What’s Hot? Pt. I

As Paul might say, “fool, I’ll tell you what’s hot.”

The French Horns live

Last night was our first show with violinist Jesse Long and I proclaim it to be one of our best. He played on five or six songs and added those melodies we missed so much as a trio. Besides that, I think what really made a difference were the couple of practices the days right before the show, the good vocal monitor setup, and a decent pedal setup that gives me a little more control over my guitar sound. The only trouble I had on stage was that, in “Amy L”, my guitar was turned up too high and I was getting tons of guitar feedback to the point of distracting me into forgetting the whole second verse (I was frantically trying to figure out which note was feeding back and how to play the chord in a different shape to leave that note out). Well, to me it was ultra-loud, but apparently the audience didn’t notice much (which is why I think it was coming from the vocal monitor, but whatever.) Anyway, we were pretty well received from the few people there (unexpectedly we were asked to play first so several people who came to see us (from as far as Orlando) missed the set, but it’s not a big deal. The point of the show was kinda to build up our confidence for the Athens popfest show on the 12th. We won’t have Jesse there (which really sucks because he’s apparently “the cute one”) but we’ll get by I guess.

Last night and thoughts lately

Last night was, at least instrumentally, one of our best..I think. As for vocals, I must apologize to the five people who bothered to stay in the room because the Soft Targets, who played before us, packed up their vocal monitor after they played. They let Josh borrow a drum throne so they had to stick around, but they couldn’t leave the monitor so we could have decent vocals? For those who don’t have to sing 3 feet in front of a loud guitar amp and drums, the vocal monitor is essential. As Nathan Arizona might say, “speakers and monitors you got a PA set, no monitors you got dick.” It was at least nice that all the music of the night was pretty good, Soft Targets included, and the Shamrock was comfortable (no smoking inside).

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t be “lead singing” (or generally the center of attention) in a live band setting. I’m not enthusiastic, an extrovert, an amazingly good singer or guitarist (esp. doing both at the same time), and I’m not physically attractive enough to make that stuff matter less. All I can do live is play a song semi-competently and I can live with that, but why make an audience watch someone be awkward and uncomfortable on stage while a band tries to do with three members what really needs five or six? Even if the recordings do the music justice, the current French Horns live show isn’t going to send people to them, nor is it going to encourage any like-minded musicians to join us, which is what we need more than anything. Unless we can be sure we’ll be in front of people who really appreciate the songs enough to hear them through our badness, playing more shows in Gainesville is a waste of time.

There are a few things we could do to help. We have zero aesthetic appeal so anything would help, projectors, props, anything! It might also just come to us playing to a tape. Since it’ll be nearly impossible for us to sync a recording up to us live (and really hard to play along to for a drummer) we’re just gonna have to have recorded drums and have Josh play something else. At least for some songs this could really be nice, and for others, it would mean we could actually even play them…

Let’s make this quick

November’s French Horns show was great. December’s was to about five people after sitting through endless amelodic saxophone freakouts. Before they started the guy assured us all that, “we won’t be playing any songs tonight.” I’ll save my rant against free jazz for another time.

I think 2004’s was the first Christmas in while that my whole family was together in a formal way and it was nice. I had more spending money than usual and I let myself get wrapped up in the holiday spirit of financial irresponsibility. It’s nice to be able to give nice gifts, but the money we all spent on, say, random stuff at Target was just too much. I’m going to push for the each-member-gives-to-one-other-member method next year.

Oh yeah, then after spending all that money I bought a Jazzmaster on eBay and a 120W MusicMan (Leo Fender’s self-proclaimed best work) amp on the way home. Budget annihilation complete. The new (well, 70’s) amp made such a difference and the Jazzmaster is so painfully trebley. This is good.

But why have I been out of town so many weekends lately?

(also, this mrclay.org look is just temporary)

What’s that sound?

The French Horns are playing again. Friday, Nov. 12th @ the Atlantic. Come see us try it with a new bassist and cellist. I think we might even have an epic 10/11-song set debuting two new ones. I wish we had a venue called The Oasis so we could play “midnight at the Oasis”.

You’ll be thrilled to know we have reached bilateral roommate approval of the arrangement of our living room furniture. Relevant adjectives include: “inviting”, “inclusive” and “functional”. Still, we’ve yet to make it official with one of those big APPROVED stamps. Speaking of stamps, last year I custom ordered my friend Dan a “FIND HIM & KILL HIM” stamp set for his birthday.

As should be clear by now, I’m rambling.

This is for your own benefit.

Hopefully I’ve pushed my bloody wound pic below the fold.

I’m very sorry I left it there for so long.

Latest enjoyment: Shirley Beans’ radio shows.

More band road trips, please.

Someone go with me to see the Trash Can Sinatras in Atlanta on Sept 14th. They’ve been around for over a decade without coming anywhere near the Southeast and who knows if they will again. Yes, it’s a Tuesday and $15. Suck it up! I’m willing to leave early that evening and possibly drive back that night—whatever it takes, really. Let me know and I can buy tickets.

TCS tour page | you if you miss this

Also: photos of new the house.

We love you, Murry!

Friday, July 9th. Sandi and I are in the surprisingly large Orange Peel in Asheville, NC and Rhett and Murry of the Old 97’s are in the middle of wooing us with Murry’s heartbreaking "Valentine". When they get to the break a lone voice says what we’re all thinking, “We love you, Murry!” He doesn’t get the attention he deserves, but of the bands’s later songs I like, they’re mostly his. You can feel the traditional country greats dripping from his songs. He covers Buck Owens and “Valentine” sounds a bit like something Willie Nelson might’ve written years ago.

Most of the night Rhett completely controls this crowd. A girl to our left shrieks and shakes with excitement like it’s John and Paul up there, and she isn’t alone; Sandi gives him a score somewhere in the fifties out of ten on the attractivimeter and only some strong, unseen force keeps her from attacking him on stage *. They really do put on an amazing show, pulling out songs from the early days, including the first one I heard, "Doreen". This song killed me in the days of 97X (Gainesville’s eclectic FM station in the mid-90s) and it still does. That poor drummer gets a workout every night. Continue reading  

Laura and the Buttons

Quite an evening. I arrive at Laura’s “dirty thirty” party at Kim’s house and all our gear is set up in the living room (it looked like rain). There is much shoving of friends in front of kareoke mics. After an hour or so of watching, when the Hollies’ “Busstop” comes on Amy and I are ready and we procede to rock it. The audience recognizes showmanship and bathes us in appreciation. Andrew shows up a little later and we duck out to pick up tickets for the Beat Buttons.

Our friend Mario plays drums and keyboards (yes, simultaneously) for the BB and this is his last show in Gainesville for probably a long time. He and his wife Tricia are moving to Philadephia; more good friends skip town.

We head back to Laura’s party and arrive just in time to see a great show by Laura and a couple friends. Funny songs with local charm and really great three part harmony, quite impressive. When our turn comes, Laura, Hazel and I cram into the “stage” and I grab an amp for seating. We play one of Laura’s new songs and then Jackie takes Hazel’s place bringing in lap steel and everything goes swimmingly for our last three songs. Hazel and Rob McGregor play some great songs and Andrew and I head back to CG.

I’ve seen Alex and Mario play on this stage dozens of times, but this night is something to see. The Beat Buttons play every one of their songs and I’m enjoying the hell out it, fist-pumping, yelling lyrics. Although they never play covers, they end with New Order’s “Age of Consent” and I go home a very happy man.

(I didn’t get this posted until 7/14.)