Actor/Musician

So how was your weekend?

Mine was pretty damn good! We went to Austin on Friday, and spent the weekend with my cousin. There was much video game playing and eating. However the reason for the trip was to make some musical appearances on Monday. As many of you may know, I’ve been playing with Craig Davis, a musician out of Austin. Monday morning I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am (an hour which just shouldn’t even exist, honestly), to go perform on the Fox-7 morning show. It was quite cool being in a TV studio watching them do the live show and preparing for our appearance. We did 2 little 15 second teasers as they went to commercial, then performed one full song. We then played about 30 seconds at the end of the show too. It was quite a cool experience indeed. That night we did a 4 song set at a club where there they were doing an open mic night combined with featured artists (which we were one of the 3). I think we blew the roof off the joint. up until that point it had been a very folky, coffee house type vibe with performers to match. We got up and did some rockin’ pop songs with strong harmonies. It was quite a contrast, but we were very well received and it took me a while to actually get out of the place since I was stopped by someone every 10 feet to tell us we were great. I also had many inquiries as to my kick ass new guitar which stunned several people since it looks like an electric guitar but yet was producing perfect acoustic guitar sounds. All in all it was a cool weekend, and I think things with Craig are really starting to get rolling. I’m going back in 2 weeks for another set at the same club during “South by Southwest” a HUGE music festival that takes place annually in Austin. Check out some clips of Craig’s music on www.cdbaby.com

I Have The Power! Alternately: The First One Always Hurts The Worst.

So I got my new guitar in last week. It’s the Variax by Line 6. It has electronics within it that digitally model 28 different classic vintage guitars. Electrics, acoustics, 12-strings, banjo, sitar and more. It’s absolutely phenomenal. Add that to the fact that I also use a Line 6 amplifier which digitally models tons of different guitar amps and effects, and you’ll see that I now have the power to invade small planets. So now with one amp, and one guitar, it’s as if I have a room full of amps and wall full of guitars, all of which are classic, very expensive, often rare, and very high end. I love technology. My bandmates were particularly tickled with my banjo playing this weekend.
Now for the pain. I had 2 gigs this weekend. My brand new guitar made it through a grand total of…1 of them before getting a ding in it. Sometime at our gig today I acquired a small little dent in the face of my brand new guitar. It hurt me. I hurt. I feel pain. I obsess. It totally soured my mood which was already not that great since we got 4 hours of sleep before having to go to this all 8-4 gig for the Bridal Show, where we pay them to set up a booth and ply our wares along with caterers, photographers, florists and such, trying to get all the future brides, who pay to get in, to hire us for their wedding reception. For the rest of the day my eyes were just magnetically attracted to that tiny ding in my guitar. On the slight upside, I was planning on having a sticker made up of my musical yin-yang logo to put on my guitar right over where the ding is. Still it stresses me. Silly, I know, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Back in the Saddle Again

So I seem to have gotten back into writing my screenplay. It’s only been a year or 2 of laziness. I feel a lot better since I’ve been writing. I feel like I’m doing something. Making some kind of progress in at least a small way towards getting somewhere. I’ve already started entertaining fantastical thoughts such as some Hollywood studio being interested my script, and what I will do then. I’m definitely writing it for me to star in and direct, but what if some studio offers to buy it for scads of money, but doesn’t want me to star or direct? Do I stick by my guns and say “nope, that’s part of the deal” or take the money and be happy that I just got paid for a screenplay and get to see it made? Yes, I’m way ahead of myself, but like I said, I’m a dreamer. I was going through a conversation in my head yesterday, pitching this to a studio executive. I figure it’s a good deal for both sides. I would get to have my movie made, and they could make the movie for far less money since I am an unknown star/director. They would save millions, or tens of millions even by letting me star and direct. Yes I often have imaginary conversations in my head. This is one of the reasons I think I’m a good writer. My brain is constant inventing imaginary scenes and such.
When I’m done with the first draft I will need feedback on it. The first draft will need lots of re-working I’m sure, but if anyone would like to read the first rough draft when I’m done (which won’t be for a while yet, I’m only a little under 2/3 done) let me know and I’ll be happy to let you critique it. I’d like as wide a range of feedback as possible since 10 people can give 10 different opinions of the same movie.

The continuing story of my new band

The full story of Craig Davis and the Invaders
On our previous episode…
Dawn Lee had wanted Craig to come play a gig for a series of outdoor concerts. Craig had recorded 3 cd’s but used studio musicians and didn’t really have a band. Dawn Lee said she would find him a band. She called some local musicians to recruits them for the project including Donnie, the keyboard/guitar player for my band. Donnie didn’t really think he was up to it (he underestimates himself) and referred her to me. I was then hired to play keyboards. Turns out, the bass player had a previous engagement so I took over bass guitar and pulled Donnie back in on keys.
The conclusion…
Once we started rehearsing Craig wanted me on guitar since that’s my primary instrument and he liked my playing, so I switched to guitar. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a train wreck without some severe and quick organization, so I found myself quickly being appointed the band leader by everyone else involved which was cool with me. The drummer knew a bass player so I called him, and he said that he thought the drummer and him were already booked. I called the drummer, and he didn’t think they were, so he went to sort that out. Turns out they WERE booked, so with only about 3 weeks until our debut gig, and 30 songs to learn we suddenly had no drummer of bass player. I knew of a couple, but there were some conflicts and questions about aspects of their reputations and reliability, however it soon became apparent we had no other choice so I hired them in. I burned CD’s of the set list for everyone, and Craig was driving down from Austin every weekend to practice. We never got to practice with the drummer or bass player but they had the CD’s to learn the tunes. The week of our gig, it was pissing down rain here, and since the venue was outdoors, they decided to postpone the gig until the next week, when my other band was going to play, and then we would just do a big double bill, which was cool for me and Donnie, because that meant we only had to set up once, but got to play and get paid twice. Well with the gig being moved, our bass player was not available for the new date. This left us with only one choice. The bass player for my other band was in Europe vacationing but would return about a week before the gig. I wrote out all the chords to all 30 songs so he could have some assistance, and when he got back from Europe we had a grand total of 2 rehearsals to run over the 30 tunes we were playing.
Friday November 1. Gig day. 7:00 am. It’s raining. The drummer calls to see what the plan is. I tell him we’re going through with it one way or another, and that it will probably clear up anyway. I make some calls and find out that we have a back up location in case of rain so all is good. The rain clears up and the weather turns pretty damn nice, so that’s bodes well.
4:25 pm. We are scheduled to set up at 5:00 and start playing at 7:00. The drummer calls me to tell me he’s hung up at work and wants to know if I can get my other band’s drummer to do the gig. I tell him that Craig (the other drummer) has not even ever listened to these 30 original songs. Remember those conflicts and questionable reputations I mentioned earlier? This was what I was referring too. This drummer had developed a big reputation for being very unreliable and flaky, but he had never screwed ME before so I didn’t want to be prejudiced against him for things he’d done in the past that didn’t involve me. I was determined to trust him until he gave me, personally, a reason not to. Well here it was. 30 minutes to set up time and he was trying to bail out. I talked with Craig and we both agreed to just do the gig and pray for the best and I told the first drummer to just forget about it, and that Craig would do the gig. For the record, the “work” he was hung up in was actually another gig he had committed to first, then tried to bail out on them to play with me, but then when the other band couldn’t find another drummer they told him “look, you committed to us first so you need to play with us”. I will not be calling him for any more gigs.
4:30. Craig and I have about 30 minutes to go over 30 songs. He starts making notes as I fast forward the CD’s to major parts in the songs such as “tempo change here”, “half time here”, “different beat here”. We work out some body language signals that I can give him to guide him along so he can watch me for stops, tempo changes, etc, while we’re playing. We end up cramming until about 5:30 then rush to set up. We bring a portable CD player, and thank the gods for the fact that I had thought to burn CD’s of our set list in the exact playing order, because before each song during the gig, Craig puts on the portable CD player and listens to the first 10-15 seconds of each song to get a clue about how it goes. During the gig I’m playing lead guitar parts, singing harmony parts, and simultaneously directing the entire band with signals, gestures, and body language. I feel like I’m walking a tight rope while juggling and spinning plates. The gig actually goes very well, especially considering the bass player has rehearsed a grand total of twice, the drummer has never even heard the songs before that afternoon, and the rest of us only rehearsed maybe 4 or 5 times. It’s rough, but by no means a train wreck. In fact, we come off very well, and end up sounding quite good and impressing a lot of people. We play from 7-9, and then my other band plays from 9-12. The second gig was pure gold. I would rate it as one of our best gigs ever. Everything sounded great everyone played and sang their asses off and it was on of those nights where I impressed myself and couldn’t believe how absolutely incredible this band is. Even despite the fact that is was a bit cold outside that night we had a good crowd, and put on a hell of a show. By the end of the night me and 3 of the other guys had played a grand total of 5 hours between 2 bands. I went home, showered, and promptly collapsed into a coma like sleep. Yeah, that’s right, I’m a wild rock star. Showers and sleep, baby. We hope to continue rehearsing and begin playing in Austin and elsewhere. Notlame records has been very good so far and sold a lot of Craig Davis’ CD’s and put him in touch with some good people including the guy who mentioned us possibly playing the International Pop Overthrow Festival in Chicago. Who knows where this might lead. You can go to Notlame Records and search for Craig Davis and listen to some sound clips if you like. Good stuff. I’m quite excited about this project. Maybe we’ll be coming to a city near you soon!

Craig Davis and the Invaders (A Tangled Musical Web)

So here’s the scoop on my newest musical project…
Backstory (bear with me here):
I’ve been playing with a cover band called The Rock-A-Fellas for about 8 years now. At one point I moved to Dallas for a year, and made the 3 hour drive back whenever we had gigs. We recruited Mike Holleman to take over my duties as lead guitar and lead singer. Now this is already interesting because Mike is actually a drummer who had played drums and sang with the Rock-A-Fellas for many years before I ever joined. He later moved away, played for Sheryl Crow, and made a living playing the Vegas Casino circuit before moving back to College Station because he was tired of living out of a suitcase and playing casinos where the music was nothing more than wallpaper to unappreciative patrons. So now here he was playing guitar and singing (he’s also a hell of a guitar player) preparing to take over my spot so I could leave now that I was living in Dallas. Well after a year in Dallas I decided to move back because the band was doing quite well, plus other boring factors. Mike was playing in several other bands and since we didn’t really need him anymore, we parted ways. During this time he had told me about how he was going to Austin on some weekends to record with a guy named Craig Davis. Turns out I kind of knew of him because my aunt and uncle had been good friends with him during my childhood, and when I would go stay with them to visit my cousin during school vacations, sometimes we would go visit Craig. Small world eh? But wait, it gets smaller…
So about 2 weeks ago Donnie Angonia, who plays in the Rock-A-Fellas with me, told me that a friend of the band, Dawn Lee, had called him to recruit him for keyboard duty. She was organizing a series of shows at The Palace Theatre (formerly a normal theatre whose roof collapsed, and was consequently made into an amphitheatre. Incidentally I was in the cast of a production of Oklahoma that was in the middle of it’s rehearsal run when the roof collapsed. Luckily it happened during the day when no one was actually there.) Dawn wanted to have Craig Davis come play a show, but the problem was that Craig didn’t actually have a band. He just got guys together whenever he wanted to go in the studio and record. She had put together a band of local guys and wanted Donnie to play keys. He had a prior commitment, and therefore passed my name along. She called me to play keys and sing backup and I agreed. After listening to some CD’s of his music, I really wished I was playing bass or guitar instead. Then Donnie ended up being free after all, so I called Dawn to tell her he was free, but if the other bass player couldn’t do it or anything then I could move to bass and Donnie could play keys. Dawn was elated to hear this since the other bass player had just realized he was going to be out of town! So I took over bass duties (which I was totally excited about since it’s a blast to get away from my normal lead guitar duties to play bass. It’s an entirely different thrill to me), and Donnie came on board as keyboardist. This was also handy since Donnie and I play in a band together, and we could also get together and work up backup harmonies.
So we now have until October 26th to learn 3 hours worth of music. I have been listening to 3 CD’s (with 14, 17, and 22 tracks of music!!!) non-stop to hammer Craig’s original music into my brain. I’m basically doing the equivalent of musical “cramming”, learning bass parts, lyrics and harmony parts. Craigs’ music is absolutely great. Very 60’s rock influenced. Like The Beatles and Tom Petty in a big musical orgy with elements of The Byrds, The Beach Boys, ELO, and Pink Floyd thrown in, plus occasional other musical spices. I’m very much looking forward to this gig.