Another Day Another Doc

Session drummer turned aspiring filmmaker, Gary Gardner, met with Cameron and I today about a documentary he’s been working on for the last two years. It’s about an LA jazz club called The Baked Potato which opened in its doors in the early 1970s. Practically every jazz musician has played that club in the past 30 years. Gary was recently able to interview Lou Rawls about his experiences at The Baked Potato. I suspect he still has a ways to go before he gets this whole thing pulled together, and even though I’m not a jazz fan, this is one exciting project.

First there’s going to be a documentary with all these major jazz musicians like Al Jareau, Steve Lukather, Larry Carlton, and Robben Ford. (If I’m remembering the names correctly… again, I’m not the jazz guy.) Then there will be a live concert recording of these jazz musicians each playing 2 songs at the club. I think he was saying that he’s planning on 30 different artists. That concert will be released on CD and DVD.

So even though the classic rock documentary I was talking about recently is a little more my style, this one is very cool for including the concert. We’ve already been talking about doing the 5.1 DVD mix to give a true feel of a small club experience.

And A Bowl Of Noodles

Cameron and I also spent time today goofing around with some instruments of our own–Cam on guitar, I was on bass. I’ve been learning to play bass for a few months now. It’s so much fun. I’m never going to be great at it. In fact right now I’m definitely not good. I need to practice more. But bass is very cool.

That Leads To Your Door

I just got an email from my buddy Ben who’s taking off for Japan and Australia tomorrow. His girlfriend and her friend have already been in New Zealand and Australia for a bunch of months checking things out. So they’re reuniting in Tokyo which I’m very happy about. And thankfully we all get to read about it in their weblog, The Adventures of Katie and Emma.

We hung out a bit the other night when we went to see “Hellboy”. (And at some point I’ll finish up my review of it and post it here.) I told him that he had to bring me “ninja stuff” back from Japan.

Today is actually the one month anniversary of the new Monsters from the Id complete with weblog and swivel action kung fu grip.

“So I’ve got that going for me…. Which is nice.”
Carl Spackler

We Passed Upon The Stair

Everyone and their brother is talking about the fact that 10 years ago today, Kurt Cobain killed himself. You can check out Wil Wheaton’s take on it or numerous other writers over at Black Table.

I do remember exactly what I was doing when I first heard that Kurt was dead. I was in college trying to sleep after a late night party. It’s almost funny that I made my post yesterday about how much I didn’t like Daylight Saving Time. How difficult it was to cope with that missing hour.

April 5, 1994 I was trying really hard to cope with that missing hour, even if it was a few days before, and was losing badly. Back then I was the master of the snooze alarm. I could manage to hit snooze for 7 minute snatches of sleep for two hours straight. I don’t know how my roommate put up with me.

In those brief glimpses of semi-lucidity in between the blissful dark, I dreamed that Kurt was dead. When I finally decided to give up the charade and enter waking life, I continued to have the strangest feeling that Kurt was gone. I told myself it was just a dream and ignored it.

Of course the first conversation I had with someone started out with “Did you hear…” and I realized that I had actually heard from my clock radio that he had taken his own life. It was a surreal moment–bordering on deja vu. Even if it was only caused by lack of sleep.

I didn’t think much about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana at that time. I had burned out on them after the “Nevermind” deluge, and I steadfastly pretended they didn’t exist. But something about his death, the near-dream-state during which I found out about it, gnawed at me.

I was about six months later that the “Unplugged” album was released. The first time I heard his acoustic version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World”, I knew I had to buy that CD. An idea had been gestating in the back of my mind for months, and it hit me when I sat down and listened to the entire album. Nirvana was a great band. I had not allowed myself to pay attention to them because of all the hype that surrounded them, and so I missed out while he was still with us.

The People Behind The People

I had a meeting yesterday about a documentary. Denny Tedesco has been working on a documentary about his father, Tommy Tedesco, one of the most prolific Los Angeles session guitarists, and the other session musicians he worked with. People like Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye. The Wrecking Crew as they came to be known.

Denny has been working on this project for eight years collecting interviews, cutting his footage together, and trying to find investors and distributors. He showed a 15 minute promotional cut to Cameron, my partner in crime in sound, and I. It was one of the cooler documentaries I’ve ever seen. I had no idea.

We all know that The Monkees didn’t actually play their own songs. Tommy was the guitar of the Monkees. But what people probably don’t realize is how many recordings session musicians appeared on in the 60s and 70s. Hal Blaine claims to have played on tens of thousands of recordings during his time as a session drummer. If you look at a list of the recordings that Tommy Tedesco played on (which is definitely not complete), it will blow your mind. Practically every big American name from the 60s and 70s like The Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, Joan Baez, Pat Boone, J.J. Cale, Glen Campbell, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, Doris Day, The Everly Brothers, The 5th Dimension, Jan & Dean, Peggy Lee, Barry McGuire, Roger McGuinn, Harry Nilsson, The Partridge Family, Elvis, The Rip Chords, Linda Ronstadt, Sonny & Cher, and Frank Zappa.

Denny is getting close to pulling his documentary together. He has an editor who is going through the footage and helping him make a cut. But he wasn’t sure about the post-sound end of things–the editing and mixing. He came to us looking for advice.

This is one documentary I hope gets finished and made available to the public whether through film festivals, or PBS, or DVD, or all of the above. It is a fascinating story about the classic rock era and the people who made it happen. And I would consider it an honor to be able work on this project.

Spring Ahead

Note to self: Don’t stay up half the night watching movies when you’re going into Daylight Saving Time. Losing that hour is killer.

I love Standard Time. Gaining an extra hour is like finding five bucks in the pocket of a jacket you haven’t worn in a while.

Daylight Saving Time is setup to happen at 2am in the U.S. because most people are at home asleep or at least in bed at that time. When I was in college I had a late-night freeform radio show and the going into and out of DST was always an interesting experience. People who had a show that went on the air at 2am on the first Sunday in April would not be able to broadcast that week. The time just disappeared. October was the really unusual time because we had to decide what to do with that extra hour.

I wish we could always gain an hour. It would be like getting a free gift every six months.

A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall

In fact it is right now.

I was out enjoying another reading in the park with a bit of lunch when it started coming down in buckets. It was pretty overcast when I went out today and a little chilly. Thankfully because of that I was in my car at the time it started raining.

I’ve noticed a strange thing about rain in Los Angeles. Having lived in Boston and Chicago for a number of years I have a “feeling” for what rain should be like. LA doesn’t seem able to fit into that picture I have. We will go the entire summer with literally no rain. In the winter, when it does rain, I’m always amazed. The local news turns it into this big event. STORM WATCH ’04 plastered all over their broadcasts. I know for a fact that Los Angeles gets FAR less rain then I ever got growing up back east. I’m used to bad weather. In fact the first time my dad ever took me out to teach me how to drive, there was 3 inches of snow on the ground. These are not conditions that Angelinos have to deal with.

And yet whenever I get caught out on the road driving in my car when it starts to rain here in LA, I always have a feeling like it’s the end of the world. I just had it not an hour ago driving back home from the park. I was going about 15 MPH because I couldn’t see a damn thing. Everyone was. And this is where the really weird thing comes in: I know that if I turn on the news tonight, they’ll say we had 0.10″ of rain. Maybe 0.20″. It’s completely bizarre. Back east, you have a massive downpour like that, and you’ll find out it was 3 or 4 inches. I don’t get it.