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Monday December 13 
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at-a distance diary, Oct-Nov 1999 


Monday December 13

A remarkable day.   Except that my unremarkable remarks are being made on Tuesday evening, well after the 10,000 events of Monday.  In web-time, this is one year after the fact.  

One of the great challenges of diary keeping: doing it in real time, especially while on the road.   Dealing with a laptop on the road is still a major pain in the ass.   Plugging-in, finding local numbers, dialing correctly (9 or 8 first?)  local or long distance, and connecting from strange hotels - there are great barriers which only the most nimble and patient road-Olympians manage to leap over with the currently available software and hardware.

Why must it be so difficult?  When will those jerks at MS make this easier?  

Uh,... wait a minute...

* * *

The day began at 8:15 with a breakfast meeting with David Singleton in our hotel lobby.   Then we whisked ourselves off to the offices of one of the largest VC firms in the world for a no-nonsense presentation that we put together in a Kinko's the night before.   

The work of the night before, preparation for this meeting, was a somewhat stressful process.  Working in a strange environment, with out the tools or comforts of home or familiar office was really difficult.   Curt was emailing us spreadsheets at 10pm for inclusion in the package we were preparing.   In one sense, we were preparing our escape vehicle for launch into uncharted territory.   Blue-prints for analysis by world-class builders and blue-print reviewers.   

The classic performer/audience questions apply here:  How much to include?  What to leave out?   Who is our audience?   How long is the set list?   Would they prefer 'bloed spoed' or 'circulations?'   Okay, lame and esoteric analogies aside: we were going in to pitch to the major league.

And, as seems to be our common state lately, we were both quite exhausted from the previous day's stresses in LA.   

However, the presentation really could not have gone better.    A home run.    We were also able to spend and hour with our prime host, the very well-known and respected George, a man who is able to really get stuff done.   By the end of the afternoon, we had some handshakes and plans to wrap up the paperwork by the end of Tuesday.   

Agreement.  And empowerment to take the next step.

I caught the last plane home, and flew straight into bed.  The race has begun.   In Mark Long's start-up analogy which I wrote about last week, the golden handcuffs were polished, measured, and gently placed around our wrists.  We have now stepped onto the machine.  

In January, the real running begins. 

* * *

Tuesday December 14

So, now that I'm back in Seattle, and I was back to MS work today, what was it that happened over the weekend again?    

Let's review the past 96 hours:

- A Friday evening SGC show on KSER
- A Saturday morning Seattle Beginner's Circle
- A Saturday evening SGC and SBRS show at the Rainbow
- An early Sunday morning flight to LA.   
- A late Sunday morning meeting in LA.
- A Sunday late afternoon flight to San Jose.
- A Sunday evening powerpoint session at Kinkos in San Jose.
- A Monday Morning meeting in Palo Alto.
- Continued Monday afternoon meetings.
- A Monday evening flight home.
- A busy Tuesday back in MS mode.
-297 unread emails.   Delete.
- A Tuesday evening logistics meeting with Diane and Curt before Diane blasts off for England at 6am tomorrow.  

A relatively early evening at home, clean up a few of the urgent emails, type some diary nonsense, then... to bed before Midnight.  

Unbelievable.   And completely necessary.  

One quick thought before bed:  I don't give a crap about watching television.  Right now, I want to shut my eyes, and allow my cells to intelligently reorg my body into something which will remain awake during the day tomorrow.

Many new challenges just over the hill.   

* * *

Wednesday December 15

Diane Aldahl was on a plane back to England this morning at 6am after 10 days in Seattle laying BTV groundwork for next year. Fortunately, I was fast asleep as she flew away. I slept in until 8:00am. Then, an hour of personal practice at home before walking out the door or checking email. Practicing first thing in the morning is one of the ways I stay sane in my otherwise insane daily schedule. 

The practice investment this morning paid off during SGC rehearsal this evening. We rehearsed downtown, loud and electric, for our show tomorrow evening at Third Place Books. We have signed up to play two fifty minute sets tomorrow evening from 6 to 8pm. Dean will fill in some of the spaces with 'ambient guitar.'  Earlier today, I invited Peter Dervin to come down and see the show tomorrow and then talk about promotion for our KSER benefit show in February on Whidbey Island.

We ran our Mr. Spots set with a few minor changes - Cultivating the Beat sounded the best I've ever heard from us. This was the main payoff from my work of the morning. And the rest of the set was honorable. Dean spent a little while struggling with his gear, but after the struggle ended, we spent some time working with circulation over his ambient guitar pads. Jaxie had a couple of appropriate quotes about our endless struggle with gear, neither of which I can remember right now.   Vulcanization is also ready to fly.   

Bob's solos on Sigh and a Kiss were killing me again tonight.   We are inching toward a new level of excellence.

* * *

It is just after midnight as I type this into my laptop as I sit in Triad Studios in Redmond listening to Brock Pytel sing the lead vocal of "My time is Flying" over the tracks we recorded in Vancouver a few weeks ago. Curt is 'producing' his vocal performances - Brock's voice is 'on' tonight, and the only necessary producing involves saying, 'that was great' and the occasional 'do that again, but this time sing that one note on pitch.' 

Brock is an excellent singer with a distinct and appealing vocal personality. When he is 'on' he is really ON. When he is not 'on', there is an occasional pitch problem here or there. But over the past eight years that I have know him, his strength, confidence, and maturity as a singer has blossomed nicely. 

On the way to the studio this evening, I listened to the tape Curt gave me of rough mixes of the instrumental tracks we recorded in Vancouver. Great stuff. The drumming is inspired. Guitars and bass also do a great job supporting these songs. With three fifths of the SGC as his rhythm section, Brock has a pretty tight backing band. I may be biased. Scratch that. I am definitely biased. But the music I hear on this tape confirms this fact, bias or not. 

Wonder when this configuration will play live? 

* * *

Windows 2000 shipped today. As a result, MS stock took off into uncharted territory. I can't say this makes me unhappy. One baby step closer to an SGC facility.

* * *
Met with Steve Enstad before SGC rehearsal this evening. Three high-fives began our meeting, a friendly alpha-male ritual to celebrate successful and substantial BTV seed funding. Besides logistics and details of my past weekend meetings, we had some interesting discussions about how to creatively cram two fifty-hour work weeks into one over the next six months. Efficient systems are the key to staying healthy and sane. I expect the year 2000 to be the most difficult, challenging, and rewarding of any of my past 37 years. 1999 is the end of a 7 year cycle, and 2000 begins the next. Later this weekend, I'll go into more detail about these cycles and the diary entry from 1993 which initiated this soon to be completed 7 year process. 

I've also decided to hire an assistant to help me keep my home in order. Meeting with a potential candidate Friday morning at 8:30am. 

* * *

Inventory of phone calls today: Tobin, Steven Rhodes, Dewey Reid, BE, MH, of VLG, David Singleton (asleep), my sister Katie, and Mom.

I'm going to visit my parents for Christmas from December 20-27th. The pages of this diary will also be on vacation during that period. That does not mean I won't be writing. I just won't be publishing.

Curt just asked me if I keep a private diary in addition to this public version.  He says that's the one he wants to read.  Ever heard of the fifth amendment?

* * *

It's 3:15am now. I've just finished singing backing vocals on six brocksongs. Eric, the engineer at Triad, is doing a quick rough mix to DAT of "Alright" for Brock to take to Toronto. Oops. One more time. Levels to DAT too hot. My eyes are barely open as I type this into my laptop. 

Curt's electric guitar sounds great.  Brock's songs deserve to be hits.  They have it all: simplicity and hooks backed up by convincing performances and an instantly recognizable sound.

Nice way to end a long, long day.

* * *   

Thursday December 16

Up relatively early this morning despite the late evening last night. I did not get up and practice this morning like yesterday, however. Post shower, I was checking email and into my day straight away. The BTV momentum from the weekend seems to have slowed down now that David and Diane are back on Broad Chalke time. And MS post-Win2K RTM is beginning to look like a ghost town as everyone begins to wind down for the holidays.

Around midday (Seattle time,) I phoned David at home - he was out at the DGM Christmas party. No return phone call - presumably, he was relaxing and having some fun. I did manage to reach Diane at home, post-party for a brief update. No real news or movement since she and David landed back in England. 

Steve Enstad continued to fill my email box with news of competition closing in on many sides. We are running in a race, and the pace is relentless. The internet space is moving fast not because the speed at which people are able to work has gotten any faster. It has accelerated because there are now millions and millions of people competing for the same resources using their 'personal' computers. 

All manner of solutions pour from the sky when one million people are working independently on the solving same problems.

* * *

At the end of my last meeting at 5pm, I was off to Lake Forrest (30 miles north of Seattle) for an SGC show at "Third Place Books." Traffic was steady but slow, so I arrived at 5:45 for our 6pm show. My magic red bag of universal connectors came in handy again.

By 6:00 we were off and running. 

Our two hour show in this bookstore/mall food court was honorable, but somewhat unsettling. There were pockets of 'presence' within this diverse and unintentional audience who were really really into what we were doing on stage. At least one audience member (Ron) came up afterwards and expressed his surprise that members of the League of Crafty Guitarists were here in his mall, playing this music in this space.   Perhaps this show was worth it for just this one audient.

And there were pockets of 'absence' in the crowd - for some of these people, it felt like we were playing into a complete vacuum -- every thing we did was ignored and irrelevant. 

Like the evening before, "Cultivating the Beat" was really cooking. This piece is finally coming to life under our fingers. The hard work is over. Now it is all about dynamics, phrasing, attention to detail, and simply letting the piece play itself.  Tonight, it played itself.  And I sat back amazed again at the wealth contained within this piece.

Our circulating on top of Dean's ambient guitar delivered mixed results. No major bummers, but nothing really took off or soared.   

To quote Dean, "we fulfilled our obligation."  

An old friend, Max Imholte, was in the audience. Max's wife, Teri, booked our show for us at this venue, although she could not stay to see the show due to her own commitment to a theatre production in Issaquah. 

Six years ago, I commissioned Max create a painting for the Prometheus album cover.

prometheus.jpg (36489 bytes)

I paid Max in advance with the money I made from the design of the Possible Productions knotwork:


My thinking at the time was that I wished to re-invest this money I had 'earned' by designing that knotwork into the creation of another piece of art. I suppose I was after some sort of cosmic recycling. Max's 'Prometheus' painting was never used for the Prometheus cover (Sanford found a piece he liked better on the beach in Santa Monica, an apocalyptic painting by Steve Wahl) so, without a deadline or a 'ship vehicle,' as we say in the software world, Max held onto this painting and continued to tweak and 'improve' this work. He even did a second version based upon an earlier sketch he had done. 

Around 1994, I fell out of contact with Max as my center of gravity moved into Rockslide and Gauchos mode.  It's actually much more complicated than this, but that's all I have energy to explain right now.

Five years later, this evening, Max delivered both of these paintings. I am very happy to see these again. Apparently, he had used this SGC show in his backyard as a deadline to complete his work, and get these paintings out of his house. 

It is very difficult to work in a vacuum. Why practice if there is apparently no audience for the fruits of our practice? Even in exceptional people, practice for the sake of practice is only sustainable for so long. 

* * * 

Peter Dervin arrived late to the SGC show - he was involved in a multi-car accident on I-5 on his way to the show. A car in front of him had done a 180 degree spin and Peter was caught in the middle of a multi-car bang up. Fortunately, Peter was unharmed, and his car was still usable. The person responsible for the accident fled the scene... Peter, the hero, came to our show despite his accident, and we had a post show logistics meeting about our upcoming KSER benefit show on Feb 4th on Whidbey Island. 

After the show, I gave Max a ride home, and then I came home to a quiet, empty house, scrawled out these dutiful words, and called it a day. 

* * *

Friday December 17

The day began with an interview of a cleaning service that I am considering hiring to clean my house on a bi-weekly basis.  Since I spend almost no time at home, this may seem absurd.  However, since I am completely anal and I can barely stand clutter or dirty counters, floors, tiles, or tubs, this is a very exciting Christmas gift to myself.  

* * *

I had a 10am meeting at MS this morning -- building 9 was a ghost town, but a few idiot ghosts were wandering the halls, myself included.   The developers across the hall were engaged in an all day 'play day' -- there were sounds of cars (midtown madness) and guns (unreal) and civilization building (age of empires II) spewing throughout the corridors near my office.   

I chose to hibernate inside and do some email house cleaning for most of the afternoon.  At 4:00, I left work, and went to see "The Green Mile" -- a surprisingly engaging film based upon a Stephen King story.

I recommend it -- great date film.    As if.  

* * *

After the film, I stopped at the store to pick up some groceries, and then went home early for a quiet evening at home.  No commitments, shows, rehearsals, start-up meetings, or deadlines.  Yippeee!

What a complete luxury.

What do I do when I have a wonderful free evening like this one?   Listen to music!!!    Tonight, I listened to some of my favorite CDs and generally puttered around the house tidying this, and organizing that.   In concert at my house tonight:

Jonatha Brooke - 10 cent wings
Jennifer Kimball - Veering from the Wave
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians
Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass - Passages
Josh White - Coming Undone
Robert Fripp - 'Pie Jesu' arranged by Bert Lams for the Opus 20 String Ensemble

This last one is a CD-R that will hopefully make it's way onto BootlegTV early next year.  It's pretty amazing stuff.  David suggested this idea to Robert awhile ago, but it was not until Bert volunteered to do these amazing soundscapes transcriptions that this became possible.

* * *

Between anal cleaning tasks, I also submitted the "Greenthumb" and SGC's "Twilight" to Amazon so that we can lose even more money on CD sales via the Amazon Affiliate program.   But at least we will be found on Amazon as of late January. 


If you search for SB on amazon today, you will find 'Ballistic' and 'the Breathing Field.'   Someone even bought a copy of 'the Breathing Field' from Amazon recently.   Could be because Peter Dervin has hypnotized his friends at KSER to play it once in awhile?  Or perhaps someone made a mistake?   If you search really hard, you might even find Sid Smith's favorite Electric Gauchos CD on the Amazon site.

The only thing that will really drive SGC or SB cd sales in the near term will be live shows.   I have no illusions about the function of the various CDs I have created over the past three years: in the short term, these are promotional tools designed primarily to entice people to come see live shows.

And the calendar for next year is already beginning to fill up. 

* * *

Tomorrow evening, the SGC has our last show of 1999.   I'm looking forward to a break.   I am looking forward to a week of parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, sleeping in, TV, movies, and Nintendo.

I am tempted to leave my guitar at home too, but the opportunity to practice (rather than sit impatiently) in airports is too much to pass up.  But as soon as I get home, the guitar goes in the closet.

* * *

I hope to hook up with Tobin and Sara on the east coast if they pass near my parents house.  Tobin emailed me a list of his recent horoscopes last week.  His future would seem to be rather bright you believe the horror-scopes in his email...     I do.

* * *

Dean emailed me this morning, denying that he said "we fulfilled our obligation" after the SGC show as I reported in my entry yesterday.  

One of us is obviously on crack.   

Hmmm...   I wonder if anyone else heard these words last night?   From whose mouth did they flow?  Perhaps my box will be littered with mail tomorrow as volunteers step forward to solve this great mystery?  Or perhaps it does not matter.

* * *

Earlier in this diary (I don't remember where,) I mentioned that this year marks the completion of a seven year cycle which began back in 1992.   Rather than explain this and get all clairvoyant on your ass, I decided to simply scan the pages from my 1992 diary which kicked off this cycle. 

 diary02.jpg (67597 bytes)

This was written in September of 1992, while I was staying at Sanford Ponder's loft in LA while we were recording the Prometheus CD.  It was clear to me that the seven year period from 92-99 would be about establishing a musical self-sufficiency that was not directly dependant upon my connection or previous work with the Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists.   

 diary01.jpg (62182 bytes)

The anniversary of this writing has past, but the cycle really completes for me tomorrow night at what will be my last public performance of 1999.   

Saturday December 18

Another eventful day in the life of Pelota.

Ran into (yes drummer) Alan White in a camera repair shop this afternoon in Bellevue.  I was trying to salvage a roll of film which was stuck in my 10 year old camera I bought in Hong Kong a long, long time ago (the roll was saved -- photos of Christian recording in my living room on the way tomorrow... )

I have not seen Alan for at least a year.  We caught up briefly (yes just completed a tour) and I gave him some CDs (SGC "twilight" and "greenthumb") and I set the stage for a BTV discussion in January.  Alan was a Rifff artist about three years ago, and he was even brave enough to come to a Prometheus show at Sit-n-Spin back in 1996.   For those wondering what Rifff was, it was an interactive music web "show" which was 'broadcast' on MSN for 18 months during what I think of as the golden age of MSN.   Over the course of 18 months, I was music producer for a series of interactive music videos - a concept way ahead of it's time.   But a concept which will find it's way back onto the web sooner that we might think. 

There are many start-ups right now which are getting millions in VC funding based upon ideas which were pioneered at MSN in those early days.   MSN in 1996 is to the web today as  Xerox-Parc in the early seventies was to the mouse and GUI in the eighties.  For some (perhaps visionary, perhaps misguided) reason, MS invested millions of dollars experimenting with interactive entertainment.  What an education for those who graduated from that school.    

Anyway, in 1996 the Rifff team at MSN produced an Alan White 'interactive music video' using Roger Dean artwork and some familiar yes iconography.   I am probably the last person on the planet who still has a machine that will run this show.   For now.     

* * *

For the record, here are some links to some recent web rumblings:

1. There is an R. Chris Murphy Interview in Sounds of Seattle  a local Seattle webzine.  Chris tells the story of how we met and how he came to work with various semi-famous GC related musicians.

2.  SGC CD "Twilight" was recently played on John Schaefer's New Sounds show on WNYC while the Europa String Choir were on their recent east coast tour.   This afternoon, I sent John a thank you note and a copy of both 'twilight' and 'greenthumb.'  John has been a long-time Fripp and League of Crafty Guitarists promoter and fan.  His 'new sounds' show has always been a great place to learn about new and interesting music. 

Also sent some CDs to Leslie Stevens, Horacio Pozzo, the Rocket, and Valentina Fusari this afternoon.  Busy beaver today. 

* * *

As I type this, the best living singer/songwriter on the planet, Jonatha Brooke, is belting out "secrets and lies" from the stereo behind me:

"once a year the holidays come swinging at your head
feast until you're full of pain again
it tightens in your chest and now it's written on your face
you're staring at your lover or your friend

get it on the table, pass the gravy pass the buck
get it on the table, secrets and lies
silence, faith, and luck"

Flying 'home' for Christmas on Monday morning.  Now what would be reminding me of that little fact right now...?    Could it be this song? 

Every once in a while I see or read some article about  the proliferation of 'dysfunctional families,'  and holidays are usually publicized as the time of maximum dysfunction.   Perhaps the true-but-under-publicized miracle of Christmas is this:  at holiday gatherings, a bizarre and unstoppable form of time travel becomes possible; all of your most terrible memories, habits, and attitudes of junior high come flooding back as you transform mysteriously to sub-super hero:  look, over near the sofa;  it's a bird, it's just arrived on a plane;  no -- it's self-absorbed-pimply-adolescent-surrounded-by-
pesky- and-annoying-sisters-brothers-and-parents-
who-hold-you-in-deep-contempt-largely-because -of-prolonged-forced-proximity
-- MAN.   

Normally, he is mild mannered diary reporter, Clark Pelota.   But put him in a house for three days with his family, and he turns into sapasbpaasbapwhyidclbopfp-man.   Even hardened criminals can't stand being around this guy.

Then, another miracle occurs as soon as the tension of proximity is released: a bizarre desire to get together  again at the next holiday magically returns as the mysterious spell of family proximity wears off.

Just kidding.   Can't wait to go home.    

* * *

Speaking of dysfunctional families, there is an interesting and controversial issue which I have almost commented on before in these pages, but good sense has kept me from it before.   Fortunately for you, tonight, good sense has left me home alone.   The following spew may only barely interest esoteric instrumental Crafty music fans.  

But here goes anyway.

For some reason, for at least the past year, my name has mysteriously and completely vanished from both the Gauchos web site (which I still pay for... but not for much longer) and from the DGM bio page about Los Gauchos Alemanes.  

This is an interesting omission, considering I devoted almost three years of my life and tens of thousands of dollars to the development of this group, its name, its repertoire, its products, and reputation.  Do I sound bitter?   Actually, I'm not.   

Disappointed, perhaps.   

Bitter, no.  But it is just one more simple reason that I'm very happy to be here in Seattle, local and immobile, working with these musicians:  my extended family and best friends within the Seattle Guitar Circle.    

* * *

Speaking of Los Gauchos Alemanes, in the DGM guestbook this week, there were a few comments and questions about an Argentinian guitarist supposedly named "Maria Gabriela Epuber" (sic) -- Robert apparently mentioned in his diary that he recorded some soundscapes for her next CD.   Yeah MG!!!   

Her name is actually "Maria Gabriela Epumer" and she is one of Argentina's premier rock and pop guitarists.   She was also a guest of "Los Gauchos Alemanes" on our "Little Beast" CD and we did many live shows together during my three years of playing and working in Argentina.   Her nickname within the Gauchos was "Machine Gun."  That's because her playing is so good that it kills you.  

Every time. 

She was also my host and girlfriend for part the time I was in Argentina, but that is a longer (and sad) story which may be better told in lyrical form.  For those who know the song, MG was the source of the song "I am (not?) in love with you."   This song will appear on my next CD, "Roadshow." 

But that is more than enough controversial diary crap for one session.   

Now, I wonder what emotional ass-chewing will await me in my email tomorrow morning in response to today's less-than-politically-correct diary writing? 

The photo above was taken at the Hotel Bauen in Buenos Aires during the third week of November in 1997.   Electric Gauchos shared the stage with MG's new band (and the BigTime trio) that evening.  

Yes, MG played, and still plays with, Argentinean folk and rock legend, Charly Garcia.   Electric Gauchos drummer, Fernando Samalea is also a Charly-veteran as is Fito Paez, and many pop stars on the eclectic  Argentinean pop scene.  Career-wise, playing with Charly in Argentina is probably somewhat like playing with Miles was in NYC in the sixties - a great career boost, if you've got the chops (and patience) to keep up with Charly.  

But perhaps I've said too much?  By telling the truth (granted, my subjective version) perhaps I risk pissing off former girlfriends on multiple continents.  Or, perhaps I risk pissing off former band-mates on multiple continents.  

Hey, wait a minute -- there is a connection here, n'est pas?

In many ways, being in a band is like being in a relationship.  Before, during, and after, both  relationships and bands tend to share one common negative trait:  jealousy.   

And when it's over, strange things can sometimes happen between those who were, at one time,  "involved" with each other.   

But enough about the distant past.  On to brighter matters.    

* * *

Poetry from a Mall Flyer: Max Imholte wrote the following blurb for the Third Place Books show which we played last thursday evenng:

Well said, Max.

* * *

Ah, but what of the show this evening at "Let's Drum and Dance" you might ask?   Perhaps all of the above distractions are some less-than-subliminal sign that I'm avoiding writing about our show this evening.

Actually, yes, I am.

The 'show' this evening, although very well-received by our large and friendly audience was a bit of a race against time.  I'll simply say that the BBE (signal processing device) which helps make our plastic guitars actually sound clear, distinct, and almost somewhat listenable) died about three minutes before showtime.   Curt and I were bent over trying to fix the problem as they announced us and as the attention of 120 sensitive, caring, drum-and-dancers turned in our general direction to see a prime view of my bony buttocks sticking out of center stage as I quickly rewired our rack.   With no time for other options, and no consideration about my potential Steve Ball Boneshow, I quickly pulled the BBE out of the mix chain as Curt held a flashlight on the mess of wires within this once-famous frippertronics rack built by Tony Arnold.    

Of course, with the BBE gone, our sound suffered.

Jaxie's quote of the evening: "oh,... now I know what that black box was for..."    

So, immediately after our BBE-bypass surgery, the tempos of our first three pieces began clocking in at new world speed records.  

At the end of "where it goes" we were all wondering where it went.

But the good news, our audience did not seem to care.  We were probably shocking enough and just unusually interesting enough that our BBE-less sonic assault was just fine.  It was only us on stage who could tell that we sounded like we were playing while submerged in a thick, gooey, plasti-carbonite, mud-bath.

The tempos began to drift back into human realm after our third piece, but after our fifth piece, we had played our share, and our part of the "Let's Drum and Dance" show was over.   The show was obviously not titled the "Let's Listen to an Acoustic Guitar Ensembe for more Than Fifteen Minutes" show.    Nonetheless, we received a very warm and generous response from the audience, despite our lack of sonorous tone and our adrenaline inspired tempos.   

Our whopping five song set included: 

Where it Goes
Mars Effect
Sigh and a Kiss
Bloed Spoed

The highlight of the evening for me:  Greg Meredith showed up with a huge, sincere smile on his face during our final piece, "Bloed Spoed."   Nice to see at least this one familiar face out in this audience otherwise filled with sundress happiness men and women noodle-dancing to their own wild internal drum beats.

I hope we can do this gig again sometime.   

* * * 

Following the show, we loaded my badly-needing-to-be-repaired gear back into the rehearsal space.   Then, we stood in the rehearsal space reflecting for a few minutes on our work of 1999.   It has been quite a year for the Seattle Guitar Circle.   

And still, only the beginning.  

* * * 

Sunday December 19

This will be my final diary entry before my Christmas break.  I'll be out of town and back in action in these pages on Tuesday the 28th of December.   

Between now and then, if you miss this writing, why not spend the time you would have otherwise spent reading this either: 

a) writing in your own diary, and/or 
b) playing music

I will be writing while I am gone, but I won't be publishing anything here until I return on the 28th.

* * * 

Spoke with Steve Enstad this afternoon to arrange final BTV logistics before our holiday break.  We both agreed that this may be the last time we have to chill before the BTV fit really hits the shan in about two weeks.  

* * *  

Met with Frank and Ingrid for tea and cookies this afternoon.  Frank told me about his latest efforts to get his novel out the door.   I totally resonate and empathize with his struggle to complete his work.  

Even writing this diary for the past few months has been a daily exercise in knowing when to stop, hit the 'publish' button, and say that it is good enough.   There is a constant temptation to review, revise, and rewrite the ascii spew that flies from my fingers so that it will either offend less people, or sound less stupid than it does upon first review.     Or tenth review.        

The same is true in completing CD recording projects: it is always possible to make it better.  It is never perfect.  It is never really 'completed.'   This is why setting a deadline (and sticking to it) is so important in most creative processes.    

Otherwise, in the quest for perfection, nothing would ever be finished.

* * *  

The reason I was over at Frank and Ingrid's place was to review the proofs from the photo session I did with Ingrid a couple of months ago.   Of the 120+ shots to review, we selected about 8 for printing.  Next week we will meet again to select the one that will be used for SB Roadshow promotion over the next year.  

Ingrid's photos are priceless and precious works of art.  She has been visually documenting the Guitar Craft process for quite some time now.   Someday, there will be some amazing coffee table books of her work.   

For now, regarding the eight unique and compelling photos we have selected,  I look forward to sharing these in this diary early next year. 

* * *  

Following the photo review, I had dinner with Curt Golden at Carmalita -- this meal was my Christmas gift to him.  There were way too many interesting (translated: private) topics of conversation to list here and now.  

I'll just say that Curt is a great friend.   

The overall gist of our conversations:  if you thought that 1999 was an active year, we have a surprise for you in 2000.

* * *  

Chris came home this evening with many stories of his sessions with the Bozzio/Levin/Stevens project in LA.  He pointed me to Tony's web site to check out the photos from his sessions.   Overall, he seems very happy with the music and the process of working with these three consummate professionals.

* * *  

Email from Peter Dervin this evening - it's too late to call him at home now.   Looks like the 695 initiative, which the voters of Washington recently approved, has caused the State Ferry system to reduce the frequency of Whidbey Island ferry trips -- Peter is concerned that this will affect our Feb 4th concert on Whidbey if our audience cannot get home after the show. 

I'm not so worried about this as I anticipate that most of our audience for this show will come from Whidbey Island.   I will call Peter tomorrow to discuss the situation. 

This reminds me of a vivid conversation from 11 years ago.   In 1988, while driving from Red Lion House to Reddish Cottage, Robert Fripp told me about an interesting definition of politics he had either stumbled on or come up with himself (I don't remember which):  

"Politics is the process by which force is used to obtain the opposite of that which was originally intended." 

* * *  

Another hilarious email from Travis Hartnett today in response to my recent comparisons between being in a monogamous relationship and being in a band.  Travis' insights are perhaps a bit too crude to repeat here.   Oh, but I'm so tempted...    but no.  My 'Gauchos censorship' rant yesterday will probably get me into enough trouble for one week. 

Patience:  Travis' own diary will be available on the official Guitar Craft web site very, very soon. 

* * *  

1999 Phinal Photo Phlashback

Bob and Jax in Vancouver

Curt in Cle Elem, and Curt at Western and Vine Rehearsal

Dean tunes the room backstage at the Northwest Actor's Studio

Curt 'hasta change' his strings in Cle Elem

Christian tears it up in the Kelly Bradlee session 

Christian tracking on the Kelly Bradlee session 

Christian gets electric in the Kelly Bradlee session

Kelly, R. Chris Murphy, and Christian de Santis

* * *  

Idiot check:  yes I am an idiot.

It's well after midnight, and I have not started packing yet for my trip tomorrow.  I also have a stack of bills to pay, and a washer full of laundry to complete.    

Looks like another 'rockslide' evening the night before a road trip.

When will I learn?  

* * *

Thanks for tuning into this ascii soap opera that is my so called life.  Wishing my extended family, friends, and fans a warm, relaxing, and utterly musical Holiday season.

-Steve Ball