Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Down Home Texas Blues Harmonica Festival & Clinic

Texas summers are HOT, but July 31st in Houston is guaranteed to be the HOTTEST darned day on the year. This, folks, WILL be G-R-E-A-T (to quote Tony the Tiger). This ain't gonna be the last time that you hear about it on the ol' blog here, either. Just want to get the word out before summer vacation plans and a destination is needed.

Down Home Texas Blues Harmonica Festival/clinic.

Saturday, July 31st, Houston, Texas

Doors open 3PM

Live Band - H-Town Jukes - 3PM - 3:45PM (flow)

Adam Gussow Modern Blues Harmonica Clinic 4PM - 6PM

Dinner Break - 6PM - 7PM - Grill Menu Available on site.
(The heights has some of the best Mexican food in the world just a few
blocks away)

Pocket Full of Soul: The Harmonica Documentary Viewing 7PM - 7:45PM
(DVDs for sale on site that evening)

Dave Nevling and the Blues Kats 8PM - 8:45PM

Rob Roy Parnell's Texas Roadhouse Blues - 9PM - 9:45PM

Adam Gussow One Man Band 10PM - 10:45PM

Sonny Boy Terry Band - 11PM - 11:45 Finale - 11:45 - Midnight

After Midnight Open mic Texas Blues Jam
Hosted by Steve "Fess" Schneider Midnight to Close
all blues performers welcome

Adam Gussow's Modern Blues Harmonica Clinic.
Admission: 25.00 - All ages accompanied by Adult.
Texas Blues Harmonica Showcase - 8PM - 1:30AM Admission: 12.00
($10 for Houston Blues Society members. Must verify current membership)

Total Package Price: 35.00
Saturday, July 31st.
Dan Electro's Guitar Bar
1031 East 24th Street
Houston, Texas, 77009

My Update--
I've been a bit mired is one of life's quicksand puddles and have had very limited access to a computer since I've been back from Chicago and will re-cap our time in that wonderful city as soon as someone tosses me a longer rope so I can pull myself back onto solid land. Let me just say the Filsko/Noden & Jim Liban Trio was fine, fine, fine. My son loved the Blue Man Group mucho better. Not enough for now--but all I've got time to type. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chi-town Bound

A month or so ago, decent round trip air flights to Chicago enticed me into planning a trip up yonder during my 16 year old son's Spring Break from school. Of course, he'd rather that we head south to some tropical spot. He questioned my sanity in regards to heading to where the temperatures still may be freezing. I figured that no one but us would be traveling that direction for the break.
My wife's father was born and raised in that great American city, so she was all in with the idea. It'll be a bit cold, but I don't think a blizzard will attack us--never know, but don't think do. Been wanting to go, so it's a done deal.

Plans are to slip into the Windy City on March 16th. By the way, I always thought that the city's nickname came from the breeze blowing in from Lake Michigan, but my research indicates that it is as much from what politicians there had a tendency to generate during a certain era more than anything else. (hmmm, Obama's the senator from where?). Anyway, we plan on tackling the city on their "L" trains, buses, and taxis, so we'll catch the Blue Line from O'Hare to Hotel 71 in the downtown loop section of town.

We'll try to get checked in and may check out some of the museums and such in the downtown area. Maybe visit what was once the the tallest building in the world--the Sear Tower, which isn't the tallest any longer and isn't the Sears Tower any longer. It's the Willis Tower now.

The Art Institute of Chicago and the tower are both within a short walk. I've heard that the Hancock Tower offers better views. We'll have to check 'em out.
Can't go to Chicago without hearing some blues now can we? Now can we? No, of course not. Why go, if we ain't gonna hear some blues being laid down? I mean, golly gee, that's what this blog is all about. Well, the biggest obstacle to that is that most blues clubs just ain't gonna allow a 16 year old through their doors and this being a family outing, I had to get creative with that goal. Buddy Guy's Legends club ain't letting us in after twilight, but we can visit there for lunch and they said that someone will be bending a few blues strings. So that's an option. Also, I found that Morry Sochat and the Special 20s are holding court at Shaw's Oyster Bar on the 16th and it is less than a mile from the
hotel, so we'll check them out. I wrote a short piece about his latest release awhile back in regards to his harp blowing, which is steeped in a little swinging style blues along with the ChiTown grooves. So, we'll grab a little Great Lake seafood and listen to a good band serenade us.

Depending on the weather, but either on Wednesday or Friday, I think we'll take the Green Line over to Oak Park and seek out Virginia's dad's homeplace. That area is supposed to be a very well kept, historical area of Chicago and his old house has been well preserved by subsequent owners. This is also a neighborhood that contains a large number of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural designs, including his former home. There is also, from what I read, a great independent bookstore in the adjacent Forest Park neighborhood that I want to check out. It is called Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore on 7419 W. Madison. I love independent bookstores, and since I my
second career plans involve being a crime story author (soon as someone somewhere jumps on my manuscript and publishes it), then this one specializing in such tales must be investigated by the Bushdog. Maybe they'll stay in business long enough for me to come back around for a book signing. Hah!

Wednesday evening offers the possibility to attend a blues jam. I contacted jam host, Rick Trankle, about the scenario at Jerry's Sandwiches (yeah, a blues jam at a sandwich shop--but my teenager can attend also). This one is called Highway RickEy's blues jam and he plays drums and blues harp in a type of cup that allows him to get pretty good tone. So, I've got to decide whether I want to travel with a case of harps or not. He has a Sonny Junior 410 amplifier, so the equipment should be there. So, that's a maybe.

Thursday, we'll take the Purple Line north to Evanston and check out the area. Maybe climb Mount Trashmore while we're there. Mount Trashmore is a 65 foot tall mound that once was a landfill site. It is now a park and at one time a popular ski slope for the urban dwellers, before THEY shut down that activity. Back in the day, the a Northwestern University football coach planted a Rose Bowl flag at the top to inspire his players to sprint up its sides. Have to check it out and since son John will be college-bound soon, maybe the University while we're over there. The REAL purpose to go to Evanston is for a concert featuring some great harmonica blowing at Evanston S.P.A.C.E. (which stands for Society for the Preservation of Arts and Culure in Evanston) and all ages are allowed inside.
Eric Noden and Joe Filisko will kick things off, followed by the Jim Liban Trio. Harp players reading this know how good Filisko and Liban are with harmonicas in their mouths. So, this will be a highlight of the trip for me--and hopefully my wife and son.

At some point we'll eat some more good food. I'm guessing that we've got to get some Chicago Deep Dish Pizza somewhere. Rosebud's Steakhouse has been very highly recommended. We'll check out Wrigley and Soldier Field and the Great Lake and the Magnificent Mile and whatever else crosses our paths. We'll pray for Global Warming to jump up and bite us while we're away. 'Nuff for Now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Great American (blues) Novel

Did I mention that I've written The Great American Novel? I didn't? Well, I didn't--but I did wrangle a mystery tale from the recesses of my brain cell. I have mention my River Bottom Blues a time or two (and will do it a time or two again, beginning now). Anyway, I've been shopping my ideas around to various and sundry agents in the form of a query letter designed to entice them into representing my work to a publisher (been doing that for awhile now). One day back around the first of February, I sent a query straight to a small, but reputable, publisher. They sent back a request for the full manuscript, so my "jump for joy" meter needle swung over to "ecstatic" (even though I really did know better). Alas, a month later, the rejection simply said something like "sorry, Charlie-- or tough luck Chuck--or something like that". Basically, they just reiterated just how competitive the market is at their publishing house, and wished me success with someone else.

I did happen to read an interview with the publisher, who outlined their publishing process. This, I think, more or less applies to most of the publishing houses and also agents selecting clients. He mentioned that from the thousands of queries that they get, that they'll request to see somewhere around 2,800 full manuscripts (one was mine), and from that number only 200 or so make the cut to be read by their editor-in-chief. The chief will choose four or five to be published for THAT year. What are the odds? Well, better than the lottery, I guess. Very, very selective.

I do correspond with other writers who have agents or have published with companies that I find interesting. One in particular submitted to this same publisher and did end up in the last cut, only to be rejected in the end. This author was told that her mystery's theme just had too narrow of an audience. Her hero? A blues guitar slinging gal attempting to clear a murder. Hmmmmmm.

If you are still reading at this point, my book has an evil bunch of yahoos knocking off blues harmonica players. Heck, us harmonica players garner way less respect than guitarists, which I guess would translate to an even skinnier sliver of an audience. See, they just don't understand that no one to this day has been arrested for killing Sonny Boy Williamson I in 1947, nor Little Walter Jacobs in 1968. So, it is quite possible that my crew could be out there carrying on such a tradition. Someone out there thinks like I do, so I'll just keep on sending out queries--until that blues loving, harmonica playing, mojo man (or mama)of an agent sends me a reply that says, "Yeah, buddy, send that baby to me and let's work together...come on,come on, let's work together". Sorry--got carried away.

'Nuff of that stuff--back to blues music. I've got Kid Andersen on my mind and iPod, and I promised anyone listening (or actually reading--the Rick Estrin show revies in particular), that I'd get to a post offering my take on the two recordings that I love by the Kid. Coming up--so stay tuned. In the mean time, just get your hands on his music. Oh, and if your cousin, aunt, uncle, or brother is an agent or...naw, I ain't pandering.