Left Hook Videos, Part I

I put a whole bunch of videos from the Left Hook show at Fisherman’s Net back in April. I was using a new camera and new editing software so it took a little while, but now you can go and check it out:

http://zingman.com/music/lefthook/FN150425/

I made six medleys of some high points of the show. Each one is about two minutes long, with about four songs. I also put up four whole songs: I Got You (I Feel Good), Them Changes, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking, and Drift Away. For each there’s three renditions: BBH is broadband high, BBL is broadband low, and Cel is for cel phones and mobile devices. Down the line I’m gonna set up a page to serve the right one automatically.

Next up I’m gonna go thru the video for the Dudley’s show and post some footage from that. Meanwhile, here’s some pictures from the Dudley’s gig:

http://zingman.com/music/lefthook/dudleys1505/

This time we even got some shots of our drummer Gus!

Summer Kick-Off

Hi, I’m back. Been busy traveling and other stuff, getting an early start on my summer. I went upstate to visit my brother Martin and then on to the Adirondacks to see my good friend Mark for a few days. Nice just to disconnect from everything and spend a few days on my own. Martin and family are doing well. Abbie is now past two. Out of baby phase and into little kid phase. She’s trying hard to keep up with her big brother, who is trying hard to keep up with *his* big brother. Meanwhile out in the yard they have chickens and ducks and guinea fowl running around and squonking all the time. Great fun.

I haven’t been up to the mountains in a while and it was good to reconnect with nature and to see Mark too. The weather was beautiful and bugs not too bad, so we did a bunch of hiking and canoeing. Very peaceful, just awesome. Mark is doing well too, busy running his own business building web sites for everyone (it seems) in the region. On my last night there I sat in with Mark’s band Crackin’ Foxy. They do old-timey gypsy jazz, and are quite good. Two female singers for an Andrews-sisters-ish sound, two guitarists and a standup bass, with Mark on banjo and ukulele. I played soprano sax and had a great time.

On the drive home coming out of the mountains I wrote a new song.

Lizzy had a concert at her school for her a cappella group and the school band (obviously not performing together). They were really excellent, even surprisingly so. In fact the a cappella group got invited to sing the national anthem at a Yankee game next weekend!

On Memorial Day weekend we had a big ol’ barbecue and had a bunch of friends over. Everyone is so busy all the time so it’s good to see people and hang out. Also went rollerblading for the first time this season, and took the Mustang out for a nice long ride. In between lots of yardwork (today it finally got actually *hot*), working on music, my web site and of course origami for my new book. I now have 16 models designed, including a brand-new Quadrocoptor, and two new models diagrammed and the diagrams for two more well begun. Only a month until convention and lots to do!

Flight of the Concorde

Flight of the Concorde
May 13, 2015

Here’s one more new model for the Air and Space theme: a Supersonic Transport. Perhaps the Concorde’s most famous flight was the one in 1985 that carried drummer and vocalist Phil Collins across the ocean to open the Live Aid concert in Wembley Stadium in London and close it RFK Stadium in North America sitting in with a (temporarily) reunited Led Zeppelin.

The annual OUSA convention is coming up soon, and I’ve committed to teaching a bunch of these new models. This is to help motivate me to do some diagramming; I’d like to get the bulk of my new book done this summer. So far I’ve been concentrating on the simpler models. I’ve done two in the last two days. The next two are low-intermediate, then two solid intermediate, and a high intermediate and a complex one.

Double Play

Last Saturday nite Left Hook played our second gig, at Dudley’s Bar and Marina. It was an excellent time. Some friends came out to see us (Hi Joyce and Lisa!), and at some very enthusiastic drunks at the bar. We played pretty much the same show as the first gig, with a few substitutions here and there. As with the first gig we only played about half our third set, but this time we decided to extend the second set rather then break and come back. Overall the band was both tighter and looser. More precise, more relaxed, more musical. According to our singer my sax playing was particularly smoking that night.

Audio and video coming soon. Meanwhile here’s some pictures from the show.

We don’t have any gigs lined up for the rest of the month, so now we’re gonna learn a bunch of new tunes, and get together some audio and video clips, put together a press kit and systematically pursue a higher level of gigs. The goal is to become a kick-ass bar band, and I think we have what it takes to do it.

Left Hook Web Update

I made some updates to the Left Hook website at http://lefthooknyc.com.

These include a link to follow us on Facebook, and some photos and video from our last gig. I’m in the process of making some medley montages of the show, but that’s a fussy and time consuming process cuz I’m learning new editing software on this one, so for now I’m just putting up one song, our cover of Can’t You Hear Me Knocking by the Stones. This was a highlight of the show and represents our sound as well as any number we do. I’m not sure if the video streams correctly on all devices, so if you click on the link I’d appreciate it if you drop me a line saying if it works for you, and if you’re on a computer or a phone, and what OS and what browser. Thanks and enjoy!

Meanwhile more video and pics coming soon, and another gig this Saturday.

Origami Spacecraft Part Two

I got a note from my publisher today saying that the my book, Origami Animal Sculpture, has reached its first year sales target after only 6 months. Thanks to everyone who’s bought the book!

I’ve been experimenting more with origami spacecraft in preparation for book two. I now have a SpaceX Dragon. Of all the hundreds of paper dragons out there, I’m pretty sure this is the only one of these. Also an Apollo CSM. In real life the two vessels have the same diameter. These models will too, if folded out of the same size paper, but I used 10” for one and 8.5” for the other.

I made a few domes as well to have some simpler models in the front of the book and introduce the folding techniques. I call these the Radar Dome and the Moon Base Dome. The chapter will also include an Observatory and a Radiotelescope.

On The Waterfront

Left Hook is playing this Saturday down by the waters of Long Island Sound. The lat show was a smashing success and this one should be even better. We’re getting a banner made!

LEFT HOOK
Classic rock funk and soul

Saturday May 9. 9:00 PM
Dudley’s Bar & Marina
94 Hudson Park Rd. New Rochelle

Hope to see you there!

Meanwhile unfortunately, the 7 Jazz West show for the following weekend has been cancelled due to illness of one of our guys.

Knockout!

The Left Hook debut show was last night, and it went great! I’m happy that all our planning and hard work is paying off. Everyone in the band is psyched too. It’s a great set, a great sound and a great group of musicians. I handpicked the lineup from the best musicians I know, all seasoned pros. It’s great that they all agreed to join, get along well, and are enthusiastic and onboard.

I’ve been with Gus, our drummer the longest. Really solid drummer, and loves old soul music in particular, just great with groves and pockets. It was just about a year ago The Relix broke up, and we’ve been trying to put together a new group ever since. Gus also has been handling the business side of things, for which I’m grateful, cuz I’ve been focusing on the music and sound side.

Meanwhile Ken came in just at the end of February and learned 40 songs in six weeks. Not too shabby. He was the bassist in the Day Trippers as well as 7 Jazz West, so it this point I’ve played quite a few gigs with him. Also known for his collection of vintage bases.

Mike Jefferson is our lead singer. He’s was in a band with Gus once before and joined us right after the Relix, and stayed on as we went thru a few bass and guitar players. A former heavyweight boxer, born and raised (partway) in England, he has a fondness for prog and folk rock, but can sing really well in a lot of styles. Very powerful voice. Just nails it on the Doors and James Brown, and all the soul stuff. He’s also a music journalist and beats us all hands-down in the music trivia walking encyclopedia department. And in true lead singer rockstar style, he was hitting on the ladies before the end of the first set.

Gary Bruce on guitar came in after sitting in with the jazz circle one day and before he got done with his first eight bars I knew he’d be great for this group. The kind of guitar player who loves Steely Dan and Rush! Right on.

Because this gig got rescheduled twice, we didn’t have alot of our own people come out. In fact it was just Jeannie, who was there to shoot video for us, and our friend Gary the trumpeter from the jazz group. But the place was half-full when we got there, and we had them by the time we finished the sound check.

It was a good test for a lot of things, including my new PA. I learned we need a good hour to set it up and soundcheck. I also learned it works really fucking amazingly. After the disaster Day Trippers gig last December I realized having control of the vocal sound is the most important thing for a club date.

The sound system has two 1000-watt main speakers. I optimized for lightness, since you gotta get ‘em in and out of the car and up onto poles. Then there’s a pair of 300 watt stage monitors. I didn’t know if this would provide enough coverage, especially for the drums in the back, but everyone could hear just fine. I was running the mixer from the stage, but once the soundcheck was over I literally didn’t have to do anything and could just relax and focus on performing. The mixer, BTW, I chose for it’s built-in compressors in the channel preamps, it’s onboard reverb/chorus/delay effects that saved us from having to schlep another piece of gear, and it’s separate monitor buss. All in all it worked great, and we got that fat live vocal sound I was really after.

Once we got underway it was pretty clear the people at the bar were really digging it. Must’ve been the right place for this kind of music. We opened with a couple funk numbers – Them Changes by Buddy Miles and I Got You by James Brown. Good horn tunes, right in our zone. Then it was some classic rock to show off our harmony singing – No Matter What by Badfinger and When I Saw Her Standing There. Next was the Blue Öyster Cult classic Burning for You, with yours truly on lead vocals. Then a couple of organ songs – Hush by Deep Purple and Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf, followed by Gary doing a little SRV Pride and Joy. Then it was back to soul music with Knock on Wood and Get Ready. We ended the set with Can You Hear Me Knocking by the Stones, which turned out to be a real highlight.

The second set opened with We’re An American Band, and on to (Ain’t Nothin’ But a) House Party, and switching to sax for Domino. I sang lead on You May Be Right, and then Drift Away with Gary on lead vocals, and some random chick from the bar who looked and sounded a lot like Katy Perry sitting on background vocals. I guess she’d been hitting on Mike or vice versa, but she really could sing. Then it was Love Me Two Times, which was a bit rough for structure, and Pretzel Logic which was a bit rough for tempo and feel. We closed the set strong with a string of soul numbers – Devil With a Blue Dress/Good Golly, Dance to the Music, Hold on I’m Coming and Soul Man.

The first two sets ran an hour each, so the last set was shortened a bit. Songs included Come Together, Long Train Running with me on lead vocals, Rikki Don’t Loose the Number with Gary on lead vocals, Miami 2017 with me on lead vocals again, then In the Midnight Hour, Mustang Sally, and closing with Roadhouse Blues.

They invited us back to play again, and possibly do a regular gig there. So ya, good feelings all around. And we got it on video so we can put together some material for the web site and to try and get new gigs. Meanwhile we have a show in two weeks at Dudley’s in New Rochelle. Gonna spend the next couple rehearsals tweaking and tightening. Come out and see us on May 9!

Rocket Science

The thing about simplicity in art (or anything else I suppose) is that it’s actually harder than complexity. My natural tendency as a folder is toward the complex. It’s effortless in a way to keep on going, adding more detail, until you have what you want. But I’ve learned a lot from doing my first book, and I want to have enough simple to intermediate models to open it up to a wider appeal. To get to simple, you have to remove and remove until you get to what’s truly essential. Sometimes this involves jettisoning things you think are really important only to find they don’t matter at all.

Today I spent my time experimenting with simple rocket designs. The major insight was to make avoid the puffing-out phase, that is to make an X rather than and O when seen from above. It’s funny cuz I was corresponding with a colleague, explaining my goals for the new book, when a new design approach hit me mid-sentance. Came up with two or three good models that can be folded in 10 minutes or less. Also past the halfway point in model count, so that means to me critical mass.