For the last few months (since I started a new job that I love), I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz. For the first time in a long time, I work in an office where I can listen to whatever music I want at (more or less) any volume I want. It’s been fun. For about a week, I only listened to Daryl Hall and John Oates early-to-mid 80s songs. I’m a child of the 80s; what can I say?

But, I have been also listening to a lot of jazz, mostly bebop and cool jazz, mostly from the 50s and 60s. It’s my favorite era of jazz, though I do appreciate other subgenres and more contemporary jazz (for example, I love Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth project).

As a musician, I’ve always appreciated the technical sophistication of jazz, but I’ve never really learned to play it with any sort of facility. Most of that is because I don’t read music well, other than percussion music (since my years of band in school were all as a percussionist), and I have a pretty rudimentary grasp of music theory (again, the percussionist). My guitar and bass playing is by ear (and tab, etc.) and other than a few scales, I don’t know much.

But, listening to so much jazz lately has re-awakened in me the desire to play it, and specifically, to play jazz drums. I’ve been saving up for a drum kit, and I’ve got a practice pad and some sticks, and I’ve been working on my rudiments and stick control in preparation. It’s amazing how deeply ingrained those rudiments are (flam-a-diddle-diddle, anyone?).

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to a kit and really learn to be a jazz drummer, but I’ve been enjoying working on the rudiments. It’s nice to have something concrete to work on and practice. I’ve missed practicing something physical until I get it right.

A long hot dry summer comes to an end

It has been an exceptionally wet summer in real life here what with the remnants of several hurricanes dumping on us here lately and all, but other than the occasional post, it’s a been a long, hot, dry summer here. That’s par for the course around here, though. I abandoned anything like regular posting years ago, despite all intentions and pronouncements (private and public).

Also, since I work in the internets business (sortof), I try not to spend too much time doing internetsy stuff when I’m not working. I fail miserably, of course. My name is Steven, and I am an internet addict. I mean, hell, I’m typing this at 11:05 p.m. on a Sunday night when I should be in bed sleeping or reading a good novel.

Though I started the thinking process long before I read it, this piece by Mr. Merlin Mann sums up a lot of my problems with life in the internets, too.

I’m going to unplug a significant portion of my life. The personal part, anyway. I’m on the internets hook for the forseeable future when it comes to my professional life, but that doesn’t mean I have to abuse it, right? Riiiight. We’ll see how it goes.

It feels like fall’s about to start here, and I plan to do these things this Fall and Winter:

  • work in my yard
  • get better at an acoustic instrument (hopefully the banjo again)
  • eat better, cook more
  • pay better (not necessarily more, cause God knows I spend a lot of time on ’em) but better attention to my family
  • go fishing
  • read novels (not just books, but novels)
  • get outside, get a little exercise
  • unplug

Daptone Records: Soul Kings

Despite my forays into all sorts of music (both playing/recording and listening), I always come back to two WILDLY disparate genres: 80s jangle pop and dirty, greasy soul music. It’s okay. I’m used to being a man of contradictions. Just ask my therapist.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-KingsAs far as Soul music goes, I’m generally old school: mostly Stax (Booker T. and the MGs, etc.) with a heaping helping of Al Green (before he found the Lord), a splash of Mr. Brown, and a scattering of 70s funk. I thought REAL funk and soul had died a horrible, horrible death some time in the late 70s. But, so much good Soul music was recorded in the 60s and 70s, I figured I had enough to get me by.

Then I stumbled upon Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Holy. Crap. REAL SOUL MUSIC. Made in the 00s! And it was GOOD, too! I then learned that Daptone Records puts out all sorts of great greasy Soul, just like I like it, and the Dap-Kings are the Daptone house band. Think Booker T. and the MGs with Stax only move to Brooklyn instead of Memphis.

Musicianship-wise, I started on drums in school band (I actually started on alto sax, but that didn’t last but a few weeks), but the first non-schoolband instrument I played was bass. I later switched to guitar, though never got very good at it. Still, playing bass is where my heart is, and Duck Dunn my hero. Duck’s going to have to share the podium now, though, because the playing Dap-Kings’ bandleader and producer and bass player, Gabriel “Bosco Mann” Roth, is just exquisite.

If you’re new to Daptone, start with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings (any album will do, but I’m a big fan of 100 Days, 100 Nights, which is their latest). Then hit the Mighty Imperials, and THEN pick up the two collections of singles, which are greasy, greasy, GREASY!