Sunday, November 19, 2006

3 Very Different Gigs, Plus a New Contemporary Project is Budding

Hello,

This past couple of weekends has been interesting on the giging front. Last Friday I sat in with poet/songwriter Norm Ballinger. He is from somewhere in the south. I got to play drumset in the Crazy Wisdom Tearoom. It was a lot of fun. Ken Kozora hooked me up with the show. It was Norm on vocal, guitar, and slit drum, Ken on zen drum and percussion, and Richard Smith on bass. I am glad to be able to enjoy shows like this close to home. Since moving to Ann Arbor I have gotten my fair share of 'pick up' gigs and this was one of my favorites. I hope to play with Norm the next time he is in town.
In the meantime, I have been hard at work with Ken Kozora on a free jazz/fusion/free-for-all group that has been putting in long hours every week in my basement studio. Ken plays the bass and trumpet, I have been playing drumset, tabla, and even some clarinet, Scott Brady (from Deep Blue) is on all different kinds of saxophones, and Dave Gilbert is also doing the full Sax lineup with some flute and clarinet in their as well. It is a positive and very interesting group to play with. We have mainly been working on compositions written by Ken over the past 25 years, but we are also experementing with some Indian rhythm ideas and some killer free jams that have turned into some of the most interesting stuff I have played since my time at Cal Arts. I am excited to play out soon, but no word on when that is at this point in time.
So anyway the day after the tearoom I was in Bronson, MI. playing some good ol' classic rock n' roll with Paledave. Dave Buehrer on guitar and vocals, his wife Jen on vocals, Jon Carmona was on the bass and I played the drums. Bronson is Daves hometown. It was great to see where he came from. We played at a bar/bowling alley called the Strike Zone. It reminded me of a place I used to play back in Marquette, (my hometown), called the Eastwood Lounge. Unfortunately it was a slow night for the bar and we ended early, but I had fun and it was good to meet some of Dave's friends.
Last but not least I played tabla a couple of nights ago with the Ann Arbor Kirtan group. The group is now consistantly doing once a month shows and the audience is growing fast, which is essential in Kirtan since it is call and response chanting between the perfromers and audience members. It is actually a lot of work to play tabla in a room filled with that much energy. I slide on my Bya so much that my wrist gets raw and sometimes I get blisters. I suppose that means I have not attained my balance on the drum yet, but I have been practicing! I have kept up so far so good with my Guruji's suggestion that I practice everyday for a year. I have had a couple nights where I have started my practice at 11:30p.m., but mainly I have been excited to go downstairs and put in some time. It is becoming like a meditation/escape in this hectic and busy time.
Looking forward I am excited for the first Go Like The Wind concert in mid December, and my private student recital is coming up fast too. This time it will be at the GLTW gymnasium, so there will be plenty of room and it will be more of a concert atmosphere. The week after next I will be in Midland, MI with the Swaggering Rouges once again. I can' t believe this year is coming to a close already. It has been a great one so far. I feel very blessed and I look forward to the future. Thanks for reading and I will talk to you soon!

John

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