Takin’ Care of Blog Biz

Margaret Explosion set up at New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua NY
Margaret Explosion set up at New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua NY

Margaret Explosion pulled off an unusual gig last night at the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua. It was a client appreciation night for a wealth management group. Like Peggi said, “It must be tough trying to mange your wealth”. Bob and Ken set their little amps on the bench behind the drums and Peggi sat in a chair to the left. The place was beautiful and the acoustics were great. (If you click on the photo above you can get a little more detail) Before we started our host asked that we play standards. I said, “We’ll play our standards”. We made up most of the night and the crowd seemed to like it. We sold a cd and got quite a few compliments. Tonight we are back on more familiar ground at the Little Theater Cafe.

The only link I’ve had on this blog since I started this thing has been My Non-Tour Diary (my inspiration) but I’ve had a few requests to add others so I’m going about my business in the right hand column.

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Pete Townsend With the RPO

Yo Yo Ma at the Eastman Theater in Rochester NY
Yo Yo Ma at the Eastman Theater in Rochester NY

Peggi’s mom bought us tickets to last night’s Yo Yo Ma concert at the Eastman Theatre. We sat in the last row on the mezzanine level. The orchestra sort of overpowered the superstar cellist with sound but Yo Yo overpowered them with his visuals. His performance prompted a few questions. Why was he the only one not reading music? Why was he the only one allowed to look around while the others sat rigidly? Why was he the only one gesturing like Pete Townsend as he played? There is an interesting conflict in classical music between studied discipline and heartfelt performances.

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The Walls Are Closing In On Us

Truck and steam behind RGE
Truck and steam behind RGE

I love math, not so much adding and subtracting or balancing the check book but mathematical problems and puzzles. I love Spain. And I like suspense. “Habitación de Fermat” or “Fermat’s Room” had all three of these ingredients and it moved along like a roller coaster ride in a room that kept getting smaller. We missed the locally made “Smoking Laws” but heard there were scenes shot in Mex with the mural that I painted. We parked behind the RGE steam plant off Chestnut and took this low light picture.

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Where There Is Love There Is No Question

Surfwise still
Surfwise still

I probably shouldn’t be allowed to make tea. I can handle the drip coffee maker but when it comes to to turning the right electric burner on under the teapot, or remembering that I was boiling water before I smell something funny or even remembering to turn the burner off, I fall short. I spent a good bit of the new Marianne Faithful movie last night worrying about whether or not the burner was still on from the cup I made before painting. And I’m getting a little tired of the inane messages on the Yogi Tea bags.

Imagine a surf movie with no Beach Boys music. Dorian Paskowitz , a Stanford Medical graduate drops out to live a surfer’s life and raises nine kids his own way. They have a lot to say about their upbringing in “Surfwise”and it is all fascinating. Especially if you were one of seven kids like I was or the nine that our friend, Brenda was. We ran into Brenda after the movie at the “Gala Night Party” in the Convention Center and she had just gotten over her weeping.

We darted out of the house before the movies to catch the Kentucky Derby on Maureen Outlaw’s big tv. The Kentucky Derby in 1973, the year Secretariat won, was our first date. Steve Hoy drove and we brought a six pack PBR into Churchill Downs with us. Yesterday’s big race lasted all of a minute and the cameras were fixed on “Big Brown” who ran from the outside post to win when the jockey fell off the horse . The cameras quickly turned away while the philly who came in second and then collapsed and was euthanized on the spot making for some weird tv – a little too unscripted for them to even talk about.

Anyway, I started to say I forgot my camera so I missed a good shot at the party of Peggi telling Rita Moreno (Anita) how much she like West Side Story.

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Erosion

Peggi and I started rebuilding a stone wall in our back yard yesterday. It been mostly swallowed up by the hillside. It rained while we were out there but we worked right through it. Brian Williams stopped by and we still kept working. He watched while the conversation turned to taking care of aging parents. There was a harmony to it all.

John Gilmore showed up as Brian was leaving. He had his “Gonzo” t-shirt on. I made a salad and Peggi reheated some beans and greens from the night before. Rick Simpson from across the street popped in. His wife, Monica, was at at a museum conference all week so this gave Rick the opportunity to eat meat. He brought over roasted chicken and pork leftovers from “Su Casa” and we overate before heading out.

Allison Saar’s Show at Rochester Contemporary
Allison Saar’s Show at Rochester Contemporary

We planned to see some art before the movies and were on our way to Jim Mott’s show when Peggi realized she had forgotten the “All Access” movie passes. Back home Peggi got behind the wheel of John Gilmore’s car and we did a repeat trip downtown. There was a beautiful show at RoCo of Alison Saar’s work. Gallery director, Bleu Cease, pointed out the new white on white version of the RoCo logo that we designed for them a few years back.

The movies at the Dryden were running late and we got involved in an absurd crowd control scene before “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”. The editor of the film was there to introduce it so we were tuned into her efforts. She did a sensational job with this meaty, two hour documentary and it flew by. It was a million times better than the Johnny Depp film.

John struck up a conversation with the editor and she invited us to the “Filmmakers After Dark” party at Java’s. They were showing “On The Waterfront” without the sound. We hung around with movie buff/chef, Gerry Brinkman, who owned the Rochester Club and now runs the restaurant on Wellsley Island. He pointed out how Brando could act with only his face.

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Life and Work

Scene outside City Hall for Film Fest Opening Party, High Falls Film Fest Rochester NY
Scene outside City Hall for Film Fest Opening Party, High Falls Film Fest Rochester NY

The Rochester International High Falls Film Festival started on Wednesday night. The Little Theater was one of the locations and there was a good crowd for our Margaret Explosion gig there. Brian Williams from Lumiere and Bobby Henrie & The Goners sat in on bass or the second week in a row. He is so solid I was able to get up and adjust the recorder while we were playing and he didn’t even notice. We have complimentary passes to the movies because we did the “Quick Reference Guide” in exchange. Now all we need is time to go to the movies. Peggi taught her Dreamweaver class last night and I stayed home to paint. We popped into the opening party at City Hall and sampled Gerry Brinkman’s right on tortilla Espanola.

We also get to sponsor a movie. We picked “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” and tonight at 9:45 in the Dryden Theater someone will announce that “this movie is being brought to you by 4D Advertising”. That should drive new customers to our virtual doors.

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American Vs European Impressionism

Raoul Dufy painting "Race Track at Saint-Cloud" from the Memorial Art Gallery of Rochester
Raoul Dufy painting “Race Track at Saint-Cloud” from the Memorial Art Gallery of Rochester

I didn’t even know there was an American Impressionism movement but the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester has mounted a show in the main gallery of such paintings from the Phillips Collection. It is not my cup of tea and I do like tea. My favorite of late is Yogi Tea “Green Tea Rejuvenation”. And I love the European Impressionists.

The MAG has a beautiful small show at the same time in the Lockhart Gallery of Impressionist Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection. Don’t miss this show. There are some real beauties in there that are not normally on display. The Raoul Dufy painting above reminded me of Leo Dodd’s paintings. The Europeans win hands down.

A more interesting contest is the one between Wendell Castle’s clocks and the Midtown clock that he calls “1960s’ kitsch” and “junk”. I like the Midtown one better. Someone has been quietly tidying up MAG’s permanent collection and familiar paintings are shown in new company.

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Floating At The Bug Jar

Jen with Margaret Explosion t-shirt
Jen with Margaret Explosion t-shirt

I was looking for a gimmick to make the Margaret Explosion email announcement at least sort of interesting. Its a stretch when you play almost every week. Then I realized that we’ve been doing this for ten years so I put up a page making that milestone and I added a few new photos. Pete LaBonne came up with the ME name when he and Shelley were house sitting here in 1998. We started playing Friday night happy hours at the Bug Jar and kept that gig for about three years while the band morphed. The lineup has solidified but we’re still trying to morph.

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Musical Eateries

Scott LaFaro and Nick from the Seabreeze Inn in Rochester, NY
Scott LaFaro and Nick from the Seabreeze Inn in Rochester, NY

We did some overeating this weekend while celebrating my birthday. Peggi’s mom took us (we actually took her but she paid) to Mario’s on Monroe Avenue. It’s over the top Italian but well done and the food is sensational. We started with roasted calamari that was light and tender. We asked a few questions about its preparation and our waitress brought the recipe out to the table. They make their own breadcrumbs and lightly batter the squid with lemon, olive oil, Italian parsley (there is a difference) and salt and pepper. They grill it on an open fire for two minutes tops. Mario himself was sitting at the table next to us with his son. They had a fancy glass wine decantor on the table that looked like a bong. Tony and Tony wandered around the room serenading guests on accordion and guitar. They played something for my mother-in-law that only she recognized.

The following night my parents took us to Nick’s on Culver Road up near the lake. I couldn’t decide between the eggpant parm and the manicotti so I asked the waitress if she could split the order. She brought Nick over for clearance. When he gave his approval I did a quick little drum role on the table. Nick asked if I was a drummer. I nodded and he asked who I played with. I said “Margaret Explosion” and he winced.

Nick brought me over to a picture on the wall of him (down front with a big grin) and Scott LaFaro. Scott is center right in the picture above. He played bass on some early Ornette Coleman records and died in a car crash outside Canandaigua when he was 25. Nick managed Club 86 in Geneva during its heyday when Ella Fitzgerald, Louie Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, and Tony Bennett all played there.

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ÚÄÁÒÏ×Á ÚÄÁÒÏ×Á

“Hello man! how are you?”

We have Google handle our email accounts and it does a pretty good job of filtering out the junk but it let this one slip though this morning (my birthday). The above was the extent of it. Thanks. I love it. I am fine. The title of this entry was the subject of the email. Its like an mysterious emotican.

Peggi got up before me and had coffee and a few gifts sitting on my chair. There was a Francis Bacon book, a newsprint sketchpad and a small book of artist’s quotes. I love this one from Otto Dix. “You know, if one paints someones’ portrait, one should not know him if possible. No knowledge! I do not want to know him at all, want to see what is there, the outside. The inner follows by itself. It is mirrored in the visible.”

And our neighbors had a package hanging on our door this morning. It was R. Crumb’s, “Heroes of Blues, Jazz & Country”. It has stopped raining so we are headed out for a walk. Other years we’ve taken rides in the country on this day but we have decided to drive down to NYC as soon as we can find a few days without commitments. There is a Philip Guston “Works On Paper” show opening at the Morgan this Friday that I would love to see.

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Rackaholics Anonymous

Snake in the grass
Snake in the grass

I followed this snake in the woods for a while trying to get a picture. They’re fast. It looks bigger than it actually was. While we were off the trail Peggi found a five point deer rack. I guess some people go out looking for those things. One of our neighbors calls them “rackaholics”. He should know. He is one. He and his wife took a tropical vacation early this Spring and while they were gone he had a surveillance camera set up in the wetlands near his house. He’s a deer watcher and a hunter. When he came back he found some shots of guy with a Rackaholic badge on his jacket looking right into the camera.

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How Do You Do Mr. Lincoln?

We finished a rush job for a guy who kept making changes after accepting our proposal-acceptance form. We hadn’t even made some of the changes when a new email would come in telling us to ignore the last one and do something else instead. The job went way over budget and the guy wanted to make further changes after he gave us the check so I took it right over to the bank. Our branch is right across from the Wegmans on Hudson so I stopped in there to pick up a New York Times.

As I parked the car, I noticed an old man walking between the cars with his groceries. He looked sort of lost. I snagged the paper and came back out and and the guy was still standing there. He had four bags of groceries at his feet and he was clutching a five dollar bill in his hand. He asked if I was driving and I said, “Yeah”. He told me he lived in Seneca Towers on St. Paul. He had a hard time climbing in our Element and I kidded him about it. He told me his nickname was “Hercules” and he was 94 years old and then he launched into a few stories. He worked for the old Rochester Hotel. I grew up here and have no idea where that was. He started as a bus boy and then became a waiter and then a bartender. “The bar only served men in those days”.

He had a hard time hearing me and told me, “My daughter said, ‘Pop, you need a hearing aid’ and he said, ‘What?’ “. He laughed at his own joke. He met a guy at he hotel who was a hobo and they made plans one summer to hop a train. He told me you hop a train at the beginning of a car so when the momentum swings you back you don’t get flung off. They weren’t even to Syracuse when he got a cinder in his eye. They got off there and a pharmacist flushed it out for him. They wound up in Brookline, Massachusetts and bummed around for a while before he realized that kind of life was not for him.

I pulled up in front of Seneca Towers and he tried to give me that five dollar bill again. I said no and shook his hand. He told me one more story. When he was in grade school, a Lieutenant who had served in the Union Army during the Civil War came to speak to their class. He told the kids he had met Lincoln and had shook his hand. So before he left, he shook hands with all of the kids and told them that they could tell their friends that they had shook hands with someone who had shook hands with someone who had shook hands with Abraham Lincoln.

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Itinerant Artists

Fay Victor Ensemble at Bop Shop in Rochester, NY
Fay Victor Ensemble at Bop Shop in Rochester, NY

Peggi started teaching a new round of Dreamweaver classes at the Genesee Center for the Arts last night. I rode downtown with her and then walked over to the Memorial Art Gallery for a lecture by local artist, Jim Mott. He travels the country trading paintings for hospitality and his “Itinerant Artist Project” was featured on the Today show. He talked over a PowerPoint presentation, sometimes talking about one thing while flashing paragraphs of type on the screen that had no relation to what he was talking about. But he had fun with it all and he seems like the the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. His photos and paintings are beautiful. They are small, like 6 by nine, so he can travel with them when they are wet in a plywood case with slots. His landscapes are relaxed and painterly but perfectly readable. There is a nice little slide show on his site.

I met Geri McCormick after the lecture and we went across the street to Village Gate to see Fay Victor and her band. They had just driven up from NYC and they were playing in the atrium outside the Bop Shop. They sounded great here, a little bit like the Art Ensemble with Fontella Bass. Avant and soulful at the same time.

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Just Say Nothing

I have a sticker on my drum case that came from MX-80 some time in the eighties. It reads “Just Say Nothing” and is their take on the “Just Say No” campaign that was so effective in staunching the thirst for drugs. I was reminded of it at our Margaret Explosion gig last night when Peggi suggested that some of us stop while we are playing, just leave some spaces in the music before plugging up all the holes again. We did so in the next song and we got rounds of applause in the two breaks. It is such a simple technique but incredibly effective.

We made up the music in both sets last night. That is, we didn’t play any songs. Some would call it jamming but if it sounds like a jam we consider it a failure. We try to hang melodies on a rhythm and develop and reinforce them in way that makes them sound like a song or at least a musical interlude. So without arrangements we need all the help we can get and this stopping thing works.

It alerts everyone in the room when the color of the sound changes and most importantly it alerts the other players. The space gives us some breathing room to solidify the parts or prompt a change in direction. It allows the person who is sitting out to think about their contribution before jumping back in. And when the other instruments do come back in it is a release for anyone who is listening. We don’t know what we’re doing and that is the whole idea. If we knew what we were doing, we’d be doing songs all the time. Leaving spaces makes it seem like we know what we are doing.

The funny thing about it all is that we don’t have to play any better during the breaks. We don’t really need to solo or anything. All we need to do is have someone stop. In the old days, in previous bands, we would work breaks into our tightly arranged songs and invariably the loudest cheers of the night were when one or two of the instruments stopped. The fist pumping crowd down front loved that stuff. The bass player and clunky drummer would just keep playing exactly what they were playing under the music and the crowd would start cheering just because someone had stopped.

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Long Live Personal Effects

Margaret Explosion photo by Richard Edic
Margaret Explosion photo by Richard Edic. Bernie Heveron is playing bass with the band.

Last week Bernie Heveron sat in on bass for a song with Margaret Explosion. That’s all it took to transform this lineup into Personal Effects. So we did “Big Man” from the PE repertoire. Tom Kohn has scheduled a “Scorgies Reunion” at the German House for November 21th. That was thee club back in the day. We have never had a Margaret Explosion rehearsal but we may need a few for the Personal Effects gig.

Richard Edic took this shot. Bernie wasn’t the only PE bass player. First there was the infamous, Martin Edic and after Bernie there was Robin. She is featured in the video below. And then Martin came back. Margaret Explosion plays tonight at the Little Theater Cafe.

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Magnolias and Golf Balls

Spring blossoms in Durand Eastman Park
Spring blossoms in Durand Eastman Park

We heard the magnolias were out so walked up to the park to see for ourselves. Some of them were already gone and the ground was covered with pedals. The yellow ones are still big buds. We cut through the golf course and found a couple of balls, a Dunlop and a Nike. Would much rather walk around and find golf balls than play that game.

Tonight is the first class of the Spring session of painting. I am excited about that. During the break I finished a few and revisited some paintings that I was not entirely happy with. I tried to make them better but we’ll see what the boss says tonight.

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Everybody in the Pool

There is a pool on a vacant lot on our street with a swimming pool that was built in the mid sixties. Tonight we started our first of two years as pool club presidents. We had a meeting on our deck and decided who’s going to do the lawn this year, who’s going call the power company to turn on the juice and when to open the pool (in three weeks!).

As presidents we get to balance the chemistry. Last year’s president let it get away from her twice and the water turned green. We have a little chemistry kit that we will check the water with and we’ll add chlorine cakes as needed. We also get to make a schedule for what week each neighbor is responsible for skimming the pool and running the underwater vacuum.

Our neighbor, Rick, told me that Bob Mahoney reviewed the Pete LaBonne house concert. He did a lot better job than I did.

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Pass the Courvoisier

We raked the yard and planted some grass seed. It feels like we skipped Spring and shot right into summer. It’s near eighty and dry already. We had dinner with Peggi’s mom out at Richardson’s Canal House, an historic, early 1800s’ inn on the Erie Canal. The new owners are an Austrian couple and the food was great. I had an espresso for dessert and Peggi and her mom had a Courvoisier like Busta Rhymes. I had to tell my mother-in-law which way to turn when she got off the elevator to her apartment. Peggi helped her get her PJs on. I felt like we were watching a sneak preview of our later years.

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Vinyl Is Better

Dancing at party after the concert.
Dancing at party after the concert.

Pete LaBonne’s performance in our living room was nothing short of amazing. Peggi and I have been singing “You’re a hundred monkeys typing on the bottom of my heart” all morning. We had about twenty people here. Peggi made banana nut bread and I made my best yet of hummus. We videoed the performance and will have something on YouTube soon. Just have to clear a few legal hurdles.

And just as I was extolling the virtues of our newly digitized music collection, iTunes froze up on me. It was about two minutes into Sly and Family Stone’s, “Sex Machine”and the dance floor was full. While I rebooted I played a forty five that had been sitting on the turntable for the last few weeks, “Hot Chocolate’s Don’t Turn It Off (I Kinda Like It)”. Damn did that sound good. Full and warm, not cold and digital. That may have been the number that got people taking turns dancing on our coffee table.

An article in yesterday’s NYT said today is Record Store Day. It coincides with the Grand Opening of Record Archives’ new store in Rochester. There are a bunch of bands playing there and we head over there. Might pick up some vinyl.

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Record Mode

Pete LaBonne Invitation
Pete LaBonne House Concert Invitation

Pete and Shelley are here so we decided to follow in Rick Simpson’s footsteps and have a house concert. Show time is 40 minutes away. Some of the email invites went out only a few hours ago. We’ll see who shows up. Two guests are already here. The sun will be setting behind Pete LaBonne when he hits the stage in our living room. We have the Sony mini disc in record mode and Peggi plans on videoing.

The Stones movie was sensational. The sound was better than any concert or movie I have ever been too. This was the first movie we’ve seen at the Imax theater in Gates. We had the best seats in the house for the 9:40 show and felt like we sitting on the stage. Mick was in full aerobics mode and the band looked was clearly having as good a time as we were.

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