introducing… The Reflexologists

UPDATE: we just added David Moyer, who plays baritone sax/tenor sax/flute for Breakestra, so this group is gonna be ridiculous!
UPDATE AGAIN!: we just added David Bautista, trumpet player for Breakestra. We have a horn section now!!!
reflexologyWhat do get when you put together the bass player from rising soul singer Van Hunt‘s band, with the guitarist, the trumpet player, and the tenor sax/baritone sax/flute player from Breakestra?  And then add myself, plus another really talented jazz guitarist?  Hopefully, an amazingly funky and soulful band.  Come see for yourself this Wednesday Feb 25th at a bar & lounge called NEOMEZE, in the heart of Old Town Pasadena.  It’s a really relaxing, swanky joint with great food and a nice selection of beer on draft.  And NO COVER!

Wednesday, February 25
The Reflexologists funk/soul collaboration
@ NEOMEZE Bar & Lounge
20 E. Colorado Blvd. Ste. 102, Pasadena, CA 91105
this is my new project, featuring bassist JP Maramba (Van Hunt, L’Esprit d’Afrique), guitarist Patrick Bailey (Breakestra), saxophonist/flautist David Moyer (Breakestra), trumpeter David Bautista (Breakestra), guitarist Christian Wunderlich, and yours truly on drums
relax at a classy lounge and dance to some funky music!
9pm-12midnight • NO COVER!

With influences ranging from James Brown, the Meters, Fela Kuti, Lee Morgan, and the Dap-Kings, we are gonna get your toes tapping for sure.  Hope you can make it!  Please, tell friends about this because if we get a good turnout we might become a resident band here.

Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm  Comments (2)  

next stop… Minyo Station

minyo_station2Last year I wrote a post about my inadvertent discovery of Minyo, a style of Japanese folk music, through an old record I got from a garage sale–and my subsequent realization that a friend of mine is in a band called Minyo Station, a “progressive folk music” band that fuses Minyo with jazz, rock, and reggae.

Well, as it turns out, I’m playing in the band now.  And we have a show this Saturday at 7:30pm in San Pedro.

Actually, I should say “concert” rather than “show,” because this isn’t just a quick set of music at some club; no, this is the whole shebang.  Two sets with an intermission, a full ensemble featuring traditional singers, folk dancers, and shamisen section, guest instrumentalists, and even a workshop before the show where you can learn folk dances from different regions of Japan.

What’s most interesting and unique about Minyo Station is that it is totally unlike other “fusion” groups that incorporate Western and Asian musical influences.  Usually it’s a matter of simply putting Asian instrumentation and/or melodies on top of a pre-existing style like jazz, funk, rock, etc.  But with Minyo Station, it’s almost exactly the reverse–instead, the base of the music is Japanese folk songs and the Western instrumentation and harmonies are added on top.  Because of this it’s been a real challenge for me to learn the music—the rhythmic structure, harmonic movement, and song forms are so different than what I’ve grown up listening to (but it seems to come naturally to the shamisen players!).  The experience has really helped me grow as a musician, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with others, so if you have a chance, check us out on Saturday!

Saturday, February 21
Minyo Station
@ The Grand Annex
434 W. 6th St. San Pedro, CA 90731
Concert: 7:30pm
$15.00 pre-sale / $20.00 at the door
Workshop: 5:00pm – $10.00 (Learn folk dances from different regions of Japan)

Published in: on February 20, 2009 at 4:17 am  Leave a Comment  

mixtape time

asfomixtape_covercopy-1The A Song For Ourselves mixtape is now available for free download right here.  It features exclusive tracks from Bambu, Kiwi, and Geologic of Blue Scholars, plus a lil’ ol’ track produced by yours truly.  Get it while it’s hot!  I got a nice shout out from Tad on his blog too.  Oh, and if you plan on attending the film premeire/concert (Sat Feb 28th) he is encouraging everyone to buy tix beforehand since it may sell out.  The easiest way to buy tickets is online here or over the phone (213-680-3700).

Published in: on February 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

choking under pressure

heimlichSometimes I wish there was a heimlich maneuver for the mind.  Many a time I’ve sat down to play a gig that was very important to me, and my nerves have gotten the better of me.  It’s a sucky feeling–one that I’d say almost everyone has felt before, and I think this article in Scientific American on “Choking Under Pressure” is of special interest to other performing artists.

I think I’ve slowly gotten better, learned to calm my mind and focus at those critical moments.  One breakthrough for me came when I realized that when you practice, you should not only practice the material you’re trying to learn, but also the mental state you want to be in when you’re performing it.  So I started to change my practice habit; I would not only focus on the notes I’m playing, but on my breathing, my posture, the tension in my muscles, and my mental state.  It’s not easy.  Paying attention to all those things, while simultaneously reading synchopated rhythms and orchestrating them in all four limbs is not really something the human mind was set up to do naturally.  Being hyper-aware like this is essentially the goal of meditation, and conceptualizing practice in this way has been an important change for me.   They definitely don’t teach you this in band class.

Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 11:16 am  Leave a Comment  

those clever Aussies

I know that Bret and Jemaine would take offense, but I can’t help but have a similar affection for another musical duo from that sector of the globe (Australia, not New Zealand): a group called Empire of the Sun.  They’re not a comedy act though; they are two musicians who make electronic pop, and one of them sings.  Their debut album was released late last year, and to me it sounds like the soundtrack to my favorite 80s movie that I never new I had.  Awesome.  Here’s their new video for “We Are The People,” one of my favorite tracks on the album.

To seal the deal, their amazing album cover looks like a movie poster circa 1985! I love how these guys have their own costumes and faux mythology.

Published in: on February 12, 2009 at 2:24 am  Leave a Comment