HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SHAPING UP 4888 HOBBS FOR THE WINTER

After pretty much abandoning "the office" for the summer, I decided I had best winterize the place, Basically what that means is getting lots of boxed mouse poison and setting it out as this is the time of year when my furry little buddies try to move in and start chewing on the wiring.

Wonderful Kim has helped me with several projects, including the one pictured here. I have put together so many NFL helmets that I needed to go out to Menard's and get some shelving to display them all properly.
We had the usual fun trying to locate the studs to hang the shelves properly. either we missed altogether, or we would hit something that must have been made out of kryptonite because the bit would start smoking and Kim was certain I was burning the office down.

As you can see, I didn't burn the office down.

A couple of days ago, we took most of the day emptying out the refrigerator and freezer, cleaning all surfaces with lysol, and unplugging the unit. No sense in running a refrigerator when there is nothing in it. If and when I get company I can always turn it back on. It only took me gten years to figure that out!

One day I went over there during a rain storm to find the roof is leaking! Ah, yes - when it rains, it pours -- or in this case it drips.

Called the handyman and got the estimate: $1450. (sigh). And the wood stove needs to be re-lined with fire brick before I can start using it this winter.

It's a money pit!

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I got a wonderfully newsy e mail from my pal Robert "One Man" Johnson who is back overseas again this year. I'm hoping he won't mind if I share it with you. If he minds, I will take it down. Here it is:

Got an email this morning canceling my meeting with 'Don' (his real name is probably something like Toraporn Chonaphat) a guitar maker/repair person. Too bad, I was looking forward to the visit and establishing a relationship with the guy. I will try again to get with him after our October break.

I went out last night to hear music with a Kiwi guy named Peter Johnson. We also golf together. He is a music fan, especially 'blues'. I now put that in quotes because I am finding that the current 'blues-mania' phase, which is also prevalent in Thailand, means specifically 'Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan Music'. I am discovering that very few of the listeners have yet to go backward to the roots of blues, and the concept of rural blues is really quite a novelty. This is a good deal for me here, as I tend to talk about the music from the stage anyway. Once an educator, always an educator.

So, we went first to a cool place called Saxophone. Large place with two levels, good sound system and great dark ambience with no smoking. They have music 7 nights a week starting at 7:30 and it ranges from trad jazz and big band to 'blues' to a group of college kids trying to play Monk and Coltrane. In between the first two groups performing last night, I was allowed to do a three song guest set. I chose one of mine, Blues is a Feeling and then did Yonder's Wall from Junior Parker (slyly explaining its connection to Stevie Ray Vaughan's version of Boot Hill) and then did a BB King, It's My Own Fault. Lots of applause from a small early-evening audience. The manager paid for my tab and gave me a business card and requested my contact info. So, maybe...

Then we went to a tiny little club called Ad Here. Six tables and 10 stools with seating outside for the cigarette smokers. The first act was a guy singing and playing standards from a fakebook. Things like Mack the Knife and Somewhere Over a Rainbow but done in a 'swing' style. No chops and a bad Thai accent, but he was joined by a soprano sax player who improvised all over the top of stuff in a very hip way. I had done a guest set there a couple of weeks before so didn't ask to play but waited for the second band.

Interesting group comprised of a 50 year old German guitar player, a 15 year old Thai kid on a beatup 70s Strat, a 30 something skin-head Thai drummer, a Thai 5-string bassist with black hair down to his butt and a burnt-out 60 year old Brit who sang OK but played horrible 'blues' harp through a cool 50's Kalamazoo amp. Their set started unevenly with a couple of 'Allman Brothers tunes' and Stevie Winwood's Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.

Just as I was about to give up on them, they really lit up on a couple of Howling Wolf tunes (a very high speed version of Killing Floor and then a super-slow version of Sitting on Top of the World), a good 'non-Cream, non-Robert Johnson' version of Crossroads, another Howling Wolf tune (can't remember which one) and closed the set with a guest-Thai singing Tore Down. What made it all work was that they were tight and well rehearsed but didn't copy the songs, letting each guy improvise on the sections.

They were really good players (except the harp) and the young Thai boy was very strong, eyes closed, some sort of savant type. I will go back to this place many times this year, I think. I drank several Chang Beers and got home too late, but I didn't have to work today!


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