Monday, July 30, 2007

On the air

Good times aplenty with our friends at WAAF last night. Mike and I played four songs (see below), all of which went well, though the banjo wasn't in tune with the guitar for the last song. However, the show's producer, Brian, actually did a mix on the fly that minimizes the harm. It's rather impressive. Hopefully I can post audio soon. Somehow.

Anyway, the part we didn't get recorded was the interview. It's always a question mark whether you'll talk over one another at these things, especially when you're not wearing headphones and especially when it's kind of an unknown topical terrain. On this night, the conversation naturally gravitated toward the phrase "busy as beavers" (yes, I know you can say "busy bees," but they are both busy creatures -- one with their honey deposits and pollination, the other with building dams and gnawing logs). Thus, when Matt interrupted the tour route I was laying down, it prompted me to acknowledge that Matt was the king beaver, with the biggest paddle. Success! I slipped one by. But the important thing is to watch our language apparently, so no cursing. Just innuendo. The station had all these raunchy topics posted on the control board, I'm guessing for a drive-time commute show in the Stern tradition. Either way, I think we got our point across. Subtly. Plus, I got this very blog some air time, acknowledging to greater Boston that yes, I'm a geek.

The cool part of the night, I thought (and this is kind of lame of me), was when we told people to call in to win some free Cassavettes CDs. I honestly thought no one would call... but they did! We had a good 6-7 calls right off the bat, and most people sounded like they genuinely were disappointed after they didn't get them. Ah well, hopefully we'll be MySpace friends now and the world will be in perfect harmony. However, one could also make the case that the coolest part of the night (as far as making us feel like big shots), was when the producer asked us to record a station ID.

Now, this is obviously a strange area, because how do you do it with four guys? Do you each say a word? Do you yell it out altogether (we tried, it didn't work)? Eventually, it was decided that Mike would say "Hi, we're Cassavettes" and Scott would finish it off with the "and you're listening to..." I think that worked well enough, though I had the idea after the fact to have us actually have a conversation and be interrupted, like "Oh hello, didn't see you there, we're Cassavettes, enjoying a rich conversation about the fine programming of WAAF..." blah blah blah. Too little, too late.
SET LIST: Debts / Saint Anthony / Golden Fleece / Research Blvd.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Radio radio

You know, a blog is like a pet. You have to keep up with it every day -- feeding it, giving it love and affection. Otherwise, it will turn out an incomplete mess with a sour attitude. Alas, I haven't been the best owner lately.

Anyhow, Cassavettes is playing on the radio tonight. We'll do four songs acoustically, and a short interview on Bay State Rock on WAAF 107.3 FM. This is all going down at 11:30 p.m., meaning we're not getting to bed until late tonight. Ah, who cares? Rock isn't about sleep. It seems kind of strange to me how this interview worked out -- it was supposed to be in August to promote our TT's show. But this was the only time they could schedule us, so it happens to be right before a big show we're playing, sponsored by a competitor station. I wrote that in the email to them, just to make sure they wouldn't be surprised, and I never heard back so it's a go. Green light.

On the tour front, we got some good news out of Kentucky today -- we've got someone helping us book. Also, after meeting with a few folks last week, I'm fairly certain that North Carolina will get booked and Baltimore/DC will get booked. Plus, Chicago still looks good. We're still working in a tight schedule, because of a big show the first week in Hull that threw us off. But we'll get on track and have some fun. My concern is whether Tennessee is going to happen. Nothing is coming together there, and that region seems to have the clout to do what they want and say no or nothing to whomever they want. They are Tennessee, after all.

As far as local bookings, I'm trying to overextend the band in September. If we play as much as we can that month, hitting the road once in awhile and just gigging it up, then we should settle into tour legs easier. We'll be hitting on all cylinders -- kind of like what we did leading up to SXSW this year. Anyhow, we just got a GREAT offer for Sept. 6, which I'd love to do, but could we pull enough people out to make it worthwhile for the club and other bands? That's my concern. We're playing the next night in Quincy (is that far enough away?), the night after in NYC, possibly the next week in Somerville and maybe New Hampshire, the week after that in Boston again. Plus, we're playing TT's two weeks earlier. I don't want to blow out our draw locally, just to hone our chops. However, Sept. 6 would be fairly high profile, or at least really fun. So we'll see.

The other thing is that now some jobs are getting back to me, which I applied for before the tour was official. Obviously, this tour is happening, but who wants to hire someone who's going to be gone almost a month right off the bat? So, I'll probably be roughing it for these first few months, and try to settle into something around the holiday season.

Finally, last night I stole Scott's check book and wrote a check to AJ and I for one million dollars for "Blank Check DVD." I plan to cash it when Scott makes him first mil, and then give him a copy of Blank Check.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Debts paying off

So, the Phoenix has kindly named "Debts" their MP3 of the Week. Kind words by the kind Caitlin Curran:

With Jabe Beyer relocating to Nashville and Frank Smith ensconced in Austin, Boston’s alt-country contingent has withered away over the past few months. Luckily, Cassavettes, who are three-fourths native Texan, are sticking around. Phoenix readers named them last year’s “Best Local Band,” and that was before the release of their debut album, It’s Gonna Change, in December. IGC is countryfied low-fi indie rock — a dust-coated coming-of-age tale with rootsy twang and the occasional barroom romp. “Debts” bemoans and celebrates change — a feeling any recent college grad can relate to — shifting from piano-driven balladry to a guitar-driven rock about “getting fired from a new job each week.” Catch them Tuesday opening for Kings of Leon at the Paradise (rescheduled from their cancelled BMP gig, but we don't hold grudges) if you can - we hear from our friends at WFNX that all of the tickets have been given away, but don't worry - Craigslist has your back. The 'vettes are also playing T.T. the Bear's on August 24, and a whole slew of other Boston venues this fall.

One weird thing: the article links to Fritz's camera-phone photo footage behind-the-scenes at Fox 25. Not the Phoenix's fault, but somewhat strange. I don't think I've watched that footage, but I recall Mike being upset because he is portrayed as some kind of ogre . I believe he says he'll club Fritz and eat his bones. Speaking of, we're going to see The Simpsons movie tonight at midnight! (Though my referenced quote shockingly didn't make this list of the 101 best Simpsons quotes ever, though some truly awful ones did. In fact, the better quotes are the reader suggestions toward the bottom. Just one man's opinion, but a recent delight found in reader suggestions, recalling a chuckle: "Badger, my ass. It's probably Milhouse.")

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Right now

Now is when things are getting crappy. Midterms are next week, I have an oral project, I've been working a lot, and somehow I'm still running out of money. However, this isn't a spot to complain about my non-musical life. So let's get to the good stuff.

Last night, I had several moments of serendipity. I was over at Band in Boston HQ, dropping off my iPod so that Andy could extract the audio from the July 7 show (which hopefully will be posted soon! There was a high frequency during much of the set, caused by a dying mic he used to record it, but he says he can get most of it out of there!). Anyhow, as you may or may not know, Band in Boston -- which I consider the ultimate podcast and perhaps the two people who legitimately care the most about local music -- is celebrating their ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY (not long after our 2-year...are you starting to see the connection?) by hosting a week's worth of shows at PAs Lounge this week. Lots of great music so far, including our buds Girls Guns & Glory. Anyhow, a band heading up from NYC got stuck in traffic and, as they were slated to open Friday's festivities, it was crunch time. So Andy asked me if I'd play acoustic. I was hoping he would. Cassavettes would have been playing this thang if it hadn't been for the July 7 show -- they just clashed a wee bit. So anyhow, I immediately accepted. Now, here's where the story gets wild. It's about 7 by the time I'm heading home with a couple of sandwiches for Scott and I, leaving a message for Mike to see if he wants to play, too. Then, out of McIntyre & Moore Books walks my old friend MK. Totally weird, as she doesn't live anywhere near Somerville or Davis, and yet, here she was. So, after some pleading, I convinced her to play three songs with me, she learned one on the spot, and we headed out for PAs. The set was pretty decent, about what you'd expect from an opening slot you found out about an hour earlier. The good news is that Andy AGAIN recorded it (though, I think the first song may have gotten cut off), so hopefully we'll get some of these live recordings up, too!
SET LIST: Rainy Days / Set Free / Golden Fleece (that's a name I'm considering for that new Cassavettes song that has currently been untitled) / Ambivalent Farewells / Like Secrets Beneath / Willing Hands (the one MK learned on the spot)

So that's that. A fun night. I ended up heading out early to get to the Baseball Tavern, where I was to meet with a dude who is going to help Cassavettes book the tour in October. I'm telling you, booking this thing is an all-hands-on-deck affair. I've asked favors of just about everyone I know with the loosest connections. However, this particular guy has really strong connections it appears, particularly in the Carolinas.

Tomorrow, we're picking up where we left off on the recording of some demos last month. So far, only drums are laid down, but tomorrow, we should get bass and maybe some guitars down. Mike and I couldn't seem to catch each other on the phone yesterday, so I haven't talked to him about laying down the tracks tomorrow, but if he can't do it, we'll just have Scott lay down some smooth bass. When we're all done with these, we'll have demos of these tunes: Shotgun Wedding / Loose Lips / Golden Fleece / Six Hours / She's A Bright Light / You'll Be Crying Soon -- plus, we have that demo of MK and I singing "Like Secrets Beneath," though I'd like to get a full band version of that song since it's now entered our repertoire.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bigger than big news

While I'd like to give Mike the opportunity to tell everyone himself, Scott read Mike's brother's MySpace post about the big news before Mike could tell Scott, the veritable spoiler of the big news. Thus, since it has been made public, I may as well divulge.

Please join me in congratulating Mike and Julie on getting engaged last night! I love those kids!

No word yet on whether Mike will be playing a note-for-note solo during "November Rain" when he performs at the wedding or just doing his own thing. Julie, I believe (if my sources are accurate), is planning to dress like Axl and sing lead vocals on the duet.

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Feeling good

Well, I never thought I would, but sure enough, I have senioritis. Yes, I want -- scratch that, NEED -- to finish school. And yes, I'm sure I'll miss it when all is said and done, people always say that, but right now, I am sick of it. And of course, I have one of my hardest classes ever in my last semester -- a course called Secret Soviet Police. Alas, that's the way it is.

Anyhow, adding to my mad dash to the finish line is a whole bunch of band stuff. Good stuff. In fact, I'd say this is the high point for my personal band morale in a long time.

First off, I am trying desperately (to very little avail) to organize a tour for just over three weeks long in October, which would take us from Boston, down the east coast, over to Nashville, up to St. Louis and Chicago, past Buffalo, and back through NH to Boston (suggestions are welcome). Assisting on this journey will be a 1991 VAN (that is huge, and very cool) which Julie purchased for Mike as a one-year anniversary present for the price of $500. At a band dinner last week, there was speculation that this van would break down amidst a tour. That's probably true, but I'm not too concerned about it (surprisingly). Two reasons: 1) That's to be expected when a van has 240,000 miles on it and face it, this is a sweet gift and there are no better options (plus, it's HUGE and plush, and has a CB radio that will be so so so sweet when fixed) and 2) Matt has AAA, so they'll help us out to a degree if this no-so-unthinkable should happen. Perhaps I'll be eating my words if and when it does happen, but we just need to make sure it's up to the task of hitting the road before we actually do. But before we can get out there, we have to book the darn thing. Which is harder than it seems. We have good leads in Baltimore, Chicago, Tennessee, North Carolina, and DC, and Girls Guns & Glory (who we will be embarking with) are hooking up some cool gigs, as well.

On a bummer note, The Mendoza Line has broken up, shortly before we were to open for them at TT's next month. So, Randi and I put together a nice bill instead, which currently looks to be Cassavettes, The Luxury, The Sterns, and The Motion Sick. Pretty nice, eh? Hopefully the same fate does not befall Kings of Leon before we open for them at a cool show on July 31 at the Paradise. Speaking of, you can not buy tickets to this show. There was an FNX radio contest to win tickets, and I believe it has already come and gone. If anyone wants to prove me wrong, please do. Speaking of this KOL show, it really has turned into an excellent promotional show. I'm pumped up about it. Plus, it should lead to more exciting stuff!

I'm also working to set up a couple fun shows for September. That month will basically be devoted to playing a few fun gigs around town with friends, some of which I've already lined up. Should be good. Though we may actually do a tour preview, and embark for Cincinatti, Ohio for a music festival in late September. We'll see about that one. Plus, it may not be a bad idea to do a couple trial runs that month at out-of-towners, getting used to the van and gigging in it. Maybe I'll set something up in Providence or NYC or Philly. We'll see. On a bummer note for September, we are supposed to take part in a Starbucks competition, however, they found out Mike works at Starbucks (thereby disqualifying him from winning). They say, though, that he can PLAY, but not win the grand prize (should we get that far): a trip to Hawaii for a songwriting conference. Then I found out that only ONE of the members of the band can go. Obviously, then, it should be Matt.

Today, FirstAct guitars offered to sponsor the band. I have yet to speak to Mike about this, but essentially, it's a guitar sponsorship. Pretty neat. We'll check it out.

Last night, needing to escape thinking about this Soviet Police class and reading for it, TD and I went to Johnny D's to see the seminal country artist Marty Stuart perform. A lot was good (his guitar playing and his jokes about Bob Dylan), some was not so good. Two observations about Marty Stuart: 1) His hair and outfit, both quite flamboyant, have not changed his entire career, making easily recognizable today no matter what year that photo he signed and autographed for almost every IHOP in the south was taken (honestly, does this guy have a contract with IHOP where he requires them to paste his picture up in every celebrity gallery in every store nationwide, or at least in all the red states? Or has he just actually been to every single IHOP in the country due to the fact that he has been touring pretty much nonstop since age 13? The world may never know) and 2) You'd think if someone has been touring as long as he has, they'd learn the name of the places they visit. Alas, Stuart referred to Somerville as "Sumperville" and, inexplicably (or worse), he repeatedly called Massachusetts "MassaTUsetts." SAY WHAT? If you can look past that (and the $20 cover), he was pretty good. Unfortunately, I couldn't look past that.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Slowly, the 7/7/07 photos emerge


Getting the party started with Emeen and CB

Cramming "On the Lam" in some ears

Kier steps up for banjo on "Research Blvd." Mikes likes.

Siv (not pictured) and Sara contribute the sweet strings to a "Set Free" rendition.

Hamming it up.

Matt gave away a big bird. I'm thinking of going to Family Dollar and buying another one for myself. It was $8.

This is what they call riffing. We were riffing.

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All in

Remember last week when I said I was sick? Guess what came to fruition today? Are you getting the drift?

Yeah, so I'm home from class today and listening to "Blood on the Tracks" instead of a professor's voice. I should be sleeping, but I've been up emailing clubs and festivals (also, a friend at the Phoenix just told me that they may be finally ready to do a proper piece on us -- maybe a preview of July 31 with Kings of Leon? We got to talking about it this morning... quick turnaround!). More than anything, I really want this fall tour to happen. I don't know if July 7 was the catalyst. I just really want to do it. Why wouldn't I?

I was talking to my mother on the phone the other day, who has always supported music in strange ways, but never really encouraged it beyond a hobby. Yes, she and my father were there for my early training and put the tools in front of me. But when I started to get serious, she got scared. Rarely did she come to Duffer or Glenn/Jimmy shows. She started saying the same thing she told me when I wanted to play in the NBA as a young child -- don't count on it. Do school. Do work. Music is nothing more than fun.

Since Cassavettes started, she's been supportive at various levels (she did lend us a substantial amount of money after I ran out while financing "It's Gonna Change" -- she has since been repaid) and slowly been more comfortable with me trying this as a full-time gig (always after gradution, I promised). Well, we've been talking about jobs a lot lately, because I'm right there on the cusp of that post-grad panic. I've had a couple offers and ideas, but none seem to fit into the fabric of playing with the band. In comes some Motherly advice:

"What are you concerned about? Because I think you're worried about money, but want to play music." (NOTE: I'm not really worried about the money, there are just varying degrees of offers, some WAY better than expected)
"Yeah, those two don't exactly add up, do they?"
"I've been thinking you should just take the next year or couple years, and ride this thing to see where it goes."

WHAT? That's the first time those words have left her lips. I've always said I should do this while we're still young or I'll end up regretting it later, but that was always a lonesome sentiment. I want to live when I'm young -- I know that it would be too easy for me to fall into the straight-laced, buttoned-down working life. I like work. I like hard work and seeing something blossom, and I don't like being behind -- all good reasons to take what I can now. But I also don't want to end up being over 50 and regretting giving all my youth to work and no play. This way I can do both. And if I can get a job that pays for some of that, even better. I can balance a whole hell of a lot, it's my blessing to make up for being given such a crappy memory.

Anyway, I'm all in. I love music. I love the band. I want to make it happen. To prove this, you see, I don't take sick days from Cassavettes.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Good news comes in twos (2-year anniversary wrap up)

Last night can not be explained. It was incredible. Many of our friends from Texas up in the front, our friends from Boston holding it down as the seasoned vets. Two years -- whoa.

Playing 16 songs wears you out. Now I know how real bands feel every night, eh? It's easy in practice, but when you're putting your all into a show, man, it can wear you out fast. Maybe I'm just out of shape. I need to start jogging again...

There are so many people to thank, I can't even name them all. Of course, everyone who came, everyone who played, and the Middle East and Miller Lite for making it happen. But special thanks to Julie and Alex for running cameras, Jen and Andy for recording the show, Emeen and Andrew for acting as psuedo stage hands, Chris for helping organize, Kevin McDevitt for running merch without being asked and doing it honestly, and of course, Kier for his banjo and MC skills, MK for being MK, Ward for his golden voice, Jeff and Colin for shredding, and Siv and Sara for playing those sweet strings. What an unforgettable night!

SET LIST: She's A Bright Light / It's Gonna Be Alright / You'll Be Crying Soon / Trouble From The Start / Like Secrets Beneath (w/ MK Fabila) / Still Untitled Tune / Research Blvd (w/ Kier Byrnes) / Set Free (w/ Siv Lie and Sara Birnbaum) / Ambivalent Farewells (w/ MK Fabila) / On The Lam / Loose Lips / Shotgun Wedding / The Nadir / Debts / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This (w/ Colin Toomey, Ward Hayden, John Stump, Kier Byrnes, MK Fabila, Jeff Katz, and probably more that I couldn't see) -- ENCORE: Shine A Light

Anyway, as they say, good news comes in twos. We just got a big show July 31 at the Paradise Rock Club opening for none other than Kings of Leon! It's a free show that you win your way into, so hopefully we can try to get some tickets!

But thanks thank you thanks and thank you for last night. It was amazing.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Hear ye! Hear me!

It's the day between two big events. Yesterday, my 22nd birthday. Tomorrow, the band's second birthday. This means party.

I've been laying low on the posting front for a couple weeks. In that time, I've gone to Virginia and back, hung, AJ moved to Boston, about a dozen friends from Texas have come to visit, and now it all comes to fruition. Even better, I'm sick! I feel terrible! But the show must go on. I shan't ruin the act. The band has worked out a killer set, I believe, for tomorrow's show. Just as we started jamming the first song at practice last night, we busted a fuse and all the lights went out. That shows how much rock you can expect. For those placing bets, I'll give you one tell: We're playing 15 songs. Yes, 15. While we only have 17 recorded total on the two albums, a fair amount will be new material. That's the way we roll.

To get pumped for the big show, the Patriot Ledger's affable music critic Jay Miller interviewed me earlier this week and wrote this nice piece. While there are a few parts that are smoothed for the sake of transition (like me saying Mike lives in Brighton, out toward Chestnut Hill, not IN Chestnut Hill, but hey, that's just a technicality) and we're referred to as THE Cassavettes (probably because Kier always does, haha), this is a good article about the band's life so far.

The final version of the band achieves some compelling sounds, which we likened to Counting Crows when we first heard them, or perhaps to the pop/twang offerings of The Mavericks. Byrnes calls them the perfect blending of Tom Petty-meets-Elvis Costello. Their first CD, "It’s Gonna Change," was released in December, and has garnered admirable airplay on WFNX, among others. But with three songwriters, and four fairly disparate personalities, the band’s music is a constant blending process.

Perhaps my favorite part is this quote about Matt.

The three Texans found a drummer the new-fashioned way; they ran an ad on Craigslist. That led them to Maynard native Matt Snow, who was studying at Berklee School of Music.

"Matt had no country style in his background at all," Yoder said. "He was kind of a jam-band rocker who also liked heavy metal. But he is a fast learner and a fun guy to have around. He’s able to do so much we sometimes have to tell him to rein it in, take it easy, and just play a simple country two-step. But having him with us gives the Cassavettes an adventurous edge, because he’s a dynamo, and that’s exactly what we wanted."

The arrivals of Snow and Jones cemented the lineup, and that all occurred almost exactly two years ago, hence the budding "anniversary" show the quartet hopes becomes a tradition.

A nice clip and nice promo for the show! OK, if this is the last time we speak before July 7, I hope you have the time of your young life tomorrow. I know I will, even if I yak. Down with the sickness.

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