Monthly Archives: July 2007

Random Facts Meme

I was tagged by Rustin to participate in the following meme… so here are the rules:

1. players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
2. those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
3. players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

I still don’t know why this is called a “meme” and I hope this doesn’t mean that I’m signing up for some weird club but this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. My athletic abilities are restricted to activities that may be interesting to some (well… me for instance), but don’t make you popular when you’re growing up in a tiny town in Northwest Kansas. I’m better than most people I’ve ever met at things like: Knife throwing, Tomahawk throwing, hackey sack (solo), whip cracking, boomerang throwing (and catching) and juggling. I’m also good with a frisbee, but again, there were no teams…
  2. Although I love to read now, my dad was always bugging me to read when I was in grade school because there were always these book clubs and reading contests in school and he was the school librarian after all.
  3. When I first started college, I was about 5’10” and weighed between 115-120 pounds. (pure muscle!) I had really long bangs with a blonde streak in it that I got put in the summer after I graduated from high school after fighting with my dad about it. At the small college I went to, I considered it a triumph to find out that many people thought I was from California instead of Northwest Kansas.
  4. Nightcrawler is my favorite X-man. When I was in 4th grade, my friends who were a year older than me introduced me to the X-men and Dungeons and Dragons. We were all assigned X-men code names. Adam was Colossus, Tim was Wolverine, Sean was Cyclops and I was obviously Nightcrawler. Just another reason why X-men 3 sucked beyond comprehension…where did he go?
  5. From about 4th grade through High School, I started reading the Fellowship of the Ring about 6 times and finally got all the way through it once. But I didn’t have the energy to even start the Two Towers. I always felt like such a loser because all my friends (x-men) had read the Lord of the Rings multiple times and had even read the Silmarillian. When we played D&D, and they started arguing about sources for the game that came from Tolkien’s masterpiece, I just pretended like I knew what they were talking about. I finally completed the trilogy AND the Silmarillion after the first movie came out.
  6. When I was in 8th grade I set a school record for pole vaulting 10′ 6″ high in a track meet. I loved to pole vault and that was the only reason I went out for track in the first place, because I really don’t like to run. If I could go find a pole vault pit and pole somewhere that they’d let me, I’d go out and pole vault for fun. But again, that’s one of those things that you just don’t find at work out gyms… As you get better at pole vaulting, you start using heavier and heavier poles so that there’s more stored energy in the pole as you bend it. I kept going up it pole weight, but got to the point where I’d bend the pole and it would shoot me straight up in the air because I couldn’t run fast enough to build forward momentum to go over. So, to get better I was going to have to start running faster. I didn’t go out for track after my Freshman year. It’s been a long time since I’ve checked, but to my knowledge the 8th grade record stands.
  7. In actuality, I am a perfectionist. For example: my wife is always amazed when I fold clothes because she thinks they’re so perfect when I do it. I don’t agree with her. In fact, that’s why I hate folding clothes: I can’t get them perfect. Unfortunately, the prominent motivation in my life that always over rides my perfectionism is my laziness.
  8. When I was 27 and the music started at the midnight showing of “The Phantom Menace” on opening night, I cried.

My perfectionism is showing. I’m not sure if those are the 8 things I want to post… My bigger problem is coming up with eight ‘tags’. I don’t have many friends whose blogs I read with any regularity.

Bill McNeil

That’s all I’ve got and I resorted to myspace… sorry.

1 Comment

Posted by on July 31, 2007 in Uncategorized


The rest of the story…

(if you haven’t already, you need to go down and read the previous post “The setup of low expectations…)

First, James and I get to Arsaga’s and find my friend, Keith, waiting for us in the parking lot. I had mentioned the gig to Keith on Wednesday night at a 4th of July party, and he’d asked if he came if he could play. At the time, I told him to plan on it. Now, Keith is a world-class musician/songwriter/bassist who travels all the time, and I didn’t really expect that on one of his few weekends off, he’d want to 1) come to my little coffee house gig 2)Actually want to play with me. Imagine my surprise to find him already there and waiting on us, with my songs all charted out and ready to play!

So, we get set up and start playing. Keith is awesome! I always forget just how much a really good bass player can fill out the sound, even w/o a lot of drums playing with him. Because Keith had actually done some preparation for the gig, I stuck pretty close to originals with the few covers being real crow-pleasers. Well, I start realizing there there are quite a few people in the place and they’re having a good time and really paying attention to what we’re doing. A number of people that I knew showed up that don’t regularly show up for Arsaga’s gigs. So, people were actually coming and staying. I’d taken decongestants and tylenol before the gig, and so I was feeling ok and sounding ok. James was doing great and we were just really having a fun time! Because we were doing mostly originals and covers that I’ve been doing for quite some time, Holly stayed on stage most the night and gave us some rhythm and sang the two songs that she sings lead on. Sound seemed just about right: Loud enough, but not blaring.

Ivy is sitting at a table right up front with some friends and is just eating up the attention. At one point, I was coaching the crowd on “Sha-la-la” words they’re supposed to sing with me, and I tell Ivy that I can’t hear her. Right on cue, she jabbers so the whole place can hear: “la-la-la-la…” It brought the house down!

As if that weren’t all enough and really the most fun. With about 20 minutes left, another friend, Keith’s partner, Ezra, jumps to the stage and takes over Holly’s dumbek. He’s beating the crap out of it and it sounds AWESOME! He stays up for the rest of the set on dumbek and we end up playing an impromptu U2 medley of “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Where the Streets have no Name” with Keith wailing on bass and Ezra rocking out on dumbek. IT WAS AWESOME!

To top it all off, I made the most possible from the drawer, did well with tips, and sold 7 CDs! (I think 4 CDs sold at an Arsaga’s gig was my previous record.)

So, even though I came in with such low expectations, it easily turned into the best Arsaga’s gig I’ve ever played. The fact that these great songwriters, Keith and Ezra, not only like and respect my music, they even enjoy playing it with me is a huge vote of confidence and affirmation to me as a songwriter/musician.

It seems like a perfect time to take a break. It’s not that I’m never going to play Arsaga’s again. It’s just that I’d like to write some more songs, maybe get a new project recorded and come back with a whole new set. That’s the plan at this point. I don’t know if I’ll cut back to playing just once a quarter or what. We’ll just see.

Thank you to everybody who came out the other night and made it such a blast!


Posted by on July 13, 2007 in Uncategorized


The setup of low expectations…

I’ll be honest. I had really low expectations for the gig at Arsaga’s last night for a number of reasons.

It’s the middle of summer. It’s hotter than a firecracker out there! Who wants coffee? Who wants to sit in a coffee house on a Saturday night and listen to me play music?

The coffee house has been experimenting with a new system for paying the acts, and it’s been biting everybody in the ass. The new deal is that the house needs to take in $x and then the act gets paid whatever they take in over that at the drawer. There’s no cover ever, so it’s all dependent on 1) People coming to the show 2) People spending money on drinks.

I’ve been hearing for a number of weeks, Arsaga’s has been really slow and nobody has got paid much from the drawer since instituting this new pay plan.

I didn’t do any more publicity than usual. I took two posters to the store earlier in the week and I sent out a regular email inviting people to come out. So, I really didn’t expect many, if any people to show up.

So, in addition to thinking 1)Nobody’s going to come out which means 2)I’m not going to get paid anything, I’m also in a weird, conflicted state about this being my last Arsaga’s gig for awhile. The thing is, I’ve been playing this gig for maybe 5 years now.? And although I’m usually playing new covers just to see if I can pull them off, and people still seem to enjoy and request my originals, new originals come few and infrequently. To me, it feels like about the same gig that I’ve been doing for a long time. The fact is that if I were writing more, it would stay way more interesting to me. The fact is, the gig kind of bores me a lot of the time and especially when people haven’t shown up lately, my brain assumes that any crowd/following/friends must be bored with the same old thing, too.

I start my new career as a 7th grade Math/English teacher in about a month. This means that I’m not going to need the little extra income I usually make from playing Arsaga’s, and I can back off from playing there every couple of months to mayble playing once a quarter or maybe even once every 6 months. It’s good that I’m going to be able to put some time between gigs. Maybe I’ll actually write some new songs. Maybe if I’m playing more infrequently, people will be more interested when opportunity comes to come out and see me.

At the same time, the arsaga’s thing has been the last vestiges of my life as a “professional singer/songwriter”. Even though I’m excited about teaching and getting a real paycheck and not depending on music for my livelihood anymore, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to let that go. Whenever somebody asks me “What do you do?” I’ve always just answered, “I’m a musician.” I’m tremendously proud that I have been able to say that I’ve made a living (not a great living, but a living) for the last 13 years of married life as a musician. Now, I guess I’ll have to answer, “I’m a 7th grade math/english teacher.”…? I guess when it comes down to it, I’m still a guy and find a lot of my identity in what I do. And even though I strongly believe that teaching is a very important, admirable profession and career, I’d still rather see myself as a “professional musician.” That’s hard for me to get over.

So far, the way I’ve dealt with this has been to try not to think about it. And I’ve certainly not spoken it out loud to anybody. But it’s there. And thinking this was my last (for awhile) Arsaga’s gig was bringing those feelings up to a ragged edge.

Also, my friend James will be moving soon. Not only does this make me sad personally, this is most likely the last gig that I’ll have James backing me for quite some time. He’s good, doesn’t like to practice any more than I do, is willing to wing it every time, and he tries not to let me pay him. How am I going to find another lead player like that?

And to top it all off, I haven’t played out for like 2 months, have been healthy that whole time, and earlier this week I get some kind of cold or something! My head is full, I’ve been achy, and I just feel like crap. On Saturday I was feeling better but playing any gig, but especially one that you’re not sure you want to play in the first place, without feeling 100% well REALLY sucks.

So, like I said, I was really just hoping to get last night at Arsaga’s over with and hoping that I’d make out with more than $5 for the effort.


Posted by on July 8, 2007 in Uncategorized