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At last you can get your Jazzed Desserts!

After much fumbling about and a truly hideous number of hours editing, I’ve finally put together a show based on an idea I got from Fran Snyder of ConcertsInYourHome.com.

They’re essentially a “mini house concert.” A brief gathering of friends for food, conversation and live music in an intimate and approachable setting. They’re easy and inexpensive to host. They’re strictly acoustic so you won’t upset the neighbors. (But you should invite them, they’re a great way to strengthen existing friendships and forge new ones.)

I’m available solo for these shows and with my duo, Hobbit & Hare. Currently we’re limiting this to the greater Seattle area, but we could be convinced to roam a bit farther in the future.

Find out all the details here.

My First Birthday Present

modeling my new mustache wax

Yesterday was my 59th birthday. For whatever odd reason, this one depressed me somewhat. Probably the combination of a stressy winter that spring hasn’t done diddly to ameliorate, my usual struggles with the “art police” about what a fraud I am, and possibly a soupçon of the “incipient mortality blues.” But please don’t take this to mean the birthday was some unrelenting tragedy.

For one thing, my sweetie took me out for the Chinese Buffet. Also my little brother zapped me enough cash to not only refurbish my ailing main harmonica, but also to afford a bottle of decent bourbon. I’ve been drinking mostly cheap rye, so that’s a treat. But before all that, my first present arrived.

A little over a week ago I got some cash as an early birthday present from my sweetie’s mom. Having been out of mustache wax for a couple weeks, the first thing I did was take some of the money and order a replacement supply. This led to one of those fortuitous accidents.

I was searching for some Firehouse brand. I’d used it once before (thanks, Acep!) but hadn’t bought any of my own. While clicking on the links Google presented me, I discovered an extra firm hold was from a company called Can You Handlebar? and the description and reviews for it sounded like it was just the ticket. It’s called Secondary (the medium hold is called Primary) and I had it in my hot little paws two days after ordering it.

Terry Thomas

The picture of me was taken the day after I received the wax at about 7ish pm. I’d applied it around 10 hours before. You’ll note that it’s still in shape. The extreme angle on the bends and the little points are all still perfect. Prior to finding this wax even the firmest stuff I’d tried would have faded after that much time. I’d end up looking like I was sporting a miniature version of the Terry Thomas “frayed at both ends” ‘stache. It worked fine for Terry, but isn’t really the look I’m going for. I know it’s silly to be all excited about something as simple as this. But, as any of you regular readers will have discovered by now, I happily accept even the minor victories. And really, with all the time and energy I spend fussing with the thing, anything that makes life simpler is a good thing.

A New Video And Its Saga

OK… maybe not this much new lighting

Back on the 11th Hobbit & Hare played at the Gathering Grounds coffeehouse in Sultan, WA. My sweetie went along and snapped some pictures of us (using my phone) as well as getting a video of our last song. I had intended to give her the proverbial high sign a few times while we played in order to get more video, but I forgot.

Fortunately, she remembered.

Quick note for you tl;dr people. The video is at the bottom of the page.

Unfortunately, the lighting in the place wasn’t quite right for the video camera and the vid turned out really dark. I figured I’d sniff around on the Play Store for a video app that would let me jack about with the brightness and contrast so I could fix these sort of issues when they, inevitably, arose again.

So I sniffed around, downloaded several that showed up in my search, but it wasn’t until the third one that I found brightness and contrast adjustments. I tried it out and it seemed to work fine, except that when it came to saving, you got fed off into an ad. What joy! Not going to buy the thing if I don’t know whether iMovie will deal with the output. I kept searching but with no more luck.

I decided to give the close one another try. I reinstalled, did the adjustments, and lo! It actually saved the thing. Furthermore, iMovie agreed that it was indeed a video file it could chew on. The only drawback is that they’d put these big, broad, white stripes at the top and bottom, with a watermark in the bottom one.

No big deal. They’d made it plain that this was just the trial version. Certainly the ugly watermark shtick would go away with the “pro” version, right? So I uninstalled yet again, searched up the pro version on the App Store, paid my $9.99 (plus tax), and hit another reinstall.

Now it’s time to fire up the program–hey! cleaner UI, no ads!–load the video, do the adjustments, and save it out. It all went well. Now we’ll open it up in iMovie and… drumroll, please…

It still put the two damn white bars on the thing! But that’s not enough. Oh no, kids! On closer examination in iMovie, it turns out that the other program basically shrinks the video size down by half (in both height and width) and, to frost the fucking cake, reduces the definition. Even going back in and cropping the video doesn’t work. It just sticks the white bars and grey space back on.

So… several days have gone by now and I’ve edited the video three times. I finally decided just to make it a plain, one camera angle thing. At least the dark video has been mostly rescued.

It. Should. Not. Be. So. Difficult!

All the code to do all this stuff already exists. But the app writers are bent on a path of dumbing down the software to meet their idea of how dumb the users are.

OK. Thanks for putting up with my rant. Here’s the video. Check it out and let me know if it’s worth the trouble next time. If you like it, please share!

If for some reason the embedded video isn’t working you can watch it here.

The Mezzanine Jazz Scene

​Hobbit & Hare at the Capital Hill Station (pic by Dan Schindler)

​Hobbit & Hare appeared on March 17, 2017, at the Capital Hill Station, as part of the 1st Anniversary celebration of the U-Link light rail line opening. Thanks for having us, Sound Transit! And thanks to Ms Luz for the recommendation!

One interesting sidelight is that I use Mailchimp for my email newsletter. Recently I read about an odd ad campaign they’d started that was based on “something that rhymes with Mailchimp.” They chose about 8 or 9 entries. The mezzanine level of Capitol Hill Station (where we were playing) is decorated with the faux movie posters from that campaign. You can see the “KaleLimp” one right behind us, and a little strip of the “MailShrimp” one peeking out from behind the blue curtain. I’ve seen the MailShrimp video. It features a young fella in a big corporate mailroom. He’s wearing a hat like Freddy, the Mailchimp mascot, and is about to eat a shrimp sandwich. It’s one of the shrimp in the sandwich singing the MailShrimp song.

Very odd. I like it.

From C to Shining C

Hobbit & Hare at the Gathering Grounds – photo by Lucifer

Last night Hobbit & Hare played a couple sets at Gathering Grounds in Sultan, WA. It was a slightly smaller crowd than when we performed there last December, but they were just as appreciative and generous. In fact we had an H&H first, your basic personal best™… but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Coffeehouse gigs are often busking gigs. My friend Thaddeus calls them “tips and treats” gigs. Americans came up with the ponderous term “street performer” when “busker” already existed but busking is just playing for tips. Whether you’re inside or outside doesn’t matter. In fact house concerts are pretty much busking gigs, though there’s a built-in stronger urging to tip in a certain range.

So, you might be thinking, what about this personal best™? We had our tip bucket out last night–of course–and right after the last song a fella came by me (I was talking with another person from the audience) and I heard him say, “I tipped you a $20 earlier.” (This was true, I recalled it clearly.) And then he goes on, “But I’ve changed my mind.” (Bummer that.) “I’ll swap you this,” he says, as he snatches up a Jackson, “for this.” and drops a Benjamin in instead.

In all my years of busking, I’ve never gotten a C note in the tip bucket.

Can’t say that anymore, can I?

Two In One Month?

First I go almost a year between videos, now I seem to be doubling up.

a still picture from the recording session. this is how we make sure the camera (phone) is all pointed the right direction and stuff.

I wasn’t going to release this video for a few days, just so there’d be a video in February and then this one in March. But as I mention on YouTube, there are still some bumps in the new video making and releasing process. One of them reared its ugly head and suddenly I found that the video had been auto-announced on Twitter prior to me finishing it’s description, tagging, and such. (Gotta go in and fix that setting.)

Oh well. The actual making of the videos is getting easier. Hopefully easier will end up translating into more.

If the embedded video doesn’t work for you, you can watch us performing Jada on YouTube.

If you like this please remember that sharing is easy. Sharing is caring. Sharing makes a huge difference in an indie musician’s life.