on the redeye. 

The plot at this point was thickening, because Houston Jones had a gig in Connecticut the evening of the 4th—I was now going to arrive in Hartford the late morning of the 4th, and presumably stumble to the gig.  That was fine; I have considerable experience as a stumbler. 

The malign intelligence of food borne bacteria had a different idea, though.  Jane, contrary to my expectations, was not getting better; she was, in fact getting worse.  Chance the Dog, for whom the universe is confusing in the best of circumstances was now utterly bewildered at the transformation of his beloved mistress.  And so, it became obvious that the redeye was not now an option either, and I would need to call on the sympathy of my friends at the airline once again.  And miss the gig. 

That transaction negotiated for a comparatively minor fee (but not without peril—the agent initially cancelled not only my redeye flight but Peter and Henry’s return flights as well; they would have been stranded in Central Connecticut when they tried to return next week), we spent another night in the hotel (ching, ching, goes the cash register).  The incidentals associated with the 99 cent tacos were now edging past four figures.

The next morning, Jane was able to remain vertical long enough to bundle her into the car to drive her and the confused dog back to Sonora.  The new plan (I laugh hollowly now at the use of the word “plan”), was exactly the plan we were trying to avoid in the first place:  I get up at 3:00 in the morning, drive from Sonora to SFO, unload the sarcophagus by myself, move the car to long term parking, wrestle my remaining luggage (now with the 30 extra pounds of ballast) back to the terminal, and then go through the normal indignities and inconveniences that we all enjoy now in the modern era of air travel. 

So that’s what I did.  Jane is recovering. Chance is presumably snoring.  I’m on the ground in CT, headed to a radio interview and then to NYC (!).  And this is to say nothing of the incident on the last leg of my flight, which involves 50 AFLAC employees coming home from a company retreat in Cancun, stuffed geese, and a woman from South Boston commandeering the flight PA system. 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Purchase Queen of Yesterday
Houston Jones is proud to announce  its latest Summerhill Records release,  Queen of Yesterday.  Working once again with 5 time Grammy nominee Cookie Marenco, Queen of Yesterday was recorded live in the studio on two inch tape  with minimal overdubs.   The new CD captures the hotwire energy and telepathic interplay of a live Houston Jones performance in a pristine audio environment that brings the listener almost literally into the studio as the music is being made.  Long time musical shape shifters, with  Queen of Yesterday, Houston Jones struts its Americana roots like never before, from grinding blues to post-bop jazz to raw boned country to the most delicate ballads. A varied and nuanced collection of songs exploring the theme of loss with, by turns, wry humor, exhilaration, anger, quiet reflection and anguish, Queen of Yesterday is Houston Jones’ most sophisticated and ambitious offering to date.