Sunday, September 27, 2009

In Concert...

First (almost) solo performance in many years... A few nerves at the outset, especially after having awakened on Thursday morning with laryngitis -- my speaking voice fading in and out for the next two days. Minor sore throat. Lot's of vitamin C and TLC. Took the time to plan instead of practice. Time well spent.

The European Street Cafe on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida is a great little room. We had an almost full house of friendly, familiar faces mixed with folks we'd never seen before -- and a few surprises.
"Hi, are you Paul?"
"Sure am."
"I'm Jane. We went to elementary and high school together. Remember?"
"Holy crap!"
I hadn't seen Jane in 38 years... and here she is, living in Jacksonville, and come to hear me sing... how cool is that?!

So with bassist / vocalist / Ashley Gang band-mate Michelle Lowe on my right and flautist / percussionist / band-mate and life-mate Kay on my left we made our way through the show -- and had a total blast doing the old favorites and a few of the new songs I've recently written for the new recording.

The nerves vanished as the energy from the audience -- always palpable -- pulled us into the music and the stories and the (occasionally political) commentary. It all ended with a standing ovation after the first ever public performance of the song "1,000 Doors"

After my set, I wandered the room, visiting with the audience -- people who talked about being touched by one song or another -- about how they cried through "Empty House" (about the foreclosure crisis), or lived in the rapidly vanishing rural south in a small town that reminded them of "Crackertown" (a real Florida community), or laughed through "Duval Nights" as the lyrics made fun of our city and Florida politics.

A nice way to make a local solo performance "comeback". Can't express how much I appreciate the effort of all of those who came to hear -- especially during a University of Florida football game!

So next Saturday, Michelle, Kay and I will be performing at a tribute for the amazing and heroic Gamble Rogers, at Gamble Rogers State Park in Flagler Beach -- if you're close by, stop in for a little Florida music... The the following weekend we're at the Lake County Folk Festival in Eustis, Florida with the full Ashley Gang. More schedule information and some sound bites here.

Michelle, me, Kay

Sunday, September 20, 2009

1,000 Doors Project - Session 2

Brief note.... Returned to Gatorbone Studio this past week to work through the second session of the new recording. No playing or singing at all for me this time around as I was strictly in Producer mode working on arrangements and getting some violin / fiddle and flute tracks put down.

We dragged Doug Richard out of his rural Florida home to dust off his old fiddle, crack his knuckles and record tracks for 3 of the 4 songs that I have recorded so far ("1,000 Doors", "House on the Hill", and "Empty House") . My lovely and talented wife Kay put down a flute track for "Home For The Healing". Lon Williamson, my recording engineer (and musician extraordinaire -- the Driftwoods, the Gatorbone Band), has laid down bass track (stand-up acoustic bass) on "1,000 Doors" and "House on the Hill", and will be doing a bowed bass track on "Home for the Healing".

It was also a day for decision making for future sessions. Ashley Gang (my band) members Al Scortino and Michelle Lowe will be coming in to help out with Hawaiian Slide Guitar, electric bass, and vocals. Lis Williamson of the Driftwoods and Gatorbone Band will be doing some of her angelic harmony vocals for me. Many, many hours of work ahead. Not to mention writing new songs and selecting previously unrecorded tunes to fill out the album. More updates to come as the project moves forward....

On a side note, I'll be playing my first solo performance in a very long time this coming Saturday (September 26th) at European Street Cafe (Beach Boulevard location), Jacksonville. Showtime is 8:00. I'll be splitting the bill with Bill Sheffield, a great blues / roots player from Atlanta -- if you're near by.... Lots of other gigs coming up in the next couple of months in both solo and Ashley Gang configuration. More info here: Myspace Music

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Green Lesson From The Apple Store...

A couple of weeks ago I trucked over the Apple Store at the Saint Johns Towne Center in Jacksonville to pick up a Blue "Snowball" USB microphone. I can use it for near-professional level audio and video recording on my iMac. One of the best parts of shopping at the Apple store is the check-out process. I love getting that question from person checking me out on the little handheld device: "Okay if we send you your receipt by email?" Always, always always!

So this morning we headed out for a little bit of Labor Day sale shopping for a few things that we both had on our minds. Kay was after an ergonomic pillow, I was intent on Richard Russo's newest novel, and we needed a few things at the grocery. First to Bed, Bath and Beyond for the pillow -- Kay had her 20% discount paper coupon -- in we went, got the pillow, checked out, scanned and trashed the coupon, received our paper receipt. Next door then to Borders for the book -- stopped at the coffee bar first -- slid the debit card through the machine and in return received two cups of coffee, a receipt for those, plus an eight inch paper receipt for the store survey (URL and instructions, etc.). Then found the book -- went to the front checkout where I once again swiped my card after handing over my 40% discount paper coupon for scanning, received my paper receipt for the purchase and another eight inch long paper survey invitation. All of the paper gathered up so far stuffed into my pockets...

Next it was a quick stop at Winn-Dixie for the bits and pieces of grocery that we had neglected to pick up yesterday -- maybe 6 items. Back to the check out, scan the card, get another paper receipt and several feet of paper receipt-size discount coupons. Into the pocket they all go. By the time we got back to the car I couldn't locate the car keys in my pocket beneath the multiple feet of receipts, survey invitations, and coupons.

Now multiply this by several million orders of magnitude for a single day, time 365 days per year, and think about the paper waste -- pure trash -- pure unnecessary trash that American (and no doubt Canadian and European) merchants are pumping into the environment every business day. From Apple -- zip! I get home and the electronic receipt is in my inbox -- if I should ever require it for a return or repair. Honestly, I can't be the first person to recognize this opportunity to save paper, and reduce pollution... The world could learn a lesson from Apple (and the few other merchants who, I am sure, do the same thing) -- granted some folks will require paper (no access to email) but there are so few that fit that category here in the States anymore. Time to start a paper receipt-free shopping movement? Every opportunity that you have to turn down paper and replace it with electronic equivalents - please take it! Monthly bills, software purchases (no boxes or paper instruction manuals), warranties, registrations... on and on... think about it. Simple!