Blog Update…Denver shows, and more…

First off, here’s the things to look forward to.

I’ll be performing next weekend in Lakewood Colorado at Festival Italiano. How does a gingery bassist who plays “cosmic” bass (quote from a fan at the recent Porchfest show) get a gig at Festival Italiano? Well, lucky for me, they added an International Market Stage this year. The schedule for the International Stage is as follows:

Saturday

5pm – The Edo Castro Band

4pm – Jason Everett

3pm – Matt Skellenger – with special guest

2pm – Jinmo Avantattaque – Music

1pm – Brittany Frompovich

12pm – Paradox Band (Mile High Scenesters Org Chad Drew Christopher Thomas)

11am – Rhythm Vision (Myke Anderson Todd Russell Strandberg)

SUNDAY

2pm – Jinmo Avantattaque – ART and MUSIC

1pm – Brittany Frompovich

10am – Christopher Cardone

Please come out and say hello! have some great food and drink, and catch some amazing entertainment!

There is a main stage on the other end of the festival as well, with traditional Italian music, a Frank Sinatra impersonator, ending with Chris Daniels and the Kings at 6:30!

You can find out more about the event by clicking here.

I’ll also be selling Lady Bass Gear the tent near the stage.

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In other news….

I haven’t blogged a lot lately. Life has been hectic…it would not be out of line to call it chaotic. My grandmother is moving to assisted living, and another family member is about to have major surgery on his spine. A long recovery period could be involved. I don’t talk about these things much, but they have been a concern in my world.

There’s a waiting list to get into the teaching studio, and limited spots remaining. Fall enrollment started in July and has not slowed down, for, almost 2 months now.

I’ve been joking that 2018 is the year the van going to replace it’s being, part by part. For those who follow me on Facebook….you might recall a tire that needed to be replaced back in February. In a snowstorm.

Then the van was recently in a hit-and-run, requiring a replacement of the whole rear bumper, paint, new bumper trim. When SuperVan returned from the shop, the console on the driver side door was missing a button (the console that controls the windows). So no drive through banking, fast food…nothing…for a week. The shop quickly and cheerfully took the vehicle back and replaced that console. Nothing bad to say about their work here….they recognized something got broken, and they made it right. Good on them.

Since then, I had replace two more tires (nails in tires too close to the sidewalls), the windshield (summer heat caused a crack), and then brakes and rotors all the way around. August was a particularly brutal month for car expenses; considering I did most of the work myself (so I saved on labor), and I “couponed” the hell out of parts purchases…it was still a $700 month for the car. The Honey add on for Chrome was my saving grace at Advance Auto. That and Harbor Freight coupons; I planned my purchases over a few trips and sales. I shudder to think what a shop would have charged me. #diywin #IcanstilleatwithwhatIsaved

After working on my brakes, I cannot stress enough the value of learning as much as you can about everything. Unfortunately I missed LoHio as a result of a LONG weekend of many car repairs. I learned a lot that weekend…and came out feeling a bit stronger for it. Like making sure my mechanics are actually doing the work properly. The rear brake seized on SuperVan.  A benefit of doing the work myself caused me to find a caliper pin that hadn’t been lubricated properly in ages; I needed a socket wrench to remove it from the channel it was in.  It was DRY.

For those who don’t know, it’s supposed to move freely in the channel it sits in, thus it needs to be well lubricated.

For all the people who doubted me and my ability to do the work (this wasn’t my first brake job) I came back to the table with evidence to remind them that what they willingly take a pass on understanding, leaves them wide open to being taken advantage of. More than a few folks were shaken up by the story  of the dry caliper pin, a seized brake, and warped rotors…all preventable if the job had been done right the first time. Shame on the mechanic for skipping the application of $7 worth of lubricant. If you wouldn’t put your kid’s car back together like that, don’t do it to a customer. But willful ignorance on behalf of a customer because “I can’t do that” really just is a blinking sign that says, “It’s cool, rip me off”. I have seen my father bring a vehicle home from the shop, put it up on the rack, and then call the shop back and chew them out for work they did NOT do but still charged him for.

I had a friend who quipped, “I’m just not crafty” the other day. I quickly stopped her and said, “That is just a story you are telling yourself.”

I was telling this to a family member later. The reply was, “No one told me I couldn’t file my own taxes, or sew my own clothes. You learn how to do for yourself when you don’t have the money to hire folks to do it for you.”

You see, I grew up in a poor family. My dad learned how to become an engineer because he was so poor as a kid, he literally took other kids broken toys out of the trash and fixed them for his own use. My grandparents built their own house, and my parents built theirs. From scratch.  They dug the basement, laid the foundation, drove every nail.   The “I can’t” or “I’m just not able too..” truly IS a story we tell ourselves. The best work is often done when we are stretched to be creative by using ONLY what we have at our disposal. I honestly think my creativity came more from watching my family come up with creative solutions to life’s problems.

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Since I was forced to stay home from LoDo to repair the brakes and tire damage, I went big and finished another project. Nothing like a strong second place finish if you can’t have first place.

DC is an interesting place. Like….those free cycling finds. A $3000 Softub 220 by the side of the road in someone’s yard. Apparently someone’s Grandmom was being downsized into a nursing home or somesuch…thus the tub was being downsized by her caregivers/kids. To the free cycle category.

The first house I lived in as a young adult had a hot tub, and I’ve missed it. But I’m still a renter so everything must be portable by necessity. I’ve avoided owning a tub because moving it would be difficult. A Softub? This critter could work quite nicely if it can be made to run again. #diylife #letsdothis

I rented a Uhaul pickup for $20 and got the tub, motor and accessories back home. The tub is a marine grade vinyl over styrofoam; super light. A 65 pound tub. I’ve had heavier bass cabinets.  And just like a cabinet…you roll it into place. Hence why it’s portable for future moves. A set of rachet tie down straps will collapse the styro, allowing it to be easily moved. Roll on to a new home. Unpack.

It needed some minimal work as the motor had been messed with by someone who appeared to have no idea what was going on. They assumed the tub was broken; I was verbally told this. In reality they had no idea how it worked. (Owner’s manual anyone?). The jets turn on and stay on during the heating cycle after the first fill. The previous owners concluded that this behavior meant it was broken. So, of course was they went into the motor and disconnected some things. Because that fixes everything, right? It took a little trial and error and some TLC, but all the leaks or loose fittings have been found. Gave it a good cleaning and leveled out a piece of ground for it to rest on. Mulched it, laid some interesting stones I’ve collected in my travels as a boundary line.

Adding potted plants, candle holders, and the like to the spa area. Refinished two hardwood benches recently with cedar stain to match my deck. I pulled them to the tub area…perfect steps and towel holders for tubbing. Perfect height even. #thebritcave

After an achy, unexpected weekend working on SuperVan…this was a nice second place finish to end things on. Just need to add Christmas lights to the underside of the second story deck to light up the spa area.

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An aside about automotive work…who do you think was more supportive when I was seen tearing down my vehicle’s brakes/rotors…men or women?

Men. Resoundingly.

The men at the automotive shop were delighted when they saw I was in “can do” mode. Lots of positive feedback and affirmations.

Even my neighbor, who is a mechanic said (upon seeing my car tires off)

“What are you doing?”

“Fixing the brakes” (brace myself for sexist comment/mansplaining)

“You GO girl!”

A lot of women were quiet, concerned…asking if they should get their husbands to help me, or even a little peeved…as if I should not be doing for myself. Not all the women who I saw, but many. One woman was openly supportive in the same manner the men were.

Dudes…thank you. I’m just trying to be me. And the further down that road I get to finding that authentic me, the more I truly admire Hedy Lamarr. One’s appearance should not dictate your talents, or limit your ability to express them fully.

All that being said, I had a playful marriage proposal shortly after these events when the dude found out I had two degrees, fixed my own cars, and I helped him solve an audio mix problem with his YouTube videos. The “do for myself” attitude (with the goods to match) prompted the playful proposal. Plus he noted I was pretty easy on the eyes.

Of course, I need an equal. The answer, quite naturally, was no. But it didn’t help his case that he thought all basses only had 4 strings, so “how hard can it be?” #smh

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The hot tub has proven to be a wonderful tool to help with tendonitis, anxiety, sleep issues, back pain, knee and foot pain… pretty much everything most musicians suffer from. Going forward, it’s really helped with muscle pain after working on vehicles, lugging gear to a gig, or just working around the house.  I hadn’t realized how much pain I was living with in on a daily basis until having access to the tub and reaping the benefits.

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Feels like this whole last month….this year really….has been, in many ways, just challenge after challenge to see what I was made of.  These are the moments when one’s creativity truly has a chance to shine. How will I solve these problems with what I have? How will I solve these problems and continue to thrive?

I remember this as I look at my two luggage bags for Denver…still being packed…currently trying to solve how to fly with a pedalboard, merch, clothes, and an RC-300 looping pedal. I normally drive to the LoDo Bass Bash; it’s enjoyable watching the scenery change. However this year, there’s too much work on the books to permit that.  Hopefully this trend will continue…in the meantime…the chance to solve problems that may become “the new normal” going forward.

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As happy as 2017 was, this year has been a polar opposite. 2018 is a hurricane that changed landscapes; trusts broken, narcissists routed out and removed from my life, false friends and betrayals, witnessing dear friends getting divorced, deaths, and a great many moments of saying “what now?” when presented with major obstacles. And exhaustion. A sense of working myself into a hole.  There are some moments of joy…but overall, to quote Deadpool, “So…dark…”…it’s been dark like a DC movie.

Grieving for a sense of lost tribe. Some sense of alienation that arrives at the worst times. You peel the layers back to a sense that once again, you can trust or depend on no one but yourself.  I haven’t listened to music much this year.  I worked briefly on the doc project this spring after a massive reorganization (I had to remove some personnel that were not doing their job).  Then, life events happened…I got derailed.

For quite awhile I barely played bass outside of what I’ve needed to do to put food on the table.  It hurt too much for awhile.  The causes will remain private.  The outcomes though…grief and depression derailed me for some time. It’s starting to improve, but it’s taken time.  The recent Porchfest event was the first time things started to pick up shades of “fun” or “normal”  again in a long time, in terms of performing for people.  Thankfully, there was a lovely audience at that event, and some sense of communion with them…I think that helped quite a bit.

The positive; a lot of new tools as a result of challenges…both mental and physical tools.  Mental tools to deal with situations; toxic people, manipulative people…narcissists in particular.  Physical tools to continue giving me the power to create and re-create the world around me; photography tools, power tools, recording tools, and the like.

While I work through things, I’m still working with my hands…just in other satisfying ways. I rebuilt the recording computer and tweaked it over the summer; the DAW, the computer, the whole system…all finally playing well together.   (Which is even more ironic that I am now in a state of de-motivation to record my own material.)  Thankfully, as I completed most of the preliminary physical work on the home recording studio (cabling it, getting it running), some friends are stepping in and helping me get it recorded.  Many hands are helping make the work a little lighter.  And helping me stay accountable to trying to manifest my creative work, in spite of setbacks. And the inner weather.

It’s all a journey…we will see what’s next.

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