When I was little and report cards were graded with either a C or a check mark, mine were usually a blur of satisfying C’s and a lone, accusatory check mark for self control. I don’t think I was badly behaved, but somehow my report cards all looked the same. Here we are many years later and it’s still a work in progress. For example, everyone knows the maxim, “if you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all.” I wish I was better at that. Fortunately, it’s easier when writing. Initially, I began this post talking about the crappy last 2 years but who wants to read that? The last 2 years have been hard for everyone. Let’s scrap that and talk about the good things.[Read more…]
My 86 year old mother, Irene Kerwin, died on Friday. Pneumonia was the coup de grace and bipolar disorder paved the way. The last 14 years were interrupted by long periods of chaos and deep despair, but thankfully the preceding years were normal and some might say unremarkable. Mom lived a quiet life of family, good deeds, and kindness – not unlike many people of her generation and background. This is a brief portrait of mom and her life, an attempt to go beyond a dry obituary and pay tribute to her and others like her whose lives might otherwise go unnoticed.
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Mom was born August 18, 1933 on her grandparent’s farm [Read more…]
Beginning this month my quartet will be playing twice a month at Delaney’s and has a new name, “Inside Pocket.”
For the last few years my twice a month gigs at Delaney’s have been split between my quartet and a duo with Doug White. Now Doug is stepping back to focus on other pursuits. That left an opening and the quartet is going to fill it.
Given the expanded role of the quartet I finally decided [Read more…]
Well, kind of. The news item is actually about the grand opening of the Milwaukee Fortress, a huge, historic building in downtown Milwaukee that has been renovated into apartments and commercial space. Our quartet played for the grand opening and appears at the end of the clip. Fun gig.
The Stoughton Opera House is a historic theater that hosts many well known touring musicians. Local musicians are also booked for a lesser known Music Appreciation series each spring and fall, but because these are at 3pm on Monday afternoons I haven’t had the chance to perform there …. until now. On October 1st I retired from medicine and on October 22nd Big Circle performed at the Stoughton Opera House. The audience enjoyed our music and we enjoyed playing there! It was fantastic and just the kind of thing I hope to do more of in my retirement.
I’m a bit younger than many retiring docs and it causes some eyebrows to go up when I say [Read more…]
I want to tell you about my new arm. I’ll try to make it brief.
One day when I was 19 I decided to show my friend how well my car fishtailed. My 1971 Chevy Nova was a lot of fun to drive. It was candy apple green with fancy wheels, fat tires, plenty of muscle, and air shocks that made patching out and fishtailing easy. As we came down a hill at high speed, I made a hard left at the intersection. The rear end swung to the right, I cranked the wheel the other way and the rear swung to the left. And then…. it kept swinging, all the way around into a backward skid. A car in a backward skid can not be steered [Read more…]
Did you know Sequoya Library on Madison’s west side has a jazz program every Sunday (except during the summer)? This little publicized program has been around for about 2 years and is slowly gaining traction among jazz fans. Our quartet has played there twice and both times we had an appreciative audience of 30-40 people.
The program is 1:30-3:30pm every Sunday and is free. A different group plays every Sunday and it is a great chance to sample what Madison’s jazz scene has to offer.
Two weeks is a long time to not practice my saxophone – the longest stretch I’ve had in years. It takes a lot to pull me away, like a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska. I just returned on Saturday and played a few tunes at the Madison Jazz Jam today, a little rusty but better than expected.
Once I get readjusted to darkness (central Alaska won’t be dark again until July 28), I plan to hit it hard and be ready for my next gigs in 2 weeks.
Here are a few photos of Alaska:
Friday night we played at UW Memorial Union Terrace for their “Behind the Beat” jazz series. The Union Terrace is Madison’s most popular summer music venue and this photo captures part of the magic: Lake Mendota is 50 feet or less behind the stage. Not in full view is the covered, recently upgraded stage outfitted with the latest in sound and light technology (and a crew of students eager to help and run the sound). In front of us is a sprawling multi-level patio that can accommodate several thousand people.
When we began at 5pm it was cloudy, a pleasant 68 degrees and people were starting to filter in at the end of their workday. We began with “Autumn Leaves” (it was Sept 23 after all), and proceeded to play a mix of jazz standards and originals. The show went well – we were relaxed and inspired by our surroundings. Two hours later we wrapped it up with Horace Silver’s, “The Jody Grind” to a large and appreciative audience. It was a beautiful night.
This is an interesting picture. Doug and I are wearing short sleeves and it’s the middle of summer, but doesn’t it look like winter outside? Even the trees look like they are flocked with snow.
The pic was taken by my friends when Doug and I filled in at Lilianas Restaurant recently. Our home base is definitely Delaney’s but we play other venues, too: weddings, private parties, retail shops, retirement homes, and anywhere people are interested in live jazz. When a larger sound is needed my quartet performs. For example, this month Doug and I played twice at Delaney’s, and my quartet played two weddings and a private function.
Add in the jam sessions I host for Madison Jazz Jam, and the redecorating we’re doing in our house, and July was a busy month. We are painting and putting in new carpeting in two rooms. Quite a project. Right now our living room is filled with all the junk from those rooms. In the end it will be worth it though, because one of the rooms will be my new music room. When you practice 3 hours a day and spend many additional hours either writing music or listening to music it’s important to have a decent space.
I know, that sounds like a lot of time on music! That’s how it is, though, ask any professional musician. Most people don’t realize the time and commitment needed to play music at a high level. It never ends either. There’s always more to work on, and that is part of the attraction – music never gets old or boring.