Posts tagged: polyrhythmics

East Coast, California, and Oregon

By , October 21, 2015 3:46 pm

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Home again home again after a busy couple of weeks:

– The Polyrhythmics East Coast Tour was overwhelmingly positive, both individually and as a group. Although our time in each area or city was usually pretty short, I really enjoyed being in areas where the moods, personalities, and cultures were a bit different than that of the Northwest, from New England to New York to DC to North Carolina. Equally interesting were the parts of some of the cities that I found really similar to Seattle and the Northwest; sometimes it was the way a town felt, sometimes it was the way the people were, sometimes it was something else. Regardless, there was strong support and love for our music, which was heartwarming. New York in particular was wonderful; I reunited with several friends with whom I always enjoy catching up.

– After that, our stops in California and Oregon were familiar in the best of ways. Many of the venues we’ve played several times before, and it’s comforting to know that the place you’re playing any given night likes you and will treat you well, and you will probably see some familiar faces too! I talked about music a lot with a couple of the guys on this run, discussing where we see our music (both as individuals and as a band) fitting in compared to all of the other music getting made out there. I always find those conversations very rewarding, and think it makes me a better musician (or at least makes WANT to be better).

The Polyrhythmics twitter and instagram accounts were pretty active on these runs, so there are more detailed descriptions of the tours here and here.

It is not easy to make tours like this happen (much of the credit should go to Ben Bloom, our guitarist and tour manager), and there are sacrifices each of us in the band make to do it, but I feel very fortunate to be along for the ride.

On to the next!

Listening

By , September 16, 2015 4:05 pm

I’ve been able to put in some significant practice time recently, which has felt great!  Here’s what I’ve been working on:

This was a track I heard in the Polyrhythmics van; Ben had recently came upon a Grant Green boxed set, and although it’s off of a Lou Donaldson album, Green’s solo really intrigued me and got me into the practice phase I’m in now that is mostly focused on learning vocabulary.

For the last couple of years, my playing has revolved around approaches and concepts, using scales or intervals to improvise and write music. This is different to me than using vocabulary, actual melodic phrases and specific musical “sentences”. I believe I moved away from that because it is easier to fall into cliche and predictability, but coming back to it I find my ideas to be more concrete, and I’m not as concerned about being predictable; every phrase I play, whether it’s coming from another musician or not, still goes through my brain, and is therefore different than it was before.

A couple more I’m working on now:

Clifford Brown’s solo. They way he weaves phrases together is incredible.

Gene Ammons’ solo. This has one been fun because I haven’t transcribed very many solos for tenor saxophone, and it gives me a chance to work on a different style of playing than I am used to.

Hopefully, this practice trend will continue. I’m really excited by its effect on my musical focus and motivation!

– Art

Updates

By , August 22, 2015 7:18 pm

July and the beginning of August has been some of the busiest times for me in recent memory!  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

 

– I went to Chicago to see my sister graduate and become a doctor in Psychology, very exciting!  Over the 4 years that she lived there I visited several times, and I enjoy that city very much; to me it has a very clear cultural identity that is colorful and rich.

 

– I played with Theoretics on KEXP’s morning show.  Although I had done an in-studio performance there before with Polyrhythmics, it is always thrilling to know you are being broadcast on the radio.  I also appreciate what KEXP does for creative music in Seattle (along with NPR stations KPLU and KBCS).

 

– I performed a few pick-up gigs with musicians I admire:  Tarik Abouzied, Ian Sheridan, Joe Doria, Brennan Carter, Jeff Johnson, and Jake Svendsen.  It’s always a pleasure to play music as well as talk with these guys and get their viewpoint on things.  Jeff in particular is someone I look forward to playing with every time because I view him as an older music master and local legend, so whenever I play with him I feel as though I’m with a mentor, and there is always something I learn from playing and hanging with him.

 

– I kept a steady weekend-warrior-style tour schedule up with Polyrhythmics and Theoretics.  I had the opportunity to play at the Capitol Hill Block Party, the Guitarfish Festival, the Northern Rockies Music Festival, the Kaslo Jazz Festival, Summer Meltdown, the South Lake Union Block Party, Doe Bay Fest, and the For the Funk of it Festival, and I traveled to cities and areas all around Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Nevada.  Crazy!

 

I put up a bunch of new pictures in the Photos section, and I uploaded many videos from my travels onto a “Summer Performances 2015” playlist on my youtube channel ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYy1yby1nObZRmIM1hh7G3A/playlists ) , so check those out!

 

– Art

New Orleans JazzFest 2015

By , April 30, 2015 5:47 pm

Hi all!

I’ve made a playlist on my YouTube channel with some of the short video clips I managed to take while in New Orleans.  They are very short, but it hopefully will give you at least small idea of the energy behind these live performances and the music happening here.  Go here and check out the New Orleans 2015 playlist for a tiny taste of Jazzfest!  In addition, there is a clip there of me from our performance at the Blue Nile, in the French Quarter district of New Orleans.

In addition to what I’ve said in the past about the high number of talented musicians in New Orleans and the supportive culture in the city surrounding live music, one of the other parts of the JazzFest experience I enjoy is meeting and talking to touring bands and musicians that are at the festivities for the same reasons we are, and sometimes these bands and musicians travel just as far.  It’s interesting to get their take on traveling and playing this kind of creative groove music.  In general, there seemed to be those people that were part of the core groups of bands, kind of like we are in Polyrhythmics, and then those independent musicians that get hired to play in this or that group or band.  These are the people that I found myself asking “who are you playing with this year?” because they may be in a different horn section or featured with a different group, etc.

Both of those types of conversations are equally fascinating to me, but I regret not talking more about just music and playing.  I feel as though this year if I became self-conscious or nervous I would fall back on those kinds of music business-type questions instead of asking about music.  Something to keep in mind for next time…

A few extra photos:  
  
Frenchman Street, where many of the live music clubs are all lined up.  This is definitely the street where I spent most of my time.
  
The blanket fort is from the friends’ house where we stayed.  The house was pretty small so I slept on the floor under the table, which led somebody to build me a fort…the sign says “Art’s Fort – BEWARE IT STIRS”
  
The third photo is our keyboard player Nate and I riding in our friends’ van to get to one of the gigs.  We had to borrow some drums so Nate and I made sure it got there.  Don’t worry, it had seatbelts!

I was going to add a photo of the Alligator sausage I had, but it tasted better than it looks, you’ll just have to trust me!


 

-Art

 

 

News

By , April 6, 2015 3:59 pm

Hi everyone!

Lots of exciting stuff happening.  Polyrhythmics just returned from 4-day west coast tour that culminated in a show at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA.  The Hall has been the site of many amazing concerts over the years, and is a beautiful room to play in.  I felt very lucky to play there!  The Polys will be going down to New Orleans for JazzFest once more at the end of this month, another place that seems like a blessing for me to visit.  I look forward to taking in as much music as I can and getting input and advice from other musicians.

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Theoretics are gearing up for several festivals this Summer, which is very exciting since the band is, to me, still pretty young, at least with its current sound, and I think there are a lot of new listeners out there that will really appreciate what we do.  Our Seattle show at the Tractor Tavern went very well, and we will be opening up for Robert Glasper on April 14 at Neumos.  I have enjoyed Glasper’s music for a while now (here’s an older post about him here ), so this is a great opportunity to maybe get a little closer experience!

Teaching is going well, although working out the education/performance balance is constantly ripe for improvement.  For the future, I am thinking of experimenting with Skype lessons while on the road, as well as keeping students more informed about what touring and performing is like.  Perhaps a mailer or more consistent blogging is in order…

Art

P.S.  Check out The Main Squeeze.  This is the band we shared the stage with in San Francisco.  Great stuff!

 

 

Greetings From The Road!

By , February 18, 2015 11:24 pm

The Polyrhythmics are currently on our way out of Louisiana, heading toward Colorado.

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The Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans was more colorful and vibrant than I could have imagined, and although the multiple parades and costume balls range from neighbor and family friendly to parties that were for older folks, the one thing that was everywhere was MUSIC!

Just as it was last year after our trip to NOLA during JazzFest, I was sad to leave the city. I love being a part of the music community in Seattle, and I never want to leave it, but it always feels special to be in New Orleans, and I think it’s a city I want to continue to visit throughout my life.

Other news: Theoretics have released a new EP, and I think the music we made on it is unique, exciting, and creative in a way that I am very proud of. You can check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/theoretics/theoretics-fugue-state

A few other recent performances I found really musically fulfilling:

Tim Kennedy Quintet at Tula’s – Tim’s original material allows all of us to interact and make great music together.

Lucky Brown and the Super Premium Chiefs at Port Townsend’s Strange Brewfest – More on Lucky here

 

We’re moving on to Wyoming and Idaho from here, then we head home to Seattle.  See you all soon!

– Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour Blog 5

By , June 18, 2014 3:34 pm

When I left off, we were heading to Texas, a state I had never visited before, pretty exciting!  It was an early departure from Santa Fe, and it was going to be a long day of driving, but luckily there was no gig we had to get to, just a hotel room waiting at the end.

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Ben and Nathan took the lion’s share of the drive.  High priority for everyone was to get some real Texas barbecue at some point, which we did in Amarillo, at Tyler’s Barbeque.  The owner talked to us for a while – apparently they get bands in there fairly frequently – and he was really hospitable and nice.  He told us about Texas and we told him about the Northwest, which he’s visited once or twice, and he asked us about touring and the van we use, among other things.  It was a great first Texas experience for me!

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The weather took a pretty nasty turn during Nathan’s part of the drive, although I was asleep for most of it.  Some of the darkest stormclouds anyone had seen before rolled in and there were heavy rains for a couple of hours.  But we made it through and Nate kept chugging until we got to Dallas to stop for dinner.  From there it was an hour and a half to our hotel in Houston.

The next day we were playing at Plonk Wine Bistro, and we weren’t really sure what to expect.  From what we gathered, it wasn’t a traditional music venue; the owner would pay for an outdoor live music event 3 or 4 times a year as a  kind of celebration for his regular patrons and friends.  Because of this, and the fact that we had never played in town before, we didn’t know if anyone showed up.  As it turns out, people did show, and they were really enthusiastic!  There was a fair amount of New Orleans transplants there too; it appears as though they’ve built their own live music community there in Houston, pretty cool!

The next morning was a somewhat early one so that we could make it on time to our load in at the Austin venue, Speakeasy.  My friend Lindsay had been in Dallas visiting family, and she made the trip down to Austin to come to the show, which was very awesome of her!  I had a delicious gourmet hot dog at a stylish hot dog shop/coffee shop/bar (seriously) and then met Lindsay at Fado, just like Seattle.  She showed me around town a little bit, although not as much as I would have liked but time was a little limited.  One of the bars we stopped at had Western dancing lessons in the evening and then a dance band at night that you could try your moves out with, which seemed pretty fun, and Stubb’s barbecue was served outside.  This was a big deal for me because I only knew of Stubb’s from the barbecue sauce that’s sold in grocery stores in Seattle; to be somewhere where the real deal was cooked was a neat experience!  Of course, the night was warm, so there were bike cabs everywhere, moreso than in Seattle, so that was a little different scene too.

The actual performance at Austin went okay; the conclusion we came to was that the venue just wasn’t a good fit for us.  There was a comedy show in the front room while we were in the back, and anyone coming in had to pay cover for both, not a great business strategy.  Oh well.  I’m excited to go back to Austin someday, as I enjoyed the people and the city seemed really hip!

Also, big shout out to Amy for a nice stay at an apartment that belonged to friends of hers, beautiful river-view and enough room for 9, what a blessing!

OKAY…next up:  New Orleans.  I’ve already talked off many of your ears about NOLA if I’ve seen you recently, but it’s already been a month since the trip (geez, time is moving quickly these days), so I think it will be good for me to reiterate a lot of my thoughts on the blog, hopefully you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

Tour Post #2

By , April 28, 2014 6:26 pm

Writing this in the backyard of Scott’s friend Josh, a saxophonist in New Orleans who is nice enough to put us up for the week.  There is a warm breeze and it is a sticky but beautiful 80 degrees, although it is kicking up a bit and there are some storm warnings.

Some carryovers from S.F.:  Grant trying on a handmade tie-dye coat at Jamming on Haight, and my favorite photo on the Boom Boom Room Wall, Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Waters Blues Band.

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SO…after San Francisco we had a show at Harlow’s, in Sacramento.  We played with Big Sticky Mess, a funkadelic trio from Davis.  They were a lot of fun, a little bit of Bootsy Collins, Cameo, and 70’s funk guitar and bass; it was impossible not to dance!  We stayed at their house in Davis, a musician’s house with 11 people, jam/recording space, and a friendly house dog.  Many of them work at the Trader Joe’s down the street from their house part time, which gives them time to work on music too.  Davis seemed like a cool, mellow college town, although I didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore.

We then headed to Nevada City to another favorite spot, the Crazy Horse.  The Horse has a small apartment unit above the bar that we were able to stay in (any time we have the opportunity to stay somewhere with a kitchen is a great thing because we can save money by cooking.  Of course, avoiding hotel room rentals is a huge cash saver too.)  We had a day to rest, stretch the legs and play frisbee, and wander around a town a bit.  I found a bookstore and bought a copy of Tolkien’s the Silmarillion, which I’m hoping to get through in the van rides and plane ride home.

The Tuesday show at the Crazy Horse was pretty intimate, with plenty of supportive local folks.  Some are here for Jazzfest too!

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Thursday was time for Southern California, in Hollywood.  We swooped in to load and soundcheck, and I had just enough time to go to the big Amoeba Music store there, where I picked up a used Zero 7 CD, the Garden, which I’ve checked out from the library and played beginning to end several times over the years, so I figured it was time I buy it.  I also went to dinner with my dear friend Sarah; I wish there had been more time, but as always it felt good to catch up and hear her thoughts on things.

Although our show at the King King Theater there in Hollywood was kind of sparsely attended, the stage was really nice and the sound was awesome.  We also made a few new fans and signed some albums, something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to!

Right after the show we loaded up and left for San Juan Capistrano; Sam’s parents hosted us that night and the next day and treated us to lunch.  As is the case with everyone who puts us up, they were extremely warm and hospitable, and very curious about the touring life, which I honestly have fun discussing (obviously).

Every once in a while I deal with some anxiety about making a music career work.  Scheduling performance and teaching commitments efficiently can be really tricky, and I worry about shortchanging students by being away too often or for too long, and although it is tremendously exciting for me to have these chances to travel, I am always trying to be aware of my responsibilities back in Seattle, and it looks like these travel opportunities are going to come up more often in the future.  For now, the best I can do is be honest and give as much notice and accommodation as possible, and hope for the best; I’ve seen more than a few examples of how people make music work professionally on this trip, so I know it can be done.

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That’s all for now, next post I will cover San Diego and the Southwest!

 

Upcoming Tour Blog

By , April 3, 2014 3:13 pm

It’s less than a week now from when I will be on the longest tour I’ve ever done, three and a half weeks to New Orleans with the Polyrhythmics, and I haven’t done a tour blog since the first tour of my career, when Hardcoretet went down the coast to Los Angeles 5 years ago!

Stay tuned for posts from the road throughout April, and hopefully I will be able to put up a video or two as well.

April Excitement

By , March 8, 2014 4:48 pm

I had a nice excursion North to Bellingham the last couple of days; Theoretics had a solid first Bellingham show at the Wild Buffalo, and I was able to spend the following day with Karl, drummer for the band Polecat, who the Polyrhythmics have shared bills and festivals with pretty frequently.  It was good to talk about music as a career with someone else who has been doing it for a while:  how to make it work, the positives and negatives, and how to balance everything out.  Then that night we topped it all off with a great jam with Jeremy, guitarist for Polecat, Jefferson Rose, a killer bass player with a band of his own, and Mars, one of the best trombonists I know.  Right on, Bellingham!

A couple of things I’m looking forward to next month:

April 8th Hardcoretet will be releasing our third album, a full-length recording that we are all very excited about.  Not only that, we are also opening for Kneebody, a group that has been one of my primary musical influences for the last couple of years, and the show is at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, one of my favorite venues in town!  Some preview tracks of the new album are available at the Hardcoretet band camp page:  https://hardcoretet.bandcamp.com/

The next day I embark on tour with the Polyrhythmics; we are travelling down the coast to Southern California, East through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and finishing in New Orleans.

I have never been to New Orleans and cannot wait to be there to take in as much as I possibly can.  The more I play and listen to music, the more I know I am influenced by that city.  Many of the musicians I enjoy listening to have spent significant time there, and its historical significance cannot be overstated, in my opinion.  I’m going to try to post a bit from the road, so stay tuned!

There is a fundraising campaign to help us minimize the expenses and costs of the tour; most of the places we are playing are new to us, so there will likely be a few lightly-attended gigs, so to speak.  If you want to help, please go here!  http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/polyrhythmics-new-orleans-jazz-fest-2014

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