December 31, 2008


Watching a show with a half dozen amazing marching bands is the kind of thing that might happen in the morning and leave you wondering what to do with the rest of your day. Every year Pasadena City College hosts a band show of all the marching bands that have had the honor of playing in the Rose Parade bestowed upon them by a guy with kind of a funny name. Over the break I went to one of these "Bandfest" shows to check out the scene. And what a scene it was. Not only did the bands have a significant audience, but I don't doubt that all of them deserved it. From Homewood Alabama to Pasadena City College and all sorts of places in between, and even the national honor band of top musicians from around the nation, we had entertainment all over the place. I noted some particularly unusual things as far as bands go that grabbed my interest. The band from Science Hill high school with their clarinet soloist in a Gershwin tribute, the Patriot band from Homewood with 3 drumsets in the the pit and a fantastic Rockettes esque dance line, and which band was the one that played California Dreamin'? Let us not forget the band of America and their Latin guitarist, garbage can percussionists (undoubtedly MASH drumline wanna-bees), string ensemble and dancing sousaphones. I suppose it was humbling to say the least. From a band point of view, our band is good and we have a lot of fun but couldn't possibly be playing at that level anytime soon. From a personal point of view, I don't think I've ever seen that many sousaphones in one place. Have I even seen more that one or two together? Our band barely even has any low brass! It was still an amazing show, and there is no doubt that I'm more inspired than ever to be the best musician possible. Enjoy the pictures!!

Naturally, 300 of the most talented high school musicians from around the country can be difficult to get into one shot. This is about half.

Just figured I'd put a picture of us in here to. 'Cuz we are still pretty awesome.

December 28, 2008

The City of Angels

I'm in Los Angeles man! How sweet is this? You should all be jealous. I will just try to recap what has happened so far without being completely overwhelmed by awesomeness.

One of the first big adventures we went on was a covert operation to buy a family game for the grand-parentals. My dad figured Target would be our best shot, and there was one in Culver City, another in West Hollywood. Hmmmmmm.

Driving through Beverly Hills, the most faaaaaaabulous neighborhood in the entire country was as humbling and exciting as it was ridiculous. The lavish lifestyle of fancy architecture, gates, security cameras and Cadillacs was fun to look at, but obviously presented the messed up priorities of the inhabitants. I mean seriously, somebody had an entire zoo of animal statues on their front lawn. While this whole scene seemed a bit enticing at first, (especially to my name-brand sister) our dad has known this place in a more realistic sense for longer than we have. He said that he'd gone to school with many of these kind of people, and despite the lifestyle that they lead, they don't seem any happier or more positive than the rest of us. And with that we drove our big-ass rental car out of Beverly Hills.

But the excursion through LA LA land had not finished there. Sunset Boulevard absolutely had to be driven down in order to reach our destination. And what a boulevard it was. While I was not being distracted by the live car show that was racing up and down the streets, there was plenty of scenery to be admired. It is interesting to think that although expensive Aston-Martins and Bentleys are great entertainment (at least for me), the mountains that run up and down the coast are still priceless, beautiful, and completely natural part of this modernized and man-made city.

December 22, 2008

And its going to be 65 degrees warmer.....

This week, Monday is Friday. And every day after that is going to be Saturday. I am going with my family to Los Angeles, California over winter break. As soon as I start packing, that is. So many ridiculously awesome things are gonna go down in the CA that I cant possible begin to give you any details. But since I like you, I will be sure to access my social networks (possibly), send Twitter updates (maybe), text message my friends (occasionally) and write blogs about my travels (if I don't get to distracted). Of course I can't do any of that until it is at least 65 degrees, and it cant be even close to that until I get on a car/plane/train/hot air balloon and make my way across this soon-to-be great nation of ours. Which may take a while. This brings us to my official playlist for my trip over the break. Here we go....

1. Going to California- Led Zeppelin
2. California- Joni Mitchell
3. California Girls- The beach boys
4. Hotel California- The Eagles
5. Californication- Red Hot Chili Peppers
6. City of Angels- Ozomatli
7. If we'd all been living in California....-Frank Zappa
8. California waiting- Kinks of Leon
9. California Dreamin'- The mamas and the papas
10.California Love- Tupac

December 19, 2008

Another trip to NYC!!!

So I went to New York City (or "The City" as New Yorkers call it) with the music department. Which was pretty darn amazing I gotta say. We rode on this giant Anderson bus that had cushy seats and armrests and personal footrests and air conditioning. This was probably a good thing since the ride was nearly 10 hours. So there was lots of hanging around, listening to music, watching movies and just general merriment. And plenty of sleeping to go with it. Personally, I played about a bajillion games of Texas hold 'em on my Zune, which now features that and other addicting games. Another one is Hexic, which is also very fun online (although it features obnoxious noises that cannot be turned of and are currently interrupting Charlie Parker). But the point is, we eventually got there. Which as you all know is half the fun. Our first stop was Battery Park, where we spent a few seconds to meet up with a friend from camp who lives in the city and buy a knockoff purse or two. Dinner was at the movie equivalent of Hard Rock cafe, the fun was in and around times square, and the show was at radio city music hall. Really, the show was called "The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular". I really cannot think of a word to describe it. But afterwards one of the directors shouted some random street numbers as we left in all the hustle and bustle, and I managed to get to 51st and 6th (or whatever it was) with a group of friends that I happened to be with at the time. And what do you do once you get back to a hotel in New Jersey after a whole day of driving and watching musicals? HAVE A PIZZA PARTY!!! Indeed, in the city we truly rock and roll all night and party every day. Or maybe it was the other way around....

The next day was to full of doing stuff I cant even recall anything in a specific order. We had free breakfast. We went to 5th avenue. Shop windows on fifth avenue are like car shows of the fashion world, there is all sorts of nice expensive stuff that is fun to look at, but nobody is really going to buy or use it. Also, when its as cold as it was and you ever go to Starbucks, don't get a cold drink! The only thing i recognized on the menu was vanilla frappacinno. So I ordered one. I was chilled from the inside out, but it was totally worth it! We had hot dogs from a street vendor. HAIRSPRAY WAS AMAZING!!!! lots of excitement and energy there. And when we where outside the theatre after, Harvey Firestein (Edna) walked past our group. And I totally saw him in person (sans dress and fat suit)!! I speculated that if the extremely good-looking dude who played Link had just happened to leave the theatre at that time, half our group would have attacked and raped him. I mean they were swooning big time man! Anyways, I got a nice fedora, and ice cream later, and managed to get other people to donate some of their food. Unfortunately, I couldn't convince the guy in that one store to give me a tie for less than $25 (I only had $20!). I guess bartering is just for the creepy dudes outside. So it was very fun. And there was some fail. And food. And a really funny-smelling handbag. And lots of drunk people dressed as Santa. We truly can be amused by anything. After all, it is the music department.

December 11, 2008

NYC Trip!!!! Goin' to the city....

I'm just writing in this blog entry real quick before I go to sleep. Tomorrow (Friday) morning I will be waking up bright and early (5:30 AM) to get on a bus with a bunch of other crazy kids from the music department of my high school and we'll haul off to NYC. I guarantee you that I will be taking many, many pictures (500+) and having many good times, inside jokes, and FAILs to go with them. I will try to account as much of it as I can. Though I may not be able to get to blogging from my cell (I'll try!), I will definitely have Twitter updated often, so keep an eye on that!------>

Peace out! Catch y'all later!!


December 4, 2008

Polar Bears and Tailwind: Shenanigans @ District Jazz '08

I got out of school before lunch yesterday and got in a van with the band director and a few other musicians to audition for District Jazz in Youngsville, PA. The ride there was not quite two hours long and involved a lunch stop in Edinboro where we met up with some students from other schools who were auditioning. After lunch we went our separate ways, even though we were really all headed to the same place. Driving there involved much hilarity, discussing random subjects and often making even more random statements that would lead any normal person to believe that we are completely crazy, which is partially true. When we finally got there (and by "there" I mean a school in the middle of nowhere), a fairly large line of people had formed to sign up, and the group of just four from our school looked small in comparison to some of the other schools' groups.

But we fared well. After hanging out in the auditorium while the last few people signed in, they announced which instruments would be auditioning in what room, and directed us to follow a specific person to that room. Me and eleven or twelve other percussionists stood in a classroom while one of the adults who was auditioning us explained what we were going to be asked to do, and described exactly how old and beat up the drumset they had was.

Then we all got sent outside and stood against the wall or sat on the ground waiting for our turn. I was close to the beginning, and the whole thing went very well, the audition piece sounded good to me and I thought I played some fairly convincing rock, swing, and latin beats.

Then there was some waiting to be done. Jake (trumpet player) and I circled the halls a couple times and met up with Demarius (Saxophone player) while everybody else finished. We got a change to meet up with Mrs. Manning (Director) again in order to acquire keys to the van. Once we had those, we could all play cards and eat food while the directors finished tabulating the scores.

The announcing part was the most stressful. They started with band 4, calling names by section. They announced saxes, trumpets, trombones, bass, guitar, drumset....not me. DAMN! Then, "Auxillary percussion, from Meadville...." That WAS me! YYEEAA! We were told earlier that the drummer placed fifth would be given auxillary percussion for all four bands, meaning that five drummers would be accepted in all. I remembered this when they called up my name again for band 3. By now I'm pretty pumped. I'll be getting plenty of music and be able to play with some really great musicians, even if I'm not on a set. Then they announced band 2. "Auxillary Percussion...." Some guy from McClane? WTF??? I was calling shenanigans on that one, for some reason they took another drummer.

It turned out that for some reason, they took six drummers, giving me two bands worth of congas and vibes, and putting me in sixth place. Not to bad, and I must have done something right for them to fit me in anywhere, when I wasn't supposed to get a part based on what was originally said. My trumpet playing friend grabs 3rd chair in band one, and it was an exciting day for all.

December 1, 2008


SO I have just added a new element of awesomeness to the blog that should ensure accurate feedback from my fanbase of 3-5 readers (love you guys!). There is now a small reactions section beneath every post, for you all to say exactly what you think, and see what others have voted. I have given a broad range of reactions for you to choose, including WIN, FAIL, Huh? and Other. I am looking forward to see what you all think, and it only takes the press of a button!! WIN!!