Friday, February 16, 2018

This Kind of Work...

I have always enjoyed that song by Hays Carll that has the line, "this kind of work no one retires." He was talking about songwriting, music and the life of a musician. I have used that line to illustrate how I felt many times. I guess I can't use it anymore, especially when it comes to the church music we have been playing. Our bilingual church choir that sang in English and Spanish is no more. 

Here is what happened. Priests were shifted around leaving two Priests to cover two churches in Lufkin that had originally been covered by three. Also eliminated were any services with overlapping times to enable the two to cover at one place or the other either in English or Spanish. The bilingual Mass time still exists but is now a service in English. 

I don't know if you know the story but around 2003 I think, the LaSalette Priest were the order at St. Pat's and Father Ron wanted a bilingual Mass. We took the gig and as there was not a whole lot of music that did this kind of thing Cathy was the main driver in developing. writing and translating till we had a repertoire developed.

Since this beginning time the bilingual music has been good to us. Our kids all came through playing in the group as well as many other motivated movers and shakers on their way to bigger and better things. Church music can teach you a lot. You learn to play but then you also learn to play nice with others.

Here's a Palm Sunday photo of us playing a few years ago.

We have had some invitations to join other groups. Our hearts are with the community unity of bilingual music. We think it's a good thing. Many other people do also and often tell us so. There is always two sides to the story though. People that don't like it will usually tell you to your face. Bilingual does not seem too important right now in the Catholic Church as a whole but the winds of change often blow so we will see where it goes.

Doing music at church takes a lot of preparation and the bulk of that falls to Cathy. She picks the music, makes song sheets, reads the readings so the picked music is liturgically correct, makes packets for each musician and in the case of new music teaches the songs. Getting a few weeks of music in the can means at least 8 hours of work.

I have it a bit easier. I polish picks, tune and maintain instruments, set up, sound check and for a couple of years now have recorded the homily and posted on line.

If we do some simple math and say we played 52 Sundays a year. We do take off but there has always been weddings, funerals, quinceaneras and extra Holy Day Services so I think it's safe to say we are in the neighborhood of 728 set ups and take downs. That's decent but we can tell already that we have extra time on our hands. 

Here's the back of my main church axe, a Fender acoustic bass. The nice strap is one Cathy got me at Matt Umanaov's in New York City a few years ago. I covered the back with Holy Cards and a photo of Bishop Ed. I have an electric Fender P Bass but somehow through all these years this one has become my favorite.  

So what now? There will probably still be some need for the occasional bilingual Service. In the mean time without this weekly finger workout we need to find a new way to keep our chops up. We have one gig on the books as Goat Rodeo but it's some months away.

For now we say thanks and count our blessings at the good times and people that have traveled the way with us. Maybe you can retire from this work. 



Saturday, February 10, 2018

White Bass Fishing Report...

If you follow here you know by now we make a couple trips each spring over to the Sabine River to white bass fish. We do it from the sand bar at River Ridge Campground and Guide Service. The fishing can be hit or miss. When it's on it's on but this day it must still be a little early in the season because our report is zero. 

Cathy sits in a lawn chair to cast. River was visibly rising after the rain of the past few days. That and muddy water are not usually a good combo and will break up the run for a few days but for the day camper fee of $10 they charge for this privately owned area it's a pretty good place to relax. 

If we do manage to coordinate with a good bite you see the white bass arsenal ready to go.    

I did not feel too bad about the dry run as we talked to 4 guys up from La Port for a guided trip. They only managed 5 fish. 


Tuesday, February 06, 2018

A Little Traditional N.O. Jazz

On our last trip to New Orleans we settled into the warm Back Room at Buffa's neighborhood bar early because it was New Year's Eve, the evening looked to be icy, we wanted a place to sit and watch a band and we expected to see the Royal Rounders as the main event of the night. We got a real treat from the opening band, The Steve Pistorius Quartet. 

I had not heard of the group before but it turns out Steve is a pretty famous dude. He's a throw back to the old Jelly Roll Morton piano style. Plays the river boat cruises, Preservation Hall as well as international venues. Really if you count Steve the band is a Quintet. Piano, clarinet, cornet, bass and drums. In the rock world I think you have such as the power trio. Bass, drums and guitar.  I don't think I have ever heard the Jimi Hendrix Experience billed as the Jimi Hendrix Duo. 

Vocals were handled by Steve and the cornet player.  
Lots of good solos with mutes of various kinds including a tin pan wah wah like you see some guys use a plunger. 

Great clarinet player. Solos went on and on and I am sorry I did not get these guy's names committed to memory. 

Bass and Drums. 
The band played a set, took a break and when they came back a funny thing happened. It seems that Steve, the leader had been called away and they played on as a quartet. The cornet player switched to piano, continued with the vocals and the clarinet player really began to let things rip. Seemed like the style shifted ever so slightly to something I could not quite put my finger on and things got looser and jammier.

We enjoyed the show a lot and hope things are OK for Steve. Looks like this is a regular Sunday evening gig so stop in and see them. A good venue with food that while nothing to rave about could be classified as hearty, filling fare.



Saturday, February 03, 2018

Mardi Gras Time...

 As the name of this blog, the older you will get, getting older is a thought that crosses my mind from time to time. With another birthday this year I think of times spent doing this and doing that that there will be things that I do for the last time to pass me by. It's full on Mardi Gras season right now down in one of my favorite places, New Orleans and as I study about it and reflect on the several Mardi Gras I have attended I might not make it down there again for the big event.

Mardi Gras can be a lot of trouble. Too many people, loose who you came with, wreck your car, forget which hotel you are in and so on and I am just talking about the stuff that has happened to me. Today is a day for the professionals down there for sure as it's raining and all the parades ran back to back trying to beat the weather. I am off work next weekend, the big weekend and a trip is tempting. I said Mardi Gras was a lot of fun did I not? Since anytime is a good parade time I have these photos from the Sugar Bowl Parade that we made a few weeks ago. 

Mardi Gras Indian Suit in the US Mint Jazz Museum. Every at Carnival Time we make a new suit anyway.

Celebrate 300 years as a city. 

Cathy can catch beads. 

Note the braced stance when receiving a throw. 

Here's a Louie Armstrong float passing the US Mint where his first cornet is on display inside. Click this LINK to read hear about Louie as the Zulu King in 1949.  

Marching Bands. 

Pretty plain compared to the big floats that roll this weekend and next. 

More marching bands. 


Kind of technically mine and Cathy's first date was a Mardi Gras in 1988. I think the first Mardi Gras I went to was 1985 or maybe 86. As I said, Mardi Gras has passed this way, may or maybe not again. 

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

On this Day Yes a Tuba...

Facebook has this "on this day" thing that pops up every morning. Most of the time I don't pay it much mind. I have found out from paying it some mind before that I am usually doing one out of about four things. I am either fishing, (I know you wait with baited breath to see another photo of Cathy and a catfish and yeah, baited breath does sound a little nasty) playing guitar, watching someone else play guitar or playing tuba. We will talk about the tuba here because this photo of me and Coraline playing tuba popped up as a memory today from 2011.
 Of course my continuing series of baby in the tuba is as popular as ever even all these years later. Her Ezra and Wallace share duty. At first I thought Wallace was crying but I think that was singing. 

 In this year's version of Coraline with tuba you can see how much she has grown as she grips a baritone horn. Interesting piece Warren holds. IT's an E-flat tenor horn Rose found in a thrift store for $20. No mouthpiece and one valve is stuck but I think it's repairable. It will be an adventure with e flat as I am used to the concert c instruments.  It will be kind of like transposing for an alto sax I think. These horns were used as a mid range um pa on the up beat in British military bands.

 Today I held Ezra and played the baritone horn for him. He was just as quiet as a mouse and curious as a cat. Looking, looking and wondering about this low brass world he lives in. 

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Finely Had Christmas...

Well we finely got the gang all together for Christmas. The babies got to meet, we opened presents, fried fish, cooked red beans and rice, sucked a few crawfish heads and had a big Mexican food buffet. I don't think the fun could have been better. Here's just a few pictures of my family and probably grandkid heavy. 

Ezra and Wallace meet.
 Of course baby in the tuba.
 A walk with the babies.
 Tiring day.
 Who is this guy?
 A horn for everyone.
 Morgan and Ali.
 The Tullochs.
 Tim and Rose.
 Opening presents.

We gave the kids paintings done by Cathy's old friend Karen.
 This is a p-buzz trombone. It has 5 notes on it. I might get me one.
 If you build a wall, no more Mexican food.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Morning on Big Slough...

I have not been too mad at the ducks this year. Other than a couple of scouting trips just to look for ducks I finely made it over to The Big Slough Wilderness Area to make a for real try. The ducks put one in the win column today as I saw only about 8 and did not even fire a shot. 

Here is a look down the big slough. This is one of the more narrow places.

This look is a low lying area off the main branch that begins to fill as the water rises. Usually early in the season before winter rains set in you can step across a trickle here. If water gets out all over the bottom areas like this make tricky wading.   

In this photo  is one of my favorite ducking spots. The big slough is at my back flowing past where I sit. A very swift current follows left with a slower current forking right to head to a beaver pond. Right in front of me is a little slack water area that has filled from the tributary in the previous picture. Hope you can follow all this. It's just one of the things I do.

I saw 6 ducks on the water here all swimming down from the left fork against the flowing current. Three were too far for a shot, the next three were in range and I thought briefly about potting them on the water but then I though freezing temps, cold swift water, steep banks and old man and I decided the fetching of the kill would require too much effort.

I shot a duck coming in from upstream at this area last year and by the time I forded the slow flowing slough I had a bit of a search to find where the fast current took him. Recovery involved hanging by my toes down a steep bank.  I did say I was not made at the ducks this year. 

Plenty of red birds about. Wonder if these guys have ever seen a back yard feeder? This cardinal and a titmouse were drinking from the puddles. 

Plenty good eats down on the big slough. Just sit around and shell out the mussels to your hearts delight. 

I carried my popiel pocket fisher man and made a few casts with a spinner bait but no bites. Sometimes throwing and winding back a spinner bait can be a relaxing therapy. While standing here doing that three dogs ran past paying me no mind. The had hunter orange collars so I figured there might be other sportsmen near by. I turned my camo hat inside out so I was orange also. Seemed a good idea. When I got the truck another pickup was parked beside me and looked to have transported the dogs in. I noted an open 30 pack of Bud light on the passenger seat.

It was a good trip and with that I called it a day.   

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