Interesting few days… I’m tired!

Sorry for not writing in a while. I’ve been running around quite a lot these last few days! One big thing, is that my girlfriend started up at SDSU again, so I’ve been kind of taking care of things at home. But the main thing is that I’ve been out there trying to pound the pavement and scare up a few gigs in this dismal economy. Here’s how it shook out.

On Sunday, I decided that I would head up to Disneyland on Monday in order to see if I can grab some sub spots, talk to some people, etc… For those of you who haven’t heard, I was hired as a cast member in September, but with the economy crash in October and November, no one has called me in since I’ve been hired. I guess no one wants to sub out, and so they are sticking with their jobs. I had heard that with the crash, Disney had to let some of their musicians go, and move a bunch to sub status. Also, some of the shows have been cut back from 7 days a week to 5.

So that same day (Sunday) I was perusing Craigslist for gigs here in the San Diego area. I found one up in Escondido and applied for it immediately. Didn’t hear back from them on Sunday at all…. oh well. Monday comes, and I head up to Disneyland to see what’s going on. I meet my buddy and he talks about how there’s a big hiring freeze as well as a training freeze going on. Not good news. Anyway, he tells me to go talk to some of the piano players and see if I can get scheduled.

I met Michael Pollock – super nice guy working Coke Corner on Main Street. He gave me a lot of pointers, including a tip about a cast-member-only audition on the 10th of February. I guess they want a piano player or guitar player for some show they’re opening up. They want good music (check), good singing (ya ok check), and comedy skills (huh? not so much check)…. I also talked with Richard Gere (no not the actor); he’s the piano player for the Hook & Ladder firehouse band, also a super nice guy. Both he and Michael, I would love to sub for… that would be ideal, to keep me open for other things. I have a feeling that if I were to grab this other audition spot, it would be a full-time roll, which I’m not sure I want just yet. I’m really not sure. I’ll be going over that in my head in the next week or so!

So after hanging out with these people, I go back to my car and get a message from Escondido. They want me to come in on Tuesday night to audition. OK Great… So I go up there, and it’s sort of weird. Really nice people own the joint, and they had me play for like half an hour. Usually auditions don’t last that long, but I suppose it made my trip worthwhile, as it’s quite a drive. Unfortunately, the business end of things didn’t go so well. The owner wants me to get back to him as to whether or not I’m interested in the gig, but he had me come audition. The pay is not what I’d expected, especially if they want me to sing a lot. Plus he wants me for Friday AND Saturday nights, and if I can’t make both, he won’t book me for that weekend. So I’m probably going to say no to that one.

However, I was definitely destined to make that trip, because I ran into Joel Reese from Nashville (yet another super-nice guy), and he had his family at the restaurant. He really liked what he heard me doing, and is putting me in touch with an agency out of Beverly Hills that does big corporate shows with opening acts. So that’s really exciting! Seems like all these little good things keep popping up.

On top of all this, on a more local level, some of you know that I’ve been trying to grab some dates at the Hotel Del Coronado and the Westgate Hotel. Well, it looks like the Del wheeled its piano out of the lounge, and they’re making way for a sports-bar atmosphere. It’s really sad, because that was such a classy little spot. So that’s out. I found out that the Westgate is owned by the same person who owns Sinclair Oil and the Sun Valley Resort. That is a tough spot to get a gig because all the nights are already covered. What I need to do, though, is talk to my friend, Joe Fos, who lives up in Sun Valley and has been playing the Duchin Room for the last 30 years. I think he may know the owner, and perhaps he can help me out with that. I have to call him there while he’s working. Maybe tonight. I need to go scope out the Gaslamp District a little more for some places to play. I’m going to get a gig if it kills me!

So as you can all see, I’m at a crossroads as far as what to do. I think I’ll just go after all of them and see what happens. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Carpe Diem… bye everyone!

P.S. Oh incidentally, I’ll be up in Sacramento next thursday from the 5th to the 8th playing around town. Also I just signed up to do the Rogue Festival in Fresno with the Karen Marguth Quartet on the 28th of Feb. and the 1st of March! See you all there!


Went to Sacramento Today…

Today was an interesting day. As some of you may or may not know, I was nominated and appointed to the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Foundation back in September. Today was the first of three meetings that we will have his year. The January meeting is extremely important because it is when we disperse funds for jazz education in youth programs, namely the jazz camp at which I teach.

I hate early mornings, but today’s early morning was one of the most pleasant I’ve had in a while. I actually got to spend the morning with Denise before she went off to work. So that made it all better. I managed to make it to the airport with plenty of time to catch my flight.

This gave me time to people watch, which I love to do. Wanna know what I saw the most? Women with those stupid suede boots over their jeans!! People, we live in a temporate climate!! Is this your way of pretending that we have cold winters?? It’s a very ugly way to do that. Don’t get me started!

I boarded the plane and we were off. The head flight attendant had plans for me, though. I promptly ordered myself a cranberry juice, which he kindly brought to me. However, he thought it would be cute if he brought me two more without asking. First of all, it wasn’t cranberry, but cran-apple, which I hate because it upsets my stomach. Second of all, here I was with three cups of something that I don’t want to waste (I hate wasteful people). Well, I don’t have to tell you that I drank all three like the sap that I am. Then came the time to visit the lavatory. Well ol’ John was ready for me. He had written something on a paper towel and stuck it to the lavatory door. It read, “Reserved for Jason, he drinks a lot” I have to admit that his well-conceived plan was clever, if not mildly annoying. I laughed and wondered how many people he had done this to already, and how long it was going to be before he lost his job. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I was an entertainer, and that he would never find me passing out peanuts to the audience at any of my gigs. I wanted so bad to remind him that he was a flight attendant, and that he should just stick to that and leave the comedy for the “by night” half of his ego.

Anyway, enough of that. My mom picked me up and I drive her to work, so I could use her car. I drove around to some of my old stomping grounds, since I had some time before the meeting started. That was pretty fun.

Ok the meeting. Dispersal of funds. All that. Well, I learned today that with the tight economy crunch, even our foundation was not immune. We lost a lot. But our broker, once he arrived, (we all think he was hiding from us) said that we are well positioned, which is encouraging. Needless to say, there was a battle about how much funding we should allocate for the youth programs, but the point was raised by me and others that the foundation exists yes to be feduciarily responsible, but its main task is to provide funding for the kids to have a good experience. This sentiment was shared by all and soon the “ayes” came. The full 5%, and then some, was agreed upon, which is a considerable amount. The next year is going to be tough. Although, I also hear that the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee is doing a pretty good job of planning this year, so it should be pretty good. They managed to get the Count Basie band for a special engagement the night before. This brought up the question of fund-raising. The first serious steps are being made in this direction. The president is going to appoint a committee for it. I think this will help a lot this year.

Meeting adjourned, and home I went. I sat around the house and hung with my sister, which is always a good time. She really is one of the sharpest people, and definitely the best sister anyone could have. I pet the cats; Jazz is soooo big now. I remember when he was a kitten. There are some pictures in my picture section of him.

She and I went to go pick up my our mom from work and had dinner out. We talked about he usual things, focusing mostly on the coming weeks. I’m coming back up in February for some gigs.

Overall, I had a great time, and now I’m writing my blog on my iPhone from the plane. I seem to have this ability to scare people away from me, as I always have a vacant seat next to me on planes. I think I saw someone sitting in another’s lap because they didn’t want to sit by me. Am I that scary? Really? I watched them all walk by: business guy, fat mom with the whiny brat she can’t control, Renaissance traveler, college visitor, crazy lady pretending to be an incognito movie star; maybe I’m just too normal. Ha!!!  Anyway, we are going to land soon, and I am not going to order any drinks, or use the lavatory. Can’t wait to get home and be with my sweetie!

See you all soon! And btw please feel free to leave comments on my blogs. The ability to do so is there for a reason. I love hearing from you all!


Happy Inauguration Day…

Well, it’s out with the old, and in with the new as of today. Washington certainly put on a great show, and the media sure was there to cover it! Our new president gave a fantastic speech, but I think that his humble demeanor was what shone through the most. I think that the subtext to his speech was even more compelling than the actual words he had to say. What made it so meaningful for me, was that, unlike most presidents, President Obama has accepted that he is only a single person, and that he cannot completely personify us all as America by himself. No one person can. It is an impossibility. What makes America, is not its single leader, nor its house or senate, nor its justice system. America is what it is because of all of us.

I think it’s hilarious that people have been saying things lately like, “Wow the president sure has a big job ahead of him.” Since when do we rely on one person to fix all of our problems? Is that the American way? If we put that much trust in anyone, especially someone who doesn’t know us personally, of course we will be disappointed. What these people should be saying is, “Wow, with this new president, WE have a big job ahead of US if we want to achieve the things he believes we can do together.” I do admire the enthusiasm that so many people throughout our country are expressing about having our new leader. I admit that he is probably the most exciting figure in that position we’ve had in a long time! However, I just can’t share in this enthusiasm because no matter what a leader sets out to achieve, it’s really all for nothing if everyone in the country continues to behave the same way they always have. We as a people, have always condemned our leaders for their bad points, and praised them for their good points, but we do not put ourselves under the same kind of scrutiny. If we are truly equal, then we must all start with ourselves. And I think that the subtext of President Obama’s Inaugural Address today was one of humility, encouraging us all to be a little bit self-deprecating, that the state of the country is due to our own behavior. We are the ones that make it happen, not our leaders. They merely act as a guide, and generally are too busy playing the political game to truly be interested in or worried about us. Definitely an encouraging day!

My favorite part of the day, of course, was John Williams’ Air and Simple Gifts, performed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Anthony McGill. I’m sure that John can say a few thank-yous to Aaron Copland for inspiration, but what he did with that piece is truly astounding. He made a quartet sound like a chamber ensemble. Did anyone notice how full the piece sounded? Perlman truly made a very difficult violin part seem effortless, and Yo-Yo surely put his usual uber-passion into the piece. I hope it got recorded, and that it will be available somewhere for purchase. If it is, it will be an instant hit, and I will be very jealous. However, they deserve even more recognition than that would bring. They have devoted so many years to the craft. I only hope that Quincy Jones’ petition for the President to create a Secretary of the Arts position will pass, but it probably won’t.

Interestingly, many people, including the media, have pointed out profusely the beauty and “American-ness” that the quartet itself was so racially diverse. Ladies and gentleman, as some of you may have read in my Facebook, musicians have been tearing down racial barriers for many more years than most people think. To us, it’s about making good music. Why do you think that two musicians, who cannot understand each other due to a language barrier, can still make music together. It’s probably because we don’t care that we are from different cultures. Our culture is music, and that is what binds us all together.

So anyway, inaugural luncheon, parade, inaugural ball… blah blah blah… No I’m not interested in who does First Lady Obama’s wardrobe. I’m not too interested in the First Children, as they were totally rude during Air and Simple Gifts, talking away like they were at some kind of ice cream social. I certainly don’t care for the spectacle of it all, especially because the American people are whooping and hollering for joy today, and then basically say, “OK Barack, go to work tomorrow and fix it all. Let us know when you have it all hacked out.” and go about their ways tomorrow. If we spend the next four years stagnant as a nation, then it’s our own fault, just as it always is.

Enough for now, get out and do something meaningful! See you tomorrow!

Good Weekend…

Well this weekend was tres interesting… Had a fantastic time… ate some good food… But here’s the lowdown:

Went to Sea World on Saturday! You all know how much I love animals. Well, it’s definitely my kind of place! Bat Rays are kind of slimy feeling, and Moray eels look like they should be in an insane asylum. The dolphin show was amazing, and I’d like to talk about it more, but I don’t want to give it away. Although, I will say that the mega-high-mecca-hiny-ho stratosphere-jumping Dolly is still the star of the show after all these years. I wonder how old she is these days. Either that or perhaps they just name each new, extremely talented dolphin Dolly. Kind of like Mickey Mouse; he’s 80 years old, but he doesn’t look a day over 17. I was a tad disappointed that the small pilot whales didn’t make an appearance in the dolphin show that day. I guess they just weren’t wanting to perform. I know how that is sometimes… I saw an otter carrying a can of Pepsi and walking on its hind legs. But probably the coolest part was that there was a pet show: dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs, etc, that was made up entirely of rescues and strays. How cool is that?! Anyway that was all cool, and was followed by some fabulous Greek food…

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time working on my car stereo… For those of you who are curious, I’ll try not to get too in-depth that it gets super boring, but here’s the gist. I love having music in my car. I also want to be able to make my music system versatile. Making it versatile, like putting in GPS and all that stuff is super expensive. So I figured out some other ways. I love Apple computers, so I figured I’d put a Mac Mini in my car someday. I found that there are a great deal of people who have done it themselves, but it takes a lot of planning and troubleshooting. However, it’s worth it, because it’s nowhere near the thousands of dollars that can be spent on getting a ton of equipment to do what you want. It’s all a matter of having one thing, and then just adding software. Cool huh? Anyway I am still in the audio stage, trying to get it tweaked right. My system had this symptom where it would just scream this high-pitched squeal out of nowhere. It’s murder on the concentration when trying to drive. Long story short, (too late) I spent yesterday finding out that my deck can’t deliver a hot enough signal to my amp, and so I had to turn my amp up way too high, which caused the overdriving (squeal). So it looks like I won’t be using the audio from the deck. I’ll probably come straight out of the computer itself. The sound quality will be better anyway. Work in progress…

All in all, I’m a very lucky guy today. Today, I was installing an arm lamp for my girlfriend. The installation was super simple… mounted the arm, put the reflector on, screwed in the bulb, turned it on. Click! Click! The bulb didn’t light… Ok shut everything off… The bulb obviously wasn’t seated in the socket properly. Went to unscrew it. It resisted. Turned a little harder, and CRASH!! the bulb just shattered in my hand!! My immediate jerk response was, “Uh oh, there went my hand! So much for trying to get gigs!” Thankfully, I only suffered small nicks that you can’t even see. But it could have been really bad! So ya… lucky me. I had a lot of cleaning up to do after that. Finally got the bulb out, and put another one in. It works great two panic attacks later! Haha… Glad someone is watching over me! It’s funny, I Twittered what had happened, and about 5 minutes later my mom emails me. Guess she comes to this site a lot. Word travels fast that way! See now, if you were all on Twitter, you could have found out, and not had to wait for this blog! Get with the program you guys!

OK That’s enough for now… enjoy the swearing in tomorrow! I’m sure I’ll have something to say about that.

Wow craziness!!

Alright, yesterday was nothing short of disastrous! So I finally go to push the big red button to make the new website live, and then waited a few minutes. It looked like everything was changed over perfectly! So I got super excited and then proceeded to tell everyone I knew about the site. Go visit it now it’s live, I said! Well, either I had way too much traffic, or I just made my announcement a little prematurely. For those of you who were having problems with the site, here’s my theory:  It seemed that it takes a while to transfer and update a site to a domain, I guess up to 24-48 hours. So some of you may have gotten the old site, some the new, some just a missing page… I apologize for the inconvenience!

Anyway, thank you to all who came and checked things out right away! I received a flood of text messages yesterday, which was completely awesome! So nice to touch base with all of you! Thank the heavens for unlimited texts! I think I heard my iPhone panting at the end of the day.

Also, I went out to the South Park Bar and Grill in San Diego last night to do a little jamming. However, the host, JJ, didn’t show up. He usually brings the keyboard in. So needless to say, I didn’t get to play. It’s good to see live music supported so well though. So anyway, I’m sitting there drinking my 7 ‘n’ 7, and guess who walks in?  None other than Gilbert Castellanos himself. He’s a pretty heavy hitter down here, and gets to do things like play Lincoln Center in NY. I’ve been wanting to play for him for a while, and didn’t get the chance. I know that he can get me better hooked up in the area. Maybe if I go back in two weeks, he’ll be there again. Doubt it. Guess I’ll have to hit up the Onyx Room pretty soon.

Anyway, off to go work on my car! L8r g8rs!

Well, here goes nothin’!!

Ok, I’ve been hard at work on revamping this site, and I think it’s finally ready to go live!! Bye bye old site… time to ring in the new and improved!!  I’m scared!  Hope you all love it! I’m just wondering if I can keep it updated enough for all of you to keep coming back!!  My life isn’t THAT exciting, but I’ll try to flood this site with ridiculousness… well at least there will always be something to read. Blog blog blog… here I go!!

I’m pushing the big red button now! Hope my world doesn’t explode!!! Make sure to buy lots of copies of “Recital!”

See you all on the other side! Have fun!

Animals Rock!

The bestest cat ever!

Seems like animals just have this ability to sense when you’re having a bad day. The just seem to know when to come around and remind you that they’re there for you. Either that, or they are just looking for a snack… Who knows how they do it. Not that I’m having a particularly bad day today… It’s just one of those blah days, and somehow the dog and the two cats are just keeping me company extra specially today.

I remember my cat, we called her “Kitty” just because we’d never had a cat before, and she would end up being the epitome of all things cat. Anyway, she had this ability like no other animal I’ve ever seen. She came around the exact moment that she was needed by anyone having a bad day. It was absolutely uncanny! Her predecessor, Jazz, can do it too, but it must be admitted that in comparison to Kitty, he has ritardando in his brain… But, every animal has its own personality, their own unique stamp on your life. The only problem that I’ve ever had with having pets is that they never live as long as I will. However, saying goodbye is part of life, and it is something we all must learn to do. But I will say that anyone who thinks these animals don’t have a soul is crazy!