I have fallen woefully behind in my blogging about my Spring California Tour. Suffice to say, I've been keeping busy.
Thursday was the designated day to shoot video for the "L.A. Song" — a song I wrote based on my experiences in L.A. last year while meeting up with my sister's family doing the pilgrimage to Disneyland and then a month later when I went to the ASCAP Expo music conference. I made my second visit to ASCAP my deadline for finishing recording of the song and having it mastered. I was lucky enough to meet through a friend from the San Francisco music scene one Daniel Button of Button Up Productions so I could shoot a video while in town. We spent the day capturing footage on Hollywood Boulevard and Malibu and places in between,
I had a lot of fun working with Daniel and his assistant Carl as well as the actors, Rachel and Josh. It was all done guerrilla style (there was some hiding of the camera under a conspicuously pink beach towel) with a fair amount of improvisation. I enjoyed both stepping back and letting Daniel take the lead as well as jumping in a providing direction on some of the bits that I thought were important to capture, especially when we drove up to Malibu to film scenes for the first few verses of the song — which are really about some games my niece Faith and I were playing on Newport beach. For the purpose of the video we are following the adventures of a couple who are still in the early phase of a relationship.
Daniel attached a GoPro to the front on his car (and sadly lost a hat while he took some footage while leaning out the window) and we caught some of our journey from Hollywood to the PCH and then up to Malibu where we hit some tide pools and the beach. We ran into another film crew while we were up there (they were a bit more official like). If nothing else, it was fun day out and the best weather I could have hoped for for filming after some very gloomy and unusually chilly days in Los Angeles. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.
Last night I played my first show of the tour — I was one of the featured players at Sun Space for the their “Unusual Tuesday” showcase. It was indeed unusual — and a lot of fun.
Once we finally got off the ground from SFO (no mean feat) the flight to LA was pretty un-eventful. Getting from LAX to my AirBnB, no so much so. Getting in around quarter after 4 pm (a good four hours after I’d intended) so of course by the time bag was collected and all that, it was rush hour traffic (although it’s LA, so maybe it’s a distinction without difference). I took shared ride van, and in addition to the general general stop and go — or rather dead stop to suddenly we’re riding on a flume or something out of the mine cart chase in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (it’s now clear to me where Spielberg got his inspiration for this) — the first couple we dropped off is way the hell up in the hills and the driver is taking the hairpin curves with less caution than I might have taken when playing Pole Position on the old Atari back in the day. Plus which my water bottle had fallen out of the backpack in the back of the van and was clunking about with great ferocity — at this point it was not clear what it is that’s making all the racket, so I feared the worst for my laptop and guitar. Apparently my running commentary on the journey was a source of great amusement to the couple in front of me.
In the end though, I managed to hook up Susan (with my compatriot for Saturday's shows) and get over to Kulak’s Woodshed in time for the sign up at the open mic — since she was worried about memorizing lines to a play, it took a little exhortation to get her out, but I felt like I needed a contingency plan for getting signed up lest I end up going hither and yon on the shared ride van or run into issues with check in. Kulak’s was awesome, nice and laid back. And the video cameras they have filming and broadcasting the performances give the whole thing a wonderful vibe . Folks are attentive and with all the cameras monitors it feels like you're on MTV unplugged or something.
Sadly, my performance was not so awesome — I went with doing the Albatross Song instead of the LA Song because that seemed to fit the general milieu. But at some point I stumbled in the second verse and then started inverting the bridges haphazardly. It was not worth the 20 bucks I paid for the video of this particular performance. Sometimes playing in a new venue just throws you off — I had a similar problem with the Monkey House last week, but at least my set was long enough there I had time to settle in and get more comfortable. I am strongly considering going back to Kulak's next Monday, and maybe going early enough with leadsheets in hand so I can have the house band sit in
No such problems at Sun Space, for the most part. And it really was quite a different affair. It opened with a succession of characters in giant paper mache masks — one played the clarinet, which he subsequently “ate”, another had a television in its mouth which showed someone singing and a third was carved open on stage like some sort of piñata vivisection and succession of objects were pulled out — some clappers that were passed out to an audience, a bill — which I was asked to tear into little pieces as I sat in the front row as was an easy target — a dummy’s leg (there was a bit of slight of hand going on there). Later I was asked to come up onto the stage and told to throw the pieces of torn up bill at the wall, after which the Sun Space logo was displayed.
I enjoyed playing my set quite a bit — I went through all the “Song” songs —“The Albatross Song,” “The Fish Song” and of course, “the L.A. Song” — someone even bought my CD. All the performers in the showcase were great. Special mention to Coleman Moore, who I met last year at the ASCAP Expo and invited me to be part of the showcase. His stage presence was energetic, graceful and incredibly dynamic. There was elegance to just the way he tossed to the side a chair he had been writhing on as part of the act earlier. The show ended with a slideshow of brown couches at the side of the of the road and a game where the audience would look at photos of random people entering the 7-11 across the street and shout out what celebrity we were seeing (the more creative the suggestion, the better — Bono was off limits, though).
So, all in all, so far I’m having a blast.
Welcome to the new "blog" portion of the "Ducks With Pants" web site. I figured that the start of my first little music tour would be a good impetus to inaugurate this new feature of the site. I'm headed to Los Angeles to attend the ASCAP Expo in Hollywood. I went last year and had a good time checking out the scene and meeting other artists, but this time I go with a slightly more ambitious agenda.
I will of course go to the panels and connect with whom I can. I made some contacts last year that have been fun to keep up with through social media and has even translated into some shows for this time around. I'll be at Sun Space in Sunland May 1st with Coleman Moore and The Mint on May 5th with Susan Lucas — both of whom I met at last year's Expo. I'll also hit up a whole bunch of open mics while I'm in the area.
I also have finished up recording for "The L.A. Song" which was inspired by some trips I took last year down that way, both to see family (my sister and her family along with my Mom were making the pilgrimage to Disneyland) as well as the Expo the following month. Now with a mastered version "in hand" as it were, I'll be working with Button Up Productions to produce a video for the song while I'm down there. This will be my first produced music video -- I've messed around with iMovie in the past with stock footage clips, but this is, like, for real. Doing something in a "remote location" is probably not the best starter set for such a project, but the song lends itself well to visuals from the area, so that's what I'm doing.
Since it's been a while since I got properly away from San Francisco, I figured I'd take the scenic route back, so I'm taking the train up to SLO and then driving on from there to Santa Cruz. I'll be doing a show for Steve Key's Songwriter's at Play at 7Sister's Brewery before closing out the "tour" in Corralitos with Hannah Cooper, a friend I made a local songwriter's circle.
The start of this little expedition has been a bit inauspicious as I'm still stuck at SFO after my original flight was canceled and the replaced flight delayed. This blog post owes its existence to the largess of time at my disposal as I await for this whole affair to properly commence. I have to admit that I felt a lot of trepidation this morning. I've done much lengthier, much more distant solo journeys in the past, but for various reasons, this one feels that much more intimating. It's been a lot of irons in the fire to get this all to come together, such as it has. A lot more is in the works that I've had to juggle while putting this together — more on that in future posts, hopefully. I'm doing this particular sojourn in the red, more so than I initially expected. Hopefully it will pay dividends in the future.
It looks like a flight crew has arrived at the gate. Now all we need is a plane...
Until the next posting.