lack of ennui

beautiful, blogging, cello, music, Oregon, pictures, Portland, recording 1 Comment »

Ummmm, hi.


I’m alive and well.  And busy.  Gosh. . .where to start. . .?

I’ve been doing lots of recording, with my friends from my first band ever.

I went on a random little day trip up the Columbia gorge with RockShowGirl, and we hiked to one of the many waterfalls and enjoyed the scenery along the curvy old highway.  On the way back, we stopped in Cascade Locks, where we ate the best bacon burgers either of us had eaten in our entire lives.  I suppose that means I’ll have to stop calling myself a ‘quasi-vegetarian epicure’ pretty soon, yeah?

waterfall tunnel

I went to see an unbelievably amazing show; a double-headliner bill featuring Butterfly Boucher AND Emilie Simon.  Both are supremely talented (not to mention beautiful), and I got the chance to meet both of them afterwards.  I told Butterfly that I’d love to play cello with her the next time she’s in town, and she seemed like she was into the idea.

butterfly emilie

I did something I’ve never done before, and thought that I’d never do; I went to a minor-league basketball game.   [I will now pause for your exclamations of shock and horror.]   Ordinarily, I find most sporting events mind-numbingly boring, so I volunteered to take pictures (with someone else’s digital camera, which is much slower and less responsive than mine) of the game.  I took about two hundred, and I would guess that about three actually came out.  It was pretty funny.

I went to an amazing restaurant called Trébol with Jeannie-wa.  It was stellar, and I can’t wait to go back again.

I went to an amazing restaurant called Indish with BoringFish.  It was stellar, and I can’t wait to go back again.

I had a gig with IrishBand, which ended up being IrishDuo that night, because Violinist was in MileHighState.  It was the first time we’ve ever done a duo show like that, and it was actually quite fun.  I brought the accordion, and someone asked if we knew any Beatles songs.  I couldn’t help myself, and blurted out, “Yeah, I know all of them.”  This was their cue to throw obscure songs at me, to try and stump me, which didn’t happen.  “I Don’t Want To Spoil the Party”, “Let It Be”, “Blue Jay Way”, “Real Love”, all were par for the course.  It was super fun, and we may actually incorporate that sort of Beatles sing-along set into some of our future shows.  If anybody got pictures of that, I haven’t seen them.


I’ll spare you the technical details, but I bought some equipment for my cello which makes it possible to plug it directly into a PA channel, instead of having to mic it when I’m on stage.  It may have been a small step for mankind, but it was a giant leap for my cello career.

I went to a friend’s bachelor party, which lasted until six o’clock in the morning.   At around quarter to five, a neighbor called the cops to complain about the noise in general, but ‘in specific’, I’m sure it had to do with our hilariously horrible drunken guitar playing.  The cop couldn’t have been any nicer, actually.  He was great, and totally cool about it.  It was a super-fun party.  I spent the next day in bed, and got up around three-thirty to take a shower and make the hour-long drive up to SeaBird’s family’s home in the middle of a cedar grove on the edge of a hill, to eat incredible food, marvel over the kids, watch the neighbors’ enormous fireworks display, and celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, and the founding of our country.  They are my surrogate parents, and I always come away feeling rejuvenated after spending time with them.  People like that are very rare and special.

Yesterday, I bought new heads for my drums, installed them, tuned them up, and then recorded drum tracks for three songs in our FirstBand project.  I started working on a fourth song, but it was trickier than the other three, and I didn’t get a take that I was satisfied with, so I’m going to give it its due today.

So yeah.  Been all busy all the time lately, but I haven’t forgotten about you.  It’s nice to finally have spare minutes to let you know what’s been happening.  This is just an overview, too.  There’s been plenty more, such as going to movies and sushi with LJ and SeaBird, for example.

Today I woke up at nine and edited audio tracks, even before I’d had coffee, in order to get ready for today’s recording session.  It promises to be another good, productive day.  There’s certainly been a lack of ennui around here lately.

Okay.  Deep breath, diving back in now. . .

lots of big musical news, and links galore

blogging, funny, music, pictures, Portland, recording, true No Comments »

I can NOT believe how busy life has been for these last two weeks.  I had two huge shows, both of which required tons of preparation and rehearsal with the various groups.  The first one was on St. Patrick’s Day with IrishBand. . .

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. . .which was a total blast.  We played for four hours that night, with a couple one-hour breaks while another band played in between our sets.  We kept people there, singing and dancing and rockin’ out until 2:00 a.m.   Since then, we had a smaller (but just as fun) show and started doing more recording at my place.  We finished the drum tracks for one song, and started them on a second.

The next huge show after St. P’s Day was the CD release party for Susie Blue, which took place at the new-and-improved Mississippi Studios.  That was already one of my favorite places to play, but now it’s been revamped and enlarged, turning it into quite possibly the best of the medium-sized venues in Portland.


Without getting too far into geek-out territory, after the second song, I looked down to find that the lights on my big keyboard were off.  I had accidentally set the accordion on the power strip switch and turned it off, which meant that I lost all of the good sounds I had loaded into it specifically for that show.  I had a nice little freak-out moment onstage, and told Susie, “I lost power.”  “How long will it take to re-load everything?” she asked.  “It’d take way too long.  I’ll figure something out.”  Luckily I had my tiny Casio (which you can see on top of the big keyboard) there for one song, because I ended up using it on lots of songs.  It totally saved the day, and the show went off without another hitch.  For an eleven-piece band (most of whom were not onstage during the song that was being performed when this picture was taken), that’s quite a feat indeed.

Incidentally, here’s a song from Susie’s new CD called “Fading” on which I play accordion and drums, and also was part of the hand-clapping and cheering.  I play accordion on a bunch of the other songs, as well as piano and Omnichord.  If you’re interested, you can check out our web site, and listen to or buy some songs from CDBaby.

Three days ago, my life got overtaken by a project that a bass player friend of mine called me to fill in for.  There’s a dance group in town called Bodyvox, who created dance interpretations to a bunch of Tom Waits’ songs, with a live band and a handful of opera singers.  The guy who’s playing accordion and electric guitar (as well as saxopohone and slide guitar) can’t make it to the show on Saturday, so my bassist friend, who is the musical director for the show, called me in a panic on Tuesday.  Since then, my life has been thrown into a frenzy of learning songs, as well as attending rehearsals and performances as an understudy of sorts.  The show I’m playing is the matinee show on Saturday afternoon, and I’m feeling confident about it.   I’m listening to the CD as I’m writing this, as a matter of fact.  I’m on the song Hoist That Rag, which features one of my favorite guitarists, Marc Ribot.

Add to that the recording sessions I’ve had at my place recently, both for money and for IrishBand, and you get a very busy Todd.  SO busy, in fact, that this is the first time I’ve had to write anything at all, aside from the occasional link to a video or something.  I almost added a clip from “Girl on the Bridge” an amazing French movie which I watched last night.  It just came out on DVD, which is strange because it’s only about ten years old, and I can’t imagine why its DVD release was held up for such a long time.   Well, what the heck, here’s a link to what is probably the most famous scene.  I love this movie, because it never quite goes in the directions you think it’s going to go.  Very similar to Angel-A.

The song (sung by Marianne Faithfull) is also amazing.  If you’ve ever seen “City of Lost Children”, you may recognize it from the ending credits; that’s the movie for which it was originally written, but it’s since appeared in many others as well.

Well, that’s what’s been going on with me lately.  I know it’s a lot to handle in one blog entry, from songs to pictures to movie links and clips and everything else, but. . .well. . .welcome to my world these days.  I had a lot to share, and it may be another few days before I have another chance to write again, so there’s that.

Hope all in your world is well!

six degrees of randomness

blogging, cello, funny, love, music, pictures, true, Yakima 4 Comments »

I just got tagged by Carolina to reveal six random things about myself.  You may be surprised to find out that I’ve never been tagged in one of these things before, so I’m rapidly trying to think of what I can write about, since I usually have something in mind before I ever start writing.

Okay, here goes.


I love Bach’s organ music.  I mean LOVE IT love it.  If I could marry it, I would.  I love it so much that if it’s playing, I can’t do anything else because I get absolutely sucked in by its perfect structure and beauty. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.  E. Power Biggs playing “The Jig.”

One of my favorite memories of my dad (How many times do you hear me say THAT?) is when the two of us were attempting to play this particular piece on a beautiful pipe organ in Ellensburg, Washington. I was sitting on the bench, playing the manuals (that’s organ terminology for keyboards) and my dad was on his hands and knees underneath the bench, playing the pedals with his fists. It was hilarious and touching, even moreso when I think about it now. I’ll never forget that moment.


Speaking of Number Two, I find it absolutely repulsive to have to listen to someone go Number Two in the bathroom (I’m thinking of the bathroom at work, by the way), especially since most guys are notoriously disgusting and loud when it comes to this particular activity.  I’m so disgusted by it that if there’s someone else already in the bathroom when I walk in, I’ve been known to go downstairs so that I don’t have to listen to that happening.  I mean, really.  The sound, the smell, everything.  Ewww.  And if they’re sitting there tapping away on their cell phones, that grosses me out even more, because I imagine them wiping their asses and then grabbing their phones before they get the chance to wash their hands again.  NASTY.  I hope no one ever has to borrow their phones for any reason.


I used to have two mullets.  No, not at the same time, but consecutively.  I liked them so much that I grew one out until it got all scraggly, and then I cut it off and grew another one, which was only a slight improvement over the previous one.  Here’s a picture of the first one, in progress, in 1988. . .

. . .and here’s a picture of the second one, in full effect, not long before it got cut (THANK GOD) in 1995:

I know; I was hot.


The longest time that I’ve ever dated someone was five years (on again/off again).  The shortest time was three days.  Does that count as two things?  I don’t know, but I’m counting it as one two-part answer to one two-part question.


I have no tattoos or piercings of any kind.  I used to have my left ear pierced, around the time of Mullet Number One, but I only wore an earring in it for about a year, and I haven’t worn one since then, so the hole has long since closed up.  No, I don’t have any pictures of that.


I’ve made more money playing the accordion than any of the other instruments I play.  It’s paid for itself many times over.  The cello is in second place, then probably the electric guitar.


There is NO Number Seven.  Thank you.

So, which six people would I like to tag and to see respond to this in kind on their own blogs?







Thank you to Carolina for including me in this, thank you to YOU for reading, and thank you six participants (or anyone else who wishes to) for lending your metaphorical voices to this endeavor.


an ellipsis

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Boy, has this week gotten away from me.  Sorry it’s been such a long time between posts, but this week turned out to be as busy as last week was, but I left off at the Ray LaMontagne show.  The next night, Thursday, I took the train downtown to see a poet who shall remain nameless, because while my two friends and I were very interested in him as a person, we found his poetry to be distant and unapproachable.  In fact, my two companions fell asleep for a while during one of his longer stories.  From there, Tossed In gave me a ride to my next engagement, which was Allanah’s birthday party.  Total blast, but I heard later from Mike that it ended in vomitous tragedy.

Friday night was a slightly odd IrishBand show, which took place at a firemens’ local union hall thingy.  Something like that.  A couple of the members play a sport called hurling, and their team of guys was getting together at the end of the season to have a party and give themselves prizes and awards.  One of the guys is a musician, and is a friend of our band, so he told the guys that since it’s an Irish sport, they should invite an Irish band to play.  So they did, and we did.  My favorite part was watching how Mike would change (or mumble) the more adult lyrics to some of the songs, since there were children present.  In fact, a few of the kids came right up and sat on the steps at the edge of the stage.  A girl who looked like she was about eleven sat right in front of me and watched the cello like a hawk.  (Hawkette?  Hawkess?)  She even made cello motions with her arm at one point.  After we were done with our set, I said,  “Do you play too?  You must.”  She said that she used to, and she’d played for about a year, bu then her cello got broken when it fell over or something, and it was never replaced.  I invited her to play mine, and she accepted.  She sat down and started making sound with the thing right away.  It was very fun to watch.

I actually had the weekend completely free, so I spent the majority of it sleeping, doing laundry, and watching episodes of Six Feet Under.  I hadn’t ever seen it until J loaned me the DVD’s, and now I’m completely hooked on the show.  In fact, we watched a couple of episodes together on Saturday night.  After she left, I watched two more, and then two more the next afternoon.

Monday was supposed to be a recording session with Breanna, but she had to re-schedule because she and Justin weren’t feeling well.  I offered the time slot to IrishBand’s singer instead, because we have a few high-profile gigs coming up, and we’re trying to get some music and promotional material posted on SpaceBelongingToMe by then.  We had dinner first, of pasta with alfredo sauce and smoked salmon, and then Mike recorded a new acoustic guitar track.  I then showed him how to run the recording software, and he manned the computer while I recorded a cello track, an accordion track, and a glockenspiel track.  We still need to add vocals, violin and percussion, but it sounds really great so far.

Last night was the Breeders show here in town, which JBJ and I went to for free, thanks to the tickets provided by the radio station that airs his music show.  We arrived during the second band, and were lucky enough to find a seat in the balcony.  There are only two rows of seats in the entire place, so we were very fortunate.  We weren’t impressed with the band that was playing when we arrived, which is to say that we talked with each other rather than listening to them.  They were called PaperCut or something, or maybe they were the PenguinSomethings band whose name I never knew.  I dunno.  Then the Breeders came out, and they sounded good, but I’m not gonna lie; we found our attention waning during their set as well.  We did get to hear them play “Cannonball”, though, which was really cool, then we decided to leave after listening to a couple more songs.

Tonight I’m home for a bit before meeting RockShowGirl, whose name may sound like one of those clever pseudonymic blogisms that I love so much, but it’s actually a variation on her name from SocialNetworkingSite, so it seemed apropos.  Anyway, she just went through a very strange and sudden break-up last weekend, which she’s still reeling from, so I want to go talk to her and cheer her up.  It seems like a movie might be in order.

Tomorrow’s a Breanna and Justin gig, and then Saturday is an IrishBand gig, so there’s still plenty on my schedule.  Next week may very well be even busier, because CincinnatiFriend is coming for a visit, and then Mom and Stepdad will be staying here the following weekend.


Sorry for these many days of absence, and thank you again for reading all of this.  Now it’s time to eat something and figure out what RockShowGirl and I are doing tonight.

blur of a whirlwind

beautiful, blogging, cello, music, Oregon, pictures, Portland No Comments »

I woke up yesterday to find that my phone had been shut off. Yesterday I took the day off from work to play a noontime gig with Breanna and the band down in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

I decided to take the MAX commuter train downtown, because Pioneer Square is one of its stops, and parking downtown can be tricky and expensive. So I drove to the stop and carried the cello and accordion on board the train. Two stops later, we all had to exit the train and cram onto a waiting bus, because the bridge over which the train travels is closed this month for repairs. It wasn’t fun trying to get two large instruments onto an already crowded bus, let me tell you. Not to mention the screaming kids and obnoxious people. When we arrived across the river, we all exited the bus and got back on a MAX train to follow its regular route. The exhausting trip took forty-five minutes, and it normally takes fifteen.

So then we played our gig, which was great. It was well-attended, and we sold a whole bunch of CD’s.

Came home afterwards via the exhausting and circuitous train-bus-train route. By this time, it was about ninety degrees outside. I finally got home, drenched in sweat. I had an e-mail waiting for me from J saying that PhoneCompany’s service was down for a while yesterday, so it wasn’t my phone after all. What a relief!

I took a nap and then went to meet J for sushi. She came over afterwards, and we watched an episode of Planet Earth; it was the episode about how the climate is changing drastically and rapidly, and how we are losing species (sometimes in as little as ten or fifteen years) and completely destroying the natural environment. It was very informative and influential, and it was good to be reminded about many of those things, which we tend to forget about in our daily lives.

Incidentally. . .for the record. . .I try to do my part by living near enough to where I work that I don’t need to drive, and where I can easily ride my bike, walk, or take public transportation to the places that I need to go. There have been many years where I didn’t own a car. I’ve always owned economical cars, including the one I have now. I don’t eat very much meat. I choose to live in a small apartment in the city, as opposed to a sprawling suburb. I don’t intend to have children. I try not to use disposable things when I have permanent options. These are all choices that I feel make a big difference in both the quality of life, and minimize the effects of my existence on this planet, but I still have a long way to go, and there are plenty of things that I can still do to make a difference for this little and unique planet.

So. After that, I got a call from JBJ saying that Jaime and Becky (whose CD I played on) were playing an impromptu show, so I texted Becky to say that I was going to be there, and it would be very easy for me to bring my cello with me. She thought that sounded great, so I ended up going down to join them at eight o’clock. The show was awesome, and the two other performers, Galveston and Justin Power, were amazing as well. I recommend that you check all of them out

I have another daytime gig with Breanna today, actually, so I’m going downtown again in an hour to load our equipment onto the Portland Spirit cruise ship. This is going to be a really fun gig; I’ve played it once before, last summer. It’s a lot of work, and it’s an all-day affair, but it’s just. . .totally great. I’m really honored to have such good opportunities to play with such good people.

Tonight the plan is for more J time, and then I need to do laundry and pack for the annual trip to Cannon Beach with Mom, Stepdad, and Brother and his family tomorrow morning. I’ll be staying for the weekend, until Sunday afternoon, when I’m driving back and then going to see a play at night.

SoOoOoO, it’s all a bit of a blur, but at least now you know why things have been a little quieter than usual around here lately. I’ll have my computer with me at the beach, so I should be able to check in from there too.

But now, it’s time to take a shower and get downtown to the boat.