Dante Spumante at Cricket on the Hill

I played with Dante Spumante again tonight, this time at Cricket on the Hill. This gig went much better than the last one; I had a lot more confidence and felt more comfortable with the original songs. We also threw in a few covers: “Dreams,” “Rockin’ in the Free World,” “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and “All Along the Watchtower.”

The crowd seemed to like what they heard, and in general, we were much tighter than at the Herman’s Hideaway gig. Hopefully this will lead to more gigs at Cricket for Dante Spumante, and in turn, maybe more gigs for me with the band.

Thanks to everyone who showed up for this show. It helps a lot to know that there are friends out in the crowd.

Dante Spumante at Cricket on the Hill, 8/13/02. I’m the one in blue, with the Fender StratocasterĀ®. Brad the Drummer is hiding behind a cymbal.

Painting and prepping

Okay, almost the whole upstairs is now painted. I ran out of paint and had to rush to Lowe’s before they closed, but we got enough to finish the bedroom upstairs and got all the furniture back in so we would have something to sleep on. All that’s left upstairs is touch-up work, which my wife says she will finish this week.

I’m glad she said that, because I will be very busy this week. John from Dante Spumante did call, and I told him I would play with them on Tuesday. He wanted to know when we could rehearse, but I told him we might not have a chance due to my tight schedule. Today, I painted. Monday, I’m supposed to attend the monthly Old Possum’s writing workshop. Tuesday is gig day, and I have to work both Monday and Tuesday during the day. That doesn’t leave much time unless I forego the Old Possum’s workshop. I don’t want to do that, but it looks like I might have to.

Wednesday, I have the Writer’s Circle writing workshop, and Thursday is the day for Melanie Tem’s writing workshop. It only happens occasionally that I have three workshops in one week, but when it does, the whole week feels swamped. Friday is relatively clear, except for a potluck and BBQ at work, but that means I will need to make something Thursday night after the workshop. Oy. Saturday, my nephew is getting married, and then we are driving to Colorado Springs to see Dot Com open for Jack Russell, the former lead singer for Great White.

Sunday, we get to start painting the downstairs. Joy.

Come home, Son

The Rockies beat the Cubbies 2-0 last night, and I finished painting the stairwell in its entirety this morning. Did I mention that I hate painting?

In the early evening, I went to the airport to pick up my son, who had spent the last four weeks with his Mom in Texas. I’m very glad to have him, and eternally guilt-ridden that he has to split his time between his parents because we couldn’t make it as a couple. It’s not his fault; if anybody’s, it’s mine, because I’m the one who asked for the divorce. But he’s the one suffering. I tell myself that he would be suffering more if we were together, though. I think that’s true …

While eating a late dinner at Gunther Toody’s, I got a phone call from Brad the Drummer, giving me a heads up that John from Dante Spumante was going to be calling me in the morning to see if I would be able to play with them on Tuesday night at Cricket on the Hill in Denver. I haven’t played much since we started working on the house, so I dug out the guitar and played along with the CD of our performance at Herman’s Hideaway on July 23rd. I hope John actually does call tomorrow.

Long update

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, folks, both in terms of creativity and lots of things going on. In this entry, I’m going to hit the highlights, then hopefully get back to my regular postings tomorrow. This post is a long one, but probably not as long as the individual posts would have been.

My wife and I were on vacation in Las Vegas from the 14th through the 19th, celebrating my stepson’s plunge into true adulthood. Overall, the trip went well; thanks to a royal flush on a nickel machine and some generous slot club comps from the Frontier hotel, we actually netted only a small loss and still got to see Lord of the Dance before it closed. My stepson hit two royal flushes on the same nickel machine on consecutive days, so he actually came home with more money than he took.

Normally, I would stop by to see my parents, who live outside Las Vegas. Unfortunately, they were gone the entire time I was there, because my Uncle Wayne passed away on the 12th. I wish I had gotten to see them, but I’m glad my parents were able to be with the rest of the family during that time.

While in Vegas, on the 16th, my stepson and I were trapped on the 103rd floor of the Stratosphere for nearly an hour. He wanted to ride the Big Shot on top of the hotel (by the way, did I mention that he’s insane?) He rode the ride, and we hung out on the observation deck (108th floor) for a while afterward, enjoying the view and watching the lights come up on the Strip. While we were lounging, the fire alarms went off and emergency strobe lights started flashing. After about 30 seconds, they went off, but then came on again and didn’t stop. I noted that no one seemed panicky, despite the fact that we were 1150 feet up in the air in a prime terrorist target.

Of course, when the alarms went off, the elevators (and the air conditioning, I think) automatically shut off, so we couldn’t get down. We followed the instructions to take the stairs to the 103rd floor, where about 25 of us waited with little information in a small, hot room for about 45 minutes. We were told we could not take the stairs to the bottom because it was not an emergency situation, despite the flashing strobes and alarms. Eventually, the alarms stopped, but the strobes continued and the elevators would not stop on our floor. No one really got out of control or upset, though one woman (I think she was from New York) underwent a panic attack and one security guard was rather rude and short with us.

Eventually they got the elevators reset and allowed us to go back down to the bottom of the hotel, where the tower manager refunded our money, but “didn’t have the authority” to do anything else for us. We also got an apology from the head of security for the actions of his rude employee.

Monday night, the 22nd, I got a call from my buddy Brad the Drummer. He was filling in on a gig for a band called DaNte SpUmAnTe on the 23rd at Herman’s Hideaway, and their regular guitarist was suddenly unavailable. Herman’s is well-known in Denver as a showcase club. They encourage original music with a weekly New Talent Showcase, and they feature national acts on a regular basis. Brad asked me if I would like to play with DaNte SpUmAnTe at the New Talent Showcase — the next night.

The chance to play at Herman’s was too good to pass up, so I told him I would be right over to go through the songs. The challenge before me was to learn six original songs, then perform them live in less than 24 hours, but I did it. The songwriter and keyboardist came over to Brad’s and we spun through all six songs, then I took at tape home and practiced until about 3 AM.

I think the gig went pretty well, all things considered. However, my opinion is colored by the fact that I had such a short time to prepare. I’m sure DaNte SpUmAnTe wished they had their regular guitarist with them, though they were very grateful for the help on short notice.

On the 28th, my stepson moved into his own apartment, which freed up his room as an office again. I spent the evening of the 29th moving furniture and bookshelves from the master bedroom into the spare room so I can make it into an office. I’m really looking forward to that, because it means I will have some “me space” for playing music, writing, reading, or just getting away from the rest of the world. I crave solitude sometimes, and it will be nice to have a place to go where I know no one else will be. Also, it gives me space to use my exercise bike again. Here’s the plan: Get up at 5:30 AM, exercise for 15-30 minutes, write for 30-45 minutes, then prepare for work. We’ll see how well that plan works out.