Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Day The Music Died

Yes, the music business is suffering, but ya know what's worse - the people are suffering - including and especially the musicians.  First, with fewer and fewer places to play, many talented (and of course non talented) guys and girls went away - got day jobs, "real" jobs.  Next, how 'bout the youngsters, who now have nowhere to learn their craft.  When I was first starting out, back in 1980, there were tons of places for us to play, learn how to be in front of an audience, how to play with other players (some learned this, others didn't, but...).  So, we have the ever greedy club owners, the agents who are so full of themselves that they don't know which way is up, the envy ridden, throat cutting musicians, and now, the current finanicial fiasco putting even more nails in the coffin.  As if that's not enough, the entertainment people who are in place - the ones managing the clubs, restaurants, and casinos, not knowing up from down when it comes to entertainment - these guys will hire the act who has the biggest line of crap, the most third person B.S.all over the internet, and who are the greasiest, most self indulgent numbskulls out there.  So, again, any talented artists, young or old, who might be out there, they see the corruption, the nonsense, and how it's damn near impossible to work in the music business, so they get out of the business, go get day jobs, and the result is, we, the listeners are deprived of real music, having the music industry's crap shoved down our throats, not to mention what any talented artist must go through.  On that, many artist types don't function so well in society - in the "normal" work force - they cannot deal with workplace bullying, or working directly with the public, much of whom are snippy, angry, aggressive, and just plain mean.

The music industry bigwigs have always been ass backwards, signing "artists" and bands who will jump on any and all bandwagons, trying desperately to be hip and cool.  It has never ceased to amaze me, the mind numbing stupidity of A & R guys (formerly known as talent scouts), and record executives, who are in some bizarre way, attracted to the hip and the cool - ever how phony these acts may be.  Most or all artists and bands worth their salt accomplished what they did in spite of the record companies, not because of them.

It's been said that the internet is the answer, but the music part of the internet is still in its infant stage - where it's very difficult for a listener to find decent music, having to filter through all the self serving crap that every wannabe, and every wannabe's brother, sister, cousin, aunty, and uncle are putting out there.  So, for the time being, the music business is suffering horribly, as are the artists and the listeners.  We go to the clubs and the restaurants, we see burned out hippies, and burned out rednecks, who no longer care about what they do, howling into their microphones, and slopping through their mindless guitar scales; we go to the casinos and must endure lounge lizards from hell.

I don't have any answers, because people will always be who they are, the ruthless and the horrible aspiring to positions of power, while the decent dwell in society as is dicated by said ruthless and horrible, and the world continues to spiral downward.

If you have answers, I'm listening.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pathetic Little Men, Part II

Well, it's been two months now, I've done a few little shows, nothing big, just a little show here and a little show there, but that's how it starts.

Since I last posted about pathetic little men, I have , of course, run into a few more.  I was in a mall, and saw one of those 10 minute massage kiosks, so I paid my $10, and this big Greek looking guy worked on me.  He did a good job, and I ended up going to him a couple more times, and talking with him while he worked.  I made the mistake of telling him I played music for a living.  He said he knew some people, so I told him I'd pay him for his connections, should anything become of them.  As is the case with some people, this guy has the uncanny ability to run into people, a couple of them being some Hawaiian musicians that just happened to be in the same casino, at the same time, at a table just inches away from where he was.  He got to talking to them, then called me frantically to get me to talk to one of them.  I met with him (the massage guy, Greg) one day, after he invited himself, at which time he proceeded to tell me who to email, what to say, and what to send.  Lucky for me, I didn't actually send any of the emails, because it was obvious the guy had no idea what he was talking about, he just wanted to establish his superiority.  He proceeds to call me 5, 6, 8 times a day for the next couple of weeks, and I, of course, quit answering or returning his calls, but not before he gets me in touch with these Hawaiian musicians.  I go to one of their rehearsals, they ask me if I'd be interested in playing bass, I said I could for a while - till I started to work on my own - my solo.  A couple of days after the rehearsal, one of the other guys - Henry, calls me to ask if I'd work with him doing a back yard luau, I of course, said I would.  I get to the place, and the first thing this guy does is tell me how he has played with all the "big stars" in Hawaii - every one of 'em, all his life.  We finally get on the stage, he sings 3 or 4 songs, while the guy who hired us is yelling for Hawaiian falsetto.  Henry asks me if I know any, so I did "I Kona".  Well, I guess Henry didn't like me doing that, because he tried to sing over the top of me through the whole song - even though he didn't know the song.  After that - for the duration of that gig - about 3 straight hours, the only time I sang is when he had to go deal with his granddaughter - who was supposed to dance hula for the show, but was hung over.  He had to leave the stage 4 times.  So, I would start to sing, he would go to his car where his granddaughter was - which was about a hundred yards away, talk to her, come back the hundred yards to the stage, and start to sing over the top of me - all in a matter of about 30 seconds.  Now, this is a 60 year old guy who I'll be damned if he didn't make all that distance in professional football player speed.  As I said, the green faced little bastard apparently didn't like me singing.  I guess I should mention here that he's one of those guys who knows parts of many songs - a verse, maybe a chorus, sings them over and over, pretending to know the song.  Between that, his voice lacking any kind of good, and his Strat copy that he must've bought at WalMart being horribly out of tune the whole night, made for an embarrassing night for me.  So, at the next rehearsal, I confront this numbskull in front of the whole band.  They scold him a little, but then they proceed to let him get his way - positioning himself to take over the band - and it wasn't even his band, the other two guys brought him in.  As if that's not enough, the band had already asked me to play at this anniversary event for a Hawaiian food joint here, which I said I'd do.  Well, after I'd been going to their rehearsals, Henry decides to bring in his son in law at the last minute, and the guys in the band let him do it.  That was enough, I pulled out of the band, so much for that.

Next, I'm trying to get into some of the casinos here.  Long story short, Gary Raffanelli, a poster boy for the lounge lizards from hell, gets on the phone and proclaims his superiority, his "accomplishments", and his priceless "critique" - for which he charges $95 an hour - so he claims.  At one point, he got told to quit being a smartass, slowed him down for a minute, but he picked it right back up.  Thankfully, he's nobody I really need to deal with.  Oh yeah, he has a few websites on the internet where he uses the third person trick to congratulate, glorify, and worship himself.

On a slightly different note, and I lifted this from my son's Facebook page - most or all guys who drive full size pickup trucks drive like idiots - this can't be a coincidence.  As I've said many times, the bigger and noisier the machine, the smaller and less functional the body parts.  Add the goatee and baseball cap, and you have a genuine pathetic little redneck who is in a rage because he can't... well, you know.

Ok, done for now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Blasphemy, I Tell You...

Thank you, Lord, for sending those people to kill those four Americans in Libya last night. While I'm thinking about it, thank you for sending us those murderers who killed 3000 innocent people 11 years ago, and thank you so much for orchestrating the millions of deaths that all those people had to endure in all those senseless wars in the history of the world. Also, thank you for allowing the thousands of people, including men, women, and children, just yesterday across the planet, to die horrible deaths from disease, starvation, car accidents, and violence. Thank you, almighty God, for all the freaks of the world who are molesting little boys and girls as I write this, ruining the lives of these innocent little people. And last but not least, let's all thank God for half the football fans this past Monday, who lost their football games, whose teams did not pray hard enough to get what they wanted.

Most will see this as mocking and ridiculing, and proba
bly blasphemous. For me, what's blashpemous is the constant denial of reality, the defending and excusing of evil and evil people. I detest all those clever cliches that are designed to keep us quiet, to keep us thinking that we should be thankful for all the abuses that the evil people of the world are forcing onto us, and/or to keep us looking at all the "good" things, while ignoring the bad. This continues to work very well for such people - the parasites of the world.

So, for those of you who see Monday Night Football and your Budweiser as being the most important part of your life, go back to what you were doing, and just let this crap continue. And, for those of you who mindlessly enjoy your daily bible thumping sessions, get right back on that, because it's worked so well all throughout history in solving the problems of the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shoddy Work On My Precious Guitar And Banjo

If you look at the first five frets (starting at the top), when you get to the sixth, you can see the difference in size - the sixth and all the rest after are much narrower.
The biggest gouge in the binding (the white stuff) is under the second fret.  It's hard to see the others, but they are all gouged and/or chipped.
My Telecaster - homemade - bought the parts from Warmoth, hardware from various dealers, and put it all together, about $1000+ worth - it's beautiful.  I also have a Wildwood Artist 5 string banjo - made by Mark Platin, handmade, it is easily the best sounding, best feeling, and best looking banjo I've ever seen or heard, I paid $1600 new - from one of Wildwood's dealers, these banjos now go for about $2600.  A couple of months ago, I took these two precious instruments to Terry Scott's All String Repair for partial refrets - needing the first five frets replaced.

First let me tell you what he did to my guitar.  Besides replacing the first five frets, which actually wasn't too bad, he decided he needed to "shim" the string nut - meaning he put what appears to be a vinyl strip under it.  It looks like he cut the string grooves with a chainsaw - it looked ridiculous, and the B string groove was at the wrong angle, so I had to take my fish hook file and fix it.  You do NOT shim a nut as a permanent fix, you might do that to get through a night, but you do not do that as a permanent fix, you replace it.  I later replaced the string nut, and now it's fine.

Now, the banjo:  When I first took it in, I asked him straight, "Do you have the proper fret wire for this banjo, because the last refret I got (on a different banjo), the guy put on bigger frets, and I don't want that, I want the same sized frets that are on there".  He replied, "Oh yeah, I do banjos all the time".  So, three weeks later, I go to pick up my instruments.  I notice the guitar nut looks nasty, but I didn't say anything.  When I took the banjo out of the case, the first thing I noticed was the huge frets.  I said, "Why are there big frets on here?".  He replied, "Oh, I did that on purpose", and proceeded to give a big, long, cockamamie explanation about why he did that.  I happen to know a little about fretted instruments, setup, etc., and let me tell you, his explanation was pure bullshit.  I took the banjo home, and it sat in the case for the past 3 weeks or so, I haven't been able to even look at it, let alone, think about playing it.  Well, today I took it to a luthier to see how much it would cost to fix the mess that Mr. Scott made of my precious banjo.  He looked it over, saw the horrid work, and then pointed out that the binding on the underside of the fingerboard had been badly gouged and chipped - something I didn't notice before.  I also could then see that the frets were not flush in the slots, and not cut to the same length.  He said he could do a complete refret, and make the binding look better than it is - for $500 or so.  He recommended, though, that I send it back to the original luthier to get the neck replaced.  I've decided that I will do that - send it to Mark Platin in Bend, Oregon to have the neck replaced - a $900 job.  I of course, don't have that kind of money right now, so it's gonna have to wait.  After I left the shop of the second luthier today, I went straight to Mr. Scott's shop to show him his shitty work, and to tell him what I thought of it.  As expected, he tried to make excuses, tried to give me his dumbass explanations, but I stopped him and told him not to insult me with any of it.  He said, "I'm sorry, let me fix it, let me make it right".  I replied, "Think about it, if you took your precious guitar to a guy, and he did THIS (pointing to the gouged binding and messed up fret job), would YOU put it back in the hands of that guy???".  He kept insisting that I leave it with him so he could "make it right", but I told him there was no way in hell I was leaving ANY of my instruments with somebody who would do THAT (again pointing to the gouges and the screwed up frets) to an instrument.  He didn't offer to pay, or even help pay for the damage he did.  I reported this numbskull to the Better Business Bureau - for all the good that will do, and if I can find the receipts, I'll be taking him to Small Claims Court.  As if the previously mentioned damage wasn't enough, he had also cranked the thumbscrew on the Keith tuners so tight (with a screwdriver, when you are only supposed to lightly tighten them with your fingers), that if I would have tried to use them, they would have likely been broken - and these are $300 Bill Keith banjo tuners.  Yes, there's more.  The fifth string nut - the little bone peg with the slot in it for the fifth string - he broke it and glued it back together - so I'll also have to replace that.

Before all of this, my plan was to continue practicing on the banjo, to get my playing back up to par, so I could get started recording my bluegrass/folk CD as soon as possible, but thanks, Universe, for once again screwing things up for me.  And, the first son of a bitch who says this is somehow MY fault gets the ass whipping of his goddam life.

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