one-liner: crowdsourcing

The band has started to have this long overdue discussion: How do we describe ourselves? It hasn’t been too critical to really get this exactly right, because usually we just play our music, a jazz standard you’d associate with Ella Fitzgerald to a bluesy swinging remake of Radiohead. But now that we’re going to invest $40 in some new business cards, we want to make sure we can have some kind of quick description of our music and our style. We have ideas, but I think we should crowdsource this a little. How would you describe us?

I started with what I’d put on our website: “a jazz quartet with jamming qualities and a jam band with jazz sensibilities.” But that’s maybe too esoteric, and I couldn’t honestly tell you what it means to “jam” and I’m pretty sure that isn’t what we’re doing all the time. Tim piped up with something about the range of styles, moving from jazz to funk to blues to rock as the mood strikes us, and that we can play something exuberantly joyful or painful and ironic with the same passion and volume. But then how do you fit that on the business card?

I’ve also thought of “ruining jazz traditions one remake at a time,” or “playing jazz in a way that even our family likes it.” Or sometimes I think it should just be “playing music the way we want because it’s fun.” But that might not entice someone to book us for a wedding.

So we’re open to ideas. We’ll keep working on it ourselves and we’ll try to squish it onto the little card with our webpage. If you give us something we can use, we’ll give you a free business card.

repertoire

When we play tonight at Lighthouse (9:00 – Midnight, 21+, $5 cover), we’ll roll out half a dozen new songs. It’s a solid mix of good stuff, ranging from hard-hitting to laidback, jazz standards to flipped-upside-down remakes to a kind of driving grunge backed with a jazz organ.

But it isn’t the variety that is remarkable to me. It’s that we keep adding stuff, and we don’t seem to back away from things that are going to be difficult, either conceptually or technically. I was just going over a line of changes in one of our jazz standards that turns my fingers inside-out, it seems, and the vocals are no easier. It makes me wonder why we do this to ourselves.

I guess, probably, because it’s fun. And, also, I guess, because when we play at your wedding you probably don’t want us to just play 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and Mad World.

When we played our first gigs, we had about 90 minutes worth of material if we stretched out intros and added a few interludes. Working up to two- and then three-hour sets was essential to play late into the night and to have a range of things we could turn to for any given moment. Now, I’m confident that we have five or six hours of music. Creating a set list is harder because we have to make decisions. That also means that we cycle stuff in and out, go back to old stuff to keep it fresh while at the same time learning the new things that we’re adding to the overstuffed binder. I panic a little when I see something I haven’t played in a few months; and then I’m impressed when we just pick it up again.

This is all to say that there will always be something new, maybe cycling through in place of your favorite. Just let us know and we’ll rotate it back in. Come join us, tonight or another time, and see how much the catalog has grown — and if I really learned that one impossible line of chord changes.

reports & rehearsal

We’ve been able to lay low for a few weeks, just settling into the new year. Besides having a new recording out, we’ve also each been tangling with new projects, jobs and babies, tasks and such. We played a secret gig for families at Cuppa right after Christmas, but mostly we’ve been hiding out.

It’s fun, though, to see that even when you can’t see us, people are still hearing us on multiple platforms. Take for example this report we just got that explained how we earned $1.01 from Apple Music streaming:

The spoils of all our recording work on Apple Music for December 2019.

Of course, the point of the recording wasn’t to make a lot of money. We’re pretty happy when you pay a $5 cover — like at our upcoming gig at Lighthouse this Saturday, Feb. 1, 9PM – Midnight. We’ll bring real CDs, too, and we’ll even sign them; but definitely the best way to hear us is live.

Now that we’re ramping back up for gigs, we’ve been rehearsing new stuff, invading Tim’s home to take over his basement and hash things out. This means that a lot of what we’re doing is not just playing to our heart’s content, but talking about everything from who leads us in to what’s the tempo to “is that the right chord?” to how to transition into the bridge to how to cue the ending . . . For a group of four people who just wanted to get together to play music, it ends up being a lot of thinking and working.

But this just means that at our next rehearsal we get to really try the new stuff out and get it polished for performances this weekend and beyond. A playful jazz classic, an unexpected cover of a rock icon, a civil rights era standard, a remade feminist anthem, and more new stuff are all on the set list. We’re excited to see what happens; and we hope you’ll be there to see and hear it on Saturday night.

acclaim, local and international

We’re trying not to let it go to our heads. You know, now that we’ve recorded an album that our families all want as Christmas gifts, and that has found sales far and wide. In fact, we’ve gone international already:

Locations of paid downloads on our BandCamp site. The astute map reader will note that these downloads have come from two different countries.

We’ve even sent a few CDs across state lines. Yet, it’s just as exciting to see our CDs on the shelves of our local record store, Lavender Vinyl. In case you’re looking for a copy and can’t find us in person, this is a great solution to all your holiday shopping needs. (And we love Lavender Vinyl, even if they didn’t carry our CDs. I just picked up an old Fats Domino record along with a classic Stevie Wonder album I’ve been wanting.)

And if you page through the local Indie Ogden magazine, holiday edition, you’ll find us right there with all the other bands on the scene:

Our mark in the December gig lineup for Ogden.

So, it could all go to our heads, all the fame and attention. But we don’t pay too much attention. We’re getting ready to play our favorite consignment store in Brigham City this Friday night. Hope to see you there.

ask siri

Maybe we’re a little too tied to our technologies and the information that’s stored all over the world in the semiconductors and wires that connect us. But once in a while this creates something celebratory. Just the other day I realized that our album is stored and primed to release on December 6, which means that the internet fairies all “know” our music. Since that includes Shazam, this meant that the magic elf inside my phone could listen to our music and tell us about it. That is, the robots all know about us.

And in a couple of days, so will all of the people. Or, at least you will.